Date: Thu, 7 Nov 96 21:04:00 GMT
Copyright (c) 1996 by Caryl L. Bergeron - Distribution for personal use permitted. Distribution for other uses with written permission.
Chapter 33 - Oct 27 to Nov 4 Pismo Beach, CA to San Diego, CA - 12,741 miles cumulative
We rolled past Vandenberg AFB right into my memories. It was just a mere 2 years earlier when I ame here to view the Pegasus XL modal survey But that was a long time and a whole nother life ago. Now as we passed the main gate and rolled up and down three hills I could only think, I don't remember these hills being here before. Ah yes, even my perception of "flat" changes when I'm in a car.
Down one final hill and we found ourselves in the plain, Jane town of Lompoc. Perhaps the only reason Lompoc exists today is to provide living places and support for base emlployees who are not actual Air Force folks. It's not fancy, not touristy, has a bunch of hotels ranginging from the tiny fleabag "I wouldn't stay if you paid me" to the verey ritzy "Too much for my budget", lots of stores of all kinds, and a very regular, rectangular street pattern having names like A St., B St., C St. and so on. But it is the home of our friend, Marg, and we had to stop for a visit.
Marg is the most fascinating, retired school teacher/counsilor we met on that horrific 14 hour bus ride between Haines Junction and Fairbanks what seems like a million years ago. She's about 5 ft 4, has dark brown almost black hair with just a hint of salt and pepper gray cut in a very short shag that puffs on top, wears glasses, and is a bit on the fat side. She tends to joke about her weight, calling herself a real heavyweight. But she recently quit smoking and I think the health benefits of getting rid of that habit probably far outweigh the extra pounds.
What really impresses us about Marg is her unconventional attitude about travel. By all appearances one would be inclined to think she's one of those has to be pampered, cruise ship, fancy hotel, tour group type women. The ones for whom a walk of more than 3 blocks is reason for taking a car. Not Marg. Noooooo. She's a carry the back pack, stay in youth hostel, camp, and head off into the mountains on a good hike type person. She nce spent 2 years sailing with a friend all over the Pacific, has been to all over the world, and is continually coming up with new, interesting, and unusual trips. If she finds someplace particularly interesting, she'll stop for a day, week, or even a month. This has gotten her into some incredibly good and even some very difficult situations. But as she likes to say, "If I wanted to be pampered I'd stay in the most expensive hotel in downtown LA for the night. You can get pampered all you want there. I'd rather go to some place to see and experience. Not for just your 5 days, 4 nights, but for weeks or months." We just love that attitude.
One of the things I've been looking forward to for a long time is seeing Marg's collection of baskets gathered from around the world. I recalled her telling me about them during that bus ride and I've been wondering for some time what they might be. What a grand surprise. She has the most fascinating collecting of baskets and other authentic native crafts from all over. Baskets made from grasses adorned with shells were the most stunning in my opinion. But the basket eel catcher was also quite interesting. We sat for hours in absolute awe as Marg went from shelf to shelf, room to room, showing us the most fascinating, museum quality pieces of art. Yet although she appears to have quite a collection of material goods and appears to be quite a materialistic person she says she would give it all up in a shot if a more interesting travel adventure came along.
We had a great evening with Marg and her two exceptionally well behaved, dust mop looking little doggies, Mopsey and Muffy. But, once again we had to push on. For some reason winter storms are coming to Southern California much earlier than normal. Actually, ever since we began our travels we've continually encountered "unusual" weather conditions so it's no surprise that it has happened once again. So we needed to get ourselves down to San Diego with as few delays as possible. Big hugs were passed around the next morning accompanied with promises to send photos and letters and we headed off into a howling storm.
Crawling at speeds of 5 mph, wobbling against the push of fierce headwinds and getting off the bike when gusts got too difficult, we gradually made our way up and over the last hill leading back to the coast just north of Santa Barbara. Cars and tempting, empty pick-ups went by, but not one person offered to help. In New Zealand it would take only minutes for someone to see we were in trouble and to stop. But, this is Californiaa, isn't it? It drizzled as we went along and occasionally broke open with a full blown downpour. It took 5 hours to go a mere 20 miles to the first rest area at Gaviota where we managed to pull in just as the heavens opend up their valves to the full/on position and let loose. We had no shoice but to wait it out.
Hours went by as we stood outside the restroom trying to stay out of the rain and using the blow hand dryer to warm us up just a little. Wet people came and went, accidents happened on the highway, and the road flooded. Finally the rain let up just long enough for us to ride tha last 1 mile into Gaviota campground. Within minutes of taking up a spot next to the restroom the rain fell again. Standing under the eves we debated, put up the tent in the mud, put is up oon the concrete, or sleep in the shower. The shower won, but there was no way I was going to sleep inside the building with my bike on the outside. That theft attempt of a few weeks earlier had me spooked and I was not goingto let these bikes spend one night on the opposite side of any door. So into this little L shaped handicapped shower room we all squeezed. Panniers came off the bikes and were hung and stacked incorners, the bikes were stuffed down one side of the L, we slept on the other side on the tarp and thermarests. It was tight, cramped and the light stayed on all night. But we were warm and dry.
We were greeted by wonderful sunshine once again the next morning when we got to survey the damage from the previous night's storm. There had been a lot of flooding including the road into the campground and the hiker/biker tent site. We were quite satisfied that our decision to check into Hotel Shower was definitly correct.
Easily rolling along Rt 1 up and down a few small hills we quickly found ourselves in downtown Santa Barbara and at the JANDD Mountaineering Company. For sometime we had been planning to stop in to give them our ideas and suggestions. We also wanted to see if we could replace the rear bags with smaller, lighter ones. We started rattling off our ideas to George and before we knew it he was handing us new rear bags, new front bags, tool kit bags, repair kits, velcro straps, and a pump strap. In addition he promised to send us a couple rear racks to test down in Mexico and actually make up some mesh 1.5L bottle bags to attach to the back of our rear panniers. They were wonderfully receptive to all our suggestions and we really appreciated having their ear for so long. We've promised to continue giving our suggestions and ideas in a more summarized form as soon as we get to San Diego. Our many thanks go to JANDD and George at JANDD for their great support.
we also happened to met Don, another very enthusiastic bike tourists, right at the JANDD factory. Don happened to know of a tent that may for once provide the room I desire and the weight Brian wants. It's a single pole design that looks much like an egyptian pyramid. One problem, the design as it exists has no floor, no mosquito netting and just one door. So after leaving Don I started thinking about a way to turn essentially a plain rainfly into an actual tent with enclosed floor and mosquito netting pace. It would be so easy to make and would likely end up weighing or the same as our current tent, about 8 lbs with poles, stakes, ropes, and bags. Brian was less than excited about this idea as he likes our current tent and doesn't want to spend 4 months in Mexico living in an experimental tent. So after much discussion we agreed to first try to get the company to make one and let us test it. If not I'll try making one when we get back to the U.S. next spring, but only after I investigate costs and weights, which I'll do before we leave San Diego in December.
We had one more night in what seemed to be an artificially remote location, the Sycamore Canyon campground in the Moro Bay State park sits out on a point from where no city lights are visible. It was halloween night and we were practically alone as only one other RV was in the park. We had no candy or goodies, but I did hae a small orange pumpkin candle I was able to coax into staying lit for a few hours. After that we hit the continuous 100 miles of the LA metropolitan district. Starting with Malibu and extending through El Segundo, Redondo Beach, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, etc. It's mile after mile, two full days of city riding. Fortunately 30 miles at Malibu are on a nice, wide beachside, paved bike path and much of the rest is on Rt 1 or various side streets that have painted bike lanes. Only a couple small sections, the longest about 8 miles, were places that made us grip the handle bars a bit harder. It was in this one spot where we passed boarded and barred houses and businesses clearly saying, "Ride at night and you may die." Otherwise, the ordeal of riding through LA which we had dreaded for so, so long proved to be much less traumatic than we had expected.
We made one last stop in Long Beach to spend the night aboard the boat of our riends, Dick and Judi. We met Dick an Judi in the Yukon "town" of Rancheria, a name that sounds like it belongs in southern California rather than the Yukon. They had been touring Alaska and the Yukon in their RV and were now headed south. Before they left they invited us to stop by when we passed through Long Beach and even offered a ride along the Casiar. I must admit, since this turned out to be the first day of our 3 weeks of rain, we spent much of the next weeks wishing we'd taken them up on the ride offer.
Dick and Judi are two people of very contrasting appearences. Judi is an itty, bitty lady weighing less than 100 lbs with pretty waist length brown hair. Dick is a tall guy weighing in at over 200 lbs with gray hair. Their personalities compliment each other very well with both being so outgoing to us near strangers. We came away feeling as though we'd made new friends for life.
For the past 8 years they have shared life onboard a 45 ft yacht in the Long Beach marina with one old and much slowing down black cat, now 18 years. During these years they've been completely rebuilding the inside of the boat. It was originally advertised as sleeping 10. But, Dick and Judi, not needing quite so many beds, have been converting it to one that sleeps 2 with guest space for 4 more. Named the Volition II, it is lined with beautifully finished teak wood on the walls, floors, and cabinets. Many things are already complete, but much more work needs to be done, like finish the head room in the bow. Well, to go to the bathroom still requires heading up to the dock to the head building and fumbling with the lock that requires a miniumu of three hands to operate. But Dick and Judi have this goal of getting the boat out of dock for the very first time in 8 years this coming Thanksgiving. We'll keep our fingers crossed for them.
We had a nice onboard bar-b-que dinner with Dick, Judi, and their friends Gary and Sandy. Gary, interestingly enough, ias the inventor of the track ball mouse, that invention that now accounts for the majority of billard ball sales. It would have been nice to stay longer, but we were still worried about more cold fronts and Dick and Judi had a lot of work to do to get that boat ready. So in the morning, after a great breakfast, we continued on for our last few miles to San Diego.
The furthest we have ever ridden north while living in San Diego was the town of Dana Point and we've spent many, many nights camping in San Clemente. The 50 miles between SanClemente and San Diego is the single 50 miles in the entire world that we have ridden the most. We know each and every inch of this ride by heart. Every restaurant, store, parking lot are old friends. Changes are few and quite noticible to us. As in April, we felt once again like we were coming home. We will certainly enjoy spending 6 weeks relaxing in San Diego. I will once again be taking a break fron newsletter writing during this time. So we'll be picking up once again when we ge to Mexico in December.
Appendix A - Route
Rt 1 Pismo Beach to Gaviota Rt 101, bike paths, and side roads to San Diego
Appendix B - Campsites
Marg's house in Lompoc, Gaviota State Beach ($), Carpenteria State Park ($), LAX Hotel Travelodge ($), dick and Judi's boat, San Clemente State Park ($), Charlie's house in San Diego
($) indicates fee camping
Copyright © 1995-2011 by Caryl L. Bergeron - Distribution for personal use permitted. Distribution for other uses with written permission.