Thursday, October 4, 2012

Two Wheeling: Stillwater Cove Camping

Destination: Stillwater Cove, Fort Ross, California
Mileage: Approx. 340 miles, round trip
Food & lodging notes here... 

Should we ride 150 miles to go camping for one night? Let's do the math: Good people, good roads, good food, good laughs? That's 25 miles for each good. The math works for me, even without one of TG's grand spreadsheets. Load up, let's go. And really, by the time we got home, there were far more goods than that, so the goods per mile just kept getting better.

TG wrassled with MapQuest and the Garmin zumo to map the route. It should be as easy as creating the map hiding behind that little link right below this paragraph, but... Oh well. I wanted to say, "Head North, Young Man," but you know how boys are with their electronic devices.

Day 1: 2+2 Wheels Up the Coast
Route: Silicon Valley to Fort Ross via CA-1 150 miles

How do you carry a tent, cooler, and gear for two people on a bike?

Two-wheeling with four wheels. Wheeee
You take TG's way-cool trailer, of course. We loaded up the trailer on Friday after work, went to the Jason Mraz concert, and headed north Saturday morning through San Francisco on Brotherhood and Sunset to the park to avoid the less-than-picturesque entertainment and stoplights of 19th Ave.

It was foggy over the Golden Gate Bridge (shock!), but cleared up as we hit Marin and ditched 101 to head to Stinson Beach via 1. Getting through town is a bit of a pain, but once you're up into the hills and heading over to the coast, the roads and views are well worth it. The parking gods did not shine upon us in Stinson so we kept on keeping on to Point Reyes Station.

The line at the Station House Cafe was silly, so we checked out Cafe Reyes around the corner.

After lunch, our next mission was gathering oysters in Tomales Bay. Our technique is quite simple. Ride to Hog Island Oyster Co., park the bike, buy the oysters, put them in on ice in the cooler, bungee the lid, and get back on the road. No wetsuits required.

Somewhere around Bodega Bay we started seeing all of these people heading south on Highway 1 riding bikes with no engines. Weird, huh? Lycra instead of leather?

It turns out we had encountered Levi's GranFondo. What is a GranFondo, you ask? First things first, it has nothing to do with chocolate fondue. I know, I was kinda bummed about that too. And, while we're coming clean about these things, it has nothing to do with blue jeans, either. Levi Leipheimer is a professional cyclist. The GranFondo is a big ol' charity cycling event with three routes and, count 'em, 7500 people. (I learned that on the website. I lost count at 3,452.)

Those weather predictor people promised unseasonably warm weather in the Jenner area. They lied. There were random teases of blue sky along the coast. We could hear the ocean so we knew how to keep it to our left despite the fact we rarely saw it. Tra la la la, we made our merry way to the campground and found our friends ogling spear-caught fish.

Here's a secret about camping. Choose camping compatriots who appreciate good food. And who laugh. You might even get by with mediocre food if the people have a good sense of humor. Maybe.

Dinner was a potluck. We're not talking about cold store-tortured chicken wings and potato salad. Mac & cheese? Puleeeeze, you must have the wrong campsite. This potluck is the flank steak, avocado-shrimp ceviche, raw oyster, barbequed oyster, veggie & beef kabobs, and fresh abalone variety. Yeah, it's like that.

Granted, I'm not much for snot on a shell, but other people definitely seem to enjoy them. We (ok, TG) prepped three varieties: raw, bbq'd rockefeller (garlic butter, cheese, and omg, don't forget the parsley!), and bbq'd with bourbon (an experiment gone terribly right!).

Riddle me this: Why on earth do people who appreciate good food think that perfectly good marshmallows and graham crackers should be sentenced to death by horrid Hershey bar? I'm all for s'mores, don't get me wrong. But the traditional Hershey bar in place of actual chocolate? Some traditions were meant to be retired! (OK, that was a pretty meaningless rant because I was too flippin' tired to eat a s'mores anyway.)

Into the tent and my radical new REI sleeping pad. Skip inflatable mattresses and the batteries and all that stuff. This thing is waaaaaaay better.

Day 2: Sunny Day South
Fort Ross to Silicon Valley via Guerneville and Napa: 190 miles

A six-quarter shower to start the day and I could converse in multiple syllables. Some people need coffee. I need the hot water on my head. No caffeine required. My morning discovery, other than random peacocks wandering the campsite, was that those nifty extendable marshmallow roasting stick thingies are fabulous  for heating croissants over a campfire.

Despite TG's snarky commentary about hoping I'd leave him some quarters for his shower, he used eight. Yeah, he's taller, but let's just say he doesn't need a heck of a lot of shampoo. Me? Just call me Medusa. And yes, we did ride past the Petrified Forest along River Road en route to Napa. They're not old trees. They're trees that pissed off Medusa. Just sayin': Respect the curly-haired girl and everyone will be just fine.

The ride down the coast to River Road was pretty amazing. We could definitely see the ocean and it was doing itself proud. The ride inland along River Road to Guerneville was pretty amazing. Green and tall. Jolly Green Giant-esque in general. I could probably go back and forth along that road all day, but hey, we had to hit the Silverado Trail through the Napa Valley and pass spectacularly opulently overdone winery (in a good way, mostly) after spectacularly opulently overdone winery. Vineyards, wineries, vineyards...

We ran into some Irish cyclists when we stopped at a deli for lunch. Cycling. After cycling 103 miles the day before in the GranFondo. That's a whole different level of crazy dedication.

Admittedly, the road home through Martinez and past the Suisun Bay mothball fleet in the Carquinez Straits isn't much to write home about except it's always entertaining to watch the thermometer on the bike tell you you're wearing a leather jacket in 100-degree heat over asphalt. Thank goodness for well-designed jackets with good venting!

And a nap when I got home. 

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