Lots of adventures for us in the Beautiful Bay Area this past summer… Here we highlight some of the highlights…Let’s start out with one of our very favorites…

(Below are just partial versions of the full blogs that can be viewed at BayAreaBackroads.org 
…and we haven’t finished highlighting the highlights yet. Come back here again soon…)

– HOME of JACK LONDON, Glen Ellen, CA featuring New Trails, Lake and Mountain – 

 Jack London State Park Now Features London Estate and Miles of Trails

Jack London packed in a LOT during his short 40 year life (1876-1916) and covered a LOT of ground in his day. Without the aid of  modern transit, he managed to travel extensively around the United States including several trips to Hawaii. He probably would have loved the new trails carved by the new Bay Ridge Trail conservation team, which held its trail ribbon cutting this day , 3-15-15. What   is a four mile trail behind the Jack London homestead (open to visitors) now CONNECTS to a much longer Ridge trail at the summit of the mountain behind London’s old home.
One could have a historcally FIT tour now by visiting the jack London estate and then hiking or biking out the new trail.as did we… It is now certainly won of the most spectacular offerings in the state park system. Here is a glimpse of it…

About half  way to Jack London State Park, passing a nice ’57 Buick at Gold Hill Rd on #680 near where Fairfield and route #12 and #80 come together

 Jack London State Park New Trails Now Connect Homestead to Ridge -Get Fit While Living History –
 Almost there, just around the bend from 100 year old Benziger Winery, which we would learn was frequented by Jack London after his own winery went bad…
Not many may know that Jack London was an early conservationist, doing all his farming organically to be ‘preserved for future generations’
 Nearing the main entrance to the Jack London home we find several maintenance buildings -most in near original form, and an old prickly pear orchard
The day was a ribbon cutting for the the opening of the new connecting trails to the ridge trail that now allows one to hike or bike from the London estate four miles to the summit of the mountain behind the London home. At the top one may now continue on another ten or miles along the ridge trail. We’ll have to save that for another time.
 Jack London State Park New Trails Now Connect Homestead to Ridge -Get Fit While Living History –

 Most of these vines have been added since London, though Jack London did grow grapes and had a winery he later deemed unprofitable and gave up on it.  Despite what one may think London was definitely a capitalist.  He didn’t usually do things just to do them…
 The entrance to the London home where Jack London and wife spent most of their later years.

 Jack London’s main work area where he produced much of his writing

– City Winery, NAPA, CA – 


 Between the natural beauty of the BACKROADS and some great, legendary music one couldn’t go wrong. Let’s kick it off with the true Legend of the Surf Guitar, Mr. DICK DALE, who performs his signature tune here at the City Winery in Napa earlier this year. We’ll continue to the new Jack London Home digs and trails in Glen Ellen and Santa Cruz’ quaint Beach and Boardwalk area to some great views and 75 million year old rocks atop Mt. Diablo, some more great music and Fairs and much more… but we’re still working on it. Come back soon…

PURISIMA-COWELL TRAIL – New Spectacular Coastal Trail near Half Moon Bay, CA

     One would not expect such a varied, inspiring trail along the ocean   – the only one of it’s kind we’ve come across to date. Beautiful Wildflowers in July, spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, rows of farming, seal preserves and even a ‘subterranean’ hike along the way all are features of this newish Coastal Trail, established in 2011.  Not to be conofused, There’s another nearby inland ‘Purisima’ Trail that climbs through a dark fern grove  but we enjoyed this trail. And, it’s manageable for most people – fairly level and roughly 3 miles each way and accessible by foot or bike. Kudos to the governmental agency responsible for this great new addition to the San Francisco Bay Area’s growing treasure of trails, whether coastal, ridge or parkland.

       GETTING THERE: Go South on Highway 1, roughly  four miles from Half Moon Bay and look for ‘Cowell-Purimisa Trail’ or ‘Open Space’ on the right. Drive about one-half mile to the staging area, which includes a restroom. 

vista point at left (optional) 

MORE AT BayAreaBackroads.org



         We’ve always thought Napa a very beautiful place but not necessarily for bike trails. It seems flat and full of, well, beautiful vineyards and wineries- and that’s about it.  Or, so we thought, until June 7 (2015) when we finally embarked on a trail we had saved from an old charity group bike event (map) never used. Looking at this map, above, the trail looks pretty bland on paper with a lot of main streets. We bi-passed the JS School and just started on Wine Country Road and then later cut off another ‘miracle mile’ that goes up to the Veterans home, since we’ve been there before. But, all in all, for   average bike riders as us, it took about four hours, including plenty of rest bits along the way, including, yes, an official ‘Bike Rest Stop’ near the beginning along Solano. 
          Well, they say that a picture speaks a million words, or something like that, so instead of filling up a more space here with words, just scroll through the photos and you’ll see what’s in store. Lots of surprises along the way, but even pictures won’t do this trail justice. All your senses will come alive and be working once you get out there. 
             It’s still late spring as we write this so enjoy the great wildflowers that remain. Beware, however of the ‘Road Closed‘ middle of the trip, on Oakville Crossings, but have no fear. The great thing about biking is that you can go places less traveled by car. Simply lift your bike over the barriers and continue on to Silverado Trail.  Most of this trail can be traveled by car, we suppose – it would be a very long hike- but biking is the definite preferred way to navigate. And, there are a lot of bike rental places in the Napa area, such as near downtown Napa, not far from where the trip ensues. (You’ll be passing through about four towns – Napa, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford).  ENJOY! And, tell us how you liked it – maybe our favorite long (for us) bike trip  ever taken. Oh yes, many wineries you can stop at along the way, too, which helps up to that last statement…. RD actually buts up right along the trail, as if it were built in to the ride, even plenty of bike racks to park your bike. We just happened to have an bike with a basket so we took our picnic lunch (bought sourdough bread and cheese at the Ranch Market in Yountville) which we finally ate on the last leg on the lush grass in front of Trefefen (sp) Winery, but lots of other places along the way, too. 
Wine Country Road – Old home and water tower first stop along the way for us
We didn’t expect to meet  nice furry friends , as this alpha goat and family, just as we begun.

MORE AT BayAreaBackroads.org


So. Richmond Bay and Train

–  ‘PORCHFEST’  Napa, CA – 

Once a year in July old home porches become music venues all over town in NAPA .  Here , we hear an accoustic instrumental version of the surf hit ‘Pipeline’  (Sorry, group name unavailable.

Most popular group at the Porchfest seemed to be this  Reggae-Gospel group, here doing the Bob Marley classic, ‘One Love

–  ALAMEDA COUNTY FAIR, Pleasanton, CA –

THE BEACH BOYS were the hit of our favorite county fair, the ALAMEDA COUNTY FAIR in Pleasanton, CA  June 24. Here they perform their last big hit, from 1988

– THE DEVIL’S MOUNTAIN – MT. DIABLO from Southgate Entrance –

Mt Diablo Southgate near Rock City, Danville entrance

75 million old rocks near Rock City, Mt.Diablo

Halloween Sunset from on Mt. Diablo

– Marin County Fair , San Rafael, CA – 

They call him the singer’s singer. Staying true to his era  AARON NEVILLE sang many of his own hits and cover versions he made his own with one commonality:everything was pretty much from the 1950s and 60s, the GOLDEN ERA of Rock and Roll as he delighted fans for the second year in a row at the Marin County Fair July 4

– Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk – 
As if Santa Cruz isn’t the coolest beach side venue on the West Coast – it’s the oldest and largest Seaside Amusement Park , perhaps the only one still going, Add special, annual events like WOODIES ON THE WHARF  to the backdrop and you had some special times. Here, over 200  dedicated car buffs brought out their prized woodies to parade them on the Santa Cruz wharf.  For more on exactly what IS a woodie and more pictures search for ‘Woodies on the Wharf in these pages.

– Freight & Salvage, BERKELEY, Ca – 



The great JUNIOR BROWN performing actually in Spring at Berkeley’s fabled Freight and Salvage coffee house theater. Unfortunately our audio footage didn’t come across so we will direct you to   a couple of his greatest hits, performed elsewhere, but the picture above was at the actual performace. SURF MEDLEY -Brown Signature. approx. 10 Minutes  Get-Off-of-that-Telephone 

The above video is not from the actual venue but it will give you a taste of the unique sounds and instrumentation of Junior Brown


Despite the city trying to rid itself of homeless thru new plastering the cracks with brickwork,
the homeless remain…and seem to even thrive in this still sancutary city…What paradox?
Your taxpayer money at work… New, fancy sleeping sculptures for the homeless and indigent in this Sanctuary City
‘StreatFood’ now rules. Gone are many of the classic restaurants in favor of mostly young eating out of trucks. We even had a nice plate of Burmese Tea Leaf Salad. This is a full bock of food trucks  at 436 11th St. with plenty variety of food. The average population in San Francisco is probably much younger than even 10 years ago but with most now going without cars or homes,   the young can afford to spend on trendy food and local entertainment.

MORE @ BayAreaBackroads.org


Ruth Bancroft Gardens  

 Ruth Bancroft, Founder of Drought-Tolerant Ruth Bancroft Gardens, Turns 107

Ruth Bancroft a half a lifetime ago working on her succulents
   Nice to be able to honor  great folks while they’re still alive…
    Wish we could say ‘Ruth Bancroft Celebrates’ but just to have the founder of the wonderful Eco-Friendly Succulent Gardens in Walnut Creek, CA with us another year is quite a milestone.   Bancroft has inspired gardenrs hacross the world throguh her willingness to share the remakable landscape of drought -tolerant plans she began creating at age 64 as the first Partner Garden in the Garden Conservancy.   Hopefully, Bancroft will live to see the ground breaking of the   Bancroft Garden Visitors Center  http://RuthBancroftGarden.org  The Gardens, on Bancroft (of course) Ave near Ygnacio is open daily to the public

STILL POSTING – BEST OF SUMMER 2015 in the Bay Area – more to come