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Nostalgic Bicycle Ride Through Livermore Wine Country
This Old Bicycle Is Hanging Between Two Trees
I Am Stuck
In the middle of an article and I am stuck.
Today is a hyper active day. I can't focus.
There are thirty four vineyards in my neighborhood. When I moved here there were three. Those three survived prohibition providing sacrificial wine for the Catholic Church. We have been wine country for a long time.
Easter Sunday I saw a beautiful field of poppies, marigolds and grape vines at Concannon winery. The weather is pretty good, maybe a bicycle ride taking pictures will help me focus. I can't believe it is April; the weather is still chilly. I dressed warmly and I'm off.
Getting ready to go I remember the Turkeys. Last week friends and I were hiking when we noticed a flock of turkeys. The males had their tail feathers up. We got closer to take pictures. I watched for snakes while my friend took pictures. (She had seen a rattlesnake the day before. Perhaps she got some good pictures, but you know where pictures go. You take them then they...well where do they go? We walked further up the hill. The birds begin squawking. Looking back we saw a dozen deer walking with the turkeys, Some of the deer were acting strangely. Most were retreating There were two deer standing their ground and advancing. What the...? Coyotes. The animal kingdom was about to play out in front of us
Riding down the road toward the turkeys when I get waylaid by some beautiful blooming trees. While taking pictures my thoughts wonder to a time long ago when I traveled this road regularly. I was little when my mom came to work down this road. Sometimes on Dad's day off we would go on a drive to have lunch with mom. I hated those drives of 35 miles usually on hot days. I loved lunch with mom and dad, Then we moved here from the city.
The road is very different now. Then it was rural. Then this was a creepy old estate, a retreat for monks. The grounds were overrun with weeds, palm trees lined the drive. Never a soul was seen from the road.
We moved here the summer I was 14 so mom didn't have to commute. Lonely, I bicycled down this road several times a week to have lunch with her. Then I would wade and paddle around in the creek before riding the four miles home. There wereturkeys around the hospital then too.
Ideal Place To Enjoy Summer Afternoon
I consider going to where the coyotes were. It is off on a trail and the idea of a flat tire deters me, I stay on the road toward the Veterans Hospital to look for turkeys and deer. I' m blindsided by memories.
Sign On The Road
There used to be weekly messages of wisdom or funny sayings on this sign. "Thank you for your service" took me back to Vietnam when there was no," Thank You". My mind goes back to the year my brother was in Vietnam and .his pregnant wife lived with us. She nearly went crazy with worry.
Years ago people would drive out into the country and dump their yard waste. Most of these palm trees came from those dumps.
Non Native Heritage Palm Trees
I want to say the Pledge of Allegiance when I look at this beautiful flag and remember all it stands for, "With liberty and justice for all". Are there still missing prisoners of war? The black flag is to honor MIAs
Nothing has changed. I used to leave my bike at the base of these steps then eat lunch in the cafeteria with mom. While it was a lonely summer, it was a good summer. How many teens eat lunch with their busy professional mothers several times a week? I didn't know how lucky I was. But I did know how proud mom was of me. I didn't know the bike riding would stay with me all my life either, but then you never know much when you are young.
When I got my drivers license I had to drive mom to work if she worked swing if I wanted it for the evening. At midnight I would return down this spooky road when she got off. It was always an adventure driving late at night. All varieties of animals would leap or slither across the road as you rounded bends.
One December in college I played a victim for a massive area wide emergency drill. In a creepy old abandoned building, part of an abandoned Tuberculosis hospital, I sat for hours waiting to be rescued. Makeup made me look like I had awful burns. I had a squeeze pouch with red liquid I could squeeze to indicate what kind injuries I had. When the firemen rescued me I squeezed the stuff all over them. Ha ha. That night it was below freezing, The doctors at the hospital were actually treating the actors for hypothermia.
The ride up the hill to the hospital brings me back to present. Not a turkey in sight. I wonder ,"Am I on wild turkey chase"?
Oh Deer !
This Veterans hospital is surrounded by serenity and beauty. A young guy with an IPod sits waiting for a bus. I think about the war that brought him here. This place is nothing like war. I think of the service my family members have given for this country.
The turkeys are hiding.
As I start the decent down the hill, trying to stay below the 15mph speed limit, when I notice the heliport is covered with turkeys. Jam on the brakes to turn left.
No Unauthorized Personal
No Unauthorized Personal signs annoy me these days. I blow passed. For cripes sake I am four miles out of town and I just want a picture of a bunch of turkeys. A very distinguished lady I know goes wherever her interest draws her. In my younger years the thought of entering a restricted area without permission would never have crossed my gray matter. Today I do it in defiance. I pay for this property, I have the good sense to get out of the way if a helicopter needs to land.
This road sure looks like it leads to a dangerous important place. Actually it leads to Cohare family ranch. They make some of the best olive oil you can imagine. We know them for the farmers market. If we need olive oil the rest of the year we can order on line or give them a call and pick up the oil at the bank where their son works. It's funny how small town we are sometimes.
Its Mating Season
It is mating season. Tom turkeys poof up their feathers to impress the hens or challenge in the face of danger.
This guy is ogling his gal.
Leaving The VA Grounds
Going back to the road I notice the hills are finally greening. We had the first rain last month since October. By June this hill will be golden brown. This was once Cresta Blancha winery. They produced champagne grapes. Many years this vineyard lay fallow. About 15 years ago a new winery planted champagne grapes again. I thought how clever of them to know this vineyard was good to grow champagne grapes. The new owners, the Wente Family, just expanded their vineyards from over the hill. They have been in the winery business here for more than a hundred years.
In need of a mood change I look for the alpacas and llamas along the bike trail. They are always good for a laugh.
"Are you looking at me"?
As I revise this a year later there are two cria.( baby llama/alpaca). They are so fluffy and cute.
Grapevines Have Started Budding
On the way to find the alpaca I pass rows and rows of grapevines beginning to send out their tendrils. For many years the Wente family has own these vineyards. Carl is fifth generation wine maker. I understand Phil is judging on the food network. John Madden the football sports commentator owns some of these grapes. These grapes go into Wente' s Morning Fog, a nice white wine.
The Need For Fuel
I turn toward our friends ranch. I have been on or near bike trails most of this ride. Usually a quick 10 mile training ride has turned into a several hour adventure. I stop at the ranch to enjoy an orange from their tree. (It is private property surrounded by bike trail ) When I get close the alpacas are looking intently at something.
It is a week day so what I see draws my attention.
I can't help chuckling. Which is funnier the guys working with the bees or the alpaca staring at the guys? They look so funny in bunny suites. Why did Intel ever start calling the garb used in their clean rooms bunny suits? And why aren't these guys at work. Bee keeping is their hobby.
If Places Could Tell Stories.
The Sunday of the big fire, on the ranch, the family decided to go out to lunch after church. When they got home the fire had surrounded this beautiful barn. Part of the 1900 era original bunk house was scorched. A row of small animal barns were destroyed. On duty fireman headed to Peets for afternoon coffee saw fire.They were on their way when the first 911 call reached them. They saved the main house and the animals. We gave them ice tea to replace the missing coffee break. I was driving down the same road when I saw the smoke and curiously wander to see if it was where I thought it was. I begged the police to let me get the dogs. The policeman said he would notify the firemen that there were dogs in the kennel. Nobody could find our friends. They had both turned off their phones. When the owners the owners drove up we had the dogs and the police let us onto the property. It was probably someone with firework who started the fire. One of the neighbors blamed the kid with the big black truck.The kid, who of course is my kid, in my midlife crisis, 4X4, lifted black Dodge pickup. It was just easier to buy a midlife crisis than to have one. Nobody believed the neighbor.
The Stories This Old Barn Can Tell
Back To Town
This road traveled today leads me from history to present. I am delighted to say"Howdy" to my friends at Monte Chisto. They are like family. There are a few more things I would like you to see before heading home.
Art In Front Of Page Mill Winery
I just like bicycles. I realize the wheels have been set so they spin in the wind. Fascinating.
Quick Ride Down The Bike Trail. Another Place To Play In The Water. Will summer ever get here?
Very Refreshing Ride
Its getting colder as I consider my ride. Usually this ten mile ride takes 45 minutes. Today with my musings and photo opts it take three hours. Reflecting back I realize how fortunate I am to live in an area this beautiful. An area which has amazing world renown wineries and producers of olive oil . Team in Training cycling groups are frequently seen along the back roads of this town. My kids all learned to ride bikes along this road.
Time to quit musing and go home; its well past lunch.
Home and no longer stuck.
Tuck away my trusty bicycle. Return to my keyboard. Oh dear all this thinking about bicycles reminds me I haven't volunteered for the Amgen. This year Livermore will be the finish of the third stage.
When you can't travel to distant lands exploring the history of your own neighborhood can lead to amazing adventures. Everyone has a history and every place as well. Bicycling is always a good way to investigate.
When You Can't Readjust Your Attitude With A Ride Here Is A Great Read
Veterans Park bike trail goes from Arroyo road to Sycamore Grove Park on Wetmore Avenue. Many of these pictures were taken on this trail
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