Liz's day-by-day journal of co-guiding Zephyr Tours' recent highly successful 5-day Northern California tour.
For five days in October, I got to be co-guide for the inaugural San Francisco and wine country tour led by Allan Wright's Zephyr Inline Tours. It was such fun to share with others some of my favorite routes from the pages of California Inline Skating We did the famous Friday Night Skate, miles and miles of prime touring, and best of all, wine tasting on a roll! Here's a cleaned up version of my trip journal. --LM
Friday, Oct. 2
Awaiting a flight-delayed skater at SFO, we're lunching at the airport's North Beach Deli. Coincidentally, our table is next to an 8' x 15' enlarged 1800's print of the exact location where our tour will begin later today-Fisherman's Wharf and Fort Mason.
We started with a heelbrake refresher and an introductory roll around Fisherman's Wharf as the sun dipped toward the Golden Gate Bridge, then dined at the Steelhead Brewing Company. The manager was extremely accommodating, allowing us to roll right up to our table for 10. After dinner we joined the Friday Night Skate, trying to stick together for the thrilling downhill rolls through the Broadway and Stockton Tunnels. Afterward, not quite ready to call it quits, we finished off a great first day with some suds at 20 Tank Brewery.
Saturday, Oct. 3
In spite of rain predictions, Saturday dawned gloriously cloudless above the skyscrapers. We headed off to Walnut Creek to make tracks in the 'burbs: up to 40 miles of rail trails awaited us. Rough pavement, kept the pace down at first, so folks got acquainted and enjoyed the scenery. After a 10-mile canal loop, we skated a 7-mile stretch to the south on the Iron Horse Trail to Danville, where we lunched on the sunny patio of the Uptown Cafe. Mike and I continued 8-10 miles south through the San Ramon Valley before meeting up with the van and returning to San Francisco.
Back in the city, after a delicious Zephyr-provided Indonesian meal, the group split up to explore the local nightlife.
Sunday, Oct. 4
We awoke to another azure sky and balmy temps. After meeting a crew from the Travel Channel who wanted film footage for a piece about Zephyr Tours, the subjects of the video headed off for a morning of traffic-free skating on the blocked-off streets of Golden Gate Park. At noon, we feasted on a tasty deli lunch thanks to Dan, who did a fine job of catering on skates. By 2pm, the Zephyr van was wending its way north to Sonoma County's wine country.
Less than two hours later, we embarked from our hotel on the downtown Sonoma plaza to do some touring and tasting. The historic Vineyard Trail took us through the middle of ancient vineyard and out of town. We were allowed to roll right into the tasting rooms of two wineries. On the way back, a few of us skated up to the lovely grounds of Buena Vista Winery, and were rewarded with a curvy, tuck-worthy descent on the return. Classic wine country scenes were gorgeous in the late afternoon light.
The Sonoma Hotel is very quaint with its antique furnishings and cozy atmosphere. We had dinner on the patio, complemented with local wines. I slept great in spite of reading room 29's journal, with funny, sometimes risquÈ entries about past guests' experiences with Fred, the room's ghost.
Monday, Oct. 5
I couldn't resist the fresh-baked carrot raisin bran muffin for breakfast, although a hot croissant was calling me, too. Yum! With temperatures already close to 80, this morning's tour started from Healdsburg's downtown plaza. I drew drive duty today, so I took the Zephyr van north to wait for the skaters at a Geyserville deli. After grabbing snacks and lunch items, we picnicked, then tasted at the Geyserville Park Winery.
Two hardy skaters continued north on the day's 40-mile route while I shuttled the others west to picturesque Dry Creek Canyon. We were surprised by fresh, loose gravel covering 2.5 miles of our route, which Alan had just skated 3 days earlier. Still, we found delicious skating on shady, gently rolling curves. The Quivira and Lambert Bridge wineries impressed the group, as did a side roll up Lambert Bridge Road. At Lambert Bridge, Allen stood atop a large vat of wines and punched down the grapes with a long pole while a staffer supervised nearby with a grin. The valley view from Quivira was too beautiful to leave while the sun still gilded the vines. After sunset, we relaxed over another al fresco meal in the warm night air.
We got back to Sonoma with time to skate under the full moon: thrice around the plaza and up the Vineyard Trail to the historic residence of General Vallejo. The historically paved driveway is sublime in the moonlight.
Tuesday, Oct. 6
After breakfast, we skated back to clinic on the General's driveway (technique, tricks and turns), then skated up to Buena Vista winery. We had to remove our skates to go inside, but the tasting and gift shop made it worth the effort. We rolled back to the Sonoma Hotel one last time, showered up, and headed reluctantly back to real life.