The Vine Trail, Napa Valley
A couple of weeks ago, we drove to Yountville and parked in the lot at Vintage 1870 as usual. But instead of taking our regular route to Rutherford and around, we checked out this new trail. Some people monitoring a bike event told us that although the trail is not officially open, it is all right to ride on it.
This is a beautiful trail, smooth and mostly flat. Just out of Yountville, the scenery is rural with fields, large trees, and vineyards. Other people are friendly and considerate. It is a safe ride until Oak Knoll, but just past there where the area becomes more urban with houses and businesses, there are three rather difficult crossings that have not yet been signalized for the path. It might be better to ride on the street rather than on the trail at the first difficult crossing. We rode as far as Trancas and Redwood Rd., where we had coffee at the Starbucks just off of Redwood Rd. and then turned around and rode back. It was an charming ride of about 12 miles.
Spit at Otis Perkins Park
Last summer we visited Lopez Island and felt very much at home there. This summer our older son rented a house there for two weeks.It was in a remote part of the island and was not too comfortable. My husband and I rented Condo 5 in Lopez Village, which turned out to be most satisfactory. It was well equipped, light, and airy. We were only able to rent this condo for three nights, so we spent the fourth night at the Edenwild, the charming bed and breakfast owned by the amiable Anthony and his wife Crystal. Since we had stayed there last year, we were treated like old friends this year.
In fact, Lopez is not the best place in the world for our favorite hobby of bicycle riding because the roads are narrow, some have little shoulder, and there are more than a few hills. However, even people of our skill level can successfully ride there. The traffic is light and the people are friendly; waving to greet those one encounters is part of the island culture.
Spencer Spit State Park
This year, we did two bicycle trips in the four days we were there, one to Otis Perkins and another to Spencer Spit State Park, in the Strait of San Juan de Fuca, where we ate a picnic lunch while absorbing the glorious views and trying to avoid the persistent bees. On the way to the park, we stopped at the historic sight of Port Stanley School. The ride to this destination was peaceful and bucolic with attractive farms along the way.
Port Stanley School
Our last full day on the island, we spent driving around to see some of the interesting spots that we missed last year. My husband’s great grandparents lived on the island, and some of his ancestors are buried in the churchyard by Center Church, a beautiful old church with a graveyard in the most peaceful spot I have ever seen. Our family of seven spent a long time looking for relatives and absorbing the serenity of the spot; even our teen-aged grandchildren were fascinated by this place. We followed this stop with a satisfying lunch at the Southend General Store and Restaurant and then a visit to the library and the local museum. Lopez Island is like a bit of England transferred to Washington State. It is a wonderful place, marred only by the necessity of depending on the ferry for arriving and departing.
Staying at the Ashland Hills Hotel, we found it a bit of an uphill ride to get over the freeway and up to the main street of Ashland, Siskiyou Blvd., but once there we enjoyed a long coast through this attractive little town. Then turning on Third St., we rode down to the Central Bike Path, which we accessed behind Noble Coffee Roasting. This path is well used by locals, and while it does not have outstanding scenery, it does run along some parks and an old cemetery, which at my age I like to ride past. When we returned to Ashland St., we stayed on the path and circled around to access the street further along, making our return ride a bit easier. We did this ride on the morning of the second day of our recent trip to Lopez Island in Washington, and coming back, we repeated it to go to the Ashland Food Coop between A St. and B St. to buy lunch supplies for our trip home. While this is not a long ride, it does get the blood circulating in the early morning.
Also during this stay in Ashland, we ate dinner at the Peerless Hotel Restaurant both going up and coming back. This is in an interesting old hotel with a wonderful restaurant, serving novel delicious food such as lobster potato skins and carrot cake with pea ice cream. Despite many trips to Ashland, we had never stayed at the Ashland Hills Hotel before, nor had we eaten at the Peerless; we consider both real finds. The hotel is not within walking distance to town, but it is beautifully renovated with large, airy rooms and the prices are more reasonable than most of the closer-in accommodations. We will visit both of this places on our next trip to Ashland, whether we are just passing through or stopping to see some plays.
My husband and I spent Memorial Day riding the Arroyo Mocho Trail to Concannon Blvd. with a return on the Isabel Avenue trail. It was a glorious day with lots of people about, in a holiday mood, obviously enjoying themselves. We were greatly surprised to see the usually dry arroyo full of water, looking almost like a river. However, it was a great pleasure to ride along the trail with water bubbling close by. In fact, it was almost like riding along the Truckee River.
Some of the Livermore natives informed us that the water comes from faraway sources to recharge the groundwater. I found an explanation at this link. Where the trail passes under Stanley Blvd. there was about three inches of water covering the path. I wanted to go cross at the signal on the road, but my husband proved that the water was not too deep by walking his bike through it. Since I had on shoes with open tops, I rode my bike–it was sort of a splashy thrill.
We had wonderful water views such as the one above all the way to Concannon Blvd., where Livermore assumed its usual dry but attractive aspect with lovely homes among the vineyards. And as is a custom with us, we finished our adventure with a lunch at Garré Winery.
Garden behind Brix Restaurant
Last Saturday, we packed our bikes in the car and headed for Yountville with our son and his girlfriend. We parked in our usual spot at Vintage 1870 and did our ride out Yount Mill Rd. to Hwy. 29 to Rutherford to Conn Creek Rd. to the Silverado Trail, and back down Yountville Crossroad to where we had parked the car, about 16 miles. Meanwhile our son and his girlfriend had driven into St. Helena and back to the spot where our son’s accident had occurred to suss out a place to park so that we could all take a look at it later.
We did our ride in record time because we had a 12:45 reservation at Brix, a restaurant just north of Yountville. Our lunch here turned out to be a delightful experience with a wonderful view over the lawns and gardens and outstanding food and service. My husband and I started with an asparagus prosciutto salad followed by a crab fondue, both of which we split. Our son had a steak tartare followed by an enhanced form of fish and chips while his girlfriend had a mixed salad followed by salmon on a bed of vegetables. We each had our own dessert, chocolate concoctions that were delicious, but we would have been much better off splitting a couple of these as we were all stuffed after this.
Driving to the scene of the accident, we parked and looked at the layout of the tracks; it is a complicated layout that runs over the road for a long way and at an odd angle. Although there is a warning sign, advising the walking of bikes, our son said that he thinks he missed the sign because of the heavy traffic and the construction going on, and because of the car that came close to him. However, looking at the scene of the accident, we could see why his arm was so badly injured.
We felt like it was important for us all to assess how the accident had occurred since we are enthusiastic cyclists and need to know what to watch out for. And best of all, we discovered a great new place to eat.
About a week ago our son was riding on Hwy. 29 south of St Helena right where the railroad tracks cross the highway diagonally when a car swerved close to him. He swerved on his bike and speeded up to get away from the car. The tire of his bike caught in the track causing him to take a nasty fall. Landing on his right arm, he broke his wrist so severely that he had a bone sticking out. The car did not stop or even hesitate. Fortunately, our son was able to phone his girlfriend to pick him up and take him to the hospital emergency room in St. Helena. That night he had one surgery on his arm to stabilize it.
Early the next week an orthopedic surgeon here (central Contra Costa County) put a metal plate, screws, and pins in his arm to connect the broken bones. Needless to say he has suffered from pain and the temporary loss of use of his right arm, and he will permanently have an arm full of metal. The moral of this story is avoid roads with narrow shoulders and walk your bike over railroad tracks. Do not take risks on your bicycle!
Danville at the Corner of Hartz and Prospect
We ride from north of Alamo to Danville more than we do any other ride, mostly to run errands and to go to the farmers’ market on Saturdays. Although we live in Walnut Creek on the Alamo line, I grew up in Danville and it still seems like home to me. It is easier to shop there than it is in Walnut Creek, and although it has grown unbelievably, there is still a small-town feeling about Danville. Most of the people who work in the stores are friendly and accommodating, such as the guys at Pegasus Bicycle Works and the people at the little candy store on Prospect Avenue. When I took these pictures, we were sitting in front of Starbucks, which is located where the Bank of America used to be. Across the street from where we were sitting there was a grocery store called Acree’s, which disappeared a long time ago. But the Veteran’s Hall that once housed the library where I fed my reading habit when I was a kid is still there, and even with the new hotel construction there is one building that has been retained from the old Danville Hotel. After our Saturday rides, we often enjoy lunch at Blue Line Pizza where I can gaze out at the buildings that were homes to real families at one time. While we don’t run into people we know as much as we once did, we still often see friends and acquaintances as we mosey around enjoying a sense of community.