Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Santa Maria to Goleta, California November 25

66.1 in 5:34.....Nov. 25....After a couple of rest days, I wanted to get closer to LA, even though Santa Maria is home for another week. I made arrangements for Pam to come south on US 101 and pick me up after she got done making her famous pumpkin bread. Her trip on 101 would be a lot shorter than mine, on Rts 135, and 1, until I hooked up with 101.
The scenery today was very uneventful ( I don't want to say boring). I started out on Cali. Rt. 135 south, which is also Broadway Ave. in Santa Maria, which is the major non freeway north to south route in Santa Maria. It was stop and go with traffic and red lights for about eight miles through town, before 135 turned into a four lane, with nice shoulders and little traffic. Rt 1 joined us south of town and then veered off towards Vandenburg Air Force Base. I continued on 135, which twisted and turned through some decent mountains, but I only had to climb one serious climb of about 600ft over Harris Grade Rd, which was a short cut around the Air Force Base. Before I did my climb, I ran into bicyclists heading the other direction. They were (former?) Yale students, very young, and very unprepared for their announced trip of Santa Barbara to San Jose. They had never toured before, and planned on doing 300 miles through the Big Sur area in five days, with no hill training. They had bikes that they bought at a pawn shop, one of them with ten, very big gears. No climbing gears to speak of. They didn't seem real concerned or even knowledgeable about the task that lay ahead of them. I commended them on their initiative, but also asked them if they had a plan B. It turns out that a sister lived in San Jose and was going to pick them up if they didn't make it. Their plan B, which I really think was plan A, was to get to Santa Cruz ( about 250 miles), and get a ride. Like I said, I commended their thought process, but told them the trip wasn't a video game, and they had their work cut out for them. They just sort of giggled and smiled. I got on my way, pretty sure that they would abort way before Santa Cruz. Kids these days!
Rt1 and 135 ended with a 7% grade for two miles where I hit over 40 mph on the descent. I had been climbing gradually all day, in that sneaky little way that makes your legs feel heavy, but you can't really tell you're going uphill, until my one good climb. I was surprised to see that I climbed over 3000 ft for the day. The legs felt rested and good, so I made up for lack of scenery with some good old fashioned pedal pounding. I had stopped in a town called Lumpoc for  a drink, and broke the clip on my right shoe, which was really old and ready to die, so I couldn't clip in with one pedal for most of the trip. Without many hills, it didn't seem to bother me that bad, but I really do like pulling up on the pedal stroke, not just bearing down on the pedal. Rt. 1/135 ended when it met up with US 101, which was the way Pam was coming to get me. 101 quickly spit me out on the Pacific Coast, and the rest of the ride was right along the ocean. It was strange because there was no development, just a few state parks with beach access, but there were railroad tracks between 101 and the ocean. The ocean was very calm, with a few oil rigs in the distance, and a couple of islands which may possibly have been Santa Rosa, and Santa Miguel Islands, but I'm not sure. Once again, the mountains to my east were the same as all that I have seen for quite a while, just totally browned off by drought. I saw on the news where this area has only had 4 inches of rain ALL YEAR! They pray for rain in church every Sunday, and have explored potential cloud seeding. There is rain forecast on Thanksgiving, so I actually hope it pours.
 Excitement for the day included the Allied Moving Truck that drifted over onto the shoulder on 101 and just about took me out. I gave him a carefully chosen double dose of Thanksgiving birds as he drove off, but who knows if he was even awake to see them. I just hope he didn't do it intentionally. The other  interesting thing was the discovery of about a dozen frozen turkeys across the lanes of Rt. 101. Only one looked as though the buzzards hadn't found it, but i didn't stop to check it out. 
Overall, I was happy with my ride, legs felt great, and I could have done a century (100 miles), if I had the daylight. It starts getting dark before five here, and I found a place where my map takes me off of 101, and pulled over there so Pam could easily find me. Also, it was a good place where Pam can pull the RV over to drop me off next week, for my adventure through LA.

Under these "tents" are red raspberry bushes.  We think they are covered now so the birds do not eat the berries.

The road is kind of boring......

and the land rather brown...

but there are cows to look at!

Little dot in the middle of the picture looks like a ship...

but it's an oil rig!

The road had a great view of the coast!

Settling in for Thanksgiving in Santa Maria November 23-24

Nov. 23 and 24.....we woke up Saturday, and the big  decision for today was that we were going to stay here for the holidays. I had planned on riding further toward LA, but campgrounds south of here were becoming VERY expensive, as well as hard to find, beginning in the Santa Barbara area, which is really where the LA megalopolis begins in my opinion. I may get another day or two of riding before Thanksgiving, but Pam will come for me and bring me back to home base. After the holiday I will part ways with Pam for a while, and head south through LA along the coast, and she will take an RV friendly alternate route. Pam got on some RV forums and blogs, and it was unanimous, not to take an RV the way I am biking. She is still formulating a route that she is comfortable with, so our separation is still undetermined as far as length of time and where we are going to hook up. Stay tuned.
On Sunday,the 24th, we decided to Jeep 20 miles up Rt 101 to visit Pismo Beach. It was a lot farther than that on the trail that the ACA maps took me on Friday. We first visited  Pismo Beach Monarch Park, where monarch butterflies from all over the west coast were wintering in a few trees. The volunteers there estimated that there were 34,000 of them present.  We knew about this phenomenon because of an IMAX movie we saw in Seattle, at the science center. I thought all monarch butterflies wintered in Mexico, but there are several California sites, and we saw one today. We then went to the pier at Pismo Beach and killed some time in the 70 degree sunshine, watching the ocean, the mountains, the sea cliffs, and also some whales that were offshore ( while the rest of the country is in a nasty cold and winter storm mode, I was in shorts. Sorry.)
We decided to go back to home base through Guadeloupe, the way I rode my bike, and we stumbled upon an obscure Hispanic tradition occurring in town. We thought we saw action at a rodeo ring, but it turns out that it wasn't a rodeo arena at all but a charreada. We consulted with our answer lady (Tirzah, from North Carolina, or we wouldn't have had any idea what was going on.) Seven Hispanic horseback riders were in a ring with a bull, and they were waving Mexican blankets (serapes) at the bull, getting him to charge them and their horses. This went on for a while with a ten piece mariachi band playing very energetic Mexican music, and a narrator who never stopped talking in Spanish. We were the only non Hispanics in the crowd, but no one paid us any mind. It was like we were invisible, actually. The spectators were drinking beer, dancing to the music, and generally just socializing with each other. 
They put the bull away, and the horseback riders stayed in the ring, taking turns making their very beautiful horses strut and 'dance' to the band, who never stopped playing. The announcer never stopped talking in Spanish over the music, and it seemed like the horse was strutting to all the chaos. Then another big bad bull came out, and the horseback riders tried to trip him with their lassos as he charged randomly around the ring. If he wouldn't charge, a rider lassoed him by the horns and made him run around. They never tripped the bull, so I think he won that event. We googled to see what a charreada was, and what we saw may have been a loose rendition of a traditional charreada, but what we saw wasn't exactly what was described on the Internet. Whatever it was, we enjoyed it. It was just so random how we stumbled upon it, which is what I like about this whole trip. We never know what lies around the next corner!

The butterflies are in town winterizing!

These are "clumps" of monarch butterflies!  When their wings are open, you see the pretty colors, when their wings are closed, they look like brown leaves

When you look up into the pine trees, you see these huge clumps which are all butterflies

Remember, these are pine trees and they don't have leaves!  But it looks like it!

Monarch butterfly caterpillar

Charreada!  They are teasing the bull with a serape (blanket)

The bull was keeping an eye on us!

Check out these boots!!!

On our way home we stopped at a fruit stand and got fresh black berries and strawberries.  These black berries are HUGE!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Morro Bay to Santa Maria, California November 22

61.57 miles in 5:48...Friday, November 22....Fifty years ago today, when JFK  was killed, I was in my third grade classroom at St. Vincent De Paul School, in Wheeling, WV. Mrs. Wherry was the teacher, the first lay teacher I ever had, and I liked her after having nuns in the first and second grade. She told us what had happened, and we prayed as a class. I recall getting sent home from school early and  I watched TV.
Today I am 50 years older, but I feel pretty good. The day started out with overcast skies, made cooler by a headwind. Everything I enjoyed with yesterday's tailwind, was just the opposite today. The temps were the same, between 55-65 degrees, but I felt a lot cooler today than yesterday.  As I rode through Morro Bay, I noticed that the area where we camped, which we thought was the bay, was really only the opening of the bay to the ocean, by Morro Rock. The actual bay was pretty big, and Pam and I never really went anywhere where we could see it. On the south end of town , I went through Morro Bay State Park, and then around a pretty big marsh area. The ACA map took me off of Rt. 1, and the marsh area was soon followed by a little climb through a mountainous area. This is where I felt my legs and the fatigue from yesterday's ride. The wind was smacking me right in the face as I climbed the rollers, and that's no fun even on fresh legs. I came out of the hilly area into more farm area, and saw the broccoli, peas, cauliflower, celery and strawberries that grow in this area. 
Pretty quickly, the fields ended and I was entering San Luis Obispo, known as SLO around here. I still wasn't back on Rt 1, as I rode through some residential streets, then a busy downtown area, followed by a more industrial area. The road I then followed paralleled Rt. 1 and US101, which combined for the first time. I had an incident occur on this road that has been very, very rare on this trip. As I was riding along on a long straightaway with no traffic and very little shoulder, a car came flying up behind me, and a woman, probably in her thirties, began screaming at me. She gave me a mini lecture about riding in the road could get me killed...blah blah blah. I apologized and then asked her in a louder voice if she was having a bad day( in the land of 'have a nice day'). She then gave me that famous two word farewell, as she sped off, and turned into her trailer court a few hundred yards up the road. I tried to remember the last time I had an incident with a driver of any kind, and it's been so long, I can't even remember it.
All was soon forgotten as I entered the Pismo Beach area. I had heard that Pismo Beach was a nice area, and it exceeded expectations. The shoreline in town is all cliffs, with big rocks in the water, and just very scenic. It has a nice pier and beachfront area on the south end of the cliffs, and then the Pismo State Beach is big and sandy, and it looked like it could be a very busy place in the summer. Somewhere in San Luis Obispo, the overcast conditions changed to sunshine, and the wind slowed down, and those conditions held up in Pismo, making it look even more beautiful. I stopped at a Subway and had lunch, and had a conversation with a 20-30 ish girl who was very interested in my trip. She said her husband would love to do what I'm doing, and she took the blog address. (A useless fact about Pismo Beach: on the old TV show Dragnet, Sargent Joe Friday retired to Pismo Beach, where he regained his health, and eventually went back to the LAPD, where the show had a second run on TV.)
Somewhere south of Pismo is where I picked up Rt. 1, which had once again separated from US 101, and ran through some unbelievably productive farm land. I could have picked up enough broccoli, cauliflower and celery along the road, that had fallen out of trucks, to feed us for a week. I came to the Hispanic farm town of Guadalupe, where more things were written in Spanish than English. 
I then turned eastbound on Cali 166, to go to Santa Maria, where Pam had found a campground, after coming down 101. The trip on 166 was directly into the teeth of the baddest headwind I've had in a long time. There was nothing but agricultural fields as far as I could see, except to the east, where the Sierra Madre Mountains loomed on the far side of Santa Maria. 166 was a solid line of traffic in both directions for 6 miles, as the field workers were leaving on a Friday afternoon. I even saw payroll trucks in the fields so the labor could get paid and not inundate the banks and check cashing places.
I was surprised to see that Santa Maria has a population of over 100,000, and is bigger than Santa Barbara, which is in the same county. I rode for quite a while in Friday afternoon traffic on Main Street before turning north on Broadway, and riding to the north end of town, where I found Pam, the RV, and home made macaroni and cheese for supper.

Darn!  We missed the skateboard museum in Morro Bay!!!

Cliffs of Pismo Beach

Pismo State Beach

Pier at Pismo State Beach

Cauliflower field!

Different fields of green

We are in soccer country!!!  Can you tell?

This truck full of ??? pulled up next to Mike

Sign in Guadalupe had distances to various places.  What Mike liked was that Logan WV made the list!

Hispanic art...

This old Studebaker pulled up next to Mike!

Near Lucia to Morro Bay, California November 21

76.78 in 6:28.....Nov. 21....Pam had a long drive to deposit me at the necessary site, 8.5 miles north of Lucia, where I ended my ride the other day. The morning started off with overcast skies and wet pavement from the rain we had yesterday, into last night. The people around here were dancing in the streets because it has been so long since they've had rain, so I guess it was a good thing. By the time we got to my start place, the fog was over our heads on top of the mountains, but you could see the blue sky breaking through. It didn't take long for me to peel down one layer, as the tail wind made 55 seem pretty warm, especially when climbing. I had a stretch of coastline which undulated for a while, before the big climbs started. I knew I was going to be doing some climbing, and the days total was about 4200 ft, but I thought it would be more. My legs were fresh, the tailwind was sweet, and the climbs were not quad burners, like I expected, so the ride went very well. I didn't think I would make it all the way to the campground in Morro Bay, but conditions conspired to make me do it! Once I got out of the mountains, around a town called Ragged Point, after I had two winding and twisting climbs, the ride was tailwind and downhill, yeehaw. The scenery the entire way was coastline and ocean, sea rocks, crashing waves, and did I mention tailwind? I took so many pictures the other day that I really didn't take many more today, but it was just as beautiful. I read someone's blog about this area, and they said it was a desolate, god forsaken, windy stretch of brutal hills. They must have had a bad day, because I loved it. It was desolate, but not as much as I was prepared for. Mentally, I was psyched to hit 5000 in my climbs, and I only hit 4200, so I was in the right frame of mind. The sun and tailwind always make it nice, especially when the rest of the country is frigid. You won't get any complaints about this stretch of Rt. 1 from me. Once out of the mountains, I was nearing the Hearst Castle area, so it was interesting to see the castle off in the distance on a sunny day, after the fog and rain of yesterday. I saw zebras grazing with the cattle on the Hearst Ranch, and there was a beach area about a mile long, where the elephant seals were laying. Pam spent quite a bit of time there learning about them after dropping me off. They looked dead to me, because they didn't move, but every once in a while I'd hear one belch, off in the distance. The mating season for the elephant seals is starting in about a week.  The big males are making their way down because they will mate in December and then the females will give birth this winter on the beach.  Today the beach was filled with the breeding able females and the male and female youngsters.  There were three breeding males that had arrived early (I'm not going to make a comment!) that were hanging out on the beach.  I was told that in a week or two the males will start to pick their harems and that's when the males start to fight!
The one problem I had today was length of the day. I ran out of daylight, and finished the last 8-10 miles in the pitch black in Rt 1. Fortunately the shoulder is very wide, and very clean, as you approach Morro Bay, so that really wasn't a problem. A benefit, was watching the entire sunset over my right shoulder as I rode the coastline.
My trauma for the day was when I dropped my Snickers Bar in the middle of the road, and had to sit and watch as five cars whizzed by, all the time hoping that the tires would avoid it. They did, and I got my snack, but it would have been traumatizing to see it get smashed.

Traveling down Hwy 1 there was construction on this "tunnel" which we think was protection from rock slides

That was where we drove and Mike rode his bike - see the road way up there???

Piedras Blancas Lighthouse

This is why Mike thought the elephant seals were dead!  They were all just snoozing on the beach!

They like to snuggle to stay war

One of the adult males who arrived early

Look at that cute face!  The adult males have long snouts that look like an elephant trunk!
From Hwy 1 looking up at the Hearst Castle on the hill

Zebras grazing with the black Angus on the Hearst Ranch which is still a working ranch.

In the campground looking towards the ocean past sunset.