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.

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