DAY 105 (9/23/05): Bodega Bay to Mill Valley, CA 68.1
mi.  This morning we had a really lovely ride around
Tomales Bay, which is formed by a long penninsula
extending roughly north-south along the mainland.  The
penninsula itself is a national seashore area, while
the mainland side has several small, sleepy towns and
a winery.  We stopped in the town of Tomales for a
second breakfast, and visited the winery to do some
tasting.  The weather was beautiful, in the 70's and
sunny.  After leaving the bay behind we rode some
secondary roads and a bike path to get to the fringe
of the San Francisco area.  It was amazing how fast
the scenery changed after we crossed the invisible
line between rural and suburban areas.  Suddenly,
instead of quiet farm country, dry hillsides, and
forest, we were surrounded by densely packed homes and
expensive cars.  Tobias was very impressed.  It is
interesting that this area is considered "northern
California," since it is actually amost in the middle
of the state and we had to ride around 400 mi of CA
coast to get here.  It is so different from anything
else that we've seen in this state so far, and
definitely corresponds more closely to most people's
mental image of California: small but luxurious and
expensive homes, palm and citrus trees, lush tropical
plants, and lots of well groomed people.  We rode
through several of these suburban towns, which flow
directly into each other, until we picked up a
bikepath at the edge of San Franscisco bay.  We
followed this path along the bay to the town of Mill
Valley, which is only about 10 mi from SF itself. 
This fact was reflected in the price of the motel
where we stayed, which was quite expensive in spite of
being located pretty much underneath US-101 (which at
this point has 3 or 4 lanes in each direction, a far
cry from the quiet 2-lane road that it is in WA and
OR).  We got a pizza from the restaurant across the
(6-lane) street from the motel, and brought it back to
our room where we ate it and washed it down with a
very nice merlot that we had purchased at the Point
Reyes winery earlier in the day.  Tobias was very
excited to be so close to SF, since he has been
waiting 10 years to ride his bike across the Golden
Gate bridge.

DAY 106 (9/24/05): Mill Valley to Palo Alto, CA 66.4
mi.  This morning we got back on the SF Bay bike path
and followed it to the town of Sausolito.  From there,
we took secondary roads along the bay heading south
towards the bridge.  From the top of a hill on one of
these roads, we caught our first glimpse of the Golden
Gate bridge.  A mile or two later, we were at the base
of the bridge where we got on the bike lane on the
western side of the bridge.  There are bike/pedestrian
lanes on both sides of the bridge, and someone wisely
decided at some point that bike and pedestrian traffic
should be kept seperate, so the pedestrians on foot
had the path on the eastern side of the bridge while
we had the western side.  Tobias used almost an entire
roll of film to document the big event, and had me
take a half-dozen or so pictures of him at various
points on the bridge, with the bike, without the bike,
in motion, holding still, smiling, serious, etc. 
There will be no doubt in anyone's mind when he gets
back that he really and truly rode across the bridge
on this tour.  The bridge is very impressive, and well
worth crossing under your own power next time you're
in the SF area.  After crossing the bridge, we skirted
the western edge of SF and headed south on CA-1, which
has a little more traffic and a little less shoulder
than one might like, but still has nice views of the
Pacific and, surprisingly, some fields of brussels
sprouts that are only 10 mi south of SF.  We rode as
far south as Half Moon Bay, which, while pretty, is by
far not the most beautiful spot on the coast in this
area.  After Half Moon Bay, we turned inland and rode
a nice pass through the San Mateo mountains to get
inland to Palo Alto.  After crosing the mountains, we
rode through more CA suburbs on a street with a nice
bike lane to Palo Alto.  For Cohen trivia fans, this
is actually the town where my brother and I were both
born.  In Palo Alto, we found our way to the house of
my grad school classmate Jason and his boyfriend,
Angus.  The four of us went out for a nice dinner and
margaritas at a Mexican restaurant, and then went out
for gelatto for dessert.  I realized as I was getting
ready for bed that this is the first time that I have
stayed in someone's house since I was in Minnesota. 
It's amazing how much more comfortable a friend's
house is than a motel.  I've been on the road for more
than three months at this point, so all of the
comforts of a home, even someone else's home, feel
like luxuries.  Like having a refrigerator, for example.