Monday, October 30, 2006

Carrizo Plain to Santa Rosa, California

I was up at 7:00. (Okay, maybe not quite with the sun.) It had been a very cold night.

On the "home stretch" now. Clouds hugging the tops of the mountains to the west were probably an indication of fog in the coastal valleys, so I probably didn't want to ride the coast route. I also didn't want to follow U.S. 101, a highway I've driven a hundred times. So I looked at picking up a new route north out of San Miguel, either east or west of 101.

The morning air was cold, especially in the valleys. It was hazy out on the Plain, so I didn’t bother taking photos (I have pictures of better days.)

The road surface may be "washboard", but because the surface is still somewhat malleable, fewer rocks protrude, actually making it a less jarring ride than at some times during the year. Every negative has a positive.

The Plain shows grass fire damage from the Soda Lake Overlook northward, on the west side of the road. A huge bird was startled by the bike - an eagle? (It was brown, but I didn't have a chance to get a good look.)

By October, the California landscape looks like a worn, dirty carpet. But it will soon change. The first rains, typically in late October or early November will almost immediately begin to transform the hills.

I'm again thinking about “what’s next?” I must leave myself open to signs. After all, the future is written, isn't it?

Crossed over to Santa Margarita, always one of my favorite areas in California. Detoured over Cuesta Pass to San Luis Obispo for breakfast at the Apple Farm Restaurant. Strawberries are out of season (I learned) so I tried a waffle with boysenberry preserves. Wow, they are excellent! I bought two jars (and a couple cookies) to take with me.

Hopped on 101, back over Cuesta Pass, and up to San Miguel, where I turned west on Jolon Road, through the vineyard lands around Lockwood, and up through Fort Hunter-Liggett. This time I was prepared with proper documentation to present the sentries. They approved my crossing the reservation to the coast.

A target tank out on the range in California's Fort Hunter-Liggett. Fortunately, no bombs were falling the afternoon I passed this way.

California is not known for it's autumn foliage, however in hidden canyons the Big Leaf Maples put on a rich display. This is along Nacimiento-Ferguson Road.

Picked up the Nacimiento-Ferguson Road, across the final range of mountains separating me from the Pacific. Emerging from the Los Padres National Forest to the view of the Pacific Ocean spreading to the horizon is breathtaking. It's a long steep descent to California Highway 1 hugging the edge of ragged cliffs far below.

The ride today is pure pleasure. One awe inspiring vision after another. Despite abundant traffic on Highway 1, the scenery is too awesome to allow a few cars (or motor homes) to bother you.

Soon after the road emerges from the Los Padres forest, you're greeted with this view of the Pacific. Big Sur is up around the bend.

I followed 1 up through Carmel, Monterey, past the fields of Castroville and Watsonville, and on into Santa Cruz. There was still wonderful riding ahead, even as I approached San Francisco. Followed highway 9 from Santa Cruz, up through the redwoods, to Skyline Boulevard, which runs the spine of the Santa Cruz Mountains. This highway is extremely popular with motorcyclists, but because of the hour and damp conditions, I had the road nearly to myself. Definitely cold on the ridge! In the 40s.

Celery harvest in Castroville. These guys are the real heroes. We'd starve were it not for them.

Within minutes of being cut from the soil, the celery is crated and ready for shipment

I stopped at Alice’s Restaurant, a touristy biker cafe on the summit, above Woodside. Today, there were only a few die-hards.

With some alarm, I noticed that near the city of Palo Alto there are some new homes being built up along Skyline Boulevard. I pray they don’t allow this to become another Mulholland Drive, with its amazing views being virtually walled off by the compounds of the wealthy.

Rolled on through San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge and home. About 425 miles traveled today, taking the long way home. 70,875 on the bike now. 11,575 traveled on this latest trip.

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