Pacific Coast: Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, San Diego

I stare at the Pismo Beach Oceano Campground map at the entrance; there are no hiker-biker sites. The camp host is friendly and he talks to the ranger on duty. Soon they let me stay anywhere I want for $5. Next morning, the road leads to Guadalupe where farms occupy the horizon. Next is Orcutt, another small town which I skip and stay on the road. A four person cycling group appears before Harris Grade. Any hill that has a name deserves respect. The group is travelling from San Francisco to San Diego. I suspect they are an ACA group since they carry those huge yellow triangles at the back. We criss-cross each other a few times but when we arrive Lompoc we get separated and I never see them again (not until San Diego).

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Pacific Coast: Monterey, Big Sur, San Luis Obispo

My blogging workflow: Write article on tablet, offline. Copy pictures from camera to tablet. Insert pictures to article. Go into a town, find wi-fi. Open article to upload. Stare at blank article. Oh well, write it again, I guess. It’s not so bad though. Second time around, I’m like, maybe I shouldn’t have said that, and type something else, arguably better. Life should have been like that…

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Pacific Coast: Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz

I am used to seeing Mexican restaurants since Oregon but around here everyone looks like from Baja. Children scream in Spanish. Moms with strollers talk excitedly to their phone in Spanish. The cashier in the cafe has a thin mustache with a don’t care look. Suddenly, I’m a señor. “Señor says wi-fi is not working”, the woman calls to (assuming) her husband. He walks in to a dark room with a phone glued to his ear. A moment later emerges with his eyes aimed at me. I give a thumbs up. He nodes with eye lids closing slowly: “you owe me one”. No, I don’t.

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Pacific Coast: Mendocino, Sonoma

It’s still dark outside. I press gently on the thermarest to push the air out. I start to push the sleeping bag slowly into the compression sack. I load the bags onto the bike quietly trying not to wake my fellow cyclists from their dreamy sleep. I feel like an intruder, a thief. It’s true. I am stealing time. I am stealing calm streets, the cool morning breeze, the gentle lights of the sun, the first cup of fresh brewed coffee. Something like that.
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Pacific Coast: Del Norte, Humboldt

Entering California, from Brookings towards Crescent City. There is food inspection at the border; the guy waves me away. This is Del Norte territory. Small farming towns, curious cows, barking dogs. One of them barks from the rear seat of a car just as it passes me, giving me a jolt. I find a Starbucks in Crescent City and have a different jolt and continue up a steep hill towards redwood forest. Humboldt County begins just after an enjoyable downhill outside Klamath. The road leaves 101 and enters deep into the woods. Last winter we drove here with Bengul and hiked among gigantic redwoods. This time I just admire them from the road, going very slowly and stopping often.
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Pacific Coast: Oregon

The day I arrive in Astoria, there is a big street market. I stop at a cafe and have a coffee while checking my emails and uploading pictures. I saw Brad‘s email. He is in Seattle and will start going south in a couple of days. We may meet again, who knows.

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Visitor centre gives me a hiking/cycling map of the coast, with everything you can possibly need on a map. All state parks on the road, with road conditions and diversions from the highway. In Oregon, h/b sites cost $5, and showers are free. The first park is at Nehalem. Headwinds are strong but the park is beautiful and the sound of the surf is amazing. D.K., his new friends Taylor and Brian and a couple of other cyclists and I congregate in the hiker/biker site and dream about the rest of the Oregon Coast. Taylor and his brother Brian are targeting San Diego, like me..
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Pacific Coast: Vancouver to Astoria

The salesman squints at the computer monitor and says, “Now, let’s see how this thing works”. I forgot my sunglasses at home and ran into a store in Sidney to buy one before blaring sun takes its toll. The guy at the till keeps filling out forms on the screen. Good thing the ferry leaves three hours later.

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I’ve always found cycling out of Vancouver difficult. This time I take the Canada Line down to Bridgeport, then jump on a bus to Tsawwassen and ferry to Swartz Bay. My plan is to catch another ferry from Sidney to Anacortes, WA and start cycling down south through the ‘inland’ route.

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