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Published: December 10th 2008
I must confess - we've been neglecting the blog as of late, and of course, an overwhelming amount of things have happened! We've been in San Diego for two days, but I'm only going to update from when Sharon wrote the last entry (after the Big Sur coast) to entering San Diego.
Let's see... when looking through the pictures, the first thing that comes to mind is the foul weather! Sure enough, soon after we left the library in Cambria, the rain began to fall. Lightly first - the really annoying kind where you can't decide if rainpants are warranted - then heavy. Really heavy. Flash flood-y heavy. We reached Morro Bay and packed it in at a cheap motel, which was fine since we absolutely needed to do laundry and shower anyways. It was fun to numb our minds as well with Home Improvement re-runs and the equally stimulating CNN.
Thankfully, the rain had stopped come morning. However, our moods were quite gloomy. The foreboding storm clouds could be seen in the South, so perhaps just knowing we were going to be wet again was tearing on our nerves. While pedalling, mostly uphill, on some old
welcome to So-Cal...
...where the sun is always shining
back-country road, Sharon receieved her first flat on her front tire, which by George must have been the original tire because it was practically adhered to the wheel. After much comtemplation about throwing the whole thing in the pasture, we managed to fix it, and continued on to San Luis Obispo, and toward the darkest skies Southern California has probably ever seen. Nature called as we entered SLO, and Burger King answered. What was supposed to be a quick break turned out to be a few hours since as soon as we placed our bikes under the overhang, the rain began to fall, and I mean really began to fall. The streets were flooded within minutes, and I overheard some transient-types (a category I suppose we'd fall into) complaining about their tent floating away in the river they were camped next to. The campsite we were planning to stay at was right next to a river... I still wanted to head over there, but little-Miss-Sensibility wasn't all for us being thrown out to sea. We ended up at a Super 6 (again, cheap & seedy!) and waited out the storm. I'm sure we probably watched Home Improvement and CNN again.
Thankfully, the rain had stopped come morning. This time, our moods were sunny, since the forecast called for clear skies for as far as they could see into the future. Sharon got another flat tire, which was a lot easier to fix with a little motivation, and we cycled on down a road with a nuclear power plant, Jehovah's Witness church, Buddhist temple, and a hot-springs RV park, all within a few miles. The rest of the day was spent through another big district of California agriculture, which is amazingly interesting... for the first 5 miles. Climbed a massive hill late at night and had an exhilirating descend into Lompoc. By now, it was pitch black outside, but Sharon's guidebook had the address for a campsite in town, so we weren't too worried. However, the stupid book put the address for the campsite's office, which was somehow associated with Lompoc's recreation branch, practically on the other end of town. But we eventually found it, paid our $5, and slept cozily without Tim or any late-breaking-news - enjoying our Yankee Thanksgiving together, celebrated with shortbread cookies.
The next morning was faced with a 13.5 mile gradual climb, and as
3 feet from the PCH
most pay $30 for this site, we paid $6
our altitude increased, our tempers rose with it. Sharon finished the last of the cookies and I flew off the handle. We sat, grumpy, for a good half an hour, as cars whizzed by, and the shortbread didn't magically reappear. We're giggling about it now, but I tell you - you should have seen the look on Sharon's face - thought I'd have to ride to the border by myself. All over shortbread. The rest of the day was spend on highway 1, which was now a busy four-lane divided freeway. Stopped relatively early at El Capitan State Beach, giving ourselves time to bask on the beach. Watched the beautiful sunset over the ocean... and the numerous off-shore drilling rigs. The already loud night was interupted by a flailing Sharon, who had just 'yanked a giant thing that really really hurt' out of her toe. It turned out to be a tick, which had not yet engorged itself, and I was amazed at how calm Sharon was. Until I told her about Lyme disease... but I think I took longer to fall back asleep than her, confident every little movement was an army of those little bastards.
LA still seemed eons away. But, in only two relatively easy days, we reached Los Angeles county. My front derailer cable snapped somewhere after Oxnard, so I was down to a single speed bike, but luckily we still had cable from Victoria, so this was a quick fix at Leo Carillo State Beach. The camp was right off of the highway, spreading out east, so the farther in you went, the less highway noise there was. But, in the infinite wisdom of the state park officials, they plunked the hike/bike section adjacent to the freeway. I'd say more, but Sharon just told me that 'you don't have to complain about everything,' so let's focus on the positive!
Another blissful morning began in the magnificent land of milk and honey - Sharon's hitting me now, so I'll try to find more of a middle-ground. We were all ready to head into LA, and had been offered a place to stay by two nice people we met in Cambria. They said they were from Pasadena, which was close to LA, so we thought that'd be nice. Well, thanks for telling us it's 40 miles inland, through the sprawling megacity that is
we waited for hours, but she never showed :(
Los Angeles! We were planning on staying with some folks off warmshowers.org, so we called up Brad, who said no problem to the short notice. But damn, he lived inland, too. Like, 25 miles. And 25 miles takes a long freaking time on a fully loaded bike in an unfamiliar city. We passed through Malibu, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Westwood, West Hollywood, and Hollywood. Exhausted and dirty, we finally arrived at Echo Park - this trip might be good for our cardiovascular health, but cities might be taking their toll on our lungs. Brad, the host we stayed with, said he lived in a 'commercial space' on Sunset Blvd, and we pictured ourselves staying in a run-down 7-11 back room. But it turned out to be more like renovated office spaces, complete with the random assortment of hardwood floors, neon exit signs, fire hoses, and a much appreciated shower. Brad was really cool about us staying for as long as we wanted, which we did - 5 nights! Unfortunately, our schedule didn't mesh too great with the rest of the household - we were awake at 6am, asleep at 8pm, while I think they were doing the exact opposite! Luckily,
Oilers vs. Kings
they really know how to pack the seats in LA
we spent some time talking with Brad, and he showed us some neat-o videos of him performing in his experimental, aerobic, punk-rock band, Funderstorm (see for yourself -
&feature=related). He said the more awkward the audience is, the more fun he has.
We did a lot in LA, so I'm going to break it down by highlights.
1. taking the bus. The bus went everywhere, and a day pass was only $5, and we were always the only white people.
2. free TV tapings! First was The Tonight Show with Jay Leno - Jay Leno was a real nice, down-to-earth guy, and second was Jeopardy with Alex Trebek, who was a total snot.
3. cheap NBC Studio Tour. I was so excited to see the set of Days of Our Lives. I can now die a happy man.
4. vegan restaurants, aka failing Thai resturants aiming at a niche market. The first was alright, even though fake meat kinda freaks me out. The second was iffy, and the third was downright awful. Just because it's vegan, doesn't mean it's good, or good for you. Greasy!
5. the 'must do' of LA. Venice Beach, Walk
the degradation of Sharon's saddle
Another example of over-the-top, ridiculous, indulgent, exorbitant, and downright deplorable luxuries!
of the Stars, Hollywood Sign, Chinese Mann's Theater - all pretty lame. Luckily, our expectations weren't that high, and it's not like we broke the bank! All free!
6. a cheap, seedy, lame, ridiculous, 'tour of the stars' with a cheap, seedy, lame, ridiculous, and cocky tour guide, to boot. Us and four Englishmen/women piled into a beat up cargo van and drove around, staring at the gates who supposedly belong to "stars." Drove by one house, and ol' Freddy said he plays Playstation with Adam Sandler in the downstairs game room... sure.... It was good for a laugh, but depressing to see such ridiculous, over-the-top, indulgent, exhorbitant, and downright deplorable displays of wealth, and to see how much our companions lusted for it.
7. watching our boys-in-blue spank the Kings (found tickets for $10 a piece!) with the other 27 people at the Staples Centre, where beer is at least $10USD a piece (~3.3 tire tubes) - luckily we stumbled upon a bar pre-opening and had 3 beers each for the price of 1, with free appetizers! Speaking of hockey, they practically pay you to go to games in LA. The special holiday deal was 2 tickets for 4 games plus a $50 drink card, and a set of mugs for $99. That's practically 2 nosebleed standing room 'seats' at Rexall.
8. our daily trips to Von's (the US Safeway) for our bagels and pop-tarts... glad that sale is over!
9. everything smelt like urine.
Wisely left LA by commuter train to Long Beach ($1.25 each!) and were back in the saddles headed South. Stopped at a beach not far from the metropolitan, and were left aghast by the smog surrounding us. It was absolutely disgusting - thick, brown, and murky - but the runners were still out running and the surfers still out surfing. Rode through Orange County, which cemented our views of So-Cal consumerism gone wild (more ridiculous, over-the-top, indulgent, exhorbitant, and downright deplorable displays of wealth, but this time sprawling over the coast for miles and miles.... and miles). Got to Doheny State Beach at dusk, ready to rest our legs - however, the campsite was closed - thanks for the advance notification! A nice warden, with more weapons than a Canadian Mountie, gave us our only option - 10 miles south. Luckily, the route was superb - a great bike path and then a well-marked bike map through San Clemente, where we stayed. For those wondering, we haven't got 'soft' and refuse to random camp - it's impossible! Unless you sleep in a back-alley, or train station...
Morning was seen with my rear brake cable snapping - luckily the route to San Diego was mostly (with a few massive exceptions) flat. Headed through Camp Pendleton (US Marine Corps), watching for tanks at all of the 'tank xing' signs, and then stocked up at food at a normal looking grocery store - at least we thought. The big slogan for the shop was 'well worth the trip,' but that's hogwash to us, since you have to have a military ID to shop there. Of course, they only made us aware of this when we showed up with two armfuls of groceries at the cash register. I can't believe the cashier asked it with a straight face, either.... do we really look like marines, with our spandex and my bushy beard?
Ended the day 20 miles from the heart of San Diego. Learning from our previous experience, we took the trolley ($2.50 a person!) from downtown SD inland to Santee, where Sharon's cousin, Brandi, and her boyfriend Darin, live. The trolley was an experience all on its own. First, there were 4 extremely steep and narrow steps to get into the trolley, so it was a two-person job just to get one of our hogs into the car. As we were attempting this, some hoo-ha frantically and persistently started asking us for directions, which we originally politely answered to the best of our knowledge. Then, as we were still heaving the bikes up the stairs with considerable amount of frustration, he barged in with us and was trapped between the bikes, getting mad at us for trapping him. Note: there was another entrance to the train on either side of him, probably a maximum of two steps away. Anyways, we were on, and beginning to relax. By the next stop the train went from virtually empty to jam-packed, but we and the bikes were settled in. Then, mass confusion followed when the first car, which we were on, had mechanical problems, and everyone had to exit and get onto the other already packed cars. Of course, we were left waiting for the next train. Since we weren't at the start of the line, we didn't have the luxury of getting on an empty car when the next train came, so we threw Sharon's bike on the first car, and we both ran searching for a place to put my hog. Since Sharon's bike was already on, she had to return to it, or risk just a bike arriving in Santee. So, I was left outside, frantically trying to enter any door, but all were closed and ready for departure. I sighed and decided to just catch the next one, but saw the door that Sharon was in was still open - she was holding it, and consequently stalling the whole train, for me. Furiously, I tossed ol' Squeaks in with new-found strength, and began to cool down. At least we were on, and for good this time. Unfortunately, a fuzzy announcement informed us that the train was abandoning it's original route and heading back to Downtown SD. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! We weren't that far from Santee, and since we don't lug these 200-pound monsters around for nothing, we rode the rest of the way. Ridiculous! Thankfully, Darin's hospitality awaited us at their house.
That was Monday, and now it's Wednesday. So I'm missing a day, but that's another story. This was quite the long blog - thanks to those who have read this far! And hopefully those who didn't at least enjoyed the pictures!
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