An Anniversary Sojourn in California’s Pre-eminent Wine Country

Villagio Grounds

Villagio Grounds

With the aid of a generous gift, we spent three nights at Villagio Inn and Spa in Yountville to celebrate  our 57th wedding anniversary. The weather was perfect enabling us to do three different bike rides in the three days that we spent there. Each bike ride followed by a wonderful meal at one of the area’s outstanding restaurants made for an unforgettable mini-vacation.

View on Dunaweal Lan.

View on Dunaweal Lan.

We headed north to Calistoga on Monday morning for our first bike ride, one that we have done many times. We parked near the Washington Avenue bike path on Dunaweal Ln. Following the path into town, we crossed Lincoln, still on Washington Ave. Shortly thereafter, we turned left on Berry St. and made a right on Cedar, which ends in a bike trail around a mobile home park and through a small shopping center to Mitzi Dr. We turned right on Kathy Way and then followed Denise Dr. to its end where we crossed over a small bridge that took us to Centennial Circle. From Centennial, we turned right on Grant and rode to Lake St. where we turned left to ride to the Silverado Trail, which took us back to Dunaweal Ln. This is a short ride that showcases the old California town of Calistoga with its historic buildings and range of houses from small cottages to larger more upscale  homes. The part of the ride along the Silverado Trail is one with lovely views of the vineyard-covered countryside.

Since we completed this ride fairly early, we again rode the Washington Ave. trail back into town, where we visited the tourist bureau to pick up a map of the Napa Valley and browsed in Copperfield’s Books. Following the advice of the lady in the tourist bureau, we ate lunch at Evangeline, a new restaurant in Calistoga and a serendipitous choice. We each had asparagus soup, and then we shared the cheese plate. I had a cake for dessert, and my husband had his usual ice cream. I can hardly wait to take our whole family to this new restaurant.

Patio at Evangeline

Patio at Evangeline

Tuesday we did our most ambitious ride, parking just off of Salvador Ave. in Napa. We took Salvador to Big Ranch Rd., which becomes Soscol Ave. on the approach to downtown Napa. We rode Soscol to First St. in Napa, where we locked our bikes, walked around, and had coffee. Downtown Napa still has lots of scaffolding on its buildings due to repairs made necessary by the recent earthquake. We returned to our car the way that we had come. This ride is interesting because the scenery varies a lot from housing developments to farm lands to a busy city. But it is a somewhat dangerous ride. There is a lot of traffic on Soscol and in downtown Napa. Salvador Ave.  does not have much of a shoulder, and the shoulder is quite narrow in places on Big Ranch and Soscol. Although my husband thought it was a great ride, I was uneasy, and I would recommend  it only for riders who are very comfortable riding in traffic.

View from Big Ranch Rd.

View from Big Ranch Rd.

On Wednesday, we headed over to Sonoma to do our ride around that town. We did the same ride that we had done with our son and grandson in January (see January 25th post) with one exception. Before we took Petaluma Ave., a busy narrow street, across from Riverside Drive to Arnold Drive. This time we rode to Solano Ave., a much quieter, safer street. This ride goes past some lovely homes on the east side of Sonoma and ends up passing through beautiful meadows on the return trip near General Vallejo’s home. While this is an enjoyable ride, the pavement surfaces in Sonoma are rough enough to make riding a bit uncomfortable. But Sonoma is such a charming town, that one tends to overlook minor inconveniences.

This time in the wine country was a lovely break from our everyday lives, and we feel that we are indeed blessed to live near such a lovely area and to still have active fun together after 57 years of marriage.

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