Sunday, March 29, 2009

Day Twenty-four, 090324 - Las Vegas, NV

No stats today (thank GOD). Well, there was a little cycling action, just about 10 miles worth of getting from the Boulder Station Hotel to Janet & John's house via some really crazy wrong turns, with an average speed of 9.7 mph, time in the saddle of 1:02 mins, overall total distance of 949 mi, with a max speed of 22.1. Walking around all day with my cycle shoe cleats in turned out to be a really bad idea; the bottoms of my feet where the cleats are positioned are now fairly painful. I'm sure it will go away in a day or so, but NEVER again! Today, I tricked C&E (Cati and Eusebio) into letting me pay for my own buffet meal by delaying my arrival with an excuse. We then geared up for the trip back to Janet and John's, but got turned around, and were well on our way back to The Vegas Main Strip before we figured we must be going the wrong way, figured out what we were doing wrong, and headed back in the right direction. Along the way, Cati stopped at an Airstream dealership, and began poking around some of them, the salesman happy to oblige. Not surprisingly, she's interested in doing another grand tour of the world, only this time with an RV (heh!) We got to Janet and John's - John had just arrived back home, and we chatted a bit, John giving some directions to C&E for how to get to Lake Mead, and some of the things one can do, once there. They thanked John, and asked to convey their thanks to Janet as well, and took off. My plans were to dine and connect with the Goldens this evening, and then take off for Lake Mead, too, the next morning. Despite his cancer, John is wonderfully still in full command of his senses, still driving, and still surviving, despite his initial “few days left” prognosis. He has very specific procedures and medicines to self-administer on a schedule, and he follows it to the letter – he’s determined to survive this, and is doing so. Janet is still working, and things seem to be cruising along with no real bad news, and every new day of life is great news. We had a lovely Italian dinner at the Pasta Palace (voted the best Italian restaurant in Las Vegas, which also happened to be in the Boulder Station Hotel), and caught up with each other. It was nice :-) After dinner, I went back up to my room and fully updated the blog and Google Maps route, and then went to BED. A real one – what a change!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day Twenty-three, 090323 - Las Vegas, NV

Day Twenty-three, Date Tuesday, March 23, 2009
Time in Saddle: 1:22
Distance for the Day: 13.6 miles: From Boulder Station Hotel, To The Las Vegas Strip
Accumulated Trip Distance: 938.72
Altitudes: Starting 1808’, Highest: ??, Accumulated: ??
Speeds: Avg: 9.9 mph, Max: 65.9 mph (false)
Weather: Mid 60s into the low 70s, still breezy
Expenditures: $49

(Note: To read this blog chronologically, start at the bottom, and work your way upward from one installment to the next. If you start here at the top, and read the installments going downwards, you'll be going backwards!)

As mentioned in the previous day’s blog, my sinus headache was fast on the wane, and by the time C&E were ready, I was debating whether to risk going out into the still windy conditions to possibly get yet another sinus headache, or to just stay in the hotel and work on blog and do some webwork for the Yosemite Hang Gliding club. Eventually, I decided to join them to see The Strip, so we all went down to the hotel’s buffet for a mid-morning brunch (they paid for mine), before cycling over. We found the Palazzo Hotel parking structure at the north end of The Strip, tucked our cycles away in a corner of the facility, got up to the street level, and began walking south. We hit most of the big casinos (Venetian, MGM Grand, New York, New York, Excalibur Bellagio, and most points in between. Eusebio and I did the roller coaster at New York, New York ($14 per person) (that was his first roller coaster experience), and we played one of the dollar slot machines in one of those casinos. I won $4, and Eusebio won $10 (yeehawwww!) We took our ill gotten gains and fled. I bought a grey longsleeve shirt at Banana Republic ($30), and got a bag of trail mix and a soda ($5) to hold me over until dinner back at our hotel’s buffet (love that buffet) (they again paid for mine). Two amazing things about the day: my sinuses did not act up, despite the fact that it was still breezy, and the other amazing thing: I walked around all that time with my cycling shoe cleats still in, so I clicked as I walked wherever I went. After that, it was back upstairs to blog updates and bed by midnight. Funny: C&E were more tired from walking The Strip than from a 6 hour bicycle ride over mountains.

Day Twenty-Two, 090322 - Las Vegas, NV

Day Twenty-two, Date Sunday, March 22, 2009, Time
Time in Saddle: ~6.5 hrs
Distance for the Day: 59.9 miles: From Southern Pahrump To Las Vegas, NV
Accumulated Trip Distance: 925.11
Altitudes: Starting 3336’, Highest: 5510’, Accumulated: ~2147’
Speeds: Avg: 9.7 mph, Max: 65.9 mph (false)
Weather: Cool in the flats, extremely cold/windy in mtn, to temperate in L.V.
Expenditures: $6

Got up at 6am, ready to go by 7:30am; continued along Hwy 160, and the once distant mountains slowly loomed closer, and the grade became steeper, until it became a medium-strength grade that I couldn’t see the end of, but could tell it went up into the mountains, and into the clouds. As we climbed, we were hit with light rain showers, and then light hail showers, as the temperature dropped into the freezing range. The winds were getting quite strong, too (15 mph, gusting to 25), but fortunately, they were tailwinds, for the most part. Great! We were heading up into a mountain storm, complete with hail and high winds. My toes, being somewhat elevated as I pedaled my recumbent trike, weren’t getting enough circulation, and they became numb. I kept seeing that scene from the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie, where they’re heading into the freezing cold northern waters, and one of the minor crew members snapped his toe off. I furiously wriggled my toes to get some circulation in them, not wanting them to snap off. Amazingly, as slow as we were going (under 10 mph), we still made the summit at almost exactly noon, and turned in to the Mountain Springs Bar and Restaurant located there. That’s when my rear tire went completely flat! It was still freezing cold, with gusting wind, which probably brought the wind chill down to well below freezing, when we entered the bar. It was one of those bars that has its own unique personality, with signed dollar bills covering every available surface, and we very gratefully gathered, shivering with the cold, around the cheerful fire in the open fireplace at one end of the bar. While Cati and Eusebio chatted with the handful of people there, I went back out into the cold, wind, and rain to begin the repair of my tire. I could only go for a few minutes, before having to go back inside to stick my hands into the fire, so I could get some feeling back into my frozen digits. I unloaded all my panniers off the rack, got the rear tire off the frame, got the inner-tube out of the tire, found the puncture, patched it, searched the tire for the offending instrument of puncturation, and found a tiny sliver of stainless steel no bigger than the edge of your pinkie fingernail, and sharp as a brain surgeon’s tool. I pulled it out, put the inner-tube and tire back on the rim, but couldn’t figure out how to get the tire to fit back in with the derailleur. I’ve done this operation on a regular bicycle a gazillion times, and this was no different, so it must have been the cold that was addling my brain. Meanwhile, the super-friendly owner/operator of the bar, Manny Marquina, came over and started helping me. He even fed us freshly made waffles, eggs, and ham! I went back in to unfreeze my fingers, and by the time I came back out, Manny got the tire mounted! I’ve got to say, if Manny’s establishment had not been there, what with the flat tire at the crest of Mountain Springs, I would have been telling a far more harrowing tale than this, believe you me. Thank you Manuel Marquina! You are a prince among men!

About an 1.5 hours later, we were ready to hit the road again. It was still cold and windy, but the rain stopped, and we made good time going down, down, down to lower, and somewhat warmer (more like, “less freezing”) climes. I usually just let ‘er rip, and coast downhill at speeds of 35 – 40 mph on these grades, but this time, I braked a lot, and stayed with Eusebio and Cati – I couldn’t take the windchill while coasting, not generating any heat from a hill-climbing workout. Round about 2:30pm, we came down into the flatlands, again, and pulled into the first quickie mart we found to buy some hot drinks ($2.75). Well, Cati and I did, anyways. Eusebio likes the cold, and didn’t mind it so much. Those two are funny that way – Eusebio likes the cold, but doesn’t like getting hot, and Cati is just the opposite. I called my family in Las Vegas (Janet and John), and they said come on in – they were just heading out, but would be back about 6pm. I rode with C&E (Cati and Eusebio) to find the address of a friend’s friend who agreed to let them camp out in his carport. We had trouble locating the address, so I bought a map ($5), and we finally found it. It was in a somewhat spotty neighborhood, and the carport wasn’t very large or secure, so I invited C&E to Janet and John’s, where I was pretty sure it would be okay for them to camp out in their backyard, too. (We’re used to causing very minimal imposition – asking only to park and lay out a sleeping bag, oftentime being gone before the sun rises). I called John again to verify if it would be okay, and John said he’d check with Kei (Janet), and get back to me. Well, by the time we arrived, John had called in a favor, and got us a room at The Boulder Station Casino and Hotel for up to three nights for free! At that moment, the sound of three jaws hitting the floor could be felt more than heard. C&E couldn’t believe it, and were overjoyed by the fact that they would have soft beds, free wi-fi, and hot showers, instead of sleeping in an open carport made from a giant Jay Leno fabric poster that faced the street a dozen yards away. We offloaded our panniers in the back yard, and followed Janet and John to the hotel as they guided us to it at bicycle speed less than two miles away in their car. John showed us where we could lock our cycles up, and all the security arrangements in the area to assure us that they were safe. He then took us up to our room, and after our many very grateful thanks, he and Janet left for home. That was the great and fantastic news. The really bad news was: it got very windy around town that day, and with the dust and tree pollen blowing around while we were looking for that carport, the stage was set for my sinuses to swell into the most painful condition I get these days – a sinus headache.

This, I thought, was a very bad situation. I sneeze, blow my nose, cough, moan and groan, pace around in the middle of the night, etc. whenever I get a sinus headache, and here I was, in a room with two other people, who would get no sleep if I stayed with them. As it turned out, I forced myself to make no noise. I didn’t blow my nose. I refused to sniffle loudly, and did whatever it took to not sneeze. Interestingly, this effort cut down the amount of time it normally takes for me to recover from this condition by two-thirds, and I was able to get to sleep. By the time I woke up the next day, after about 5.25 hours of sleep, the pain was greatly reduced, and about an hour later, it was gone, and my sinuses, while still somewhat tickly, were almost back to normal. Hmm, interesting. I’ve also noticed this about a throat tickle situation that happens to me occasionally. I sometimes get a tickle in my throat, which makes me want to cough. If I cough, the tickle gets worse, and I cough more and more. This can come out of nowhere, for no apparent reason. I found that if I refuse to cough, which takes an almost Herculean effort, the urge to cough also disappears. I’ll have to try this on my sinus headaches again. It must be the act of sniffling, sneezing, and blowing, that causes the sinuses to swell, which results in the pain. Don’t do these things, and the swelling either doesn’t occur, or goes down quicker. It’s hard to do, but any discomfort is better than having a sinus headache.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Day Twenty-One, 090321 - Pahrump, NV

Day Twenty-one, Date Saturday, March 21, 2009, Time
Time in Saddle: ~3 hours
Distance for the Day: 12 miles: From Death Valley To Southern Pahrump
Accumulated Trip Distance: 859.85
Altitudes: Starting/Ending -145'/4253’, Highest: 4253’, Accumulated: ??
Speeds: Avg: ?? mph, Max: ?? mph
Weather: Mostly cool with high overcast, becoming partly cloudy, windy, and cold.
Expenditures: $53

Got up at 6am, ready to go by 8am; went to see Stovepipe Wells Village, Golden Canyon (impressive – narrow, high-walled canyon), Artist’s Drive (beautiful – so colorful [earth tones, of course]), Natural Bridge (cool – earth carving at its finest), and Badwater (momentous – the lowest point in the US), before exiting the park and heading back to Pahrump to return the truck at 3pm. I re-filled the gas tank ($45 – my treat), cleaned the windows and mirrors, and called Alan so he could come down and pick it up. Thanks, so much, Alan and wife! Dishonest people do not trust others. Your willingness to help perfect strangers, and your faith in the goodness and honesty of your fellow humans is a true testament to your own innate goodness.

After we said our farewells, Cati (pronounced, CAT ee), Eusebio (aka “Louis”) and I continued our journey to get as far as the remaining daylight would allow us to go towards our next goal: Las Vegas. The weather by this time was looking like rain, of all things, but it seemed to stay more to the mountains, and we were still in the high desert flatlands. Just before sunset, we found a side road that led to a large, government-owned gravel pit(?) off of the Old Spanish Trail Highway, where we found a nice spot, away from the traffic, and out of view of every and anyone. We set up camp, ate our store-bought sandwiches (mine + Gatorade = $8), and went to bed. Cati was very concerned for me because of snakes in the desert. She pointed to a hole in the ground near where I set up my sleeping gear, so I took a few rocks, covered the hole, and smiled. She did not look at all convinced, but I assured her that it was too cold for snakes to be wandering around in the night, especially because it really was fairly cold and windy. We all hit the hay at 8:30pm, and weren’t bothered by inclement weather, traffic noise, or snakes the whole night.

This is one of my 3-D pictures using the cross-eye technique. You cross your eyes slightly to bring the two images into a third, center image, and then refocus your eyes to see a 3-D image!

Day Twenty, 090320 - Death Valley, CA

Day Twenty, Date Friday, March 20, 2009
Time in Saddle: ~4.5 hrs
Distance for the Day: ~28.6 miles: From Shoshone To Death Valley, CA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 847.85 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 1934’/, Highest: 3019’, Accumulated: ??
Speeds: Avg: 6.4 mph, Max: ??
Weather: Cool and clear in the morning, warming to mid-80s
Expenditures: $38

Got up at 6pm, ready to go by 7:52; going to shoot for Pahrump, try to find a place to store cycles, rent a car, and go to Death Valley. We hit the CA/NV boarder at 11:30, and got to Pahrump by 12:00. (For those who are not aware of silly sci-fi trivia, Pahrump is the town where the Martians first landed on Earth in the Tim Burton comedy, Mars Attacks). We found a place to rent a car and store our cycles, but, there were no cars available, so we waited for one to return that we could use, did grocery shopping ($18) and ate lunch in the meantime. We also went to the local library for some free wi-fi to do email and check maps, but by the time the car rental place closed, no more cars came back, so we were out of luck. Cati was bummed. But wait! Our luck made a remarkable comeback! The people from the business next door to the car rental place took note of our plight, took pity on us, and offered the use of their gigantic monster diesel truck for our overnight trip to Death Valley and back! Alan Cunningham, General Contractor and President of Homes West Inc., consulted with his lovely wife (whose name I never did get, but she played a key role in their joint decision to help us), and literally gave us their truck! As I told Alan, I knew I would meet nice people on this trip, but I never in my wildest dreams thought they’d be this nice. We forced him to take some compensatory funds to take his family out to dinner, loaded our gear in the back, stored our cycles in his business office, and took off for Death Valley. Amazing how things can turn out. It was now just a few hours before sunset, and we made it down into the valley (park entry fee $20) in time to see sunset at Zabriskie Point, an overlook with dramatic views of time-worn terrain. We then drove on in search of camping facilities, and found the “overflow” tent camping area of the Furnace Creek RV Trailer Park. There, we made a dinner of sausages, bread, and cole slaw salad – all quite delicious. I gave Cati and Eusebio (the correct spelling of their names) a better constellation talk, as the sky was much darker, and then we went to bed around 9pm. Our elevation at that point was somewhere very close to sea level.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day Ninteen, 090319 - Shoshone, CA

Day Nineteen, Date Tuesday, March 19, 2009, Time
Time in Saddle: 5.5 hrs
Distance for the Day: 56.5 miles: From Baker To Shoshone
Accumulated Trip Distance: 819.25
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 1216’/1940’, Highest: 2399’, Accumulated: 2277’
Speeds: Avg: 9.6 mph, Max: 25.8 mph
Weather: 49°
Expenditures: $33

Up at 6am, ready to go by 7:30am, had breakfast of hot choco and a muffin ($6) (from the convenient convenience store that we slept behind). We didn’t get a very good night’s sleep, due to the close proximity to Hwy 15, and the fact that the building we were behind was a gas station where trucks, motorcycles, and other loud vehicles would stop in at all night. I had earplugs, but these noises still penetrated, so I got only sporadic sleep – I don’t know how Katy and Louis fared, but they couldn’t have done much better. I was originally going to go to Las Vegas by sticking to Hwy 15 all the way, but my new companions found out that was a very tough ride, with a mountain pass over seven thousand feet high. An alternate route, Hwy 127 (Death Valley Rd) took a longer, more circuitous route, but didn’t have the same high climbs. I decided to continue on with them (duh!) Katy is a killer cyclist – she outperforms both Louis and me, but she’s a spinning instructor at home (in Mallorca, Spain), and is in top shape. She expects Louis to come up to her level within a few more weeks. Interestingly, I can keep pace with them on mostly level terrain, and can go way faster than them on relatively steep downhill grades, but they can easily kick my butt on uphill grades, where I typically will go 3-5 mph, while they go more like 7-8 mph. I think this is due to the design difference of our cycles, mine being a recumbent trike with low wind resistance, as opposed to their bicycles, which don’t do as well against a headwind, but can utilize gravity better (pushing down on their pedals, instead of forward with mine) when the wind isn’t so much a factor, such as in slower, uphill work. So, they wait for me at the tops of hills, and they catch up to me after a downhill that turns back into an uphill. For their full story, see their website at, which means “cycle the world,” which is what they are doing (Canada, next, and then New Zealand after that!)

After a grueling climb from ~800’ to 2400’ during the worst part of the day (10am – 2pm) in the hot stinking desert, I hit the Ibex Pass which crested at 2090’going into Inyo County Line. We were then rewarded with an equally long descent, and pulled into the tiny town of Shoshone, just about 60 mi southeast of Pahrump, NV. I found quickly enough, that if I tried to keep pace with them on the uphill grades, I would come dangerously close to heat exhaustion, so quit trying – let ‘em wait! My knees seem to be almost fool-proof, now; I haven’t heard from them for a couple of days (ever since my rest-up at Auntie Elsie’s), though my leg muscles still get a little stiff after those long, hard uphill pushes. I tell ya: trying to keep pace with Katy on an uphill grade is tantamount to suicide. Once in Shoshone, we got supplies from the local store ($11 for me), and a pay-for campsite ($5 – my share of the $25 total), and dinner ($12). We took a dip in the natural hot spring-fed pool with a mild 95° temperature, and found some free wi-fi at the local, well, I don’t know what you’d call it: a place that promotes and preserves the local area’s history and uniqueness. It’s called, The Amargosa Conservancy, and they have free wi-fi and electricity and even a computer and printer for anyone to use, apparently 24 hours a day. Wow! Eat your heart out, Starbucks! I’ve been using my helmet cam to take videos of both Katy and Louis and myself while on the road, and helped Louis set up his laptop so it could play the AVI files my recorder uses. I also showed him how to edit the videos using Windows Media Maker. Both Louis and I stayed up at the Amargosa Conservancy until about 10pm working on our various emails and websites, before heading back to camp to get a decent night’s sleep. I left a donation ($5) for the computer usage.

Oh, by the way: in Baker, I filled my stove’s fuel bottle with unleaded regular gasoline. I’ve never used that particular fuel before – it seems it will clog the fuel jets faster, but I couldn’t get to any stores that sold “white gas” whenever it occurred to me to get some. From looking up my stove on the web, I found out that unleaded gas would cause the stove to clog up much quicker. Luckily, I ran into a nice couple who were willing to give me a bit of their white gas, so I dumped the unleaded stuff onto a concrete slab for it to evaporate, and replaced it with the good stuff.

Day Eighteen, 090318 - Baker, CA

Day Eighteteen, Date Wednesday, March 18, 2009, Time
Time in Saddle: 5:27
Distance for the Day: 65.8 miles: From Barstow To Baker
Accumulated Trip Distance: 762.73
Altitudes: Ending 1222’, Highest: 2380’, Accumulated: 1654’
Speeds: Avg: 12 mph, Max: 35.9 mph
Weather: 40°
Expenditures: $26

Going to start before the sun rise; there’s a half moon; but it’s getting light enough to see; see a couple of anthills, but they’re all inside as it’s too cold out, yet. I wonder if there were any antills where I camped…? My knees have been holding up very well, but the muscles near my knees were giving me some trouble, but not too much. Got some supplies and some veggies ($26), and met up with Katy and Louis who are from Spain, started their worldwide tour in Venezuela, and also happen to be going to Las Vegas, so we decided to ride together for a while. I got company – cool! Stopped at a highway rest stop at 12pm and broke out the stoves to cooked up some rice and yams (I ate most of the yams, as they didn’t seem to like them very much). Katy had some cans of V-8 vegetable juice, and we used one of them to flavor the rice. I told them about how homeless people back in the Great Depression (you know, 2009?) would make “hobo tomato soup” using free hot water and ketchup. We left around 2pm, continuing on to the town of Baker. Pulled into Baker at 5pm, and found a nice lawn behind the AM/PM mini-mart, and I talked the clerks into letting us camp back there for free. We took hose showers, they went off looking for food for dinner, and I just hung out to keep watch of the gear.

Day Seventeen, 090317 - Barstow, CA

Day Seventeen, Date Tuesday, March 17, 2009, Time
Time in Saddle: 4:55 hrs
Distance for the Day: 54.95 miles: From Hwy 15 El Cajon Pass crest To Barstow
Accumulated Trip Distance: 696.89
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 4120'/2175', Highest: 4089’ Accumulated: 1332’
Speeds: Avg: 11.1 mph, Max: 27.5 mph
Weather: 42° clear, dry, clear throughout day, warming to mid-to-upper 70s
Expenditures: $17
Total overall odometer for trike: 1075.3 miles

Woke at 6:25am ready to go by 7am; my sleeping bag was dry, this time (yay!); got Gatorade and trail mix at gas station ($5.50); got first flat tire at 8:45am/648.02 mi total trip mark, and took about half hour to fix; seems it bypassed my Mr. Tuffy tire lining by poking in from the side, probably from parking my trike down in that stealth campsite this morning (lots of sticky bushes); I was able to fill it to 20 lb or pressure using my hand pump, enough to get me to the gas station just up the road. At 10:06 my left-hand mirror fell off, again, so I’m now I’m tying it down with dental floss to make sure if it falls off again, I won’t leave it on the road. Good thing I did, too, as it did fall off, again; there’s something wrong with it, and I might have to epoxy it or somehow get it’s compression fitting to stick better – we’ll see. It was a very nice, mild downhill grade to Victorville – several miles of around 20mph; stopped off at the local CHP for advice how to get from here to Barstow and Las Vegas using Hwy 15 as much as possible. While in Victorville, I asked Rigo Chaidez of Checkmate Carpets to keep my trike while I went into Target to buy some underwear and get one of those little, flat GPS units. Unfortunately, all of those units have internal batteries, that come with a car charge cord, but you have to buy an AC charge cord from the company (they don’t sell them in the store). Another option I’ll consider is just buying a mapping program, like Delorme, or Garmin, or some such. I find it’s helpful to be able to read maps when you’re NOT connected to the internet. Rigo and all the people in the photo went out of their way to help me; Rigo even drove me over to Best Buy to check out the GPS units over there, and let me use their work computer to check out the routes out of town – thanks, guys! If you ever need carpet, tile, or other types of flooring in the Victorville, go to Checkmate Carpets!

Got 2 more quarts of Gatorade ($4) and a deli sandwich ($7) at the Elenville Market, on the way between Victorville and Barstow. Reached Barstow at 4:18pm and went looking for any place with free internet access, but couldn’t find one, so went to Starbucks at 5:30pm, and paid the ($4) for it. I left Starbucks around 9:30pm, and headed out to where Google Maps was telling me I would be able to pick up Hwy 66, again. I cast about a little bit, and found a nice empty lot away from the main road by a hundred yards, and stealth camped, there. It wasn’t \cold, per se, but it was cooler than comfortable. The stars tonight were ablaze, despite the local light pollution, and I went to sleep hoping to see a meteor (never did).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day Sixteen, 090316 - Cajon Pass, CA

Day Sixteen, Date March 16, 2009, Time ??
Time in Saddle: 4:55
Distance for the Day: 28.47 miles: Edwards Community Church To Cajon Pass crest
Accumulated Trip Distance: 641.94
Altitudes: Starting 4089, Highest: 4228, Accumulated: 3461
Speeds: Avg: 5.7 mph, Max: 30.7 mph
Weather: 40°
Expenditures: $10
Overall cyclometer mileage: 1020.4 miles

Woke up at 6am, and chatted with the caretaker as he just arrived to do some early morning work. I left at about 7am, and continued on east until getting to a The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf store with free internet (yay!); bought worth of hot chocolate, muffin, and choco chip cookies ($10)– stayed until 3:15pm(!) to finish updating my blog and Google Maps – I doesn’t look like I’ll be making much mileage today! In checking Google Earth and Maps, it looks like there is cycle access transitioning from the L.A.basin to the high desert (Victorville, Barstow, etc.) so I headed up Sierra St. where I met another cyclist, Hector, at 4:55pm who offered to guide me to where the rest of the route through to the cycle access on Hwy 15 began (thanks, Hector!) It was a fair bit of a ride to get to that freeway access, and by the time I got there, it was 7pm, right at sunset. I didn’t think it was too much further, so I went ahead and took it, a long, uphill grade that as I was to discover, was actually quite long. Once I got on, I kept poking along at like 3-5mph, passed a few off-ramps looking very carefully for any signs that said “cyclists must exit,” but didn’t see any. It’s now fully dark, I put my flashers on (fore and aft), and kept on keeping on, with semi-truck and trailers passing me on my left about 15’ away. That uphill grade was so steady, and there weren’t any more exits – just a drop off to some canyon below. I just kept hoping all the drivers were alert and didn’t need to pull over for anything, and kept plodding upward. Along the way, I saw the sign that said, “Victorville, 19 miles” - yikes! It was a lot further than I thought. Lovely. There wasn’t anything to do, just keep on going. About three or four times, I’d come around a corner hoping to reach the Cajon Pass crest, but it was just another several miles of that slow, steady uphill grade, but it was getting easier, and I was able to make faster time (I’m guessing around 5-6mph because it was too dark to read my cyclometer). I finally crested the Cajon Summit at 8:30pm, and there was an exit there with a gas station, so I took it. I didn’t really need anything, so I just went past the station on the road, and found a nice spot below the road’s grade to play “hide and sleep.” I parked, set out my gear, and got to sleep around 9:15pm. Oh, by the way, you’ll notice in this narrative, that I didn’t eat anything all day except the two hot chocos and the muffin and two cookies. Remember, I mentioned the wide latitude I have for bodily needs? Proof positive!

Day Fifteen, 090315 - Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Day Fifteen, Date Sunday, March 15, Time 10:20
Time in Saddle: 16:16
Distance for the Day: 54.12 miles: From Eastern L.A. To Rancho Cucamonga
Accumulated Trip Distance: 613.46
Altitudes: Starting 677’, Highest: 1634’, Accumulated: 1893’
Speeds: Avg: 8.6 mph, Max: 50.9 mph (unlikely)
Weather: Mild, overcast, clearing as moving east
Expenditures: $3

No pictures this time- sorry! Left Auntie Elsie’s at 10:20am and didn’t hardly even get to Glendale before my left rearview mirror fell off! I recovered it, and put it back on – no other parts seemed to fall off, so that’s good. Don’t know why it did that, but I’m going to have to keep an eye on it, to see if it tries to do that again. Stopped at a gas station to get a quart of Gatorade ($3) and turn in some rather soggy but apparently still readable lottery tickets (+$14!). Left L.A. heading east on Colorado, then Royal Oaks, then Foothill, and hit Hwy 15 at 6pm. It was getting dark by this time, so I headed up to the higher ground of Rancho Cucamonga and found Edwards’s Community Church, where I knocked on the door to a knife wielding caretaker! He was totally cool, but prepared for trouble from a night time knock on the door. He offered the use of the bathroom, and even gave me a couple of sodas. I parked on the concrete behind the church, which was an old one (I think he said it was a protected historic building). I slept very well, thanks to my air omattress, and I like concrete, as it’s very clean. Got to sleep at just about 8:30pm.

Day Twelve - Fourteen, 090314 - Los Angeles, CA

Day 12-14 (Th,Fr,Sa), Date March 12-15, Time n/a
Time in Saddle: n/a
Distance for the Day: n/a miles: From n/a To n/a
Accumulated Trip Distance: n/a
Altitudes: Starting n/a, Highest: n/a, Accumulated: n/a
Speeds: Avg: n/a mph, Max: n/a mph
Weather: mild
Expenditures: n/a

Spent three days at my Auntie Elsie’s. While there, I finally took two showers (yay!), washed my clothes, and brought my blog entries almost completely up to date, ready to be uploaded to the site. I uploaded most of the updates via the free wi-fi available at two local libraries. I also “fixed” her front screen door which was sagging, bought and installed a flat HD TV and recycled her old CRT dinosaur from a bygone era, got her a battery powered hand drill (used to fix the door), replaced most of her incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent ones (to save money on power), and put non-slip material on her car’s clutch and brake pedals, which were slick, bare metal, and tough to keep your feet on. How she survived living at the top of that hill with all the steep streets surrounding her, I’ll never know! She took me out to see the movie, The Watchmen, and we had a nice dinner, after. I didn’t know it, but we have somewhat similar taste in movies – imagine that, though she’s a bit more discerning. We both enjoyed The Watchmen, which was one of the most unusual non-formula “hollywood" movie I’ve ever seen – it sure didn’t progress or end as I thought it would. What a surprise!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Day Eleven, 090311 - Los Angeles, CA

Day Eleven: Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Distance for the Day: 56.9 miles: Pt. Mugu State Park to Auntie Elsie’s in Echo Park (east of Hollywood), Los Angeles
Accumulated Trip Distance: 559.34 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending: 10’/677’, Highest: 714’, Accumulated: 2333’
Speeds: Avg: 8.6 mph, Max: 65.9 mph (cyclometer appears to be partially broken)
Weather: Overcast, cool
Expenditures: $0

Woke up at 6am, got on the road by 6:45. I had to do a little maneuvering to get around a locked gate, but made it out just fine. Went immediately out to the coast to try seeing the full moon set on the ocean, but low clouds obscured the last few degrees. Today, I was going to finish the first leg of my trip: the major goal of San Francisco to Los Angeles. I hit the Malibu city limits at 8:10am, and took a rest stop at 8:45 to make more Gatorade and eat and energy bar. I’d done this route (Pt. Mugu to L.A.) a few decades ago, when I used to live in L.A., but didn’t remember Malibu as being a several miles long community. It sure is now, though. I finally did make it to Santa Monica at about 10:30am, and spent a little time videotaping riding the bicycle trail that runs through the long beaches, there, leading to the Santa Monica Pier, where I rode up and down its length, videotaping the whole time. I notice it doesn’t work very good, though, when the sky is overcast, because the camera’s auto-exposure settings make it underexpose the things on the ground when it overcompensates for the brightness in the sky. From the pier, I took Colorado St. heading east, and after a while, moved up to Santa Monica Blvd, itself. I kept on Santa Monica for a long time, and moved further north to Highland, Sunset, and finally to Hollywood Blvd. Now, I knew generally where my aunt lived, but didn’t know exactly how to get there. I needed a street map, but was too cheap to buy one, so I kept looking for maps on bus kiosks. After checking several, I gave up, and asked a couple of small businesses, still without luck. Then, I saw my answer: a fire station. And, indeed: they did have them. I found several firemen putting lacquer on a wooden ladder and asked if it was okay to check out their wall maps. Absolutely, said they. One of them even came over to give me a hand, looking for the street. He found it first, and I wasn’t more than a mile or two from my destination. My Auntie Elsie lives at the top of one of L.A.’s steepest (not highest) hills, so I knew I was in for a very tough final push. I made it, barely, and thus ended the first major leg of my journey.

Day Ten, 090310 - Pt. Mugu, CA

Day Ten: Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Time in Saddle: 6:00
Accumulated Trip Distance: 502.35
Distance for the Day: 61 miles: Goleta to Pt.Mugu
Altitudes: Starting/Ending: ??, Highest: ??, Accumulated: ??
Speeds: Avg: 10.0 mph, Max: 51.2mph (something is wrong with this figure)
Weather: Clear, mild-to-cool, windy and cold in the evening
Expenditures: $12
Fully updated Google Maps (finally!)

Woke up at 5am, still not used to Daylight Squandering Time, so there wasn’t any hint of daylight yet. I discovered that if I cover my sleeping bag with the ground cover tarp, it gets wet from condensation, so I won’t be covering it again, unless it’s raining. I broke camp at about 6:15, left park, and continued east along the surface streets of Santa Barbara. I asked a local streetworker where I could find the nearest Starbucks, and he was able to give me detailed directions and distances – does everybody know where to find Starbucks? I rode up State St., found the ubiquitous coffee shop at 6:38, and got a hot choco and pastry ($8) before setting up my phone and battery rechargers and settling in with a newspaper. I had half an eye on my trike outside the window, and noted the occasional curious passerbys. By 8am, my batteries were charged enough to count, so I picked up to leave, and met Chuck from the Antioch University, a small, nearby university, where he worked in the IT office. We got to chatting about my trip, and in the conversation, I mentioned that I needed to find a library with internet access, at which he offered to let me use the university’s computers and even their showers. Wow, that was lucky!

Chuck was an interesting fellow: majored in environmental studies at college, he went into the military and trained as a sniper; did tours in all the middle east hotspots, and was now an Information Technologist for the Antioch University while studying law so he could help save the planet by designing, implementing, and managing green technology. I told him about the idea for an ultimate clean and infinite power source (space based solar power using a mag-lev launch platform to get payloads into space economically), and he seemed receptive to the idea. At the university, I was able to update my blog, and created the publicly available Google Maps track of my day-by-day route up to Day 6 (even though today is Day 10) (there was a definite learning curve – I kept accidentally deleting routes I’d spent time creating – not just a little frustrating). It got to be around 12:30, the day was running late, and I hadn’t made much mileage, so I thanked Chuck, gave him my card, and continued on to a goal I wasn’t sure I’d make (Oxnard).

By 2:23pm, I took a few minutes to visit a park with a name like, “The Bluffs of Carpinteria,” or something like that, and met and chatted a while with Bud and and his little dog, Duke. I only had 17 miles for the day so far, so was resigned to this being a low mileage day. I entered Ventura City limit at 3:44 pm, picked up a pre-packaged convenience store sandwich ($4), and took a picture of the yacht harbor just south of Oxnard, so I not only made Oxnard, I passed it! I then followed Pt. Hueneme Road until it hit Freeway 1 (which I couldn’t use), then took the road that paralleled the freeway and passed along the east side of the Air National Guard base. At a guard station, I was told there “is probably,” or “might be” some way to get Hwy 1 if I follow the road alongside the base. With a certain degree of trepidation over the possibility of having to backtrack/reroute, I took the road and found out that the end of it led to a freeway onramp, but that it had no “cyclists prohibited” sign on it, meaning, it had become rideable, again Saw sunset at 7:01, and a tiny bit of green as the sun set over the base, but was getting colder, windy, and dark, and I wasn’t sure where I might plant myself down for the night. But, with no other choice, I got on the highway, and pushed on.

With the wind out of the west, I had a nice tailwind, which made things much easier. I easily made Pt. Mugu, and there was an oceanside pay-for camping site. It was definitely getting dark by now, and I would have been willing to pay the $15 camping fee, but it was just a parking lot for RVs – no protection at all from the highway traffic noise or the wind. Across the street, there was a park, so I headed over there, instead, and found a nice spot near a picnic table that was surrounded by a parking lot. Protected well against the wind and the noise, I set up my gear, ate my sandwich and some M&Ms, and went to bed. I watched the full moon rise above one of the surrounding ridges that ringed in this protected spot, and hummed the theme song from Joe vs The Volcano. I’d just fallen asleep, when someone shined a flashlight at the air opening for my mouth and nose in my sleeping bag. The Park Ranger! This was not an overnight campsite, but, since I was all snug as a bug already, he was going to let me go, perhaps especially since I wasn’t really “camping,” per se (tent, fire, food all over, Coleman lantern, several people, etc.) I never even opened my air hole enough to look at the guy – just thanked him (for not kicking me out), and went back to sleep. I hate getting kicked out of a stealth camp. Truthfully, though, I couldn’t know this wasn’t a place you could or couldn’t camp in, because I couldn’t find the signs, much less read them.

Day Nine, 090309 - Goleta, CA

Day Nine: Monday, March 9, 2009
Time in Saddle: 5:43
Distance for the Day: 53.8+lost mileage from leg before Lompoc: Orcutt to Goleta
Altitudes: Starting/Ending: ??, Highest: 1100’, Accumulated: 2582’
Speeds: Avg: 9.4 mph, Max: 42.8 mph
Weather: Clear, 43° cool to warm
Expenditures: $14

Got up at 6:41, ate an apple and broke down/packed away gear; ready to roll by 7:15. Hit the downhill grade (after yesterday’s long uphill) and stopped by the Vandenberg Air Force Base to take a picture. Found a Burger King at 10:50 and used one of Yolanda’s Burger King gift cards (thanks, Yolanda!) to get a burger and soda; also used the time to transcribe messages off the voice recorder onto a flattened Burger King paper bag, as it had filled up, and I needed more space for further blog entries; I’ve been using the recorder to keep blog entries since my notebook wouldn’t be usable until I got to my Auntie Elsie’s in L.A. I stopped at Lompoc to buy a footlong Subway sandwich and soda ($6), and to replace my trike’s flag at a local bike shop ($8). I went the wrong way, trying to leave town, and wasted about a half hour figuring it out and coming back. At 12:09 I inadvertently wiped out the day’s stats off my cyclometer, so would have to figure that in when posting the day’s figures. After leaving Lompoc on Hwy 1, I went up into a region of beautifully green and hilly ranchlands on a long, smooth and steady uphill grade until 2:45pm to an altitude of 1100’. I then had the pleasure of dropping a thousand feet within 2 miles down a 7% downhill grade getting to 42.8mph before joining in with Hwy 101, and stopping at a highway rest stop just before Gaviota. I made some more Gatorade (from powder), and chatted with the other rest stop people; then pushed ahead at 3:24pm down the coast to Isla Vista and reached Goleta at 5:02pm, a western suburb of Santa Barbara. Along the way, I missed the sign that said “cyclists must take the next exit,”and so rode down about 6 miles of restricted freeway before the CHP pulled me over and nicely told me to get the hell off the frickin’ freeway. They were actually very polite about it, and didn’t even hint about giving me a ticket, though I should have gotten a clue when I had to cross a two-lane on ramp with cars speeding up to 50 and 60 mph heading towards me. In town, I had to wend my way eastward on surface streets (the coast, at this point, ran east-to-west), and was wondering where I could bed down for the night.

The sun set at 7:09pm, and it was almost dark before I found a likely location that faces the ocean called La Mesa Park. It didn’t have any signs that said “no overnight camping,” or “park open 8am to sunset,” or anything like that, so, if I slept there, maybe I wouldn’t get thrown into jail for vagrancy. I found a big bush that I could hide behind, and set up my gear at about 8pm. I ate my Subway sandwich while chatting with a local who told me all about the local animals (mountain lions, coyotes, owls) and a bit later, went to sleep at 8:47pm. Oh, I developed a sore spot on my inner thigh so I put some bactine lotion on it, and that seemed to fix it. My knees are slowly getting better I think. I’d been going somewhat easy on them the last few days, but today, I thought I’d try putting more pressure on going up today’s grade, and they were fine, though they started to hurt again by mid-afternoon, after getting past Gaviota. Afterwards, I went easy on them again, and though they were now somewhat achey, they lasted fine to the end of the day.

Day Eight, 090308 - Orcutt, CA

Day Eight: Sunday, March 8, 2009
Distance for the Day: 69.25 miles: Cayucos to Orcutt
Accumulated Trip Distance: 369.48
Altitudes: Starting/Ending: 56’/651’, Highest: ??, Accumulated: ??
Speeds: Avg: 9.0 mph, Max: 37.2 mph
Weather: Clear, cool 43°, warmed to mid-60s by afternoon, and got cool again in evening
Expenditures: $16

Woke up at 5:55am, packed my gear away, and was ready to roll by 6:50am. I was awakened briefly in the night by a loud crashing noise that penetrated my earplugs. Turns out someone had a collision right across the street from the church, and there was bits of glass and fender all over the street, which the police and the church pastor were cleaning up. I guess no one reported it when it happened, or the police would have already visited the scene and cleaned it up. I found out that the rear pannier rack had fallen off its set rod, so I put it back on and tightened it down. I’ll try to find a motel that’s willing to give me an hourly rate so I can just take a shower. (As it turns out, they generally don’t do that, even if the room was just vacated. I imagine I would have to go to a city’s red light district to find motels with hourly rates, and they probably wouldn’t have working showers.) Fine. Sponge baths work just fine for me, though it’s been generally too cold for me to face washing my hair outdoors in the morning or evening. Here’s something interesting: at home, I’d shower every other day, mostly because my hair would get a little oily and dandruffy (new word!), but the skin behind my ears over the last decade or so would become dry, scaly and peely (another!) Well, having not washed my hair in over a week, now, the skin behind my ears has gone back to being completely normal. No scales, no itch, no flakes – nothing. A side benefit of “attenuated” (I won’t say “poor”) hygiene? Dunno, but glad, nonetheless.

Entered Morro Bay city limits at 7am, where I took a bathroom break and bought some peanuts, a lighter, and a California map ($8). Went to the local library, but it wasn’t open, yet, so pushed on. Hit San Luis Obispo at 9:20 and checked the library, there, but they’re not open all day because it’s Sunday (duh!). Almost got a little lost at one point, but hooked-up with a friendly local cyclist by the name of Ryan who showed me the quickest way back to the highway (thanks, Ryan!). He’s a speed rider, and goes regularly goes 20mph on the straight and level (as compared to my 12mph). Side note: I just figured out how to adjust the tilt of my helmet down so that it’s visor blocks the sun and also doesn’t catch the wind. The fine adjustments continue. Met the first tricyclist out in the wild, Frank, in Pismo Beach right at noon. We chatted about how great are recumbents and about my trip. I gave him my card, and took his picture. Hit the Santa Barbara county line and the town of Guadalupe at 2:08pm. Hit The Mesa that Frank told me about; it’s got a short but pretty steep/tough climb, but once you’re up and over it, you get the fun ride down after, whereupon it becomes very flat with large agricultural fields for several miles. Stopped in Orcutt to get a deli sandwich, a couple of apples, and a choco chip scone-like thing ($8). At 4:15pm, I took a quickie sponge bath in the bathroom of the gas station in Orcutt; it was in rather yucky condition, but I cleaned it up a bit for them, and finally managed to wash my hair for the first time in eight days. I know – EIGHT DAYS?? Hey, nobody complained, though I did see a few people run away from me holding their noses. I thought it was because of the nearby agricultural fields, though now that I think about it, the wind was blowing towards those fields, not from them… Went up a long, tough grade to Firefighter Rd. south of Orcutt and found an unused dirt road into a hilly, undeveloped area to camp stealthily. Boy, that camouflage cloth is the best idea I had for the entire trip. I was within sight of the road, but nobody noticed me because I blended in. I ate my sandwich and an apple, and was in bed by 6:18pm. The bright gibbous moon lit everything up the whole night.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Day Seven, 090307 - Cayucos, CA

Day Seven: Saturday, March 7, 2009
Time in Saddle: 6:10
Distance for the Day: 52,8 miles: Plaskett Creek to Cayucos
Altitudes: Starting/Ending: 162’/51’, Highest: 996’, Accumulated: 7142’
Speeds: Avg: 8.5 mph, Max: 37.0 mph
Weather: Clear and calm, 43° warming to low-to-mid 60s
Expenditures: $39

Got up at 5:37am after a somewhat uncomfortable night of sleeping without the use of my inflatable mattress. I thought I could get away with it, but the ground turned out to be a little harder than I thought. It wasn’t too bad, though. I walked around a bit before packing up to look at the early dawn constellations, which were the summertime set. I can’t remember the last time I saw both the winter and summer constellations in a 12 hour time period. Cool! I packed up, and left the Sand Dollar picnic area at just around sunup (7:30am), and noticed the hitchhikers were just waking up, having had no luck the previous night, so hid themselves behind a log next to the locked gate I mentioned, yesterday. I wished them better luck for today, and began riding up Hwy 1, again, when I noticed the real entrance to the Plaskett Creek Camping Grounds a few more yards past that locked gate. The gate was for the school next door, not the campgrounds (doh!), which looked pretty busy with lots of campers, but, they didn’t have hot showers, anyways, so I did the right thing, anyways, and saved another $25 fee. I discovered I had cell phone coverage, so gave Auntie M a call to update her on my current status. I continued down Hwy 1 a few miles, and stopped in at the Whale Watcher Café for a bathroom break, and to get an English muffin, egg, and a glass of grapefruit juice ($12). Also stopped in at the convenience store there to get a bag of cashews and Gatorade ($5). Chatted with a group of retired sightseers across the road from the café for a bit, and then continued south; hit the San Luis County Line at 10:34. Stopped to take a picture of a particularly precipitous drop of about 540’, according to my altimeter, and some more gorgeous views of the rugged Big Sur coastline. Past Ragged Point at 11:50am I had an incident with a valuable lesson: don’t hang your clothes atop the rear panniers to dry, because sooner or later, they get caught in the rear wheel. This time, my jacket got caught, threw me into a full-on skid that I had to turn into to avoid flipping over, and bent the rear wheel fender supports, which then had to be bent back to keep the fender from rubbing. My jacket got a big hole in it, so that was a bit of a bummer. It wasn’t a fancy or expensive jacket, but now I needed another. I also noticed that I forgot to put the upper half of my flag on at the Sand Dollar stealth camp site, so now I was without a flag. Poop! Two more items I’m definitely going to have to replace. I swear: by the time this trip is over, I’ll be down to one wheel and ME, naked. Made it to Pt. Piedras Blancas at 12:24, and stopped a bit south of there to look at some seals on the rocks. Those animals are the only ones I can think of that bring along their own waterproof sofa to lie down on wherever they go. Got to San Simeon at 1:45pm and decided to cook up lunch on the picnic table outside the convenience store. I found and bought a nice, ultra-cheap jacket ($14) to replace the one I’d just destroyed, got more Gatorade, and a pre-packaged sandwich. I thought I’d try cooking lunch, and eat the more convenient sandwich for dinner. While I prepared a hot meal of rice and yam, I had the nice convenience store clerk lady recharge my cell phone and camera battery. Left at 3:20pm, continuing down the ever lovin’ Hwy 1. Saw some zebras on the hillside around there, too. So odd. Made it into the town of Cayucos at just about 5pm and got permission to sleep on the covered rear porch of the Cayucos Catholic church, there. After securing my stuff, I grabbed my little binoculars and sandwich and walked out to a beach overlook to see if there would be a green flash over the cloudless Pacific Ocean horizon. A handful of other people also gathered, and I let them know about the phenomenon, though it’s tough to see without some kind of optical aid. It happened, but not brightly enough for those without binocs to be able to see it. I went to a busy little bar/restaurant across the street from the church and got a yummy pecan pie choco-gooey dessert ($8). I then went to my back porch campsite, and retired for the night at 6:51pm.

Day Six, 090306 - Plaskett Creek, CA

Day Six: Friday, March 6, 2009
Time in Saddle: 6:22
Distance for the Day: 47.4 miles: Garrapata to Plaskett Creek
Accumulated Trip Distance: 247.5
Altitudes: Starting: ??, Highest: 996’, Accumulated: 4242’
Speeds: Avg: 7.4 mph, Max: 38.5 mph
Weather: 43° lightly breezy, mostly cloudy, becoming mostly clear with high winds in evening 20 gusting to 25 mph
Expenditures: $10

Got up in the pre-dawn dark around 5:30am to avoid detection from residents who would now be leaving for work from the “hidden” community, and was ready to go by 6:30am. Reached the northern border of Los Padres Nat’l Forest at 8:44am, and passed over the cool looking Rock Creek Bridge (should have taken a picture), and then the more famous Bixby Bridge (this time, I did take one). Stopped at the River Inn around 9:30am for a bathroom break, and to pick up some snacking peanuts, Gatorade, scrub pad (for the burned rice on my pot), and a map of Big Sur ($10). At around 10:15am, I stopped for an hour at the Big Sur Ranger Station’s bathroom to wash some clothes and take a sponge bath; they were closed that day, due to government spending cuts, so I only had one visitor. We chatted a bit, and he told me about a “shower” from a hidden creek that some of the locals use – never did find it, but wouldn’t be able to use it, anyway, as I couldn’t leave my trike unattended. Further up the road, I met Johanna coming up from the opposite direction; pulled over to her side of the road to chat a bit; she was riding a bicycle with a trailer and heading for S.F. where she planned to hopefully sell her rig and then hitchhike home to Maine (though I don’t think that’s where she started from on this trip). Not a very eventful day, I just kept on truckin’ on down the beautiful Big Sur coastline going up long, semi-steep grades (really slow), and down (really fast). Sure wish those downhill grades lasted as long as the uphill ones, but that just ain’t how it works (Demitol!) Pulled into the Pacific Valley and Plaskett Creek (old stomping grounds from my earlier hang gliding years) in the late afternoon, and cooked up some Uncle Ben rice and broccoli in the Sand Dollar picnic area; it turned out good – very filling – but had a lot of trouble getting my stove to start in all the cold wind coming off the ocean. I met up with the people who owned the one car in the parking lot, one of whom was in a wet suit. He was a spearfishing scuba diver, and said he’d just come within 25’ of a great white shark! It wasn’t a real big one – only about 10’ long – but it sure got his attention. I should have asked if he had some speared fish with him, where the smell of blood could have sent the shark into extreme chomping mode. Stupid note (stupidity to made clear, later): I was willing to pay for camping at Plaskett Creek, but found a locked gate with a couple of hitchhikers waiting for a ride. Okay, well, even though the sign at Sand Dollar (just across the street from Plaskett) said “no overnight camping,” it didn’t look like I had much choice, so I set up behind the concrete block bathroom to hide from the wind, and hoped I wouldn't be kicked out in the middle of the night by a state trooper. The skies were clear, and I got to see constellations before going to bed at about 7:50pm.

Day Five, 090305 - Garrapata, CA

Day Five: Thursday, March 5, 2009
Distance for the Day: 37.0 miles: Seaside to Garrapata
Trip Distance: 200.0 mi, Total Odometer: 578.5
Time in the Saddle: 4:49
Altitudes: Starting/Ending: 117’/125', Highest: 349', Accumulated: ??
Speeds: Avg: 7.6 mph, Max: 35.3 mph
Weather: 42° light rain in AM high cloudiness most of day, partial clearing by afternoon
Expenditures: $43

I awoke at around 5:45am this morning to a light rain, but the tarp and my bivvy sack kept me dry (I finally think I’ve figured out how to make this stuff work). At 6:32am, I got up and was able to haul my gear under some church classroom eaves to pack everything away relatively dry, and was even able to catch a picture of a beautiful rainbow. Left the Seaside First Baptist Church at about 8:20am and went down to the nearest Starbucks to get a hot choco and croissant ($8). Whilst there, I charged up my camera and phone batteries, and got phone msg from Alan R offering to bring a generic power supply for my notebook (how nice!) I called him back to thank him for the offer, but that I’d already arranged to have my own sent ahead to L.A. He had the day off, and thought he’d come down to visit me in Monterey. Cool! An odd thing happened while I was at Starbucks: a police car pulled over a driver who decided to pull into the Starbucks driveway, and parked right there. The police stopped, too, and handled the ticketing process – meanwhile, nobody could access Starbuck’s drive-in window. You’d think the police would have been thoughtful enough to have the driver move somewhere else, but they didn’t. (No comment.) With batteries mostly charged, I left Starbucks at 10am and almost immediately entered Monterey at 10:04. I decided to make a concerted effort to try and find goggles at different cycle shops (both the motorized and un-motorized varieties) without luck. I did find a cheap pair of goggles that gunmen use at shooting ranges at a Big 5 Sporting Good store, so I got a pair of those ($9) as a temporary replacement for the ones I lost a few days earlier.

Met up with Alan around 2:40pm on Hwy 68 as it passes from Pacific Grove but before it reaches Carmel. We agreed to meet at the Starbucks in Carmel (Alan used his GPS to find one), and so we both took off, I of course going a lot slower. At one point, Hwy 68, Hwy 1, the south entry to the 17 Mile Drive, and a side road came together, and I got confused as to which road to take. I stopped in at a church a short way up the side road, and the lady in the office allowed me to use her desktop computer to Google Maps. That helped straighten things out, and so I was able to get into Carmel within about another 15 minutes of some nice, long downhill coasting. Alan treated me to sandwich and soda at the Safeway deli (thanks, Alan!), and we chatted while I did some grocery shopping. Oh, one odd little incident happened while we were there: I went to use the restroom, and walked in on some young gal in the Men’s side who was changing clothes. I didn’t see anything racy, closed the door immediately, and went back to the deli table to wait. Interesting to note that I’m not the only one who changes clothes in public restrooms. I went grocery shopping and Alan came along to chat. I got a yam, a few apples, water, more Gatorade, and some Uncle Ben quick cooking rice packets ($25). We bade each other farewell at about 4:48, and I continued on south, out of Carmel on Hwy 1.

I should note that over the last few days, my knee caps (the left in particular) have been hurting, especially if I try to push harder, or go longer. The day before, it was my starboard glueous maximus that gave me some pain, but that went away the next day. My leg muscles were sore the first few days, but they’re fine, now. The knees have me a little worried, though – if they fail, it will put a kibosh on this whole thing. I’ll try going easier on them when they hurt, and see if it’s just a “physical adjustment” thing.

Just a bit south of Garrapata State Pk, near sunset, a few people had gathered by the roadside to see lots of whale plumes out on the ocean being backlit by the low sun – amazing! Found a side street, Palo Colorado Rd., GPS N 36.39936 W 121.90459, that must go to some fairly large community as there was lots of traffic even though it was “not a through road.” I found a eucalyptus leaf-covered dirt road/ramp leading to a gate that dropped away from the road a few hundred feet away from the highway that looked fairly unused, and so I parked my trike down on that ramp and could just escape the notice of the drivers going by, especially when I activated my cloaking device (camouflage sheet). I got to bed at around 6:40pm. Since the weather had turned dry (though still overcast), I had no problem with moisture, and enjoyed a good night’s rest, away from the traffic noise of the highway, and only an occasional whoosh from cars going to that hidden community in the hills.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Day Four, 090304 - Seaside, CA

Day Four: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 (updated 3/13/2009)
Distance for the Day: 38.6 miles: New Brighton to Seaside
Altitudes: Starting/Ending: 132’/117’, Highest: 296’, Accumulated: 1542’
Speeds: Avg: 8.3 mph, Max: 30.2 mph
Weather: 42° to start, clear and turned mild to almost even warm
Expenditures: $14.50

I have a wide latitude in my physical requirements, and can often get along fine with very little food, water, bathroom breaks, or sleep (not necessarily all at the same time.) So, despite the sleeping bag pool, I still managed to get enough rest to feel fine the next day. I woke up at around 5am, and was surprised to see bright stars shining through the eucalyptus trees towering high above me. This was the first time I’d seen stars since starting, three days earlier! I got up about a half-hour later, and began de-camping. During the process to break down my gear, I used my hand towel to sop up moisture off the ground tarp and bivvy sack to give myself a quickie sponge bath, right there in the pre-dawn dark of the parking lot. Cold it was, yes, but I just couldn’t face a fourth day without doing something, and a sponge bath + change of clothes made a world of difference in my personal comfort, as you may imagine. Or, maybe you’d rather not. After stowing all my wet gear away, I continued on down the road a ways, and at 8:19am found a mini-mart next to a laundromat. I bought an Odwalla protein drink ($4), and took it over to the laundry to throw my bivvy sack, rope, and sleeping bag into the dryer ($1.50). While waiting, I had a breakfast of Dian’s delicious mini-loaf of banana bread (thanks Dian!) and the protein drink. When my stuff was dry, I repacked my trike, and took off again. Stopped again at the local KOA campground for a bathroom break, and bought a bottle of Gatorade ($3). Took some cloud pictures on San Andreas Rd. (just after leaving the KOA). Got to Sunset State Beach park at 10:35am and took a picture of the entrance, but it looked like a long way in, so just continued on. Along the road heading back to Hwy 1, I came upon some kind of medium-sized peregrine falcon-like bird sitting on a telephone wire. I wasn’t more than 25’ from this beautiful bird, and we just eyeballed each other for a few moments, until I pedaled away. Cool.

Right around noon, I came into Moss Landing, home of northern California’s natural gas power plant. I pulled into the coastal hang gliding site, Marina State Beach, around 12:45pm; no one was flying as the wind was a bit too far out of the south, but they apparently still do fly there, as evidence of hang gliding operations were there to see (such as tie-downs in the sand). After leaving Marina, I made my way into Sand City, a few miles short of Monterey, and spent quite a bit of time at the library there, doing blog entries (free!), handling email, and looking for goggles online. It was close to 4pm by the time I left, so I stopped in at a grocery store to pick up some more Gatorade and brussell sprouts for dinner ($6). It was starting to get a bit on the late side of the day, so I left the library in search of some place I could hole-up for the night.

I went up into the hills above Seaside, also just north of Monterey and found the Seaside First Baptist Church with a large empty fenced-in lot next to it. Aha! I went to the church’s office, and asked Pastor Lennie Gonzales for permission to overnight in his lot. A very pleasant fellow, he agreed immediately, and was quite interested in my trip. I gave him my card, and he gave me some promotional literature about Christianity. He led me to the lot through the back gate, and left to take care of Youth Night activities, while I set up my camp. I cooked up some rice along with my brussell sprouts (burned some of the rice, Demitol), and ate the lot while reading the little handout booklets Pastor Lennie gave me. I don’t know – I’ve seen these things, before, and they always leave the logical, critically thinking side of me unsatisfied and suspicious. Unsatisified because the whole basis of Christianity comes from The Bible, which was written by the people of its time, yet taken as the “word of God.” Suspicious, because earlier religions have similar stories (such as immaculate conception, or returning from the dead), and didn’t the Christian religion incorporate pagen holidays (yuletide-to-Christmas, spring rites-to-Easter) to help convert or “blend in” with the pagens? I don’t need to believe there’s an all-powerful God who requires His creatures to thank him, or ask his guidance, or from whom you can ask for favors, or who will send me to Hell if I don’t believe in him. I’ve come to believe that religion serves two purposes: to try to keep the morally and ethically weak “in line,” and to help people blend in with a society that is predominantly religious. It also provides a structure to support certain social needs, such as charity, projects for the common good, and a common ground for people to come together. These are good and needed things, to be sure, but other non-religious groups also provide similar functions without needing “the God thing,” and I can deal with them from the bottom, up. The Big Guy In The Sky just seems too conveniently like superstitious fairytale hokum, dreamed up to explain the (at the time) inexplicable, and to keep the masses in control. It unfortunately also sometimes helps disguise “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” such as pedophiles and presidents (e.g., “The Bushwacker”), and religion in general has been the excuse used by humans to kill more people and destroy entire cultures than any other cause in history. As you may have guessed, I was not converted, but to those who find comfort and meaning in religion - I'm happy for you.

The early evening night was beautiful, with a luminous half moon shining in a sky that was so dark blue, it was almost black. The Winter constellations sparkled brightly in the southwest. I tucked in soon after it got completely dark, around 8:30pm, and fell asleep.