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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