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.