Exiting Sacramento’s Amtrak station, bicycles intact and fully loaded, we were greeted by a busy intersection, the setting sun, and no idea of where we would be staying that evening. Narrowing in on the first “free wi-fi” sign we saw on the sidewalk, we leaned our bicycles against an exterior wall of a restaurant, and pulled out a laptop to see if we could find a generous Warmshowers.orghost that didn’t mind a last minute call for help. We had hoped to make contact with a host while on the train but without an internet connection, we didn’t get the chance to make arrangements.
Before I could sign on to my computer, a woman in cycling gear, obviously commuting home, pulled over, smiling, and asked us where we were headed. Her smile broadened when Kai told her about our grand plans and her next question was “Where are you staying tonight?”. Her face lit up when we told her that we were just beginning to investigate our possibilities. As it turns out, Yvette is a member of Warmshowers.org and after a quick round of introductions she invited us to stay in her home that evening, a mere six miles away!
In a matter of minutes we were following Yvette home, the sun setting before us, casting an orange glow over our grinning faces. Our legs were jumping with joy – ah, to be moving again! The three of us chatted along the way, determined what dinner might look like, and stopped at a local grocery store to grab some vegetables. It didn’t take us long to be laughing like old friends. Not only did Yvette offer us great conversation, a warm bed for the evening, bike route maps, and advice on our next day’s route, but she also rose with us early the next morning, and guided us through the first few miles out of town. With hugs and well wishes, we parted ways, the memory of Yvette’s positive energy staying with us all day.
The night before, when we asked Yvette why she decided to stop and talk to us, strangers on the side of the street, then to offer us a place to stay without knowing anything about us, she explained how she had had experienced great kindness from strangers during her 2007 tour (she rode ACA’s U.S. Northern Tierroute with some variations). She strives to offer the same kindness to other cyclists when she encounters them, knowing how wonderful it is to be offered shelter and friendship while on the road.
Yup. That’s pretty much the stuff we’re looking for on this trip – new ways of seeing a person, not as a stranger, or an imminent threat, but as a fellow traveler and potential friend. Thanks again, Yvette, for stopping when you saw us, and for opening your home to us!
After leaving Yvette we found our way onto the bike path that parallels Highway 80, which took us all the way to Davis, California. Here’s a video snippet of that experience:
Rolling into Davis, we were flabbergasted to be greeted by a welcome sign, a full map of the city laid before us and pamphlets listing almost every business in town and their location, including those we were most interested in – bike shops, book stores and food markets. After rolling into several bicycle shops, book stores, and outdoor gear shops we made our way to the Davis Food Co-op to pick up lunch and food for the next couple of days.
After seeing the plethora of bike paths and cyclists out that morning, then walking into a paradise of a grocery store full of fresh, local, organic fruit (the fruit we rarely bought at home because it’s transported from California to Vermont!), we became pretty enamored with Davis. To top it off, they offered bicycle trailers AND supplied bike tools outside of the store near the bike racks!! After we found out they had free wi-fi, we plopped down in the outdoor patio with our lunch and spent some time soaking it all in. With good food before us and the sun shining down on us, we unanimously declared California the greatest place on earth for a cyclist!
Next Stop: Vacaville, CA to Berkeley, CA