To Petaluma - Winterlude 2021 - CycleBlaze

December 7, 2021

To Petaluma

The storm passed in the night, leaving a completely clear sky in its wake.I’ve got a few minutes until our restaurant opens for breakfast so I step out the back door and down to the beach for another look while we wait.  It’s beautiful but still chilly until the sun rises above the ridge behind my back and I feel a sudden radiant warmth.  It’s a beautiful time to be on the sand with only a few others out to see it yet, qway off at the extremes of the long crescent.  

My nearest neighbors this morning, several hundred yards off.
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On Crescent Beach.
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My size twelves.
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Getting the best view of the Battery Point Lighthouse.
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marilyn swettBoy that surfer is a hardy soul!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo marilyn swettReally. I was startled when I zoomed in on him, thinking it was a seal. He was out before sunrise.
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1 month ago
On Crescent Beach.
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Not long after seven and we’re the first customers at Fisherman’s Restaurant, the same place we closed up last night.  We both remember our masks this morning, so we only have to drive there the one time.  Dinner was fine enough last night but it’s a better breakfast diner and our waitress serves me up a lovely Portuguese omelet with linguiça while Rachael enjoys her scrambled eggs with minced ham, hash browns, and a fruit cup.  Neither of us has had a breakfast like this in months, and this is two mornings in a row now.  Life on the road is good!

Soon after we return to the room we pack up and head south.  I’m just telling Rachael that we should keep our eyes out for elk today when I startle her by making a U-turn in the empty highway to pull up to the other side of the road.  There’s a herd of about fifty in the shadows in a pasture, just a few hundred yards south of our motel.

The elk were out in abundance today. These were part of a herd of about fifty just on the outskirts of town.
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Scott AndersonTo Suzanne GibsonThey’re really wonderful animals. They come down from the mountains and hang out in large herds in the meadows in the winter. We see these up in the Coast Range in Oregon also.
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1 month ago

I’m mentally running through the times I’ve climbed this hill into the redwoods just south of Crescent City.  I’ve biked south from Salem along the coast into California twice, both long in the past - to the Bay Area in 1980 and then all the way to Los Angeles in 1986 - and I remember this climb well.  The first time, I remember stopping at the vista point halfway up and chatting with a touring motorcyclist there, and then being alarmed at the top by the giant redwoods crowding the margin of the two line highway as an occasional truck passed too close for comfort.

I haven’t been down here in 35 years  though that I can remember, and don’t believe I’ve ever actually driven the Redwood Highway.  Rachael thinks she’s been here before though, and if she has it would have been with me so maybe I’m forgetting something.  It is an awesome experience of course, even from behind a windshield.  The trees the unique spectacle, but the land and sea are also thrilling.  This is a particularly fine time to be here - it’s early in the day and late in the year so the highway is almost empty at first, and the day is stunning.  Hard to believe after yesterday’s gloom.  I keep thinking of how wonderful today would be on a bicycle, but then think back too of how awful yesterday would have been.

We’ve only driven about a half hour when we pull off at the Prairie Creek Visitor Center, the base for the first of two short hikes we’ve loaded onto our Garmins for the day.  It’s still early in the day and the large parking lot is nearly empty when we start walking.   Before we start though we read the information panel there and try to remember the right behavior if we have an unlikely encounter with a cougar - stand tall, be still, look the big cat in the eyes, and hope it slinks off.  The panel says there hasn’t been a cougar attack in these woods yet, and we don’t want to make history this morning.

Into the woods.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesThe sign forgot to mention that cougars often pounce from above, so heads up!!!
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1 month ago

Our hike is a three mile loop that takes us four, north on the Cathedral Trees trail and back along the Prairie Creek Trail.   We found this hike browsing for best hikes in the redwoods and this one was listed as easy, excellent, very popular, and often busy.  Not today though.  I don’t recall seeing anyone else for the first hour of our walk, and then only a few toward the end.  Remarkable to have the redwoods all to ourselves on such a spectacular morning.

Look up!
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Look down!
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Radiant! Unusual to find one like this exposed and open to the sun.
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Redwood sorrel.
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Big trunk.
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We only encountered a few other folks in our walk through the cathedral this morning. She’s from Oz, and he’s from Colorado but working hard at picking up her accent.
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The sign says it all. Unfathomable. In other news from about the time this giant was a seedling: King Arthur was victorious over the Saxons in Dorset, the Hagia Sophia was built, and Justinian the Great died.
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Yes, it certainly is a Big Tree.
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Tunnels.
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For my valentine.
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An empty nest, unless I’ve overlooked someone.
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It’s hard to see from this, but the long black scar is fire damage. Many of these giants are fire survivors.
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Back to the Raven, with still about five hours of road time ahead.
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We’ve loaded a second hike for another hour down the road, but we won’t use it.  This one has been a short walk but a very slow one because there is so much to stop and be amazed by.  It’s almost noon by the time we make it back to the car, and there’s still over a four hour drive ahead so there won’t be time for it.  There’s not even time to slow down for the Avenue of the Giants, but maybe we’ll come down again sometime and break the bicycles out.

We manage to make it to Petaluma exactly at five, happy to be out of the mountains before it’s dark.  We head straight to Sugo Trattoria, the restaurant Rachael has picked for tonight.  It’s a good thing we did this rather than stopping by our motel first because it’s a small place and almost full when we arrive.  Or server says that Tuesdays are always crowded because they have a special on then and all the wine pours are $6/glass - basically half price.

We’re here because Rachael was tempted by the pistachio crusted salmon, and I’m tempted as well.  It pairs nicely with the $6 glasses of Sauvignon blanc.

Sustainable salmon, spicy red pepper agrodolce mashed potatoes, green beans.
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I’ve been in Petaluma before.  It was the end point for my first bike ride down the coast in 1980.  I didn’t actually make it to San Francisco as planned.  After one too many days in the pouring rain I picked up a flat near Point Reyes and hitched a ride to the nearest Greyhound station.

Over dinner though I’m misremembering that this is where I ended up when I ran away from home when I was 13 or 14 (it was 25 miles south of here in Vallejo, I remember now).  I’m retelling this story to Rachael over dinner - of how I was so mortified by receiving a Poor Work Slip at school that I was too ashamed or afraid to take it home.  Instead I took the collections from my paper route and hopped a Greyhound for San Francisco.  

I felt daring and adventurous, reading a paperback copy of the then scandalously risqué Lady Chatterly’s Lover.  I had no business model for my adventure though, so when I got to Vallejo I thought better of it and phoned home.  I don’t remember what happened after that so I decide I should call mom and dad when we get back to the room and see what they still remember, if anything.

Dad answers the phone. He’s amused when I describe the incident but doesn’t remember it at all.  He immediately segues into a lengthy, confusing ramble about some relative back in Bluefield where he grew up, and then hands the phone over to mom.

Mom remembers - and she says she’s sure dad will too when she prompts him with the right details.  It was an awful experience for her of course, and she says it still makes her sad that I would have felt that I couldn’t come home with the bad news.  And she remembers how I got home - how could I have forgotten this?  Dad took a few days off work and drove the Peugeot eight hundred miles down from Seattle to retrieve me.

It was a long, quiet drive home, I remember now that mom has jogged my memory.  I don’t recall discussing Lady Chatterly’s Lover with dad on the way home, but possibly it came up.

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Steve Miller/GrampiesOne of our favourite rides on or off the bikes. When we rode down the coast we went down the Avenue of the Giants. Very nearly rode off the road a good few times from staring up, up, up while trying to keep pedalling.
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1 month ago
Andrea BrownIf you're going to run away from home, you should always bring along good reading material. So not all of your decisions then were unwise.
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1 month ago
Rich FrasierThose redwood groves are my absolute favorite place on this planet. So beautiful. Thanks for the great pictures.
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1 month ago