I started the day enjoying my morning feed at the Breakfast Buzz Café with four other cyclists who live in San Luis Obispo. Amy, was referred my blog by a friend and has been keeping up with the trip since I started. Along the way, she invited me to meet with her and a few other riders so that I could give them more information about doing a long tour. They were a great group and it was fun to speak with people who have commonality of interest – in this case cycling. I would have that experience a few more times today.
From San Luis Obispo, I rode toward Los Osos and then Morro Bay. It was a day for what I like to refer to as a “Mortgage Ride”. Yes, the housing prices in California are, even with the recession, still astronomic compared to the rest of the U.S. However, on a day like today, I would happily make the mortgage payment. Riding through Los Osos Valley small pockets of morning fog served as curtains gradually drawn back to reveal a stunningly beautiful countryside. The hills, marshes and wetlands were a green hued canvas to cows lazily chewing, old barns, purple thistles, multi-colored sweet pea and red winged blackbirds. Not a cloud in the sky and, thankfully, no wind.
Hell, I would have made two payments today.
I have travelled this portion of Hwy 1 several dozens times by car. Always in a rush to get north or south, I’ve never stopped to explore. I realized this while having a cup of coffee in Cayucos and watching the surfers down by the pier. It’s a causal, comfortable little ocean side village with a Jack Johnson vibe, but I’ve never been here before.
A few miles past Cayucos, I saw a cyclist on a road bike heading south. I waved and he immediately made a U-turn across the highway and caught up to me. Scott is from Seattle. He’s a graphic artist who previously ran a bike shop. This week he’s visiting his sister and today decided to get out for a Mortgage Ride as well. He shared some interesting stories about a ride from Alaska to San Diego that he did a few years ago with his girlfriend. While on that ride, Scott met another cyclist who had planned his entire route to end at a microbrewery each night. (Note to self – next time!)
Minutes after meeting Scott, I saw a touring rider also heading south. His name is Ira and although he proclaims himself to be “just a city boy” and a neophyte to both camping and touring, he’s going for it in a big way. Ira started his ride in Vancouver and is heading to San Diego. From there he is going to fly to Amsterdam and cycle to Istanbul. He was in a state of near euphoria as he described his experiences to date; despite the constant hail and rain he endured during the first month of his ride.
I stopped in Cambria (yet another wonderful little beach town), had lunch and picked up some things for camping this evening. I’m staying at San Simeon State Park, which is a few miles from Hearst Castle. Although it’s close to the highway, it has nice sheltered sites and hot showers.
After I set things up, I walked to the beach to catch a few hours of sunshine. Picking my way through the driftwood and down to the tidal zone, I saw a snowy plover flitting about selecting a nesting site. It’s breeding season for these birds and, unfortunately, they nest on the sand and in areas that are frequented by humans. So, you need to watch your step.
As I walked back to my campsite after sunset, a neighbor invited me to sit next to the fire and enjoy a cup of wine. Erwin is from Holland. Handsome, gregarious and engaging, this is his fourth trip to the U.S.; all spent exploring the western states. I’m always impressed at how people from other countries, and especially those in Europe, have seen more of the U.S. than most of our citizens. Listening to the passion in his voice as he described the places he had visited and all that he experienced was a good reminder of why this country is so special.