Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Vista, CA

It has been a hectic last week or so. Heading down the California coast was extremely tiring, because most of the riding - while not many more miles than I'd been doing in a day - was slow-going, and therefore took a long time. I've had a number of days recently where I was riding for 8 hours with only a few breaks, but the riding has been some of the best of the trip so far.

After leaving Oregon, I came down 101 into California and rode down through the redwood forests on the coast there. I got some pretty good sunset pictures as I was entering California too:

Unfortunately, I didn't have much time to stay and see the redwoods, because I had to get to Eureka, CA to get an oil change in the morning, so I had to hurry to get there on time. But I did get time to drive through a tree! (Per Amanda's suggestion)

While there, I talked to the people who took the picture above, and it turned out they live less than 15 minutes from my old apartment in Peoria.  That seemed especially weird at the time since the night before I had met someone at the hotel who went to high school in Rockford, and graduated a year after me.

After my oil change, continued down the coast and camped out.  I made it pretty far, but I also found two breweries that day, and stopped at one for lunch and one for dinner.  I would have gone farther if I hadn't stopped twice, but I figured it wasn't that far to my next destination of Stockton - apparently, that was an underestimation.  I mean, it wasn't all that far.  But that section of CA 1 is extremely curvy and slow going, which made for a long 8 hours of riding.

In Stockton I went with my friend Scott and his sister to see Harry Potter.  Scott is a friend from Valpo who did Sweetwine, and he and his sister have also gone to Fiction Family concerts that I was at.  I was really glad they were going to see it, because I was hoping to see it but didn't really want to go by myself.

The showing was made significantly more interesting by the presence of a misbehaving young girl - maybe 5 years old I think? - and the absence of an authority figure to keep her under control.  Her hair was braided with beads, which made quite a bit of noise as she ran back and forth across the rows.  She would randomly just ask for popcorn at a normal volume (not a normal movie theater volume), and if she didn't get it quickly enough, she'd yell for it - and the girls watching her (I don't think any of them were old enough to drive) would find that funny and start giggling while trying to shush her.

At one point she ran out to the middle of the theater in the row in front of where we were sitting, and just looked at us.  Then she yells back over to the girls who are supposed to be watching her, "They're lookin' at me!"  It wasn't intolerable, but it certainly wasn't pleasant - and I have a pretty high tolerance for kids.

The next morning we went out to get some breakfast at Chuck's, a sweet little diner, and then I headed out to San Francisco.  I got to see Lombard Street before heading over to the Golden Gate Bridge, but by the time I got there, it was... well, saying it was foggy is a bit of an understatement.  You actually couldn't see the water, the fog was so thick.
I swear that's the real thing.
After leaving the bridge, I went and got some seafood dinner in Ghirardelli square - Cioppino, or Chip-In stew.  It was some of the best seafood I've ever had, though I paid a decent amount for it.  Totally worth it though.  Then I headed out down CA 1, but stopped after not too long because the fog continued south down the coast, and it was to the point where my clothes were getting wet from riding through it.  So I stopped in Half Moon Bay and went to the campsites there... but they were all full.  So I found a patch of grass next to a parking spot, and set up the tent.  The building next to the parking lot was a theater, so I figured it probably wouldn't be too busy on a Sunday morning.

Unfortunately, I was wrong.. there was apparently an AA meeting there early in the morning, and I got woken up by people coming and parking.  I also met Crazy #2 (story coming soon).  Once I escaped him, I headed down the coast - an early start due to getting woken up, which is the first time that had happened in a while.  I headed out around 7 with only a brief stop for some Jamba Juice before continuing on towards Lompoc, where I stayed with my friend Amanda and her husband Ryan.

Ryan and I had a good time discussing some nerdy stuff - he's into computer stuff as well, so we traded "horrible programmer coworker" stories, and talked about the finer points of object oriented programming, which Amanda was absolutely enthralled by (/sarcasm).  Then we spent quite a while researching Crazy #3 (story coming in a few days - wait for this one, it's a doozy).  It turns out she had quite an internet presence... and it made me glad I escaped without talking to her very much.

After some much needed rest and a wonderful morning of sleeping in, Amanda made some caramel french toast (holy amazingness that was good!) and then we went out for a quick motorcycle ride down CA 1, which Amanda hardly enjoyed at all.  After dropping her back off, I headed down to San Diego - and that made for one heck of a long ride.  The first 100 miles of the day took two hours, and the next 100 miles took four and a half hours - because it went through Los Angeles.  By the end of that section, my clutch hand was sore.

I stayed with friends in San Diego - Ryan and Amy, and ended up talking with both of them for a while, which was cool.  I met both of them at Potlatch (the frisbee tournament in Seattle), but they're both Midwest people who moved out to San Diego - so I grilled them on living there and why they moved and what they like and don't like, since I plan on doing something similar.

Then this morning I headed out to see San Diego.  I actually started by going to Tijuana and wandering around the shops and restaurants.  Going to Tijuana was like the opposite of going to an amusement park - on the way in, all you had to do was walk through some turnstiles, and you were in Mexico.  On the way back to the U.S., you had to wait in one extremely long line, followed by splitting up into smaller lines and then handing something to an unenthusiastic employee, who then waves you through.  (I guess that makes the U.S. the amusement park...)

I went over to Seaport Village and wandered around the shops there, and ended up buying a new pipe in the Tobacconist there, as well as some amazing Almond Amaretto fudge that I couldn't finish - so I handed off half to a random family walking by.  I then made a stop at Stone Brewing company and did their tour and grabbed some food, and then headed to Panera where I now sit.

So I think that brings you up to speed.  I'm off to Los Angeles tonight, and then after riding Mulholland Drive tomorrow (anything else I should see while in Los Angeles?), I head to Vegas to catch a flight back to the Midwest.  As fun as the last week or so has been, I'm extremely ready for a break - a few days of sitting around, going to a waterpark, and generally not having to travel anywhere sounds great.


  1. If I remember right there is a pretty sweet Japan town in LA and almost every single eating place there has AMAZING sushi for pretty cheap.

    Also this museum is pretty cool because it details a part of Am. history that isn't deemed as "important" in your run of the mill history class: http://www.janm.org/

    I don't know how much it costs, though, because I got in for free. I probably wouldn't pay more than $8 to get in if they charge for tickets.

  2. I told you the fudge would be well worth the trip :)

  3. Good luck and have fun. I wish I was there.