Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day 29. Sunday September 13 - Santa Cruz to Carmel by The Sea, California

We cruised through Santa Cruz and it's connected cities on sleepy Saturday morning roads. We understand the UC Santa Cruz campus is beautiful, tucked in the Redwoods at 1200 feet, but we didn't need any extra climbing. The towns, however, are quite funky; a collection of college, california and hippie.....or is that redundant.
Once out of town we went on a culinary tour of all that the county grows: rubbarb,

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brussels sprouts,
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fennel,
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artichoke (comes from the Thistle plant)
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and Strawberry Fields Forever (can you hear the music?).
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But this is by far the strangest plant/tree we saw...... look closely,
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only in California!
Moss Landing, the beginning of the Monterey Bay, played host to a pier of sea loins.
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Our last 25+ miles was on a great bike path
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along the Monterey Dunes
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and Bay, where we paid dearly for our tailwind of yesterday. The head wind did not prevent us from enjoying the sights, however.
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One last straight up hill
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and into Carmel By The Sea and a much needed DAY OFF!

Day 30. DAY OFF Carmel By The Sea

Carmel By The Sea is an enchanting place, expensive, but enchanting. Charming inns,

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homes,
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shops and more art galleries than permanent residences. We played tourist for a minute
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poked our head in to see if Clint Eastwood was at the bar, then headed for the beach. It's spectacular;
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pounding waves,
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and wonderfully soft sand. Apparently Carmel is the only place on the coast where the sand is created from quartz. And then there's the view of Pebble Beach and the 17 mile drive.
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That's all we have, back to resting and preparing for the climbs ahead.

Day 31. Tuesday September 15 - Carmel to Lucia, California

Most magnificent morning,

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most magnificent day. The sun was bright, the day was warm, perfect for climbing Big Sur
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The homes in the Carmel area are incredible; I can't fathom the architectural prowess necessary for some of them.
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Architecture and some clever landscaping and it's difficult to tell where the cliff stops and the home begins.
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It was tough to make progress for all of the picture stops,
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doubt we went more then a couple of miles at any given time in between photos.
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We needed a video camera attached to our helmets,
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one incredible scene
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after another
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and another.
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First we are here
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and then we cross to view the bridge fro the other side.
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This is Point Sur
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with a working lighthouse. And this was all before lunch at Nepenthe.
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Yes, this is stopping soon
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because the fog was coming in.
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It rolled in off the sea like a huge wave.
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Our stop after 50+ miles had a pretty nice view, too.
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Our first sunset.
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Day 32. Wednesday September 16 - Lucia to San Simeon Village, California

Most magnificent morning,

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most magnificent day.......again. Which means you will be subjected to another page of way too many pictures of the coast.
The colors of the earth,
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sky and sea
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are indescribable and tough to capture on camera. But of course, we'll try.
The view today was as dramatic
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as the hills (note the cut in the rock-that's the road)
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we had to climb
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to complete the second half of Big Sur. But we enjoyed it nonetheless.
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The advantage of the climbs was the spectacular views.
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The reality was that it took us three and a half hours to go 25 miles. A bit weary and in need of refreashment, we stopped early for lunch at Ragged Point.
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We caught a glimpse of fog sneaking around the cafe and thought we better hit the road. Heading out of Rugged Point the terrain flattened out
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and we enjoyed an incredible tailwind that Travis had sent our way (Thanks Man!). It was unreal, the water looked like we were in the Brac
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and the wind was an fabulous push! Luckily, we didn't disturb the elephant seals.
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A couple more pictures,
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and though it was early in the afternoon, we'd reached our destination. The wind was so strong we did 20 miles in one and a half hours, including stops for pictures. We forgot our camera for the sunset this morning, but we did post one (late) last night.

Day 33. Thursday September 17 - San Simeon Village to Pismo Beach, California

It was a quite, calm morning leaving San Simeon with the fog waiting just offshore.

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After we passed through Cambria, a few miles down the road from our hotel, we headed inland enough to enjoy warm sunny skies and California farm country.
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Ten miles later we turned towards the sea
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and the quaint coastal towns of Cayucos
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and Morro Bay.
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And a really cool bay it is.
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We're sure there is a name for this rock,
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and though we stopped to take about 50 pictures of it from different angles, we never stopped to ask the name.
We definitely recommend putting these two towns on our 'must do' California tour list.
It's still strange to see cow fields mingled among these small towns.
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Morro Bay is an beautifully protected harbor
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stuffed with sailboats.
After our 'cooling off' tour of these two coastal towns, we were blown inland, off of Highway 1, around the 4000 foot 'hills'
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and once again, farm country; pumkins are almost ready.
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We did manage to capture a couple of horse pictures
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for Lisa and Quinn.
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Stark dry hills contrasting to lush, watered vineyards
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incredible. But there really is nothing like a beach
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and this is the first time we've actually seen people sunbathing.....in bathing suits. Pismo Beach is your typical looking southern California beach town, surfboards, sand on the sidewalk and lots of skin.

Day 34. Friday September 18 - Pismo Beach to Lompoc, California

We left in a fog this morning, plus it was really thick and cold.

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It would not last, as shortly after Pismo and Grove Beach we turned inland. Not sure why the course put us on a 5 mile loop through the hills to progress one mile, but it did allow us wonderful views of sprawling rancheros.
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and small nurseries. We see these plants all the time in flower arrangements,
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but never growing naturally.
We bumped into Don again in Guadalupe, where we learned from John
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(made infamous in the Lonely Planet book) that they filmed "Odd Couple II" here. If you've seen the movie, you may remember this.
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We rejoined Highway 1 to bike through the Santa Maria Valley, home to hundreds of acres of farmed land
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in different stages of harvesting. Most of the fields (if not all) are organic and it's amazing to see how green everything is, before it gets picked and shipped. We saw it all, lettuce-every variety, celery,cabbage,
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broccoli and more strawberries. The smell was intoxicating and delicious. This is a roadside stand
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where you buy strawberries on the honor system; very cool and incredibly sweet. In between the very green, watered fields, was dry ground.
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The contrast was beautiful.
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We stopped for an early lunch in Orcutt in our first air conditioned building. The hour we took to relax and eat made us feel like we had stepped into Nevada as we left the restaurant. Maybe not that hot, but it was definitely in the 90's, no breeze and uphill, of course. But with most good climbs, comes good views
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and a shot of the the Lompoc valley that we would descend into.
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Our last five miles was downhill, it didn't matter that it was into the wind, we were almost there.

Sandy, Good Luck tomorrow on your triathlon. May the Travis Winds be at your back!

Day 35. Saturday September 19 - Lompoc to Summerland, California

We got out at 7:15 this morning as our destination was uncertain, but potentially a long way away. Originally, we planned on staying in Santa Barbara until we heard that there was a huge music festival and 30,000+ college students checking in at USC, so we'd have to go further.
The morning's fog was so thick, it dripped off our helmets and misted our glasses. We didn't see all the flowers Lompoc is famous for, but the wall murals were outstanding. This is of the Lompoc Indians, for which the town was named.

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The hills that stretched up on either side of us, were beautiful,
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but in the fog, tough to capture on film.
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After two hours of biking through the narrow valley, we needed to cross very large mountains to the sea. Luckily, we had a narrow pass
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that avoided the steep climb. We biked right along the Pacific with the steep mountains
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rising directly to the east.
We stopped in Goleta for lunch, where we met Mike,
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who rescued us from our hotel dilemma, thanks man. Goleta seems to be a northern suburb of Santa Barbara, it's all connected. But you definitely know when you've arrived in the American Riviera.
Their beach
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and parks
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may be the draw, (and rightly so)
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but the town is not without it's extremely exclusive hotels and shops. A few miles south, or more like a southern suburb of Santa Barbara, we rested for the evening after 64 miles in Summerland.

Week 5 Complete

Santa Cruz to Summerland, California

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320.7 miles