Planning 2017 Bike Trips

It’s that time of year. Tomorrow the ISO will announce the official 2017 Tour de France route. Rumors are flying on Twitter and Facebook about some of the stages being more than 400 kilometers. Ugh. When will they learn from the Vuelta and the Giro that shorter stages are more competitive? The race is already an endurance test. As a fan, the main reason you should tune in to the route announcement is to begin planning your own adventure–especially booking your hotel.

You can cycle or spectate with an official tour, such as Trek Travel or Thomson Bike Tours. Or you can plan your own adventure. I recommend looking for places where there are starts and finishes close together. The Pyrenees are also terrific: beautiful, many viewing spots within reach, lots of hotels to accommodate teams and fans.

The catalogs for bicycle trips are also arriving. Trek Travel’s beautiful brochure arrived and I spent several happy hours looking at the possibilities. With Trek you know your hotel will be fabulous, the food fantastic and the guides/support reliable, and you pay dearly for this top of the line experience. The Adventure Cycling Association tour catalog also landed in my mailbox this month. These trips are less expensive, generally a bigger time commitment and a bigger physical challenge than your typical bike tour. Two people in my RAGBRAI 2015 group met while riding across the USA with Adventure Cycling Association and they had all positive things to say. You can select from fully supported, Inn to Inn, self contained or van supported rides (and more).

I’ve been dealing with some health issues so my goal is to work my back to the place where I can consider one of these adventures. My ideal trip in 2017 would include the start of the Tour de France in Dusseldorf, Germany in July. What destination is in your future?


Pie, Pie, Pie!

I was looking for something to watch other than sport or politics and I found A Few Good Pie Places on Most of the places they featured were east of the Mississippi. One of the exceptions was Ikeda’s in Auburn. How had I not heard of their pie before? Afterall, they sell 80-100,000 pies a year!

Meanwhile, my friend Dan Macon was also celebrating a milestone–24 of his photographs from his 365 Days of Sheep are featured in art show in the Auburn City Hall. I called my Mom and invited her to join me to taste the pie and see the photos. She added Machado’s to our list of places to go.

img_0691We went straight to Ikeda’s to enjoy pie. Surprise, they serve breakfast and lunch too. I had a delicious western chicken sandwich combo and my mom a burger. Then we shared a piece of wild blackberry pie (yum) and tasted the french apple (too sweet). There is also a complete store of fruit, vegetables and other delicious foodstuffs.

IMG_0693.JPGWe then proceeded a short distance to Machado Orchard. I bought a bag of Empire apples and a slice of classic apple pie. The filling was delicious but Mom and I agreed that the crust was doughy.

We were feeling ready for a nap! We pressed on to find the Auburn City Hall. Google seemed a bit confused. We parked at the beautiful courthouse in Old Town and walked the block to the City Hall. Alas, it is not open on weekends. We could see some of the photos through the doorway and we definitely will return.

Most people in the greater Sacramento area think of Apple Hill at this time of year for pie and fruit (east on Interstate 50). Auburn is about equidistant from downtown but east on Interstate 80. It has a growing number of small farms. October 9 is Placer Grown Farm & Barn self guided tour from 10-4.


Energizing Leadership Discussion with Up With People


The Journey, Up With People performance, last night was excellent. It made it even more fun to have met the cast beforehand. Their energy and enthusiasm is inspiring. I loved the original songs especially Peace Party and Won’t be Afraid. If you have the opportunity to go, do. And if you have the opportunity to be a host family, volunteer. Your faith in the next generation–from around the world–will be reaffirmed.

am taking my Mom to our first Up With People performance. This program is celebrating 50 years of youth leadership. Originally posted on

leader's compass

Up With People is in Sacramento this week. The program participants exercise their leadership by organizing various events including a leadership round table. Fourteen local leaders, including me, joined the 100 cast members to talk about leadership. In each group of about 6 people, we could ask each other anything, follow any aspect of leadership. We talked for about 10 minutes and then moved on to the next circle.

I was very impressed by the young people from around the world who are a part of the program. They are a terrific reminder that many 20 somethings are ready to take on leadership and make our world a better place.

They also sing and dance. If you are in the Sacramento area, please support this terrific program by attending their performance on Friday September 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Auditorium. Tickets available on-line or at the box office. $25…

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Sacramento Mural Walk, Part 2

img_0632Midtown Sacramento is a very hip, walkable part of Sacramento and offers the easiest way to see a large number of murals quickly. There are so many wonderful places to eat, stop for a coffee or end the walk with a beer. This Sacramento Mural Fair offers a fun way to enjoy the downtown or midtown of Sacramento.

If you start with #8. Alicia Palenyy on the backside of the CLARA Building (the new arts center), you can find free street parking. The mural at 2420 N Street is more easily found from O Street.

It is a short walk to #7. Michelle Blade at Chase Bank. Along 20th Street from N to J you’ll find a number of terrific restaurants, including the Federalist (built from containers), Waterboy, Low Brau and at L and 18th Buckhorn Grill.

In the parking lot between Faces nightclub and Mogavero Architects are 2 murals with some other older murals: #5 by Irubiel Moreno and #6 by Nate Frizzell between 2000 and 2012 K Street. Add Fuel is the artist of the older mural.


One block further on J Street in the alley behind the Native American Health Center at 2020 J Street, you’ll find #4 by Drew Merritt.

You are finished! If you enjoyed this mural scavenger hunt, then you’ll enjoy Second Saturday when all of the galleries in Midtown host a series of events every month.

Mural Walk: Another Reason to See Sacramento (Part 1)


David Fiveash, #10 – 1025 R Street

I have lived in Sacramento most of my life and I am accustomed to people thinking of my hometown as a place to pass through on the way to San Francisco or Lake Tahoe. Increasingly it is worthy of a stay all its own–especially if you love art or locally sourced food.

Recently the Friends of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission sponsored the Sacramento Mural Festival. Eleven artists completed new murals over a week from August 20-27, 2016. The best part of the project is the murals remain for everyone to enjoy long into the future.

This week I dedicated 3.5 hours to cycling around downtown and midtown Sacramento to find all of the murals as a kind of scavenger hunt. I stopped along the way to eat lunch at my favorite mediterranean cafe, the Crest Cafe. There are so many choices for excellent food, coffee, beer or wine. The walk with stops could fill a day.

With the map, and my two-part blog post, you can enjoy the murals in several outings or all in one. I’ve divided the murals geographically: first from I-5 to 15th Street or downtown, then from 15th to 24th or midtown.

Alkali Flat Outlier

Number 11. Dog and Pony, behind 1236 C Street, is one of the hardest murals to find. I bumped into another mural watcher, Janna, and she couldn’t find this one at first try. I only found it with help from a security guard. It is a great example of not seeing something because you are expecting something quite different.

Hint: Go to the corner of C Street and 13th Street. Now walk or cycle back toward D Street and turn right into the alley past the junkyard dog behind the fence. The mural is on a big metal fence just ahead on the right.

This neighborhood is also the most sketchy on the mural walk. I don’t call it unsafe in the daytime, but I wouldn’t blame you if you chose to drive to this one. The neighborhood is in transition. Sandwiched between the new railyard development and the new Golden One Arena, this neighborhood is experiencing a building boom. One of my favorite cafes for coffee, a sandwich or a beer is Shine on the corner of E and 14th. There is free 2 hour parking across the street.

Downtown K Street

Another hard to find mural is #1. Kristin Farr, 501 J Street. The Kaiser Permanente building is under construction like almost every other building in the 2 block area. This mural is on the 6th Street side on the brick building.

It is only a few blocks to the Citizens Hotel and the excellent Grange restaurant–one of the first farm to fork menus in Sacramento at 10th and J Streets. From there walk across the street and toward K Street.

Duck down the alley on the left and look up to the right. Up high, on the back of the Crest Theatre is #2. Jake Castro technically at 1013 K Street. Artist Castro definitely drew the short straw. His mural is the hardest to see and his working conditions must have been aromatic above all the dumpsters. There is a bonus mural on the left side of the alley.

There are more than half dozen restaurants on the same block as the Crest Theatre including Mother, a vegetarian cafe, and the Crest Cafe. There are also places nearby for coffee (Ambrosia, Chicory) and ice cream at Cornflower Creamery and delicious cookies at Goodie Tuchews.

K Street is a pleasant way to walk to the next mural #3. Andrew Schoultz at 1530 J Street. You’ll pass the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament and see the Capitol (look right on 11th Street), past the Convention Center and across from the Memorial Auditorium.

R Street Corridor

For many years R Street didn’t have much other than Fox & Goose pub on 10th Street as an anchor of good music and beer. Since then there has been a great revival from 10th Street to 15th Street. There are 2 new murals on this street. You may also notice some clever bicycle racks. (You can find a bicycle rack scavenger hunt game card here.)

#10. David Fiveash is next to my favorite yarn shop, Rumplestiltskin. On the same side of the street as Fox & Goose.

Down one more block you’ll find the WAL development, a kind of artist colony with a restaurant, bar and shopping. #9. Add Fuel mural is easy to spot.

If you continue down R Street toward 15th you’ll find Shady Lady cocktail bar, many great restaurants and the Ace of Spades for live music.

Next up: Mural Walk Part 2







Favorite 2 Experiences in Venice


Venice (Veneto) is amazing. I should not have been surprised since everything in Italy surpassed my expectations. Nonetheless, I was prepared to find Venice overrated. Hooray. It really is special still. I say still because Venetians seem to be sure it is in decline. There are signs (literally) all over that gripe about how AirBnB is ruining Venice or about the pigeons overrunning the squares, or about the canals smelling very bad, etc. Did not experience any of it. It was overcast and rainy and I still found it uniquely, exotically beautiful.

Once I arrived I was frustrated that a work thing in London meant that I only had 28 hours in Venice. With climate change I don’t take going back to places at sea level for granted, so I had to decide what to do with my precious time. I got lots of advice from people on how to enjoy Venice to the utmost and I did more research on Venice than any other place I planned to visit on this trip. (I was bummed to find out that my visit was 2 weeks shy of the Biennale–another reason to return soon.) I bought the 24 hour pass on the water bus/airport bus. I walked a lot with my hotel umbrella and map. And I didn’t stop to eat much, preferring to eat scenery and art instead.


TripAdvisor is my number one travel planning tool. I love how the number 1 ranked hotel is often in the mid-price range (for the location) and generally wins on service. The Hotel Moresco has slipped to #2 since I stayed there in May but you’d be a fool to miss this one. It is one of the best hotel experiences of my life.

The rooms are beautifully appointed and the location is terrific (they even have excellent instructions on how to walk there from the train station). The service from every member of staff I encountered is what made my stay A++. They have a sumptuous breakfast and generous small plates during cocktail hour (included in room stay). They even went out in search of postage stamps for me. I was so sorry to check out. How often do you say that?


I found mooching around the Jewish Quarter rewarding. It was the only part of Venice that felt like a real (non-touristy neighborhood). I sought out the Opera House and only wished I had tickets and time for a performance.

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is generally on the B list of things to do–after you’ve seen bridges, churches, squares and gondolas. I have always been intrigued with the idea of Peggy Guggenheim’s life and seeing her home gallery was a priority. More so after reading John Berendt’s wonderful travel memoir The City of Falling Angels. (Same author as Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil)


The Guggenheim Collection did not disappoint. I loved imagining what it was like to live in this villa and throw fabulous dinner parties and greet your guests arriving by boat on the Grand Canal. It must have been beyond beyond.


The poster I bought: Metzinger’s At the Cycle Race Track

The art collection is really quite good, made better by the commentary you can listen to with headphones, or from a docent presentation. The restaurant is expensive, and good quality (not great), but the atmosphere. It allows you to extend your experience in this wonderful environment. I splurged in the gift shop buying a poster even though my walls are not bare and it is a pain to bring home. I just wanted to carry the inspiration with me.

The Collection is open daily 10-6 except Tuesdays and Christmas. It is 15Euro for an adult although check the long list of qualifying discounts. Plan to spend at least several hours to see it all.


Rediscovering Santa Barbara, Part II


Santa Barbara is so much fun. We enjoyed the food, the surf, the history, the shopping, and the sunshine. When my friend UK Sarah chose it for our USA adventure I was not sure there was enough to do. It had been a few years since I last visited. I need not have wasted a moment worrying about getting bored.

One morning we drove up to Lake Cachuma and saw the terrifying impact of the lingering drought on the lake levels. Otherwise we found plenty to occupy ourselves right in Santa Barbara–almost all within a few miles from our lodgings at the uber comfortable Harbor House Inn.


The person checking us in recommended we make a reservation at Toma Restaurant and Bar. We are so glad we did. We dressed for dinner and walked the short 2 blocks to the restaurant. We were quickly seated and met our waiter Stephen. He noticed Sarah’s accent and began teasing her and she dished it right back. The food was wonderful but the highlight was when he sprinkled rose petals across the white table cloth and served a dish to “the Queen.’ We were all broad smiles by the time we finished our after dinner coffee. The food is Mediterranean inspired and one of the most elegant and delicious meals I have enjoyed anywhere in California. At the time I am writing this post, Toma is the number 1 rated restaurant in Santa Barbara on TripAdvisor.

We also enjoyed authentic spicy tacos at Lilly’s Taqueria and coffee more than once at Santa Barbara Roasting Company. On the final night we decided to drive up the coastline a mile or so to the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach. I devoured the most delicious crab legs. I only dare eat seafood (and then just crab) once a year as I often get hives. When I saw an order going by I knew I had to have them tonight. We dined outside and enjoyed the million dollar view of the sea and the beach.

We found time to explore a premium stationery shop and a used bookstore, to read and to nap. With the Inn’s bicycles we had more freedom to explore independently. We also cycled together to the trail’s end at the shore. We could have kept going away from the coastline but chose to turn around and explore the pier instead.

I can easily imagine spending a week in Santa Barbara. Our king room at the Inn had a kitchen so we could prep some meals at home for a change of pace. Everything, except getting there, is so easy. In fact, Santa Barbara epitomizes relaxed elegance.