“Floating upward through a confusion of dreams and memory, curving like a trout through the rings of previous risings, I surface. My eyes open. I am awake.”
That is exactly how I felt arising from my sleep yesterday morning. For a change, I didn’t have to concern myself with scorpions, drunks or the amorous nocturnal wrestling of others. My friend’s home in Ojai was so quiet, so peaceful that it was difficult to awaken. When I did, I found that it was almost 10am. I walked the mile into town and had breakfast and then spent a couple of hours at the library using the WiFi connection to plan my route and answer email. By the time I started riding it was almost 1pm.
As I left Ojai I followed a bike path the entire distance into Ventura. It’s one of the nicest I’ve ridden on with it’s own asphalt separate from the highway. It rolls through some very scenic and remote valleys before approaching Ventura. In one section, it passes along an abandoned refinery covered with graffiti looking like a scene out of the Apocalypse. The forceful winds from the west heightened the effect through the sounds of loose aluminum siding slapping against the refinery tanks and metal chains clanking against oil derricks.
The best part of the day was watching the sandpipers. In part, it is because these are fascinating birds, but more significantly for me, it was because I had finally reached the Pacific Ocean. Near Ventura, I found an opening in a chain link fence and squeezed my bike through and over the Amtrak tracks and undertook the perfunctory, but traditional dunking of my wheels in the Pacific. And, I enjoyed the sandpipers.
From Ventura, I followed a combination of bike paths and the Pacific Coast Highway through Carpinteria and Montecito and into Santa Barbara. “PCH” has a mythological connotation to most Americans. The open road winding between the ocean, waves and sand and the rocks and greenery of mountains; it speaks to convertibles, bikinis and board shorts, youth and possibility. I rode up PCH feeling energized, but the wind was as well. To make matters worse, on several occasions a car would pull alongside me and the driver would want to talk. I would be forced to slow down to almost stopping to hear the driver inevitably say something profound like: “Wow, must be tough riding in this.”
Late in the afternoon, I pedaled up State Street and my odometer hit the 3,000 mile mark. I found a cheap hotel, showered and then enjoyed a celebratory meal of sushi and a bottle of sake.
At the encouragement of W.C.C., I’m going to dawdle a bit over the remaining 300 miles. I started by taking today off to enjoy Santa Barbara and (hopefully) let the winds blow out. Some friends were traveling down the coast and happened to be in the area this morning and took me out to breakfast on the beach. It was great to be able to start my “reentry” with them.
I spent the rest of the day walking, relaxing, reading the paper, things that I haven’t done for a couple months. During this trip, I’ve gotten into the habit of going into bike shops whenever I see them just in case I might need some bit of equipment. Today, I found one that just opened named Cranky’s. Jim, the owner, was still unpacking boxes when I walked in. We started talking and I found out that he had done the Southern Tier ride to San Diego a couple of years ago. His shop is impressive with a diverse line of single speed, fixie and road bikes, including some custom frames that look like they should be on display in MOMA. Cool guy and a cool shop. Wish it was located at home.
I also spent part of the day in three of Santa Barbara’s bookstores. I just couldn’t help myself and ended up with four books that I now need to cart home. Is there a Twelve Step program for this?
Tomorrow, I head for Jamala Beach near Lompoc. From there, I’ll work my way up the coast through Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo, San Simeon, Big Sur, Mariana, Santa Cruz….and home.