Saturday, March 26th, 2011

For those of you who thought my mangled carcass was slowly decomposing in a swampy roadside bog in Louisiana, I've got news for you: 5,500+ miles, 4.75 months, 5 flat tires, 10 states and 31 host homes later I'm very alive and exceedingly well in KEY WEST, FLORIDA!!

To be honest, I am probably more amazed than anyone that I actually followed through with it...and survived! At the outset I'd speculated that my chance of arriving in Key West was maybe 30%, given the myriad problems, challenges and obstacles I could encounter: crippling knee pain, chronic hemorrhoids, paralyzing trepidation, foul-weather burn-out, mechanical catastrophes, disastrous encounters with cars, trucks and RV's, monetary shortcomings and failures, gratuitous overuse of adjectives, etc. But through a combination of good fortune and halting perseverance, I made it to the end of the yellow brick road! What an adventure it's been!

Far and away the best aspect of the journey has been the incredible people I have met. More than anything––and, yes, I know this will sound cliche, but it's true––doing a trip like this restores/reinforces/confirms one's faith in the goodness and generosity of the general populous. Over and over and over I was blown away by the willingness eagerness of perfect strangers to extend a hand; even go the extra mile to help, assist, and offer hospitality. Nor was it just my good fortune––I heard accounts from nearly every fellow cyclist I talked to of similar experiences, some even more dramatic than mine. One cyclist told of meeting a motorist on the road who recommended a restaurant ahead, finding when he arrived at the restaurant his meal had been put on the motorist's tab!

Something disappointing I've discovered along the way is that there are a lot of people out there living with an abiding fear of the world. Other cyclists I've spoken with confirm this. A ubiquitous comment shared amongst cyclists is, "I've had a number of people ask me if I'm carrying or have considered carrying a gun." (!?) Another question cyclists often report being asked is, "Aren't you afraid of getting attacked/mugged?" (Naturally, this always comes from people who have never done anything like a cross-country bike trip.)

I suspect that this common dread stems from a culture of isolationism; we've built an infrastructure of virtual (and actual) walls and shields that keep us from interacting and socializing with those around us. Day after day, over and over, I've observed people sitting in their cars/trucks, queued up at the fast-food drive-thru (when there's no wait inside), living in their little fortresses (ie., houses), "safe" from the perceived threat outside/next door, observing the world through the television and computer screen, growing more and more convinced that the world is a scary and dangerous place.

Fortunately, the cure for the dread is to simply get out and discover that you're not attacked, mugged, murdered, harassed or even threatened and that the many people who are not kind and friendly are not malicious and dangerous but are likely just the aforementioned fearful.

Hey, do your part to reform this culture of fear! Get outside and interact with your neighbors. Talk to strangers in line at the grocery store. Initiate conversation with your co-workers and family members about this fear. Invite the neighbors you don't know over for dinner. Undertake a cross-country bike trip or a 500 mile walk.

And for God's sake, get out of your car!!

Whoo, sorry about the rant! Had to get that off my chest. Feel much better now. Kind of like after you vomit.

Now if you're wondering about the missing two and a half months of blog entries, they're coming. I have hundreds of photos and dozens of videos to sift through and edit and I will get them uploaded along with blog entries as soon as I can after I get home (April 2nd). I'll send another email when the blog is finished.

Tomorrow (Monday, the 28th) I'm renting a car here in Key West and driving up to Miami where Tuesday morning I am boarding a train for a five day trip back to Seattle.

It will be very nice to be back in the wonderful Pacific Northwest!

Port Hueneme to San Diego

Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 –– Wednesday, Jan. 05, 2011
Wednesday evening––with yet another rain storm forecast for the overnight/early morning––stayed at the America's Best Value Inn in Port Hueneme (just south of Oxnard).

All along I had been expecting on this bike trip a fair amount of rain in the Pacific Northwest and even all of Northern California, but had hoped that by the time I got south of San Francisco the rainy weather would diminish and I would quickly get sunburned. Nope; Central and Southern California were experiencing one of their rainiest winters ever with terrible flooding and mudslides ravaging the region and, worse, causing touring cyclists from Seattle great distress and uncomfortableness.

By late morning the rain storm had passed, the sun reappeared, the pavement began drying and I set out for Malibu and the beginning of the massive Los Angeles megalopolis.

Coming from Seattle, with its difficult-to-forecast weather patterns, one thing that has amazed me is the accuracy of the weather forecasts in all the areas I've visited. One can look at the weather forecasts three, four, even five days in advance and make plans accordingly, knowing that probably 9 times (or more) out of 10 the prediction will be correct––often even down to the hour! In Seattle, thanks to the notorious Puget Sound convergence zone, three days in advance, the forecast is probably correct 2 times out of 10!

This shouldn't have been a surprise to me because as a tour guide in Seattle one thing I regularly come across is visitors saying, on a Tuesday, "The forecast for Seattle this coming weekend is for sunshine!" While I reply "Oh that's great!," I'm thinking to myself, "Well, there's always a possibility it'll be sunny."

Obviously, with so many people from so many different places putting such faith in the meteorologists' calculations, I should have inferred that the weather forecasts everywhere else are accurate.

With all the heavy rain this winter, one thing Southern California was having a problem with was mudslides, especially in areas where vegetation had been killed by wildfires. (How's that for an ol' one-two punch?)

Foolishly, I hadn't been actively checking for road closures along Hwy 1 (although I had been sort of watching the media outlets) even though I knew the highway department had been closing and reopening portions of Hwy 1 due to mud/landslides or threats thereof.

Just a few miles south of Port Hueneme, it bit me in the butt bike shorts; Hwy 1 was blocked at Point Mugu!

This map shows how far inland I had to go to detour around:

The map also indicates where this photo (#1) of a fruit stand was taken:
(I purchased a couple of pieces of fuel.)

And this photo (#2) of a memorial for a killed cyclist:

Once I was diverted at Point Mugu from my intended southward trajectory, the farm road I was on started bending to the left––not only northward, but also into the wind. Argh! Fortunately, since I'd no idea where I was going (the maps I had only showed the intended route), there was a guy walking along the road who just so happened to be a fellow cyclist (!) and was able to give me quite good directions.

After spending the whole day riding up and through Camarillo, Thousand Oaks and Agoura Hills and with daylight quickly fading, I pulled into Malibu Creek State Park. Many of the California State Parks want exorbitant fees for camping (Some as much as $35!! Inexplicably, they don't differentiate between RV "campers" and hiker/biker campers.) and Malibu Creek was no exception, so I rode on a dirt road way back into the bowels of the park, hoping I would be hidden from any fee-extorting park rangers who might happen along. It worked. I found what turned out to be a near-perfect campsite, save for the eerie cackling sound some unidentified creature was making up on the hillside nearby.

Here's a photo of the site the next morning:

Escorted by expensive Porsches, Mercedes, Land Rovers, Bentleys and the like, I screamed down through Malibu Canyon, past Pepperdine University:

Back (finally!) on The King's Highway, in Malibu I couldn't believe how many houses (hundreds and hundreds) up on the hillsides looked like houses I'd seen in movies and TV shows (some of them I––and you––probably have seen on the screen); the kind of houses where, during their incessant parties, the likes of Charlie Sheen, Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and Robert Downey Jr. dutifully (bless their hearts) engage in behavior that supplies our celebrity-obsessed culture with the juice we need and crave.

Some of the houses were a bit more unique:

Passed a famous boulevard:

Rode along famous Venice Beach:

You can close the pop-up ad in the video by clicking the 'x' in the upper-right of the ad. (The ad is the result of having copyrighted music attached to the video.)

At around Redondo Beach, one has to cut inland through Torrance and some of the grittier neighborhoods of L.A. in order to skirt around the gigantic shipping port at Long Beach (largest, busiest port on the West Coast).

Took this photo of one of the archetypal L.A. streets:

Riding through the second-largest city in the U.S. and who do I see up ahead of me? My old pal Andrew! Amazing. And turns out we were both headed for Newport Beach that evening; Andrew to a warmshowers host, and I to Linda's––whom I'd met at the hostel in Santa Barbara. (See foreshadowing in previous blog post.)

So Andrew and I rode together over the Los Angeles river:

Seeing the snow-flecked Sierra Nevadas to the east:

Past the huge shipping port at Long Beach, near where the Queen Mary (now a hotel) is docked:
The dome barely visible behind the Queen is where Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose was housed until it was moved in 1993 to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinneville, OR. If you get a chance, and are at all interested in aviation, this museum is well worth a visit. The Spruce Goose alone is astounding.

Andrew and I arrived in Newport Beach well after dark (it was getting dark at about 5:30-ish) and parted ways to go to our respective hosts' homes, but we made plans to meet up again in the morning to continue our ride to San Diego.

Linda lived in a trailer in a decent little mobile home park. I was hoping she would offer me floor space in her tiny living room, but, alas, she did not so I set up my tent in the parking space next to her trailer. She suggested we go to a local Italian restaurant as she had a gift certificate which would cover us both. So we arrived at this very large, hip, insanely crowded, loud and dark restaurant to be told by the hostess that the wait would be an HOUR AND A HALF! On a Thursday night!? Although, it was the week between Xmas and New Years and this was the day before New Year's Eve. So we left to go find something else. We ended up at another Italian restaurant that was part of a huge outdoor shopping mall. Neither of these were my kind of place, but I just wanted to eat.

The whole evening was slightly bizarre. Linda was a very strange companion; her behavior (it seemed to me she had "dolled" herself up and the whole evening she almost seemed nervous) and a couple of comments (At one point she said something about "my husband..." then, "No, I'm kidding.") gave the distinct impression that she considered this a "date!?" Now I started becoming afraid she would invite me to sleep on the living room floor! Glad I was sleeping outside.

Back at her trailer, she wanted to show me a DVD that she thought was terrific. It was footage of California Coast scenery set to horrifically cheesy music and it went on and on and on and on. I think she thought I'd like it because I'd ridden down the coast. I didn't tell her I was totally sick of big waves crashing into big rocks but I did tell her I was tired (which wasn't a lie––I'd pedaled further this day than any so far: 86 miles) and needed to retire to my tent. Whew!

In the morning, after a miniscule breakfast (Although it was very nice of her.) and her giving me a care package (Some cookies, a couple of little seashells and a book that lists Bible verses addressing any given emotion or scenario...This was the icing on the cake that was my odd time with Linda.), I hastened off toward San Diego.

How did I end up with no photos of Linda or her trailer!?

This area south of L.A., like Malibu, is very swanky (This is where Oprah lives.) and after passing Ferrari and Aston Martin dealerships, I met back up with Andrew.

While I'm old enough to be Andrew's father (I'm 17 years his senior), we share a similar dry, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and it was refreshing to be around someone I could laugh with. That, and we ride at the same pace. So off we rode toward San Diego.

It was Friday, New Year's Eve, and we didn't know where we would end up that evening. Turns out, after getting a late start and a lazy day of riding, we ended up in San Clemente where we decided to get a motel room. It was New Year's Eve after all!

Since I didn't get a photo of the front of the motel, here's a Google Maps Street View of it:
The hand of God points to our room.

Here's the view of the ocean (and the highway) from our balcony:

That evening, after a huge, very delicious meal at El Mariachi, a local Mexican restaurant, we walked down to the nearby grocery store. Neither of us are imbibers, so we decided we would party down by eating junk food; chips, root beer, candy, and ice cream cake! Well, actually it was just Andrew eating ice cream cake as I avoid dairy. Here's Andrew with his beloved ice cream cake:

And a close up:
Believe it or not, he ate the whole thing! He felt a bit ill the next morning.

I took a photo of our room the next morning:

After spending 20 minutes rousing Andrew from a sugar-induced coma, we set off for San Diego, 65 miles away.

South of San Clemente our route took us through Camp Pendleton. I tried to get a photo of the MP's at the security gate but they wouldn't allow it. Inside the base, I did get a picture of one of the tank-crossing signs:
Unfortunately, there were no tanks to be seen. No soldiers either, for that matter. We did see a number of the wood and rope structures that Marines train on. Camp Pendleton is huge and stretches quite a ways in from the coast. We were barely inside the western boundary.

Andrew took this shot of me in a tunnel:

In spite of having gotten a late start, by late afternoon and with about 20 miles to go, we decided we could make San Diego by dusk. Then Andrew got a flat. Here he is happily fixing it:

10 minutes later we were on the move again. By dusk we were passing the Scripps Research Institute buildings in the La Jolla neighborhood north of San Diego and then the UC San Diego campus. We'd made it! Although, we didn't have any idea where to go now that we were actually in San Diego.

Just then we came upon a riot of flashing red strobe was bicycles! Bicycles with panniers and trailers! Touring cyclists! There were only four of them but my first impression was of a crowd. We pulled up alongside them and made their acquaintance. They were three guys and a girl from Northern California and, like us, were arriving in San Diego with no idea where to go or where to spend the night. We pulled up at the entrance of a Von's grocery store and became a spectacle; six fully loaded touring bikes really draws a lot of attention. We were now a crowd.

They were Ace, from Humboldt State University, his sister Julie and their friend Davin, both from Tahoe, and Jordan, a cyclist from Portland who'd joined up with them in California. The four of them were headed down into Mexico, then on into Central and, possibly, South America.

Ace had majored in film at HSU and was, with the assistance of the other three, making a feature-length film documenting their adventure. They have a few edited teasers up here:

After about an hour at Von's, chatting, buying provisions, etc., our little miniature Critical Mass was on the move again, heading toward the Mission Bay section of San Diego.

After winding through a bunch of upscale neighborhoods and passing the nightclubs and bars alongside Mission Beach, we arrived in Mission Bay Park, not far from Sea World, where we located a spot we thought isolated enough that we wouldn't get hassled during the night. We slept under palm trees and stars.

At dawn I took this photo of our campsite:

Soon after sun-up we were packed and rolling again, this time into downtown San Diego. Here's a shot of the group:

San Diego has an even stronger maritime presence than Seattle and there are ships all around the harbor and along the downtown waterfront. Once downtown, we stopped to look at a couple of beautiful old tall ships:

Those of you from Seattle might remember a Russian sub that was docked at Pier 49 for a while? It's the same sub you see behind the ship in the above photo.

From the waterfront we set off in search of a Coffee Bean (Starbucks-like chain) as Ace had a gift certificate to use up before entering Mexico. Free coffee and pastries for all!

Here's a shot of us and the bikes at the downtown San Diego Coffee Bean:

While hanging out here, a local cyclist came by inquiring about our story. Turns out his name was Seamus (SHAY-muss) and he had a little bike shop nearby with an apartment in the back. He kindly offered the use of his bike shop and tools, his apartment, and the back patio area for camping. So, off we went to Seamus' place:
Seamus is the one in the front turning around.

Here's a video I shot of us going to Seamus' place in back of the bike shop:

This was the patio area where we were to camp that night...until it decided to rain. Fortunately, Seamus was leaving town for a few days and offered the floor space of his approximately 150 sq. ft. studio apartment, if we could all fit. The weather was abysmal that afternoon and evening (though you wouldn't have known it by the pics and video seen above), so after a bit of shifting stuff around we all crammed our ground pads and sleeping bags in and had a nice, dry evening.

Here's the (entire) apartment:

The next morning the group of four were to cross the border into Mexico and Andrew and I decided to go along and see them off. We took this shot before leaving Seamus' place:

After the border-crossers were "safely" in Mexico, Andrew took this shot of me at the paso de frontera (border crossing):

From San Ysidro (city where the border crossing is), we rode up through Coronado where we caught the ferry across the harbor back to downtown San Diego. The ferry goes past the USS Midway:

The previous day I had contacted a warmshowers host, Jason (and his partner Keith), and they invited Andrew and me over to stay at their house. Great guys, Jason and Keith; exceedingly accommodating and generous and great to talk to––Jason has done a lot of bike touring. Here they are (with Lilo):
Jason's on the left.

From San Diego, Andrew headed north to visit his folks in Seattle and I headed eastward. Leaving San Diego, I noticed a stadium a few blocks away. It was Petco Field where the Padres play:

I also passed a mural painted by Shepard Fairey:

And an appropriately-named mortuary:

That evening I stayed at a Motel 6 in El Cajon. I had made the great "left turn" and was heading east!

San Francisco to Port Hueneme

Wednesday, Dec. 15 –– Tuesday, Dec 28, 2010
Alright, I have got to get this blasted blog updated! I have an overwhelming pile of photos and videos to upload so I'm going to try to summarize a bunch and get caught up. Then I'll just have to not fall behind again!

So after my stay with Angelo in Vallejo, I moved to Heidi and Martin's place in San Francisco where I spent a couple of days tooling about, being a tourist.

I took the Bay Link ferry from Vallejo to the City. Here's my bike on the ferry:

The ferry goes right past Alcatraz:

And here's the ferry with the Bay Bridge in the background:

My cousin, Adrienne, lives in SF and we'd plans to have lunch. Killing time before meeting her at Union Square Park, I went past City Hall and the "Heart of the City Farmers Market":

San Francisco City Hall has a new Zhang Huan sculpture called Three Heads Six Arms in front:

Here's Adrienne:

Adrienne and I had probably spent less cumulative time together our whole lives than we did having lunch today, which is sad because I found her to be totally charming. It was very nice. We talked about getting all the cousins together since we don't really know each other. Good idea!

After lunch I did some more tooling about, taking a few photos:

Heidi and Martin, like all my warmshowers hosts, were incredibly accommodating and let me stay another night so I could see more of the city. The next morning I got a photo of their backyard (with a chicken coop!):

I visited a bit of Golden Gate Park:

And, of course, the corner of Haight and Ashbury:

With a mural of Jimi:

Maybe he lived in this building?

The oldest building in San Francisco is, amazingly, also one of the first; a mission built in 1782 and still standing largely unchanged:

The big cathedral it's attached to was built much later. Inside was a model of how it looked 300 years ago:

Nearby were more Victorian houses:

Here I am with Heidi and Martin after eating the phenomenally delicious dinner (hearty potato/chicken/vegetable soup) I fixed:
Don't we look healthy and content? It really was one of the best things I've ever cooked.

Leaving SF on Friday, the 17th, I passed a windmill and some surfers:

Arrived in Montara, drenched to the skin, where I found a motel:
The Farallone Inn is run by an Indian couple who also have the only restaurant in town. An Indian restaurant! Indian is my favorite, incidentally. Quite a nice surprise after a cold, miserable ride.

The next morning took this photo of the cafe/coffee shop next door with probably the most pathetic Christmas decorating ever:

Left Montara headed for another warmshowers contact in Santa Cruz: Bart Coddington:
Bart, being a warmshowers host, was, of course, extremely accommodating and generous...but even more so. It's a tough call because I've stayed with so many incredible people whom I've thoroughly enjoyed, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would possibly be Bart. I can't even exactly say why; it may have something to do with his easygoing, kind character combined with good stories about bicycling experiences. Not only did Bart go out of his way to accommodate my high-maintenance gluten-and-dairy-free diet, he even jumped in and gave my bike a desperately needed cleaning. Here he's blow-drying the drivetrain after he gave it a wash and style:
Pretty nice job, eh?:

It was difficult to leave, but after two days and three nights, I left Santa Cruz, heading for Monterey. Not far down the road, came upon the third touring cyclist I've encountered––Andrew from San Francisco:

Andrew was riding from SF to San Diego on a fixie!! (Fixie is short for "fixed-gear." Not only is it a single-speed bike, but it also has no freewheel hub, meaning no coasting; the pedals are "fixed," thus always turning. Because there's only one speed, going uphill is challenging/difficult and because there's no coasting, going downhill is challenging/difficult because one's feet have to keep up with the rapidly spinning pedals.) Wow!

Andrew and I discovered we'd gone to the same high school in Kirkland––Lake Washington High School, although I was decades ahead of him. (He's only 25.) Small world, innit?

Here's Andrew going downhill with his feet up and off the pedals:
Problem is getting one's feet back onto the crazily-spinning pedals. Fortunately––unlike some nutty fixie riders––Andrew had brakes.

We passed sea lions:

And strawberry fields...forever:
(If you enlarge the strawberry fields photo, you can see Andrew poaching fruit.)

Eventually, Andrew was going this way and I was going that way so we parted and I took a photo of artichokes:

That evening (Tues, the 21st), I stayed with warmshowers host Jeff in Monterey. Nice guy. He salvages bikes and rebuilds them. The next morning I took a photo of him with his bikes:

I then departed for Big Sur––what many consider to be the most beautiful area on the West Coast. I was largely unimpressed, maybe because I'd for so many days and weeks been seeing essentially the same thing: rugged coastline with big waves crashing into big rocks. It's certainly beautiful and impressive (See my breathless blog entries from back in November in Oregon.) but by the time I arrived at Big Sur I think I'd become a bit desensitized and it didn't do anything for me. It didn't help that the weather was somewhat crummy. I did photograph a bridge and a typical beach in the Big Sur area:

And a common sight in the area (erosion) alongside the road:

That evening I found a pullout alongside the highway where road crews had set up a temporary cement-mixing operation and that I decided would make a nice campsite. So amidst the big cement mixers, trucks and who-knows-what, I set up camp. While it wasn't what one thinks of when envisioning an idilic campsite, it definitely had its advantages: One, the industrial equipment formed a sort of wall, making my tent and campsite invisible from the road, and two, it was quite a ways above the ocean and the view was stunning. I set my camera on a little tripod and by the light of the moon I took a 15 second exposure of my tent:

Here's the same photo after some magical Photoshop trickery:

Once I'd set up camp and settled in, the disconcerting thought occurred to me that construction workers usually begin work at the crack of dawn and I started imagining that, more than likely, I'd be awoken to the horrifying sound of, "Hey, Tony, check it out, there's a bike and tent back here. Looks like some faggot's in the tent!" So, I set my alarm for 5:30AM, planning to be packed and on the road by first light.

Fortunately, the spot I'd picked wasn't being used by the early crews and so I rolled out unmolested (so to speak). A couple of miles down the road I did encounter another similar construction site that was in full production. Glad I'd chosen the right construction site!

On my way to San Simeon, saw a number of hillside dwellings like this:

Shot this video along the way:

San Simeon is where William Randolph Hearst had built his huge, opulent estate he called "The Ranch." We call it Hearst Castle. From the highway through San Simeon you can see it on the hill:

I didn't have time to take a tour of the "Castle," but I did have time to stop for lunch. There's a little cafe in San Simeon where I had a life-changing salad. It was unbelievable. I took a photo of it:
I dearly loved this salad and still miss it terribly.

Some of the scenery in this area is almost surreal:

There are a lot of elephant seals on the beaches in this area:

Late that afternoon I arrived in Cambria, a quaint (read: shi-shi), tourist-y little California town. Here's my motel room the next morning (Christmas Eve day):

And the lobby, where I could get a Wi-fi connection:
That's my laptop on the table.

On this bike tour I've noticed something that I suspect is a nefarious tactic on the part of fast-food corporations, and that is the posting of billboards advertising a restaurant that is miles and miles down the road. At first I couldn't figure out why they would do this, but I've come up with the idea that they're likely whetting people's appetite for a particular product so that those people don't stop for food at the next few Ma and Pa stops (diners, cafes, etc.) but will hold out for the advertised crap. Here's one of those signs:
And hey, you fat, lazy slob––"Drive Thru"––you don't even have to take the trouble to get out of your vehicle!

I hadn't been too concerned about where I'd be on Christmas Day, but the thought of cycling or having dinner alone in a restaurant seemed a bit pathetic. Fortunately, Bill and Angela in San Luis Obispo––warmshowers hosts––welcomed me into their home. In 2007 Bill had done a ride across the U.S. with another cyclist, speaking on climate change to media outlets, schools, churches, etc. He and Angela, a social worker, were very enjoyable to stay with and talk to. Here's a picture of them on Christmas morning:

Under partly sunny skies, left SLO, headed for Lompoc. Shot this video:

Not long after shooting that video, the skies grew darker and the rain well as the wind...headwind...strong headwind. The weather quickly became miserable...and then more miserable. In the drenching rain in a small farming town I came across two bicycles leaning against a wall. One of them I recognized; It was Andrew's. He had mentioned that his sister would be joining him for a portion of the trip and I figured the other bike was hers. Just then, the two of them walked out of the store across the street. It was like a reunion! Here are Andrew and his sister, Allison:
They weren't going all the way to Lompoc and I still had miles and miles to ride, so we bid each other farewell––again––and I rode off into the rain and wind.

It was getting dark by the time I passed Vandenberg Air Force Base and I still had miles to go. Fortunately, the brutal wind had calmed down. Barring any unforeseen problems, I would make Lompoc! Unfortunately, fortune was not on my side. Just a few miles out of town, I noticed that my rear tire was feeling a bit was going flat! So in the dark, in pouring rain, with cars screaming by just ten feet away, I stopped and pumped it up, hoping it would hold enough air to allow me to make it the last stretch to a motel. After stopping two more times to add air, I pulled, thoroughly saturated but incredibly relieved, into a Motel 6. No way was I about to fix my flat that evening, and no way was I about to ride the next day. I slept very well that night.

The next day I patched my tire and shot two videos of the process:

I then explored Lompoc, another one of those horrific towns of nothing but strip malls, KFC's, Taco Bells, Circle K's and the like. Lovely. Here're a couple of pics of Lompoc:

On the 27th, after taking this picture of my motel room
and buying a tube of Chamois Butt'r, I struck out for Santa Barbara and shot this video:

Highway 1 along the coast in this area is nicknamed El Camino Real, or "The Royal Road," also known as "The King's Highway." Here's a photo of one of the signposts:

There are many oil drilling platforms in the area, just off the coast:

Rode through University of California Santa Barbara where I found a traffic roundabout...for bicycles:

In Santa Barbara, stayed in a hostel where I met the usual assortment of American and foreign travelers and vacationers, including Linda, a 63 year old "career consultant" who lives south of Los Angeles in Newport Beach. When I mentioned that I would be passing through in a few days, she gave me her card and said I should look her up.

Here's the hostel's common area with most of the guests (It was the off season.) in the photo:
Linda's the one on the far left. (If you're wondering why I'm apparently obsessing about Linda, I'm "foreshadowing!")

The next morning (Tues, Dec. 28th) I went to Joe's Cafe for breakfast. Three minutes after being seated, an attractive woman walked up and asked, "I was at the coffee shop across the street, saw you and your bike and was intrigued. Do you mind if I join you?" "No, please do," I stammered, "I'm Bryan." "Sara," she replied.

Turned out Sara, who lived in Santa Barbara, was a fellow adventurer and had some interesting tales to tell. It was a nice change from my typical solitary meals. We exchanged contact information and I continued pedaling south.

Just a few minutes down the road/beach, I noticed an unusual site; a pleasure craft appeared to be beached on the sand, so I stopped for a closer look. Sure enough, there was a sailboat sitting on the beach drawing quite a bit of attention from passers by. I took these photos of it:

No sooner had I snapped a few photos than a tractor and dump truck came crawling onto the beach toward the sunbathing sailboat. Without any hesitation and much to the shock of all the spectators, the tractor began mercilessly attacking the vessel with its grappling claw. It was all very odd. The way the tractor moved in and began methodically going to work, it was like this was an ordinary occurrence; just another day at the beach!

I shot video of it. I put music to it but Youtube stripped the audio away, claiming copyright infringement! So if you want the full experience, play Strauss' Blue Danube while watching this video:

Later passed dozens of RV'ers parked alongside the ocean. There are quite a number of oil drilling platforms visible from here. I wondered if the people in these diesel-guzzling behemoths saw the connection. Here's a shot of a few of the motorhomes:

Just north of Port Hueneme (Ventura?), there are waterfront neighborhoods that reminded me of Florida:

That evening got a motel room in Port Hueneme (why-KNEE-me).