California Coast: Averaging 2 Miles a Day

2nd California Coast bicycle ride
January to April 2009
Santa Cruz to San Diego to Santa Monica
230 miles

Our first cycling tour of the California coast (October 2008, 575 miles, 24 days), we focused on camping in nature and enjoying a love affair with simplicity. There is nothing more gratifying to know that essentially all a person needs to explore America can be transported by bicycle. Like any relationship, this infatuation matures. These new feelings led us to want more than bicycle love. In relationships with people, this might translate to choosing the company of friends instead of constantly making out.

Instead of experiencing California by rubbing ourselves day after day on a leather bike seat, firmly gripping the handle bars, enjoying the motion of legs pumping up and down, and the wind blowing through our hair as we reach downhill speeds of close to 30 mph, we chose to broaden our bicycle relationship and share our bicycle love with the coastal people.

From Love Apple Farm in Ben Lomond, California, we pedaled 7 downhill miles to Santa Cruz. Through the touring cyclist network, WarmShowers, we met Anne who took us foraging for fruit. In January, Santa Cruz had an abundance of apples and oranges. Anne had as many interesting stories to tell. We would just kick back and eat fruit while petting the dogs. At one point she mentioned her dog ate her dad’s ashes. If I’d had a ouija board, I would have loved to meet him.

foraging for oranges with Anne in Santa Cruz

We met up with Doug whom we’d befriended on our first coastal tour. He took us to his favorite place to play cribbage. It is a beautiful spot that overlooks the Pacific and sunbathing Californians. Doug wasn’t playing his best. I suppose it might have to do with losing part of his finger in a sailing accident the day before in the San Francisco Bay.

sunny afternoon cribbage with Doug in Santa Cruz, whom we met on our 1st California coast bike ride

In Monterey, an evening at Paulo’s consisted of a plethora of ice cream choices, grappa, and Scrabble. Paulo, a native Italian, enjoys the challenge of playing Scrabble in English. Once again, I lost another game. However, I just enjoy the challenge of sitting through a game of Scrabble.

Paolo and his stack of dessert in Monterey

Paolo referred us to his friend, Dave, who does maintenance and decorative metalwork at TreeBones Resort in Big Sur. Dave can take a piece of forgotten metal and turn it into a flower. At TreeBones, he has a metal art studio and his wife, Cinda Lee, has a garden that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. At TreeBones, the owner believes everyone has an inner artist. When the daily chores have been finished, then its time to work on art. Cinda Lee can take a patch of dirt and turn it into fertile soil. The veggies she grows are used in the TreeBones restaurant to feed the guests. Guests are in awe of Dave’s metal work and Cinda’s organic garden. Check out our video of Dave talking about the creative process of making a handrail.

hiking Big Sur with Dave and Cinda Lee

In Cambria, we met Anne Wyatt, owner of the Bridge Street Inn hostel. Motivated to learn about Anne’s sustainability practices as well as the business side of operating a hostel, we arranged to stay for a few days and help out with odd projects. Painting the picket fence and helping Anne’s twin sister, Aimee, with remodel work turned into six weeks of doing laundry, making beds and greeting guests. During this time, we learned about managing a hostel, had neighborhood bonfires, sat at the ocean, and went to a George Harrison party hosted by Dino who managed Dark Horse Records. Check out our video about water conservation at the Bridge Street Inn Hostel. As we packed up our bicycles to start pedaling toward New Mexico, Anne invited us to attend the upcoming Hostelling International national operators meeting in Santa Monica. We postponed New Mexico and hugged the coastline for another month in anticipation of an informative meeting.

fell in love with the hostel host lifestyle and sustainable practices of Anne Wyatt at Bridge Street Inn, Cambria

In San Diego, John Alonge took us to several delicious drinking and eating establishments. We’d first met John at the Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch, sitting on the front porch exchanging songs, poetry, and stories as the evening sun kissed the Sawtooth Mountains.

The real adventure in San Diego didn’t begin until we met up with John’s partner, Dawn, and good friend, Jim Jenkins, of Jenkins Winery. In his book The Wine Heretic, John elaborates on the idea that anything goes when it comes to wine, especially if the love of wine is what motivates. In a homemade garage still, John took some old wine from Jenkins Winery and distilled it into brandy. Anyone else would have poured it out or given it to the hired help. The Wine Heretic knows how to love all sorts of wine, even the questionable wine. Check out our video about recycling wine with the wine heretic.

From San Diego we ventured into the Inland Empire. My sister had called to ask if we would housesit. After a weekend of walking the dog and watching Cesar Milan, we stayed beyond the call of house sitting to help plant the garden and take an unexpected drive to Napa Valley.

We then headed back to the coast with our bicycles to bum around Carpenteria and Ventura.

The Hostelling International meeting in Santa Monica came at the perfect time during our trip “Bicycling Highway 1 into the Great Beyond.” Our only commitment was to the Coonridge Organic Goat Dairy in New Mexico. Hearing rumors from friends and family in Boise, Idaho that the snow was melting and the inversion had lifted, we began to make tentative plans to head to Boise after visiting the dairy. While at the operators meeting, we met Jaime who happens to be opening a hostel in Girdwood, Alaska. He is looking for a couple to inject some soul and personality into the project. Anyone can manage a hostel, just like anyone can pour a cup of coffee, but not just any coffee establishment can offer a coffee drinker events such as the Valentines for AIDS event hosted by Flying M Coffee House.

So, basically, Jamie would like to give world travelers more than a cheap bunk. He wants his hostel to be a centerpiece of community involvement, music, poetry, art, and education. We were hired to infuse the hostel with unique cultural experiences that only a poet and gardener can give, and possibly a trick dairy goat named Asparagus that can slow dance to Motley Crue’s Without You.

After seven months on the Pacific Coast, we turned inland toward the goat dairy. The baby goats had almost all arrived and we need to be in Alaska in June, so we hopped on the train to New Mexico. We now have been living off the grid for a month. In fact, this blog comes to you via solar power and satellite internet. If you’re in need of a goat story, check out Goat Walking in the Wilds of New Mexico

Coonridge Dairy Goat

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