As I write this, Morgan Nilsen and Justin Ancheta are just settling in for the night after a ride to Davis. They will finish in Justin’s hometown of Auburn tomorrow afternoon. Who are Morgan and Justin and what do they have to do with the Bay Trail, you ask? They are musicians and environmentalists and, apparently, avid cyclists and believers in renewable energy. Not just believers, however. No “I am green, therefore great” self-congratulatory praise coming from them. They actually get out there and find ways to practice their religion in order to do what they can to make a positive impact on their world, on our world.
On the ferry ride from San Francisco to Vallejo this morning, I noticed these two young millennials with their bikes and packs and was curious what their story was. Justin’s bike is not your ordinary, run of the mill mountain bike or beach cruiser. It is something Nikola Tesla and Dr. Frankenstein would have dreamt up together in a garage in Palo Alto (if one wasn’t dead and the other fictional, that is). The bike resembles a beach cruiser but has a motorized rear wheel with a rechargeable battery to assist him on hills. Justin is part of the Bicycle Music festival. With the World’s Largest Human-powered Sound System pumping out their tunes you will be able to see – and hear – them for yourself in Golden Gate Park on June 22nd. He actually has a speaker built onto his bike that is powered by a generator that produces electricity from the forward motion of the bike. A hybrid bicycle of sorts as Justin described it.
Justin gave me his latest CD which I am about to download so I can listen to it on my way back to Rodeo tomorrow to begin my trek to Point Pinole. His band is aptly named the Justin Ancheta Band and you can learn more about their music and the Bicycle Music Festival on his website www.justinancheta.com. I got around to explaining what I was up to on the Bay Trail and learned that they, along with another group of like-minded cyclists, had actually recently circumnavigated the Bay on their bikes using the Bay Trail when possible!
Soon after Morgan and Justin went on their way I met up with Sarah Rohrs of the Vallejo Times Herald and we sat down and talked about the Bay Trail, public transportation and my little odyssey of sorts before I headed out on the trail along the Vallejo waterfront from just south of the Highway 37 overpass. The journey through Vallejo was one of both historical value as well as cultural. Omnipresent Mare Island, purchased by the government as a ship building yard in 1852, looms large across the water along the entire waterfront which was as culturally diverse as San Francisco’s Mission District during Carnival. I made my way down Sonoma Boulevard toward the Carquinez Bridge and approached the bridge from Carquinez Park. Since the sidewalk on Sonoma Boulevard came to an end at Magazine Street by the Norman C. King Community Center, I turned right here and looped around up Porter Street to the back side of Carquinez Park before finding my way to the pedestrian on-ramp.
An unexpected detour awaited me on the other side. I was greeted at The Dead Fish in Crockett by the Godmother of all things Bay Trail, Project Director, Laura Thompson. With a full brimmed gardening hat pulled slightly over her forehead and sunglasses holding off the glare of the midday sun, she made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I made a weak attempt at protest, but she simply motioned to the passenger door of her Subaru. I knew I had to get in. The remainder of my planned route for the day was 99% along the Lincoln Highway (San Pablo Road) which is not yet a formal section of the trail. With virtually no shoulder along this stretch she explained that it was highly “inadvisable” that I walk it. I was driven back across the bridge and down to a remote parking lot next to an ancient Indian burial ground at the edge of the straight. This isn’t the direction I had planned on going. Where is she taking me? Who are these mysterious Bay Trail people anyways?
My fears subsided as she handed me water which I gladly accepted. She had to make sure I was properly hydrated for my next hike – Glen Cove and the Benicia State Recreation Area. OK, so it was all good, no Lincoln Highway, but in exchange I was able to replace the miles with a section not along my original planned route. Located on the north side of the Straight and east side of I-80, the Bay Trail path connecting Glen Cove to Vallejo is still in the planning stages as are most sections that loop around the Carquinez Straight between the Carquinez and Benicia-Martinez bridges. Both bridges, however, have pedestrian friendly pathways that are designated Bay Trail sections.
These Bay Trail folks are really good people and I know my family was grateful that Laura was out there protecting me from doing ill-advised, ego-fed, and somewhat stupid things like walking along highways. I found out later that my mom was a bit worried when she noticed the flying heron icon (indicating my GPS location) had stopped on San Pablo Road where it remained for several hours. My battery died at this point and therefore I had no GPS tracking until I got home. After hiking one last section of the Bay Trail, Shoreline Park in Hercules, Laura drove me to the BART station where I scanned my Clipper card and settled in for the trip back to San Francisco. My East Bay journey was off to a great start with two awesome Bay Trails, Point Pinole and Point Richmond lying just ahead.