I'm going to start a few days back, when I entered the 30-ish mile stretch of California Route 254 known as the Avenue of the Giants.
Rightfully so. This road is entirely engulfed by redwoods. I had driven through this area before, and even then it was stunning. But, on a bike, it lasts a lot longer and you get all the scents and can really appreciate the true ginormity of these beasts. I was lucky enough to spend a night amidst these trees at the Burlington Campground, where I met Theo, travelling north, who advised me to make the arduous 76 mile ride the next day to Westport. The ride was arduous because, not only was it 76 miles, but the first 60 or so were entirely uphill, with a nice 3 mile climb coming right before the last few miles. I went to bed that night psyching myself up for the big ride, and in the morning I biked 10 miles to a nice diner in Miranda, got a beast of an omelette, and started the day off right. The day wasn't easy, but it was enjoyable. Here's a picture of me at the top of that massive climb. With no elevation sign for proof, I took a picture of the topographical map for some hope of belief from y'all.
This peak was reached just 5 miles into my ride on California Route 1. All riding previously was on US101 - a nice road until you start to approach the Bay Area where it becomes a freeway. After descending for about 10 miles, one more hill stood in the way of this:
Back to the ocean (ahhhh). And here I where I slept that night:
This place was great, but it didn't have any showers. So, after that long ride, I really wanted to get clean. What else could I do but plop down in a tide pool and wash? So, that's what I did. The next night I spent at Manchester State Park. It was cool and damp and foggy that day, and all I wanted at the end of that ride was a hot shower. No soup for me. No showers there, either. But, being the day after Labor Day, the place what pretty abandoned. So, I resolved to shower here, underneath a 3 foot tall spigot (yes, I showered in my birthday suit):
Things brightened up after the shower, though. I was on a walk down to the beach when an Faith and Roger asked, "Want some hors d'eurvs?" (I know I'm butchering the spelling there). I sat down with them on their picnic table while they fed me really yummy cheese and crackers and two glasses of wine. We chatted about travelling and about their home in Arizona. They welcomed the cool damp weather we were experiencing on the CA coast. After that first brief meeting, I walked down to the beach to witness this:
I'm just going to throw this one in there because silly road signs seem to be the norm out here:
The next day I started tapering back my miles in order to drag out this dream life as long as possible. Around 2pm, I arrived at my night's destination, a County Park in Sonoma County. They had lots of trails to hike around on, though it took me a good hour or so of wandering around on what I now think was not park land to find the actual trails. Fine by me, because the off-the-beaten-path path took me here:
The real trails were pretty cool, too, though. I saw lots of playful free roaming deer, and got inside a big tree.
Just outside of Bodega Bay, along with friends Bob and Sherry, I met Ron, a retired pilot walking home to the South Bay from his high school reunion in Portland, OR. He had quite a neat story - motivated to lose lots of weight by the threat of diabetes (and the looming reunion). Indeed he succeeded, and then took somewhere near 80 days to walk the distance back home. Neat guy.
So, this brings us to about the last two days of the trip. I had been leap frogging with Bob and Sherry pretty much the entire last week, and they so generously invited me to a few of their group dinners and a great breakfast on my last morning, departing from Samuel Thomas State Park just north of SF.
And then...and then...and THEN...after 25 miles and a haircut, THERE I WAS: