Today my husband and I were crossing San Ramon Valley Blvd. on Iron Horse Trail. We had stopped at the signal on the pad that triggers the green light, and the signal had turned green. As my husband started to cross, I saw a zooming white station wagon come toward him, ignoring the red light completely. I yelled at him, and he saw the car in time. The car was traveling fast and probably would have killed him if it had hit him. It was close. Coming across in the other direction was a man with a child in a seat behind him on his bicycle. We exchanged remarks about the driver, and we all proceeded safely on our routes. I have seen drivers run this red light before; it is in a spot where one is not expecting a signal. But that is no excuse for what happened today.
We were surprised to find that the Willamette Valley is a lot hillier than our local wine regions, the Livermore Valley and the Napa Valley. Warned by the staff at the lovely Allison Inn and Spa, we downsized our riding plan quite a bit. We rode from the hotel to downtown Newberg, exploring some of the side streets and residential areas. We also rode in the bicycle lane along Hwy. 99 for several miles. After riding in downtown Vancouver BC, we did not find this very scary. After we finished our ride, we ate lunch at the charming Dundee Bistro in Dundee and then drove up the steep hills to the Erath Winery, where we had a fabulous view of the countryside.
We did some shopping in the historic old town of McMinnville before returning to our hotel for a satisfying, casual dinner in the bar area. The towns in this area are not as upscale as those in the Napa Valley, but the thriving viticulture is impressive as is the trend to using locally grown organic produce.
On our second ride in Vancouver we rode the bike lane on Burrard St. toward the Burrard Bridge. Just before the bridge, we turned on the pedestrian/bicycle path that goes around False Creek. This is a good path through some pretty areas: green parks, attractive buildings, and points of interest. We passed the foot of the street leading to Yale Town, the Plaza of Nations, Science World, and the area developed for the 2010 Winter Olympics. We rode past Granville Island, a development of arts and crafts studios plus food establishments. We stopped for coffee at busy Kitsilano Beach after riding down a couple of streets with stately older homes.
We then turned back to visit the Museum of Vancouver. Since the museum had no place to eat, we headed up Chestnut St. to Cornwall Ave, where we had lunch at Juliet’s, a good choice. We visited the historical section of the museum, which though interesting seemed a bit uninspired for a city the size of Vancouver. Pedaling back up over the Burrard Bridge was a challenge; there is a long uphill slope and one really needs to keep going for safety’s sake. Once off of the bridge, we again rode Hornby St. back to Dunsmuir, and thus back to the hotel. Riding Hornby St. in Saturday afternoon traffic with a heavily trafficked right turn lane on one side of the bike lane and two lanes of traffic on the other side is an experience that we won’t soon forget. However, some parts of the False Creek area are so beautiful that I am tempted to move to Vancouver.
Leaving our hotel in the middle of the downtown section of Vancouver, we cycled on the separate bike path on Dunsmuir St. to Burrard, where we turned right and rode to the water. It was a warm, sunny morning, and the views were sharp and spectacular.
We followed the path along Coal Harbour, a path divided into pedestrian and cyclist sections. We continued on the seaside path around Stanley Park with a view of the Lions Gate Bridge; as we circled the park, we saw other pleasing vistas. Parts of this bike path are quite narrow with a curb on one side that the cyclist must be careful to avoid.
We talked to several pleasant people as we made our way along, one a German man from Cologne who shares our taste in detective shows on television. When we arrived at English Bay, we asked a woman to recommend a place for lunch. Following her advice, we stopped at Marmalades, where we had memorable panini; mine a chicken, brie, walnut combination and my husband’s a ham, cheese, and onion concoction.
Following this repast, we laboriously pushed our bikes up a couple of steep hills and then followed the bike lane on Hornby St. back to Dunsmuir and thus back to the hotel, a trip of about ten miles.
Near Portland’s airport there is a wonderful path between the Columbia River and NE Marine Drive. We parked by a marina across from the airport and took the smooth paved path to the east until we arrived at the bridge (Highway 205) that crosses the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington. At this point, we turned around retracing our route. There were a few other cyclists and some walkers, but the ride was a quiet one, undisturbed by strollers, dogs, or cross streets. The only crossing was over a driveway to a Sea Scout headquarters.
Following the mild exercise of this ride, we drove in our car along the historic Columbia River Highway. We visited several scenic areas between Troutdale and Multnomah Falls. At Latourelle Falls and at Bridal Veil Falls, we did short hikes with the one at Bridal Veil being especially rewarding.
Just as we were becoming desperate for lunch, we came upon a sign pointing to View Point Inn. I had just made a remark to my husband that we would never again experience the serendipity that we did while hiking in Normandy by coming upon a restaurant with two Michelin knives and forks in a remote village. But the View Point Inn measured up to that former experience with a beautiful setting, delicious food, and impeccable service. Obviously a special place, this inn has the distinction of having served both Charlie Chaplin and Franklin Roosevelt.
Although we had hoped to ride our bikes in the Columbia River Gorge area, we recognized that the area between Troutdale and Multnomah Falls is way out of our league. But our earlier ride along the dike and the beauties of the drive through the Gorge made for a more than satisfying day.
We set off from the Riverplace Hotel, turning left on Montgomery, right on River Dr. until we reached Moody, which we followed straight on to the Riverfront Pathway with wonderful views of the river and the surrounding area. we took a rather rough route to the Sellwood Bridge, which we crossed on foot on the sidewalk. Although we had been advised to ride the sidewalk, it was narrow with the possibility that one false move could throw a cyclist in front of a rapidly passing car.
Coming off the Sellwood Bridge, it was an easy ride down to the Springwater Trail. We passed an attractive old church–the Church of the Pioneers– and a nicely landscaped park before we enjoyed a few serene miles on the Springwater, a trail in a rural setting.
Having eaten a decent but unexciting lunch at the technology museum, we set off again, enjoying the ride on the pontoon bridge which leads to the Steel Bridge. The Steel Bridge was a challenge because it was choked with groups of school children and determined cyclists.
From there it was a short sprint back to the hotel along one of the seedier sections of the Willamette. This loop is a distance of about 10.5 miles, a varied ride, mostly scenic but occasionally a bit humdrum.