Day 56 Saturday, September 3 Placerville to Sacramento, CA 64 miles
It was unfortunate that I had so little time last night after arriving in Placerville so late. I showered, went out to dinner at Amerikan Ichi Sushi (easily rivals some of the best sushi in Portland), and went back to my motel room and quickly fell asleep. It took most of the morning to get myself organized again for a new day, blogging, and making arrangements for hosts over the next few days. By the time I was ready for the road I just looked for the closest breakfast place which turned out to be a dependable Waffle House. The food was fine, as expected, but as I rode into the actual town of Placerville I discovered a few restaurants with outside patios, flowers, and a bustling Labor Day energy. I guess that means another visit sometime to check out some of these fine places!
I had a leisurely ride from Placerville to Sacramento. The elevation drops another 2,000 feet almost to sea level. Sacramento, 75 miles from the San Francisco Bay is only 46 feet in elevation. The highlight of the ride today was following the American River Bike Trail 23 miles from Folsom into downtown Sacramento. I haven’t had too many bad experiences with drivers, but it was still nice to be completely free of having to watch for vehicles. Much of the trail runs right alongside the river where rafters, kayakers, and beach bathers were enjoying this long holiday weekend. The trail meanders through a number of community parks, oak groves, and completely avoids the busyness of the city.
I arrived, after a number of calls to get directions, at the home of Warren Barnes, pastor at Grace Presbyterian, and his wife, Anita. We enjoyed a good meal together and then were joined by Tom and Linda Sweetman with whom I am staying tonight. Of course, we talked church. Warren has asked me to ride directly through the double front doors of the church just after the announcements ending up in the chancel area where he will interview me as part of the service. I have heard of the choir processing down the middle of the aisle in preparation for worship. I am still trying to discern how to ride my bike in a worshipful manner as I pass by the pews. I told Warren to feel free to use me however he wanted. I have to trust him pillar of the church, Mrs. Jones, isn’t going to faint right there!
Tom, Linda and I spent the rest of the evening talking about the shift in religious allegiance and affiliation among younger generations. She shared how both of her children were brought up in the church, but neither of them attend now. At the same time she shared how both of her children are two of the “most spiritual people she knows.” I shared how I continue to see this pattern of an older generation who raised their children in the church and their children who, in many ways have adopted the values of the church, but who don’t affiliate with any institutional church.
There is much more to be said here. But, patterns and themes continue to emerge and be confirmed. Spiritual yearning is strong among the generations that were raised by the current cast of church members even if their children and grandchildren find the forms of religious faith to be irrelevant to their lives. People want to have the freedom to be responsible for their own spiritual life, disciplines, and values. If they do choose a religious tradition it is because they chose it, not because they felt a duty to accept the religion of their parents.
After the service I will be off to Vallejo right on the San Francisco Bay for an average length ride. I will be staying with another Warmshowers host who has offered to meet me a few miles out and ride back into town with him. Then I will cross the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge on my way to Marin County where I went to seminary, where my children were born, and where I have many friends. I have planned only for about 100 miles over a four-day period in the North Bay so that I will have time to visit and enjoy the many connections and memories associated with Marin County.