Mexico, Journey’s End

I made it to Mexico. The journey is complete.

It’s hard to sum up how that feels.

It was a great day all around. Woke in the night when it started to rain and dashed outside to cover my saddle and move my drying clothes under the tent’s vestibule. Woke in the morning to a wet tent and a damp, sticky, cloudy day. Had a breakfast of oatmeal & packed with the efficiency of a month’s practice. As I was getting ready to leave the neighbors came over and said hello, two guys both named Dan. Both full of questions about the trip and excited that this was the last day. One of the Dans said he wanted to give me something to take on my trip. Um, OK. He went off to look for it and the other Dan seemed a little embarrassed for his friend, said it’d be OK if I just took off. But I was curious. Dan One returned with religious literature and was excited to show me where there were some great articles. I was very nice, he seemed like a really sweet guy.

Another camper asked me again on my way out about the trip. It was fast becoming a recurring theme for the day.

One little errand to take care of before really starting, I zipped across to the supermarket for more band-aids for this blister on my foot that hurts with every pedal stroke. You kinda get used to it, but it does seem to like being covered. The supermarket was near a doughnut place that had about 10 other bicycles parked in front of it, looked like the place to be. I loaded up on goodies for the day.

The campsite was right along a stretch of road that, this apparently being a Saturday, was covered in lycra-clad cyclists and joggers and power walkers. I talked to a number of the cyclists as they passed me by. I was riding with one group for a little (pretty impressed that I could manage–barely–to keep pace with road cyclists) and was telling a few curious guys about the trip. At a stoplight I heard one of them, near the front of the pack, turn to his neighbor and say “That guy was coming from Seattle!”. And then he saw me there, still with their pack, said “Oh he’s right there, I was just talking you up!”. They wanted to know if I’d really done the whole trip in my old-fashioned toe clips and these sandals.

I came to Torrey Pines State Reserve and decided to check out the trees. My route book says it’s a “steep, mile-long hill to scenic views and the rarest pine trees native to the United States.”. Steep? Scenic? Trees? Sign me up! It was steep indeed–joggers were making it up faster than me. But I noted that almost all of the other cyclists out on the road this morning were opting for the easier, flatter route.

I stopped at the top to check out the trees and the views. It was still cloudy, the clouds just beginning to burn off, when I was up there. I walked a long loop trail past a garden full of weird & interesting & spiky southern plants and scenic ocean vistas.

Returning to the bike I found another couple admiring Sweet Liza Jane, again full of questions. The questions are beginning to be very similar, answering them like a familiar dance. Coming from Seattle, going to San Diego/the border. Been on the road since Sept 1st. Roughly 65 miles a day–some easier days like 35 miles, some longer like 100. Camping in state parks most of the way. The bike weighs close to 100 pounds. Yes, seriously, you can try & pick it up if you like.

But I love people’s interest and their curiosity and answering the same old questions. I think I’ll miss that when I return to normal life.

Anyway I was soon underway again to meet yet more road cyclists who wanted to ask about the trip. A fellow who had done bits and pieces of the coast route himself.

It was kind of a long day of cycling. Big city riding, the route had lots of turns & they were easy to miss.

In National City I met another cyclist, the only one I’d seen I a while, a young kid riding helmetless and shirtless on a single-speed. We rode together for a few miles, he totally interested in touring, thinking of a few trips of his own. He also turned out to be in sushi chef school which I found fascinating, and wondered if he ever gets tired of answering the same old sushi questions.

And before too much longer I was there–Mexico. Almost 2000 miles from where I started. The End. The bike path is closed, so I had to try & figure out if cyclists were supposed to join the cars or the pedestrians. I joined the pedestrians, but got to the border to find you had to go through huge metal turnstiles and it would be really tricky with Sweet Liza Jane. And I didn’t want to leave her behind. It was already 3pm, and while I had once entertained the notion of spending a night in Tijuana, I just was no longer interested in going through the hassle of crossing the border twice. My journey was done.

It was fun taking with Margaret there at the border, knowing how well she could relate, after finishing her own 5-week solo trip across England to end at Lizard Point.

For a month I’ve been drawn inexorably South. Every day I’ve gotten closer, racing the sun to make a campsite so I could rest a while and do it again the next day. I’ve loved it, loved he challenges of finding my way and the sheer physical exertion required, feeling self-sufficient and competent and so very powerful. Now that’s over. It’s not like a weight off, it’s not really a relief, and I’m not sad about this end. It has been fantastic.

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San Elijo State Beach

I am half a day away.

I woke early in Doheny, a combination of my early-rising neighbor, the trains, and my bladder. I got in a long lovely early-morning chat with Julianne as I looked over the waves, surprised (but only a little) to see surfers and a few stand-up paddlers already out there already. An adorable little girl came up to point out one of the latter, her friend who would take her out on his board sometimes.

Then the usuals. Packing up the tent, cooking breakfast–more hash browns & eggs & coffee. Then cleaning up, more packing, and off on my bike.

Today was a short day, only a little over 40 miles to San Elijo. So I stared the day out with an 8-mile side trip to San Juan Capistrano and the mission there. They call it the “Jewel Of The Missions”, and I was tremendously amused that they charge an admission fee like it’s an amusement park. I played along and ponied up the $9–I’d already biked all the way there. And it’s certainly very nice inside, lots of flowers with butterflies and hummingbirds flitting about in the morning sun. Also several sections of the original walls still there, including several-hundred-year-old adobe.

I’ve been thinking about how California’s mission chain is similar to the lighthouses I adored along the coast. Each a chain of similar-in-function buildings to be a beacon of sorts, literally for the lighthouses. Each remote, needing to be largely self-sufficient. But the missions kind of creep me out, what with their raison d’ĂȘtre of christianizing and civilizing the native population.

Backtracking all the way to Doheny State Beach, I was finally underway. I found (with the help of a security guard, who was extremely helpful but was not about to let me into the beachside resort area she was protecting) the bike path that paralleled the coast highway, through another long state beach and then into Camp Pendleton, a US Marine Corps base camp. The bike path goes through this massive area, the only other alternative being riding on the shoulder of I5. Being on a military base was weird but preferable. Some amusing street signs–troop crossing or tank crossing signs.

I stopped at a brewpub in Oceanside for some lunch, a big salad and breadsticks. They had a beer on tap called Keenan Kolsch. I had to give it a try, of course–pretty tasty!

Then into Carlsbad, then Encinitas! Practically San Diego. I got to the park here & got the tent set up. I zipped across the highway to a shopping area that was reputed to have an ice cream shop but I struck out, I guess they closed. I settled for a coffee ice cream bar from the supermarket.

Then back to camp where I pulled on swim trunks and walked down to the ocean for an extremely pleasant swim. The water is so warm! By Seattle standards at least. The sun was coming down fast and I got out, found a warm rock to sit on and watched the colors and the surfers still out riding the waves.

Then a shower and, even though it already feels like I’ve had so very much to eat today, I made myself some more spaghetti.

And now it’s 9 pm and I’m exhausted!

Tomorrow I hit Mexico and the journey is complete. I have such mixed feelings about it. There is so very much to look forward to in returning to my normal life. Yet I’ve loved every minute of this adventure. It’s been hot, cold, dry, damp, hungry and exhausting and hard and painful and so rewarding. If I didn’t have such a life to return to, I could easily see just continuing onward. But I do.

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Doheny State Beach

Ah, a night’s sleep on a real soft bed does wonders. The 6:30 alarm was a little on the early side, but Andrea had an early class and I wanted to get going very early in order to power through LA.

Andrea & I had pie for breakfast. It was invented as a breakfast food, don’tchaknow. Rhubarb pie and very tasty, plus a nice big latte to start the day off right.

I stopped at a highly recommended bakery across the street to stock up on goodies and went a little overboard–a cherry Danish, a chocolate croissant and an almost croissant. I ate the cherry Danish plus a cappuccino there, while reviewing my route for the day. I’d printed out Google’s bike route from Andrea’s house here to Doheny, and it came out to 7 pages of twisty, turny directions. Google’s bike routes tend to stick to low-traffic, more scenic areas, which sounded about right for attempting LA.

Then I was off and navigating LA roads wasn’t so bad. I think San Francisco was harder, though that was rush hour. (Getting through Laguna, later in the day, was trickier.)

The route started by navigating Santa Monica down to The Strand, a bike bath right along the beach, along El Segundo and Manhattan Beach. There was still a lot of fog that early in the morning, and I saw huge construction equipment moving the sands of those beaches around into their perfectly level lines. I got a little unsure about the route and stopped to consult the iPhone and two older gents stopped with unsolicited but actually extremely useful advice. I’ve learned how valuable the knowledge of local cyclists is and payed attention, despite the strains from that part of my brain that continues to scream “I can figure it out myself!” Also they would not take seriously my protestations that I knew where I was going. They advised a simpler route than my maps had, sounded like a good plan to me. They also asked if I was going to the Mexican border and I said yes, and if I was planning on going into Tijuana and I admitted I was thinking about it, and oh, the warnings. “Murder capitol of the world!” they said. “You have no rights there!” I’m certainly having significant doubts about the whole night-in-Tijuana idea since everyone I talk to says what a dangerous place it is, and from what little I’ve read, it sounds tricky to navigate a path, especially on a bicycle, from the border into one of the safer areas. Anyway I took the old gentlemen’s route advice and it worked out pretty great, meeting up later with my original plan of sticking to little neighborhoods instead of just cycling along the busy, though direct, Pacific Coast Highway. I got a little lost again, pulled over again to consult my phone, and ended up chatting with a woman out walking her dogs, full of questions about the trip. I love these chance encounters.

Similarly, an unexpected surprise was the bike route leading me right into a farmer’s market in a decidedly Hispanic section of town. Besides the fruits and vegetables there was a papusa stand and I simply could not resist. I used sign language and the limits of my Spanish to get a pork & cheese and a bean & cheese papusa and a large strawberry agua fresca. Delicious! The whole time a guitarist played ranchera music, ending, of course, with Cielito Lindo. I tipped him on the way out and he asked me about my trip and wished me luck.

After that my route through LA became pretty light-industrial, trucking and shipping and I passed near the port, amused to see big cranes again like those so-familiar icons of Seattle.

There are long sections in LA where the “bike lane” is synonymous with the gutter and/or parking strip. Debris or parked cars force cyclists into traffic. In one section I was zipping downhill and hit a ramp of pavement. Thankfully I saw it in enough time to break a little bit but still ended up, all 250 lbs of me + bike, vaulted into the air for maybe two feet–not really much of a jump, but really jarring with that much weight and momentum. I stuck the landing though–not a perfect 10 but no crashes.

I got a little uncertain about the directions somewhere in Long Beach (I hesitate to say “lost”, as “lost” implies I knew where I was to begin with) but found, and decided to stick with, the PCH for a while.

I picked up a beachside bike trail again through Huntington beach which was lovely, but disappeared at Newport beach. I ducked down onto Balboa Island for a look. One very touristy shopping street, where I did have to stop for the local ice cream delicacy, the Balboa Bar: a rectangle of ice cream on a stick, dipped in chocolate and then your topping of choice–I stuck with the traditional peanuts. Pretty tasty, if messy. I wandered the island for a little bit, down to the water and the endless private piers.

Nearing Laguna I met an older, though speedier cyclist (I caught him at stoplights), who warned me about the narrow, difficult streets ahead & highly recommended an alternative route, said he used to work in a bike shop and heard all the time about accidents and the odd fatality regarding this stretch of road. Sometimes you don’t know if these are just people who aren’t used to dealing with traffic in the same way as I’ve become accustomed to, but I heeded his advice, especially after getting down to the turnoff he told me about and seeing how truly scary it was. Rush hour traffic, four-lane 40 mph road, no bike lane whatsoever–just a full parking lane, with cars eager to enter or leave or just open doors willy-nilly. Cars whizzing past with inches to spare. Not fun. I heeded the advice and got off the main drag for a parallel, if hillier, road.

Not much longer ’til I hit Dana Point and the state beach here. I think I did the happy dance, reaching my distant goal (78 miles) before sunset. I got in in time to walk down to the (very nearby) shore, take my sandals off, and wade into the ocean ’til my shorts got wet and watch the sunset. It was another indescribably beautiful time. The light and the colors and the waves, the world perfected.

Had a hot, if dark, 7.5-minute, 75-cent shower (the sunlight-and-motion-sensitive lights not quite working; while I was getting dressed they would flicker in & out), made another spaghetti dinner, with a Honeycrisp–first of the year!–for dessert. Another cyclist, Russ from Blackpool, rolled in late after a hundred mile day. He started 2.5 months ago in Fairbanks and plans to try for Argentina. Nice to know that my little jaunt down the coast is pretty tame by some standards. Now listening to Hey Marseilles songs over the ocean waves and the trains that seem to be rumbling past so often you don’t even notice.

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Andrea’s apartment, Santa Monica

I keep thinking I’m a grown-up but I’m not. I made it to L.A.! It’s sunny and 72. Actually more like 90 but feels so pleasant out by the beach.

It was an early morning, packing and chatting one last time with Omar. I’d planned to cook something for breakfast and have some coffee but the mosquitoes remained fierce and I ceded the woods to them. I rolled across the road to Sycamore Cove for a look out at the ever-entrancing ocean, then on my way to Malibu.

Malibu, it turns out, is essentially a long beach overlooked by some obscenely expensive, well-manicured houses. Surfers on the beach, mostly just waiting for the perfect wave. I stopped at Zuma Beach for just a bit to walk in the warm sand and dip my feet in the Pacific.

Omar caught up to me near Pepperdine, he’s speedier than me, with only two panniers plus backpack, and also 9 years younger, and a marathon runner to boot. One last bon voyage as he sprinted ahead.

I saw more dolphins in Malibu, savagely graceful in their hunt. I wouldn’t had seen them if not for the other pedestrians around pointing at the ocean, attempting pictures. I don’t even try photographing the dolphins.

Traffic started increasing, finally re-entering civilization. Mixed feelings about that. The safeties and dangers are so different from country roads.

And then I was in Los Angeles county, and then Santa Monica. I climbed the frighteningly named, but really not so bad “California Incline” road towards downtown Santa Monica and was unsurprised to be the only cyclist on the city streets. Navigating traffic was actually pretty easy. I have wondered if it’s because LA drivers are unfamiliar with these bi-cycled contraptions, and are unsure if we are friend or foe.

I found my Macalester pal Andrea’s place without any trouble, hooray again for the iPhone (when I actually have reception, damn and blast AT&T). I met Andrea’s friend KJ at the door and got in and had a nice long hot shower, such a luxury. Then Andrea got home and we got to say hello after years, I guess it’s been since our 10th reunion. It was such a treat to sit on a couch and listen to music on very nice speakers.

I threw my laundry in to wash and tried to help with meal prep, but mostly just chatted and ate cheese & cracker appetizers. Then the three of us had a tasty lunch of Thai noodles and steamed broccoli. I had seconds on noodles and thirds on broccoli.

Andrea had a class tonight so I was on my own for several hours. She dropped me off in Venice so I could have a walk & a look around. I found a gelato place, N’ice Cream, and got salted caramel and a chocolate hazelnut combo. I wandered to the canals that Andrea had recommended. Yes, Venice CA has canals. The eccentric behind the formation of Venice had them dug. They’re really lovely, as are the houses that line them.

Then I wandered oceanward to the famous Venice Beach. I walked down Venice Pier, watched the fishermen throw out their lines. And watched the surfers, again mostly just lying in wait. Walking down the beach, feet covered in ocean, I saw another large group of surfers having better luck, watched some long, thrilling rides. At the end of one section of beach was a rocky wall and the waves would crash against it, sending a shower of seawater over those standing nearby.

Then I stopped a while to watch skateboarders carom themselves around the concrete and metal of a nice skate park, if not oblivious to danger then at least too young to be concerned with it. There were rainclouds and even lightning over Santa Monica but it was dry & sunny on the beach. The conditions made for a fabulous, if dim, double rainbow over LA.

Then further north along the water. I paused to watch the sun set, amused and elated to see so many others engaged in this old-as-the-hills entertainment. Sunset was gorgeous.

And I walked further on, towards the lights (ooh, shiny) and activity that turned out to be Santa Monica Pier. There’s a small amusement park, restaurants, buskers, and a video arcade, with two Dance Dance Revolution machines. I’m dreadfully out of practice but did gather a small crowd dancing to “Love Shine”, an old favorite. Then failed out in disgrace on the next song.

Just as well, Andrea had tried to call to schedule a pickup. We got back to her place for an appetizer of KJ’s incredible fresh-baked cookies and then a huge fajita dinner. I am so stuffed.

Now it’s to sleep in a real bed for the first time in almost a month. It is so soft!

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Sycamore Canyon campground, Point Mugu Syate Park

Today was so good I was grinning almost every minute. People ask me sometimes, conversationally, “how’s it going?” or “how are you?” and I get this big smile and say “fantastic!”

I slept late. Last night was so hot I had trouble sleeping. Modest me even tied back the tent’s vestibule & slept on top of the sleeping bag in just boxers. Cooler weather came through at some point in the night, I woke up inside the sleeping bag.

After bidding Omar a good day, and finding out he was heading for a campsite I hadn’t seen but would be perfect for today, I made myself some hash browns and eggs for breakfast and chatted a bit with Rob and watched the waves. When I was headed off to do dishes Rob called me back, he’d spotted dolphins! We watched them for 10-15 minutes, out hunting for their breakfast. You’d see a pair or three fins come up in gentle arcs, then a whole dolphin propel itself out of the water and splash back in.

Rob & I also discussed the oil platforms visible out on the horizon. We’d both seen a huge column of flame off the nearest in the night. We joked that we needed the oil platforms out there to fuel our giant RV’s so we could come to the beach and watch the oil platforms.

Touring cyclists and RV campers have a funny relationship. We’re doing something pretty similar, really–seeing America, having an adventure. But we cyclists are the ascetics, the gas-free pilgrims, the slow movers and observers. We experience the world more and affect it less. It’s tempting to feel that our way, in its simplicity, is the better one instead of a just a different way. Part of the feeling is just the frequency with which we’re passed on the roads by these behemoths, gas-guzzlers with gas-guzzling SUV’s in tow. I knew RV’s were popular but didn’t really know, I guess, just how many there were out here. RV parks are so much more frequent than state park campgrounds, and the state park sites are mostly RV’s too. I’m sure they feel the same way about us, these slow, fragile, erratic kids, so hard to pass on twisty mountain roads.

Anyway… Today was fantastic. After yesterday’s heat and unrelenting sun, today was partly cloudy (haven’t seen clouds in days! I kind of missed them!) and so much cooler, 70’s and just a little breeze.

It was another 70-ish mile day but it went quickly over mostly easy, relatively flat roads.

Though Refugio beach seemed like it was out in the middle of nowhere, it wasn’t too long ’til I hit Goleta and then Santa Barbara. Which, thanks to Flight of the Conchords, I have difficulty not thinking of as “Santa Brahbrah” I took a hundred photos of its palm-tree-lined streets. I left the regular bike path through the city to visit the Old Mission. It was nice and all, neat old building and beautiful grounds with all kinds of flowers and cactus, plus the odd kitch of Catholicism.

I also stopped at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, which is a really great building, Andalusian architecture, white walls and red tile roofs. You can take an elevator up to the clock tower and get a great view of the whole city, from the mesa to the palm-lined ocean.

By then it was really time to get rolling. But first a coffee stop–hadn’t had a cup in days, I was out of grounds. I stopped at a Peet’s–California’s answer to Starbucks–for fresh grounds and a cappuccino and a cheese Danish and a chocolate chip cookie, and enjoyed just sitting in a coffee shop for a bit.

In Ventura I took (kind of by accident, following my nose down a rabbit hole, er, a bike path) the scenic route that bypassed downtown to loop past the beach, full of surfers. More surfers and those that flock to such sites congregated all along the wharf. I passed a lot of vans with little plumes of sweet smoke billowing from them.

In Carpenteria I had to stop for a photo op with the Wardholme Torrey Pine, the largest known torrey pine in existence. Nerd tourism!

The bike route took me back on Hwy 101 briefly, where I saw for the first time mileage sign listing San Diego, 198 miles! ‘Course the bike route is a lot less direct than staying on 101.

I stopped at another little roadside fruit cart for strawberries, they are kind of irresistible. And so cheap!

I made it to the campsite in great time, with still enough light. So much of my life has become about sunlight, glancing up to see where it is in the sky, how much light left in the day versus the miles yet to go. The main office was already closed but a park ranger, on her way out, said that they already had 2 cyclists so the hiker-biker area was full, but I could choose a regular car site and pay the full $35 at self-registration. I think she’s new to this, that’s not how hiker-biker sites have worked anywhere else. You just cram as many people in as show up. They have two tables and two fire pits here, sure, but whoever shows up shares them, it’s a large part of the fun of this kind of travel. I found the hiker-biker area and Omar’s familiar bike and tent. I set up my tent & we ate and shared a large bottle of beer and talked of what we look forward to when our tours are over (pretty similar stuff, the comforts of home). We both started out the same day, Sept 1st, and he ends tomorrow in L.A.

Tomorrow I sleep indoors, in a real bed! My college pal Andrea is letting me stay with her for a night and I am super excited.

Though I have found it very easy to get used to this traveling and camping lifestyle. I love being out in the elements. It’s easier to say that on a perfect day like this one. What I need is all around me.

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Refugio State Beach

Today was hot. That just about sums it up.

I woke reasonably early, around 7, in Oceano, as the sun started peaking through the palms. One pro tip I picked up from Damien was about tent placement: setting up so your tent gets early morning light and therefore dries out faster if it’s gotten wet. It hadn’t rained overnight but the tent was damp from the proximity to the ocean.

I still had no real breakfast supplies but had stopped at a little deli the night before and had picked up a blueberry muffin and a cheese Danish for breakfast. The Danish hadn’t survived the night, it got upgraded to dessert. But the muffin and a banana and some dried cherries made for a nice easy breakfast.

Then back on the road for today’s 70-75 miles. The path swings inland and temperatures shot up without the cool ocean breeze. It was in the 90’s by 10 am, I’m fairly sure it broke 100 today. Not much wind either, save what I could generate myself by pedaling through the calm air. I drank so much (invariably hot) water and yet stayed so thirsty. I had to refill the water bottles at every opportunity–you get good at it. Today it was an Albertson’s bathroom (also got groceries, ones I hoped would survive the heat of the day–anyone know about eggs? Groceries included the first ice cream of the day, a tiny cup of Cherry Garcia), then a Foster’s Freeze (ice cream of the day #2: triple berry malt), and then a rest area bathroom.

The route today went by more vast agricultural fields, mostly young plantings. Again a pretty desolate day, came through a small town & a small city and that was about it. I passed Don early on, and chatted a bit as we rode along. Not that much later I caught up with another touring cyclist, a stealth camper from LA, on his way back earlier than anticipated after losing his phone. We chatted a fair deal and I also got some tips on navigating LA on a bike.

I had a big choice to make route-wise about half way through the day: either stick with the coast highway or head inland even further into the Santa Ynes Valley, through the culturally Danish town of Solvang, overnighting at a park by a big lake. I was really curious about Solvang but stuck with the coast, heading for the beach here at Refugio. It was so hot, and further inland would have been hotter still–I looked up Solvang’s weather and the high was listed as somewhere between 104 and 110. My water situation kind of made the choice for me–I was quite low and it was still another hour to a town if I went inland, though that town does have a brewery I’m quite fond of. But I needed water more.

I got to Refugio and was happy with my choice. It’s beautiful, and the biker sites are the closest to the water. I got the tent set up, met Rob, the other cyclist at camp, did a little laundry (my cycling clothes were caked in salt stains from sweating so profusely all day), ran over to the market a few miles up for some little supplies like beer and ice cream of the day #3, an ice cream sandwich. Then it was finally time to do what I’d been daydreaming about, pull on my swim trunks and go splash about in the ocean. Felt so nice, the waves crashing against me. Then I sauntered up & down the beach & watched the sun set behind a rocky ledge.

Before long Omar showed up, I wasn’t terribly surprised to see him again. Omar also went out for a swim and I cooked myself a huge pot of spaghetti, and then Omar & I sat with Rob and chatted. Rob’s Australian, looks like a bald Guy Pierce, and is touring the west coast post-Burning Man.

Now it’s 8:30 and I’m exhausted and ready for bed, it was such a long hot day!

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Oceano Campground

I keep thinking I will run out of things to say, but the world keeps being so interesting.

Yesterday Bettina, Omar & I had discussed heading into nearby Cambria for breakfast. We managed to all wake similarly early and I, the latest sleeper (up at 7:30 or so) had to catch up, meeting up with the two of them, plus Don, who we found at a coffee shop in Cambria, updating his blog. Really nice breakfast, I had french toast, something I can’t easily make for myself out here on the road. These touring friendships are funny. You always know that this could be the last time you see these people. But you also know you share this weird bond, this uncommon interest. Telling them I’m headed from Seattle to San Diego (as I find I usually sum up the trip, it’s so much more definite than “Canada to Mexico”, so much easier for people to grasp) elicits more “yeah neat” than “wow that’s amazing!”

After breakfast it was an easy day for me, something like 50 miles. I stopped often, first in Cayucos. If was the first actual population center–6000 or so–I’d seen in days. I walked out along the fishing pier, then met a really nice couple I found admiring Sweet Liza Jane. Lots of questions, pretty deep knowledge of bicycles and touring, obviously someone who’d done some long rides. Then a nice little chat with Margaret from there on the beach, though the reception was still so poor that the connection kept dropping out.

Cayucos had a nice little sweet shop where I stopped for today’s ice cream, an amazing combination of strawberry and honey-lavender gelatos. Funny how honey-lavender is still a flavor with such strong connotation, a happy time & place taste.

It wasn’t much longer ’til Morro Bay. I stopped on the waterfront for the views but stayed for the seafood–a long line marked what I overheard others describing as the best seafood in town. I had the special of the day, a swordfish sandwich & chips, it was delicious.

The on to San Luis Obispo. The highway takes quite a turn inland and the temperature soared, it was in the 90’s there. I passed more agricultural fields on the way, several full of flowers, giant swaths of color.

In San Luis Obispo I toured the old mission, then found a brewpub right on the creek that was obviously brewing up something in the kettles right there in the middle of the pub, it smelled so good. I had a salad–so nice to have vegetables again–and some of their very tasty IPA.

With so many side trips it was another race against the sun to make it to this campsite by sunset. I barely did it, but upset to learn that they don’t actually have a hiker-biker site here. Had to pay $25 for a solo tent site instead of the usual $5. The ranger said the next hiker-biker site south of here is in Santa Barbara, easily an hour’s drive from here. No way.

I got the tent set up & took off for the beach, but missed sunset. Still, I got to walk out on the very long, shallow beach in the glow of twilight. Ocean covered my ankles, yet the waves went another 30 feet towards shore. Nice to have decent phone reception again, got in a lovely long chat with Julianne.

Though very expensive (by recent experience) this campground does at least have electrical sockets in the bathrooms.

The landscape changes, there’s palm trees and sand on the roads and this heat and something about the light. Still beautiful, in such a different way.

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