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:
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:
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 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:
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:
We passed sea lions:
And strawberry fields...forever:
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:
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:
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:
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 started...as 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:
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 squirrelly...it 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
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:
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).