Friday, September 05, 2014

Going Coastal

The last few days of our coastal ride were quite amazing. Although my knees were becoming more painful earlier in the day, I still enjoyed the ride. Who wouldn't, looking down at this?! 

Sue and Marie (and Houston too) kept me going. If they can do it, I can do it!

A few walks on the beach helped to loosen the legs. Love the colors of this ice plant.

 These were at a nursery that we passed. Made of metal, I couldn't believe how accurate they were.

I think my hardest day was our biggest and longest climb, then another steep climb, then just hill after hill after hill along the California coast. It seemed the hills were spread out enough that I couldn't get momentum to get partway up the next hill. We were luckily staying at a hotel that night but it was off course a bit. Sue and I stopped in town and asked this man on the sidewalk where the hotel was. He said, "Follow the drone!" and up into the sky the remote controlled drone went, taking a right and so did we. That made me smile a bit, but then back to feeling sorry for myself and the stupid golf ball sized pain in my knee. We biked and biked, getting further from town and finally came to the end of the road.  We had to ask again where the hotel was. But of course! It was up a VERY steep hill. I actually started tearing up. We got off our bikes and pushed them up the cobbled drive and there was Houston, all showered and clean, drinking a beer on the balcony of our room. He yelled down that the wine was already in the fridge. Bless him! I collapsed on the bed for a few minutes and finally made it into the shower where I had myself a little pity party. I cried and yelled out, "I am NOT riding tomorrow! I. am. hitching!"

After a couple glasses of wine, they all convinced me to walk down the hill to dinner. The restaurant is right by the dock where they unload the days' catch. These fishermen were unloading huge salmon.

Of course we all ordered salmon. I had the best ever salmon fish and chips. It was so lightly breaded, just enough to hold it together. Yum and yum! I was feeling better already.

After a good night's sleep, many ibuprofen, a hearty breakfast and many cups of coffee, I decided I would hop on that bike again and pedal my way along the coast. I'm so glad I did too.

Taking a break in Mendocino, we parked our bikes by these crocheted flowers.

This is the Chapel at Sea Ranch, a non-denominational chapel in the woods. It is one of the most artistic structures I've seen. Every single element is artisan made, with natural materials.

These Russian hitching posts were just put in this park where Sue and I stopped to have lunch.

As we sat at the table, I wanted to try one more time to reach one of my long time yarn customers, Nancy. I knew Nancy lived at Sea Ranch, moving there from Baltimore a few years back and thought it would be fun to stop in and say hi to her. I finally located her phone number, gave her a call and left a message, saying I was biking along the coast and was nearby. 
Well, my phone went dead soon after that. We biked through Sea Ranch, an eco friendly development, with the natural sided houses blending into the landscape, for about 10 miles. We came to our campground but Sue and I couldn't find the site. Houston and Marie were quite a bit ahead of us since Sue and I had stopped at coffee houses, galleries, and just took our sweet time. We knew they were probably already there but no sign of the hiker/biker camp site. Luckily, Houston was taking a walk and we spotted him and he directed us to the campsite which was unmarked and hidden behind the ranger station. 
The next morning, Marie was all packed up and left earlier than us, saying she'd see us at lunch. We were all about to leave when I thought I heard a very faint ... "Dalis"... through the mist and fog that was rolling through. I wrinkled my brow and thought the mist does funny things with your sight, but not usually your hearing! But then again we all heard a bit louder…"DALIS"… and out of the fog walks Nancy!

My jaw just dropped. I couldn't believe she had found us! She said she got my message the day before and tried to call (with an offer of meal, a bed and hot shower…DARN!) but of course my phone was dead. She was traveling down the coast this morning and pulled over at the first biker, thinking it might be me. It was Marie, and Marie directed her to the campsite! How funny and so glad I got to see her, although it would have been fun to spend more time with her. Sue and I missed Nancy the day before in the nearby town where she was working in a gallery (she uses my roving and yarn in her felt work). We were in the gallery across the street but didn't realize there was another gallery. Oh well, I'm glad she made the effort to find me and it was a joy to see her.

Riding through the fog that day was nice. It was never too thick that we felt unsafe.

The light was diffused and made the colors brighter somehow.

 Sights along the way...

porch screen

As I said before, part of the journey is meeting wonderful people. We met Marie our first day out. She is French/English speaking, from a little town near Montreal. Marie had ridden the coast when she was in her 20's and now being in her 50's she wanted to do it again.

She carried 70 lbs. (!) of gear and pedaled up all the hills with a smile!

She packed things I would have never brought along. She loved to cook and would prepare 2 nights of dinners. She had two large pans (whereas we had just one tiny pan between he 3 of us), a warming cozy to keep her pan hot, plastic containers for carrying leftovers, two knives, cutting board, two types of flour, two types of oil and when I saw her zesting a lemon, I laughed out loud! A lemon zester! We teased her about where was the apple corer and egg slicer. 

She hooked up with us after a few days, keeping about the same pace as us and ended up camping with us at our sites.

I love this photo of her. It shows her spirit. She will become a lifelong friend and she's already on board for doing another bike trip next year.

Our very last day biking was probably the most dangerous. From Salt Point State Park to Bodega Bay, the road is twisty turny, up and downy, with no shoulders and very steep cliffs. We were of course on the outside edge and it was very foggy so we couldn't actually see down to the coast, which might have been a blessing. There were a few construction areas where we had to push a button for a green light to travel on the one way road. We biked like hell to make it down the road before the light turned green on the uphill side which meant that cars would have been coming head on into us. 

The reason for the construction areas was because the road was falling off into the sea. I witnessed some of this while looking down while I was biking. The asphalt was cracking and the road was VERY close to the edge, with no white line even left. I just moved over a bit and hoped for the best.

I never fell into the ocean and for that I was grateful. 
Here is a selfie of Sue and I on our last minutes on the bike. Still smiling! I don't have a photo of Houston's brother, Jim, picking us up. But seeing his van with bike racks and cold beverages, was a joy! Thank you Jimmy for driving 3 hours each way to pick us up us. So appreciated. Jim met us right before we got to Bodega Bay. 

And this was the next day when we took our bikes apart to send back home. :(  

I am pretty proud of myself for completing this journey and so glad I was able to do it. I am hooked on bike touring now. We're already planning our next trips. Missoula to Jasper, the Continental Divide Trail, Idaho Hot Spring Mountain Bike Route, hmmmm, so many more to dream about. I encourage everyone to give it a try. Life on two wheels, my new passion!


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