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Published: February 21st 2011
MONTEREY, Calif. – I’m back to one of my favorite places in the whole world – the Monterey Peninsula and the PCH south.
It was reasonably warm when I left Redding this morning and I realized I needed to get to the coast before it got insanely hot in the Central Valley. Gassing on the south side of Redding, I confirmed what I had suspected, since my left in-ear monitor worked fine yesterday. The problem is in the right-angle connector between my extension wire and the GPS unit. That’s a huge relief since I initially worried that I was doomed to ride the rest of the way home with only the right speaker functioning.
Garmin routed me around the east and south side of the San Francisco Bay area, which involved several miles on I-680. I crept along for about two miles at one point near Sunol where three lanes narrowed to two for construction. Then, just north of Gilroy on U.S. 101, a bimbo in a red car tried to merge with me in the far left lane. I jammed on the brakes just in time and she waved a half-hearted apology.
Turning west toward the Monterey
Peninsula from U.S. 101, I began to get long-forgotten coastal scents of eucalyptus, flowers, the sea, and other stuff that filled my helmet with intoxication.
Garmin led me to my motel which turns out to be across the street from one of the places Maria and I stayed eight years ago. I arrived about 1 p.m., checked in, dumped the contents of my saddlebags in my room, gassed and headed for Big Sur and Nepenthe, my favorite eatery on the coast.
I chatted with a kid from Oklahoma on a Suzuki who told me MotoGP is this weekend at Laguna Seca, which explains the hundreds of sportbikes all over the place.
It was overcast and foggy as I rode past Carmel Highlands, but the sun broke through as I neared Nepenthe. I found a parking space and adjourned to the Cafe Kevah for a mocha latte and a breakfast burrito. I tried to soak up the ambiance, but I think I was still too jangled from the road to relax into the Nepenthe atmosphere. There was a family with a screaming baby sitting at the next table, which didn’t help. I gave Maria a call to gloat
about where I was, but couldn’t send a photo because there’s no Sprint data service down there.
I went up to the main restaurant for some photos and did a quick sweep through the Phoenix gift shop, but didn’t see anything I couldn’t live without. So I bought a 40 cent postcard, saddled up and headed on south to the Coast Gallery.
I bought a cup of potent dark roast coffee and settled into a seat on the Coast Gallery upper deck to watch the traffic.
There was no shortage of northbound sportbike riders thrashing their bikes through the curves, interspersed with slower traffic.
I was in no mood to race, so I timed my return to the road to put me behind a slug of slow moving traffic. Even so, I was passed by an SUV and a half-dozen squids, all on double yellow.
I’d forgotten how horrible northbound rush hour traffic can be approaching Carmel and Monterey and I crawled along for about 15 minutes before I told Garmin to find me an alternate route to the motel. It did and I’m sure I saved myself another 10 minutes. I considered joining the
riders who were lane-splitting, but chose not to risk it with the oversize saddlebags on the bike.
Maria was home and ready for a Skype conversation. Skype is coming in very handy on this trip and I think it’s making my absence a little less troubling for Maria. I know I enjoy our conversations.
Now, I think I’m going to pull the tankbag and GPS off of the bike and secure it for the night and walk across the street to Denny’s for dinner. I probably should ride down to Fisherman’s Wharf for some real Monterey cuisine, but I’m tired and don’t want to bother.
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