I recognized the sign immediately. I was transported into my memory, just listening. The first thing I noticed was the exit ramp for River Rd. was much wider..... 2 lanes going off. And there were the signs --- Russian River Resort. At the intersection of Fulton Rd., which matched the expansion of the exit ramp, I looked to the right for the old produce warehouse, it was now an electric power station. 200 yards down on the left, the old chicken processing plant, was now an art gallery. The smell was gone and so were all the feathers. Sometimes, change is good!
After a mile, River road turned back into what I remembered. Single lane, mostly straight, some curves, but beautiful. Eucalyptus trees and vineyards everywhere. I missed the entrance to the fire station, even though there was a new sign. There was now a campground using the same entrance and that threw me off. Turned around at Korbel -- boy has that expanded, and made my way up the hill to Hilton fire station.
I pulled up, everything looked EXACTLY the same. There was a family outside, with an obviously distraught woman and there was a Chaplin with them. I nodded to the chaplin and she nodded back. Just trying to communicate that I got it and wouldn't disturb them. I didn't see any firefighters around, so I headed up to the barracks. The eating table, the kitchen --- the same. Dominic greeted me, I just started mumbling that I was a firefighter here 37 yrs. ago...... He thought that was great, I was immediately welcomed into the fold. They showed me around, only thing that had really changed was my little back room. Since there weren't any woman at the station now, it was the chief's office.
Dominic was the one who suggested the picture out back, when I showed them the old one. I am so thankful, he suggested it because I would have kicked myself for forgetting to do that. I wanted to go see the trucks. He offered to take me around, things were a bit uptight right now. They had a body recovery from sunset beach, this morning. I understood. Side note here, there did not used to be a sunset beach or any beaches on the river, there are now beaches all up and down river rd. Campgrounds, and yes resorts. Although none of them seemed obnoxiously done. The truck bays were just the same, still a two truck station. The big truck was out. Dominic and I talked, traded a couple of stories, I thanked him, gave him some stickers, and made my way into town.
Outside of Guerneville, there was a new Brew Pub on the river, very cool. Unfortunately, they didn't sell their brew to go yet. Packaging coming in a couple of weeks, so I didn't get to try it. Town looked the same, River theatre, The River Grill, that had the best silver dollar pancakes. It all had the same hippie/redneck feel.
I crossed the river on a big new bridge. Blue umbrellas clustered at a spot on the river to the right. The river was full. Canoes, tubes, kayaks, people.
Took a right just over the bridge onto Neeley road. Big resort on right --- that blew my mind. Once past the resort, the road returned to the Neeley road of my memory. Small, winding, pretty much single lane, no lines. I wondered if I would recognize our old house, I couldn't remember the exact house #. 17734 kept popping up.
I recognized it immediately. The gate was the same and so was the wooden fence that Jackson would push with his nose to escape, although the fence at this point wouldn't even give him a pretense of confinement. The house has def. seen better days. The boxwoods out in front, that Nema planted, were doing very well, however.
Headed SE on 116 out of Guerneville. Was curious if the old Forestville Inn was still around. All the mexican food I eat, I compare to my memories of this place. Who knows if it was really any good. It wasn't there. Disappointing. Occidental, had really grown, but it was charming. Went past the Occidental Fire Station, I had forgotten where it was, this was where I first started working for the Ca. Dept. of Forestry, clearing brush. Memories of the juvenile delinquents and their names and faces have come back as I'm writing this. Danny, Pat, Kurt, Scotty, Ron, and I can see a face but can't recall his name. We were a great bunch....... good times.
It was in Occidental, that I saw a sign that gave credibility to something I had been pondering. " Got water? Vineyards do!" Sonoma County now had vineyards and wineries everywhere. It now looked like Napa Valley to me. I don't know the whys or the hows - just an observation.
Time to get out of dodge --- was feeling like I'd had a little too much nostalgia for one day. Pulled over to drink some water and check my maps. Out of nowhere, A young man walks up to me as I 'm sitting on my bike, putting my helmet on. I jumped. He apoligized, lives right around the corner, just making sure I was OK. He has a Tiger 800. That little gesture, gave me the energy I needed to get myself psyched to get to the other side of San Francisco.
Traveled Graton road ( Occidental/Bohemian Hwy), I just love the word Bohemian. All was well, until I missed a turn somewhere and ended up in San Rafael during rush hour. The most miserable time I have ever spent on a motorcycle. 104.9 degrees F....... moving inches at a time. My GPS, finally comes to the rescue. Maybe, because I'm finally figuring out how to use it. It tells me to take a R -- I notice highway signs up ahead --- everyone else keeps going straight ---- hmmmm. Lightbulb, everyone else wants to go N, I want to go S. GPS is going to drop me below this entrance. BINGO!! Exactly what happened -- smooth sailing across the Golden Gate Bridge and into San Francisco. We had to deal with rush hr. there but it was a beautiful 72 degrees. Huge difference. We spent the night in Pacifica, at a little dump. Met some really great kids there and a yellow lab named Landon.
Headed S on Hwy 1. This section is called the Cabrillo Hwy. Headed for Monterey. About half way there, I stopped to check for places to stay. I was exhausted from traveling back in time, was starting to make stupid mistakes, very distracted. Stormy was not happy with me. I wasn't happy with me. I needed to park and just walk around for a day. Expedia had a special on a Best Western in Monterey. Could walk to everything. I booked two nights, hoping I could just keep myself in the game long enough to get there safely.
Not only did we make it safely, have I mentioned how awesome my bike is, we had 4 surprises. I can see Monterey Bay from my window, I have a propane fireplace ( and I was cold from the ride) there is a great outside hot tub, AND Stormy has cover.