DAY 244 – TOLOWA DUNES TO ELK PRAIRIE
START: 7:00 – FINISH: 16:20 (3/11/15)
DISTANCE: 68 KM – RIDE TIME: 4H 38
It was a beautiful clear evening which meant there was a frost and a pretty chilly morning. It took a bit of effort to get out of the tent.
Straight after packing up and a bit of breakfast I tried to tighten the cassette and then discovered the whole back wheel was loose.
So it was slightly worse than I had expected. Luckily Crescent City has a bike shop. So Jamie and I went to the cafe first at 7 a.m. before parting company. About 9:30 a.m. I went up to the bike shop. Tom at the bike shop was very good. He took the whole hub apart and only charged me $5 for his time. He must have felt sorry for me because he was the bearer of bad news. The hub is pretty much stuffed which means I will need a new wheel rebuilt. Such a shame since I only had the wheel rebuilt in Vancouver. This shouldn’t be happening. I have been plagued with problems recently. Tom is unable to rebuild the wheel so he has patched things up so I can at least limp into Eureka.
Finally got cycling out of town around 11 a.m., it was a steep, steep climb on the beginning of the Redwood Highway.
Most of the day was spent cycling through these massive trees. I was glad it was a sunny day………..as it was still pretty dark with the trees blocking out the sun.
Late in the day I caught up with 3 cyclists resting at the bottom of a hill. One of them was Flo and the other two were also French. I hadn’t met Justine or Justin before. They are both cycling to South America so there is a good chance I will see a bit of them in the future. We all cycled together for the rest of the day and camped together that night at the Hiker/Biker. Along the way we stopped and posed for photos with some of the giant Redwoods.
DAY 245 – ELK PRAIRIE TO EUREKA
EUREKA (REST DAY) – 246
START: 8:00 – FINISH: 17:00 (04/11/15)
DISTANCE : 94 KM – RIDE TIME: 5H 40
With the shortening of day light hours, I was up at 6 a.m. in the dark.
It was a cold morning with a freezing fog. I said goodbye to Flo, Justine and Justin and got straight back on the Redwood Highway for another scenic day of cycling through the mighty towering Redwoods, along the coast and through a bit of farmland.
There have been a lot of warning signs along the coast.
This memorial was next to the road on the way into Eureka.
On two occasions I spotted elk grazing close to the road. I was in a bit of a rush today to get to the bike shop in Eureka to see if I can get my rear hub fixed before it completely fails on me. My other concern was that I was going to get stuck in a big city with no accommodation so I sent out a very last minute “Warm Showers” request. So I was very relieved to find on my arrival in Eureka that Dick and Kathy had come to my rescue. It was very good of them to host me as they already had 3 other cyclists. I went straight to the bike shop and for $40 they have made a bit of a temporary fix that will hopefully get me to San Francisco.
DAY 247 – EUREKA TO WEOTT
START: 9:30 – FINISH: 16:00 (05/11/15)
DISTANCE: 88 KM – RIDE TIME: 5H 12
What a great way to start the day with some pancakes kindly cooked up by Kathy. I cycled the back roads through town and out to the coast. Around lunchtime I met Alex and Harry in Scotia (a purpose-made lumber town.), two young Americans, just out of Uni and cycling to San Francisco. We had lunch and cycled the afternoon together.
We had a real treat turning off the Highway to take the Avenue of the Giants which was a small road with no shoulder that twists and winds through a forest of Giant Redwood trees. Some of the trees are so close to the road that parts of the tree trunk have had to be cut back. The Immortal tree is still going after having survived a lightning strike and a flood and is a favourite with the tourists. We got into the hiker/biker at 4 p.m. and it was dark. One hour later Flo the Frenchman turned up with Valentin another cyclist from Germany.
So there were five cyclists this night. We scavenged some wood and had a fire. The days are warm but the nights are cold.
At 7 p.m. I put my battery charger in the bathrooms to charge. At 5 a.m. when I went back to get it, it had gone. I was so gutted. Till now it has never been a problem. Just before 5 a.m. I had heard a car drive through the camp site.
DAY 248 – WEOTT TO LEGGETT (06/11/15)
START: 8:00 – FINISH: 16:20
DISTANCE:73 KM – RIDE TIME: 4H 48
It was a freezing cold morning. I was the first cyclist to get away.
We continued for another 20 km or so on the avenue of the Giants. I saw some more wild turkeys along the road. Getting back on Highway 101 there was a bit of a change in scenery. All the large trees were gone replaced by small shrubs and large patches of dry open dirt.
Around lunchtime I arrived in Garberville. What an interesting town. There were homeless people and hippies everywhere. It is a growing town, full of marijuana. It can be smelt everywhere. It is pretty much legal in California now. I met up with all the other guys at lunch…………….again I pushed on alone in an effort to make sure I made the next Hiker/biker before dark.
Stanish Hickey hiker/biker is one of the nicer ones. They had a shelter for cyclists and even a bike stand you could use. The others all rocked in after dark. Again we managed to find enough wood for a fire.
DAY 249 – LEGGETT TO ELK
START: 8:00 – FINISH: 16:00 (8/11/15)
DISTANCE: 107 KM – RIDE TIME: 6H 51
It rained all night and up until the time I left on my own this morning. With such short daylight hours, I can’t wait for anyone. At least we had the shelter to pack up in and thankfully the rain stopped just as I left to start the monster hill climb up and back over to the coast. It meant leaving 101 Highway to pick up highway 1 which runs a lot closer to the coast. The map showed it has being very steep. It in fact turned out to be very pleasant winding up on switchbacks and around the mountain passing through forrst. There was no shoulder which was OK because there was little traffic. The sun even came out near the top. The downhill was great, nice and long – time to catch your breath. I stopped at the rest area at the bottom to take in some fuel for the next push. The rest area was nice surrounded by tall Redwoods and a scattering of machinery and objects leftover from the lumber industry.
Another small climb and it wasn’t long before I was back on the coast which was looking as rugged as always. I pushed on through West Port and on to Fort Bragg where I stopped for lunch.
Not a long lunch, as I wanted to push on as I am determined to reach Elk before dark. I have another “Warm Showers” host there. The coast road might be very scenic but it is also tough cycling in parts. You cycle high up on the cliffs, as soon as you reach a river it is all the way down to cross over and then back up again. This certainly tires you out. My host Judy lives up a steep hill off the main road.
Unfortunately she was away. When I arrived there were already 4 other cyclists Catlin&Chris from the States, Sammy from Spain all heading to Argentina and I was surprised to see Jamie from the UK again. It was a great set up on the farm. We had a caravan we could all hang out in. It got even more crowded when an hour later Valentin and Flo turned up in the dark. Next to the caravan was a garage with a fire engine. Judy and her dad Rusty are part of the local volunteers fire brigade. It was raining before I went to bed………which wasn’t promising for tomorrow.
DAY 250 ELK TO SALT POINT
START 9:00 FINISH 16:30 (9/11/15)
DISTANCE 98KM RIDE TIME 5H44
Boy did it rain overnight. I listened to the thunder and rain thinking today was going to be a right off. I still got up at 6 am and packed everything up. Got a shock when I pulled a tent peg out of the ground and water started shooting out. I at first thought I had hit a pipe and put the peg back in the ground. The spurt soon stopped . Sitting inside the warm, dry caravan it was hard to get motivated. Jamie and I sat it out for a few hours. We were the only two committed to leaving. The other guys had all decided to stay another day on the farm. Just after 9 a.m. we ventured out into it.
Once we got back on the coast it actually cleared up for the day. So it had been a good call to push on towards San Francisco. Still getting a good workout, with some good climbs. We got to Point Arena for lunch and detoured a mile down to the ports which is situated in a little bay. The surf was up and the surfers were out. With time lost, we were flat out after lunch trying to get to the next state park. We made it just before dark and we are now within a reasonable distance of San Francisco.
DAY 251 – SALT POINT TO SAUSALITO
START: 7:00 – FINISH: 17:50 (10/11/15)
DISTANCE: 145 KM – RIDE TIME: 8H 30
I was determined to get into San Francisco today so I was ready to go at 7 a.m. I left without Jamie. He has decided to do the ride over two days. It was another beautiful day riding along the tops of the cliffs. I came across an old Russian settlement.
I set a good steady pace. Mid-morning, the cycle route went inland through very dry-looking farmland. I arrived in the nice little town of Tomales for lunch and made the decision I would go all the way to San Francisco. It was turning in to a pretty hot day. This was evident in Point Reyes where everyone was outside eating and drinking in what looked like a very touristic town. At Olema I turned off the Hwy 1 and climbed up over a big, big hill. Reward – a lovely ride down a valley full of Redwoods which was nicely shaded from the sun. I enjoyed the fact it was mostly downhill so I could have a bit of a rest…………up to now I had been going pretty hard. After an hour or so I found myself in the suburbs. After reaching the top of one last hill, I got my first glimpse of the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco skyline.
With the help of a few people I was able to pick up an awesome cycle trail that took me all the way into Sausalito – traffic-free is the best. I arrived in Sausalito just as it got dark. I then had the task of finding my “Warm Showers” hosts Winnie and Bruce who live high up on the hills. I was exhausted by this time, but still had to push my fully-loaded bike up some incredibly steep streets. There were no street lights and no footpaths. The roads were very twisty and windy. Houses were hanging off the side of the hill everywhere.
I was so happy to arrive at Winnie and Bruce’s house. They live 120 meters up a right-away path with some steps. We had to relay all my gear up. It was so well worth it. They have a beautiful house with such awesome views of San Francisco Bay. I was given the lower level to do as I pleased. They were so easy going.
They brought my bike inside the house and it stayed in the lounge for the duration of my stay. Their place was like a museum. Winnie’s parents had collected fossils and these were on display. Bruce’s grandfather had been a diplomat and had brought lots of stuff back. Hanging in the dining room was a beautiful handmade Chinese wedding quilt.
DAY 252 & 253 SAUSALITO REST DAYS
I was pretty tired after yesterday’s big ride but there is no time to rest. I am so excited to be visiting San Francisco for the first time today. At 6:45 a.m. Winnie drove me in and dropped me off at the start of the North side of Golden Gate bridge.
From here I hiked up the hill to the old bunkers overlooking the Bridge. The sun was just coming up and it was such a beautiful morning. After a few photos, I hiked back down the hill and walked over the huge Golden Gate bridge. From the bridge there were views of San Francisco and Alcatraz Island. There were many cyclists on the bridge, commuting in. When you come off the bridge there is a big green belt area called Presidio. I had a wander round the hill. All along the cliff edges were bunkers that had previously guarded the entrance to San Francisco Bay.
There were a few memorials and an old Military base, which has now been turned partly in to residential housing. The tram is one of the iconic things of San Francisco. I found the only public campsite in San Francisco…………only $125 a night per site – for that price I would keep cycling. After exploring Presidio, I started a very nice walk along the coast in the direction of downtown. There were old forts all along the coast. Fort point is basically under the Golden Gate and you could see the old red brick structure built in the late 1800’s clearly from the bridge. Crissy Field used to be the old Marine airfield up until the late 1930s before they moved it because there was too much fog. Further along was the old coast guard station. But now all public spaces as well as Fort Mason which used to be the departure point of troops travelling overseas and all old building remains have been turned into galleries and theatres. The old Aquatic Centre is now the Maritime museum. I paid them a visit before continuing the tour on Pier 45 to visit a number of ships. One was a sailing ship call the Balclutha, that had visited New Zealand on one of its voyages, an old tug boat, and the most interesting was the Eureka that used to ferry people and cars across the bay to Sausalito before the bridge was built. It took me nearly all day just to get down to the very touristic area of Pier 39 near Fisherman’s Wharf. The most interesting thing I came across was an old penny arcade which had about 200 machines – some over 100 years old and all still working if you had a Quarter (25 cents)
By this time I was feeling pretty tired and I still hadn’t reached downtown . I ventured away from the water and straight away it was hilly I climbed up to Colt Tower a monument built for the firefighters after the 1906 fire.
San Francisco is very hilly and the houses are all very tightly packed in together. I finished off the afternoon walking around China town . It could have been China, lots of small groups in the parks and streets playing Mahjong and other games. I got the bus back over the bridge to Sausalito before walking back up the steep hill to my hosts. Couldn’t believe I had pushed my bike up the evening before.
DAY 254 – SAUSALITO TO PESCARDERO
START: 7:30 – FINISH: 16:30 (13/11/15)
DISTANCE: 90 KM – RIDE TIME: 6H 17
This morning I took advantage of the awesome view and watched the sun come up over San Francisco Bay. I then wheeled my bike slowly down the windy streets into Sausalito before riding up and over the Golden Gate Bridge. Stopped in the middle to take a photo and pushed on. Coming off the bridge I took a right and headed South following the coast as best I could. I cycled through Golden Gate Park and some rich suburbs with very nice houses – a lot with a Mediterranean theme. It wasn’t too long before I was out of the suburbs and riding along a more sparsely populated coast.
I have been lucky again to get another “Warm Showers” host for this evening at Pescardero, about 6 km off the main road. John and Rhea have built a Yurt on their life style block and come out most weekends. I was able to camp in the woods. Catch was – there was a very steep 500 metre 4-wheel drive track I needed to push my bike up first. It was tough……….we did it.
DAY 255 – PESCARDERO TO SUNSET STATE PARK
START:7:30 – FINISH: 16:00 (14/11/15)
DISTANCE : 96 KM – RIDE TIME: 5H 38
I packed up and was on the road by 7:30 a.m. I wheeled the bike back down the steep hill to the road. It was far too steep to ride down. My brakes are not that good enough. The valley was shaded and it was freezing cold. Fingerless gloves are not the best at that time of morning. It was about 6 km to get back to the main road and by this time, the sun was well up and it was very pleasent cycling south along the coast on top of the cliffs on a fairly flat road. Hardly any traffic as well. Every day the coast is spectacular. There were a few more sandy beaches and sand dunes.
I came in Santa Cruz just before 11 a.m. and stopped for lunch at the beach. It’s a real student town. Lots of people were on the beach taking advantage of the good weather. Lots of beach volley ball games going on. Further down the beach was an amusement park. Not being able to go on the freeway means you have to navigate through lots of small towns which slows you down. In the afternoon I only did half of what I did in the morning. I made it down to Sunset State Park. It was full……….luckily by law they have to take Hiker/bikers. Turned out I was the only cyclist staying which was a shame.
DAY 256 – SUNSET STATE PARK TO ANDREW MOLERA
START: 9:00 – FINISH: 17:30 (15/11/15)
DISTANCE RIDE TIME
I lost some valuable cycling time this morning. Again some heavy morning rain, the tent got a little bit flooded. At 9 a.m. I steamed out of Sunset State Park. Not before the park host had come over and said just so you know – you had camped in the wrong spot. Waste of time because I will never be back. It was written on my slip 15. I was supposed to have camped in 5. In my haste to leave I jumped on the wrong cycle trail and ended up in Watsonville, an industrial farming town. To make up for lost time I jumped on the freeway for a short time. In Moss Landing there were some interesting motor bike sculptures.
Going into Marina I picked up another old rail trail which I then followed out through Fort Ord Dunes and all the way into downtown Monterey. It had a very Spanish feel. In fact it used to be part of Mexico until the Americans landed by boat in 1846 and hoisted the flag.
The road after Monterey leaves the beach and winds up above the very rugged cliffs. Lots of nice houses scattered along the way but not many places to camp for free so it was important to make the next hiker/biker. The next few hours were a great bit of coastline to ride.
It was just getting dark as I arrived at the campsite. It was a little remote with a 1 km walk to the site. Perhaps this was why there were only 3 other people camping. It was really windy. I hung my very wet tent up and it was dry in no time. By 7 p.m. I was done and tucked up in bed. It was a super clear evening and I saw one shooting star.
DAY 257 – ANDREW MOLERA TO SAN SIMEON
START: 7:30 – FINISH: 17:00 (16/11/15)
DISTANCE: 118 KM – RIDE TIME: 6H 58
As soon as I started this morning the road left the coast and we headed inland through the Redwood Forest for the high climb over big Sur. It was good that it was early in the day because there was little traffic and secondly just to get it out the way. I got to Guda for lunch and at the first petrol station in 60 km I went in with my little red fuel bottle to get some gas for my stove, so I could cook tonight. Before I really said anything the guy said do you want me to fill that up. I said cheers and gave it to him. He disappeared out the back. The guy then came back a little surprised. He asked me what is in your bottle? He thought I had given him a water bottle and had gone out back to fill it with water and when he had taken the lid off it started to hiss as the air started escaping. It had given the poor guy a bit of a fright.
Early in the day I had met a cyclist heading North and who had suggested camping in Guda because it was another 60 km to the next campsite and there were two big hill climbs that would take 2 ½ hours to climb over. I decided I would just cycle on and camp wherever. In the end the two climbs weren’t that bad and when you came down from the second climb you were on the flat for 40 km and I think I must have had a bit of a tail wind because I was flying. Very soon I was within striking distance of San Simeon. I first stopped to see the lazy sea lions lying on the beach. There were hundreds on the beach.
It is a small world. When I got to the camp site there were 3 other cyclists. Two from Germany and Sean who I had met way back in Organ at my first Hiker/Biker about a month ago. He had only just got back on the bike after resting his injured knee.
DAY 258 – SAN SIMEON TO PISMO
START: 7:00 – FINISH: 17:00 (17/11/15)
DISTANCE: 83 KM – RIDE TIME: 4H 55
The coast is starting to build up a fair bit with a lot more towns and homes. I reached San Luis Obispo,a real Spanish feeling town for lunch.
I left my bike outside the library unlocked. The security guard told me how much bike theft there was and that he would watch my bike for me. Everywhere I go…………I am told to watch out. Makes me a bit nervous. I just heard from Glynnis who I was cycling with and she has just had her bike stolen. It is just horrible when you hear that. By not locking my bike I figure it gives the impression I am not far away from it…………..and a bit of a risk to take. It has worked fine up until now.
There are a lot of fruit, vegetables and wine being grown along the coast.
I got a real shock when I got to the campsite at Pismo beach this evening. I was looking for the hiker/biker…………couldn’t find it. The entrance kiosk was closed. But I could hear someone in there counting the money. I knocked on the door……………no reply. I then said I’m looking for the hiker biker. The lady then opened the door and said, “there hasn’t been any hiker/biker here for years and it would be $25 for a pitch”. I was fuming and said there was fat chance I would be paying that. It was getting dark and my options were limited. I left and then returned. I went to the first pitch and went up and spoke to the first person I saw. I said Hello and said to him…………Do you know what I am going to ask you. He replied no and I then asked him if I could please camp on his pitch for the night. He said he wasn’t keen. That he was a bit of a loner. But that if I couldn’t find somewhere to come back. By the time I had told him what I was doing he had changed his mind and said it would be OK. Then within half an hour of setting up my tent, Mark had brought over a Greek Salad and a few bottles of water.
DAY 259 – PISMO TO SANTA BARBARA
START: 07:00 – FINISH:17:00 (18/11/15)
DISTANCE : 151 KM – RIDE TIME: 8H 01
I pulled out a big one today to cycle the 151 km in Santa Barbara. Before I got moving I stopped to have a look at the Monarch butterfly grove at one end of the camp.
There were thousands of butterflies hanging in the trees. You had to look close as they just looked just like brown leaves. It was a nice hot day as I cycled through lots of fields of produce and through the towns of Gudalope and and Lompac.
Just before Lompac was the Vandenburg AFB. I later found out it was the Airforce’s Space centre where they test rockets and send Satellites into space.
I got to my “Warm Showers” host Mike just before dark. I set up my tent in the backyard. I was exhausted after a long day cycling.
DAY 260 – SANTA BARBARA TO VENTURA
START: 7:00 – FINISH: 17:00 (19/11/15)
DISTANCE: 57KM – RIDE TIME: 3H 20
Michael invited me to stay another night in Santa Barbara. Decided to have most of the day in Santa Barbara before pushing a few km down the road to Ventura. Turned out my host was a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force. I had to cycle about 10 km in get into the centre. I met English Jamie down at Sterns Wharf for a coffee and a bit of a walk around town. Out on the wharf were a whole bunch of pelicans. The main street of Santa Barbara is nicely shaded by trees. It had a very clear affluent feel.
There were quite a few very life-like bronze statues around the place like this one. I headed off down the coast around 2 p.m. following the cycle trail right on the beach. About 10 km from Ventura my “Warm Showers” host Jack found me. He had been out for a ride. He used to ride for the USA road cycling team and has also done some cycle touring. To support his easy going lifestyle he rents out his house while he lives in a converted garage.
DAY 261 – VENTURA TO OXNARD
START: 8:00 – FINISH: 16:00
DISTANCE: 31 KM – RIDE TIME: 2H 17
First thing in the morning, Jack kindly took us for a little city tour of Ventura. Population is just over 100 000. They really like the UK here. There are red telephone boxes and lot of other English paraphernalia in the shops.
After lunch at the Cajun kitchen, I had an easy afternoon with a mere 30 km cycle down the Coast to another “Warm Showers” host. I arrived at Chris’ around 4 p.m. It turned out Jamie had also asked to stay, he arrived soon after. Chris lives in a nice complex and after a great dinner of vegetables and chicken (it was very good of Chris to cook us chicken considering he is a vegetarian), we went and made the most of the complex swimming pool and hot tub.
DAY 262 – OXNARD TO HERMOSA BEACH
REST DAY 263
START: 8:30 – FINISH: 17:00
DISTANCE: 111 KM – RIDE TIME: 7H 43
Chris kindly cooked Jamie and I pancakes for breakfast before I headed off. By the end of the day I should be in Los Angeles. I cycled out past the naval base and then the air base.
I stopped at the missile park. A collection of an array of missiles from the 40s to present day. One of the missiles was nuclear capable from the 60s. Once I was away from Oxnard it was a long stretch of deserted coastline until I reached Malibu. Some real rich houses up in the hills overlooking the ocean! Down the road from Malibu was Santa Monica. It was really cool. The cycle trail went straight through the middle of the beach. Being a Saturday there were a few people about. Lots of surfies and a few swimmers………..nothing like what it would be in summer. Just as well. I made sure I had some time to stop and experience Venice Beach. The Boulevard went on for miles with interesting market stores. There was a freak show………….which was cringe worthy. They had a number of midgets, a bearded women and some other guy out front trying to drum up business.
A number of homeless had set up camp. I saw one woman getting a ticket. While I was in Venice Beach there was a bit of excitement when a boat caught fire just off shore 5 people had to be rescued. Two fire boats came out to put the fire out.
I could tell I was right in LA as I passed under the flight path of Lax. Planes were taking off every 30 sec. I was so happy to be able to get a “Warm Showers” host for tonight at Hermosa Beach with Linda and Steve. I was able to put my tent up in their back yard. They were one of the few to still have yards. The whole area has been built out. Their neighbours house two doors down was worth 4.5 million and the rent was $36 000 a month.
I could have camped in their yard for a week. It was just a few blocks down to the beach. After dinner I went for a walk down to the Hermosa Pier. It is a centre point for a collection of pubs.
Steve and Linda kindly asked me if I wanted to stay another night. I didn’t need any convincing.
Sunday afternoon I went for a long walk along the beach up to Manhattan Pier. The water was clear and from the Pier I watched a seal chasing fish in the shallow. The fish were leaping out of the water. It was a real frenzy. It was a good rest day, finished off with Tacos.
DAY 264 – HERMOSA TO DOHENY STATE BEACH
START: 7:15 – FINISH: 15:00
DISTANCE: 96 KM – RIDE TIME: 6H 02
It was a loverly morning to continue cycling towards San Diego.
Redondo Beach was just down the road and there was no one around as I passed through. The hardest stretch was passing the busy Port of Los Angeles and a few oil refineries on the way down to Long Beach. Long Beach was also very quiet. I cycled along the water front. Across was the old Queen Mary – now a floating hotel. There is a good cycle trail………..along the beach down to Huntington Beach and through to Newport Beach and Laguna. On the way I cycled pass an old Nuclear power station. They are currently trying to dismantle it safely.
Not far offshore were a couple of oil rigs. I got to Dana Point at 3 p.m. and decided to stop at the hiker/biker. The campsite was right on the beach and I decided to go for a swim. It wasn’t too bad. Just off the beach was a group of Pelicans diving for fish which was pretty cool to watch.
DAY 265 – DOHENY SB TO SAN DIEGO
START: 6:40 – FINISH: 17:40
DISTANCE: 111 KM – RIDE TIME: 7H 42
I am so looking forward to getting to San Diego today and being able to have a little break before crossing to Mexico. For a good part there is a nice cycle trail running beside the Freeway and the coast. The trail got a little bit interesting when it ran for about 13 km through Camp Pendleton Marine base. You need to stop and present your passport to get on the base
They then have a painted cycle lane to guide you through. You are not allowed to cycle outside the lines. On the way we passed the firing range and you could hear the sound of gunshots.
There were some pretty cool houses along the coast.
As I got closer to San Diego it was a lot harder to navigate with so many highways and overpasses in the way. To get to my friend’s place I had to cross half the city on the way out to Mission Valley. It started to get dark
and I was a bit lost. I then met another cyclist who kindly helped get to my friend’s, Danielle, place. We meet in Italy back in 2004 and this was the first time since. I was only 40 minutes late. Arrived exhausted – mentally and physically. There were a few hills to get up to Danielles
DAY 266 -283 SAN DIEGO (REST DAYS)
I am so lucky having a place in San Diego to be able to chill out for a few weeks. The down time went really quick. I was actually kept pretty busy.
On my first day I took the bike straight to a bike shop Josh had recommended and was close by. I am having a major overhaul done before I head any further South. I then had a friend Nicole come over and pick me up. I last saw Nicole when I stayed with her in 2004 as I was crossing Canada. Nicole very kindly took me out for a buffet lunch in the old town. Afterwards we had a walk around the historic site.
I have arrived at the right time because it was Thanksgiving on my second day. In the morning Danielle and I drove a few hours north east up into the mountains to spend Thanksgiving with some of Danielle’s friends Cynthia and Greg and a few of their friends and neighbours as well. It felt just like Christmas with a turkey, a ham and lots of food. Just as well we were staying the night because it snowed in the late afternoon. But not before we had the traditional walk around the block. The next morning, the snow was still around. It was perfectly clear and from Greg and Cynthia’s living room was a magnificent view. You could see the Los Angeles skyline to the North and to the west you could see Long Beach, Catalina Island and the ocean.
So one minute it was snowing and the next day Danielle and I were at the beach with the paddle boards. We were out for a good few hours in a protected bay……….surounded by luxury houses.
Afterwards we went to a resort which had a cool bar for lunch. We sat outside next to some pools filled with fish: Tiger sharks and Sting Ray were swimming around.
On Sunday morning Danielle and a group of friends met at the beach for some Beach Volleyball. We had a few games before grabbing some yummy Pizza and a beer.
On Tuesday Nicole came and picked us up again and we went to Mission Valley trails to do some hiking. It is the site of an old dam built in 1780s and a marine training ground during World War 2. There were warning signs to be aware of old unexploded shells. We had a really nice walk hiking through Oak Canyon.
On Thursday I ventured in to downtown San Diego on the Trolley to meet Jamie. He has finished his trip now and is flying out. I got off at Santa Fe and walked south along the water’s edge, past the Maritime museum, a collection of old sailing boats, some old submarines and a paddle steamer. Across the bay two Aircraft Carriers were tired up. But on this side of the bay was the Medway museum a retired Aircraft carrier filled with planes and helicopters on its flight deck.
I met Jamie at Mission Resturant in the downtown area for an early lunch.
The banana and strawberry pancakes were a hit. Afterwards we walked back along the waterfront and went through a few of the hotels, the Hilton and the Marriot. We were trying to get up to roof for a birds eye view. Instead we very easily found ourselves pool side and wishing we had brought our swimming shorts. San Diego is a real military town with the navy’s 7th fleet based here as well as the Marines and an airbase. There were lots happening, with Helicopters flying around, jet fighters and a huge Aircraft carrier sailed passed.
I did a radio interview with KFGO Fargo back in May. It was nice of them to get in contact to do a follow up.
Friday night, Danielle had a tree-trimming party having about 20 neighbours and friends come over. It’s a party for decorating the Christmas Tree. By the end of the evening we were all singing Christmas Carols whilst one of the neighbours was playing on the electric piano.
The next day Danielle took me to Balboa Park. It is near the city and was the site of the 1915 Panama California Expo. Some very grand Spanish Colonial buildings were built and still remain. The 1910 Carousel is still in good working order. If you can catch a brass ring as you go round, you get another ride for free.
The Botanical building with its two ponds out front is the most photographed. The Japanese friendship garden was nice to wonder through.
That evening we went for dinner at my friends home, Nicole and her husband Victor.
Sunday morning it was back down the beach for some morning volleyball. Afterwards we drove down to the Mexican border. Five mins later we had crossed over, parted with $20 and I had my 6-month Mexican visa. Got a real shock when we went to cross back over the border to the States as there was a huge queue that went all the way up the street and over the highway. We had to wait 4 hours to get back. It was the worst border experience I have ever had.
I was going to leave today……………but I have decided to stay a few extra days which gave me time today to go in and visit the USS Midway museum which was built in 1946 and running till 1992. I spent 5 hours exploring this huge Aircraft carrier, from the engine room to the hanger deck, the crew quarters and up to the bridge. 4500 people used to live on board. The flight deck was full of planes and helicopters.