Monday, September 28, 2009

Lots of Fun East Bay Activities

While I'm normally a San Francisco Peninsula or South Bay kind of girl, I've spent the last two weekends in the East Bay.

Last weekend, we went with our friends visiting from Seattle to Niles to hop on the steam powered Niles Canyon Railway train! What I loved about this train was that it made the *exact* noise that all trains make in cartoons... which, apparently, is unique to steam trains (and a sound guy was there recording it as it pulled into the station). And it had a great whistle, as well! It didn't go very fast, but that was all the better to enjoy the beautiful rolling hills and other quaint scenery from the open top rail car. The train took us to Sunol, where we had a picnic lunch in the park that is right across the street from the depot.

After lunch, we thought we'd get a cup of coffee in the Jazz Cafe. Unfortunately, a couple of lattes ended up being a complicated order. The barista had problems with the order... twice. The first time, she couldn't read her own hand writing, so we had to tell her the order again. After about 30 minutes with no coffee, we checked again, and she'd forgotten to make them. Fortunately for us, the train was running late so we had plenty of time to finish our coffees once we got them. The atmosphere was very cool, but not sure about the service.

We ran into some other women at the station that had such bad luck at the other restaurant in town that they'd missed their earlier return train. Apparently their waitress forgot that they ordered food, too. Strange little town, Sunol. I think when we do this again, we'll start out in Sunol and take our chances in Niles for lunch and coffees, as their looked like there was a lot more options there.

The train ride itself was very cool and unforgettable - hard to believe it is totally staffed and run by volunteers! Many paid employees at other establishments could learn a thing or two about customer service from these friendly folks! I can't believe I've lived in this area for so many years and had never taken that train ride before!

This weekend, we ventured to the East Bay again with a different set of friends - this time for an even more rugged experience - camping! Okay, it's car camping, and we ate like kings, but still, we were roughing it! We camped in Lake Chabot at a great campsite. The fire pit and picnic tables were well set up, bathrooms clean and well stocked and HOT showers! The big pluses of this campground: close to the bay area so we only had a short drive, and mountain bike friendly!

I've had a cold, been traveling or just generally busy lately - that's kept me out of the saddle for more than a month! This weekend, I thought what better way to get back into shape than doing a long mountain bike ride! The trails in this park were totally my style: wide, shaded, not very technical, lots of good climbs. I could ride them for hours - in fact, we did: 5 hours of riding! *whew* and that's when the nice, clean, hot showers came in very handy!

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