From Livermore to Pleasanton by the Isabel Ave. Trail and Vineyard Ave.

We usually go a short distance on the Isabel Ave. Trail and then turn off and follow the picturesque Arroyo Mocho Trail. But yesterday, we parked in our usual spot, the shopping center at the corner of Jack London Blvd. and Isabel Ave and then stuck to the Isabel Ave. Trail.  Riders should note that where the trail comes out on Stanley Blvd., it is necessary to cross Isabel Ave. to continue on the trail.  The trail is a smooth easy ride, and while the scenery is not spectacular, the dry surroundings with the hills in the background have a certain California beauty, at least to a native Californian. We rode the Isabel Ave. Trail to its end, where one must take the shoulder on Isabel Ave. itself until the turning onto Vineyard Ave.

Along Vineyard Ave.

At the corner of Vineyard the scenery takes a dramatic turn for the better. There are vineyards and beautiful houses and buildings along the left side as one heads toward Pleasanton. Here one is riding on an ample shoulder, and the terrain is fairly level until just before the approach to downtown Pleasanton. We took a side path around one hill but still had to climb a bit to get back to Vineyard. From there it was all downhill into Pleasanton, where we followed Vineyard, then  made a left on Bernal, turned right onto Vineyard again and then turned left on First St. into downtown Pleasanton and the bustling farmers’ market.  We stopped for coffee at a cute little cafe on the same street as the farmers’ market. Then we picked out our produce for the next few days at the market.

Pleasanton Farmers' Market

By the time we reached downtown Pleasanton, we had covered about eight miles, and we were not enthusiastic about broaching the uphill climb on Vineyard Ave., so we decided to take the Stanley Ave. Trail back to Livermore. We followed First Street back because it eventually turns into Stanley. We had taken the Stanley Ave.Trail before and knew that it wasn’t a particularly enticing one, but we also knew that it was flat and short. However, we were about halfway down the trail when all of a sudden the trail was torn up along with the shoulder of the road. We had to ride for a fair distance on the two-lane road, a rather busy thoroughfare with no shoulder whatsoever. This turned out to be very dangerous. Now it may have been partially our fault because we went around some obstacles, but there was not a clear sign warning that the path was not safe for riding. People on dirt bikes may be able to ride where they are working on the trail, but our bikes could not handle it. The only saving grace during this part of the ride was a gentle cool breeze that arose, wafting over this hot valley, just as the weather forecasters had predicted. We breathed a big sign of relief when we got back to the Isabel Ave. Trail, and thence back to our car.

The Garden at the Garré Winery Cafe

To reward ourselves, we set off for Garré Winery and a wonderful lunch in their garden. My husband had bacon wrapped scallops with rice and a nice assortment of vegetables, and I had a crab Louis,  with his main course followed by a peanut butter and chocolate tart and mine by a melt-in-the-mouth chocolate walnut tart.  We drove home happy but  chastened by the dangers we had faced on Stanley Blvd. We are now thinking of looking for a blinking light that could be attached to the back racks of the bikes and turned on when we run into unexpected hazardous situations.

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A Day Out in San Francisco

The Palace of the Legion of Honor

Sunday morning, we arose early and decided to visit San Francisco. Traffic has become so bad in the SF Bay Area that one thinks twice about what was once an easy jaunt to the city. We headed for the Palace of the Legion of Honor, SF’s wonderful museum that is now featuring an exhibit of 17th century Flemish and Dutch paintings from the van Otterloo Collection. The crowds were not too bad when we arrived, nothing compared to the hordes at the Steins Collect exhibit at the SF MOMA that we visited a few weeks ago. This exhibit was small, but it had some fine paintings, especially two views of Amsterdam by Jan van der Heyden, that were so meticulously painted that they looked like photographs. The museum also has a new exhibit of tomb sculptures from the Court of Burgundy, which are small (about 16 inches high) exquisitely carved statues made out of alabaster. Since we had never seen anything similar to this exhibit, we were fascinated by the the details of the statues as well as the background of the work.

After we felt we had seen enough at the museum, we drove to the Presidio, where we lunched at La Terrasse, a colorful restaurant with excellent food. I had a croque madam, and my husband had a omelette, both very satisfying. The bread at this restaurant has a kind of crunchy exterior with a rich tasting interior; it reminds me of what used to be called Dutch crunch, but this version is a lot less greasy.

Then we pulled our bikes out of the car and headed for the path along the bay. First we rode in the direction of Fort Mason. It is a beautiful ride along the bay and past charming homes. Sunday it was a bit foggy, but that didn’t stop people from enjoying the holiday weekend. We met large groups on rental bikes riding all over the path, which presented something of a challenge. After we reached Fort Mason, we turned around and set out toward Fort Point. On this leg of the trip the Golden Gate Bridge shimmers in the background above the water and the wetlands. The path was still crowded, so we took to the road whenever possible. It was a minor adventure dodging pedestrians, other cyclists, and cars. On the whole, I was glad that I was on a bicycle because the sheer number of cyclists was making it difficult for drivers to proceed. San Francisco seems to have added more bike lanes and routes every time that we go over there. I say, “Keep up the good work, SF Bike Coalition”!

Fort Point and the Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge in the Fog