Last California Rides #5 (Retirement Ride)

On Friday (May 27) I officially retired. This is my second retirement, the first retirement was from the Coast Guard in 1996. As I approached retirement, a riding buddy of mine (Terry) told me that on my first full day of retirement I needed to do something I enjoyed…and take pictures. So I went for a ride and here are the pictures.


The ride started at the Applebox with a breakfast burrito and a cup of coffee. After eating I headed for highway 1 and a ride up the coast toward Stewart’s Point.


I made a slight detour to stop at Watson School. Watson School District is located on Bodega Highway between Freestone and the town of Bodega. The one room school served the families in the area and was in use from 1856 to 1967.


The town of Bodega where Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds was filmed. In the distance you can see the church and the white building to the left of the church is the school.


The mouth of the Russian River as I head north on Highway 1. Highway 1 north of Jenner is carved out of the side of the mountain overlooking the ocean. A very spectacular ride and one that should be on every riders bucket list.


Looking south on Highway 1…you can see the road in the distance.


Stewarts Point…one of my favorite stops along Highway 1 and the beginning of Skaggs Springs Road. The Caffe Americano was superb as always. If you ever get a chance to go upstairs…take it. Upstairs has a bar that is very unique along with several antiques and a lot if history of the area.


I have been here many times and have never noticed the bicycle on top of the restroom. I should have asked them the significance of the bicycle but didn’t think about it until I was back on the road.


My favorite type of sign when I’m on the bike. The road is rough and has lots of curves.


On the road. The plan is to turn right at Tin Barn then down King Ridge to the Russian River.



Along King Ridge road. I have ridden this road many times and generally there isn’t much traffic. Today was different. There was a bicycle race on King Ridge so one had to be carful and stay to the right when on the road. Only once did a bicycle rider stray on my side when coming around a corner. He was very embarrassed and nodded his apology. No worries….


A great ride down to Monte Rio from King Ridge then along the Bohemian Highway heading through Occidental toward Freestone. The picture above is downtown Occidental.


I have always thought about stopping at this store and today I did. After taking this picture I walked back to the bike as the gentleman on the left began to jokingly cajole the driver of the pickup about messing up the picture. I assured them that they didn’t mess up anything. We then had a great conversation about bikes, old hippies, medical treatment, girlfriends, and retirement. Both gentleman wished me luck on my retirement. I love having conversations with strangers when I ride.

No picture but I finished the ride with the required stop at the Wildflour Bakery where I purchased of Meyer Lemon Mango White Chocolate scone. The ride totaled 146 miles and I enjoyed every minute of it. Stay tuned…

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Last California Rides #4

It has been a minor challenge trying to get some of my favorite rides in before leaving. Today the route was up through Napa and Alexander Valleys, then through Healdsburg to the Westside Road, Sweetwater Springs Road to the Russian River and Jenner, then to Colman Valley and the Bohemian Highway, with a final stop at the Wildflower Bakery (of course).


The ride began at the Freemont Diner where we enjoyed a good breakfast with coffee. For three of us breakfast was biscuits and gravy while Scotty enjoyed a breakfast sandwich. The above picture is Scott and Monica Whidden on their Spyder.


The other rider was Terry Cooper. We stopped to get a couple of pictures of the valley and also to stretch the legs.



The Jimtown Store and the vineyard across the street…a great place to stop for coffee and snacks. We stopped and enjoyed each others company. Lots of stories and laughter shared.


This was outside the front of the store near the picnic tables. I have been there before and don’t remember the Snoop box. It’s a lending library with Snoopy on the top and Snoopy/Woodstock cartoons on each end. Neat idea.


My bike, Terry Cooper, Scott and Monica.


Sweetwater Springs road…ten miles of paved, windy, 1 lane road that drops from the Westside Road over into Guerneville on the Russian River.


The Russian River and Jenner. We stopped and had some good Clam Chowder.


Coleman Valley Road where I tried to get a picture of the other riders as they moved into view. I sped up a bit in an attempt to get a head far enough for a good picture…it didn’t work. I stopped the bike and jumped off for the shot…too late as they were already moving into view. So I motioned for them to stop so I could get some kind of picture. Terry stopped and then motioned rather forcefully for me to look backwards. Of course I ignored him as I got my camera up…at which time the retreating pickup you see honked his horn to let me know of his presence. Hmmm….


Final stop…the Wildflour Bakery. My coffee and rhubarb scone is in the foreground while Monica is “daintily” eating part of a Sticky Bun as Scott admires her technique, and Terry is cutting more to share. It was great to share a ride, stories, and food with Terry, Scott and Monica. Todays total mileage was 146, temps in the low 60s with a partly cloudy sky. Stay tuned as I try to get a couple of more rides in before we move.

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Last California Rides #3


Met a long time friend and former Coast Guardsman for a ride today. John and I had coffee at Peet’s and then headed toward Jackson for a ride over Carson Pass. A bit cloudy this morning with the temps in the low 50s…a perfect day for a ride.


First stop was for coffee in Jackson. A great little coffee shop and time for a good visit with John… and it was here that the fun began. A car pulled up and a woman in her late 50s got out of the car with her friend and walked toward us holding a her cell phone. Strolling up to John and I she asked if she could take a picture of her with the two of us so that she could show her mother. “Why?” we asked. She then proceeded to tell us that we looked like a couple of “bad asses” and she wanted her picture with us. How do you respond to that? Of course we said. She struggled with getting the picture so John took over and got a selfie with her and the two of us. That was a first for me. I’ve been called a lot of things but never a “bad ass”. Hmmm….I wonder what else the day will bring. I love riding….we headed over the Pass down toward Minden.


The east side of the pass looking west. We stopped just south of Minden so John could gather some sage. As you can see the weather was perfect. We stopped for fuel in Minden. I was drinking some water while waiting for John when this gentleman strolled up and said I should be drinking a beer. Nope…not while riding…maybe afterwards. John walked up and the guy said “How are you doing Chief.” (John has a chief’s patch sewed on his vest…his rank when he retired from the Coast Guard.) We had a good conversation with the man. Come to find out he’s a retired mustanger…going from Senior Chief to Officer and retiring as Commander. We thanked him for his service and he thanked us as well. The bikes act as magnets for folks to start conversations. I love riding….


Lunch was at Red Hut in Carson City. I have never eaten their before but the food was great. John was had a couple of calls to make so I went out to the bikes. There was a woman there having a cigarette looking over the bike. We talked for several minutes. She used to ride a Ninja but sold if after breaking up with her boyfriend and had been thinking about buying a BMW. We talked bikes and I suggested the F700GS. She was somewhat small and the bike would fit her well. She thanked me for the advice and conversation then went back to work.


Heading back to Petaluma via Highway 50 through South Lake Tahoe. The lake was clear and  up…much better than last year.

Traffic was good on the way back and we made good time. It was an interesting ride and we met some very interesting people along the way. People are usually very curious about where you’ve been and where you are headed…and most of the time aren’t shy about asking. I enjoyed the ride, the people, the scenery along the way, and the chance to visit with John. The ride was 426 miles and I rolled over 50K on my GS today. Stay tuned….

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Last California Rides #2

This is ride #2 of the Last California Rides. Today after worship and lunch with Sharla and a friend, I decided to do one of my favorite short rides. The route would head north along highway 101 to Dry Creek and then over Sweetwater Springs road to Guerneville, the bakery, then the town of Bodega and home.


The Dry Creek General Store…an excellent place to stop for lunch and a cool beverage. I have eaten here several times and recommend the ambiance along with the food and the view as it’s a great place to grab a sandwich and people watch.


A view of the valley from Lambert Bridge Road heading west from Store. Today was a Passport Event for a lot of the wineries along the valley. Most of the winery parking lots were full with extra cars parked along the road.

South along West Dry Creek road to Westside road and Sweetwater Springs road. Sweetwater Springs is a narrow, twisty, paved road that heads over the mountains to Armstrong Woods road and Guerneville. While not a fast road it is fun to drive.



As you can see from the pictures the road is narrow but beautiful. This bridge is one of five that are along the one lane route.


Heading down from the top of the ridge you can see the road in the distance with the switchback on the left. The road moves into the bottom of the valley and then toward Armstrong Woods road just outside of Guerneville.



Through Guerneville to Monte Rio and the Bohemian Highway (the above shot) heading to the Wildflour Bakery. The bakery is a must when riding up this way.


Todays treat was a fresh, still hot strawberry scone with chocolate chips along with coffee. You guessed it…very tasty.


The route home took me through the small town of Bodega…not Bodega Bay. It was in this town that Alfred Hitchcock’s move “The Birds” was filmed. In the film it looks like you are just across the way from the ocean. In reality the ocean is probably 5 miles as the crow flies to the west. The Saint Teresa of Avila church is seen briefly in the film.

Todays ride was just over 100 miles with the weather in the upper 60’s and some wind but not too bad. Stay tuned for additional Last Rides in the upcoming weeks.

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Last California Rides #1


Yes…the title for this and future installments is correct. My wife and I will be leaving the area sometime between the end of June and the middle of July. She is retiring and we are moving to Tennessee or northern Mississippi…don’t know exactly where yet. In anticipation of leaving the state I think it’s about time to get some rides in so today Terry Cooper and I had breakfast at the Applebox and then headed down to Marin County to connect with Highway 1 (the Coast Highway) and follow it north to the Russian River.


The view looking east toward Angel Island from the Panoramic Highway (honest…that’s its name) as we head toward Muir Woods. The road was packed yet traffic was moving very well. Lots of folks parked along the road and were walking toward the entrance to the Woods. The day was perfect with temps in the high 60’s and no wind.



Had to get a shot of the bikes overlooking the blue pacific…great day. Both pictures were taken north of Stinson Beach which you can see in the distance in the bottom picture. Once we got beyond Muir woods the traffic wasn’t bad.


Highway 1 heading north as we leave Bolinas. It has been a while since I passed through Bolinas and as it was along the route…why not. Bolinas is an interesting place that really doesn’t care (or perhaps would prefer) that folks don’t know they exist. Rumor has it that when a sign is put up on Highway 1 pointing toward the town…locals quickly remove the sign. Anyway there were a lot of surfers heading to the beach when we stopped and parking was limited so we headed north toward Pt. Reyes for lunch.


Lunch was at the Whales Tail Deli on the south end of town. I have eaten there before but they have changed some since then. Terry had a Chili burrito and I had a Steak burrito. Our burritos were good…but wrong. Terry thinks he had steak and I definitely had pork but it wasn’t worth trying to go inside and make them fix. While there we visited with a young couple who were up from Stockton for a mini-vacation. We filled them in on the area and some good places to go and shuck the 50 oysters they had recently purchased. I must admit…there was a part of me that wanted to join them for the feast.


Point Reyes main street heading north.



Next stop was Nicks Cove. The top picture is the restaurant showing the rental cabins along the bay and the pier stretching into the water. The second picture is the end of the pier. With the good weather there were several kayak companies doing tours on the bay. Point Reyes Outdoors was well represented along with some others. Next stop the Tall Ships anchored in Bodega Bay


Looking east from Valley Ford Franklin Road…just about a 1/4 mile from the turn to Dillon Beach. This road is narrow, paved, and fun to drive as were all the roads we travelled today. The plan is to head through Bodega, check out the ships, then head toward the Russian river.


Well…there they are. Yes…somewhat frustrating that one cannot get closer. Over the weekend there was a festival happening and part of the festival was that one could go out on a tall ship and play pirate. It would have been fun but I get sea sick. (Yes…I know…I did 20 years in the Coast Guard but you must remember…I was helicopter aircrew and never went to sea. I have the utmost respect for those who challenge the ocean for the lives they save and those they protect. Thank You)


We headed out of Bodega north along the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway or Highway 1) to the Russian river then east to the Bohemian Highway and you guessed it…the Wild Flour Bakery where Terry bought the sweets. We both had coffee and a strawberry/rhubarb scone. Very tasty. This a traditional stop for me because the coffee is good, the food is good, and the patrons are interesting and fun to visit with.


Terry heading home and I would follow in short order. It was great riding with Terry and I’m looking forward to more in the time I have left. We couldn’t have asked for a better day to do 150 miles. Stay tuned for more “last rides” from this area and new rides once we move.

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Thanksgiving Weekend Ride part 2

After a fairly decent nights sleep I decided to go in search of coffee.


Downtown Sonora early on Saturday morning as I search for coffee. It’s 7 am and there is no coffee to be found. My intent was to go to Sonora Joe’s Coffee Shop but it doesn’t open until 8 so I returned to the hotel to wait for 8 o’clock…and yes it is cold. The temperature is hovering somewhere around 35 degrees.


Sonora Joe’s for coffee and breakfast. This a great coffee shop. The coffee is excellent and the bagel sandwich I had for breakfast was perfect. I spent over an hour enjoying the coffee, reading, and visiting with Joe the owner. Truth to tell…I was waiting for the temperatures to rise to minimize the chance of any frost on the roads.


My route took me through Angels Camp and then down highway 49. I was a bit tentative leaving this morning and worried about frost in some of the corners that did not get any sun but my concerns were unfounded. The roads were dry and the temperature hovering around 46 degrees. Yes…it was cold but with the heated jacket liner and heated hand grips on I was comfortable.


Mokelumne Hill, a small town off highway 49. I have driven by this place a couple of times but have never stopped. It’s a very charming small town with a rich history. The first inhabitants were Miwok Indians. French trappers also settled in the area and later there were miners and a fairly large Chinese community.


The end of Main Street in Mokelumne Hill. It would be interesting to explore this area and learn more of the history. Okay…time to make tracks to Sacramento and the Royal Enfield dealer.


A couple of weeks ago I went to the Progressive International Motorcycle Show in Sacramento. While inspecting the bikes I came across the Royal Enfield and fell in love. The bikes, for me, bring visions of leather jackets, silk scarves, and riders exploring the far-flung British Empire. After doing some research I decided to visit the dealer in Sacramento. This bike (Military) or the Desert Storm version of this bike are what I want. The only problem is size. The bikes are short and while I do fit, it would be uncomfortable. Maybe in the future…who knows.



The ride home took me through the Sacramento River delta. I have always enjoyed this ride. The weather was clear, the roads bare, and the views along the river exceptionally good.


The Levee Cafe in Isleton for lunch. I have eaten here several times in the past and have always enjoyed the food. Today was not exception.

The trip from Isleton to Petaluma and home was uneventful. I arrived home around 4 having covered just over 400 miles. A short trip but very relaxing and beneficial. My lovely bride arrives home tonight after a busy week in Memphis. it will be good to have her home. Blessings to all and stay tuned for further rides.

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Thanksgiving Weekend Ride 2015

Sharla has been out of town for the past week and won’t be getting home until tomorrow so I decided to take a couple days and go for a ride.


I met Bob for breakfast this morning at the Schellville Grill. It was good to catch up with what has been going on in his world. After talking to him about his Sierra Adventure to ride the train tunnels I realized it was probably fortunate that I wasn’t able to go. A concussion, bruised ribs, banged up elbow and hip were his injuries after the ride had been upgraded to a more difficult level with what appears to be little consideration to the riders who had signed up for the ride at a lower experience level. He’s doing better and that’s good. Time to head east…


Sonoma Valley looking north from highway 12. The weather is perfect for a ride. The plan is to drive to Lodi and highway 99 then head south to Modesto. In Modesto I’ll head east on highway 132 to Coulterville and highway 49.


Traffic stop in Modesto…


La Grange is on highway 132 about 40 miles from Coulterville where I pick up highway 49. La Grange was a thriving community in the 1850s but today is almost a ghost town. I didn’t ride through the town because the weather alert on my GPS was chirping at me. I didn’t know what it was at first so I stopped to take closer look. Apparently there were thunder showers in the area. I did see the clouds…hmmm.


On highway 132 looking east toward the central valley…beginning to head up into the foothills. The roads were dry and twisty…perfect…


…except for the weather that I appear to be heading for. Temperatures up to this point have been in the mid-50s but it’s getting cooler. Hopefully when I head north on 49 the showers will be heading south.


Hit 49 at Coulterville and headed north while the showers headed south. The drought is having an effect as you can see by this reservoir.


At the hotel in Sonora and it’s a good thing that I made a reservation…something I don’t usually do. Sonora is having their 32nd annual Christmas parade and the place was packed. It reminds me of the Butter and Eggs day parade in Petaluma. This shot was taken from my hotel which is one block off main street.

The plan is too sleep in as much as possible and then visit Sonora Joe’s coffee shop about a block away for breakfast and coffee while waiting for the expected frost to clear. Once on the road I’ll wind my way over to Sacramento and stop at the Royal Enfield dealer…that should be fun. The route home from Sacramento will most likely be through the Sacramento River Delta toward Isleton. Stay tuned….


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1st Fall Ride – Wine Country to the Coast

I spent the first part of the morning cleaning my smoker and then decided the weather was perfect for fall ride through wine country and then out to the coast. The skies were clear the and the temperature in the mid sixties, like I said, “Perfect”.


I left the house about 11:30 heading east. The vineyards are changing color and have been for a couple of weeks. I missed the major color changes but they still look pretty.


The wine train heading up Napa Valley across the street from Oakville.


Downtown Saint Helena….and lots of traffic.


Napa valley vineyards.


Vineyards and the CIA (Culinary Institute of America). One of the these days Sharla and I are going to have a meal there. We know several people who have eaten there and they say it is expensive but well worth it. I could enjoy a 5 course meal in a place like this.


Anderson Valley vineyards. When one drives Highway 128 heading north through Napa Valley they will eventually cross into Anderson Valley.


Anderson Valley vineyards.


Jimtown Store…a very good place to eat and it has been profiled on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. I have stopped there several times while in the bike. Today the stop was for coffee and a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. Sharla and I have eaten there and we recommend it. They have specialty sandwiches, pasta, salads, house baked turkey and the like. The food is unique and made fresh every day. Okay…on to Dry Creek Valley.


Dry Creek vineyards. Dry Creek valley is just west of Anderson Valley and north of Santa Rosa.


Dry Creek valley.


The two vineyard pictures are from Dry Creek Valley and the one lane bridge above is also in the valley. The bridge leads to West Dry Creek road and then on to River Road that runs along the Russian River. I do enjoy finding roads that have bridges like this and even though I have been over this bridge numerous times…I still like it.


The bridge over the Russian River at Monte Rio…while not one lane it’s still neat.


Goat Rock just south of mouth of the Russian River, the Pacific Coast.


Pacific Coast looking south, taken just north of Bodega Bay.


There were some pretty wicked swells running today that provided a nice show when they impacted the rocks. No wind to speak of but somewhere there is a storm out in the Pacific generating these swells.




My trusty steed. She’s approaching 47K miles and with the service done a couple of weeks ago along with new skins…she’s purring right along. 4+ hours and 150 miles on the ride today. A nice way to spend the afternoon.

My next trip with be over Thanksgiving (Sharla will be in Memphis) and provided the weather cooperates, I will be doing something in the neighborhood of 1000 miles so stay tuned.


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Bikes, Planes, Automobiles – Summer Trip Conclusion


I loaded the bike after spending the night in Eureka and headed for breakfast at the Samoa Cookhouse.


I started with biscuits and gravy followed by scrambled eggs, sausage, fried potatoes covered with gravy. Of course there was coffee and orange juice. Time to head south.



It had been some time since I went through the Avenue of the Giants so I decided to take detour. A wonderful drive and there are some places to camp. Maybe next time.


In Myers Flat, on the Avenue of the Giants, I found this coffee shop. A nice place and it was time for coffee. My plan is to head south along the coast and meet some friends at the Manchester KOA.


I left highway 101 at Leggett and headed for the coast…and as you can see it’s a bit foggy. I added another layer and headed for the KOA.


I visited with the folks for about an hour and then headed for home. The folks are a bunch of combat medics and other specialties that get together a couple of times a year to go abalone diving. Tomorrow they hit the water.


Lombardi’s in Petaluma. I was too tired to cook dinner so I stopped for a sandwich, pasta salad, and something to drink…then on to the house. This is the final posting of the trip. It was a good motorcycle trip and I enjoyed the time in Wyoming and Tennessee. Total miles – 3800. It’s back to work on Monday.

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Bikes, Planes, Automobiles – Summer Trip Back to California Day 4


Bike’s loaded and it’s time to find a place for breakfast. I slept good despite the dog across the hall…it wasn’t too loud. I also slept in till 7:30….not bad. Now…breakfast. I asked the lady at the desk where a good place to eat would be and she directed me to the Powderhorn down the street.



This is where all the old guys (guys my age) go for breakfast. There was a group there having a Bible discussion and another group discussing the stock market. Interesting mix. Breakfast was a 3 meat omelette (ham, bacon, sausage), hash browns with gravy, and of course coffee. Tasty….time for the road. I remember a great coffee shop in Cave Junction so that’s where I’m headed.


It’s still here. I had an Americano and visited with an older gentleman (admitted hippy). We talked weather, Volkswagen bugs, and the cost of land. A great conversation. Next stop…the heart of the State of Jefferson.



The heart of the State of Jefferson. The road I chose led from highway 199 over to Happy Camp. I plugged Happy Camp into the GPS and after about 10 minutes it directed me to go the wrong way. It wasn’t lost…it was just confused. The road wound through the trees, along the mountain, and offered great views. Eventually the GPS figured out where we were and pointed me in the right direction (which I already new). (OBTW – the heart of the State of Jefferson is really in the mind.)


The State of Jefferson was a group of counties alone the Oregon/California border that were going to secede just before the outbreak of WW2. They were fed up with how the state capitols were treating them, ignoring them, and double crossing them. Hence the two XX on the seal.


Happy Camp…and I found Ernie’s Big Foot.



The road followed the Klamath River…very twisty, some rocks fallen off the mountain, and not much traffic. I noticed lots of people panning for gold…the next strike perhaps.


This is looking east along the way I had just traveled. About this time, with temps hovering between 92-102, I began to find taking the curves a bit more challenging. The problem…dehydration. I didn’t put on my camelback and though I had stopped several times to drink from my water bottle it just wasn’t enough. I needed to find a place to get out of the sun and rehydrate.


Found it…the Harmony Coffee Shop in Willow Creek. I pulled in and found a couple of marvelous barista’s that made me a large glass of unleaded ice tea (along with a refilled). We visited discussing coffee and the proper way to pull a shot. The owner, a short woman who had a 10″ raised platform behind the coffee bar, knew her stuff.  The raised platform reminded me of the one in movie Silverado. I will be stopping back if I go through there in the future. Okay…on to Eureka.

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Made it to Eureka and the Town House Motel…just a couple of blocks from the Lost Coast Brewery. A good ride to today on some nice roads. Today was only 200 miles compared to yesterday of 380. This afternoon I met a couple on a Harley from England who are taking a cross country tour. When his wife retired he picked her up on the bike and they began their trip. He shipped his bike from England to Virginia where they started their tour on May 10th. I met him when I went out to move my bike to give him room to park…a very nice guy. Tomorrow I plan to have breakfast at the Samoa Cookhouse and then ride to the KOA at Manchester to meet some friends. Looking forward to the day….stay tuned.

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