10/26/19 – North Bend to Gold Beach

Distance: 86.39 mi

Climbing: 4252 ft

Whoa! Have you looked at our stats? Why does it look like we’re going so slow? We’re bicycle touring. I stop for everything worth looking at, and Steve is stuck with me, so he stops too.

About today, let me just say up front that the two best parts of our day, were the nonstop tail wind and having our 2-way Terrano radios back working again. Hallelujah!. Life is good! We love being able to talk while we ride.

We were so glad to be out of North Bend. Not our kind of town. Once out of there, things turned nice really quickly. As we crossed the draw bridge into a nearby little fishing village, we had to stop for a selfie, and that’s when we discovered a bunch of harbor seals frolicking, turning summersaults, and looking at us longingly.

We are loving our bike-packing setup. Still perfecting loading up and getting going in the morning, but we’ll have that down soon.

Once out of the fishing village, the road turned sharply and immediately became a very steep and windy road. Something didn’t seem right, so we checked our maps, and sure enough, we were on Seven Devils Road. That explained everything. My memory of the road, from my previous ride, was that it was an immense and unnecessary suffer-fest, but riding it on lightly packed road bikes, it was actually fun. Definitely one of the highlights of our day.

Once off Seven Devils Rd., we were headed for Bandon, where just a little over a year ago I started a letter in my blog, “Dear Man of My Dreams….” (See https://livingourbucketlist.com/2018/09/05/9-4-18-coos-bay-to-port-orford/). Things have sure changed since then. On this trip, the man of my dreams is my riding partner. BTW, Steve was just as wowed by the sea stacks as I was.

This driftwood cyclist was in a front yard driftwood sculpture garden we passed. Now THAT’S art.

After passing through Langley and Port Orford, we caught up to mile marker 301. Just yesterday, we passed 200–proof that we are really cruising.

After Bandon, we followed the waterfront most of the way to Gold Beach, except for a couple of sections where mountains jutted out to the ocean, forcing the highway to circle up, over and around them. The scenery in those mountain passes was spectacular.

Our crossing to Gold Beach was another really long, cool bridge. Our motel had hot cocoa in the lobby (hey, it was a long cold day), a hot tub and a light show. Definitely love that place. After 4 really long days in the saddle, we decided to change our schedule to split the ride to Klamath into 2 days of riding. That way we can sleep in and go to church tomorrow morning, before a leisurely ride to Brookings. It will be like a day off–kind of.

10/25/19 – Waldport to North Bend

Distance: 89.33 mi

Climbing: 5112 ft

We were up pretty late last night, taking care of business, and didn’t get that early start we had hoped for. After a resupply run to a little market and a trip to the post office, we didn’t get out riding until 10:30 in the morning. It felt like we were catching up all day long.

About that trip to the post office, it was all about sending things home that we don’t need–to save space and weight and to make room for the things we really do need. Last night, Steve spent quite a bit of time sorting through his gear to send home enough stuff that he could also send home his day pack. Some of the things that went home were my comb, eyeliner and blush, a full sized metal can of bag balm, a 4 oz tub of coconut oil, a 14+” hand massage roller, and the full sized tools we used to assemble our bikes. Steve says it’s a lot more convenient not having to lug the backpack around. I’m glad to see him assimilate to the touring mentality.

On to our travels, Oregon has some of the coolest bridges you’ll ever see, and there were a lot of them today. Here’s the view from our hotel of our first bridge of the day. Pretty cool, eh?

Arriving at the Spouting Horn blow hole at high tide, we were actually able to see it spout.

We passed at least 3 lighthouses, today and would have loved to have ridden or hiked out to them, but after turning off the 101, the roads leading to them looked steep and long–two things we had no appetite for. We were able to get pretty close to the Heceta Head lighthouse without cheating death or breaking any rules, so I snapped this photo. Hopefully, one day we’ll be able to drive up here in the RV and take our time enjoying the sights and outdoor activities.

This the only seal we could see on Seal Beach.

Of course, Steve needed a photo of mile marker 200 on Highway 101.

The Oregon Dunes follow the beach for miles. Someday, when we bring the RV up here, we need to bring an ATV and some kayaks and the grandkids. This place really looks fun!

We ended our day in a dumpy little town named North Bend. The motel clerk who checked us in for our stay told us we could walk to fast food and a Safeway store pretty quickly, because they were only 1/4 mile away. It was windy and under 50 degrees when we embarked on our 1/4 mile walk to the store. A half hour later, we finally made it to the store, which was well over a mile away. We were frozen.

One thing our motel desk clerk did get right was safekeeping a package for us that was delivered to the motel by Amazon. After almost a week of riding with a broken radio and hence, only one-way communication, we were thrilled to have a new Terrano XT radio waiting for us when we checked in. After testing our old radios with the various components of the new radio, we narrowed the problem down to the cradle of my radio. With the cradle replaced, we are really looking forward to tomorrow’s ride, as we head to Gold Beach.

10/24/19 – Tillamook to Waldport

Distance: 89.33 mi

Climbing: 5112 ft

Today was–well–busy.  Facing a pretty long day with lots of climbing, we woke up earlier and got out the door earlier.

The Pacific Coast Highway, up in Washington and Oregon, is US Highway 101, and it was getting busier and more congested as we rode south. So we were thankful to be able to turn off the highway in Tillamook and ride on little side roads for a good part of the day.

Starting out on the Three Capes Route, the super climby spur I skipped on my solo trip due to its long 9-11% grades, the scenery was amazing. First we passed through miles of forrest canopy, then transitioned to clear cut hillsides which were followed by sand dunes. (Don’t ask me what sand dunes were doing out in the forest?)

After passing through some lush farmland with grazing cattle, we spent the the rest of the day meandering through little beach towns as the route clung to the beach.

Below, you can see the road we should have been on for a few miles, but missed, due to a navigational error by moi. Instead of beachside scenery, we slogged up a steep hill climb and sucked up exhaust from rush-hour vehicles on Highway 101.

We don’t have a bike pump with enough pressure to air our tires up to the level of pressure we prefer, so we’re stopping every day or so at bike shops along the route.

At the end of the day, we splurged on the Jacuzzi suite at a little resort hotel. There were mirrors everywhere, but no disco ball. We enjoyed the heck out of that jacuzzi, but after dinner, there was work to be done, including gear adjustments, clothes to be of laundered, a few days of lodging reservations to be locked in, sorting out gear to be mailed home, and of course updating the blog. After a couple of games of Ticket to Ride, we settled in for a late niter.

Tomorrow will be another long day, as we head to North Bend, which is just short of Coos Bay.

10/23/19 -Seaside to Tillamook

Distance: 50.89 mi

Climbing: 2612 ft

You know, I used to be a morning person and a night person, but that has all changed, and I may have corrupted Steve. Getting going in the morning is sooooo hard! We did a lot better today, but then our fateful stop at Safeway tripped us up. We needed to pick up a few snack items and some breakfast, but it was 46 degrees outside, and We weren’t budging.

Once we got going, the scenery was spectacular–pristine beaches with no people on them, sea stacks, dense forests, and windy hilly roads that must have crossed over 100 bridges. Steve loved all the hill climbing, and once it warmed up a little, we were loving that ocean air.

We passed through a bunch of cute little resort towns and fishing communities, and ended up in Tillamook. And, by the way, we did not stop for the Tillamook factory tour. Both Steve and I have been there / done that, and are avoiding major tourist traps as much as possible. Ironically, our last stop of the day was Safeway–to pick up dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast and snacks. Avoiding that stop in the morning just might eliminate our excuse to goof off.

I forgot to mention our cheap motel. I think the front desk hates cyclists. If you zoom in on the rightmost end of the building, you can see Steve getting ready to climb 3 flights of stairs to get to our room. It was a blast (heavy sarcasm) hefting our loaded bikes up them.

Our room had a lot of nice touches. Like the towel and soap display, the paper seal on the toilet seat and 3 garbage cans. We are living in luxury!

Thought you might like to see what happens when a place gives us 2 beds. Sorry motel maid.

10/22/19 – Test Ride (NOT) Cape Disappointment, WA to Seaside, OR

Distance: 57.41 mi

Climbing: 1850 ft

It sure is hard getting going when you’re starting a 1400+ mile bike ride. It took way too long to jam all our gear into our little tiny bike-packing bags, this morning. We were glad to break out of our motel and finally see the sky again, after 7 days of rain and gloom.

Remember, today’s ride was just going to be a warm up for our legs and a test ride for our gear, but Steve got to thinking that maybe if we went just a little further, we could ditch our dive Motel 6 in Astoria and stay in a better Motel 6 in Seaside. Great idea, Steve.

But first, before we could leave out, we had a little off route business to take care off, including stops at the Social Security office (only in Astoria would there be no other customers waiting), a copy store, the post office, a bike shop, and Subway Sandwich Shop. During our errands, we discovered that our two-way radios weren’t working–a major malfunction. By the time we finished all our running around and tried everything we could think of to get the radios working, it was almost noon.

The late start wouldn’t matter, because this as going to be an ‘ easy’ ride, right? The plan was to cross the Megler-Astoria Bridge, cycle out to Cape Disappointment–on the Washington side of the bridge, where we would find out what was so disappointing about the place, then head back across to the Oregon side and on to Seaside.

The ride out to Cape disappointment was a little disappointing–no pun intended. We ended up with a headwind, and there was quite a bit of unexpected climbing involved in the little loop road around the cape. On the positive side, we did figure out where the name came from (read below), and we had a lovely tailwind most of the way back to Seaside.

The highlights of the day? That tailwind and the Megler-Astoria Bridge. As the longest (4.1 miles) cantilever through-truss bridge in the world, it is one heck of an engineering feat. Supper cool!

The low light of the day? Discovering that our two-way Terrano XT radios had become one-way radios, and then not being able to fix them. What a bummer. We are used to talking to each other while we ride, so today’s silence was deafening. Amazon will come to our rescue on Friday, but till then, we’ll be suffering immensely.

Tomorrow will be our first real day of riding, as we head past Cannon Beach toward Tillamook.

10/14/19 – 10/21/19 Final Preparations for Pacific Coast Reprise Bike Tour

The final week leading up to our bike ride has been hectic. On Monday the 14th, Steve and I flew down to Phoenix with less than 14 hours to complete all post construction cleanup, then move furnishings and personal items back to their places in 4 rooms of our home there. The project to repair damage from numerous water leaks was mostly complete just hours before we arrived AZ. After visiting my daughter and grandkids in Queen Creek for a few hours, catching a quick dinner and picking up a couple of items from the store, we had 10 hours to take care of everything that needed to be done to prepare the house for guests arriving just a few days later.

After a grueling all-nighter, we headed back to the airport at 4:30 AM to catch a flight to Eugene, Oregon, with a load of baggage that included bikes and gear for an 18 day tour of the Pacific Coast and two day packs with the clothes we would need for a 5-day visit with Steve’s son Joshua and his family.

Late Sunday evening, after 5 fun filled days with Joshua, Jayne, Vera and Blanche, they dropped us at our first cheap motel–the Astoria Motel 6, next to the Megler-Astoria Bridge, and headed back to their home in Vancouver, Washington.

Steve and I had agreed to delay the start of our ride until the rain and south westerly winds subsided on Wednesday. It turned out that after long days of hanging with family, playing games, and exploring National Monuments, beaches and other tourist attractions, we needed at least a day to relax, properly assemble our bikes and organize our gear.

Steve’s Gear

Eileen’s Gear

After a long relaxing day, we were now thinking clearly. Why rush into long hard days of hilly coastal cycling, when we hadn’t ridden a bike in the 10 days since the end of the Huntsman Senior World Games? We need to ease into our trip with a test ride across the Megler-Astoria Bridge, a little more sightseeing, and a little more shopping. That’s the plan for tomorrow, then on Wednesday the real riding will begin. I swear.

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.