A Taste of Luxury in Victoria BC

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Views of the back of the Oak Bay Beach Hotel at dusk

We chose to stay at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel for our three days in Victoria because we like this lovely area of Victoria, and I was fascinated by this sumptuous hotel that has been constructed on the site of an old Tudor-styled hotel that previously stood here. This is an elegant hotel with beautifully furnished rooms and wonderful bathrooms with separate tubs and showers plus heated floors. There are three restaurants: a pub, a formal dining room, and a café that we found perfect for a simple breakfast. We ate at the pub two nights, and the third night we ate dinner in our room which was furnished with a very small galley kitchen, re-heating leftovers from our pub dinners. The spa-like swimming pool pictured above is warm and good for easing a cyclist’s aches and pains. In addition, there is a free garage with easy access where we were able to leave our bikes locked in the car. And since we could catch an elevator from the garage to our room, we did not have to bother with valets. So although this hotel is upscale, it is comfortable and not at all stuffy. However, it is not inexpensive to stay here.

One day we rode along the  waterfront to Cadboro Bay Village where we had coffee and then turned up Sinclair Road to visit the University of Victoria. This was a big mistake; I could see that it was steep, but I kept expecting to turn left off of it on the road indicated on my phone. However, that road was at the top of the hill, one that was impossible to ride and almost impossible to walk. When we reached the campus, we found a pretty, leafy university with the bustle of students changing classes. We made our way to Henderson Rd. which turns into Foul Bay Rd. , an interesting street with a good bike lane giving us a nice long coast down to Oak Bay Avenue and Oak Bay Village, a charming old-fashioned area with restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, and practical shops. It is like some of the shopping areas that I remember from my childhood before strip malls started to mar the landscape. As we have several times before, we ate lunch at the atmospheric Penny Farthing Pub. After lunch we browsed at a bookstore and bought a couple of items at a most attractive food store. Then it  was a short ride up the end of Oak Bay Avenue down Newport back to Beach Drive and the hotel.

Another day, we parked at the shopping center at Cordova Bay and rode the Lochside Trail from there to Sidney, a pretty route traversing interesting neighborhoods and some farmlands, and  at points next to the Saanich Inlet. Sidney is a pleasant small town with lots of eating places and bookstores. It is also the place where one catches the  ferry to Anacortes. This is an easy ride of about 18 miles all together. When we returned to the shopping center, we had a pleasant lunch outside at Bill Mattick’s Restaurant and Lounge, which is located right next to a golf course and surrounded by attractive landscaping.

This area was the highlight of our vacation. Although we have been to Victoria and Vancouver Island many times, a visit there never fails to delight us.  The pace is slower than that in our own SF Bay Area, and the people are warm and friendly. Although it is not the same, a visit here is a bit like a visit to England.

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Bazan Bay Sidney

 

 

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Riding the Trails in Bend, Oregon

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Known for its cycling environment, the Sunriver resort in Oregon is only a short distance from Bend. We drove out there early in the morning and obtained a map and directions from a woman at the tourist information office. She advised a circular  trail past the golf course, around the airport, with a detour to the marina (pictured above), and then a ride along the Deschutes River, and back through an area of houses and condos. This was a pretty ride of  about eight miles on a lovely clear morning, We had lunch at the Sunriver Brewing Company, where the food wasn’t very exciting. After lunch we decided to ride some more of the trails, but as we started out, we found the paths clogged with people riding carelessly in big groups. Putting the bikes back in the car, we headed back to Bend, glad that we had done the most interesting trail early in the morning.

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We were staying at the Hilton Garden Inn in The Old Mill District of Bend, a spectacular  use of the old sawmill property that formerly existed in this area. This is now a shopping center and a riverfront park with upscale dining spots, stores, and hotels. That afternoon we parked on the same level as the stores, pulled out our bikes and rode on the paved paths on both sides of the river. Crossing a bridge, we met a man who had grown up in Bend and worked for the sawmill. A chatty fellow, he gave us a lot of information on the history of the area and the changes made there. Cruising this pleasant area on our bikes, we added about four more miles to our mileage total for the day. The excellent hotel and this location made for a memorable stay. I would recommend this particular Hilton Hotel to anyone.

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Two Rides in Klamath Falls, Oregon

20170908_171307Our first night out on this trip we stayed at the Running Y Lodge just outside of Klamath Falls. It is a beautifully laid out resort with pleasant young people running the place. We tried a bike ride on their three mile path surrounding the golf course, and while some of it was decent riding, it was steep, curving, and narrow in spots, not my favorite type of bike ride. However, it did give us a modicum of exercise after long day in the car.

The next morning we drove into Klamath Falls, where by dint of using the Google maps app, we located the OC&E Woods Line State Trail, where we parked by Wiard Park. This is a well-maintained mostly flat trail developed on an old railroad right-of-way that runs out of Klamath Falls to Sycan Marsh. We rode the part from Wiard Park to the very small town of Olene, a return trip of a little over 12 miles. After Olene the paving runs out, making for rougher riding. The trail goes through some modest housing areas just out of Klamath Falls but soon enters farming country with rich looking fields and lots of cattle. This is an appealing country ride, most enjoyable on a clear warm morning.

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Some Thoughts on our Rides in Napa and Livermore

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The Grapes are Hanging Heavy on the Vine

Napa

I have not posted in a while because we have not ridden in new areas, but now I do have some comments to make about some of our rides. Last week we did our Yountville to Rutherford to Silverado  and back to Yountville on Yountville Crossroad ride. It was a lovely ride through the ripening vineyards. The only problem was the rough surfaces of some  of the roads. We had to observe where we were placing our wheels on several roads but especially on  Rutherford Road. Although the ride was still fun, the road surfaces do add an element of danger.

The week before that we met some friends for lunch at the CIA at Copia. We parked in the lot by Starbucks at Redwood Road. We then rode the Vine Trail to Yountville for coffee and then back to Redwood Road where we continued down Solano Ave. and made a left turn behind the Chablis Hotel to get briefly on the trail that runs across Napa. I have mentioned before that I don’t like this trail because it runs through some unattractive areas of Napa,  and it crosses several busy streets. We rode this trail just until we crossed over  Highway 29 on the bridge and then turned right on California Street. We rode in the bike lane down California St.,  turning  left on E. St. with a partial right on Hayes, a left on Yount St., a right on Yajome, and then a left on Vallejo which leads to Soscol Ave. Riding straight across Soscol, we turned right into the parking lot from River Terrace and then wound around behind the Oxbow Market to the parking lot of  Copia. Since the  ride across Napa was mostly on a bike boulevard it was easy  and fun with a nice view of some old Napa houses that have been beautifully restored. After lunch we reversed our trip across Napa to return to our car. Since the cross Napa ride is only about three miles, it was easy to do after a filling lunch.

Livermore

A few weeks ago we rode the Arroyo Mocho Trail in Livermore. The last time we rode it in the late winter or early spring, there were several flooded spots. To our dismay, this time we discovered that the rains have left severe damage in many areas, particularly between Stanley Blvd. and Livermore St. When we reached  the first underpass near Stanley Blvd., we hesitated. A homeless man told us to ride on through because he sees cyclists do it all the time. We should have known better than to have listened. We started down the trail but soon dismounted and then had to slog our way through thick sand. A couple more times we had to cross through sand and debris. My husband commented that the ride was like Omaha Beach without the gunfire. The ride down Concannon was the usual fun downhill coast, but we knew to turn right on Murdell Ln. because that section of the Isabel Ave, Trail is out. Where Murdell hits E. Stanley, it is possible to ride the Isabel Ave. Trail back to the beginning of the Arroyo Mocho at Jack London Blvd. Livermore needs to signpost their trails with better warning signs. Now there are signs only right at the obstacles. They are not sufficient!

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Washouts on Livermore Bike Trails

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Last Monday, we rode on the Arroyo Mocho Trail in Livermore and planned to complete our riding circuit on the Isabel Avenue Trail. However, although we had a satisfying ride, we came across many obstacles. I had expected this underpass beneath Stanley Blvd. to be flooded, but we found many places along the Arroyo Mocho that were signposted and in bad condition. Some of the underpasses such as this one could be avoided by taking an alternate route and crossing a street at a signal. But there were other areas that we simply had to slog through. All of these places were signposted on the spot, but there were no signs at the beginning or end of the Arrroyo Mocho. And the signs that were placed on the trail were put in the middle, making it hard to ride around them in the areas where one could ride. It seems to me that the Livermore Recreation and Park district should also have information and alerts regarding the trails on their web site.

Monday was a cold but clear day, and it was beautiful riding in one of California’s up and coming wine producing regions. The Livermore Valley isn’t exactly the Napa Valley yet, but it has its own beauty and many wineries for those so inclined to visit. When we turned onto the trail that runs along Concannon Avenue, the sky was a clear blue with a few puffy white clouds hanging above the hillside vineyards, making us feel at peace with our sometimes overwhelming world.

However, we had another surprise awaiting us when we reached the end of Concannon, ready to turn onto the Isabel Avenue trail to circle back to our car. A good part of the trail has been leveled along with the bike lane on the road. We managed to push our way through the mud to reach the bike lane on the edge of Isabel, Hwy. 84. The shoulder or bike lane is wide there, and we felt comfortable riding it, but it did have a lot of gravel and debris in it. It needs a good sweeping.

When we start out on these bike rides, particularly at this time of year, we are never sure what to expect. Sometimes it is surprises thrown out by mother nature, many times inconsiderate people on the trails, and occasionally a malfunction in one of our bikes. But as in life, the unexpected can make things more interesting and enhance our memories.

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A Wintry Ride on the Napa Vine Trail

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After having our New Year’s Eve day ride cancelled because of serious family illness, it was with thankful hearts for a quick recovery that our small family cycling group of my husband, a son, our grandson, and I set off on Friday January 6th to ride from Yountville to Napa. It was cold but clear with water running briskly through the small creek alongside the trail. The path was practically deserted and except for a little mud at the beginning, clear of debris from recent storms. We rode down to Redwood Rd. in Napa, had coffee at a Starbucks there and then rode back. There are still about three intersections where the signal system has not been integrated with the trail, and one must use caution at these.

Using Open Table to make reservations for lunch, we decided on Brix in Yountville, which turned out to be a good choice. Although the menu was not as extensive as we remembered its being in the summer, we were all pleased with our choices: stroganoff, black-eyed pea soup, and duck confit salad. But the star of the show was the dessert that I ordered: s’mores, which came with chocolate graham crackers, squares of chocolate, house-made marshmallows, and a petite pot with a flame to roast the marshmallows. We each took a turn and had one s’more. It was a lot of fun as was the whole day except for the traffic going home.

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A Visit to UC Davis

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Yesterday, we visited our grandson, who is a freshman at UC Davis. He gave us an extensive bicycle tour of the main part of the campus in the morning, plus a visit to downtown Davis and the farmers’ market. At noon we piled into the car to drive to Woodland for lunch at Kitchen 428 where we had a satisfying lunch in an interesting old building. We drove back to Davis on Hwy.98, a lovely country road.

Our grandson then led us to the west side of the campus, which is rural with some of the scientific sites reflecting the  agricultural departments of the university. We stopped at a beautiful garden with plants that foster the increase in bee populations. And we walked along a nature preserve on the banks of the Putah Creek, a major stream in northern California that is 85 miles long. One of the last stops on our ride was in Davis’ magnificent arboretum. We did all of this on bicycle paths and quiet country roads, an outdoor adventure that was a magic antidote to the stresses of ordinary life in our busy SF Bay Area.

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In the Bee Garden