For the past few weeks we’ve been riding up the coast to San Francisco, looking forward to visiting with our family friends, Cyrus, Katie and Henry.
Cyrus and I hadn’t seen each other in almost 30 years, but our dads were very dear friends from their post grad days in Iran and that special friendship had a magical way of gluing our families together and making those 30 years seem like moments.
I have beautiful childhood memories of our families canoe camping in Algonquin Park with the two dads smoking their pipes and telling us kids stories by the campfire.
In a fabulous intergenerational twist, moments after we arrived in Menlo Park, at Cyrus’s house, our nine year old sons were giggling together like old friends, dressing up as macho libre and his arch nemesis, cheesehead.
We caught up and got to know each other’s partners and kids over delicious brownies, banana bread and oranges from the garden. After days of riding with hills and headwinds our bikers appetites were impressive and a few hours later we were ready to devour Cyrus’s homemade pizza.
Jasper checked out the self-driving cars that are going to make roads safer for everyone.
Can you imagine biking without worrying that drivers you’re sharing the road with might be texting?
Anna Sierra and I got really excited about the cafeteria full of fresh food.
And Derek loved all the projects. And getting a tour with Cyrus.
I loved seeing so many people take their bikes on the train for multimodal commuting when we were heading home.
On the ride back to Menlo Park, Cyrus took us on a bike Boulevard.
Part of what makes it great for cycling is it’s not convenient for cross town driving as several streets have bump outs – with lovely trees.
During the rest of our visit the kids read lots of books in the upstairs book nook overlooking the backyard redwood. Jasper and Henry made all kinds of circuits together.
Derek fixed the tandem with expert advice from Cyrus. We had a lovely ride over to Stanford where Katie works and saw a photo exhibit on elephants and so many people riding bikes my heart sang.
We also discovered Derek was missing his drivers’ license and he was able to apply for a replacement one. We also visited the computer museum where we learned about slide rules, checked out vintage computers and even played Pong.
And we planned the next leg of our trip, with lots of help and advice from Katie and Cyrus.
Derek’s parents are meeting us in Portland, Oregon, on April 18! (We were originally planning to meet in Cuba, but that didn’t work so we are so excited we’re going to meet up in Portland!) Here’s Jasper thinking about his grandparents beside a car just like Grampa’s:
We plan to ride to Redding and take the train to meet them. Although you can’t load bikes on the Amtrak in Redding, we are going to be able to ship our bikes via Bike Flights – a service that will send boxed bikes through UPS quite reasonably.
We were sad to say goodbye to Cyrus, Katie and Henry, but delighted that we had a great chance to connect and make new memories. Leaving was made a lot easier by the Jasper-friendly French toast, maple apples and the full family bike parade send off.
Even after we said goodbye, we still felt like the family was with us as we followed Katie’s awesome routing right through the city, including her suggested detour to Twirl and Dip for the best soft serve ice cream (and vegan fruit lollies) ever.
Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge was quite emotional for me. It’s iconic in cycling lore and it marked the end of the west coast leg of our trip as we turned inland. It’s been a beautiful ride, but the headwinds and the traffic have made these kilometres from LA to San Francisco some of the toughest of our trip. Somehow riding over this bridge with throngs of happy tourists on two wheels brought tears to my eyes.
The day ended with both kids completing their first century ever by riding all the way to China Camp State Park.
Even though we were exhausted, we all (especially Jasper) found some energy for new friends – Sadie and Jesse and Petra and Lutz – at the hiker/biker site.
Refreshed and full of good food and fantastic memories from our stay in Menlo Park with our dear friends, we are ready for Sonoma Valley and Napa Valley where we are hoping to find less traffic and more tailwinds than on the coast.
With best wishes,