9/26/18 – San Diego to Tijuana – MC

39.8 Miles

479 ft of Climbing

Last day of the ride, folks.  No need for my tent, sleeping bag, stove, food, clothes, hygiene kit, etc.  Today was Supposed to be just a little 28 mile ride to the Mexican Border.  I rode with just my handlebar bag.  A couple of riders had told me that they easily got to the border by following the bike path, with no navigation for most of the day.  Yeah, right.  That was bad information.  There were turns in the bike paths, that, if you don’t take them, send you into rabbit hole cul-de-sacs, marinas, etc.  After 34?days on a bike, those little missed turns were beyond irritating.

I started out a short block from the hostel, riding on the beachfront bike path.  Early in the day, there is very little traffic on that path, so riding was quite enjoyable.

After passing through Mission Bay and Point Loma, I was supposed to catch a ferry to Coronado Island, but the map and street signs were in conflict.  I was supposed to turn right at this big San Diego Airport sign, which seemed incredulous, but that’s what my map told me, so I did it.  And the ferry to Coronado Island was really just a boat, so I rode right past it twice.  But eventually, I made my way to the island.

Right off the ferry, I caught a bike path that took me all the way through Coronado, past the Naval Amphibious Base, through the Silver Strand, and back into San Diego.  It was smooth sailing–some mighty fine cycling.

After a stop for brunch at Denny’s, I headed south toward the border.  And from that point until I actually arrived at the border, I felt like I was already in Mexico.  I passed by dilapidated ranches, disassembled horse boarding/training facilities, and worn out houses and mobile homes, until I started running into a lot of US Border Patrol agents on horses and in vehicles and helicopters.  It’s a busy place, down there.   img_8614

This is the entry to what was formerly probably a city or county park, but now it looks like it’s on no man’s land.  Cars aren’t even allowed on the road.  I felt like I was at Panmunjom, on the border of North and South Korea.  Is this just propoganda?  Are the large condos/apartments on the other side of the border real or just staged?  What the heck is Imperial Beach?  I thought it was a city or beach, but the sign was marking a huge field.

By the time I reached what seemed like the end of the road, I hadn’t seen a human in over 5 minutes, and this is where the ACA maps let me down.  There really was no way to get to or cross the border, with all the threatening signs and fences–a US fence and a Mexican fence.  Okay, so I’ll admit it was pretty darned anti climactic.  But I’m over it.  I turned around, and headed back to town.  Finding the first transit stop I could, I hopped on a bus and rode buses, the trolley and my bike to pick a a rental suv that easily held my bike.

This is the Bullring By The Sea, where bullfights appear to be scheduled monthly.  You obviously don’t cross the border here to get to them.  You pay for a shuttle that takes you through an actual border crossing.  Sounds kind of fun–the bullfight, not the border crossing.

After picking up my gear at the hostel, I headed over to Julie and Charlie’s, my sister and brother-in-law’s, house.  It was great to see them and have a real chair to sit in, and a real shower to shower in, and clean floors to walk on, and a computer with a real screen and keyboard to work on–all those little things you take for granted when you’re not living in campgrounds and cheap motels.  Thanks for the great hospitality, Julie and Charlie!  Ending the ride at your place was a great way to wrap things up!

9/25/18 – San Clemente to San Diego

62 Miles

2080 ft of Climbing

Have you ever noticed that things hardly ever go as planned?  I had a heads up that the section of route that passed through Camp Pendleton would be closed, due to a military exercise, and expected to be turned away at the point the route entered Camp Pendleton.  My plan was that at that point, I would have just crossed under the I-5, and ridden up an on ramp to ride on the freeway for 15 miles.  But that’s not how it went down.  The route took me through San Onofre State Beach and down a long road, adjacent to the freeway, that seemed to be used mainly by bikes.  All was well, when a rider, coming from the opposite direction, hollered out that the road was closed up ahead, and uniformed Marines were turning everyone around.  Hey.  This was the day I was going to San Diego.  I had purposely kept it to a short, 52 mile ride, and this was going to mess with that.  I had to backtrack 5 miles to get to my first I-5 on ramp, so I could again ride the 5 miles I had backtracked.  Grrrrr.  I-5 is a busy freeway, and I thought I was going to go deaf, just being out there riding.

At the first rest area, I pulled off to watch a helicopter haul equipment from a couple of aircraft carriers, out in the ocean, to land, where it was being loaded and taken to another location.  I’m pretty sure that was part of the military exercise, but who knows?  While that was going on, I met a couple, whose daughter is currently riding the Southern Tier route across the US as a tour leader for Bike the US for MS.  They told me a little about how it works, and a lot about how much she enjoyed riding with the organization, and I was instantly interested.  Something to look into later.

As many times as I have been there, I never knew that the first town after Camp Pendleton is Oceanside..  When I got off the I-5, there was a sign with an arrow pointing to the right to go to Camp Pendleton, and an arrow pointing to the left to go to Oceanside.  Pretty quickly, I was on The Strand–a nice bike/pedestrian pathway along the beach.  For the remainder of the day, most of the riding was either on a bike path or a wide shoulder.

Another day of beach towns took me through Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar, La Jolla, and into Pacific Beach.

Encinitas had a couple of cool things going for it.  The first being my own personal boutique (pay attention to that name, Steve.)  The second being Swammi Point, a popular surfing spot, where a break in the ocean floor causes perfect surfing waves to form, and also a popular yoga spot, for you yogis out there.

In Solana Beach, I really liked the life sized replica of the Breeder’s Cup Trophy.  I had to Google the trophy, through, because I was sure it couldn’t have a California flag on it, and I was right.  It is just plain bronze.  Not nearly as cool as the life size version.  After a stop to top of my tires and tighten my kickstand, I hit the road again.

Around La Jolla is where I lost the cozy bike path and was turned back to the wolves, with crazy rush hour traffic on streets with no place for a bike.  Google Maps was taking me down alleys, to avoid traffic.  I decided to take my chances on street traffic to avoid being backed over by someone pulling out of their garage in a $100K sports car.  Wise decision, right?  Shortly, I arrived Lajolla Shores, a popular hangout for seals and sea lions.  I’m not sure which of them I was seeing and hearing bark, but they were cute little critters.

I had to keep pushing on to get to my hostel, so I didn’t make the stair climb down to the beach to see the whites of the eyes of those sea lions and seals.  I’m pretty sure they were okay with that.  At the hostel, I got a top bunk, which I always wanted when I was was a kid, but didn’t always get.  I can tell you that, as an adult who gets leg cramps and has to use the facilities, during the night, that top bunk is not nearly as fun as it seemed when I was a kid.

After settling into my zone at the hostel, I made my way to the beach to watch another spectacular sunset.  I’m going to miss all the sunsets I’ve been able to see, during this ride.  I ordered up a delicious Mexican food dinner at the cafe next door, then hit the local grocery store to pick up a few necessities.  You know, things like Gatorade for tomorrow’s ride and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk to celebrate the end of my tour on.  Turned in early to rest up for my big day tomorrow.

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9/24/18 – Long Beach to San Clemente

47.5 Miles

1424 ft of Climbing

Sorry folks.  After leaving Long Beach, it’s been hard to keep my head in the blog.  My mind has been preoccupied with thoughts of Kok and Steve and the other people I have spent time with on this journey.  I know it’s a bike ride, but the best memories have been those with people I know and love along the way.  But my head is back.  I swear.

Today, I entered and rode through Orange County on yet another Memorial Highway.  I rode past beaches, piers, on highways, bike paths, and sandy beach trails (my least favorite riding), and met more fun people who went out of their way to show me around.

In Surf City, aka Huntington Beach, Don Wonderful (that’s his Strava name) sought me out, when he saw I was on a loaded touring bike.  He wanted to make sure I didn’t miss the cool Surf City sights, such as the Surfing Walk of Fame, which is similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, except the names here were surfing legends.  Don was working on his own goal–winning a one-month Strava challenge to see who could ride the most miles in a month.  He had ridden over 3000, and still had a few days to go.

Don made sure I didn’t miss out on any of the public art, for which I am glad.  I love public art, especially when it is jazzy and cool, which this was.

On to Newport Beach, I passed over into a different Memorial Highway.  In Arizona, I have a hard time remembering which highway is the 101 and which is the 202.  I can’t imagine having to keep track of all they memorial roadways they have in California.  Seems a little silly to me, actually.

The cycling conditions were amazing, throughout the day, with dedicated bike paths or large curb lanes for cyclists…..until I reached Laguna Beach.  All that joy came to a sudden halt, when the roads turned steep, and all cycling space disappeared.

The sculpture and murals outside of this gallery took my mind off the road and drivers. They were all created by Robert Wyland, a world renowned marine artist, who happens to be my age.  He has art installations everywhere from Beijing to Midway Island, four US Postal Service stamps, California and Arizona license plates, and even a Norwegian cruise ship.  Pretty impressive, eh?

On to Dana Point, I found a Vietnam War Memorial and yet another art gallery, this one featuring elephant sculptures from the community’s efforts to raise funds to save the Asian Elephants.  I guess that lacking poverty or other types of need, in their community, they had to put their resources behind caring for wild animals on another continent.  Can’t hold that against the elephants, through, and the sculptures were really cute.

Once out of Dana Point, a lovely bike path appeared with a couple of my favorite cycling companions–a train track and an adjacent body of water, which, as you know, ensure a nice easy ride.  Well, usually they do.  In this case a hard packed dirt path, turned to soft gravely dirt, and then to sand.  Why did I keep going?  I think it was the whole idea of riding along the ocean when sunset is approaching.

After stopping to watch the su’nset, I found myself riding on straight sand, which is pretty tough on a slick tire bike.

At one point, I was pushing my 100 pound beast of a bike through sand, when I noticed Google Maps indicating that my campground at San Clemente State Beach was just to the left.  Huh?  All I could see was the below rock formation.   A couple of young boys who came sailing down a super steep asphalt path verified that the campground was indeed on top of that rock formation.  Nice.  It took all the strength I had to push my bike up a sandy embankment to even get to that asphalt path, then it took all the courage I had to attempt getting on my pedals on a narrow path, with a sheer drop off on one side and a winding super steep grade ahead.  Once I got going, there was no turning back.  It’s one of those things where you either keep moving forward or fall over, so I kept jamming on the pedals till I got to the top of that path.  Once there, the campground host gave me the bad news.  No facilities for hikers and bikers–I was going to have to pay $40 to put up my tent in a site with no water or electricity.  Seemed a little steep to me, so I told the campground host I’d find someone who would let me camp with them.  On my first attempt, two ladies sharing a campsite said, “You’ve come to the right site.”  One of them, a gal from New Zealand, had already finished the Canada to Mexico ride, and was on her way to LAX to catch a flight home.  We sat and shared stories, then she headed to bed, and I headed for my last coin operated campground shower of the trip.

9/22/18 – 9/23/18 – Leo Carrillo State to Long Beach & Rest day in Long Beach

61.9 Mile

1204 ft of Climbing

Long Beach

I got moving early, today, partly because I was in one of those campsites where vagrants have been a problem, so hikers/bikers have to clear out by 9 AM.  Nice, eh?  My real motivation for getting an early start was that I wanted to get to Long Beach Memorial Hospital to see Steve Moss, who went under the knife, yesterday, instead of riding with me–the original plan.  But things kept grabbing my attention along the route.  Sorry Steve.  I meant well.

As I was entering Malibu Beach, there were signs for the Adamson House, and for some reason, the Adams Family, from TV, popped in my mind.  So I was curious and expecting something Halloweenie and haunted. Instead, I found a beautifully and tastefully furnished historic mansion and learned about the ranching family that owned it for a few generations, before the State of California decided it should be bulldozed to build a parking lot for a popular surfing spot–Surfrider Beach.  What kind of screwed up logic is that?  Good thing we have free speech, in this country, so people can speak up and voice their opposition to some of the illogical things government employees come up with.  Opposition from  local people put an end to the plan to level the mansion, and the State ended up buying the mansion from the estate of the original owners for $2.69 million dollars.

The beach behind the fountain and in the next photo is Surfrider Beach.  Check out all the surfers in the second photo.

I had to get a shot of this wave mural for my friend Larissa, who is going to learn to surf with me at Big Surf, next summer, right Larissa?I lost track of how many miles of today’s route were on a path like this one.  I’m thinking at least half of my day.  It felt like I was on vacation, riding a big fat tire city bike.   I’ve heard and read about Venice Beach, and I’ve seen it on TV, but today, I actually got to ride down it.  There were shops, eateries, gardens, street performers, vendors, artists, throngs of tourists, homeless and vagrant people, and lots of murals.In Vista Del Mar, I came across a man teaching hang gliding lessons.  It stressed me out, watching him keep that hang glider up, with the wind threatening to smash it to the ground, or dump it in the ocean, or push in into the road.  But the instructor always knew how to react to every wind force that hit the glider.  His two students REALLY stressed me out.  They didn’t, so each attempt ended pretty quickly, and came way too close, for me, to crashing in the ocean, onto the sand or into the road.  I will file hang gliding away on the list of things I have no interest in ever trying, along with bungee jumping. 

Just an observation.  Californians sure do enjoy their weekends.  They were out in force, today–cycling, heading to the beach, on the beach, in the shops, playing volleyball, hang gliding, tanning, surfing, throwing Frisbees, eating out, etc.  Redondo Beach was my last beach for the day, before heading inland to get to Long Beach.  And I like a town with a good Veteran’s Memorial.  Once out of Redondo Beach, I slogged through heavy traffic on surface streets, as I made my way to the hospital. 

Day Off in Long Beach

Well, what can I say about this day off?  I did three things.  Went to church–FINALLY; spent time with my friend from Saudi Arabia–Kok (Hiroko Kurotobi); and visited Steve Moss in the hospital.  All three are in the top tier of things I have had the chance to do on this trip.

But first, let’s talk about the exotic plants I saw in Long Beach. On the way to church, I ran into these bananas, just hanging down over the sidewalk.  Wow! I felt like I was on a banana plantation in Hawaii.  Then later, when I was going to the hospital, the flowers below were in a hospital planter.  Do plants like these grow in Arizona?  If they do, I’ve missed them.

I met up with Kok after church, on Sunday, and it was so good to see her!  We talked and talked.  She will soon have five grandkids.  I now have three.  I lost both of my parents during and just after the tour during which I met her.  She is now her elderly Mother’s caregiver, which includes preparing Japanese dinner for her every night.  She is good at everything she does, but instead of being a pro golfer, right now she is channeling her talent into a Japanese dance group that performs at different venues each month.  She is such a great person and example to me.  So after we had some lunch, she took me to Wal-Mart to buy a few grocery items for the road as well as a level and picture hanging putty.  “What for?”, you ask.  So we could go back to my Airbnb and straighten out the 70+ crooked pictures and pieces of art hanging on the walls, while the host is in Arizona with her son, who is dying of cancer.  I’m not sure she’ll ever notice, but it was the least we could do for her.  Thanks, Kok, for helping me with another of my insane projects. 

I stopped in to see Steve on my way into Long Beach, the day after his surgery, and spent more time with him Sunday evening.  His son, Joshua, who lives in Portland, had taken time off work to look after and advocate for him during his hospital stay.  Josh brought in food (the hospital food was not edible–I tried it); played games to get his Dad’s his mind off the pain; helped his Dad get around and transfer between his bed and chairs; helped his Dad shave and get dressed; gave me rides to and from my AirBnb, so I could visit, etc., etc.. etc.  Joshua basically did everything Steve couldn’t do for himself, which at this point in time was just about everything.  What a great son!

And for a guy who was in a lot of pain, Steve was pretty darned happy.  Something about being in his room gave me the giggles, and I really couldn’t stop laughing, the entire time I was there.  There were just so many things to laugh about, and I don’t want to embarrass him by detailing them here.  I try to be a compassionate person, but this time around, all I could do was be cheery.  Sorry, Steve.  I’ll try to be more caring, next time around, but let’s just not have a next time around, okay?  No more bicycle crashes in the future, please.

Check out our new ‘Woodie’s’ wooden sunglasses.  They’re going to be valuable, someday, according to the guy whose girlfriend was handing them out on Venice Beach.

9/21/18 – Carpinteria to Leo Carrillo State Beach

47.9 Miles

719 ft of Climbing

I was in such a hurry to catch the sunset, last night, that I blasted through Carpinteria. So this morning, I took a little time to look around, before hitting the road.

In 1769, a Spanish military expedition came through the area, where Carpinteria now sits, and some of the military men noticed Chumash Indians carving out wooden canoes. They named the town the Spanish word for Carpenter’s Shop, and the name stuck. Now, it’s a cute little beach town, with the usual shops and eateries, and, thankfully, a big grocery store for me to pick up a few supplies in.

Places to charge your devices are few and far between, when you’re camping. Today, the route was so straightforward, that all I needed were my Garmin, rear lights, and phone camera. Most of the day, I sat up, like I was cruising on a city bike, and just followed the beach. No need for navigation. The left side of the road had its own beauty, with eroding cliffs that, at times, looked like hoodoos were starting to form. Riding through Ventura County, I passed through ‘The Rincon Parkway–what seems like a mile-long section of road that is lined off along the beach for parallel parking of RVs. They set up and camp for days at a time–right next to the ocean. Okay, biking is great, but I want one of those RVs for chilaxing, which is what all those RVers were doing. I think I need some of that balance in my life. Watching the ocean; reading, napping and eating out by the ocean; swimming and boogie boarding in the ocean; and walking along the beach are all bike free activities that were calling out to me.

Passing through the cities of Ventura and Oxnard, life looks like it revolves around the beach and ocean. In Oxnard, there were a gazillion yachts, and houses built along little inlets, where you can dock your yacht behind your house. Pretty exclusive stuff.

When I reached Port Hueneme, it was time to forage for food, and there just happened to be a Denny’s for my moment of need. The next thing I came to was Naval Base Ventura County, the home of the Seabees.

When I was deployed to Fort Bliss, we loved it when a Seabee unit was deploying, because they could crank out construction projects like nothing you’ve ever seen. They had the skills to quickly move walls, add doors, and repair and remodel old barracks, so we could better accommodate the increasing numbers of Servicemen who were doing their pre deployment training down range.

I had to choose between going to the Seabee Museum and shopping at the Commissary and NEX (Navy Exchange), and it was a tough decision. Surprise, surprise, the NEX won out. It stocks Brighton jewelry and some Clinique products I am running out of at home, and I’m close enough to the end of the ride that I don’t mind carrying the extra weight.

Buzzed from blowing some money on a few luxury items, I hit the road again, and for a short period of time, I was inland–riding through fertile farmland. Being botanically challenged, I don’t know my crops, but apparently, some of them were veggies that get canned or frozen by Dole. As I passed by Point Magu, another Navy facility, I stumbled upon this cool missile museum. There were static displays of a couple of missile launching aircraft and a bunch of missiles, some of which are still in service today. Finally making it back to oceanside riding, I found my way to Leo Carillo State Beach, my digs for the night. I set up camp in a very remote hiker/biker campsite and locked myself in a bathroom with an outlet, for an hour, so I could charge my devices. I felt a little bad when I heard little kids outside, sounding like they were about to wet their pants. Sorry kids, but I was not giving up that outlet. Hope your Mom brought lots of extra clothes for you or she has been teaching you how cowboys and Indians went pottie.

When I got back to my tent, I was relieved to see that a couple of other cyclists had pulled in for the night. Unfortunately, they had just taken some ‘edibles,’ which I’m pretty sure are some form of drugs, because they were higher than a kite–giggling, acting goofy, and saying the stupidest things. Not being one to stick around that kind of stuff, I turned in early and crossed my fingers that they wouldn’t get any stupid ideas that involved the white haired little old lady in the next tent. I already have my death struggle planned, and they wouldn’t have stood a chance.

9/20/18 – Lompoc to Carpinteria

68.1 Miles

2431 ft of Climbing

Good morning legs! Today’s ride started out with a steep 900 foot climb into a killer headwind. Being inland, there is no predicting which way the wind will be blowing, and this morning, it was not in my favor. Is this some kind of test? Well, I passed it. Once over the climb, the route changed directions, heading back toward the coast, then, for the rest of the day, followed the coast, with a lovely breeze pushing me along the entire way. Ahhhh.

Coming out of the climb, I caught up with Chris, the Colorado gal on a recumbent bike, who posed in front of a dinosaur with me, back on September 5th. Seeing her felt like bumping into an old friend, again. We talked for a few minutes, then got back in the saddle again.Riding along the coast can be hilly, but when there is a railroad track next to the road, it is usually _ _ _ _ (fill in the blank). What a great section of road for a leisurely ride. And look how glassy the ocean water was. I would have loved to have been wake boarding on that water.Today was the first time I passed bell markers for the Camino Real–the 600 mile road, built back in the late 1700s and early 1800s, that connects the 21 Spanish missions and 4 Presidios. A portion of Highway 101, that I rode on today, is designated a part of the Purple Heart Trail, which runs from New York to California.In Goleta, the route switched from roads to bike paths and promenades, passing through the University of California Santa Barbara campus and most of the Santa Barbara waterfront. I felt like a tourist taking a gingerly ride during her vacation.cOn the way to Carpinteria, I passed through a few little beach villages, including Summerland, where this mural graced the building next to the post office, Arriving at the campsite, in time to watch the sun set and set up my tent in daylight, I met some ladies who were on their annual camping retreat, together. They set me up with ant repellant and a food box, to keep the ant infestation at the campground from overrunning the food and tents in the hiker/biker campsite. Strangers sure can be nice. Thank you ladies!

9/19/18 – Morro Bay to Lompoc

69.2 Miles

2697 ft of Climbing

Today was going to be the toughest day of the entire trip, but a last minute alternate route shaved 5 miles off the projected miles, in exchange for an extremely long (maybe 1.5 – 2 mile), super steep climb with grades hovering in the 11-15% range. It was painful, while I was stuck in the moment, but totally worth it. Then for most of the rest of the day, I enjoyed a nice tailwind–a sure sign that I have been living right, don’t you think?

The day started with a quick stop at a Ralph’s grocery store, to pick up a couple of items I forgot at my last resupply stop. Then, when I pulled out on the road to begin riding, Steve Mason, one of the two fellas I camped next to, last night, was just a little ways up the road from me. So I pushed myself and caught up with him. He’s a pretty strong rider, so I’m thinking he must have slowed down a little to have someone to ride with, for the day. It really was nice having someone to chat with, for a change, and for once, the road seemed to have a wide shoulder, so we could ride side-by-side most of the way.

I taught him some of my time passing techniques, and he beat me on my favorite, which is how long you can keep an M&M in your mouth, without finishing it off. My previous record was 22 minutes, and he went over 25 minutes. These are important skills to perfect, when your brain has too much idle time on its hands.

Sorry, but while I was enjoying myself, I wasn’t paying as much attention, as I usually do, to the sights. Some highlights were passing through the Valley of the Bears, where the only bear I saw was a statue.

Oceano was another sand dunes town, but what really struck me the most was the zoning. It was so sad to see a historic Tudor mansion surrounded by a mobile home park. The Planning and Zoning staff would be fired, if it were my town.When we crossed over into Santa Barbara County, we knew we were making progress on the day and toward the finish of the ride.Hunger was setting in, when we hit Guadalupe, and I haven’t had Mexican food yet, on this trip. So we scoped out a restaurant that served up a delicious meal and some of the best ever pork green chili with its salsa. Let me tell you, I would love to go back to that place again.Today’s route was mostly inland, so the predominant scenery was miles and miles and miles of strawberry fields and other fertile farmland. This is the second place I have seen farm workers actually out in the fields working on the individual plants, and that field had a gazillion plants for them to use their personal touch on.

I arrived my digs for the night with enough time to pick up a few more groceries, do a load of laundry, work on the blog, and get a good night’s rest.

A side note: I have been looking forward to spending a couple of days riding between Carpinteria and Long Beach, and possibly south from Long Beach, with a cycling enthusiast and friend, Steve Moss. Today, he had a head on collision with another cyclist; broke and/or crushed several bones in his pelvis, back and femur; and will probably be in the hospital thru the end of my ride. I was enjoying having someone to talk to so much, today, that I was planning to get online this evening to order up a pair of Cardo radios, so we could talk while we rode. That will wait for another day. In the mean time, please include Steve in your prayers. He has surgery and a long road to recovery ahead of him.

9/18/18 – Plaskett Creek Campground to Morro Bay

61.6 Miles

3038 ft of Climbing

Breaking camp in Plaskett Creek took a couple of hours. The neighbors kept coming over to talk, and I was feeling lazy and talkative, all at the same time. Madison came back over with a gift of some Goat Brie, to make sure I had enough tasty, nutritious vittles for the road.

Tommaso and Gulia, an Italian couple, who are currently living/working in the US, came over to chat. A PhD Computer Scientist, working at Berkeley on independent research for driverless vehicles, he told me about Parenzana, a rails-to-trails type route I hope to take some day. Starting in Italy, it passes through Slovenia, then ends up in Croatia. He drew me the map below.

Then once I got riding, I kept running into people along the way. This gal, riding a Harley with a pink helmet, and I had to ham for her boyfriend.I stopped for lunch at Ragged Point and enjoyed a little touring cyclist reunion. That and the most delicious hamburger I’ve eaten in years. After lunch, I passed into the Los Padres National Forest and made my way to the Piedras Blancas Light Station. No joy, it closed after Labor Day, and there is no getting close to it. But up the road was something way better than a lighthouse–a preserve for elephant seals. And were there elephant seals to behold? Oh yeah, hundreds of them. They were mostly sunning and napping, I presume, but the ones that were moving were really fun to watch. Then I was on to more ocean scenery, some kite surfers, San Simeon and the Hearst Castle, the Veteran’s Memorial in Cambria (I hate myself for missing Linn’s Easy as Pie Cafe), Harmony (what a nice place to live), and Cayucos.After a stop for deli dinner, groceries and shop cloths, I got to Morro Bay just after the sunset. The two hiker/biker sites were full, so I begged the two fellas that were in them to let me camp with them, too. After dinner, I ‘luxuriated’ in a long, hot, campground coin-operated shower, then retreated to my tent to plan for tomorrow. It’s slated to be an almost 74 mile day. Surely there is a way around that. Perhaps there’s a shortcut no one has yet discovered.

9/17/18 – Carmel by the Sea to Plaskett Creek Campground

60.8 Miles

4475 ft of Climbing

I forgot to mention one shop that caught my eye, last night, as I walked around town. I had to go back to the Mad Dog and Englishmen’s Bike Shop to see all the vintage looking new bikes and gear they had on display. Most of these bikes are eBikes, because it’s pretty darned hilly, around Carmel, and most rich folks aren’t going to use leg power to get up those hills. Some day, when I win the lottery, I’m going to buy my friend Lloyd Porter one of these. Wait, I don’t buy lottery tickets, so that will never happen. It’s the thought that counts, though, right Lloyd?I love the surfboard rack on this one. Need one of those for my touring bike, for when I take it and my surf board to California some day.These are Bromptons–the original British-made folding bike. The US made Bicycle Friday is actually a legitimate touring bike, so the shop owner told me. See? I’m learning new things on this trip.Boy, I need to get one of these side cars to take the grandkids out riding.And you can buy some of this recycled bicycle parts art, made by and Israeli artist, for a mere $2000ish per piece. If only I had a bigger house with room for another piece of art…and if only I wasn’t riding my bike for a few more hundred miles. These things were HEAVY. After enjoying that bike shop, I hit the road for a camping destination past Big Sur. The ocean was to my right, as always, and the spectacular scenery changed throughout the day. Let me just say that there is nothing like seeing this kind of scenery at 11 MPH. And then I passed Point Sur. When I saw it on a map, I expected some cool cliffs, but what I found was a lighthouse and Naval Facility. The lightstation has been in continuous operation since 1889, and is the only turn-of-the-century light station in California that is still open to the public—weekends only. The naval facility was established in 1957 as part of a worldwide network of listening stations that monitored the movement of Soviet submarines. One building of the facility is still used for sound surveillance, by the Navy, and is the only remaining listening operation on the West Coast. All the other buildings were transferred to he California State Parks back in 1980. When I arrived Big Sur, hunger had set in. This hippie bus is the snack shop.You know, the road to Big Sur was pretty climby, and I was tired, so for the rest of the day, I decided to relax and take it easy. At the Big Sur Visitor’s Center, I met up with Tonya and Natasha, a couple of adorable gals from Russia. We stopped and talked for a few minutes and traded photos.Then a little ways further down the road, I saw another fully loaded touring bike coming northbound, so I crossed over to talk to and shared M&Ms with Christopher, a Scottish fella. He started his tour in Buenos Aires, Argentina and has been on the road for over a year. The northbound riders face an almost continuous headwind, so they are few and far between, and are super tough. Now I was looking for ANYTHING to stop for–like these horses who have the good life, living in a huge pasture next to the ocean. In honor of my daughter, I stopped to pet them. I hope someone puts sunscreen on the white one.And when I saw this sign, I actually considered checking out the ‘Holy Granola’ and ‘Deep Books’, but when I turned in, there was another sign saying that it was 2 scenic miles away, and the road was heading uphill. No way.After passing through the massive landslide cleanup project, that closed Highway 1 for over a year, I went through this tunnel and found my way to my campsite in time to catch the tail end of the sunset.Check out this view of the ocean from my campsite. Amazing. And my neighbor, Madison, was also amazing. I smelled some kind of culinary creation going on somewhere in the campground, and when I asked her where she thought it was coming from, she fessed up that it was from her site. They had leftovers of sliced onions, zucchini, mushrooms and peppers cooked in truffle oil, butter and another secret ingredient, that they didn’t know what to do with. So she brought them over to me, and those veggies are the best food I have tasted on this trip. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Thank you Madison. You made my day.

9/16/18 – Santa Cruz to Carmel-by-the-Sea

Is there such thing as a perfect night of sleep? Last night would have been great, if the temperature hadn’t dropped to 48 degrees, which is about the point where my sleeping bag stops keeping me warm. And during the night, I started getting cramps in every muscle of both legs. I had to rifle through my bags to find muscle cramp pills, which worked almost instantaneously, thankfully, and to put my hands on tights and other layers to get myself warm. Once bundled up, I put my silk sleeping bag liner on the outside of my sleeping bag to reduce the air voids in the bag, which made a big difference.

I was on a mission to make it to church again, so had my church clothes and makeup gathered together on the top of my clothes bag, when I started out. But then the road and wind did not cooperate, and I missed church–again. Aargh.

Ever heard of Aptos? Even though it’s inland from Monterey Bay, it is actually a pretty cool little town, tucked away in the midst of a bunch of farm land. I don’t know what the water source of it’s little harbor was, but there were people out kayaking up and around a slow moving river, and I wanted to stop and kayak too.

And there were spiffy little shops and places to eat (I didn’t stop), and the longest mural I’ve even seen. The Beatle’s song, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever,’ was constantly on my mind, today, as I passed miles and miles and miles of strawberry fields. In one spot, where they were being picked, I wanted to grab some from the pickers and have a berry frenzy right there on the spot.If you’re going to be a migrant farm worker, this is the place to do it. There were, once again, miles and miles of farmland butted right up to the ocean. And just seeing that ocean kind of takes the edge off of whatever you’re doing. Well it worked that way for me, anyhow.My favorite stop of the day was snapping a photo of both of these found art sculptures. Just as I got my bike set up for the first photo, a group of five guys on Harleys showed up. We posed for photos together and talked for a while. It turnes out that one of them rode the “Run for the Wall” ride, this year. Last year, a gentleman named Kelly Anderson carried a photo of my brother Chip on the same ride and posted photos of him putting it on the Vietnam Memorial Wall. I showed them what Kelly wrote at the end of the ride, and the photos he posted, and they were touched.And I think I found myself a military man for my future. He’s pretty quiet and laid back, which works for me.After passing so many farms, I couldn’t ride by this roadside produce stand. I loaded up on avocados, grapes and strawberries, and sampled way too many varieties of melon and salsa. They are so good!I didn’t know that brussel sprouts grow on a stalk, like this.It was at this point in the day, that I decided to downsize my day and stop in Carmel, instead of killing myself on the mountains between where I was and Big Sur. All my devices were low on battery, due to not being able to charge them for two nights in a row, and a real shower and warm bed were sounding good to me. And surely that climb will still be there tomorrow. How do you spell rationalize? So I took my time, as I rode in and through Monterey.

I was shocked to see what became of Fort Ord, an Army base closed by BRAC, back in 1994. Of course, I only saw one side of it from a bike, but this huge section of buildings were really sad to see. After all these years, they are still just laying in waste–deteriorating. Those barracks in Presidio had a little bit of this look, back when I stayed there, but they were no where near this far gone.

I cycled on a coastal trail through miles of former artillery ranges, that are now a state park and, in some places, a preserve for endangered species of butterflies and other critters. I guess that’s a good use for land with potential unexplored ordinance, right? I’m pretty sure insects won’t set anything off.

And this is the pedestrian/bike path, in much of the park. Very nice.Before I get off the topic of Fort Ord, let me add that throughout the rest of the day, I learned more of what has happened tto it. When it was closed, many of the viable buildings were immediately turned into a university. And there is a military commisarry and base exchange on the side of the base I wasn’t cycling on, and a portion of the base has been designated a National Historic Site. I missed all of that, by not taking a day off in Monterey to cycle all around the base.

You know, Monterey is a bunch of little towns globbed together into one mini metropolitan area that is so small it only has one Wal-mart. I was looking forward to that Wal-mart, but somehow missed it, today, which is really sad. Seems I am out of my favorite trail mix, which is one of their ‘Great Value’ products.

The only reason I knew I was in Seaside, was this huge monument sign. I’d love to have one of these by my pool, back home.Then I officially entered Monterey and passed by the Naval Post Graduate School, which is still in business, and beautiful sections of the bay. What a lovely area.My digs for the night were a huge room in a quaint little motel, with antique furniture, Tiffany lamps, and brocade wallpaper. I hated bringing my bike inside and covering one of the beds with a bunch of gear, but it had to be done.

After a very long shower (what drought?), I walked through downtown Carmel, which is lined with dozens of blocks of high end shops–Rodeo Drive-like shops. Didn’t see anything I needed, so I ate dinner and headed back to my room to get a good night of rest. I still have that hill climbing to do tomorrow.