In Starbucks I sit recovering from a growing sleep deficit. Coffee consumed, my thoughts resume. I’m about to enter Mexico. As the border grows nearer, the gravity of this crazy undertaking slows my southerly progress. Three nights spent with Charles and his family. One under the Golden Gate Bridge. One terrible night along the side of the road 70 miles south. One in Santa Cruz 20 miles further south. Two nights contemplating life 10 miles further. Half-a-night in a Monterrey cemetery 30 miles south. And the other half in the front yard of a nearby church.
San Fransisco is a beautiful and diverse city with a dramatic landscape. And enough cannot be said about the Golden Gate Bridge. It is a sight to behold. The weather is cool, typically in the 60’s or 70’s. Fog is an almost daily occurrence this time of year. Walking the streets, numerous languages add an exotic feel. Old cable cars traverse the city. A modern subway system whizzes below. And buses fill the void. The houses are colorful most with bubbling bay windows. San Fransisco is VERY hilly. And thanks to the incredible hospitality of an Oakland family, it sits high on my list of favorite cities, though not one in which I would reside. It is simply too large and too populated and EVERYONE aggressively targets your money, even monks clad in robs. They are selling world peace. Continue reading →
Todays modern world would be as foreign to Captains Lewis and Clark as the west was to them in their time. Yet their thoughts still ring true. As a modern-day explorer, this is all I require: a place to lay my head at night, food, water, company, and the occasional shower. Everything else is a bonus.
“So much will a good shelter, a dry bed, and comfortable supper revive the sperits of the waryed, wet, and hungry traveler.”
– Captain Meriwether Lewis
Two days of rest revived the “sperits” of this “waryed, wet, and hungry traveler.” I was excited to be back on the road. I was more excited to be entering my first forest fire. I woke early Saturday morning and tackled the Leggett climb. Since the beginning of my journey in Portland, people warned me of this hill. They do not know hills and should spend some time in Pittsburgh! The climb was fun and scenic and, aside from platoons of firetrucks, I had the road to myself. Shortly into the climb, the smoke began perfuming the air like a cedar incense. It wasn’t too thick. My lungs didn’t hurt. My chest did. More of a tightness really and on the left side. If I was an old man, I’d be seriously worried about having a heart attack. The smoke cleared as I bombed down the mountain. Continue reading →
2 miles north of Leggett, CA and an uncontrolled forest fire
Sometimes in life, the daily grind and monotony of routine wears a person down. New experiences loose their luster. Waking is all the energy one can muster. In these trying times, some find solace in their sofa, perhaps spending days reclined on pillows reading and napping. I do not have a sofa; though, I do have a camp mat. I do not have pillows. I have a sleeping bag and a bag of clothes.
Lethargy may have begun after waking to early in my driftwood fortress. Crazy clowns threatened me no longer. I enjoyed a peaceful slumber. Until 6am, that is, when a thick mist enveloped me like a blanket attempting to soak everything I own. I quickly packed – I have it down to ten minutes at this point – and selected the only available option. I pedaled ever onward. Continue reading →
On a beach in Northern California just outside of Redwood National Park I lie in soft, salt and pepper speckled sand. The sky is streaked with the red glow of the setting sun. My nostrils tingle from the salty sea air and its fishy perfume that makes me feel far from home. My ears tune to the gentle ambiance of the crashing surf. A cold wind blows but cannot penetrate my driftwood fortified campsite.
This morning, at Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, urgent protests from my bladder force me out of my tent and provide time for reading while still abiding my twenty by twelve rule. Riding twenty miles by noon means I will have a good day. I require twenty to thirty miles just to be warmed up. Failing this rule means that my muscles are trying to loosen during the hottest part of the day when I don’t feel like riding to begin with. Continue reading →
Welcome to California! Yesterdays miles passed effortlessly. A strong tailwind definitely helped us along, but evening a headwind couldn’t have ruined the mood. Reaching the California border is a major milestone for my trip and feels surreal. I still cannot believe I am here!
Still riding with the group of Misfit Toys, a name coined by Jesse describing four solo cyclists joining forces to a passer-by, we camped last night just over the border. Wine and beer and lots of food celebrate our arrival. The campsite was also one of the best of the trip. Situated on the ocean, we watched the sun set over the water enjoying our food and drinks. The moon, now nearly full, illuminated our campsite along with Dave’s biolight camp stove which we used as our campfire. It was certainly a little sketchy. Krysta tended the fire. She did a wonderful job ensuring the picnic table did not catch fire. Although, there were some close calls. Continue reading →
1,115 miles – Two days ago, I hit the thousand mile mark, a major milestone for any tourer. Today I reach another milestone. In a few short hours I will be crossing the California border. Tomorrow, I enter the redwoods. And tonight at midnight I am one month into my journey. I was a little cranky typing my last blog entry. Now, nothing can hamper the mood!
Two days ago, four solo tourers came together. I now have the pleasure of riding with the Pedaling Yeti, Krysta, and Dave. Jesse, the Pedaling Yeti, began his journey in Virginia and followed the trans-am route across the country. Not ready to call it quits, he is now on his way to San Diego, CA. Check out his blog: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/The_pedaling_yeti. Krysta is basically riding the same route as myself, though she is calling it quits at the border. Check out her blog: http://www.krystaarwen.com. Dave is riding from his home in Canada and is riding as far into Cali as he can before running out of time. Everyone asks him, and I do mean everyone, “Ausy or Kiwi?” He is originally from the UK. Dave is not keeping a blog. Riding as part of a group is such a different experience than riding solo. I am very much enjoying being a part of this group. Hanging out with a few beers late into the night laughing and carrying on. Good times.
Today, I leave the state of Oregon. I’m super excited. The last few days, the scenery has been, well, epic. Wooded roads suddenly open up to hundred foot drop-offs into the ocean. Waves batter rock outcroppings and whales exhale plumes of mist dozens of feet into the air before diving deep their tails raising high out of the water. Tail winds have finally found me and push me effortlessly on my way south. The last hundred miles have been the most beautiful section of the Pacific Coast.
I can barely contain my excitement. Being a part of an amazing group of people, crossing the California border, enter the redwood forests, where I plan to take a rest day or even two, and spending time in San Fransisco, CA have my spirits at an all time high. Another state down also has me that much closer to Mexico. The Mexican border is where this trip truly begins.
The weather in this part of the world is much colder than I expected. Morning temps are in the low 60’s. High temps are in the 70’s rarely going above 80 degrees F. It is always windy. Luckily, these winds are usually at my back or my side, but occasionally they are in my face. I haven’t had rain since the San Juan Islands. Life is fantastic.