Workout: (Yesterday) 5ish SLOW, HOT, supposedly-easy Garmin-less miles.
Post-workout fun: a growler of beer from the Russian River Brewing Co., consumed, fittingly, in the Russian River.
So the run/ride this week was not really part of the epic wonderfulness of the day. We slept in (er, well, Ian did), lazed around, did laundry, and suddenly found ourselves at 10am looking at 85 degrees, dry as dust, and glaring sun. (WTF Norcal?) Whoops. But we forged on, spandexed up, and drove up to one of the many amazing trailheads at the top of the ridge, just a mile from the house. The next part, though, was harder. We pulled into the parking lot, and each looked dejectedly from the air conditioning controls to the window. “I don’t wanna,” I said, maturely. “Me either,” Ian responded. “But just think how awesome it will be after?” he added half-heartedly.
8 gallons of sweat, a shower, a bowl of oatmeal, a tank of gas, and a detour to get a cooler later, we were off. The plan was simple: procure beer. Put beer in cooler. Put selves in river. Drink beer. Us softie inhabitants of Northern California get pretty uncreative when the temperature climbs above, say, 73.
The procuring beer part of the plan led to a stop at the Russian River Brewing Co., in Santa Rosa, where we bought a $20 growler of the Russian River Porter. The beer itself was fabulous, there’s no denying that, but the Brewing Company bar and restaurant itself left a bit, shall we say, to be desired. Now, okay, I realize Santa Rosa’s kind of a weird place, but the Monday afternoon clientele was… well, a bit weird too. And, when we asked the bartender for beer, you’d have thought we were asking for a huge favor: “Jeeeeeeeeezz, guys, sigh, why on earth would you think I can get you beer right now?”
But don’t let that deter you. The porter was wonderful, thick but not heavy, chocolately but not sweet, refreshing but not bitter. MMM. And the growlers look pretty sweet.
So we rolled out of Santa Rosa, our liquid gold on ice, and, completely starving by this poing, proceeded to stop at no less than three places to get a rather, well, unconventional spread of food. We ended up with: lime tortilla chips and salsa, Junior Mints, apples, date nut rolls, wasabi peas, and fruit slices. Oh, and barbecue sauce. Right.
We parked and nonchalantly strolled down a hidden path toward the river, one that, rather inauspiciously, smelled overwhelmingly like weed. Shrugging that off, and having determined that no one was on our little spot of beach, we walked back to the car to get the picnic (“picnic”), when, what does God send us but: “BBQ!” I exclaimed. “WHERE.” Ian demanded. Thus we added to our spread a pulled pork sandwich, potato salad, and baked beans. Because, well, why not.
We finally arrived at the river, spread everything down, opened the chips, and… realized we were on the shady side. A quick trip back to the car and a guessing game through residential streets led us to the promised land: an empty spot of sand in the sun.
The Russian River Valley actually has a pretty suprisingly cool history. At the turn of the 19th century, Russian trappers came down from Alaska, looking for seal pelts and food for the community in Alaska (because, duh, there isn’t shit to eat up there in the winter), and claimed the land for the Russian Empire. A friend of mine brought his father, a Russian immigrant, to a winery in the Russian River Valley recently, and he exclaimed, “why on earth did we give this up?!”
Apparently, as all things do, it came down to money, and the Russians sold the land in 1841, and American settlers started arriving the following year. Today, the Russian River Valley is dotted with wineries (including Korbel champagne. Next Monday…?), and, although the river itself is followed by a highway for much of its length, until it empties into Monterey Bay, it’s still totally gorgeous, and, in particular, a great place to spend freaking hot afternoon with a growler of beer.
The only mar on the day was the unexpected injury I sustained at the very end. The car was started, everything was loaded, and I was returning from peeing in the woods (/watching Ian do a burnout in the dirt parking lot.) And I got stung by a bee. The nerve, nature. The nerve.