Sunday, December 26, 2010

Back to La Paz

distance = 53

We dined with Ian and Mo one last evening, endured Mexican party music blasting from the South end of the campground at 4am, and set out for to La Paz by 8am the next morning.  This time we were riding up the steep side of the hill about an hour and a half of strict climbing.  Rob stopped to take a photo of the turkey vultures doing what he called "their morning yoga".  Something like the warrior position their wings extended to either side while perched atop a cardon cacti fingers up to the sky.

Our final destination would eventually be Todos Santos on the Pacific Coast of the peninsula. We were advised to go straight from La Ventana through some smaller communities, but it would have made for an over 100km day in the hot hot sun.  We arrived in La Paz in time for lunch, a visit to the Ferreteria (hardware store) where the woman attendant helped fixed my front basket carrier.  Rob did some grocery shopping in what felt like a Walmart disguised as a latino supermercado (supermarket) and we ate a rich milk chocolate and almond covered icecream bar not available in most tiendas.

We had also come back to La Paz to consider doing another kayak trip but decided against it.  We've entered the phase of our voyage where the end of the trip is nigh, as well as the outer limits of our budget.  An enthusiasm for kayaking (and maybe kiteboarding?!) is one souvenir I'll be taking home with me to be taken up with gusto in waters closer to home.  We booked into a hotel on the outskirts of town and staged for our last desert ride out to the small town and gringo haven of Todos Santos. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

La Ventana

distance = 53

After a good dose of city life we left La Paz to visit the wind people.  La Ventana, 'the window', is a mere 53 km away from La Paz with a 2000 ft hill in between.  Not so fun going up but lots of fun going down.

Some of the finest people Rob and I met as we traveled south have made a habit of wintering in La Ventana.  They come for the 'el Norte' wind that blows consistently from North to South noon until 5pm every day.  In the morning the wind people walk, jog, kayak, fish, snorkel, stand up paddle (or sup) and cycle and in the afternoon windsurf or kiteboard.  The window is set up such that the wind blows them into the safety of an L shaped bay.  That way, as said by one Ventanian, they don't get blown down to Panama.

Upon arrival we promptly rewarded ourselves with some beachfront drinks, a mojito and cerveza, sitting down at a table with two Vancouverites.  Many of the wind people hail from Canada and the States, usually from places where they sport the wind in the summer, spring and fall.  They make a tour of it from the Columbia river gorge, to the Texas coast to La Ventana, Baja California Sur.  They all know these spots and others.  My Dad, who windsurfed as I grew up, remembered word of La Ventana from back in the day.

Refreshed we set out to find Ian and Mo who we'd met while camped near the Mexican border.  Back in Potreiro we'd had a lovely dinner together in their RV, them anticipating their windy winter in Baja and us the warmer climes and desert riding.  We quickly located their camp where they have a nice hillside perch with ocean view.  After hellos and a tour of the property Mo invited us to join them and others for dinner.  Just a few days prior they'd connected with Rick, the fine fellow who took us in for Ben & Jerry's and tea at Playa Requeson.  A few days later, on a bike ride with Ian, we'd have an impromptu reunion with Rick on the intermittent La Ventana sidewalk.

Unfortunately the wind was down in La Ventana, the afternoons of windsports off for the time being.  Rob and I did what we've been doing here in Mexico.  We set up a beach camp but on the most occupied beach we've seen thus far.  We enjoyed a mix of dining out and camp food, cooking up jurel, a fish like tuna, bought from the local pescaderia (fish is called pescado in Spanish).

Our last day in La Ventana the el Norte kicked up and the wind people were out like spout.  Rob and I watched a Kite Boarding competition and saw some serious Mexican and Gringo talent. Boarders slicing water with jumps and spins while suspended from a kite in flight 50 ft above.  Apparently kiting is easier than wind surfing, requires less wind and has less cumbersome gear.  These chicos and chicas made it look really easy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

La Paz


After one last night in Loreto and a visit to the Sunday morning farmer's market we jumped on a bus for La Paz.  What was going to be two nights turned into four.  This town is the biggest in Baja California del Sur and we enjoyed the restaurants, museums and theatre that go along with that.  We also stayed at Baja B&B with a courtyard pool and hot tub, bougainvilla and hummingbirds, our own kitchen and al fresco dining table, not to mention some delicious breakfasts with our host Cecilia.  There was another couple from Vancouver, Lori and Paul, renting an apartment from Cecilia for the winter.

First night was pizza and red wine at a picnic table outside the Italian restaurant El Forno.  The next day was grocery shopping where we found a bakery with beautiful baked bread, the best we've had in Mexico which made for a delicious lunch back at the B&B.  That night we went to the year end recital of a dance school.  Latina chicitas belly dancing was definitely the highlight.  The next day we shared a mole dish for lunch before visiting a spanish school where we learned about Christmas in Mexico, las Posadas and pinatas.  Then to museums with photography and Baja natural history and onto an evening theatre performance by local university students.  Unlike the afternoon lecture we didn't understand a thing, but it was an hour well spent nonetheless, topped off by crepes and beers on a street front terrace.  Our last night in La Paz we joined a crowd outside the state government buildings for a Christmas performance by the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, a famous touring company from the mainland. 


distance = 92

We woke up early, eating breakfast as the sky went from dark to light with all the colours in between.  The cycle along the rest of Bahia Concepcion and over to Loreto was nice and flat, with some downhill stretches along which we flew.  The 92 km to Loreto was behind us with plenty of the afternoon left for exploring the town.   Loreto was the first capital of the Californias and seems a bit more upscale than the other towns we visited so far.  We stayed at an RV park that was also nicer than the other campgrounds we had been to with a swimming pool and warm showers.

Our first night there we ate at a restaurant on the central plaza across from the original mission in town.  One of the waiters, Joel, saw our bikes parked and came to talk to us about our trip.  He runs a bike and kayak touring company.  After talking with him about the kayaking trips we decided to book a three day trip to the nearby islands.

The trip to Isla Camen and Isla Danzante turned out to be one the highlights of our journey so far.  We camped on beaches we had all to ourselves far from any lights.  We went to bed and awoke watching the stars.  Orion, Taurus, Pleides and Jupiter paraded across the sky.

As we kayaked along the shore of the islands we saw a wide variety of birds - bluefooted boobies, frigate birds, terns, osprey, oyster catchers, pelicans, cormorants, pelicans, gulls, heron, snow egrets and turkey vultures. And there were the fish we saw both from the kayaks and snorkeling - cortez angelfish, crabs (hermit and dungeoness), porcupine fish, balloon fish, trumpet fish, Sargent major fish, yellow tail and dolphins (from a distance).  One of the most spectacular sites were eagle rays jumping several feet out of the water. 

We also did a short hike on Isla Danzante.  There we saw some of the same flora we had observed camping in the deserts but we began to learn some of the names - the nicely scented Tarote Colorado, the bonsai-like Elephant tree, pilaya dulce catcus, prickly pear cactus and tall cardón.

Joel also demonstrated how Mexican food might be prepared when camping.  Our first lunch was ceviche - fresh fish cooked by the acidity of lime.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Playa El Requeson

distance = 26

We decided to shorten our cycling trip to Loreto by spending the last night on Bahia Concepcion at a beach further south.  The campground at Playa El Requeson was on scenic spit of sand that stretched from the shore to a small island.

The campground was filled with RVs many with BC (not Baja California, the other BC) license plates.  The person who camped beside us was from Hood River, Oregon.  Rick was on his way to La Ventana for some wind sports and invited us over to ice cream, cookies and beer.  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Playa Santispac

distance = 20

Bahia Concepcion is a string of white sandy beaches along the Sea of Cortez.  The eastern shoreline is protected from the strong ocean winds and waves by a peninsula that juts out South to North, parallel to the beaches where we camped out the next few days.

Excitement over some long awaited Mexican beach days mounted as the road wended its way through some canyons to and from the shore with peeks of the shallow coves and turquoise waters that awaited us.  Coming around one last bend Playa Santispac lay spread out before us.  It was a nice view no doubt, but one I wished we were seeing from a more remote dirt road.  The sound of truck engine brakes would be in the background the next few days.  Oh well, not quite paradise but easily accessed by bicycle!
Three days later, my early disappointment had faded away.  Our tent was staked a mere 30 metres from the water under the palm leaf shelter of a palapa.  We ate delicious fish tacos at Ana's, the beachfront restaurant.  The white fish battered and deep fried was served inside folded tortilla shells with fresh salsa, Pacifico beers on the side.

The second day we rented kayaks and visited some of the other beaches further down the shore.  Schools of fish jumped up around us as a bigger fish hunted them from below.  We caught our first glimpses of rays and what Rob called a zebra fish, striped a vertical black.  The water was just warm enough for a swim during the afternoon heat.  I read reclined in the tent and watched as pelicans and what we would later learn were boobies diving in the water.

There is something very humorous about Pelicans, their sideways eyes peering out atop their long noses and what would at first appear to be an elegant dive but ending with a rather abrupt plop.  I had a nice laugh over them with a traveler named Jenny while sitting down to our last dinner enjoyed at Ana's.  We did actually cook for ourselves on the beach, our staples nicely accompanied by fruit, pastries and fresh fish bought from Mexican vendors visiting the beach.  There was something extremely satisfying about buying fresh fish, frying it up on the camp stove set in the sand in front of our tent.  We fashioned a concoction of garlic, oil and vinegar from our camping pantry stores (my green backpack) and it made for a delicious lunch and dinner (and part of dinner).     

Saturday night at Ana's was quite a party with resident gringos coming from Mulege and the other beaches for a set menu of ribs and chiles rellenos (stuffed peppers).  The traveling crowd in Baja is like none other I've experienced.  We're first hand witnesses to the winter migration of snowbirds from Canada and America flocking in their motor homes to the warm climes of Baja California.  They were at this party in majority.  While sipping a stiff margarita the people watching was exceptional, topped by a man who must have been in his 80's dancing with his cane.  Some fellow youngsters staying at the palapa next to ours brought along their hula hoops which were popular with the crowd.  Rob and I flaunted our salsa and other dancing styles before the bar shut down at 9pm.  Baja midnight, depending on who you're asking.  A short walk along the beach under the stars and we were back in our tent for the night.


distance = 62

Oof!  Santa Rosalia and some rather unpleasant sulfur burps and bathroom visits behind us, we got back on our bikes and rode to Mulege.  Our recovery was complete, in part thanks to a visit to 'el doctor'.  The Mexican health system saw us in a matter of minutes with no fuss over paperwork, for better or for worse, and not a mention of payment.  Having paid for some prescription medication we took our meds more out of diligence than necessity.  We were already on the mend (again) but wanted to be sure the nasty was stamped out for good.

We eased our way back into cycling with the ride from Santa Rosalia to Mulege.  Dogs are ever present.  One at the beginning of this day's journey was scrounging for food on the side of the highway evidently having just given birth to pups but herself only just skin and bones.  Most of the time we're warding them off as they bark and charge.  Rob's fool proof method is to stop with the bike between himself and them, and to call them off until they back down.

We made it to Mulege by lunchtime and quickly found ourselves a garden patio table at the restaurant and soon to be night's abode of Las Casitas, with mid-day margaritas in hand.  It soon became evident that we had reached a tourist destination in it's own right, rather than a stopping point along the way.  A first hint was the book exchange at the laundromat and at the American run El Candil restaurant.  Good thing!  I was coming to the end of Cervantes' Don Quixote and would need some more reading for our upcoming days a la playa (at the beach).

We did a grocery shop to stock up for living at the beach.  Our staples so far in Mexico: cereal, powdered milk, quick rice, lentils, frijoles (beans), pasta and sauce.  Scared off of fresh veggies for the time being we opted for the canned variety packed with the obligatory jalapeno or two.

After a lovely night's rest in a pretty pink room with brightly coloured bed spread we headed for Bahia Concepcion.  The travel guide describes the bay as the best of what Baja has to offer.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Following Steinbeck

I have been thinking about John Steinbeck on this trip.

We visited Salinas valley where he grew up, Pacific Grove where he lived and Monterrey the setting for some of his writings.  Now we are on the Sea of Cortez which he also visited and wrote three books about.

There was also the couple we met in the California Redwoods who like Steinbeck's Joad family in Grapes of Wrath had traveled from Oklahoma to California.  Like us they were journeying by bike but in a much different manner.  They described themselves as bike touring "hillbillies."  They lacked proper panniers using an assortment of plastic bags instead.  The husband pulled a child's bike trailer which held their dog and various other possessions.  It seemed very much a self-propelled version of the Joad family's vehicle.

We met them in a state park but it seemed they often camped where ever they found themselves at night. 

They invited us for tea in the morning and he launched into a long somewhat delusional, somewhat profound discourse on his philosophy of life.  It was a strange mix of conspiracy theories, universalism, christian dispensationism and rastafari.  He is ex-military and did time in Iraq. 

Perhaps this family had been displaced not by dust bowls and economic depression but the psychological effects of imperial military adventures and neo-con policies.

In our travels we have also encountered signs of economic migrants.  But instead of moving from east to west they are moving south to north. 

Unfortunately they are not always being shown the compassion that Steinbeck evoked for the migrants in Grapes of Wrath or the Indígena in The Pearl.  This is evident in the fear-mongering towards Mexicans we encounter in the U.S. media and personal conversations as well as the infrastructure we saw along the border.  There was an almost endless stream of border patrol paddy wagons on the rural highways of San Diego county.  And military-like check points well north of the border.

In Baja we have encountered many gringos who have moved here for all or part of the year.  Immigration in the other direction is much more complicated.

I have also been reflecting on the importance Steinbeck placed on science.  Both through the character "Doc" in Cannery Row  and his real life experience exploring the Sea of Cortez.

This connection with science is celebrated in many plaques, banners and other text around Cannery Row and the Aquarium in Monterrey.

We were reading this information only a few days after the US had elected what is probably the most anti-science congress in its history.

Steinbeck's writings might be more relevant than ever.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sick in Santa Rosalita

Did the UV water treatments not work?  Should we have not washed our dishes in untreated water?  Was it the ice in a drink?

We aren't sure how it happened, but we both got sick on our second day in San Ignacio.  After camping for two nights we decided we needed something more comfortable and moved to a yurt in a riverside B&B run by a Canadian couple from Northern BC.  That also gave us access to kayaks which we paddled up the river to its source - a hot spring (really more of a "warm" spring).

It was the day after American thanksgiving so they were serving up turkey dinner leftovers for dinner.  It was great to have some non-Mexican comfort food.

The next day we seemed to be feeling better and cycled the 72 km to Santa Rosalita.  The traffic was light and the steep twisty descent to the Sea of Cortez was a great way to end the ride.  We'd received warnings about this section but after our ride I can only assume it's harder to drive by car than by bicycle.  Wherever cars and trucks are forced to go slower it is all the better for us! 

Santa Rosalia was originally built by a French mining company.  The architecture has a different feel than the typical Spanish style.  Many of the buildings are made of wood.  The main church in town is made of metal, rumored to be styled by none other than Eiffel (of the tower fame).  We stopped at the famous bakery in the morning to pick up some pastries.


That morning we had intended to cycle to Mulege.  But Karen was enticed by the nice hotel just past the edge of town with a pool and ocean view.  This turned out to be our home for the next four days as Karen nosedived the next day and we continued our recovery.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How to get the Mexican military to visit your campsite.

After setting up camp in San Ignacio we went to explore the town
centre. While looking for the post office we ran into two other touring
cyclists. They were part of a group of six who had been traveling
together. They had spotted us earlier and had been looking for us. We
were invited back to their camp for drinks.

We stopped at the zócalo (town square) to do some shopping. A member of
the municipal police approached us and let us know that the other
cyclists had been looking for us. He spoke excellent English and we had
a short conversation about camping, Alberta, hunting for big horn sheep
and crime in Baja. It wasn't the last time we would see him that day.

After some shopping we stopped at the camp of the other cycling group.
Most of them had cycled all the way from Alaska. One of them had come
from the east coast of the US. Two of them were cycling all the way to
Argentina to raise awareness about water issues. Rather than setting
up in a formal campground like we had, they had just pitched tents under
some date palms in an empty lot near the edge of town.

We arrived as a fire was being built. Piles of dry palm leaves and
large logs were being piled on the fire. As darkness fell, a convoy of
vehicles approached the camp.

Suddenly the guys that built the fire were having a pleasant
conversation with the municipal police officer that we had met earlier.
And standing around us were troops from the military in desert
camouflage holding automatic weapons.

Apparently someone had seen the bonfire and reported it. The police
explained that starting a large fire in a desert oasis on a very windy
day surrounded by trees that showed signs of a recent fire was probably
not the best idea. The military soon realized that they were not needed
and left. The fire builders were not fined but they did have to pay the
costs of having a water truck come to douse the fire.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Desierto Central

The forecast was calling for more rain along the northern Baja coast.  We decided that we wanted to get to the warmer and drier southern areas a bit quicker.

So, after cycling for over 3,000 kilometers and across two borders we put our bikes on a bus.

Our first destination by bus was Cataviña.  From the bus stop we cycled two kilometers south of town to camp at Rancho Santa Inés (25 pesos per bike, less than $2.50 each).  Karen built a mesquite campfire using what was lying around.  The desert has some amazing smells.  We watched a colourful sunset and then the full moon rise over the desert landscape with its unusual cacti, called cirio, that looks like something out of a Dr. Suess book.

We spent the next morning exploring the desert around our camp.  There are an amazing variety of cacti and other desert plants including some found only in the Baja peninsula.  The Cirio is described as an upside down carrot.

Back in the village of Cataviña a homeless American regaled us with tall tales of his life as a child actor (the movie Tarzan, he was the boy), opening up a brewery when he was five, being advised by Marilyn Monroe and Mae West on property investment, and writing songs for Elvis, John Lennon, the Beach Boys, etc.  We had our fair share of experiences with people suffering from mental illness in towns and campgrounds along the US Coast.  There were men at the hike/bike sites who ranted to themselves all night in their tents. So much so, you'd think there were two people having an argument.  And the fellow in Carpinteria who spoke philosophically about society, reality and the animated film playing in his head that one day he'll make except he's been getting into trouble with copyright. 

But hadn't expected to run into someone like this in a small Mexican village.   

After enjoying another colourful sunset we slept again beneath the clear desert sky.

The 7 AM bus arrived at  8 AM.  While waiting we watched the American homeless man set up in front of the main store and beg for pesos from the Mexican truck drivers.  The man selling diesel and gasoline from drums along the side of the highway saw the bus first and helped us flag it down.  The bus took us past the 28th parallel into the state of Baja California Sur.  Next stop, San Ignacio.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


date = 2010-11-21
distance = 43


Our second day in Mexico was much more pleasant. Since we were on the "ruta del vino" we decided to do a wine tasting along the way and had a fun conversation with Ricardo, the wine server. The wines were good. The Mision de Guadalupe wine "uvas" have been grown there, and the wine processed, bottled, and consumed there for the last 50 years.

Highway 3 through Valle de Guadalupe was recently paved and had a wide shoulder so it was great for cycling. As it approached Ensenada the shoulder narrowed but the highway became four lanes so that gave passing vehicles plenty of room. We did see other cyclists out on this stretch of highway - a couple of mountain bikes and several Mexican roadies.

We spent the night at a hotel in Ensenada after a walk around town sampling the local wares: cooked corn smothered with butter, mayonnaise and cheese, churros, fish tacos and cervezas.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

La Frontera

date = 2010-11-20
distance = 89.5

We had camped just north of the border planning to cross early in the day and make it as far away from the border zone as possible by the evening.  But with a storm approaching we started our day uncertain whether or not we would stay in Tecate, the border town.

The border crossing itself proved confusing.  We actually crossed the border without being stopped and then had to turn around and find the immigration office to get our passports stamped.  The whole process was much more laid back than entering either the US or Canada.

Although we had encountered light rain on the way to Tecate it had now stopped and the sky was looking clear to the south.   We decided to continue our ride rather than stay in a Tecate hotel.

This was our first day in Mexico and we were expecting warmth and sunshine.  Instead we faced a cool and wet day.  At first the rain showers were intermittent but by afternoon it was a steady downpour that was heavy at times.

The weather alone would have made the riding uncomfortable but we also discovered that for 25 kilometers out of Tecate the highway was under construction.   There were sections of new pavement where the highway was wide and smooth.  But there were also long stretches where it was just a dirt road with a little gravel.  The only consolation being that because the road was so rough the other traffic was forced to drive slowly.

To make things more difficult we were cycling through mountains which meant climbing more hills.

So conditions couldn't get any worse.

Unless we also faced a strong headwind for most of the day.  Which we did.

It took considerably longer than expected to complete the day's ride.  On the brighter side the traffic on highway 3 was light and we were waved through our first military checkpoint with no questions asked.

We had planned to camp at Rancho Sordo Mudo but we arrived soaked and there were no other campers at the lonely site so we cycled a few more kilometers to the town of Francisco Zarco.  With night falling we wanted to be sure we could find a dry place to stay.  Karen used her Spanish to get directions from a local shopkeeper.  The shopkeeper offered her home as a backup place to stay if we couldn't find the cabañas for rent.  But her directions proved accurate and we settled into a simple but elegant cabaña for the night.


date = 2010-11-19
distance = 63.12

Our last day in the USA and day 47 of our trip. Rob reports that we
climbed 3000 feet this day with the most elevation gain in one day. We
left San Diego after breakfast and a flat tire repair at Ann and Brad's.
We headed for the hills to stage our approach to Mexico through Tecate,
a smaller, quieter and safer border town than Tijuana. Along our route
was a border patrol checkpoint for traffic travelling west, and an
entourage of border control vehicles passing us at least every 15
minutes. At the bottom of one of the hills we passed the turnoff to
Tecate, where we would come back in the morning (exciting!) and climbed
up to Potrero county park to set up camp.

Brad had warned us of the storm coming. It was expected to start raining
that evening. The rain didn't come but there were some cold temperatures
in them there hills.

Luckily, we met the kindness of Moe and Ian, a couple from Toronto that
are driving their windsurfers, kayaks, stand-up-paddle boards and
bicycles to Baja del Sur. They'll spend three months at La Ventana
amidst like-minded adventurers (and maybe us when we make it that far).
They welcomed us into their warm RV for dinner where we ate and drank
and talked about travels and the road ahead. A perfect send off to Baja
California, Mexico! Here we come!

San Diego

date = 2010-11-18
distance = 68.9

Not so sure when L.A. ended and San Diego began but somewhere in the middle, and our morning coffee stop, was Ensinata. A nice roadside beach town with lots of yoga studios and a lighthearted feel to it, boding well for what was to come in San Diego. We had a conversation
with a man that had walked from Eugene, Oregon a ways south as a protest against the BP oil spill. He'd been given a bike at some point and we talked about how fast it is compared to walking. Much faster.

We'd planned for a short riding day into San Diego so we could do one last equipment shop at REI and wrap up other such errands. By lunchtime we were mired in the roads and highways of the big city. At REI we bought a UV water purifier (which Rob is quite happy about, I can tell), received warnings about Mexico amidst encouragement from others, and an
offer to stay at an employee's home. But we were all set up with a warm shower ( by hosts Ann and Brad and to thither we made our way.

San Diego proved difficult to ride through. It was nice ending the day in a comfortable home where we were treated to dinner, showers, interesting conversation and a good night's sleep. The rooster on the other side of the street didn't even wake us up. (We have noticed
numerous urban roosters since L.A., and I have to say I love them).

Note from Rob - I am not so sure the UV water purifier was a necessary purchase even though it is a fun toy. And I thought San Diego was more bike friendly than LA with only one major route finding problem.


Huntington Beach to South Carlsbad

date = 2010-11-17
distance = 109.16

by Karen

After a coffee break in Huntington Beach, replete with congratulatory
greetings from some locals we continued on. Not much to say here but
that we were riding in a continuous stream of traffic through the
communities that line the coast the entire day. Our guidebook indicated
that we would be riding through a section of countryside but Rob and I
both managed to miss it. We did find refuge at Crystal Cove State Beach
where we enjoyed another lunch by the sea.

We rode through the nice looking town of Carlsbad during sunset, which
was around 5pm, and rolled into South Carlsbad campsite near dark. These
short days are keeping us on our toes. Unfortunately South Carlsbad
doesn't have hiker/biker rates (as our guidebook suggests) and the
rangers wouldn't budge on the full camping rate for us cyclists arriving
after dark. We opted to pay it rather than ride 7 miles further to San
Elijo and noted how we were
in the more conservative county of Orange.

Burbank to Huntington Beach

date = 2010-10-05
distance = 84.8

Karen joined Sommer at yoga class in the morning while I worked on
fixing a corrupt folder in my email storage (which explains the backlog
in blog posts and emails).

After saying good bye to Rich, Sommer and Hudson (the dog) we rode to
the nearest Metro station to try out the LA public transit experience.
We had opted to take the rail line under Hollywood hills rather than
riding the busy streets over them again.

At Hollywood and Vine we got back on our bikes and began the process of
trying to find a good route through the city. After a few wrong turns
we eventually reached one of the "rivers" that flows through LA. The
"river" has been formed into a concrete channel with a separated bike
path along the side. It proved challenging to find an entry point to
this bike path but once located it provided a peaceful and fast route
back to the beach.

After some more great beach riding we rejoined highway one which had
become a very busy four lane street with no shoulder and frequent
traffic lights. We wished that we had allocated more time for this section.

We eventually arrived in Huntington Beach where we had booked a hotel
due to the lack of camping along this section.

Los Angeles

date = 2010-11-15
distance = 81.1

The day began with a ride through the long city of Malibu. We were
surprised to hear one of Karen's favorite sounds, a rooster crowing,
coming from one of the palatial estates overlooking the highway.

In Santa Monica the fabulous bike route which winds its way along most
of LA's beaches began. We stopped for Gelato at Venice beach and then
turned inland.

At this point we were deviating from our guide book. And we were
entering LA where the car is still king of the road. I had downloaded a
bike map of the area and plotted out a general path to take but there
were many gaps between bike paths and designated bike routes.

I had also hoped to get a paper version of the map which would be easier
to read as we rode. But everyone at the bike shops and tourist info
centres seemed dumbfounded by the idea that anyone would want to ride a
bike anywhere but the beach.

The first part of our trip went well. We followed an adequate but
somewhat variable bike lane along Venice Boulevard and then took side
streets through Hollywood. We stopped briefly to look at the tourist
trap of Hollywood Boulevard. The next section was the one I was most
concerned about which involved getting over the Hollywood hills. The
hill itself proved to be less difficult than others we have done. And
the streets along the 101 freeway turned out to be a good route until we
arrived at the fast, busy and shoulder-less street leading into Burbank.

That night we stayed at Sommer and Rich's place in Burbank. They served
us one of the best meals of our entire trip and then took us up to
Griffith Observatory for a 360 degree view of the city. After that it
was to a cool little establishment in Burbank that serves a wide variety
of California microbrews (the whole micro-brew thing seems like a theme
for this trip). And then a comfortable night's sleep in a real home for
the first time in 40 days.
IMGP5788 (Modified).JPG

Carpinteria to Leo Carrillo

date = 2010-11-14
distance = 77

Just another typical day of cycling in Southern California. Lunch
outside yet another historic mission, this time in Ventura. More
farmland growing fruits and vegetables for our supermarkets.

Spent the night at Leo Carrillo campground on the edge of LA county and
had dinner on the beach watching surfers.

Santa Barbara and Carpinteria

date = 2010-11-12
distance = 55

In the morning we stopped at a bike shop (Bob's Bikes) in Goleta, just
before Santa Barbara. I had noticed one of my tires getting low on air
and when I went to pump it up at the shop it burst. So we fixed our
first flat of the trip.

The bike shop staff member gave us some good advice about bike routes
and shopping so we ignored the book and followed some of Santa Barbara's
bike routes. Taking his suggestion we stopped at the Isla Vista food
co-op to stock up on groceries and ate lunch there as well. It had a
nice community feel to it. While eating lunch we got talking to a
farmer who seemed to know everyone - the staff, the construction guy and
delivery truck driver.

For the next 20 miles we rode a great bike route mostly separated from
the traffic. And we saw more bikes than we had seen anywhere else. The
route took us through the UCSB campus where there were several massive
bike parking areas that looked like something from Amsterdam or Copenhagen.

We did a side trip to the historic mission area of Santa Barbara and the
quaint (but somewhat upscale) downtown shopping area.

That night we camped at Carpinteria State Beach. They only allow bikers
to camp one night and we wanted to take a day off there so we paid full
price for a regular camping spot for the second night.

We spent our day off catching up on emails in a coffee shop, doing
laundry, sitting on the beach and drinking great beer at a strange
micro-brewery bar.

Note to users of the "Bicycling the Pacific Coast": The book suggests a
bike path between Refugio and El Capitan beaches. The bike path is
closed and blocked by gates in a middle section. You can get your bike
around the gates but it requires dismounting and lifting your bike.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Oceano to Refugio

date = 2010-11-11
distance = 113

This day began with riding country roads through farmland and towns with
a distinctive Spanish language influence. We saw many farm workers out
in the field and enjoyed hearing the Mexican music that was blasting
from the trucks (nothing like a little accordion music for cycling).

At over one hundred kilometers this was one of the longest days we had
done in weeks. But we made it to the campground in good time despite
one change in the route along the way.

The campground, Refugio State Beach, turned out to be Karen's favorite
so far. The biker site was right beside the beach and we camped under
palm trees.

Note to users of "Bicycling the Pacific Coast" - Harris Grade road which
is part of the suggested route is closed through January 2011. Use
highway one for this section instead.


SLO (San Simeon to Oceano)

date = 2010-11-10
distance = 94

Today we stopped for morning coffee and grocery shopping in Cambria.
Lunch was on the plaza outside the historic mission in San Luis
Obispo. Although the outskirts of the city seemed like generic strip
mall Americana, the downtown turned out to be rather pleasant.

Our destination for the evening was Oceano Campground which turned out
to be no longer accepting bikers. But the swiss couple had already
convinced the ranger to let them stay and have us join them.

Kirk Creek to San Simeon

date = 2010-11-09
distance = 64.4

Today was our last day in the area known as Big Sur. The route
flattened out for the second half of the day and we rode by a big
Hereford ranch that stretched for miles.

The highlight of the day was stopping at a beach that is an elephant
seal resting place. The adult males and females were mostly out at sea
but we saw juveniles which were certainly large enough.

They appeared to be quite lazy just lying about with the occasional
scratching motion. But a guide at the park explained that the seals
take feeding trips up to the ocean off Alaska (in about 3-4 weeks thus
traveling faster than us). When they return to this beach they rest and
their body actually converts the fat that they have accumulated to
muscle. Too bad we couldn't do that by just laying around!

We skipped Hearst Castle, the more popular tourist site along this
stretch. We spent the night, along with several other cyclists, at San
Simeon campground.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Big Sur Inn to Kirk Creek Campground

date = 2010-11-08
distance = 38.8

Our third day on the Big Sur coast dawned sunny - a welcome relief. We
enjoyed more stunning coast along twisting, rolling and narrow
highways. Lunch was at Julia Pfeiffer Burns Park. We stopped at a
one-store town in the afternoon looking for groceries (which proved hard
to come by along this stretch). Another traveler who had stopped there
got talking to us and it turned out she had spent time in Vancouver
working with the early Greenpeacers (Rex Weyler et al).

We camped that night at Kirk Creek along with the Swiss couple.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Big Sur

date = 2010-11-07
distance = 12.9

by Karen

So, what's the big deal about Big Sur? I didn't know until now, but now
I think I get it. Big Sur is an eighty mile coastal area extending from
Carmel south. It's dotted with amenities like bakeries and galleries
tucked into the redwoods between glimpes of the ocean. Glimpses to us,
because it was all fogged over today. A fellow cycle tourist advised us
to take in the area as it's the untouched coastline of central
California. In my head I'm thinking of all the wildness that is BC.
But they certainly do have something special going on here.

About every 2 miles after we left our campsite there was something
intriguing about the roadside stops. They hinted at the character of
the place. Out of desire to make way, you just can't stop everywhere,
and having made a late start from the campsite we bypassed the bakery
and the Henry Miller memorial library. But by the time we reached the
Coast Gallery which boasts a cafe atop a retrofitted water tank the rain
was coming down and visibility along this already treacherous roadway
wasn't good. After lunch and seeing the weather worsen we were prodded
by the gallery owner to stay off the road. We agreed it would be wise
not to continue south and to cycle 2 miles back to the closest inn.

Well, here we are in the Franklin room of Deetjen's Big Sur Inn. This
place is steeped in history and quality and serenity. The cabins are
handcrafted with scavenged redwood by a Norwegian with great foresight.
He built it in the 1930's before Hwy 1 was even built. Photographs of
who I think is Jack Kerouac line the dining room walls. The local paper
advises that Big Sur is a place to do nothing. And past transients have
written their personal stories of restoration in the Franklin room
journal. We've been milling about our spacious room with fireplace
drinking wine and had a well crafted meal in the restaurant. We are so
lucky to be able to treat ourselves to a stay here on this rainy day.
What a find.

[photo in front of our room the next morning when the storm had cleared]

Saturday, November 13, 2010


date = 2010-11-06
distance = 51.7

by Karen

We aspired to another short day. The guidebook suggests a 60 mile ride
along this hilly and cliff hugging section of Hwy 1, or two 30 mile days
so one might enjoy Carmel and what's to enjoy of Big Sur. We chose the
latter. We set out in good time after a brief chat with a Swiss couple
who will also be riding through Baja. It's nice to know there will be
other cyclists on the road.

Up and over the hill, we arrived at the Hwy 1 gate where cars pay a
$9.50 toll to drive the 17 mile road. We bypassed this section, which
involves more hills (and not to mention 17 additional miles) with some
spectacular mansions and estates. We spent the morning in Carmel. I
with a cappuccino gleaning a local magazine for news about town while
Rob had an americano. Clint Eastwood used to be mayor of this town.
According to the magazine, him and his wife continue to be active
community members when not attending the many gala gala do's required of
a Hollywood couple, such as the Toronto Film Festival.

Carmel is blocks and blocks of small stout adobe houses surrounding an
upscale commercial district along Ocean Drive. It's interesting
approaching these ritzy places as bike touring budget travelers.
Walking into coffee houses wearing full rain gear, including shoe covers
whilst others are adorned with fall colour sweaters and wraps. Using,
and forgetting there, the spoon that makes up part of Rob's camping
utensil set to sop up cappuccino foam. Not even considering clothes
shopping because the paniers are at capacity.

After a short setback to retrieve the camp spoon we sailed past the
Carmel Mission and back onto the highway. We stopped at a beach down
the road for lunch: cooked lentils, chevre, a red pepper, walnut and
pomegranate pesto and salad greens wrapped in tortilla. Fighting a
headwind and a little disappointed to have cloudiness over what is
supposed to be a very scenic ride we headed into our campsite at the
Pfeiffer-Big Sur state park. Another dark hiker/biker site amongst
redwoods where we set up tent atop Eucalyptus leaves and ate some
camping fare by candlelight.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Santa Cruz to Monterey

date = 2010-11-04
distance = 65.6

We set out for a short cycle to Monterey where we definitely wanted to
stop and see the town. Yay! Short cycle day followed by a day off.
Somehow these short cycle days don't get us to our destination much
faster. We fill the day with things like a leisurely egg breakfast at
Farm Cafe just miles from New Brighton beach state park. Yum! Another
stop at a grocery store and we were on our way.

The ride was nice and easy but for a bit of a headwind and hot hot sun.
We passed many farms, farm machinery and farmworkers at work, the scent
of strawberries in the air. Some of the machinery covered the fields in
plastic with the seed drills coming along behind them. Fields of
plastic. I hadn't considered such a thing before. I have seen it used
before as a mulch to keep the weeds down but I hadn't considered it on
such a large scale.

The latter part of the ride was on bike paths along busy roads and
through dunes in Marina, Seaside and then Monterey. We stayed at the
Veterans Memorial city park which turned out to be atop a steep hill and
beside the Presidio. Even after such a short riding day we couldn't
face going down the hill to see more of Monterey only to come back up
again. Plus, there were plenty of other cyclists to share stories
with. One fellow from Germany, the aforementioned cyclist going to the
tip of South America having started in Alaska.

Soldiers at the Presidio graced us with a gorgeous rendition of taps on
the bugle and we were off to sleep.

Our day off in Monterey had us enjoy Americanos in the East Village
cafe, a walk through Cannery Row, a visit to the Aquarium, cycling along
a superb bike pathway out to Lover's Point, then back to visit the
Mission, an old adobe structure. One of many that we'll be seeing from
here on in.

Half Moon Bay to New Brighton Beach (Santa Cruz)

date = 2010-10-03
distance = 90.9

by Karen

Up and at 'em, we ate our granola packed up and moved on. Our guidebook
suggested a stop at Ano Nuevo park and we obliged. The park ranger
informed us there was a guy a day ahead of us making his way to
Patagonia. Hmmmm. Up until now we hadn't met any other cyclists going
south of the border. After lunch in some scorching hot sun and
listening to the elephant seals barking in the distance we pressed on.

Dreaming of ice cream we happened upon an organic farm that enticed us
with their "10% cyclist discount" sign. And we were glad they did.
Swanton farm is the oldest organically certified strawberry farm in
California. They had a whole farm store/ lounge area replete with
couches (oh, to sit on a couch!) full of interesting reading material
and all on the honour system. We tallied up our purchases: broccoli for
dinner, strawberries for dessert and ollalieberry shortcake for now!
Articles on the wall talked about the history of the farm and the
unionized farm workers. Their slogan: "si se puede".

We ended the day with a ride along West and then East Cliff road through
Santa Cruz. They have a stunning waterfront with gorgeous houses,
interrupted by "the boardwalk", an amusement park that had shut down for
the season. All along the coast people were out walking, running,
cycling, surfing or watching the surfers. Some surfers rode their bikes
one-handed with their surf board tucked under their other arm. Later we
learned Santa Cruz had seen a big swell this week so surfers were out in

New Brighton Beach had a nice biker site where Rob cooked up quinoa,
farm fresh broccoli and cashews for dinner. Fresh in-season
strawberries for dessert, delicious!

San Francisco to Half Moon Bay

date = 2010-11-02
distance = 42.8

by Karen

We leisurely departed San Francisco and our comfortable room at the
downtown hostel. One last stop at REI - we'd decided silk sleeping bag
liners were a justifiable luxury for the two remaining months of our
trip. We'd started out our journey with a home assembled cotton
sleeping bag liner sewn from two old bedsheets. However, one of these
bedsheets had been deemed "old" because it had ripped down the middle. I
thought a quick zip with Jonanne's sewing machine would have done the
trick. Well, the first night into our trip the sheet began ripping in
multiple places and had steadily deteriorated into what would have made
a good mummy costume for Halloween. Not the makings of a good night's
sleep. So, silk sleeping bag liners - worth it!

The route out of San Francisco took us through Golden Gate park once
again which was lovely. Then a ride along Ocean Beach out of the city.
We stopped for groceries and lunch in Daly city and made it to Half
Moon Bay around 4pm. A nice site close to the beach, we listened to
pounding waves, enjoyed a sunset and then the stars.


San Fran Day 2

date = 2010-11-01
distance = 29.7


Today was a day for hitting up some San Francisco sites and shopping for
some gear that we needed. First stop was REI (the American MEC). Next
we went to the ferry building where we had coffee with Joanna, Dan and
their children. They are a family from Vancouver who also happened to
be in San Francisco.

After that we rode our bikes part way up telegraph hill. Most tourists
visit this site to get great views of the city and harbour. But we were
also hoping to catch a glimpse of the wild parrots made famous in the
documentary film that we had recently watched with Carol and Maryanne. A
vendor informed us that we were late. The parrots usually stop by early
in the morning.

We headed back down the hill for lunch at an Italian cafe in North
Beach, the little Italy neighbourhood. Tasty pasta fired us up for a
trip up and down Lombard St.

We stopped at the bottom of Lombard, one of the steepest hills in the
city. In fact the block at the crest is so steep that instead of a
straight street they have used switchbacks. The block is a popular
tourist destination - the "crooked" street.

Earlier in the day Karen had expressed a desire for a day's rest from
hard cycling so I expected we would simply gaze up at the steep street
from afar and move on. But no, Karen wanted to bike up the several
blocks of steep street.

As we approached the switchbacks on our bikes we were applauded by
tourists on foot. At least we provided some entertainment for them.

The "crooked" street section is one way. We had to carry our bikes up
the stairways that served as sidewalks. I suggested we stop half way
but Karen pressed on to the top. And then we rode the bikes down the


After that Karen suggested we find some more hills aka "views" but she
was suddenly distracted by an interesting sound.

Could it be.....

Yes, we had found the parrots! We caught glimpses of a few of them
flying and roosting.

We went to explore the Polk Street neighbourhood and then rode down to
the civic plaza. A crowd had gathered in front of a large screen to
watch the final game of the world series.

We tarried there for a short while (the score was still 0-0) and then it
was off to chase the sunset. Karen suggested watching from Twin Peaks
with another ride through the pan handle of Golden Gate park. But
partway there we decided to have ice cream and lo and behold was the Ben
and Jerry's store at Haight and Ashbury. The sun settled as we shared a
sundae in the shop window. Early evening upon us we headed part way
down "the wiggle" but veered off to the Castro for a quick dinner of
Fish Tacos (wild caught Salmon). That was where we were when the game
ended and the crowds poured into the streets.

We watched Giants fans decorate the overhead trolley lines and the
police eventually shut down the streets to cars. Then we rode back to
the hostel and spent some more time with the crowds who had also
congregated along Market Street downtown.

Friday, November 5, 2010

SP Taylor to San Francisco

date = 2010-10-31
distance = 57.3 km

We left our campground in a redwood forest and headed back to dry hills and rural landscapes. But it wasn't long before we began to enter the urban zone.

Most of our tour has consisted of long stretches on the shoulder of the same highway. Not many route finding skills are required. But now we were entering an unfamiliar urban environment with complicated interconnecting bike routes that weave their way through the Bay Area cities and towns. So, I expected that we would have to pay more attention to maps, signs and our guide book's instructions. However, none of this was required. All we had to do was follow the hordes of cyclists that were coming to and from San Francisco. And I mean thousands. It seemed like half the population had decided to use the same bike route that we were using to get into the city. There were plenty of MAMILs (middle aged men in lycra) but also folks out for a more leisurely ride and even tourists on their rental bikes. Many shouted questions about our trip as they passed by and offered congratulations on what we are doing and how far we'd come. One even acted as an impromptu tour guide for part of the route.

We stopped for lunch at a cafe in Sausalito. And then rode across the Golden Gate bridge stopping to take the requisite pictures. From there we headed to Golden Gate park where we found ourselves on a major street through the park that had been closed to cars and open only to cyclists and pedestrians. This is one of San Francisco's events for "Sunday Streets" (aka Ciclovía). The City of Vancouver had talked about a similar event last year but was never able to bring it to fruition. IMGP5680.JPG

As we were leaving the park another cyclist riding along side us asked about our trip. After giving the now familiar responses of where we started and where we were going, Karen asked how to get to the hostel where we had a reservation. Once again we were offered a guided tour for part of our way there. He took us along a route known as the "wiggle." So named because it takes a somewhat circuitous path that avoids the hills between Golden Gate Park and Market Street. As we learned this was the key to cycling in San Francisco - knowing how to avoid the hills.

After unloading our luggage at the hostel we decided to take a break from cycling and walked to the Mission District. We found busy streets full of families out trick-or-treating. We decided to have dinner at an organic Mexican restaurant aptly named Gracias Madre. It wasn't until we were seated and reading the menus that we realized that it was not only organic but also vegan. Now, usually I am disappointed with vegan attempts to imitate cheese and cheese is often my favorite part of Mexican dishes. But I was not disappointed this time. The food was great (and so was the organic porter I had to drink). I do have a special fondness for Bandidas on the Drive in Vancouver (it is where Karen and I met) but they could take a lesson from this place.

After dinner we walked around the Mission district some more then rode the public transit through a few more neighbourhoods to get a feel for how people were enjoying Halloween.

Bodega Dunes to Samuel P Taylor Park

date = 2010-10-30
distance = 65.3 km

Another overcast day but only brief periods of rain.  We cycled through hilly farm country past several organic operations (mostly dairy).  We saw a couple of flocks of wild turkeys.

We are less than 30 miles from downtown San Francisco and I am surprised how much farmland and lack of "development" there is.  The small villages do seem a little more upscale though.  More yoga studios and art galleries than you would find in most of rural America.  And good espresso too  - but we have seen that almost everywhere along the coast.

We even saw some wild turkeys cross the road.

We shared the hike and bike area of the campground with a group of five engineers who had biked out from San Francisco for an overnight trip. Just like in Vancouver the conversation inevitably turned to backyard chickens.  But being that we are so close to Silicon Valley the discussion centered on using home automation software to monitor and control your chicken coop.  Apparently you can have it tweet you to let you know when the chickens have roosted for the night.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Gualala to Bodega Dunes

date = 2010-10-29
distance = 73.9

- by Karen

Gualala is pronounced <<Wa-la-la>>. We ate waffles in wa-la-la, part of our complimentary breakfast at the Surf Inn. And yogurt, and eggs and muffins and orange juice. Food, as with any physically demanding voyage, particularly those with lots of think time, becomes of utmost importance. And I already find it so important in the regular day-to-day. Fueled up we set out for Bodega.

It was still raining when we left the inn but definitely less than the day before and it had lightened up from earlier in the morning. We rode through Sea Ranch which is a community of summer homes strung along the beach for San Franciscans. The houses are grey, made of Redwood but the colour resins drained by the sun and rain.

We stopped in at Fort Ross, an historic site of a Russian outpost and the only place that we could find to nosh at a table under shelter along the day's route. Dan, a cyclist that we've been leapfrogging since Oregon showed up at the fort in time to share a slice or two of our fig loaf bread.

After lunch the light rain stopped. We climbed and wended our way around, up and down the cliff sides. Riding the edge of the earth. We watched the sunset atop a dune amidst the succulents and other bushy low-growth. Typing this up in the tent, I can hear sea lions barking in Bodega Bay. Raindrops too, but it's supposed to clear up by 10am tomorrow morning.

There are three other cyclists camped here tonight, all new to us, one of them a 71 year old first time cycle tourist riding Seattle to L.A. The first time he set up his tent was the first night of his trip. We've also heard rumours of a woman in her 70's cycle touring solo. I hope to meet her soon.

Manchester to Gualala

date = 2010-10-27
distance = 34.3

- by Karen.

Poor Rob fell under the weather so we decided on a shorter day. We slept in till 9am. After a walk around the campsite and a brief chat with the camp host we only got going by 11am. He warned us about the rains a comin'.

We ducked in to a coffee shop, the Point Arena food co-op, just five miles down the road where Helen was enjoying a cup of coffee. Lunchtime for us, we took advantage of the salad bar and a carrot ginger soup made with coconut milk. Yummmm. Sure enough, the forecast said rain, that afternoon and the southerly winds seemed to confirm it.

We got back on our trusty steeds and made it to Gualala. The rains kicked in and Rob decided he was finished riding against the wind in the rain with a cold for the day. Fair enough. We pitched tent in the State park under a thick brush of trees. Rob napped while I zipped out for a quick walk to the beach. I had seen the pathway from the highway and wanted to walk through the little hobbit holes carved through matted wind shaped trees. Beaches here are not peaceful places. The waves really pound the shore and there's without fail warning signs about rip tides and sneaker waves. We're so sheltered in Vancouver.

It poured buckets all night. I'm amazed these tents of nylon are able to keep us dry through an entire night of hard rain, but they do! We packed up quickly in the morning and dashed back to Trinks Cafe in Gualala.

A hot breakfast in a dry place, we decided best to take the day off given a combination of rain and Rob not feeling 100%. We checked into a lovely room with a cushy bed at the Surf Inn. There we watched news about the Nov. 4th mid-term election and the Giants in the World Series.

Westport Union Landing to Manchester

date = 2010-10-26
distance = 92.7

We woke up to a chilly foggy morning at Union Landing State Park. Tenting so close to the ocean makes for a wet start to the day. We ate our granola, packed up quickly and got on our way. The sun came out and made for a beautiful ride. A day of riding that probably tops my favorites so far this trip.

California so far has been all about the Redwoods. They've got trees here that are over 2,000 years old. The Avenue of Giants is fun to ride with some of the trees an arm's length from the road. Trees close enough to touch without getting off the bike.

Since coming to California we've also been graced with a lesser celebrated appearance of Eucalyptus trees and ground cover succulents. Anise or fennel lines the side of the highway, sweet and aromatic.

Well, these latter things I'm totally into, if anything because they're such a marked change from our Pacific Northwest landscape. Dry grassy slopes, home to masticating cows with a view of the open ocean. Then into thick groves of Eucalyptus with peeling bark revealing trunks of rusty red, green and white.

This day also took us through Fort Bragg and Mendocino, nice seaside towns. At our lunch spot in Fort Bragg we met another cyclist who had done a tour across America and is finishing off with a leg down the coast.

We rolled into Manchester State Beach and who did we see but Helen already cooking up her dinner. For us a mix of quick-cooking pasta and taco fillings for dinner, finishing off what we'd bought back in the bulk section of the food Co-op in Eureka.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Leggett Hill

distance = 76 km

After two days of rest we were anxious to hit the road.  The forecast for rain proved incorrect and we had a beautiful partly cloudy day.

After lunch we tackled Leggett Hill which at 1,950 feet is the highest point on the Pacific Coast bike route.  However, the ascent of the hill begins at almost 1,000 feet so it didn't seem any worse than many of the other hills we have done along the way.  And the descent along a road with little traffic was sheer joy.

This area also marks the transition from the rainy Pacific Northwest coast to the drier central California coast.  It seems like we have been rushing to get to this point and avoid the rainy weather of the autumn season.  So far we have been quite lucky and have had to use sunscreen more than rain-gear.  But it still feels good to be heading into areas where rain is less likely.


Monday, October 25, 2010


distance = 36.9 km

It was about time for another day off and we decided either Redway or
Garberville looked like the best bet for an interesting place to stay
locally. So on Friday we did a shorter ride and after looking at Redway
decided to stay at a hotel in Garberville.

Friday night we watched a cheesy movie at an old theatre in town and
Saturday morning had a delicious, mostly organic brunch at the Woodrose
Cafe. Sunday was to be another day of riding. But it was raining
heavily in the morning and the next portion of our route involved
narrow, busy highways; steep hills and few places to stop and stay. So,
after much deliberation we decided to spend another day in Garberville.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


We have seen a couple of herds of Elk, deer, a coyote, seals, sea lions, pelicans, herons, eagles, vultures and myriad shore birds.

At one point an eagle rose up from the ditch right beside us with a freshly caught mouse.

We probably would have missed at least some of these sightings (and sounds - we often hear the sea lions before we see them) had we been in a car.  Another advantage of bike touring.

[Elk at Elk Prairie Campground]