Tag Archives: Pacific Coast Highway

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

Big Sur, California: Whimsical Art at TreeBones Resort

Decorative metalworker Dave Bidwell explains the artistic process of creating a handrail from recycled materials at TreeBones Resort.

TreeBones Resort is located in Big Sur, California.

Big Sur, California: TreeBones Resort


TreeBones, located in Big Sur, California, offers a unique lodging experience on California’s breathtaking Big Sur coast. It inspired Brandon to write the following lyrics: Fall asleep in comfort, to the sounds of waves and seals… sleeping by the ocean…smile at whale

Watch more Earthworm Envy videos at tripfilms.com

Pacific Coast bicycle tour: Gualala to Redlands, California (pedal power)

kirk-creek-campground california pacific coast bicycle tour

Before my departure for the Pacific Coast, some people expressed concern that I would be involved in a tragic automobile/bicycle accident rendering my arms useless.  People assumed they would not receive this essay in such a timely manner because typing with my nose is a skill that takes a while to learn.

Pacific Highway bicycle tour

Some parts of Highway 1 did bring about beads of sweat.  The highway can become so narrow that there is no room for a roadside cross.  A non-attentive driver simply has to knock you in the shoulder.  The sudden jolt of shoulder pain wouldn’t bother you because you’d be soaring with a smile beside the seagulls as you plummet towards the sun bathing sealions or get smashed into the side of the mountain. Fortunately, a bicycle rider is more likely to get hit in an intersection.

Travel Stats:

Gaulala, CA (100 miles north of San Francisco) to Malibu, CA

575 miles in 24 days, a leisurely pace.

Annie's box macaroni dinner-in-san-fran Pacific coast bicycle tour

Average daily expenses $38, eating peanut butter and beans and splurging on a day at the Monterey aquarium.

4 busses and 1 train, public transportation from Malibu to Redlands, California

brandon-at-bodega-bay-campground Pacific coast bicycle tour

Brandon Follett playing his Little Martin

Concerning my preconceived notions of long distance bicycle riding and leisure time, I was in for a surprise. Usually the day would consist of waking up around 7AM, packing, hitting the road around 9AM.  Our most frequent stops were at grocery stores, coffee shops with free wi-fi, produce stands, and at the tops of hills to take gulps of water.  Only four campsites were actually close enough to town to check open mic or plug in the computer to work on films or travel stories.  Usually we would pull into the camp around time for dinner, set up camp, maybe read or play cards, then go to bed.  When the sun dropped it would get cold, so we’d bundle up in our sleeping bags.  My dad gave me a radio run on solar power.  Usually the radio couldn’t pick up stations, but on the nights when it was really cold and you could pick up NPR, it was definitely worth the added weight.  Kind of how an apple tastes much juicier after a five hour bicycle ride, a day of pedaling makes Terry Gross’s voice sound that much sweeter.

The California coast has plenty of campgrounds with sites specifically designated for hikers and bikers.  No reservations are required, all hikers and bikers share the same site, and the cost is reasonable, between $3 and $5 per person.

Pacific Highway bicycle tour

We rarely camped alone at the hiker/biker sites.  Sometimes up to 13 bicycle riders shared a campsite, and we met people from all over the world.  The world travelers we met were from Europe, Canada and New Zealand.  Most people we met briefly as they were on tight time schedules to catch a flight or train home.

Pacific coast bicycle tour

The US riders were typically from the West coast.  They would ride down the coast, then take the train back home to San Francisco, Portland, or Seattle.  Keep in mind, because of the wind, almost everyone rides Highway 1 from north to south.

Compared to Idaho campers, California campers are very clean.  Almost all of the campsites had hot showers that were either free or cost a couple of quarters.  All of the campsites had clearly labeled, easily accessible bins for recycling bottles and cans.

carpinteria-beach Pacific coast bicycle tour

As we approached southern California, we started to meet bicycle riders who live on the road. The camp rules became stricter.  For instance, some hiker/biker sites had “no alcohol” signs posted. RVs next to the hiker/biker site had bottles of alcohol littered around their comfortable lawn chairs.  Some campgrounds had a one night limit, and one campground had a 9AM check out.

bill-6-years-bicycling pacific coast bicycle tour

Bill rides the Iron Buffalo, a bike that weighs 175 pounds with gear, including the antlers on the handlebars.  He started his journey 6 years ago from Boston on a search for the first Starbucks in Seattle.  He didn’t start his trip with the white plastic buckets that serve as rear panniers.  He used to have a tent and panniers just like ours, he claims.  A squirrel in search of granola ate through one of his panniers, and he exchanged his tent for tarps for reasons we’re not quite sure.

One man who talked so much I could never ask his name assured me the cops will never ticket or arrest you the first time they find you sleeping under a bridge.  The key is never get comfortable under one bridge.  You must be on the move, always under different bridges.  Similar to how people move their car from spot to spot in a 2 hour parking area.  I got invited to eat at the mission in San Luis Obispo.  Kept my curiosity to myself when he mentioned he had a warrant in Oregon.

At night, when I heard rustling sounds, I could always distinguish a raccoon from a bicycle rider who lives on the road.  The raccoons don’t have a smokers hack.

Other fascinating people we met:

In front of Sunshine Bicycles in Fairfax, I met a man wearing an International Workers of the World t-shirt. When people ask how I can afford my Bicycling Highway 1 and into the Great Beyond trip, I tell them the secret is not having credit card debt. We started talking about national debt and the recession.  He told me the union he belongs to encourages workers to take advantage of union discounts on cars, boats, etc. These discounts are a perk of being in the union.  His fellow workers are encouraged by teamsters to go into debt. His voice gets excited, “How can a person go on strike if they are in debt?”  I suppose a person in debt has no strike power.  I cannot count how many people I have met who would quit their jobs if they weren’t caged by debt to flee a worthless job or this war-mongering nation. The first tool to enable a person to strike is a bicycle.  The first step to a healthy economy is the bicycle.

Donna and Paul camped next to us in Gualala.  When they discovered our route would take us right past their house in Marshall, they invited us to stay a night with them at their house on beautiful Tomales Bay. Unfortunately, instead of accepting their offer, we decided to ride 17 miles further to Samuel P. Taylor State Park.

Donna and Paul have a website called Divining Seduction. http://www.evolutionaryrevolution.org/

They have a fresh look and solution to the current US and world patriarchal system

The Egg knows…

Evolutionary Revolution gives Darwinian cultural permission to all women to use their forgotten biological power to initiate seduction.  Hence, she will select her mate and guide him to mindfulness. Women can create loving and effective partnerships, stop the male war habit, help men to redefine “progress” and reduce their need of ‘stuff’.

doug-kirk Pacific coast bicycle tour

Met Doug on the bike path in Santa Cruz.  He was out for a day ride and gave us directions.  The second time he passed us, he offered us a place to stay for the night.  He entertained us with travel stories and YouTube sailing videos.  He recently helped sail ‘Adios’ to the Moore 24 National Championship at Richmond YC.  For the full story, check out the October issue of Latitude 38.  Besides racing sailboats, he is a great host, took us to the farmer’s market, makes a delicious breakfast, has no TV, built his house using the most current green technology, and put a 60 foot bike lane in front of his house.

Videos we made along California Highway 1:

Mendocino Hotel

Swanton Berry Farm

Henry Miller Memorial Library

Tomorrow we are taking a vacation from our bikes and heading to Baja California, Mexico by bus.  I thought it would be fun to spend the night and celebrate my 33rd birthday in Tijuana.  We e-mailed a fellow in Tijuana that we found on a website called Hospitality Club to see if we could spend the night with him.  This is what he said, “Why travel thru mexico? Havent u seen what is going on in mexico nowdays with all those murders, kidnappings, etc….? especially in Tij which is number 1. People dont party anymore or go to restaurants cus of the shootings in public. even myself i dont go out, be careful throughout ur trip. Ok have a nice day, bye”

More photos of our trip