Riding in the Napa Valley during the Holidays

Despite the cold and threatening rain, yesterday we took off early to drive to Yountville, where we parked in the Vintage 1870 lot. We did one of our usual rides north  through the little town, then onto blissfully rural Yount Mill Road, which circles around and connects back to Hwy. 29 north of Yountville.  Reaching the highway, we passed a group of speedier looking cyclists who were stopped for a moment and turned right for Oakville Grocery and some coffee. There is no place to sit inside at Oakville, but it wasn’t too bad in the front porch area. The store was jammed with people buying the specialty foods that Oakville offers.

Interior of Oakville Grocery

Leaving Oakville Grocery, we faced the most challenging part of the trip, crossing Hwy. 29 without becoming roadkill. We headed back toward Yountville and turned into the town at Washington St., a street that is fairly quiet but doesn’t have much of a shoulder. At Madison St., we accessed the mile-long Napa Valley Vine Trail, which is planned eventually to run from the city of Napa to Calistoga. This short segment is a pretty ride.

Napa Valley Vine Trail

When we reached the end of this trail, we turned on a narrow paved path that took us back to our car.

We decided to eat at Michael Chiarello’s Napa Style in the informal Paninoteca and Wine Bar. We both had panini, I the rather unexciting Giana and my husband the Forever-roasted Pork. My husband very kindly traded his second half for my second half, so that I too was able to enjoy a warm delicious sandwich. We have eaten here twice before, and the food has always been good, but the Giana is lacking a little something. Most of the people around us chose soup on this wintry day.

The chef at work

After lunch we drove to the Oxbow Market in Napa where we purchased some olive bread at the bakery and vegetables at the small produce market. We had hoped to have tea and dessert here, but as with every other place we visited this particular day, the crowds were almost overwhelming.  We drove home, where we enjoyed some hot tea and ever delicious See’s candy.

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Christmas Shopping by Bicycle

With Iron Horse Trail as a thoroughfare, it is easy to use our cycling trips to catch up on errands. Christmas shopping by bike is especially rewarding. Not only do we exercise and accomplish something; we also glide into wherever we are going and park easily, thus saving a lot of time and frustration.  I use my sturdy TransIt panniers to haul our purchases. Last week we rode from Alamo to Danville and bought several gifts at McCaulou’s, our local small department store. Yesterday we rode from Walnut Creek to Alamo where we went to the post office and had coffee at Peet’s. Then we rode back to the Walnut Creek Farmers’ Market, finishing up in Walnut Creek’s beautiful Broadway shopping center with its abundance of fine stores. Broadway has convenient bike racks right in the middle of the center by the fountain and the big Christmas tree.

Broadway Shopping Center