Biking Northern California -- Wine Country and Coast

Day 5 -- Guerneville Loop

Once again we had a day with a local loop ride. Our guide book gave us a choice of three rides, two of which sounded very difficult and perhaps not very interesting. Certainly the most interesting place in the area was the Armstrong Redwoods State Preserve, where there was a large tract of redwood forests. This was the ride of choice, and it was only six miles from our inn.

After a filling breakfast served at the inn, we started biking along the highway towards the redwoods forest. It was an easy, flat ride and soon we entered the park and locked our bikes in the parking lot at the entrance while Len checked out the information in the visitor center.

Entrance to the park

Bikes were only allowed a short distance into the park at the points where the paved roads ended. Even these short rides, however, were thrilling as we rode through the tunnels formed by the giant redwood trees.

Riding into the forest

It's impossible to see the tops of the ancient trees

Just us and the trees

There was a kind of unearthly quiet, and for the most part we were alone in the forest. One of the named trees was about 1400 years old, and we gave it our due respect. It's always a sobering thought that these trees were here when the country was discovered by Columbus.

There was a road that led up a steep, long hill. The guidebook said that this was an extremely difficult ride. Len started biking up, and I followed behind. I gave up about halfway, reaching at least a point where the sun was shining. I lay on brown grass along the road, feeling like a turtle basking lazily in the warmth of the sun after the chill of the forest below. A while later Len reappeared, having given up when the road became nearly impossible higher up the hill.

We coasted back down to the forest and were near the entrance when Len recognized some visitors that were coming in. He had told me that he knew a couple who lived in Guernville, but I never thought that we'd run into them. However, it seems that the world is full of coincidence. We talked for awhile, and I learned that they owned a motel outside of town. I asked if they came to the forest often, and the man replied, "Everyday." I thought that this was indeed a beautiful place, but I couldn't imagine coming every day. There must be other things to do, but I'm sure he exaggerated.

Having done the forest, there wasn't much else to do. We rode back into town and locked our bikes on the sidewalk while we went into a diner for lunch. Afterwards we walked along the sidewalk and shopped in a pharmacy and a variety store. It was remarkable how many Halloween items and displays were in every store.

Main street in Guerneville

We explored the town on our bikes, looking especially for a place to have dinner later. Once again we came up empty. The only choices were the Main Street Station where we had eaten the night before, and a small pizza joint up the street. We were hoping that the Main Street Station had music again, but they didn't, and we thought we should leave the good memories from the night before intact by going somewhere else.

On the way back we discovered a different bridge that led back towards our inn. It was an older bridge that had been supplanted by the new one, and had been closed off to traffic by steel posts. Of course, it was a pleasant thoroughfare for bikes. At the other end we passed the small amusement park with the haunted house that we had seen the previous night. In the daylight it was especially tacky.

We rested for a couple of hours, even though we had hardly worked up a sweat with our short ride. When we started to walk to town for dinner, the manger loaned us a big flashlight for safety along the pitch black highway. I wanted to walk over the older bridge we had discovered earlier, but Len thought that might be a dangerous place to be. Nevertheless, we went there and found that it was well lit. In fact, there were skaters and quite a few people there. It was kind of neat, actually.

The small pizza joint was near the far end of the old bridge. Two hard-working women were running the place, which had only about five customers sitting at the bar. This was definitely a place for townies, and not tourists like us. The Monday night football game was showing on a couple of televisions suspended over the bar, but no one seemed to be watching. We ordered spaghetti again, and one of the women said that the sauce was her special recipe. As was our usual practice we toasted ourselves for another successful day.

A toast at the local pizza joint at the end of the day

Proceed to Day 6, Part 1 of the California Trip

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