A Quickie Tour of San Francisco

Two weeks after returning from the honeymoon, I flew to San Francisco for a work-related conference, the annual Association for Commuter Transportation conference. Lucky us that is was in San Fran this year!

Being so close to home, I squeezed in a few hours with family and friends in Sacramento.


Because of the conference, I didn’t get to see much of San Francisco, but I hit some highlights.

After hours of discussing transportation demand management, marketing and outreach, behavior change and community-based social marketing, I snuck out at lunch to run to Britex Fabrics, a few blocks from the hotel. Despite a long list of projects, I only found fabric for one. I did buy some silver reflective fabric, and some fun trims, too. But the best part was meeting up with Melissa of Bike Pretty! It was so fun to meet her in person, and chat fashion and bikes, and see her current project. I am disappointed I didn’t get to spend more time with her, so I look forward to the next trip to the Bay Area!

When the conference was over, some friends and I did the tourist thing, and took a vintage streetcar to Fisherman’s Wharf. One friend wanted to go to Alcatraz, but the tours were all sold out, so we settled for a bay cruise. Although I’ve spent years in SF, I’ve never done that, and really enjoyed it. The weather was just as I like – somewhat foggy.


My brother and sister-in-law flew in from Texas, not just to see me, but because my brother was headed to a conference in Sacramento. It was nice to see them, and hear about their trip to Indonesia, which had prevented them from attending our wedding. (Yes, I was disappointed they weren’t there, but what a great opportunity for them!) And with that, the trip was over!

Eno Wine Bar

Eno Wine Bar


I counted 15 hotels and 7 flights in the last 6 weeks – no wonder I’m tired of travel! (And that doesn’t include trains). It will be nice to just be at home for a while, get some sewing done, and catch up on the wedding and honeymoon stuff I still haven’t organized. Still, a whirlwind tour through Europe, then northern California, are not bad ways to spend a summer!

#edgar at Pier 39 (If you don't know Edgar yet, check out my Instagram account. He's taken it over. @earlettef)

#edgar at Pier 39 (If you don’t know Edgar yet, check out my Instagram account. He’s taken it over. @earlettef)

Whirlwind Tour Through Northern CA

The Mechanic and I just returned from northern California, a whirlwind tour of my favorite childhood places. Ranging from Sacramento, to San Francisco, to Mendocino and Napa Valley, we covered a lot of territory in about ten days.

The first few days I was on my own in Sacramento at the Behavior, Energy and Climate Change conference. The keynote speaker was Dr. George Lakoff, whose book Don’t Think of an Elephant, I finished rereading on the plane. Panels on making behavior stick, social marketing, and even behavioral economics were all very inspiring. I attended last year, so I had a better idea of what to expect, but nevertheless, I came away energized (as it were) – as illustrated by me at the end of a conference workshop. IMG_7488

Before The Mechanic arrived after the conference was over, my mom and aunt and I went wedding dress shopping. Although we joked about having a “Say Yes to the Dress” argument, we had too much fun to even pretend to fight over something, and yes, I ended up getting a dress. But you’ll have to wait with The Mechanic until June 14 to see it!

I think this amazing sunset the day I bought my wedding dress was a mark of approval by the universe. (okay, probably not, but it's nice to think about!)

I think this amazing sunset the day I bought my wedding dress was a mark of approval by the universe. (okay, probably not, but it’s nice to think about!)

I dragged The Mechanic around Old Sacramento, where we had a tasty lunch at Rio City Cafe, toured the California State Railroad Museum, admired the new green lanes, and struck up conversations with the owners of Practical Cycle, a bike shop that specializes in electric bicycles and transportation bicycling. Their mission is “to make cycling more practical for everyday people,” people just like me, and I applaud them. More on them in a later blog post.

Practical Cycle, in Old Sacramento

Practical Cycle, in Old Sacramento

Then we spent Sunday night in San Francisco, where I was able to meet up with some friends, and geek out on the vintage streetcars, which I haven’t seen before. I haven’t spent any time in San Francisco in ages, so I was happily surprised at how bike-friendly the city has become. I’m sure any local will tell me it’s not perfect, but trust me, it’s an improvement!

We didn’t bike in SF but we rode the buses and streetcars everywhere. We were amazed at the fact that we never needed a bus schedule to figure out how long we needed to wait – they seemed to appear within 5-10 minutes! I really loved the streetcars, and the fact that they cost the same $2.00 as the buses did. We made use of our transfers, too. The Mechanic was super excited about the fact the electric buses are amazingly quiet.

After visiting Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, three friends, Golden Gate Park and the museums (although we didn’t go in any of them), Huckleberry Bikes, and watching the San Francisco Ballet “Nutcracker” projection in the mall dome, we drove up the coast to Mendocino, my most favorite place in the world, where we met up with my parents, aunt and cousin. We had a rental house just outside of Mendocino village for four nights, over Thanksgiving, allowing us time to really enjoy the area.

We vacationed here for a week every summer and the week of Thanksgiving for years, while I was in high school and college, and we used to consider ourselves locals of sorts. Local tourists? It’s been years since I was able to spend more than one night, and the weather gifted us with perfect warm temperatures and clear blue skies. I could go on and on about this area, but there just isn’t enough space! Pictures will have to do.

The Mechanic and my cousin and I drove back to Sacramento through Anderson Valley, where we did a wine tasting (and buying!) at Navarro Winery, plus a beer tasting at Anderson Valley Brewing Company (well, they did), and had a picnic lunch at Sattui Winery, the most crowded I have ever seen that place. Well, it was a perfect day, so who can blame the other tourists?!

My goodness we did a lot! I think the only reason why we weren’t exhausted at the end of this trip was because Mendocino was so relaxing. Wandering the Mendocino Headlands State Park, sitting watching the waves crash on the rocky shoreline, and just soaking up sunshine was almost all we did. It’s hard to relax and experience everything at the same time, but I think we did a pretty good job this trip! CAM00285



Slow Food and Cycling in Sacramento

When I was growing up, my friends and I could not wait to get out of Sacramento. From the time one of us had both a driver’s license and a car, we headed to San Francisco as often as possible. There we could find art and culture and cool restaurants and shops, everything our cowtown hometown seemed to be lacking.

Fast forward twenty-plus years. I rarely go home because my parents (thankfully) like to visit me, so it’s been about three years since I was last there. Boy was I surprised last week when I attended the Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change Conference (blog to follow)! Downtown Sacramento is now all about slow food and cycling – in short, a place I’d now be happy to live in!

Bicycles were locked up outside of every restaurant in downtown Sacramento.

Over breakfast at long-ago favorite Fox and Goose, a friend explained Sacramento’s new “Farm to Fork” status, and the Slow Food movement with “Snailies” – snail awards for participating slow food restaurants in town. As someone who supports, although can’t always afford, slow food, I felt obligated to try one. I dragged my BikeArlington colleague, also at the conference, to Lucca Restaurant, and we were so impressed by the delicious food! And the prices weren’t bad either.

Lucca also does a farmer’s market dinner on Sundays. I’d love to try this.

I hit a few other new places, as well as visited a long-time favorite coffee shop, now in a new location.

Cafeteria 15L – grown up comfort food in a huge space, with a courtyard shared with two other places.

Skillet S’mores at Cafeteria 15L


Yes, I have been going to Capitol Garage for 20 years – boy does that make me feel old.

Having so many great (and huge! Every place downtown was in a space that could hold several NYC restaurants!) within walking distance to just about anything in downtown and midtown would have made me a much happier person. Let’s ignore the fact that I was then a poor college student, shall we?

I had been told that Sacramento had become a huge bicycling city, so I shouldn’t have been surprised at the number of bikes and bike racks I saw everywhere, yet I was.

One of the Edible Pedal delivery bikes cruising past a Sacramento landmark.

More delivery bikes, this time for Pizza Rock.

Lots of fixies – the city is pretty flat, so I guess that would be fine. I love the lights on this bike!

Out for a spin on my mother’s adorable cruiser bike.


I was disappointed to not have had time to cruise around on a bike, but I did take Light Rail from my parents neighborhood to downtown, and was HUGELY impressed by the bike racks in the light rail cars. Yes, that’s right, I said IN the cars. Bikes are permitted in the light rail cars at all times, in designated areas, although signs to say cyclists may be asked to leave if trains are too crowded. When I rode it, there was a high volume of what people might consider “undesirables,”  compared to New York or the Washington DC area, where everyone rides the subway system. I was continually cautioned against riding it at night.

I guess now I need to return to Sacramento soon and explore more of this slow food cycling city. The Mechanic needs to experience my hometown anyway. But I will offer Napa Valley and San Francisco to sweeten the deal.