It's time for breakfast and beef jerky just won't do. I'm cruising down highway 101 when I see a bar. This bar has a chopper on the roof and a mural of Hell's Angels riding in a pack painted across the building. It also offers lite fare (says so on the sign). I pull in wondering if a biker bar on the border of Redwood National Park will be open at 9:30 in the morning. Of course it is! I walk in to the smokey bar and smile. Smoking in bars in California is illegal. God love a country that was founded on rebellion. There are motorcycles and paraphernalia strewn about this cavernous bar. The dancefloor, bordered on 2 sides by the bar, is massive. Large enough to drive donuts in. I'm willing to bet that people have. A few conversations, one of which involved calling a brewery and finding out how much sodium PBR has in it (none), and a corned beef sandwich later, I hit the road and greet the rest of the day with a full belly and a sore ass.
Redwoods are huge. It is such a simple statement that you lose all sense of perspective. It's like stating that the Grand Canyon is the largest canyon in the world. Until you have been there, you just cannot fathom how remarkably large these things are. Riding across curvy roads that bounce around house sized trees where the shade is so overwhelming that undergrowth only crops up at the canopy opening caused by the felling of a giant. The gnarls in the bark of redwoods are larger than the human hand, but it does not limit one's ability to climb. Their long straight trunks encourage a climber to stay at a fairly low height. The first branches do not begin for 30 to 40 feet. That implies free climbing to a height where if you fall, you will definitely snap a bone, and perhaps several before being afforded a break. This does not even begin to touch on the climber's mode and capablility of descent. These are all problems I began to consider once I was 20 feet in the air. When I go to the redwoods again, I'll be bringing a climbing strap and caulk boots.
Following 101 down the coast to Legget, I find CA rt 1. The road to take me to my new house. Hairpin turns abound down rt 1 on the California coast. Many of the turns banked in the wrong direction and had what looked like jump ramps leading off into hundred foot drops full of trees, or worse yet, down rocky cliffs straight into the Ocean. Every car commercial that has a winding road by the sea? That's rt 1. It looks like Watson and Crick discovered DNA, and then built a road around the design. It is also the first road that was built exclusively for my motorcycle. Dry steep curves with negligible wind on a sunny day, minimal traffic, and gorgeous terrain. Rt 1 is the Rt 30 of the west coast. Worth every mile in gold.
Lunch time and I find a shack in Tomales Bay. A small restaurant off of a marina, offering fresh shucked and BBQ oysters. I stepped in to a room, and found myself immediately surrounded by 6 women, all of whom in various stages of costumery. It took me a couple of beats to realize: It's Halloween. In my hurry down the coast, I have lost track of the holidays. I also forgot what it was like to walk into a room full of women. Wow what a thrill! I decided to treat myself to half a dozen oysters. 6 raw, 6 BBQ. Ever had a west coast oyster? Neither had I. They taste just like an east coast oyster.Raw, they taste like cold chunky phlegm. The BBQ sauce on the cooked ones added a touch of interesting flavor to the warm chunky phlegm.
Before I knew it, I was crossing the Golden Gate Bridge (normally 5 bucks for toll, it's free for motorbikes between 4 and 6 [YES!]). Having crossed innumerable bridges spanning innumerable bodies of water, I stared up in disbelief at the size of this one. It was at this moment, that the whole trip became real to me. I knew that I could never go home. I will never be the same man again. A little sadder, a touch wiser, and alot slower to smile. Home has become where I lay my head. And this evening, it was to be a little hostel with a lighthouse in Montara, aptly named, The Montara Lighthouse. 6 to a room, 20 beans per night, and 70 feet above the crashing of the Pacific. I ordered a Pizza (yaaaay delivery) and killed some time listening to the waves crash below me before I was overtaken by slumber.
Last to bed and last to rise, I turned in my sheets and headed down the licorice coil to Long Beach. Rt. 1 has some fairly desolate areas. There are no alcoves on which to build a gas station, and as the mileage stacked up, my concern did likewise. I'm all fine and good for drifting down hills, but I'd like to power out of turns, and moreover, climb hills under power of gasoline, rather than under power of last night's circular italian feast. I know that my bike will carry me for roughly 115 miles on a full tank. That includes using the reserves. I started sweating when I hit 95 miles without passing an open gas station. At 110, like an oasis, I see a station, complete with two restaurants and a snowball stand. I was a little concerned with the lack of advertisement of gasoline cost. I realize from traveling routes 66 and 40 cross country in the past that when there's no sign, the stations are going to rape you on the price per gallon. The pattern persisted in the Golden state. This station had travelers by their happy sacks, knew it, and thus felt comfortable charging 5 dollars and 5 cents per gallon for the cheap stuff and 5.50 for the bitter nectar that makes my lady purr. This wasn't your everyday average rape by any stretch, this was federal prison style lining up around the cell block, taking turns for half an hour 'cuz they paid off the guards with a carton of Kools kind of rape. At least I had other motorists there to endure it with. One cat sat astride a Honda with 1800 CC's of compression. That is 4 and a half times larger than my bike. 1.8 Liters. That is larger than any production Geo ever made! Ironic, though that I passed him 10 miles down the road as he was going substantially slower than even MY caution deemed necessary.
Mr. Bigbike made mention of some elephant seals down the road, about an hour south. There is a beach that is positively rife with them, so he said. I kept my eyes peeled, and when I passed a couple of bicyclists on the road looking down a cliff at the water, I pulled over to see what I had hoped were to be the seals. It was not elephant seals, however. They were watching a flock of birds hop around tidal pools, picking up fish and sliding them down their respective gullets. I introduced myself and they did likewise. Tom (who had been riding from Portland) and Emily (who had been riding from Vancouver) were very polite, and during our discourse, mentioned a friend of theirs that had been traveling with them. His name is Remi, and he is from France. Remi had been keeping Tom (traveling with 12 pairs of socks, a small bottle of detergent, and 3 boxes of powerbars) and Emily (an accomplished camper with a bike inappropriate for a ride of this duration) in good spirits and health with wine and cuisine du campagne. I got a quick physical description of him and his bike, and proceeded from the couple to find Remi. I passed the tall frenchman pulling into a convenience store that was the town of Point Reyes and called out his name. We proceeded to talk about our travels. As it turns out, Remi's last name is Desfontaine, and he has been cycling (mostly) from France... the long way around. If you speak French, this is his site http://www.monde-a-velo.com/ If you don't speak french, that's still his site, but it won't do you a lick of good, cuz you won't understand the blurbs. We have an agreement that if neither of us are married by age 35, we're going to Central Asia (the "-stan" part of the world) and marrying green eyed muslim women that will make us falafel and tahini until we die of heart failure. On a side note, Remi and Emily both pedaled their way down the coast and each stayed for a short time at the house in Long Beach.
I made a wrong turn and pulled away from the coast. I found myself in the midst of strawberry fields. It looked like strawberry fields forever. But thankfully, I knew which way west was, and shortly found myself skirting the cliff faces again. If I actually enjoyed strawberries, my excitement would have been uncontainable given the proximity to such fresh produce, but the only joy that they bring is the smile that I see on the faces of my guests while they enjoy very fresh strawberries.
Enough with the strawberries.
Rolling down rt 1, I got a feel for the land that I would be living in. Urban Sprawl is the first descriptive term that comes to mind. Dozens of both franchised and privately owned burger and burrito joints on every block. Future archaeologists will believe that people in LA did nothing but eat and get their nails done. And then eat some more. I passed myriads of older women in jaguars. It seems that in this area, when a gal hits fifty, and feels that she is losing her charms, gals that once were as beautiful and glamorous as Audrey Hepburn and Natalie Wood, they purchase Jaguars to strut their stuff. Not big American luxury, not speedy Italian or Asian, or even durable German. These ladies want the image and the status and stuffiness of British engineers.
I pull up to 811 Gardenia Ave and get off the bike. It's been a long day and I need to stretch out. My appearance is haggard at best, since I have been sans razor for the past god knows how long, my dredlocked mane looks pretty rough, even when pulled back. I managed to frighten some children by my fearsome appearance and apparent aimless pacing. It turns out that those children that I frightened were my new neighbors. I knocked on the front door of what would be my new residence, and am greeted by a topless man, and in the background, his twin brother and an overweight near-midget wave their hellos. We chat for a few moments, and I show myself into my new room. Although it is a furnished room, I haven't had the need for sheets in months. I set my sleeping bag on the bed, and lay down to finally rest my weary bones.
To bring you up to speed, I have completed the "dive school" portion of my schooling, and am now moving on to my specialty. I am concurrently double specializing in both Dive Medicine and Underwater Welding. I have maintained a 4.0 to this point, and hope to continue the trend. I am moving out of the house with 6 roommates, to larger and more pleasant accomodations on the other side of town. I have joined a Barbershop Chorus, and am playing Capoeira religiously. I live mere blocks from the beach, and a short motorcycle ride to some of the best waves on the coast.
I will continue this journal when I pick up to leave Long Beach in December. Next stop: Mile 0
Love to All
Ammendment: I almost forgot! The elephant seals!!! The highlight of the trip. I've lived in rooms smaller than those great beasts. Their mating calls really do sound like a prolonged belch. Elephant Seals also have a particular smell. It is powerful, and pungent. Never will it be used as a perfume. From my vantage 50 - 100 yards away, they smelled like a stale rotten fish fart. This coming from someone who just got off of a fishing boat, and whose clothes still wear the perfume of his Alaskan adventure. I considered hopping the fence and going to check these animals more up close, then I thought for a moment, they are HUGE and smell horrendous. What would I do of one rolled over on me? The smell would never come out! I decided to err on the side of wisdom rather than opening myself to an olfactory experience that could possibly go horrendously awry.
Questions?, Comments?, Hate Mail? Send it to Pete or John
07/06/07 Issue 18 - Dangerous Curves Ahead
11/18/06 Issue 17 - Moregon
11/06/06 Issue 16.2 - Metal Ist Krieg!! Cont'd
10/31/06 Issue 16.1 - Metal Ist Krieg!!
10/27/06 Issue 15 - Cape May to Cape Flattery or
10/23/06 Issue 14.2 - 2 days in dutch and the steam out
10/17/06 Issue 14.1 - Seattle to Dutch
08/25/06 Issue 13 - Holy Mackerel!!!
08/22/06 Issue 12 - Ever heard the verb shunt?
08/18/06 Issue 11 - Close but no cigar
08/14/06 Issue 10 - On the hunt
08/09/06 Issue 9 - I've really been at my parent's house this whole time.
08/07/06 Issue 8 - Nooooorth Dakota where the wind comes sweeping down the plains
08/02/06 Issue 7 - Grooves, Grates and Gravel
07/30/06 Issue 6 - Moon Over Parma
07/28/06 Issue 5 - I LEAVE TOMORROW!!!!!!!
07/24/06 Issue 4 - Why Jersey, and what's the holdup?
07/23/06 Issue 3 - Is this fraud? and Welcome to Delaware
07/22/06 Issue 2 - MVA, Headaches and Miracles
07/21/06 Issue 1 - Mission Statement