New Segment of Iron Horse Trail

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Parking by the Walmart on Alcosta Blvd., we set off to ride to Pleasanton to check out Window-ology because we need new shutters and to visit our favorite farmers’ market in the area. We had read that a new section of the trail from the Dublin BART station to Santa Rita Road was recently opened, so we decided to check that out, following Iron Horse Trail all the way to Pleasanton and then returning by Hopyard to Stoneridge to the Alamo Canal Regional Trail with a short final run on Iron Horse Trail.

While this all looked good on paper, I knew that there was room for error. Sure enough in the Dublin BART station where it says to walk bikes, we exited to the road, a move that led us astray. We ended up following the temporary southern connector to Iron Horse Trail, a pleasant enough ride on generous road shoulders along shady streets. However, we eventually came upon the new section of the trail. To see what it was like we turned back toward the Dublin BART station, a pleasant run past a couple of attractive parks on a concrete path. We then re-traced this segment to continue on to Pleasanton. My advice to riders is to go straight through the Dublin BART station. That way you will not miss the path as we did.

At Santa Rita Road, going south you must turn right to cross a bridge and then cross Stoneridge and Santa Rita to pick up the trail about a hundred yards south of Stoneridge Dr. on the east side of Santa Rita Road. Naturally going north this maneuver would be reversed. This latest addition to our wonderful local trail is a welcome one.

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Garré Cafe Has Changed

Front of Garrè Cafe

Front of Garré Cafe

Last Sunday (8/24/14) turned into a different day from the one we had planned. At about 3:22 am, we were awakened by what we thought was a slight earthquake. It seemed to last a long time, but it was a rolling one, rather than a jolting one. Being native Californians, we rolled over and went back to sleep. I would have rated it at about a 3 on the Richter Scale.

Sunday morning we decided to skip church and go on with our plans to go do our favorite bike ride in Yountville, perhaps extending it to include Rutherford. Fortunately, a little past 8, our son phoned to see how we were, explaining that there had been a severe earthquake centered in Napa. Amazed by the scenes on television, we quickly changed our plans.

Setting out for our local wine country, the Livermore Valley, we did one of our favorite rides: the Arroyo Mocho Trail,  the Concannon Trail, the generous bike lane on Concannon  Blvd., and  the Isabel Avenue Trail. A full description of this ride is given in this post:perebruin.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/a-scenic-bike-route-through-livermore/.

We had not been to Garré for a while, so we decided to give it a try. As we approached the winery, we hardly recognized it because of the new buildings. It would now fit in in the Napa Valley. The architecture of the new building is beautiful as are the gardens being developed around it.

20140824_131506The food was as good as it has always been, and the service was a bit inefficient as it has always been. I think that someone overseeing the operation as a whole would help. However, we thoroughly enjoyed our lunch and felt that this new Garré, open for only two weeks, was a true wine country treat. Click here to go to their web site.

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New Farmers’ Market in Alamo, CA

20140727_111354The opening of the new farmers’ market in Alamo today was greeted with an enthusiastic reception from the locals who feel that this is a good addition to the community. My husband and I rode from Walnut Creek on our bikes, but there was plenty of parking available for cars. The market is arranged in an L-shape around the Bank of America, which allows an easy flow of customers checking out the varied offerings by the vendors. The stall holders are pleasant, and the prices of produce are reasonable for this area.  For us, this market, open from 9:00 to 1:00, will be an easy stop after church on Sundays.

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Riding from Solvang to Los Olivos

We drove east out of downtown Solvang on Hwy. 246, turning left onto Alamo Pintado Road and then parked at Sunny Fields Park. There is a fair shoulder  along Alamo Pintado Rd. all the way to Los Olivos, except for a couple of short stretches. It is slightly uphill going but naturally downhill all the way back , always an added bonus.

Ballard Schoolhouse

Ballard Schoolhouse

About three miles north of Solvang, we reached the tiny town of Ballard, which has a restaurant and a couple of businesses plus several residential streets. We turned off the road to ride through the town, where a little red school house built in 1882 and used continuously since then, holds pride of place. On this particular day, there were chairs out on the grass, probably for a graduation ceremony. This bit of early Americana was a refreshing sight.

Walnut Trees

Walnut Trees

It is a pretty ride through the countryside here. A bit further along we saw English walnut trees grafted onto black walnut trees; at one time our own San Ramon Valley was covered with these trees, and walnuts were an important crop. I remember when my parents bought their house in Danville in 1950, the idea was to have a walnut crop that would pay the property taxes. However, I don’t recall this idea working out in our family’s case.

A couple miles north of Ballard, we reached Los Olivos, a small but prosperous looking community. We walked around the town, chatted with one of the inhabitants, had coffee, and bought a couple of gifts in the general store.

The flag here is flown at half-staff when a Los Olivos resident dies

The flag here is flown at half-staff when a Los Olivos resident dies

Corner House Coffee

Corner House Coffee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episcopal Church

Episcopal Church

The sanctuary and gardens of this church are beautiful and beautifully maintained. I would guess that this church is a social as well as a spiritual center for this small town.

Field of flowers on return trip

Field of flowers on return trip

 

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The Marvin Braude Bicycle Path (Part Three)

Side Street in Hermosa Beach

Side street in Hermosa Beach

Hermosa Beach Houses

Hermosa Beach houses

More Hermosa Beach houses

More Hermosa Beach houses

This was perhaps the most interesting segment of this wonderful path. We parked the car on a street about a block above the beach and rode in a bike lane on that street until we came to a flat side street leading to the beach area. I am not really sure whether we were in south Manhattan Beach or north Hermosa Beach. It is a crowded area, but it was perfectly possible to comfortably ride our bike through the pedestrians. However, one must walk the bike at the Hermosa Beach Pier where there are signal lights at intervals indicating whether one may ride  or must walk. And we only saw one or two cyclists disobeying this ordinance.

There are houses built right up against the path here with patios where people may sit close to the passing scene. I am not sure if these are summer homes or if people live in them year round. Most of these houses are pretty and the designs vary greatly. Near the pier there are lots of restaurants and other businesses.

A bit past the pier, following the signs we were led out to a bike lane  on a city street. But before long a bike path appeared routed around some buildings and through a parking garage eventually coming out on the beach. A short way down the beach we reached the end of the path.

Route through parking garage

Route through parking garage

Red light requiring walking bicycle

Red light requiring walking bicycle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes the return trip over the same route is a bit boring. But the people and the scenery were so interesting that we did not find it so in this case. We felt that we had accomplished something in doing almost the entire path, even though we split it up, and since we have not spent a lot of time in southern California, we  found this area an interesting slice of southern California culture from the many beach volleyball sites to the splendid views of the Pacific Ocean.  Please click here to see a video of this trip on YouTube.

 

The end of the trail

The end of the trail

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The Marvin Braude Bicycle Path (Part Two)

Path Along Admiralty Way

Path Along Admiralty Way

Bridge area at Ballona Creek

Bridge area at Ballona Creek

Fisherman's Village

Fisherman’s Village

 

The second day on this trail, my husband and I retraced my route from the day before. But this time we passed the Waterside shopping Center and  Fisherman’s Village to go onto the part of the path that runs along Ballona Creek. The area where the creek and main channel of the marina connect with the Pacific Ocean is spectacular. The bridge over the creek was crowded with pedestrians and cyclists admiring the views of the strikingly blue water with  the man-made structures that actually enhance the natural beauty.

Coming off of the bridge the path turns south to run along the beach and the ocean. This is a hot sandy environment where there is no protection from the sun and wind. I had applied sunscreen before I left the hotel, and although I applied more en route, I still got sunburned in spots. These beaches along this stretch  are California beaches at their best, clean and beautiful with lifeguard  stations spaced at intervals along the way to protect the unwary. This is a mostly level path with some curves and little climbs to add interest. There were a few cyclists going dangerously fast for the number of people on the path, but most people were courteous and friendly.

We rode past El Segundo almost to Manhattan Beach before we turned around. Coming back we stopped at a snack stand for coffee and a short rest. Back on the bridge over the creek we stopped again to take in the view and to snap more pictures. We rode the Ballona Creek trail for about two miles but while it was a good trail, it lacked the views that we had just enjoyed by the ocean.

We stopped at Fisherman’s Village to eat lunch. After a great debate, we chose Sapori Italian Restaurant, a wise decision. We were seated in the window where we had a wonderful view of the marina and all the activity there; there were all sorts of vessels plus large canoes engaged in a racing competition. And the salads followed by gelato were very good.

Returning to the hotel hot, sunburned and tired, we were exhilarated by this wonderful ride in  a glorious part of our state.

Along the beach

Along the beach

Another view

Another view

Another view

View from the bridge

 

 

 

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The Marvin Braude Bicycle Path (Part One)

At the start of Marina Del Rey segment of the path

At the start of the Marina del Rey segment of the path

Attractive beachfront house

Attractive beachfront house

 

The bikes only path

The bikes only path

 

The Marvin Braude ( a Los Angeles city councilman for 32 years) Bicycle Path is a jewel of a path running along the Pacific Ocean for 22 miles. The pavement in most sections of the path is smooth and makes for an easy ride; in fact a good part of it is concrete. We did the path in three segments over as many days.

The first day I rode alone, starting out from our hotel, the Marriott in Marina del Rey, where my husband was attending a seminar. I rode down Waahington Ave. toward the ocean and found the path on the right just before reaching the beach. In Marina del Rey, the houses facing the beach were attractive; the  landscaping was pretty with lots of grass and palm trees, which somehow seem appropriate in southern California, but always seem out of place to me in northern California.

I had always heard about Venice and I expected a hippie sort of area, but as I entered the Venice section of the path, I found the whole atmosphere changed. The buildings were covered in graffiti, and there were homeless people everywhere with their untidy piles of possessions, some asleep and  others just wandering around, many alone but a few in groups. Since I was riding alone, I found the entire scene unnerving, and I did consider turning around. But I  wanted to ride up to Santa Monica to see the famous pier, so I kept going. No one approached me, and there were a few others riding on the path, which gave me some reassurance.

When I crossed into the city of Santa Monica, again the entire ambiance changed, this time for the better. The landscaping was well maintained, and the people looked more like folks  enjoying the outdoors and the beauty of the ocean. Just before the Santa Monica Pier, there is a playground for adults, something I consider a good idea. Surely exercising in the out-of-doors in more appealing than exercising in a stuffy gym.

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The playground for adults

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The Santa Monica Pier

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An elegant hotel on the Santa Monica beach front

 

I rode under the Santa Monica Pier through a rather dark, rough surfaced tunnel. A bit north of the pier I decide to turn around. I briefly considered riding city streets back to avoid Venice, but I decide to return the way that I had come, along the beach. Coming back was not too bad because it was later in the morning, and there were more people about.

After a brief stop at the hotel, I headed east on Washington Ave. to find the Marvin Braude Path in the other direction because I wanted to visit the Waterside Shopping Center. The path was well marked to the right off of Washington, and while the surface was a bit rough, the beginning of that segment of the path runs through a pretty area to come out along one of Marina del Rey’s main streets, Admiralty Way. On this particular day, the main path was replaced by a detour through some parking lots, a rather unusual ride. However, I soon found the shopping center and after a couple of hours browsing and eating lunch, I returned to the hotel for a well-deserved swim following my enlightening southern California day.

 

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