Saturday, December 20, 2014

Lucky in so many ways

This part of Sonoma County is so beautiful, it makes your heart ache. I think winter is the best time, when the hills are green, the light soft, and the car traffic light.

They label their roads plainly here, with From and To, which is a big help. Freestone-Valley Ford Road, for example. Given recent navigational challenges, this makes me happy.

Not to mention Wild Flour Bakery and the assortment of renegade businesses in Freestone. What are the odds, a temple of wheat with a gluten-free scone! Toasted hazelnuts and cardamon and... other stuff. It's kind of falling apart, but flaky and delicious. There is a technique where you grip a bakery bag in one hand, together with the handlebars, and pluck its contents with the other hand, stuffing your maw, all while starting to climb Bohemian Highway to Occidental.

Sometimes the food stays on your face longer than is strictly polite, but passing motorists do not even notice. You feel like you're getting away with something.

Looking at my sleeve, the light green wool is starting to be marked with speckles. With the scone gone and the bag stashed in a back pocket, both hands on the bars, the rain gathers momentum, steadier and denser by the minute. The pavement is starting to be wet, as the water  can't run off fast enough. On goes the rear blinkie.

This road leads over a hill, through a forest, to Guerneville after all, which its name hides. In a truthful world, this would be Freestone-Occidental-Monte Rio-Guerneville Road. Monte Rio always floods. And Guerneville on the Russian River, is one of the wettest places in Northern California. Before the drought, every winter you could count on TV news reporters coming out here and standing in front of the camera in their parkas, reporting on the river level, with the rain coming down.

So much for high pressure! This promised to be an ideal day to ride through the Russian River Valley, through dormant vineyards and green, rolling hills. Instead, it is a typical day. And a typical winter day looks very much like this:

In the ~20 miles from Guerneville to Healdsburg there is ample time to reflect on good things:

  • Ibex full-length wool leg warmers
  • SmartWool socks (full-strength)
  • my waterproof, windproof red WindTex jacket from Italy, an exorbitant $95 on closeout in ~2004
  • not being at work
  • chicken tortilla soup at the Guerneville Safeway (w/corn tortillas and thickened w/masa)
  • my Solas blinkie
  • brand-new pavement on Westside Road
  • almost no cars
Thus displacing any thoughts I might otherwise be having, about being rained on for four hours, on vacation, without fair warning.

And arriving rodent-wet at the L&M Motel (established 1950) in Healdsburg, for a grim little selfie.

1 comment :

  1. What do you like about the Solas light? I've recently gotten a Serfas light, and it beats the heck out of my old CatEye.
    Yes, yes, here's to weatherproof layers! :) Four hours is a rough ride. Even your fingers are shiny in that last photo...!