Monday, March 31, 2008

Tijuana and Imperial Beach to El Cajon

Note: El Cajon is pronounced "El Cahone"...not El Cayjun as I first thought. Many of the street names and communities have spanish names. I've misprounced many...for instance I was asking someone for directions and told them I just got off a street called Jamacha pronouncing it phonetically Jam-a-cha. The lady laughed and said: "You're not from around here, are you?" It's actually prounced hamashaw


Jack and Sally's place in Imperial Beach is fairly close to the Mexican Border so Taran and I planned to spend some time in Tijuana before heading to our next warmshower location. It was our plan to leave our gear at Jack and Sally's and return for it in the afternoon. Probably to Sally's chagrin, she said we could come back and stay for another night if necessary. We got up and out the door fairly early. We were going to take the bus and trolley to the border, but Jack kindly gave us a ride instead. It probably saved an hour or more. Consequently, we made it to Tijuana around 9:30...Daylight Savings Time. Unfortunately, Tijuana does not recognize DST so it was only 8:30am and nothing much was open. Also, I had forgotten my walking tour paperwork so all we had to do was wander around. We saw a tortilla making shop, a few ladies of the evening/morning, a cool restaurant serving food we did not recognize, the friendship "half-ring" that is very visible in downtown Tijuana, lots of pharmacies and lots and lots of signs in a foreign language. Taran got bored which I could understand, so we headed back to San Diego. We had some shopping and running around to do and we stopped at the Library. When we were done all that, it was too late to head to the next warmshower so I called everyone and made arrangements to return to Jack and Sally's for another night.

Upon our return at 6:45pm, Jack suggested we head out to the "Most Southwestern Point of the United States". Taran was too tired, but I was up for the adventure so Jack and I took off. When we got to the parking lot the sun was getting fairly low in the sky. The trek to the MSP was approximately 1 miles and would take 1/2 hr to get there. As we started walking a border patrol vehicle drove by and said "you realize you are not supposed to be in the park after dark". We just nodded and the fellow drove off. It kept getting darker and darker and the next US Customs officer said we shouldn't be in the park after dark. Jack demonstrated an amazing ability to assuage their concerns because they did not ask us to turn around and go home. We finally made it to the MSP which has a monument installed by Nixon many years ago. Unfortunately, after his 'retirement', funding for the the monument and facilities were cut and the site was heavily vandalized. Although it is not open yet, it is in the process of being restored. The site is right beside a 20 foot steel fence that marks the border between Mexico and the US. The border patrol have numerous gas powered lights strung up all along the fence line. Jack said that there were many monitoring devices in the bushes and hills. I took a couple of pictures, but I'm not sure they turned out because it was very dark. It was quite an adventure.

Jack and Sally - Warmshower - Imperial Beach

We really enjoyed our stay with Jack and Sally. They shared some of their experiences with us such as their canoe trip in Bowrin Canada - a 10 day portage trip and some of their experiences in the desert. Jack was intimately familiar with the topography of the area we were heading into which helped in planning the next phase of our trip. On top of it all, Jack got up early this morning and went and got egg burritos from a local shop that turned out to be super delicious.

Dennis and Karen - Warmshower - El Cahon

We got off to a good start from Imperial Beach but we did not have too far to go...maybe 30 miles. We stopped at many places along the way to pick up things we needed. It was a bit hilly, but not too bad. Taran got pooped out a bit...partly cause he's been staying up too late recently and partly cause he didn't eat enough breakfast. We got to Dennis and Karen's place a bit early so we were waiting down the road a ways when Dennis drove up and said "you look like Canadians!". He showed us to his house and as we proceeded into his garage, I noticed he had a recumbant. Dennis provided another testimony to the comfort and ease of using a recumbant. I gotta look into one for Phaedra. Dennis had hurt his back and finds the recumbant does not bother his back. He also handed over the TV remote controls to Taran who, I am sure, thought he was in heaven. Later, Dennis took Taran, Brian (his son) and I out to an authentic Mexican restaurant where he bought us Mini tacos Aspago, Polloaspago, and something else. They were very good, but I think I liked the beef one best.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

San Diego

We had a great nights sleep in Carlsbad at Steve and Melissa's.  Melissa kindly prepared pancakes for us which were quite yummy.  We also found out that Carlsbad is where the Legoland theme park is.  We should have ridden by at least, but we chose to forge on.

Our next destination was only 30 miles away, so we had a bit of time to kill along the way.  We chose to stop at the "Gliderport" just as we entered San Diego.  It is on a high cliff overlooking the ocean.  There were probably 15 or 20 paragliders in the air.  We saw them land and take off numerous times.  We also saw remote control model gliders flying amongst the paragliders.  

We then headed to our next warmshowers location:  Jerry and Barbara's

Jerry turned out to be a world traveling cyclist who has had many european cycling experiences.  I was particularly impressed with his mode of transportation.  He owns a "Bike Friday" which actually folds up and fits inside a suitcase.   The manufacturer actually makes the bike to fit your body shape.  Apparently they are made in Oregon.  I can now say that I have had my first experience on a Murphy Bed.  Jerry and Barbara have on in what is now Barbara's office.  It was really cool...and comfortable!  We quite enjoyed our stay at their home.  

The next morning, Jerry kindly gave us a scenic tour of San Diego as he guided us to the Coranado Ferry dock.  We went by some incredible beaches and parks.   San Diego is a very pretty city. 

After Jerry showed us the place to buy our ferry tickets he took us over to the "Midway Museum".  The Midway Museum is actually a decommissioned air craft carrier.  We needed a place to park our bikes so before Jerry left he got the attention of someone who looked like he was part of the museum staff.  The fellow helped us park our bikes and as we got to chatting, he told us he was actually a "docent" and a retired Naval Aviator (fighter pilot).  He said he was allowed to bring up to 3 guests into the Museum and offered to take Taran and I aboard.  We proceeded to follow him into the ship.  The tickets would have cost 25 dollars.  We felt very lucky.  The admission included an audio tour which we proceed to go through.  It was very interesting.  The docent fellow also gave us a presentation on how the planes our "catapulted" off the ship, including all the hand signals that are used.

Imperial Beach - Jack and Sally - warmshower host

I learned about a new worldwide "game" called geocaching.  Some of you may already know about it, but I was fascinated by the things Jack and Sally shared with me.  You'll have to read about it yourself at:  Jack is actually ranked very high in the world as a geocacher.  He has collected and traded many many coins, travel bugs and other things from around the world.  I am most definitely going to take a look at it when I get home.  If I had the dough now, I would buy a GPS and start collecting on this trip!!  Sally was kind enough to offer us loquat pie.  They actually have a loquat tree in their backyard where the pie contents came from.  Sally spiced the pie similar to that of an apple pie.  It was very very good.  I tried one of the loquats off the tree and although it wasn't quite ready, it was still tasty.  

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Onward Ho

After a three day holiday at the Cistaro Mansion, we returned to the task of heading south.

Santa Monica to Huntington Beach

This part of the trip had us going through many of the beaches along the Los Angeles Coast:
Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Redondo Beach, Long Beach, Sunset Beach, and Huntington Beach to mention a few. It was amazing to see so many beaches and so much sand. There weren't that many people out but we did see surfers and kite surfers along the way. It was pretty much a blur as it was a long ride and we didn't have much time to stop along the way. In fact, when we did pass the first marker for the Huntington Beach city limits we were unprepared for how far we would have to go to find our warmshower host. They live on the South side of Huntington we mistakenly thought that it would not take that long. I think we were both tired and a little rusty after three days of not riding. We were both soo thankful to finally arrive at Brandy and George's place.

Brandy and George's place

What an incredible couple. Both Brandy and George are "ultra-cyclists". That means that they routinely ride 100 and 200 mile bike rides for practice and for races. George also rides these super long rides up to 500 miles long (without getting off the bike). Also, George is a veritable walking encylopedia on almost everything related to road race cycling. I was so amazed at their knowledge and dedication to the sport of cycling. Brandy prepared an amazing dinner for Taran and I. It had been a while since I had had fish, and low and behold this is what she served us. It was very good. Taran even had two pieces, which says a lot cause it's not his favorite. Because George has acquired sponsors to support his riding, Brandy kindly offered us a couple of water bottles, two containers full of powered food supplements and a whole bag of gel packs (quick energy food in liquidy format). Brandy and George also provided us with a wealth of information regarding the route we were heading on and some helpful tips on how to "get along" in the desert. They certainly made us feel at home. We wish them the best in all of their cycling adventures...particularly this weekend!!

Huntington Beach to Carlsbad - Steve and Melissa - warmshower

We again traversed many many beaches traveling from Huntington Beach to Carlsbad namely: Newport Beach, Laguna Beach Capistrano Beach and Oceanside. We also went through Camp Pendelton with is part of the Marine Corp Reservation. We had to show ID at the gate to an armed guard... we also heard gunnery practice in the distance. This part of the trip was a bit more hilly than yesterday's. However, we rode almost 65 miles in 6 hours which is pretty good for us. Steve and Melissa have a lovely home and we were made to feel very welcome. Unfortunately Taran and I ate our dinner before we met up with the Stuart Clan because they offered us part of their Pizza. (I stuffed one piece down cause I just couldn't resist!!) Taran found a book to read and he also got to watch TV - two of his favourite pastimes! Steve and Melissa have some really cool kids that we sort of hung out with. Akeela (5) was sooooo cute. I would have liked to have spent more time chatting with her.

I am amazed at the exteme hospitality and kindness people have shown us. It is really heartening to know that there are people out there that have warm hearts as well as warm showers!

Tomorrow - San Diego!

Thank you to the Cistaro Clan

Taran and I had an awesome time hanging with the Cistaros. Taran said he would like to go back and visit on our return trip. Our final day at the Cistaros found us going to a local swimming pool. Taran had been hankering for a swim for a couple weeks. Melissa indulged this wish by taking Taran, Dominic, Bella, and two of their friends to the pool. I spent a considerable amount of time investigating our next adventure and finding warmshowers along the way.

Anthony, Melissa, Dominic and Bella - Thank you so much. You showed us a great time! Thank you Anthony for taking us as far as you did. I don't know if we would have made it otherwise. We arrived at our destination in Huntington at 6pm. We did stop along the way more than we should have cause we thought we had more it turns out, we probably shouldn't have...

We can't wait til you guys come and visit us on Vancouver Island!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sand and Surf

Following the Easter Egg Hunt and other activities yesterday the Cistaro clan took Taran and I to Topanga Beach. Anthony and I went jogging along the beach. He's training to become a lifeguard (the baywatch type) and needs to be able to "run in the sand". I mistakenly thought that after 1500 miles on a bike I would be in fairly good condition. Obviously I was wrong because after about a mile, I was ready to be done. Anthony went on to run another mile AND swim 1/2 a mile in the ocean.
Taran, Dominic and Bella had a great time playing in the surf. Taran and Bella lasted the longest as Dominic and I had to de-numbify our bodies! It wasn't as cold as I thought it would be, but it was still pretty cold.

Today Melissa took us to Hollywood to see Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Ripleys Believe it Not, Guiness Book of World Records Museum, and other sights along the way. It was very very hot, even for the locals! We then went to a place called Mashti Malones Ice Cream T his was an inauspicous Ice Cream store that is truly one of those hidden treasures. We were actually served by Mashti Malone. He has made himself famous by creating healthy and unique ice cream creations. Local Food chains now stock his product in their stores. He has had Canadian stores approach him for distribution rights. You may see his ice cream in a store near you!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Carpenteria to LA

Greetings honourable readers,


We arrived in Carpenteria somewhat late and did not feel like going swimming. It was a very nice beach, but we were content to set up camp, play chess and go to bed. We've been playing a lot of chess lately. Taran usually lets me win, but he has occasionally asserted his superiority and won the odd game to keep me in check. The railway track has been very close to many of the coastal campgrounds. I didn't quite realize how loud a train whistle can be when it's right beside 11 oclock at night. One positive note in Carpenteria, I did earn a bit of money fixing the shower machine. It had become jammed with quarters (and a few mexican coins) and I spent 20 minutes pulling 4 quarters out of the machine.

Mcgrath State Beach

Mcgrath State Beach is located just outside of Ventura. We met a fellow Hiker/biker who had come from Tuscon AZ and was heading north. He seemed to be a "transient" in the sense that he had most of his possessions with him and was going to look for work somewhere north of San Francisco. We chatted for quite a while on survival techniques for crossing the desert from San Diego to Texas. When I mentioned to him that Taran was going to sleep "under the stars" he informed us that there was likely going to be a lot of dew in the morning and that Taran would likely get very wet. Luckily Taran decided to move into the tent because we even got wet in the tent...the dew was so heavy. We also met this woman who works in Ventura but lives on a boat 30 miles north. It was late when she left work and decided to stay at the campground for a change. She was a surfboard/sail boat/boogie board instructor. She invited us to come stay on her boat but unfortunately it was in the wrong direction.
When we arrived at Mcgrath SB we were the only campers in an entire section of the campground. A few hours later a huge...and I mean huge Fifth Wheel Camper parked beside our tent (a two man tent). This thing was the tallest (probably 14 feet high) and one of the longest campers we have seen. It had it's own garage...the rear wall of the unit would come down and become the ramp to remove the 7 Quads that they had. Once the 7 Quads had been removed, a Master Bed would descend from the ceiling along with a large flat screen TV. The unit would sleep 10 easily, more if you didn't mind sleeping on the floor. I can't imagine how much this thing was worth, but it sure was nice. In the morning, they offered us coffee and hot chocolate which was a nice treat.

Sycamore near Point Mugu

On the way to Sycamore State Park, we stopped at the US Naval Air Station which had an outdoor museum of Fighter Jets and missiles. I was surprised at how much Taran knew about the missiles...a veritable walking missile encyclopedia. Also near this area we spotted people on a huge sand dune using crazy carpets and rubbermaid bin lids to slide down on. It didn't work all that well, but it did look fun. Sycamore SP is located in a canyon up from the Ocean hidden amongst some trees. We did not have any dew issues at Sycamore. As it turns out, Sycamore had the hottest showers of any campground that we have experienced thus far. We actually had to turn the cold on to moderate the heat!! We also spent considerable time building a slingshot which is now part of our permanent luggage.

Sycamore to LA

Phaedra had previously arranged accommodation with some friends of ours in LA - Anthony and Melissa. We hadn't seen them in almost 15 years, but they graciously agreed to allow us to invade their home for a few days. Anthony was concerned that the roads from the coast to their home in Woodland Hills would be too treacherous and hilly for us to use. We agreed to meet at the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier at 5pm and we would pack up our stuff in their vehicle and drive to their home. So, Taran and I set out early in the day to ensure we would make it to the Pier on time. On the way, Taran had his first accident. A car pulled in front of him and stopped suddenly, presumably to swing into a parking spot. Taran ran into the back end of the vehicle. I didn't notice what had transpired and continued on. Taran flew over his bike, hit the vehicle and landed on the ground. Taran was not physically hurt, but it sure rattled him. It took a few hours for him to get over the experience. Luckily there was no damage to the bicycle.
We made extremely good time and arrived at the Pier by 1 pm. We spent the afternoon hanging around the Pier in near perfect weather (around 25 degrees and no wind). There was probably 5 or 6 thousand people on the Pier and on the beaches. If you are not familiar with the Pier, it has a carnival on it. Rides, Games, Buskers, restaurants, arcades, shops, etc. We played mini-golf, we tried to win a basketball at the basket shoot, we played video games we ate ice cream (and our PB Sandwiches) and we watched many many people fail at all of the games!! A most enjoyable afternoon.
With all the people and congestion, it took a while to meet up with Anthony and Melissa and their children Dominic (12) and Bella (10) and their dog Crystal (1.5) at the appointed hour. We loaded up the stuff and headed towards their home. Anthony took us on the route that we would have taken had we ridden our bikes. The road turned out to be quite "bike-unfriendly" (no shoulder, lots of blind corners and mostly up-hill). Taran and I were very thankful that we didn't have to tackle this road and we had the opportunity to spend the afternoon at Santa Monica Pier.
Anthony and Melissa have been extremely generous in opening their home to us and letting us hang out. This morning (Easter) they allowed us to join them in going to Mass. It's been a while since I've been in church and it was actually a neat experience. The Pastor/Father gave a very simple but effective sermon. I also enjoyed the childrens choir. This afternoon, they allowed Taran to join the children (some other kids came over as well) in the easter egg hunt in the back yard. Taran was quite happy to have some candy for a change. Dominic and Taran seem to have hit it off quite well. I'm sure the Wii and the computer games have helped the relationship!
This evening Taran and I will have to decide what we're going to do for the next two days. I'm sure something will come up!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ian Got His Mojo Back in Lompoc

We decided to take a day off in Lompoc and just hang out. The campground we were staying at was very close to the town so it was easy to do laundary, visit the bicycle shop and hang out at the Library. I think the rest was all I need to get my mojo back.

When we returned to the campground at the end of our day off in Lompoc we were surprised to find that Colter (the fellow we shared the raccoon issue with and the fellow that sleeps in a hammock) had set up camp. As it turns out he was heading home to Santa Barbara. He invited us to come visit his house when we were passing through on our way south.

From Lompoc we went to El Capitan State Beach. From a scenic view perspective, the campsite we had could not have been better. We were situated on a high bluff overlooking the ocean. However, a major train artery was probably 60 meters away and the highways was maybe 100 meters away. This morning we were covered in Fog... The sun did not show up until around 11am. We had to pack some of our stuff wet.

We currently at Colter's house in Santa Barbara (actually it might be Goleta, but it's unclear). He's kindly preparing us lunch. He's a professional Saxaphone player. A very cool individual.

After lunch we'll be heading to Carpenteria State Beach which claims to have the warmest beaches in Southern California. Taran and I have agreed that we would go swimming in the ocean in Carpenteria!! Wish us luck.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lompoc (pronounced lawmpoke)

Something I forgot to mention yesterday...just as we arrived at Don and Lucy's house it started to rain!!! It rained very hard at times and the wind was fairly nasty. Thanks again to Don, Lucy and Willie for their incredible hospitality. Also, I got the very best sleep I have had this entire trip. Don rode with us for about 25 miles on our way to Lompoc this morning. It was nice to have a real person to talk to along the way (no offense Taran).

We've holed up at the Library waiting for our turn on the computer. I read the Wall Street Journal today and was bombarded with bad economic news. Sounds like things are not well in the financial world.

Even though I got my best sleep last night, I think I may have 'hit the wall' as far as this trip is concerned. At the moment, I am totally wiped and no longer look forward to exerting any physical energy. Might be getting a cold I guess. Perhaps we'll spend some time in Santa Barbara just hanging out.

Today and yesterday we spent a lot of time in the farmland (non-coastal) areas. We'll be heading back to the coast tomorrow and then probably arrive in Santa Barbara a couple days from now.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Warm Showers Nipomo

Morro Bay turned out to be very cold and windy. The Campsite was right beside a golf course hidden in a grove of eucalyptus trees. Did you know that eucalyptus trees make a lot of noise when the wind blows? Well, I know that they do. Not only that but a bunch of people moved into the campsite next to ours at 1am in the morning. I did not get much sleep.

Well, once again Taran and I have been blessed with good luck. While we were in Cambria making plans, Phaedra informed us that it was likely going to rain and be very windy on Saturday. I quickly checked the Warm Showers website and made a few calls to see if we could find a place to stay during the storm. Well, as luck would have it I made contact with a fellow named Don who lived in Nipomo who was willing to take us in. Not only that but he rode his bike 20 miles to meet up with us to guide us back to his house. I believe each Warm Showers host provides different levels of support. As it turns out Don and Lucy (his charming spouse) have provided us with 5 star support. They treated us to a great dinner, their shower was very warm and had great pressure (something we do not find very often at State Parks), Don spent considerable time helping me plan the next leg of our trip, they let us use their laundry, they live in a Geodesic house that is really quite amazing AND Don owns some extremely cool cars... a completely restored 1969 Shelby Cobra Mustang with a 428 police interceptor engine, a 1968 Cobra Shelby that is slated for restoration, a 1946 Pontiac Woodie that he meticulously restored and uses on a regular basis and a few others. Taran even got some time to watch TV.

The ride to Don's house was bit on the hilly side and we did not take any breaks along the way. I think Taran and I have gotten used to stopping every now and then, because I was very tired when we arrived at Don's house.

Not sure what's on the agenda for tomorrow. We might head to another Warm Shower location or head to the next State Park. It kind of depends on the weather.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Cambria California

I guess it's been a while since my last post. We stayed at the Hostel in Monterey. A very nice place. It had a great kitchen and strangely enough had lots of free food, which Taran and I devoured. Monterey itself was very nice. It had it own "Fishermans Wharf" and great bike trails. We didn't get to see much of the city as we arrived fairly late in the day and left early the next.

From Monterey we went to Pffeifer State Park in the Big Sur area about 45 miles away. This site was in the forest with lots of trees. Although it was a State Park it had a brand new lodge (restaurant, cafeteria etc). It looked great, I would have loved to have eaten there!! We spent time with a fellow Hiker/Biker named Robert. He was a transient that told us stories of working in the circus and taught us how to "ride the rails". Apparently it is much harder than it used to be. In fact, if you happen to arrive at a "Port Location" and they catch you, it's ten days in jail!!.

We went from Pffeifer SP t o Kirk Creek Campground (run by the Forest Service not the State Parks). Interesting note; We stopped for lunch at a particular road side pullout and ran into a professional photographer. He was there to take pictures of Wild Condors. He shared this information about the condors:
1) There are only 139 wild condors in CA, AZ and Mexico
2) The reason for their decline:
a) DDT - softens their eggs
b) Less carrion then there used to be
c) Eating bullets made of lead from dead or dying animals that had been shot.
As he was telling us this, a large adult condor flew 20 feet above our heads. It was amazing. Shortly thereafter, a young adult flew by...
Kirk Creek: This place had been recommended by a cyclist we met in San Francisco. Our campsite was 20 feet from the cliff overlooking the beach and pounding surf. It was truly an amazing sight. However, despite the view, it turned out to be a mistake. There was no potable water nor were there any showers. Luckily we had filled up 10 miles before so we had enough water to cook with. They did have running water, but the signs said you should not drink or cook with it. I mentioned to the Camp Host (a short grizzled older man) that I was struggling with the no water issue and he replied very brusquely "I've been drinking it for years and have never been sick". I wanted to say that they way he looked and acted that it must be affecting him, but I did not. I asked if there was water nearby and he again told me that he drank the water.

From Kirk Creek, we went to San Simeon State Park about 45 miles away. The day was chilly and we rode through fog most of the day. Also, the first two thirds of the day was spent climbing hills. We were very drained at the end of this day!! We did stop to view the Elephant Seals. There must have been 10 elephant seals and maybe 200 other seals of varying sizes and shapes. Apparently the best time to see them is in the morning when they are more active - fighting, having intimate relations, playing etc) We saw them when they were just lying in the sun (what a life eh). San Simeon was a nice campground but not a lot of trees and our site was on grass. With a clear sky (the fog had lifted by the time we got to San Simeon) this meant a lot of dew and condensation on the tent... The only bad thing about San Simeon was the Raccoons. I have not been sleeping well and decided to try wearing ear plugs. It worked great. However, I did wake up around 2 am to stretch my legs. When I went back to bed luckily I did not put the plugs back in because shortly thereafter I heard the familiar raccoons sound. I think it was that they were fighting over getting at our food that woke me up. I quickly got up and scared them off and found that the only damage they had done was to tear open a garbage bag. I took the bags to the nearby restroom to protect for the night. (usually they have boxes available to store your food but they did not have any here...and no trees to hang stuff from.) A couple hours later I heard noise from the other hiker/biker campsite. I got up and yelled "Hey Coulter, there's raccoons in your campsite". He woke up and scared them away but not before they had invaded his larder! He took his stuff to the restroom as well. Coulter was a nice fellow from Santa Barbara that amazed us with his ability to travel light. He did not have a tent, rather he used a hammock. He only need 2 panniers to carry all his stuff...and he had 10 days worth of food (it's hard to find Vegan food along this route).

I think that basically outlines our past few days. The mornings are still very cold, in fact there was frost on the ground. We've decided on a short day today, maybe 20 to 25 miles to a place called Morro Strand Beach.

My time is up...we're at the Library in Cambria California and they generously gave us 1 hour to fiddle.

Last Comment.... This beach coast road is absolutely stunning. It is great being able to see the coast go by while riding on a bicycle. It doesn't fly by as it would in a car.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Monterey California

It sure is a pain needing to put suntan lotion on!!! Oh how we suffer the warmth down here.

We didn't stay an extra night in HMB. We struck out for New Brighton State Park about 56 miles away. We had hoped to stay closer to Santa Cruz, but we could not find a Hiker/Biker campsite close enough.

Interesting Notes:
1) We got the bikes up to 40.2 miles an hour the other day. What's interesting is that the trailer instructions suggest you do not exceed 24 kilometers/hr. The only issue with pulling the trailer is that the brakes wear out much quicker!! Also, it takes a long time to stop.

2) We breeched the 1000 km mark a couple of days ago. (1000 kms sounds better than 640 miles).

The New Bright SP had weird rules about "enroute camper" (us) needing to checkout at 9am. Also, we could not stay two nights in a row. I believe the rule is in place to prevent street people from using the park. We left early in the morning and went to Sunset State Beach which was only 20 miles away. We met a fellow "Doug" (originally from Ontario Canada) who was out riding his bicycle. He told us about an informal organization that allows travelers like us to stay in peoples homes for one night. I think it is called warmshowers.something or other. I will research it later. We got to Sunset are around noon and went to the beach for the afternoon and caught up on our journal writing. When we got back to our site there was a fellow sitting at our table. It turned out that we needed to share the site cause it was the officially designated Hiker/Biker site. The real HB sites had been damaged in a storm. Thomas was from amsterdam and was very friendly. We swapped stories and ended up teaching card games to one another. We learned a game called "Tupin" which Taran intends to write down the rules for and show everyone at home.

We're currently in Monterey at the local library. We just finished our laundary and will be heading to a nearby campsite.

I also got my first flat as we arrived at the campsite.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Half Moon Bay

Leaving the Hostel was uneventful. I sent Taran off by himself to go shopping at Safeway and go to the Post Office. I'm slowly letting go but I'm still anxious about his safety ALL THE TIME..

Taran rode his first subway (BART in SF) ride today. We took bikes and trailers onto the subway and rode to Daly City. We could have ridden our bikes but we thought this would be fun.

Taran and I rock. We were told the trip to half moon bay would be treacherous, hilly and take us a long time. There is a section of the highway called "Devils Slide" that we were erroneously told would take a couple of hours. It is a seven miles stretch that is basically up one side and down the other. We knocked it off in less than an hour. Since we now had some time on our hands we stopped into the library to access the internet.

The ride from Daly City to HMB was very scenic. The coast area with the beaches and huge cliffs were breathtaking. We saw a lot of surfers just north of HMB and may go and watch them tomorrow if we stay an extra day. HMB is a very quaint town that has been done up quite nicely. I wish I had taken some pictures!!! Maybe tomorrow.

Maybe Taran can do some homework tonight....

Thursday, March 6, 2008

San Francisco

Rice a Roni, the San Francisco Treat.

I see Phaedra gave you the highlights of our trip from Sacramento China Camp State Beach. Shawn and Cathy gave us a headstart on our trip to San Francisco by dropping us off near a place called American Canyon...about 40 miles from China Camp State Beach. Unfortunately, when I planned the trip I did not realize that it had us travelling on a freeway part of the way...with no alternatives in sight. Although we were only on the freeway for maybe 10 miles we were spotted passing a weigh-in station. The State Trooper was very nice and gave us directions to China Camp. As it turns out, we were very close anyways so it was all good.

It was lucky Taran took the day off the next day cause it took quite a while to figure out how to Bike down to SF while not using the Freeway. We lucked out by meeting a fellow in the Camp that was a Bike Planner and he gave us very good instructions. China Camp was very expansive and had lots of trails that we explored. We've started to run into areas where Raccoons are very smart. We've been warned many times that we need to keep our food either locked up in the boxes provided at the camp or hang from a tree. One fellow said that they actually unzipped his panniers and got into his food.

The weather has been ususually sunny and warm. Even the locals are surprised at how nice it is. We biked down to Sausolito and then crossed the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco. It is nearly two miles long and in good clear weather was a terrific and almost awe-inspiring experience. We went through a biking/walking path from the Bridge to our Hostel right through the Presidio (a former Army/navy place) and found our hostel (Fishermans' Wharf Hostel) right away. Unfortunately, it was booked up so we had to ride downtown to another hostel. We met some interesting people from Chile (taught snowboarding in Reno NV) and Japan (IT guy going to visit Google and Intel in the silicon Valley). We were able to take our Trailer right into our room so it made things very easy to look after.

Thursday morning we spent in Downtown SF visiting a few shops, Union Square, Visitors Info Center etc. In the afternoon we went back to the Fisherman's Wharf Hostel had lunch and then went to Pier 33 to catch the boat to Alcatraz. It was really cool. Both Taran and I had a great time there. We were lucky enough to catch one of the State Park Ranger guys giving a tour about all of the escape "attempts" that were made during the prison's history. He was a very colourful speaker and even asked Taran a few questions... "How many Canadian citizen's stayed in Alcatraz?" Taran replied "7" he said... "PHZZT...wrong....I'll give you a hint that might help...It's somewhere between 13 and 13".... In fact, the first escape attempt was made by a Canadian.

We returned from Alcatraz and wandered through Pier 39 and the rest of Fisherman's Wharf. Taran liked the Chocolate Shops, the Knife Shop, The Arcade, The Candy Shop, The Magic Shop the most. The sourdough bread we bought at Boudin's was good too. We saw from a distance the old WWll warships and submarines that you can tour on.

Being on bicycles gave us the opportunity to see a lot of the city. I certainly recommend it as a means of travel in a big city. The hills can be a problem in SF.

Being on the budget plan, we have not sampled much local cuisine, but we did try some free potstickers at a Restaurant in Chinatown. Taran was at first reluctant to go to China Town but once we got there he was quite taken with the place. It is sure is big and so much stuff could be bought cheap.

Taran was quite taken with SF...I think he would like to live here!! I don't think he realizes that most of the time it is covered in Fog!!

We've got some heavy duty camping and biking coming up. We're leaving for Half Moon Bay tomorrow and then 6 more nights on the road to reach LA. It is very remote and we need to be careful with refueling and not getting stuck too far from a campground. I doubt there will be much direct news coming from us...we'll have to wait and see.

Wish us luck


Fireball and Fireball Jr.

PS. We eat oatmeal with raisins/apples every morning. We've been eating sandwiches (meat/cheese mustard and WW bread)and fruit for lunch, granola bars for snacks and pasta with sauce and broccoli or carrots for dinner. We've had the odd can of soup/stew as well. Milk is a treat we sometimes indulge. Now that is is warmer, it is going to be harder to plan our meals...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wednesday in San Francisco

Well they had me really confused there for a while... Ian called yesterday and left a message that they were in China Camp State Park and had been there since Monday. Since I spoke with him on Sunday while he was still in Sacramento I was wondering how he had made it 85 miles in one day! The mystery was solved today when he told me that he got a 40 mile head start in the form of a ride from Shawn and Cathy. Apparently they were heading to Napa anyway and they threw the bikes and trailer in the back of the truck and headed off. With that leg of the trip already done the boys easily made it to China Camp where it only costs $2 per night to camp! The exciting part was that they were pulled over just before they got to China Camp - it turned out they were travelling on a section of freeway that didn't allow bikes. The officer was very nice though and they did not get a ticket. They took Tuesday off (at Taran's request) and went looking for a swimming pool. Unfortunately they had no luck in finding one. But they did get to have Maccaroni & Cheese for dinner (Taran's highlight of the day).
Today they left China Camp and they just called us from the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. They still have to cross it and find the hostel but there is some hope that they will have internet access for the next two nights.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Sacramento Californ eye ay

Howdy from Sacramento California,

Here's a bit of an update on how things have been going. Phaedra has done a fantastic job keeping this blog up to date, so I'll add what I can.

After arriving in Redding at 9:30am we spent a about 2 and a half hours putting our bikes back together and then another 2 hours fiddling around (shopping, bike shop, losing our toolbox and then going back to find it where we left it, looking for a campsite). We finally ended up going to a place about 10 miles south of Redding at an RV place. Although we had phoned ahead and confirmed their willingess to accept tenters, when we got there the desk person said the tenting sites were kind of wet and that it wasn't really the season to be using them. We checked them out and decided they were fine (we also did not have many options at this point!!!). The desk person turned out to be from Edmonton and was very kind to us.

Later that evening we were informed that there was a major wind and rain storm headed our way. We decided to ride to Red Bluff (40 miles) the next day and find a motel.

The next day turned out to be extremely wet. It rained on us the entire trip. It was very cold. Additionally, Taran got our first flat about 10 miles from the destination. Not fun. As we were riding along the I5 we chose to ignore the sign that said "no bicycles beyond this point" because the alternative route would have added 10 miles to the trip. We did not experience a lot wind at this point.

As soon as we reached the hotel room we strung up three lines and hung almost all of our possessions up...and then we cranked the heat. We watched TV, did homework, wrote in our journals and just hung out. The wind reached 50 miles an hour and lasted until mid afternoon the next day. We chose to spend another night at the hotel. Luckily the front desk person was enamored with our adventure and gave us a 17 percent discount on the cost of the room.

Once we were on the road again the only noteworthy things that came up were 9 more flats on Taran's rear tire (yes we need a new tire) and we hit our first 50 mile day. It did not physically drain us but it did leave us with little time to set up camp in daylight.

We hit Sacramento on Thursday afternoon and headed to Shawn and Cathy's house. Cathy calls me her husband's brother in law but Shawn calls me his cousin. I don't really care what they call me because they have treated us like royalty in their home. They have been extremely generous the past two days. They have fed us very well, Taran has had free rein of the TV and I was able to pick up a new bike (used) for Taran and get it ready for continuing our trip. It was a great deal and I couldn't pass it up. Their house is very nice and we (I) have enjoyed getting better acquainted with Shawn and Cathy.

Shawn has a tandem recumbent bike that he took me on a quick 10 mile ride on. It was amazingly comfortable and if you are the "passenger" it's very simple...all you have to do is peddle. I think Phaedra might be able to handle such an animal and will investigate upon my return.

Shawn tells me that we hit Sacramento at the perfect time of year. It is very warm, skies are clear and there aren't many bugs around. Score one for Taran and I cause the frost and frozen water we experienced earlier in the trip gave us pause to think it was the WRONG time of year to be doing this.

Luckily the shoulders were wide enough to allow Taran and I to ride abreast before we reached Sacramento and therefore allow us to chat while riding. We've discussed a number of projects that we might want to take up upon our return. I believe he enjoys riding because he intends to ride his bike to school every day and might even ride to Duncan to work at Nana's store. He's even considering convincing his friends to go on bike trips with him. He's suggested going across Canada but I've suggested he start with a closer destination. I know Wyatt is interested in going across Canada, so maybe they can go together....

We've been a bit pampered here in Sacramento. Our next destination is San Francisco. We'll be staying in a Hostel near Fisherman's wharf. It should be fun. On our way to SF, we will be staying at a KOA camp in Petaluma. This coincidentally is the place that Phaedra and I stayed while we were on our Honeymoon.

We are both healthy and relatively happy. I've still had trouble sleeping but Taran can sleep through anything. The homework thing could be better however both of us are keeping our journals up-to-date. We will be stretching the daily distances out a bit now that we have 400 miles under our belts. I'm thinking 50 to 60 miles per day will become the norm.

Til next time,

Fireball and Fireball Jr.

PS. We've not taken very many pictures. I've sent some to Phaedra whom I'm hoping will post them for us.