Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I'm Just A Little Black Rain Cloud

Marie and Trystan
     I stayed one more night in Florence to refuel the batteries, so to speak.  That night I met a few more riders.  Lo and behold I met a couple more Northies as well.  (Ben and I coined the words "Northies" and "Southies."  It's a little confusing because "Northie" pertains to someone traveling from the south and a "Southie" is someone coming from the north.)  They are a couple from Europe.  Trystan is a kite boarder from England and his girl friend Marie hails from Norway.  They started from LA about the same time I did and it hasn't been until just now that we finally met up.  It was another nice and peaceful night but little did I know, that looming over me was the arch nemesis of the bicyclist.  A dark brooding rain cloud.  (Cue ominous music).
   I left Florence still unsuspicious of the monster ahead of me.  I began to feel a little unease when I began to realize that I was traveling at speeds that I had yet to achieve the entire trip.  At first I thought it was because, well, I'm just the man.  Surely these three weeks had turned me into a top notch ball of muscle and energy, strong and fast enough to tackle anything in my way from here on out.  Needless to say I was cruising along, thinking pretty highly of myself when I realized what was actually happening.  There was no wind blowing at my face.  Up till that point I had had a pretty constant head wind.  Some days more sever than others but it's been a consistent variable this entire trip.  That day the wind was blowing at my back.  This was what was causing me to go so fast.  Now you would think that this is a good thing, which it is, but when the winds change direction it's usually a pretty good indicator that there's a storm-a-brewin.  And sure enough, WHAM!  Rain, rain, rain.
I need the carbs right?
    It wasn't so bad at first.  I pulled into Newport, OR around twelve thirty or so.  I was super, I mean, super stoked because I traveled 50 miles in a little over three and a half hours.  INCREDIBLE.  I've not even come close to that the entire trip.  It was like I was not even trying.  I can't wait to turn around for my southward journey home just so I can experience a constant tail wind.  Before I actually went into Newport  I was told that I had to stop in to the Rogue brewery which is right before you enter town.  The Rogue brewery is pretty cool.  To get to the Pub/Restaurant area you have to walk through all the giant tanks where the beer is fermenting.  It makes you feel like you're one of the crew.  After a pint of the nut brown ale and some super healthy Irish potato chips with ranch I went back outside to get back on the bike.  That's when good ol' Mr. Raincloud shook his wet, dripping hand at me.  Rain time.  I got on my bike and took giant bridge into Newport.  Actually, this is probably the most unfriendly reception I've ever had while entering a city on my bike.  I think I got about three honks and two people actually rolled down their windows, in the rain, to yell whatever nonsense they thought was appropriate and could spew out in the 1.3 seconds it took to pass me.  Now, I'm not saying that it couldn't have been poor riding on my part.  But I think I've been getting better, not worse, as I've been going along.  There must be some underground public angst towards bikers that I don'k now about or something.
     Another key stop was the bike shop in Newport  renown for it's hospitality towards touring cyclists.  Inside there's actually a lounge on the second floor for the traveling riders.  Also, there are showers and laundry facilities and internet access all provided.  Amazing!  I didn't need to utilize the facilities but it was still great just to see it.
     Eight quick but wet miles later I rolled into Beverly Beach state park where a somewhat grumpy state official checked me in for six bucks to the site.  In the hike/bike spot were about ten other bikers, including Trystan and Marie, huddled under trees trying to stay dry for the night.  For the most part it was ok.  It didn't rain too much but I did wake up with a small puddle next to me.  Curses.  Honestly, I almost wish it would rain more.  I'm not sure which is worse; being a little damp, or being harassed and surrounded by mosquitoes.  The mosquitoes have been awful the past few days it was a relief to have a break from their incessant blood sucking.  Even if it did mean getting a little wet.
     Well I'm way ahead of schedule so I made the grueling, ha, 20 miles to Lincoln City where I will be staying at Devils Lake State Park tonight.  The sun is starting to come out so maybe I can dry my tent before bed tonight.  See you soon little black raincloud.

     P.S. I had some surprisingly good coffee at a place in Lincoln called Big Mountain.  It's definitely worth stoping in if you ever are in the area.  He roasts in one pound increments using hot air roasters.  It's about as small a scale as you can go for commercial use but it tasted great and was really fresh.  Sweat deal.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Laundromat In Florence

My home for the Day is Florence, OR.  It's actually a pretty nice little place.  Believe it or not, in this small town of 6000 or less, there is actually some good coffee.  On the short 30 mile trip to Florence from Tugman State Park, I ran into my good northward buddy Benjamin.  He ended up staying at the park only four miles ahead of me the night before and stopped me as I was passing by him at the diner as he was finishing a heroically large breakfast.  We agreed to ride with each other up to Florence where I would stay for the day and where he would turn of and finish in Eugene 60 miles later.  Again it was really nice just to have someone to chat with along the way.  It makes the miles pass easier and quicker.  Also, because he's a stronger rider he was pushing me harder than I would have alone.  I hope to see him again on my way back through.
So I pulled down into Old Town Florence which is actually a quaint little place with some really nice shops.  As I was rolling down the street what did my eyes behold?  COFFEE!!! A roasting company was right before my eyes shining in heavenly glory.  I was in heaven as I was drinking my pour over style coffee and a delicious brownie trying to remember how long it has been since I've had something that can actually be called coffee.  It's been a coffee desert ever since San Francisco.  For a few minutes I was blissfully unaware of anything else but the steaming brew in front of me.  After I broke my coffee daze I hung out for a while, then went to Safeway for some dinner items and went to Honeyman State Park where I will stay for two nights.
    That night I had many companions.  There were about six of us that stayed in the hike/bike area... but only five of us could speak English.  There was a couple from Missouri named Johnny and Anna.  (I'm pretty sure.)  A couple solo girls named Barbara and the other Jenn, and finally a really cool solo rider from Germany named Charles.  Charles couldn't speak english but we felt like we understood his story by the end of the night.  He was just a goofy guy having fun touring the Pacific Coast.  After we made a community dinner Johnny and Anna busted out something that I'd nearly forgotten about this whole trip, a guitar!  It was a tiny one they picked up from a shop for about 80 bucks, but it was a fine instrument none-the-less.  Charles made a fire that night and it just felt good to have some music as we all sat around and warmed ourselves.  The more I go, the more I realize it's the simple pleasures, like morning fire made coffee or fireside music, that can make these sorts of trips really enjoyable.
Yep: A Zoltar Machine in Old Town Florence
    I got out of there before the other campers woke up and found another Foursquare church to attend sunday morning.  It felt good to be in there.  A really calming experience.  Afterward I made a b line straight for the laundromat.
    Before I could wash my clothes I asked a fellow washer if I could buy some soap off of him.  He let me use the soap free of charge and directed me to the best machines to use.  We started talking and after he heard about my trip he suggested that I stop by Portland for the blues festival that's going on the 4th of July weekend.  This sounds like a magical idea.  I'm getting a little tired of riding the coast because although it's beautiful, the wind and chill is starting to take a toll on me.  We talked about the best rout to take and I've decided that if I can figure out how to make it work I'm definitely going to veer inland and try to catch at least one day of the festival.  Before he left he gave me 20 dollars saying that if I could make it that that would pay for two days of the event.  I tried to compose myself from the shock and thank him as best as I could and then he just left... probably never to see me again.  His name is Tom.  A super cool guy.  These random acts of generosity are continually hammering my ego and reshaping the way I perceive people.  It's very humbling.  Thank you Tom.

I'm probably just going to head back, have some more coffee, rest again at Honeyman and head tomorrow for Newport, OR.  So that's where I leave you.  Writing from a Laundromat in Florence.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

1000 Miles and Oregon

Drum roll please.  (Drum roll sound followed by the crash/hit of the symbol and snare together.)  1000 Miles!  Oh yea!  If you travel north from Santa Monica, 1000 miles later you will find yourself in Fort Dick, California.  (I know... look it up.)  I don't think that I have gone via any means of travel, by myself, for 1000 miles before.  I definitely feel like I have accomplished something.  Although I don't like to think that I'm doing this trip for purely selfish reasons, I don't mind telling other cyclists that I pass that I have over 1000 miles under my tires.  (Although the sense of pride quickly dies when I meet guys that have gone over 4000... which I have.)  Not only did I cross the 1000 mile threshold that day but I also broke free from the bonds of California into Oregon.  It was a truly monumental day.

     My first few miles into Oregon felt amazing.  The first sign that greets you is a "Minimum 6000 Dollar For Littering" sign.  So it is very clean.  The air smells better and it is so richly forested that it's hard to believe people have carved out a space to live among the foliage.  It wasn't very windy and there was plenty of space for me on the shoulder of the 101.  The day was good.  I pulled into Harris Beach State park on the end of a pleasant 50 mile day.  The Oregon state parks are... AMAZING!  Still only five bucks, but the are much better kept.  The bathrooms are cleaner than the one I was using at home and the showers are free.  The bike/hike sections are superior by far.  Instead of a haphazardly thrown together site, each space seems well planned out and just nice.  There were some other bikers and we all chatted and bonded the quick way that bikers do.  The best part of the night was that I met this touring guy named Benjamin.  I though I was pretty hard core with the amount of miles I've done and traveling north and all, but he had been riding for over three months from Florida and was traveling to Eugine.  Radical.  Finally another Northward bound traveler.  It was great because the next day we both decided to travel together which is something I've been yearning for since my dad had to leave me two days into the trip.  It was great.  We did more chatting than real biking and actually ended up going in the wrong direction for about five miles, but it didn't really matter.  It was nice just having a companion.  We shared a site at Humbug Mountain that night.  It was good just to be able to share with someone all the similar experiences that we both had.  The good times and the bad, the suffering and the triumphs.  We went our separate ways the next day because he was going to be putting in a few more miles than me.  Alone again I pushed on.

     Theres not a whole lot more to say about the next day.  It ended up being an 80 miler with some serious, serious wind conditions.  North Bend has been the windiest place so far and the hour or so I was there was not fun at all.  It was more of a work out day and I didn't really stop and smell the roses at all I just wanted it to be over.  I rolled into Tugman State Park around seven thirty just exhausted.  I made some food and just crashed.  Tomorrow I plan on doing a short thirty mile day to Florence and then resting on Sunday.  It will be a glorious rest.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mill Creek

     I decided to put in another big day so I went from the KOA in Eureka to the Mill Creek Redwood State park in Crescent City.  Another 75 miles under the tires.  There's not a whole lot to say about the ride itself.  I'm pretty much ready to be done with Northern California.  It's been great but it will be wonderful for my constitution to finally ride into another state.  Along the way there were some more of the grand redwood trees and some interesting State Parks with fresh water lagoons right next to the ocean.  This also must be the chainsaw carving capitol of the world because every small town has about five gift shop with chainsaw carving memorabilia.
Fox Gloves: Beautiful But Poisonous
    It wasn't the smartest idea to pick the Mill Creek camp as my last stop for the day because it happens to be on the downhill side of the 1000 foot elevation hill that leads you into Crescent City.  So at about 6:30pm I was thanking my lucky stars that I had six miles of uphill climbing left to go.  In truth I was getting pretty low.  The miles from the past two days were starting to wear on me.  But at the crest of the hill something amazing happened.  The mist from the whole days fog started to clear and the blue skies broke through the tops of the trees.  Then, because there was still some lingering fog, the sun broke shone through like rays of effervescent light.  It looked like the fingers of God were reaching in, caressing his creation.  If there is a more beautiful sight on earth I have not seen it.  It was enough to make me stop on the side of the road just to take in the splendor of the moment.  The worst part was that my camera battery had died earlier that day so the scene will only be alive in my memory.  I doubt that a picture could have done it justice anyway.
Smith Family
     Thankfully there were only a couple miles to go.  I reached my campsite around 7:30 with relief and a readiness to lay and crash down for the night.  But the day wasn't over for me yet.  As I asked a family a couple sites down from me if they could point me in the direction of the camp's restrooms, they not only gave me the information I wanted but pretty much made me an honorary member of the family for the night.  After a hearty, hot, steamy, chilly and s'more dinner the Smith family and I told each others stories  and laughed together as the sun went down.  Mark is a military chaplain and his wife Christy finds plenty of work home schooling their five children.  The family of seven is an amazing group of people that I have had the good pleasure of spending a few short hours with.  They live in the Seattle area and so I hope to see them again before the trip is over.  They sent me away in the morning with eggs and ham and with a full stomach I made my way for some WiFi and a cup of coffee in Crescent city.
     I'm taking a short twenty mile day today, but after it's over I will be in Oregon.  FINALLY!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Too Leggett to Quit

Whoa man.  My legs are killing me.  There is a good reason for this... LEGGETT!!!  Anyone doing the Pacific Coast tour only needs to hear the word Leggett to feel chills of fear run down their knee caps.  I left the Westport KOA and an early 7:30am on the 19th of June, knowing full well there was a colossal monster waiting for me, ready to turn my body into mush.  The Leggett hill begins with a quick 600 foot elevation climb, then brings you to about 150 feet.  After that it's WHOOSH!!! You need to summon all your might and climb to a solid 1800+ feet elevation.  YEA!!!  Yea I was scared.  Yea I was like a small child watching a scary PG13 movie knowing full well that once my parents find out I'll be in big trouble for watching it without their permission.  But, as it turns out, it ended up not being so bad.  It took me at least three hours, but the hours didn't pass by in an agonizing way.  Leggett is actually a beautiful place and being able to see it at a slower pace was nice.  Because I started so early on a Sunday morning there was barely any traffic so it felt like it was just myself and the mountain and nature around me.  You know the old question, "If a tree falls in the forest with nobody to listen, does it make a sound?"  Although I didn't see or hear a tree fall, there were small things that were happening that, if I weren't there to hear or see it, would have gone unnoticed by the entirety of the human race.  Tiny subtle things like leaves falling or bees pollinating flowers or even deer and her fawn crossing the street.  It put life into an interesting perspective.  Life goes on and will continue to go on without me.  I am not necessary nor does the life on Leggett hill need me to thrive.  It has been doing so for thousands of years and will continue to do so long after I'm gone.  Kind of a humbling experience actually.

    When I got to the top of the hill I was told of the Drive Through Tree.  A giant "chandelier" redwood tree that has had its insides hollowed out so that a car could drive through the center.  It is actually amazing.  The fact that a tree, a living, growing thing, could be so wide that a car could comfortably fit through the center of it is just incredible.  I took some quick pictures and moved on, now going down the opposite side of the at incredible, sustained speeds, to my resting place which ended up being Lake Benbow State Park.  It's a cool place but incredibly lonely.  I think there was only one other group of campers all the way on the other end of the park  It wasn't terrible spending the day alone.  It did give me some time to reflect on the occurrences of the past couple days and reminded me how fortunate I am to be on this Journey.

     All right.  Leggett done.  The only problem is, is that from Benbow the nearest hike/bike option is a KOA just north of Eureka which is 85 miles away.  Long day ahead perhaps?  Luckily it's mostly downhill so I just took it for what it was and pushed on.  I stopped for coffee in a small town called Garberville, CA.  You have to stop at a place called Garberville right?  Anyway I needed provisions and warm coffee is just a must some mornings.  I mentioned to the barista/chef that worked at this pretty high-end bakery that I thought the scenery through the mountains is actually pretty spectacular and so vastly different that what you will see in Southern California.  He said, "Yea, it's our little secret."  Life in these places seems slower but the people just love the quiet scenic beauty of these small mountain towns.  Honestly, I don't blame them.  There is an alluring charm to these places.  It would be easy to found yourself settling down for a long time in the Humboldt Mountains.

     On my way to Eureka there is this road that cuts through some of the biggest Redwoods called "The Avenue of the Giants."  This place is absolutely astounding.  A thirty-mile ride through a giant living forest that, in most places, is over thousands of years old.  It's an ancient cathedral with colossal, monolithic, unmoving patrons that have withstood the changes of time for centuries.  Giant sages that hold quietly the wisdom of a millennia secretly within the folds of their branches.  I would bet that some of them even are so old that, as small saplings, felt the earth shake at the crucifixion of Jesus. It felt like a holy place.  I rode on silently, in awe of the majesty of creation.  I felt that any unnecessary noise was a sacrilege.  It was breathtaking and if anyone is in the area, please, divert from the 101 and take the Avenue of the Giants.  It's well worth your time.

     Afterwards I just cranked on, with many miles ahead of me.  A few more trees and a dairy farm or two later I finally rode into the KOA around seven or so.  17 bucks later (AHHHHH) I pitched my tent, ate some food and prepared for the next day. I was getting pretty comfortable, when the sound of two scooters broke my concentration.  The cause of this was two touring scooter riders from Michigan on a "Moped Justice Mission."  John and Bradey are two super cool guys that have gone around almost the entire country trying to raise awareness for human trafficking.  We ended up talking for a while and it was really cool to see a couple dudes utilizing the attention they we're getting for scooting America, and turning it into a conversation starter for a good cause.  Please check out their blog mopedjusticemission.blogspot.com.  It's something that we need to be aware about.  They also gave me food… Some pickles, tuna and beef jerky.  A wonderful addition to my pantry that is going to vastly enhance my daily ration of quiona and beans.  Thanks guys.

    Well, I'm going to wrap this one up.  I'm headed for Crescent City today and the end of California is in sight.  Oregon, here I come!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bodega Bay, Gualala, Mendocino, Fort Brag and Friends

As I left San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge on an uncommonly sunny day, I simultaneously felt daunted and relieved.  Relieved by the fact that I had conquered the road from LA to San Francisco and Daunted by the amount of miles ahead of me.  But there was nothing to do but continue on.  Besides, like I said, it was a beautiful day.  The first thing I noticed is how vastly and instantly different the northern California terrain is from it's southern counterpart.  I was now riding through forrest.  A spectacular transformation.  Another bizarre change was in the construction of the housing.  Everything was wooden with almost no curvature to any side.  Super straight and geometric.  I did make one stop on the way to Bodega at one of the many oyster/chowder shops that were along the coast.  It's hard to turn down a fresh cup of chowder to begin with, let alone a specialized chowder only northern chowder restaurant.  Finally I rolled into Bodaga, which is a decently windy coast town.  There must have been some open glass bottles or something like that close to a beach because there was this constant spooky whistling.  I felt like I was in a Scooby Doo episode where everyone thinks there's a ghost, but really it's just bottles by the sea shore.  Only in my episode after they find the ghost sounding bottles there ends up being a man eating ghost anyway...  I wasn't scared.

     The next day ended up being a pretty uneventful ride to Gualala.  I stopped at a small but quaint coffee shop in Jenner looking for internet but there wasn't any to be found.  Internet access and phone service has been pretty sparse the past few days.  But if you're going to find it anywhere it's going to be in a coffee shop... just not in Jenner.   Gualala was nice except for this really crazy domesticated raccoon.  This guy was relentless.  Me and the other biker named Ress could only hope that the other camps were a little more messy than we were so it wouldn't go after all of our food during the night.  Ress scared it away a couple times and we didn't end up getting raided in the middle of the night so it ended up being a-ok.

Judy Bonnes
    Another earlyish start that morning and I plugged along to Mendocino.  Can I just say that although I haven't' really been climbing roads that get me much  higher than 100ft above sea level, but I must have climbed over ten 100 foot hills.  So, although I'm not gaining the elevation, my body still feels like I've been climbing a mountain.  Make up your mind earth.  I forgot to mention that early in the morning on my way to Gualala out of the coffee shop I stopped at, my BOB trailer popped of it's mount and ended up slightly pushing my wheel out of true.  (It was wobbling.)  So the past few days I'd been keeping my eye out for a bike shop to get my wheel looked at.  So I started the day out a little uneasy and I was keeping my progress pretty slow on my uneven wheel.  About half way through my day I stopped at this small town called Elk, California to eat one of my pre made peanut butter and honey sandwiches, when, in mid bite, a local woman came up to me and offered to buy me a cup of coffee at the shop right next to us.  Not being able to turn down coffee and some good company I accepted and we ended up having a really cool lunch together.  Her name is Judy Bonnes and she is a silk painter who lives in Elk.  I had no previous knowledge of the art of silk painting but she showed me some of her stuff and it's really cool.  For all you out there interested in hand painted silk scarves check her out on face book.  (Judith Gates Bonney)  After lunch I pushed on into the wind shooting for Mendocino.  After a front tire blow out in Little River I ended up pulling into a bike shop called Catch a Canoe & Bicycles, Too and was introduced by circumstance to a super cool dude named Jason.  Jason ended up taking time out of his busy schedule and the mountain of bikes that were stacked up for him to fix in front of me and took a look at my wobbly ride.  What I thought was just a little alignment problem ended up being a broken spoke which Jason replaced along with getting me a couple of extras on to take along with me.  Overall a really cool experience.  I wish I had more time to get to know him and experience the shop for a little longer but I had to push on to the Russian Gulch State Park where I would be staying for the night.  (If you're looking for a cool time in Norther California though check out Catch A Canoe, it's a great family place for canoeing and riding.  catchacanoe.com)

     So I was expecting the bleak lonely bike/hike that I've been used to the past week or so when I rode down into Russian Gulch.  There was already a couple there, which was cool, but nothing really out of the ordinary.  Then, all of a sudden about five more bikers ride down to the camp site, completely packing out the space.  This, for me, was amazing.  Apparently these guys, and girl, started touring in different places separately but ended up just getting on the same route and just been staying at the same sites for about a week.  They were all laughing and joking together and reminiscing about their experiences of the previous day and then they just sucked me in.  It was awesome.  Like a biker family we all just started talking about all the what/when/why's of our tours, a guy named Diego gave me nearly a pound of chocolate and the Canadian couple made everyone omelets in the morning.  I was definitely jealous of the bond they had formed but it was great to experience this cool community for a night and a morning.  Yesterday was an amazing day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

San Francisco Part 2 (So Much Coffee, So Little Time)

Four Barrel:Store
     My eyes have seen and my lips have tasted the glory of what lies waiting to be discovered within the belly of the great city of San Francisco.  It's hard to say what touches the human emotion enough to bring forth tears.  For some it's the delicate sunrise on a dewy morning.  For others it's the cascading sound of a small brass ensemble.  For others still it's the bubbling joy that comes from the laughter of a newborn babe. But for me it's the robust taste of a well pulled shot of espresso.  Needles to say I was running through the streets of San Francisco weeping continuously.  But seriously, there was sooooo much good coffee... and I tried all of it.
Four Barrel:Slow Bar
     My day started at about 11:00am as I walked two blocks down the street to a coffee shop called Four Barrel.  When I walked through the unassuming door what did my eyes behold?  A magical land of coffee was laid out in front of my eyes.  The store was much deeper than it was wide which was necessary because there needed to be space for the roasting a packaging that was going on right behind the bar.  There's not much more I can say about this place than it was amazing.  The espresso was bright and sweet and the slow brewed El Salvador was earthy.  An amazing place to start.
     The barista directed to my next stop witch was Ritual Coffee.   The place was cool and my macchiato was great but it didn't have the magical flare of Four Barrel.  The baristas were talented and the coffee amazing, but there was no roasting in the store which took away from the aura that I was looking for.
Blue Bottle
Sight Glass
     My next two stops were interesting.  The shops weren't more than little stands tucked inside the recess of a building.  The had to have been only 250 square feet at the most.  But what they lacked in size they made up for in amazing coffee.  Sight Glass and Blue Bottle are the tiniest most delicious coffee places I've ever been to.  You kind of just walk right up, get you're drink, espresso or cappuccino or whatever, drink it real quick and be on your way.  This is reminiscent to the Italian way of doing coffee.  The last stop was Farm Table, yet another tiny coffee stand but it had some dining in space and there was a delicious garlic aroma lingering around the store.  So by the end of the day I had consumed more caffeine than the average person drinks in a week and I was feeling it.  I was slightly dehydrated and nearly passed out but it was all worth it.  The day will live forever in my mind as a warm, chemically driven, toasty blanket wrapped around the neurons and synapses of my brain.
Farm Table
    Before I finish this blog let me talk a little about how you fit in in San Francisco.  Coffee shops usually are the litmus for finding out styles and fashions of a town because coffee, in itself, has become a hip thing to enjoy.  So as I was hanging out in all of these shops I was trying to put my finger on what I would need to look like to fit in as a San Fraciscanite... and it ended up being impossible.  Pretty much all you need to do is be as eccentric as you want and you have the green light for fashion.  There were overalls, heels, shorts, cardigans, jean, corduroy, anything.  It was fun to watch.  San Francisco seems to have so many different types of people that the only way to fit in is to be yourself.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

San Francisco Part 1 (The Journey)

Holy Stink... San Francisco was a whirlwind.  So I guess now that the "Road was mine," I decided that I had the stones to throw down some serious riding.  So instead of dilly-dallying around I shot straight from Manresa State Beach, Santa Cruz to San Francisco.  Traveling a grand total of ... 98.6 miles! ( Forget the fact that it took me nearly eleven hours.)  Honestly there weren't any good reasons to stop anywhere anyway.  It was a super foggy day which made nothing seem interesting so I ended up just pushing through most of it.  I suppose my only notable stop was at this really cool organic fruit stand called Swanton Berry Farm.  The reason that this pace was so flippen' cool is not only were the strawberries (chocolate covered the ones of the non-chocolate variety) amazing, it was a pay-by-honor system.  Instead of a cashier there was just an open cash box in the middle of the store surrounded by delicious fruit, and it worked.  Everyone paid the proper amount and nobody took advantage of the situation.  Everyone except me of course... Swanton you fool.

     So I was slammin' and jammin' toward San Fran, pretty happy with my progress when I forgot one crucial thing to prepare for before heading into the big city.  I forgot that San Francisco has the most brutal hills on the planet.  It wasn't all my fault seeing as how I had only heard of these legendary hills second hand, but man... I shouldn't have saved those hills for the end of my 100 mile ride.  Nothing can turn a grown man into a sniveling child like a San Francisco hill.  So yea... it was terrible, but in the back of my mind I had the knowledge of the amazing reward that was set in front of me, a night on a deliciously warm, comfy couch supplied by three gracious hosts, that I had yet to meet, waiting for me in the heart of the city.  So I stuggeled and climbed and pushed and cried and got lost but eventually I reached the front gate of Mick and Russel and Kaylee.

     Mick and Russel are life parters that co-own a high end hair salon called Carmichael Salon.  Russel is the talented and creative stylist and Mick is the business savvy thinker.  And don't forget Kaylee.  She brings the whole picture together.  The reason that I was able to get in contact with Mick in the first place was because of his connection to my mom through Guide Dogs For the Blind, an organization that supplies blind people with seeing eye dogs.  So not only is the organization giving the blind a new life, it is unwittingly connecting it's members and their families to each other's couches.  The night I arrived they took me out to dinner (after a good shower of course because I was looking pretty haggard) and I had for my first time chicken and waffles at the Creole Kitchen.  An interesting combination but tasty none-the-less.

      After a solid night of sleep I took a day to adventure the city.  What a place.  There's nothing quite like it.  I'll try and describe it in the part 2 in my San Francisco blogs.  It was amazing to see how the people got around the city.  I even attempted to ride my bike through the crowded streets.  After almost getting hit a couple times I figured it out as best I could, but I mostly stuck to the cross walks.

Tiny Car
     That night I tried to make my hosts a dinner that represented what I had been eating mostly on the road.  It was an interesting mix of mango, quiona, avocado and peanut butter. I thought it came out decent enough and they seemed to like it, or were just polite and tolerated it.  Afterward we ended that night with a journey to a bumpin' ice cream store called Bi Ryte where I had my first "salted caramel" ice cream.  Amazing.

     The next morning I thanked my hosts for their incredible hospitality  and started out on another big day.  After 78 miles to Bodaga Bay I found a tiny corner with some WiFi where I managed to quickly write down some thoughts.  This blog is getting long so I'm going to try and get some more San Francisco stuff in a Part 2.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

THE VERVE!!!/Santa Cruz

After a casual 50 mile ride from Caramel Heights, with knees blazing, I pulled into a nice site in Santa Cruz called New Brighton.  It was a relief because this had been my seventh day of riding and my body was really starting to feel it.  Santa Cruz would be my home for a day.  Nothing really amazing happened that night.  I did go to a cafe called Aptos Roasting Company, and even though they served me a pour over cup of coffee, it was served without care and it ended up tasting unremarkable.  Still it gave me an excuse to grab some WiFi so after a couple minutes and a few conversations with some locals I packed it up and went back to New Brighton to rest and get ready for my day off.  A couple of riders from San Francisco were there when I got back named Jo and Mike.  (So many Mike... So many Jo...)  Some cool guys just having a quick riding adventure.
    The next morning was Sunday, June 12 so I found a church to attend called Coastlands Aptos Foursquare Church.  It was really great attending a service for the morning.  The people we're really welcoming and I ended meeting a couple "couples" that offered me a place to stay on my return trip.  Thank you Natalie/Rob and Rudy/Carissa.  I hope to see you in a few months.

      After the service was over it was time... time for the VERVE!!! YEAAAAAA!!!  Little did I know that nestled within the downtown of Santa Cruz was a place that would change my life forever.  Well, maybe it wasn't that paradigm shifting but it truly was an amazing coffee experience.  After an espresso, macchiato, Assuvium/Guatemala drip and a latte I felt knocked off my feat.  Partly because I haven't consumed that much coffee for a good two weeks, but mostly because it all tasted amazing.  The single origin espresso from Costa Rica couldn't have been sweeter and every milk drink was creamy and delicious.  I almost sent my latte back though.  I thought there could have been one more rosetta in it... there was only five of them.  As I was leaving, the barista Stacie gave me some good tips on some more amazing spots that I hadn't heard of in San Francisco and I walked out of that shop in complete coffee bliss.  Being away from good coffee for a couple weeks made me forget that coffee could taste like that.  (Sigh.)

     The afternoon was a little frustrating because I unexpectedly learned that you can't stay in New Brighton two nights in a row.  (I would like to write a strongly worded letter to whomever decided that that should be a rule.)  So I had to back track about 9 miles to a park called Manresa.  Kind of a bummer because it put be back about a hour for the next day.  It was still a nice place and I got to bed early because I was hoping to start early make it to San Francisco the next day which is a good 90 miles away.  When I woke up there was a biker named Jonathan that had come in a little later so we had a quick conversation about what each of us were doing, swapped a banana for a cliff bar and said goodbye.  As I was pulling away he said, "The road is yours Beau."  Which, I think, is the most epic thing one rider can say to another.  I'm taking that one John.  So to all you touring riders out there.  The road is yours!  (Trade Mark: Beau Trembly)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Big Sur...rrr

When I thought I was having a good time.
     The past couple days have been really, really difficult.  I left Morro Bay feeling pretty good.  It was a little overcast, mild temperatures, overall some pretty decent riding conditions.  Then it all went sour.  There is this thing that bikers talk about with awe.  A legendary monster makes grown mens hearts turn to custard.  Well let me tell you that the mythical Prevailing Winds are real.  Very real and very terrible.  Honestly, I had no idea how bad it would really be.  I remember all the bike dudes at the shops saying, "Buddy, you're going the wrong way for this time of year."  And inside I would laugh thinking to myself that surely it couldn't be that bad, silly old-timers.  Oh but was I wrong.  So my whole morning was spent fighting with the wind and after that was through I met Mr. Big Sur.  (That's Dr. Mr. Big Sur to you.)  So again I get to go from zero feet above sea level to 1000.  Only this time it took longer.  I didn't really realize how hard this would be until that day, when I was cranking at my lowest gear for hours on end and swearing obscenities to the mountain itself.  I finally rolled into Plaskett Lake State Park at seven pm with nothing left in me.
     As I was looking for the hike/bike site a twenty something girl got my attention and asked if I wanted to share their with them.  Enter: Marie and Kathrin.  These two are a Mother/Daughter team on a whirlwind camping trip from Seattle to LA.  Marie was in a pair (which is another way to say nannying) for a family in Long Island, New York for two years when she finally decided it was time to go home.  As a last hurrah, her mother Kathrin and her decided to do this three week camping trip together before heading home to somewhere in East Germany.  (Sorry you two, I forgot the name of your town.)  It was really great to have some people to share the evening with after such a hard day.  We got a campfire started with some illegally gathered sticks and twigs from the area, bummed some marshmallows off some of the campers next to us and just had a good time sharing stories.  They also sang some really cool German songs.  In the morning they graciously shared some hot tea with me and went on their way to LA.  Thank you Marie and Kathrin, you really lifted my spirits.

   Again, I woke up, put my gear away and was mildly optimistic about the day ahead of me.  Friday June 10th has been the hardest/worst day of the trip so far.  Just when I think I've had the hardest day, another comes and just takes the cake.  I had to climb the second half of Big Sur which was even worse than the first which took me close to five hours.  Immediately at the base of the mountain is this place the locals call Hurricane Point.  (Or something of that nature.)  Where the winds are so strong it was all I could do to stay on my bike.  I actually fell a couple times.  Once while I was still clipped into my pedals.  It was truly demoralizing.  With my head down all I could think about was putting one pedal down at a time and staying on my side of the road.  It couldn't have been over sooner.  Then again I had another spicy hill to climb, Caramel Hight's, and as my legs couldn't take any more I had to crash in a small hidden state beach right next to a school.  It was my first experience ninja camping.  It wasn't an official state park so I just had to stay concealed and get out of there as early as I could.  Which was no problem because I zonked out at eight and woke up at five thirty.
      Although the experience was pretty terrible it wasn't all bad.  Big Sur had been closed due to mud slides for months but right as I was passing through CalTrans opened it.  Also, as I was at the highest low of the ride a woman waiting as her son started his bike ride gave me some cherries and a sandwich.  It just seems to be how it's going to go.  As I get to my lowest that's when something good happens.  I just wish there wasn't so many lows.
Almond Scone/Ethiopia
     Two interesting things happened as I've been writing right now.  I realized I had a tick in my ankle... (AHHH) and two riders popped into the coffee shop where I'm sitting.  Two riders going north!  Kindrid spirits that were a very welcome site to my eyes.  It's good to have someone to share suffering with.  They had experienced the same winds that I had yesterday and we were both equally broken.  But safe travels to you both and I'm sure we'll meet again on this crazy road north.  By the way, I'm having a good cup of locally roasted Ethiopan coffee courtesy of the Carmel Valley Coffee/Roasting Co.  Very well done guys.  The best cup I've had since I've started this trip.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


The hill into Jompoc can only be rivaled by the hill out of Jompoc.  I hate hills.  It was one of those windy mountain ones that are even scarier going down because my brakes only do such a good job slowing down me and my caboose.  But I made it.  On the way out I met a couple of touring kids from San Francisco.  I haven't seen a fellow rider in a couple days so it lifted my soul just to see some guys on two wheels.  We quickly shared our stories and wen't our separate ways.  Little did I know that I was about to be going the opposite way of 2,500 more touring riders from San Francisco.  Apparently there is this thing called Life Cycle for aids in which after raising entrance money you can be apart of an assisted tour from San Francisco to LA to help raise money for aids research.  And apparently they started on June 5th, the same day that I started.  So to my amazement rider after rider rode by me and I found myself waving until my hand started hurting.  There were some absolute characters riding also.  Some of the more flamboyant persuasion pretty much looked like what Elton John would look like if he decided to do a 500 mile bike tour.  It was good.

      74 miles later I pulled into Morro bay (the hike and bike camp site is only 5$!) and got found my camp site.  I was greeted by this animal that must have been half Rottweiler half radioactive brown bear. This dog was giant.  He gave me two short barks and then started leaning on my leg, half knocking me over, demanding my affection.  His owners Erick and Sally were near by and took their dog Alvin back and we ended up having a good conversation while the sun went down.  They gave me some coffee and some beer and I sat at their site and we just shared campings stories.  It turns out that they have a house on the coast of Washington that I'll probably be passing and they may be there about the time I will.  It would be cool to see them again.
     I'm writing from a independent roaster/coffee house called the Top Dog Cafe while drinking a proper french press El Salvador.  Jonathan the barista is doing a good job managing the steady flow of customers coming to this bumping spot in down town Morro Bay.  I better leave soon or I'm going to experience the prevailing winds later this afternoon.  Hopefully I'll get somewhere around Cambria today and be able to put my feet up and rest a little.

Joffery, not Jeffery

I dedicate this post solely to one slammin' cool cat in Lompoc named Joffery.  (Not Jeffery)  Just as I was about to have the worst day ever I met Mr. Joffery and he showed me something like what I would image southern hospitality would look like.  We met in the town's bike shop, both with our own bike problems, and after a short conversation I asked if I could pitch my tent in his yard for the night.  It was getting later and after the day I had there was no way I was getting on my bike and riding the hill out of Jompoc.  Joffery one-upped me not only by letting me stay inside his house, but also by driving me around town and buying my one of the best burritos I've ever had the pleasure of introducing to my taste buds.  (Angela's in Jompoc... find it, it' worth it.)  We ended the night by sharing Maxwell house coffee.  It's ok, he doesn't really drink coffee so it was all he had in his house but we made it decent by throwing some kahula in it.  That night I slept on his fold out couch bed and we bid each other adieu early wednesday morning July 8th, which coincidentally is Joffery's birthday!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOFFERY!
    If the birds don't worry about where they're going to eat or sleep then why should I.  I believe that Joffery and I were put together at that moment to prove this very thing.  I'm amazed.  It seemed to be more that simple coincidence.  Thank you so much Joffery I hope to meet you again some day.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lompoc California

Today I'm in Lompoc.  It is only thirty five miles from the beautiful and amazing Refugio Park where I stayed last night, but it was a grueling thirty five.  Refugio State Park (a beautiful and amazing place) is zero feet above sea level.  Lompoc is 1000 feet above sea level.  Needless to say that there was a hill or two... Actually there was a three mile hill and an amazingly scary tunnel.  I mean I wasn't scared.  It wasn't like I was walking my bike like a terrified little ninny or anything.  After that I had a tube pop which is a bummer because I have to take everything off my bike to change it.  It's a time consuming ordeal.  So after I took everything off changed the tube, put everything back on again and started riding it took me about fifteen minutes only for my new tube to pop also.  AHHH!  I did this three times.  Fortunately I was able to walk my bike to a bike shop in Lompoc.  The employee then proceeded to remove the piece of glass that was causing all my misfortune.  Next time I'll be more observant when changing my tubes.

      So I'm staying tonight in the yard of a cool dude named Joffery.  We met at the bike shop and I asked him if he would let me crash on his lawn tonight and he agreed.  I'm stoked because this means that I won't have to throw down the ten dollars for a camp site.  Thanks Mr. Joffery.

    Hopefully I get a good nights sleep because I plan on putting a good eighty miles in tomorrow.  This is proving to be more exhausting than I thought.  It's only three and I'm ready for bed.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I thought I was ready but...

Thumbs Up 
THE WORST FIRST DAY EVER!!!  In my mind this trip seemed like a romantic casual sun filled journey with the wind at my back and sandals on my feet... In reality it was a gloomy, rainy, cold awful, wet and all around miserable ride.  My dad and I left from Santa Monica with our spirits moderately high.  We were able to start there because Mom was kind enough give us a little boost by driving us to the Santa Monica Pier.  Although there were looming clouds off the coast there was no real worry in my mind.  It's SoCal right?  It doesn't rain in June.  WRONG.  It does rain in June.  It rains a lot my friends.  About 25 miles in was about when the rain started, which really wasn't more than a light drizzle, but for an over romanticized cyclist it may have well been a sweeping torrent.  We pushed through Malibu, Ventura then Oxnard then finally stopped 60 miles later at McGrath State Park where the fee for Hike/Bike is now 10$.  (Seven more than what it was just months before, thanks California economy. RRR)  It got better though... not.  At about four in the morning it started raining, which drenched our stuff and forced us into the camp's restroom where I slept for a few solid, dry hours.

     Honestly it was an absolutely terrible start.  I was completely unprepared for the rainy weather.  It really tested my resolve and desire for this entire trip.  But hey, that's what it's all about right?  I can't say that I want to detach myself from society for three months and expect things to be hunky dory all the time.  Just when I thought things couldn't have been more terrible we arrived at the state park we met a fellow cyclist named Ed.  Ed turned out to be an amazing individual.  Since 1997 he's put over 80,000 miles on his bike.  He told me that he simply just picked up and went one day and hasn't looked back.  He had a lot of emotional baggage from his days in the navy which lead to a depressed alcoholic lifestyle.  He was at his lowest when a couple of European touring riders stayed at his house a few days and introduced him to cycling and the Christian faith.  He said that a short time later he bought a bike and he just started riding.  Riding and his faith are what keeps him sane.  When we met him he was traveling north on the end of a seven month ride from Costa Rica... just gnarly.  Not only did he tell an amazing story about his life he pointed out some obvious flaws with the set up of my bike, fixed my bike, gave me a lock and sold me his tent.  I should mention that I started the trip with just a bivvy sack... Big mistake.  The interesting thing is, is that when we met Ed he had experienced some severe bike issues and the repairs left him nearly broke.  I being a dangerously inexperienced traveler needed a good water proof tent.  So we made the tent/cash swap.  Which worked out splendidly for the both of us.  I now have a dry place to sleep and he has enough money to last him till   he gets his government pay check for the month.  It seemed like our meeting was intentionally designed.

    Anyway we said our goodbyes to Ed and this second day has been amazing.  The sun has been shining and I'm fortunate to write this from a great little cafe in Carpinteria called LumaCafe.  The have a great in house bakery and some decent coffee.  My americano wasn't amazing but it's not terrible either.  Good job guys.  As we let our things dry in the sun it's good to get a well made meal inside of us.  Oh yea.  It's also my dad's birthday.  It's great to spend the day riding with him.  Time to get a few more miles in.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mission Statement

Hello.  Although I'm not a skilled writer this is an attempt to put down the following events that will span the next three months of my life.  I'm Beau, and I will be on a bike making my way as best as I can from LA to the mysterious city of Seattle.  Not that Seattle has a reputation for being mysterious, it's just that I've never been there before and it holds some sense of awe in my mind.  It's apparent unendurable weather, luscious landscapes and plethora of coffee shops appeal to me and it is a place worth being discovered.

One would ask why someone would want to attempt an endeavor like this, and it would be a good question.  A month ago I had no inclination whatsoever to hop on top of my two wheeled self propelled machine and travel all the way up the country.  However there was a restlessness inside myself which has been building for a while and a growing sense of detachment from the day to day ritual of California life.  These two feelings, along with the natural desire for a mid-twenties male for adventure, became so tightly coiled around my mind that the only way I felt I could move on was to make some drastic change in my life.  I'm not sure how else to explain it other than a push from a higher power.  So after some consideration I though the best way to seek the fulfillment of these new found desires was to ride the bike to Seattle.

In two days I will begin my journey and I feel like something like this needs to be accompanied with a few goals.  Here are three things I'm going to try and adhere to.

1.  Allow myself to be but into situations where I don't feel comfortable. (Not sketchy situations, just things that I wouldn't allow myself to do previously because of shyness.)
2.  Meet as many people as possible.
3.  Find as many specialty coffee roasters as I can and drink as much coffee as I can.  ( I love coffee... probably too much.)

People who have done this sort of thing say that it is the type of experience that will change your life forever.  I hope they are right.  I expect to find out new things about myself and the people that I share this earth with.  Hopefully I will meet new and unforgettable people and possibly develop some lifelong relationships.  For the people I'm leaving behind, I will miss all of you and I hope we will meat again soon.

Thank you for reading