My temporary Oakland digs, courtesy of Whit Lawrence!
Sutro Bath Ruins, a once magnificent Bath House of the late 19th century – abandoned after it burned down in 1966. One of my favorite spots in San Francisco.
We walked around to the mouth of the SF bay from the bath ruins.
Amanda and the Golden Gate bridge.
At the bay inlet view point from previous picture above.
My best friend growing up had an older brother who was in a gang. He would mock the graffiti we saw although we admired it, “they spend YEARS perfecting their craft, only to turn out nobody can read it!”
Yerba Buena Gardens “Shaking Man” by Terry Allen
Near the CCA campus in SF.
Whit brought me around town for an Oakland night of art. On the way, I look up and recognize unshowcased art – tag I’ve seen around this country. Anybody know who?
Where we met for the SF bike party, a social ride of over 100 people. This included lots of hollering, hills, laughing, some drinking, and a few illegal trips on the BART.
Nov 22 – Dec 4 2011.
Whit brashly catches a cab at 5am, not the least bit drunk or intoxicated! I gotta say it was the most fun I’ve ever had in the brief hours before a departure. Over the next week I spend lots of time listening to a great record collection, eating and cooking, drinking coffee, and putting the past week-and-a-half of riding into perspective through journalism and blogging all the while enjoying the digs of Mr Whit Lawrence. Whit returns in a week and I plan to hang out for a bit so he can show me around town, it proves worthwhile and memorable – what an incredible host and friend!
Thanksgiving is here and I am in a new city where I know nobody, it’s a sad thought to spend Thanksgiving alone. Whit gives me several options to alleviate this and connects me with three friends of his – I end up at a dinner amongst 12 friends, (entirely too much) delicious food, and a comfortable evening feeling “at home”! While there I meet Amanda Umholtz, who studied Industrial Design – a field I have become interested in over the past 2 years, we hit it off and hang out for a few days. After we grab some potato pancakes at Suppenküche, she brings me atop Bernal Heights park for an incredible view of the ENTIRE BAY AREA. Meeting her was a great way to experience a new city and enjoy a break from riding my bike.
While in the Bay area, I tour 3 graduate programs for design and visit several bike shops. The folks at Tip-Top bike shop were the most helpful and inviting (aka Hella Cool), but all too late I discover Rivendell, Xtracycle, Rickshaw Bagworks, Mission Workshop, Timbuk2, Chrome, Public Bikes, Phil Wood (who doesn’t allow visitors), among others are in the area. I never get to visit any of them (except Xtracycle when nobody was there )
There was so much cool stuff in the Bay area there is no way I could’ve fit it all in the very long 2-week touring hiatus, or afford it sadly. Nothing like having time and money constraints when you are traveling and don’t want to miss out on the experience!
The Bay Area was an incredible piece of California full of delicious healthy (and nonhealthy) food, attractive people, progressive thinking, hills, parks, wonderful weather, flea markets, lots and lots to do.
Where I woke up.
Pt Reyes Station full of fog.
Pt Reyes Station after morning warming.
What’s that? A man emerging from a psychadelic joint in an ashtray, ascending the stairs to heaven! Those crazy hippies.
Native Funk & Flash (1974)
We stopped mid-way across the enormous bridge to watch a freightliner come in to the bay. Good timing but, I managed to take a picture of THIS instead!
Nov 21 2011.
Down the steep hill over looking Pt Reyes Station I couldn’t climb last night. Through the last of the Redwoods toward the Golden Gate bridge, to Oakland we go! The combination of yesterday in retrospect, a leisure morning, good conversation and breakfast I consider myself done. Truth is I have a long 45mi of highway, and mainly twisting, bopping, and weaving through the convoluted suburbs of North Bay.
These suburbs are high-class and I see plenty of the spandex warriors on their $4K+ bikes (I guess that includes me :-/), sometimes we give a mutual head nod, one even rides up next to me and yells “nice bike” to start a conversation. One Tim, riding a carbon fiber recumbent 6x lighter than my rig. I welcome the conversation and the immersion of modern society but I had no idea how my day was about to change. Turns out Tim lives in SF and opts to guide me 30mi all the way to Embarcadero where I catch a BART train to Oakland JUST in time (I’m getting used to this “last minute” thing), he gives me a loaded BART card. If it wasn’t for him I would’ve arrived HOURS later and completely frazzled, likely unable to board BART let alone find the station.
Across SF Bay I meet a soon-to-be good friend as he ducks out of work early – Whit Lawrence, the older brother of one of my best friends Holland Lawrence. We walk to dinner for SPICY Indian Food and a refreshing 6-pack. Here’s the kicker: he is catching a 6am flight for Thanksgiving vacation so instead of getting a full night of rest, we stay up drinking till sunrise with various friends!
What a welcome to the Bay Area, I’m staying put for a while.
That distant break in the clouds was never attainable, it only seemed to get further away. An incredible view none-the-less.
A snapshot of the long shoulderless cliffside road I became acquainted with.
“The road and cliffs here are spectacular, resembling at times an Escher drawing – winding hilly roads for miles and miles peeking in and out of the distinct tree line and carved cliffside.”
Mountains to my left, Pacific ocean to my right.
Nov 20 2011.
The pictures say most of it, the rest I will succinctly lay down here.
Awake at 5.30am, it is dark and it is raining. I know I am only another night out from my destination of Oakland, to see a familiar face and escape the weather – it becomes my only motivation. Although the combination of my attitude, cold and nearly shivering body, previous night’s experience, far-reaching view, and gruesome hills all become my demise.
I reached my mental limit and it over-rode my physical limit, convincing me I could not go on. I gave up today, day 8 of back-to-back riding. After 5hrs and 25mi of enduring 50*F steady precipitation and wind, there is not one inch of my body that is dry and I am defeated – I ‘thumb it’ for 10mi before one Joe Pozzi allows me to throw my bike in his truck. After some deliberation, he drives me 10mi to the next town. Over those 10mi we pass rolling green hills, prime cattle land. If you thought Texas was cattle land, think again, it’s not green enough; Texas is prime goat land – “they can grow fatter than a tick!” Joe exclaims. He and his family own an obscene amount of land in California, raising lamb and cattle, and do business with Whole Foods (which had its humble beginnings in Austin).
He leaves me at a local and famed bakery in a 2-block town. In my recovery over the rest of the day, I experience complete elation. You have to experience the lows to appreciate the highs. The slightest change in events brought about intense emotions, something as simple as a cup of coffee and sunshine.
20mi along Tomales Bay is an unbelievable sight. Tonight I sleep in a cabin atop a mountain. I better stop making claims to the steepest hills I encounter, this one put every other to shame – I’m unable to ride or to walk it with my (120lb) bike, I get help from my host’s car. Elation.
My facial expression and the scenery don’t jive… but it’s 7.30am and I expect rain.
Nov 19 2011.
I expected it to be raining when I woke up, alas it was not.
I don’t think anybody is awake at this time except me, that’s how it feels in the dark dusty barn lit by the dim dawn light. A faint whiff of a familiar scent brings me back 12 yrs ago to a house I used to live in and much about life was different then, mainly simpler. I leave the Gates property in a somber mood and wave goodbye to the house of windows, none of them lit @7am.
I don’t trust the sun today and still expect rain, the actual turn of events in the weather will determine whether I ride 65mi down the coast to a campground or 80mi+ southeast through a mountain pass to a farm. I do not know where I will stay tonight.
I’m greeted early with the steepest hill of the entire coastal highway from Canada to Mexico, another warning I’ve taken heed to for weeks. HA, and last night I thought the climb up the Gates’ hill was steep! I’m lucky the road is void of cars at this time of morning as I find myself cutting back and forth to manage the ascent.
Beautiful open coast farmlands with cattle and sheep line my route all day! Sun and a mix of head- and cross- wind; better than rain! This means I camp at Stillwater Cove Campground, just 10mi past my lunch-stop. I arrive winded, due mostly to the wind. hehe.
The campground becomes covered with my belongings while I make dinner. I then retreat to shelter (bath/shower room), as the rain also begins to cover the campground but, am greeted by the park ranger who tries to dissuade me from doing so and tells me to stay at the hiker-biker site – the site farthest away.
I had the most unpleasant stay that night and here is where I will vent about the beginning of my defeat.
At every previous campground I had the pick of the lot since it was so vacant but, not this one and not today and not on this park-rangers’ watch. I knew it was to storm and I would not be able to dry or warm for a very long time, my gear was insufficient by this part of the trip. I slept in the shower (again) with a cold hard ground, bright light, loud motor, and a strong storm blowing outside; this made me nervous as I had already been warned by the ranger but, obviously I did not care enough and I was the only tent camper of the entire place (among a mere 6 campers). I felt righteous then.
I’ve been anxious to get out of this storm and to the comfort of a friend’s company, it’s been 7 days since I have had rest – in Oregon.
Tomorrow I only know that I continue south, that is all.
You know what irony is?
Saw this ol’ thing catch on fire. Well, it started to smoke… profusely!
Just a peak at the mouth of the Navarro River.
Nov 18 2011.
A long morning determining where I go today – like I said, the storm is here to stay. I have been swayed by the weather and I, too, feel gloomy. Atleast I start off dry…
Along the way I pass a man and his dog, walking north alongside the highway. He has a long long beard and simple, plain, worn clothes. His stride slows to acknowledge me, “Peace in your heart!” he says, making eye contact with me. I give him a little wave, not able to thank him for such a gesture – and what impact a small gesture can have.
I reach my ‘host family’ from warmshowers – the Gates – just 20mi down the highway, near Elk CA. They live up the steepest road I’ve yet to encounter, on acres of land just a mile from the ocean, in a solar-house built by them as a family. I sleep in the Volunteer Fire Department…Barn, it is awesome but exactly what you would think – save the red paint and steep roof… and fireman’s pole… and big fire-truck.
They have friends and family visiting for supper. We then spend time looking at maps, considering the weather, talking about family, politics, Northern California, and ourselves. Warming by a wood-fired heater, sitting on a large couch, surrounded by magazines and windows and trees; it feels homely. I don’t want to leave the comfort of a home, but I must rise early and ride far, possibly in more storm… I sleep on the dusty ground of a workshop barn with a space heater to keep me comfortable and to prevent my sleeping-in.
In our talks, Mrs Gates suggests that what the “Occupy Movement” is missing is a song; nobody sings anymore. In the 60s and 70s all the protests/movements were characterized by song, it unified their message.