Home » 2014 Pacific Northwest

San Francisco North / Petaluma KOA, CA

Friday, May 16, 2014 - 3:30pm by uberHerb
55 miles and 1.5 hours from our last stop - 4 night stay


Tiburon Bikers before final climb to finishTiburon Bikers before final climb to finishWell, we were finally back, after a much longer absence than we had intended. Winter in New Jersey had been particularly miserable this year, but we hung around because my 93-year-old Mom with Alzheimer’s was, in Hospice’s words, “nearing the end.” In fact, I was pretty much informed that March would be “her month.” However, true to form, my mom had her own plan, and no one was going to tell her when her time was up. So, after watching her stabilize in March and April, and becoming quite convinced that she would live to 100, we finally made plans to head back to the West Coast to visit the boys. We hadn’t seen them since Christmas, and 5 months was a bit too long for my taste.

Also, leaving the motorhome and Subaru sitting in storage for 5 months probably wasn’t a good thing. Herb was pretty convinced that there was absolutely no way either vehicle would start when we got there—even though we had detached the battery cables—so I was bracing myself for the possibility of having to sleep in the motorhome in the storage area until we could buy a new battery the next day. I should know by now that Herb can be a bit of a pessimist. Both vehicles started up on the first try.

Although we had a lot of maintenance planned for the weekend, I was really anxious to get down to San Francisco to see Andrew and Celeste. They were just so tantalizingly close. So, the next morning I managed to convince Herb to put off maintenance for another day so that we could meet up with them for a bike ride in Marin.

Golden Gate Bridge before Climb out on BikesGolden Gate Bridge before Climb out on BikesHowever, since we weren’t meeting them until the afternoon, we decided to go for our 5-mile Petaluma run in the morning, as we had been so sedentary the day before on the plane and shuttles to and from the airport. In retrospect, this run was a big mistake, as we had a very physically active day ahead of us. Being with Andrew and Celeste is a little bit like going to boot camp.

After lunch, we loaded the bikes on the back of the Subaru and headed down US 101 to the southbound Vista Point parking lot, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge to meet up with Andrew and Celeste. To get to the major Vista Point parking lot on the northbound side we would have had to go across the bridge and back. The southbound parking lot wasn’t that big, and since this was a weekend, we had to wait a bit for a parking space, but it didn’t take too long. Andrew and Celeste didn’t need to find parking because they were riding their bikes over the Bridge to meet us. I was so excited when they approached, that I hugged them for what must have been 10 minutes. They looked great and very, very happy.

The plan was to do the 25-mile ride that they often do through Sausalito and out to the Tiburon Peninsula and back. They often add on another 25 miles and go all the way up to Fairfax, but we told them that a 25-mile ride would be just fine for today, especially considering we were on mountain bikes while they were on their spiffy new road bikes.

Andrew's 25th Birthday CelebrationAndrew's 25th Birthday CelebrationSince the parking lot was at bridge level, we had to go down some pretty serious hills to get to the waterfront in Sausalito. These downhill sections where you effortlessly fly through space are always exhilarating and fun – yet I can never quite totally enjoy them, because always lurking in the back of my mind is the realization that I will be facing them in the opposite direction on the way back.

Once we got down to the town of Sausalito and onto the Mill Valley / Sausalito bike path, the ride got flat and very scenic. Sausalito is really a lovely town. We pretty much followed the path along the water, which eventually wound its way around the bay and down onto the equally lovely Tiburon Peninsula on the Tiburon Path. Since this was a weekend, there was much activity in Tiburon – I think it was some sort of Wine Festival. We bought some coffee and snacks and sat in the grass near the ferry to San Francisco, just watching the activity.

The way back was pretty much a repeat of the way there, with the exception of a turn which brought us under the eastern side of the Golden Gate Bridge, for a really great perspective. The return to the parking lot up on the hill was a bit tough for me and I fell quite a bit behind. However, I eventually made it and met up with the others in the parking lot.

As I mentioned, Andrew and Celeste are an extremely active couple, so our day was not over yet. The plan all along had been to bike ride and then go into San Francisco to their rock climbing gym – just in case we didn’t get enough of a workout on the bikes. The problem was that it was already 6:30, and we found that the gym closed at 8:00, rather than 10:00 as we thought.

Herb and I began to question the wisdom of racing over to San Francisco to get to the gym with only about a half hour left to climb before closing, but we could see the disappointment in their faces. They really love bringing us to their climbing gym, and genuinely like to encourage me in my efforts to become a rock climber like everyone else in the family.

Andrew and Celeste had no desire to ride their bikes back across the bridge at this point, and it would just have taken them too long, so we took the back wheels off their bikes and stuffed them into the trunk of the Subaru. We got to the gym by 7:15, where the very persuasive and determined Celeste talked the guy at the desk into letting me and Herb climb for free, as there was only a short time left.

It was great. I thought I would be too tired, but climbing required an entirely different set of muscles than biking. By 8:00, I think that every muscle in my body had probably been worked to exhaustion. It was a nice exhaustion though.

Some Thai food at King of Thai Noodle near their apartment in the Inner Richmond hit the spot. By the time Herb and I got back to the campground, we were full, content, exhausted, and aching in that nice way you feel after a very satisfying, active day. Needless to say, we slept very well that night.

The next two days were pretty much spent as if we were home back in New Jersey – food shopping, taking the car to the car wash, waxing the motorhome, doing some well needed repairs and improvements on the rig, etc.

However, we did manage to squeeze in one more bit of fun. On our last night before heading north to Bend, we drove down to San Francisco with Hilda (Celeste’s mom) to celebrate Andrew’s 25th birthday. We joined him and some friends at a classic San Francisco pizza place called Georgio’s on Clement Street – another great dining spot in walking distance to their apartment. The pizzas were terrific and the company was fun. I can’t believe I have a 25 year old son.


The Petaluma KOA is an award winning camping resort located within an hour’s drive of San Francisco, Napa and Sonoma Valley Wineries, giant redwoods, and Sonoma County and California Coastal Beaches. It is considered to be the RV resort in the San Francisco Bay area.

On its 70 acres, there are 312 spacious RV sites, 32 camping cabins, and 10 Wine Country lodges.

Other amenities include:
• Guided tours of San Francisco (from May through October)
• Huge heated pool and spa
• Inflatable waterslide
• Rock climbing wall
• Huge playground
• Petting zoo
• Karaoke
• Hayrides and live weekend entertainment

The campground is open all year.

San Francisco North / Petaluma KOA location map in "high definition"

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