After two days of discussing options, we decided to end our trip south, in Santa Barbara. Descriptions of the physical and mental stress of getting through the urban area around Los Angeles in the height of summer, together with the challenges of finding accommodation for anything less than exorbitant prices, made the decision to finish there easier. We are also reluctant to spoil the wonderful experience we have had over the 2000 kms to Monterey. We may return to cycle the remaining part of the route to San Diego in a future off-season. This does mean that we miss the search for Treasure Hunt #4, however, – sorry, Marius!
Santa Barbara proved to be an agreeable place to spend a few days being tourists. Fringed by long, sandy beaches, and with the Santa Ynez Mountains and Los Padres National Forest as backdrop, the attractive city had much to offer in the way of culture, seafood, shopping and, of course, beach time.
An earthquake in 1924, which demolished much of the downtown, enabled the City to enforce a planning ordinance passed only months before. This required that all development in the downtown core was to be in a Spanish Revival style. The centre is now an attractive mix of low adobe-style buildings, streets with no parking, passeos and arcades. The city has an inordinate number of unique shops and restaurants which speaks to the affluence of some of the resident and visiting population. We had a fascinating Sunday morning tour, conducted by a volunteer representative of the Architecture Foundation of Santa Barbara.
The Law Courts are a good, but perhaps slightly “over the top” example of the revival architecture. There are also four movie theatres dating from that time. The Fox is the most elaborate, structured as a Spanish village, and includes a driveway between the walkway beyond the ticket booth, and the entrance. This enabled the stars of a film to make an appearance in front of fans before the show. Hollywood is not far and apparently many movie actors own residences in nearby Montecito.
We also cycled some well mapped-out routes in and around the town. The second trip took us to the Santa Barbara Mission, founded by the Franciscans in 1786 to convert the indigenous Chumash people. It was one of the few missions that was not secularized when Mexico inherited Spain’s colonies following the Mexican War of Independence. The domination of the Chumash and loss of culture and way of life is documented without comment in the Mission museum.
This evening, we find ourselves in Southern California. It took 6 hours driving to get to where it would have taken 6 days by bike. It is disorienting. Travelling by bicycle allows for a more direct, but gradual, experience of changes in landscape, architecture and weather. We were quite relieved to return the car. That obviously says something about our conversion to cycle tourists!
En route, on a chilly and windy Carmel Beach, we were pleased to find Marius’ treasure #3. We did have to explain our strange activity to the men sweeping the steps above!
While we had changed plans because of accomodation challenges, the heavy holiday traffic on the winding, narrow, steeply rolling and shoulderless road around Big Sur made us rather glad not to be cycling!
We are on the traditional territory of the Chumash People. This group, like many others have been able to survive economically and culturally through resources from casinos.
Our plans changed today. For the past few weeks, we have been trying, without success, to book accommodation south of Monterey. From here to San Luis Obispal, there are few hotels/ motels or B&Bs and what do exist, are booked up months in advance. We decided to temporarily retreat to the four-wheeled means of transport and drive 500km to Santa Barbara.
After planning over coffee, we leisurely explored Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row, and the fascinating exhibition (mostly Jules Tavernier) at the Monterey Art Gallery. Watching the sun set while sampling Sand Dabs (small local flounder) on the municipal wharf rounded out the day.
Today was grey. The hoards of volley ball players by the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz must have been hoping for sunshine, while the surfers in the calm off the beach at Capitola were waiting for waves. For our part, the overcast skies contributed to a rather gloomy ride, despite a fairly flat terrain. Much of the route was either on or beside the noisy Hwy 1.
At Manresa State Beach, we stopped to follow Marius’ clues for treasure hunt #2. Unfortunately, another Paul and Lois must have got there before us. Despite repeated explorations, no gift was found (sorry, Marius!). It was a lovely spot, though, and someone came up to us and offered to take our picture.
We later lost the route amongst the “industrial” fields of strawberries, artichokes, broccoli and fennel, finding ourselves in downtown Watsonville.
A bright spot was climbing the dunes at Moss Landing and seeing humpback whales
We remain on the traditional territory of the Costanoan Rumsen Ohlone People.
Half Moon Bay is one of those wonderful towns which is easy to miss, hiding behind the highway strip. We discovered the charming and lively Main Street last night on our way to Pasta Moon, when we also scouted out espresso and bakeries (Peets and Half Moon Bay Bakery).
It was a pleasant ride alongside open grasslands, fields of Brussels sprouts, artichokes and pumpkins, and sandy beaches. From the top of the longest hill, we watched unidentified whales (possibly humpback) feeding near shore.
We remain on the traditional territory of the Costanoan Rumsen Ohlone People.
Blue Bottle espresso was worth yet another lineup this morning and is on a par with Moja coffee from Terra Breads.
Leaving SF was easier than expected, with the help of our trusty Garmin. Fortunately, it did not involve any steep hills (those came later in the day). We cycled for a long time through Golden Gate Park, which led us back to the foggy Pacific Ocean.
Approaching Devil’s Slide after Pacifica on Highway 1, we were just about to go through a new tunnel, when a cyclist came along behind and advised us to follow the old road, which has been rejuvinated as a non-motorized two lane bicyle route and a seperate pedestrian path. If only this could be done elsewhere…
Before we checked into our motel, we went on Treasure Hunt #1! Our creative nephew, Marius, who was in SF for work a few weeks ago, hid 4 gifts for us along the route. Following his typically thorough instructions, we soon located treasure #1 in a hollow log on Francis beach! (See photo below) (We are keeping a video log)
We are on the traditional territory of the Costanoan Rumsen Ohlone People They were enslaved by the Spaniards and then fled south to avoid state supported persecution by settlers. Their tribal offices are in Pomono near Los Angeles.
We had a wonderful couple of days off in SF, catching up with Mish, walking, eating (thank you to Jayne for the long and excellent list of recommendations), shopping, sight-seeing. We also took our bikes in to replace the chains and to have a new derailleur cable installed on Paul’s bike. The weekend passed way too quickly and it was time for Maritia to leave again. Lois is still wondering whether she was dreaming…
Olema to San Francisco (63km) (and Lois’ birthday surprise)
We began to see road cyclists soon after we left Olema. Many were participating in the Marin Century ride; 2500 cyclists going from 50 to 200 miles. By the time we got to Fairfax and the edge of the Bay conurbation, riders seemed to be outnumbering cars, which gave us an unusual sense of comfort. As we approached Sausalito, a different category of cyclist appeared – literally hundreds of rental bikes doing the circuit from San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge and back on the ferry.
We were both excited to cycle on the Golden Gate Bridge, a much less stressful experience than other bridge crossings due to the presence of a dedicated bike path. The multitudes of cyclists crossing in both directions, together with the howling wind, added to the excitement. Two days earlier, we had met a couple from San Francisco, Michael and Diane, who were doing a short circuit, and we were surprised to meet them again on the bridge!
But, the biggest surprise was still to come! Just as we were descending on a bike path to the bay, who should ride up behind us but Maritia!! Paul knew that she was going to surprise Lois here, but we had no idea that she would be renting a bike and looking for us! Once Lois convinced herself she was not, in fact, dreaming, it was all she could do to stay on her bike! We still can’t believe Maritia was able to pull this off! Lois didn’t stop grinning for the next 2 days!
The sun was out as we cycled inland through pastureland and then back to the coast along Tomales Bay. In Marshall, there were at least four oyster bars selling local product. By the time we got to Point Reyes Station, it was ice cream time and we had a choice between fennel pollen gelato and candy cup mushroom. We chose the former having earlier sampled (and enjoyed) the latter, which tastes of maple syrup and walnuts.
Olema, our stop for the night, has the dubious reputation of being the epicentre of the 1906 earthquake. We are right next to the San Andreas Fault.
Tomorrow, we cycle into San Francisco, via the Golden Gate Bridge.
We remain on the traditional territory of the Coast Miwok People