central coast i suppose

heading out and on down the coast was an odd feeling. this past week has been full of the well usual bag of mixed feelings and observations. i actually thought it would be somewhat easy to find vegan foods in california, but nope…at least not on the coast! (i’m so looking forward to meeting up with vegan friends down in san diego)!

when i stopped in this little town for my first break/some coffee, i met some local cyclist all who recommended moro bay’s campsite, so that is where i was heading. whatever town i was in was really cute and friendly. it’s where i posted my last post from. so i point toward moro bay and started peddling.

then there was a series of little towns with names i struggled to pronounce for some reason, so i won’t try to spell them, but finally my hunger won out and i had to stop at one of them for some food. i was told there was a good taco place, but when i found it…all smoked meat! as i walked away, so did another couple (from moro bay!) who was also looking for at least some vegetarian food. i finally gave up and went into a “saloon” hoping for at least some fries. nope. just booze. damn it! so i had a beer and sat to decide my next move. iv’e found that if i just sit for a minute, things will work out.

just as i was taking my first sip, two women saddled up next to me…and we all rode the evening out together! the two women were mother and daughter-in-laws. the mother just started asking me questions and we just kept going. next thing i know she buys me another beer and then rushes us across the street to this other place that faces the ocean, so we can watch the sunset…and she wants to buy me dinner! ok!

eventually i had to pull myself away. i still had 45 minutes to a campsite and it was dark! i rolled in and found the hiker/biker area, but just pitched my tent quickly and dozed off. it was saturday night and the campgrounds were not quiet, pretty, but not quiet. there is a golf course on one side and the bay on the other, and that water just carries sound so well. so i got up and out before anyone roused and found a breakfast place in the bay and try to decide my next move….and my heart got broken!

breakfast was fine….more potatoes and toast. however, the owner (and host) moved here from china and wrote a book about his adventures. i walked around the bay for a while and decided to sit down trying to figure out how a bay that was this beautiful let a power plant be built RIGHT ON THE BAY! i mean really who thought this was a good idea. it was built in the 1950s (before the clean air/water acts) and decommissioned in 1914 by a houston based company, dynegy.

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bay side power plant

so there i was sitting and looking out over the bay at the paddle boards, kayakers, sail boats, people living on boats waking to their morning routines, and all of a sudden i heard these screams coming from behind me! i turned and saw the moro bay aquarium and the sea-lion sign. then i heard the calls from the sea lions on a pier in the middle of the bay. and then i felt the tears roll down my face. those amazing beings behind me are certainly suffering. i could hear the pain and eventually anger in their voices! and then i heard little kids laughing (they get to feed the sea lions). i can’t imagine what kind of pellet food they feed them. i immediately started searching for a way to let them out. there had to be a trap door somewhere….

i decided i had to get out of town so i just started cranking the pedals. half way up the hill i spotted a juice bar, so i pulled over and sat down and did some research…still needed to decided where i was going. i found a petition that was old, but still going and then i found out that due to the family that owns the aquarium not willing to update and improve the space, it is closing down in 2018. supposedly the city wants to open a bigger better faster aquarium, but please no! NO!NO!NO! no more aquariums or zoos, just stop! there is no need for it.

but while i was at the juice bar, i met a really nice guy who grew up in the area and was getting ready to take his two kids to do some work in community gardens and then spend the day at the beach with the cousins. i started to feel a little better about moro bay but needed a little break so i book a hostile just a little ways up the road in san luis obispo (slo). as i rolled into town, two things happened. one, i remembered the bugs bunny episode where he got lost “should have made a left at albuquerque” and ended up in slo. the other thing that happened was all kinds of signs that put to mind the industrial prison complex, like the california men’s colony…really? sometimes i let myself forget that california has a huge prison industry.

the people at the hostel were super nice. check in wasn’t until 4:30, but they said i could leave my bike there and wonder the town….wow what a town full of homeless folks right next to very wealthy. i found a little tavern to sit and chat and do some writing. there was some religious festival in the park, otherwise i would have stayed there.

when i got back to the hostel, there was a full on party going on at around the table. more than a few people were living there while they were trying to find homes….an recuring theme in hostel land these days. some already had jobs. one person was born and raised there, but couldn’t find a place to live. i got in an argument with a young guy who just graduated from college and got a job right away in the area working with satellites. our argument was about resources allocated to space vs. the ocean. i should have known better, but couldn’t help myself. he was so smug and sure of himself.

i tried to go to bed, but there was an insane snorer and the only one in the room who slept that night. so up early for the free breakfast, (the staff member was so nice), and off to pismo beach. this area is full of campsites, but no h/b so i shelled out 25 bucks for a campsite, but the place was pretty nice and a great little walk to the beach, but i was so tired that it was dinner and an early pass out for me…didn’t even get a page in the book read.

the next few nights were pretty uneventful. some long rides in rolling grass lands that look like the area of kansas i grew up in. in fact kansas has been on my mind so much lately. maybe its the landscape. maybe it’s getting closer to time to return? i don’t know, i’ve said i’ll never go back….yet i’ve returned twice. 3rd time? can i really live anywhere? i don’t know.

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even the sea weed is different here

when i rolled into el capitan campsite i went for a stroll. it was a long ride for me (54 miles) and wanted to put my knees in the cold ocean, but it wasn’t cold! in fact i waded in up to my waste. i wanted to jump in, but i already had tar stuck to my legs. there are 3 off shore oil rigs in sight. as i was gazing off into the water i noticed a splash, and there they were, the porpoises i was told i might be able to see! it was a joy to watch them jump and play. i decided to stand there and watch them vs. trying to go get my camera and try to take a pic that wouldn’t come out anyway. oh ya! and when the raccoons woke me up, i watched the half-moon set over the ocean-big bright pink! thanks raccoons!

oh ya! and in pismo beach, while i ate dinner, i watched hawks and estreals soar around! one buzzed some peoples’ fire rings checking out the meat on their grills.

yesterday was another 50 some odd miles to my first warmshower host. todd with sandbox coffee lets people stay in the enclosed patio of his coffee shop after they close at 8 pm. so i arrived, said hi and went to explore the area. i have to say that i really enjoyed the ride into ventura. in fact i enjoyed the ride all the way from goleta (and the university of santa barbara there has the most magnificent bike trails. infact! they roll all the way through santa barabara (though confusing from time-to-time due to construction. but portland and psu, you could learn a great deal from how they have things set up and labeled! i was giddy with all the people, of all ages, using the trails!

i actually was pretty much on a bike trail most of those 50 some miles into ventura! and i went through this amazing surfer dirtbag kind of r.v. area just outside of ventura. there was a whole area dedicated to overnight r.v. parking. people had their stuff set up! there were r.v.s and vans of all kinds. people with bikes and surfboards all just doing their things and waving and saying hi as i went by.

so i dropped my panniers off at the coffee shop and rode around town until hunger got the best of me. the two people who served me (caught shift change) where amazing. the first person was born and raised in ventura! also her former partner was in a popular punk band that i have listened to. when football came on, it was time to return to my nest at the coffee shop, plus they were having open mic night out on the patio!

it was nice to watch the sunset and listen to some kind, older, white guys play old folk songs…i did like the woodie guthrie and bob dillon. as people left, i made my bed and tried to sleep. as great as this setting seems, it was some gosh offal sleep! the patio was lit up! and is right next to a busy road. now that i’ve started to get use to as most camps are next to the highway, but the lights! so when the person who opens the shop showed up at 5:30, i was prepared. by six i was packed up and ready for the already made coffee and a bagel sandwich!

and here is where i sit now, having watched the sun come up. i’m going to go a little easier on myself today….30-40 miles. i’m excited to get to my friends and then on into mexico. its a few days off yet depending on my pace. but i’m starting to feel like i should be doing something with my time right now with all the relief needs due to natural disasters. or maybe it is time to finally do an internship with an animal sanctuary? i guess i’ll know when i know.

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really never enough sunsets…also where i saw the moon set hours later

i feel like i should mention that i haven’t listened to music at all on this trip so far (well the songs stuck in my head from who knows what), i tried to listen to a podcast but fell asleep. i do go to facebook (my friends post news i can trust) to check some news and small updates. last night i thought i might watch a movie on the ol’ laptop, but didn’t feel it. my mind feels really good. its only been 2 weeks on the road, but already feels like a lifetime. i haven’t had a day off the saddle since big sure and i’m feeling the need for it; to just be in a place for a little while. but i’m also excited. the woman at dinner last night told me there is some bioluminescence on the beaches in the area right now! hope to stay up long enough.

whatever happens – i’m having the time of my life! and with all the sweat and lack of shower, my hair is looking good! for real no sarcasm!

Big Sur and More

so i finally pulled out of monterey after a long and much-needed chat with a good pal! its nice to know that i’m not the only one in my close crew that is potentially going through some kind of mid-life crises – aka what the heck am i doing with my life?! and its much deeper than that of course. when you don’t hold the standard american values, i find it difficult to know if i’m doing ok…and trying to figure out what i am supposed to contribute to this world is a whole other question…. i will keep playing with these questions for some time, but for know…wow! what an amazing 10 days or so i’ve had.

so yup, finally left monterey, what a beautiful ride down the coast! i mean geez! remember that monerey bay is a marine sanctuary! so while i was chatting with my pal, i was watching harbor seals play in the bay…as well as all kinds of birds and such. so yup i headed on around the bay and just kept being amazed!

my main stop for this day was point lobos state natural reserve. it was one of the places recommended to me, and it did not disappoint! at one of the points one of the park volunteers had a telescope where we could see the otters sleeping all wrapped up in kelp, and in the distance we could see and hear the sea lions. however, as i walked around the point, i found a closer spot where i watched several of the ottors playing (?) it was just spectacular. there is also this RED moss that grows on the trees here, it’s actually kind of rare and is dependent on really clean air and water (remember sanctuary). it was fascinating to see on the unique cypress trees there as well as on some of the granite as well. supposedly this only grows in a few places around the world.

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i was tempted to hide out for while and gorilla camp here after the rangers left, but i didn’t think i had that much further to go to a h/b camp, so i kept cranking the wheels. and its true, i didn’t have that far to go, but i did have a great deal of up hill to contend with and didn’t roll into pfeiffer state park until after the sun went down….but i have to say the sunset along this intense ride was fantastic! i just couldn’t stop moving and take any pics, but geez those hills just would not end!

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i rolled into camp and ate the shit out of a bag of chips and drank a beer that i hauled all the way from the brewery in monterey! i was so hunger and so tired! and i passed the heck out! i ended up spending 3 nights in this park trying to figure out if i was going to do the walk around or bike back out and around. i had heard that the walk around the bridge that is out was only like 15 minutes or so. i’d also seen a shuttle service, but i didn’t know about bikes, so i did the few hikes open and available in the park and enjoyed catching up on some calories (i ate quinoa and a whole can of beans each night!). i was also kind of sorting some things out. i’ve set up a way to do daily writings and meditation and stretching. it’s really clearing some webs out of the old noggin! its funny, i didn’t really talk to many people while here. a few on the trails, but so many people kept to themselves. except for the nice couple from queensland australia who are spending 3 months hitchhiking the united states. they were super nice! i hope they have a wonderful visit.

the best part of this time was sleeping right under the redwoods! it was magical. the worst part was how loud people were. so many people played music from their phones on speakers and talked loud and just genuinely took up a great deal of space….well i should say the american visitors. people i met from other countries, not so much.

so then there was the adventure of getting out and continuing south! i found the trail. it went straight up! with lots of wooden/dirt stairs! i don’t know how heavy my loaded bike is, but it was a solid test of stregnth…and new found curse words. and for some reason, as i was trying to heave my bike up a step, some older white man would decide this was a great time to ask me where i was going/from….ugh. when i got to the store at the top of the climb i had my first soda in a long time! and a bag of chips! and a cliff bar! and headed on down the road!

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life in fire

i’ve decided to try to stop riding around 3 each day so that i can enjoy where ever i am staying, because….why am i doing this? not to log miles for sure! so i rolled into kirk creek campground! what a wonderful hiker/biker camp set up! out-of-the-way, but not under the highway! access to the beach, but the view! holy crap! it was amazing!

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found at the top of the big walk-around

as soon as i got set up, i set off to find the beach. as i came up out of the h/b site, i met a woman and her daughter. what a delight! they were waiting for their friend and young son to come back from taking a tour up the coast a little more, but while i was exploring the beach, i saw that they had decided to come on down too! it was soooo soooo nice! the daughter is 18 months old and so independent. we sat next to the pools and tossed rocks together. the woman is from quebec but had recently moved to san mateo. she and her friend have known each other for 20 years or so and the friend was visiting for a couple of weeks. we had wonderful conversations.

i was kind of feeling a nap and snack need so we headed back up to our camps, but before i could reach mine, i ran into this couple in one of these camping vans you can rent. it was decorated in such a way that i had noticed it a few days before so i asked them if that was them. it’s a pretty cool set up.  anyway, they are also awesome! they are from sydney and on their honeymoon! and they like beer too! so after we had been talking for a minute, they offered me a beer (yes! thank-you), and we just kept talking and talking, and drinking. eventually the ranger came by (who is hilarious) and suggested they move to this other spot that has a better view and had just opened up.

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so they moved, i ate, and we re-gathered for the sunset. and the night went like this to the very end. every time i moved i got to stop and spend some time with both beautiful groups of friends who shared so much with me. i need to find something that i can carry and exchange for such hospitality….this night chocolate seemed to work nicely.

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one funny story, when i was camping in crappy place in monterey, a raccoon situation happened, not pretty and kept everyone up all night. well here, they also have raccoons, but my new friends from sydney had never really seen one up close, so tried to bait one close to us with marshmellows. one, we believe it’s the one the camp calls gordo, went for the chocolate bar i had set down. it was fun to watch the whole scene play out.

from here it is just a few miles down the road to gorda….and a massive land slide! and i mean massive. i didn’t know that this one didn’t have a detour or a round about, but as i sat in the sun trying to decide what to do (go back to kirk creek and pick up the road over the mountains and to the 101, or wait until 6:30 when all the workers leave and then walk through it. i was told, by john (a guy who has worked at this place for 26 years and so friendly), that bikers have walking through it at night and that it was only between 1/4 and 1/2 mile. i figured that was doable. so as i sat there for a while and ate some snacks, and chatted john up a storm, his boss came by. “you waiting to walk through this slide?” yeeeees?! “well put your bike in the back of my truck and i’ll take you across.” wait what? i don’t have to keep sitting here for another 4 hours? and john is just standing behind him nodding his head. ok! john helps me load up the bike and makes sure that i have enough food and water (he had already given me a banana and a deal on my treats). and i sat next to the 3rd dog i’ve met called chico…eventually chico ended up in my lap! lucky me!

as we moved though this work zone, i can’t believe i was going to try to walk this! holy shit! for real! the road was super rough dirt road that these huge earth mover trucks are using to get new ginormous boulder into the area to rebuild some kind of foundation to rebuild the land! and it goes down down down and then up up up! when i was dropped off (1/2 way up the giant hill) he suggested that if any one asks how i got around, i didn’t, i came up and camped and am headed back down…and that is exactly how i responded when i finally (seriously this was a serious hill…but i rode the whole way! with lots of stops). got to the final flagger. i pulled over to this trail head for salmon creek and took a breather. as i pulled in a truck pulled in behind me and asked how i got through. i said i didn’t. i camped up the road and am now headed back the other way. he said oh ok. we were wondering if you had found some other road or trail, and this was also a fine place to camp….so i did! and i reflected…wow! thank you thank you for that lift!

so here it is that i just camped out under the stars, no tent or anything. as the sun set, i laid there and watched the bats come out and the owl that sat on the top of a tree just above my head. i listened to the calls of the wild and the ocean and i enjoyed such solitude! it’s the first time i cowboy camped alone. somewhere deep in the night i suddenly couldn’t remember what i was supposed to do if attacked by a cougar! and then the jokes went through my mind….you older queers will know the jokes. then i watched the stars again! since the new moon and on isolated beaches…the stars are for real outstanding! but when i woke up…hungery hunger set in.

it was about 4 miles to rugged point, and i decided i could splurge on breakfast. i rolled into a super nice place! breakfast was all eggs and meat, so it was potatoes and toast on the patio…with a view and lots of coffee. the server was so amazing with all kinds of stories, and he added spinach to my spuds! i walked the property while the carbs digested and then started back down the road.

from here things get rolly (it was one hell of a hill from salmon creek to rugged point). i got a good groove and enjoyed the landscape. it was a big change from big sur for sure! things get super dry, but the ocean just keeps giving. at some point i came to an odd little place and there were lots of bikes! i hadn’t seen a cyclist for days! so i turned in and asked what was happening. turns out they were celebrating the opening of a new stretch of highway and bike lane. i chatted with some folks before heading out.

shortly thereafter was a turn off for a viewing of elephant seals! they were so fun to watch…and soooo big! geez! here i chatted with some guys from the uk that i had seen at breakfast. we had a nice chat about the changing climate and traveling. so many conversations actually and so many people from different parts of the world! and some more of the bikers from before stopping for pics and chats.

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i had one more stop before camp and it was for a beer and check-ins. for the first time since monterey i had mobile service! so i sent off some messages and check-ins, did some instagraming, and a little beer….i was near the william randolf hearst castle….wow! what a goofball! so he had like the largest private zoo collection at some point and released the herd animals out on public land. soooo i passed a herd of zebras! yes zebras out amongst the cows. then the roosevelt elk…. i don’t know what else he had, but that is what i saw.

finally came san simean state park and a not so great h/b camp, but it did have beech access for the sunset. i took some time to catch up on reading and walking about. i forgot it was friday night, so the campsite filled up with kids and families and was kind of loud, but mostly it was the fact that the h/b sites were right below the highway! but once it got quiet, it was so quiet. at some point in the middle of the night i heard some distance coyotes.

today….today i s beautiful day. i hope to end up in morro bay state park just on the coast side of san luis obispo. its about   from where i am writing this. and i am feeling pretty good! i know that some of the goodness is movement and sunshine and cool warmth. i know i have a great deal to deal with. i am heartbroken with the mudslides, the fires, hurricanes, the earthquakes, and all the beauty! i was brought to tears watching a butterfly play amongst some flowers at ragged point. yes, i have a great deal to figure out! one of those things is when am i going to take a shower again! but for now…this is such a beautiful world and i hope we find a way to limit how much we destroy by our consumption!

but today….today is so wonderful and i hope all these people driving up and down this road that will completely fall into the ocean at some point, know how magnificent this area is and take it home with them, and start treating their home as if it were like this…sacred and life-giving.