When we arrived in San Francisco, we were welcomed by one of my brother’s close friends. Dan is a fellow traveler continuously seeking adventure and connection whether he’s on the road or in a stable job. It’s hard to know if his kind nature and genuine presence has come from his active curiosity of cultures and exploring various places or if his natural personality has enriched his everyday experiences and travels. Reuniting with a fellow Menomonee Falls native who would strike up a conversation with literally anyone and not only offer up his place to stay as long as we need but effortlessly make time to spend with us, made me proud that we came from the same hometown. It was a quick stay of salsa dancing and biking around the extremely hilly streets of San Fran before we made our way to Florida..Yes, Florida!
Most of my mom’s side of the family has lived in Ft. Myers, Florida for as long as I remember and for Christmas, my family offered to use their airline miles to fly both Gordon and I out to be with the whole family. It was also a good chance for my oldest, protective brother to get to meet this Scottish guy that I’ve somehow convinced to bike with me across the Americas for 2 years. They of course got along great and since then, I’m pretty sure he has warmed up to this idea of his little sis traveling by bike through a couple continents. We all had a great time cooking dinners, playing cards, and simply enjoying each other’s company on the porch. We also took the opportunity to pick up more work while we were off the bikes. We clocked in 5x as many hours working remotely for Operation Groundswell and I worked as a Fry Cooker and drive-through cashier at Wendy’s. See my “Fast Food” Uplifting News Blog for my thoughts on that experience. After a quick 2 weeks, we said goodbye to my family, which was NOT easy, but we were also looking forward to getting back to our bikelives.
We were back in San Fran for New Years and the best part of the New Year was probably brunch the next morning. Oh, I love brunch. The following day we were set to get on the road south AND we were going to pick up a 3rd musketeer! Jackie and I have been friends ever since I somehow convinced her I was cool enough to hang out with in 3rd grade Girl Scouts. As kids we had sleepovers, made up dances for our stuffed animal collection of our favorite animals (Jackie- Monkeys, Me- Pigs), we were the pranksters at our gymnastics camp that we were not welcomed back to, and after going to different colleges, we reunited to backpack around Bolivia. Jackie is the kind of person that if you invite her on some crazy adventure and she says “sure”, that means you can expect her at the Bolivian airport or at Mojo’s Bicycle Cafe, with a Criagslist commuter bike and a kids skateboard helmet ready to bike 600 miles to San Diego.
San Fran to Half Moon Bay - 30 miles It was a strenuous first day for Jackie with a scary uphill with no shoulder, wet weather and never-ending traffic. We remembered how exhausting it was for Gordon and I after our first day. When we left Alaska we slept 12 hours after only biking 15 miles! We reassured Jackie that it gets more enjoyable after the first couple days of finding your groove and confidence. Although I’m sure she was doubting if she could do it, she kept a smile on her face, a positive attitude, and pulled out cheese curds she brought from Wisconsin to share. Any troubles instantly faded from our minds as our mouths were stuffed with delicious squeaky cheese. We camped near the beach at Half Moon Bay and it felt good to officially be back BikeLiving.
Half Moon Bay to Felton - 38 miles After 38 miles of rolling hills we made it to Davenport. With Gordon working on his bike and Jackie collapsed on the ground next to hers (an all-too-familiar feeling), I took a walk to find a place to set up camp. I walked by a colorful trailer-home turned art shop/cafe. Like a bug I was was drawn into all of the Christmas lights decorated around the shop and forgetting about my mission, found myself sitting on one of the outdoor couches with a goofy smile looking at all of the art and lights. This scene must have caught the attention of a couple near by. Jennifer and Robert introduced themselves and after sharing my goal to find a camp spot, they gasped and explained that the biggest storm of the past 3 years was going to hit in a couple hours! “No way you will be camping in this storm!” They insisted that we come stay at their house in Felton. +1 point for humanity!
Felton to Monterey- 53 miles After waking up in what should have been high winds and pouring rain, we were surprised to see it look pretty nice out. We filled up on breakfast burritos and headed off into the misty fog through the Redwoods. After 10 minutes 2 out of 3 of us crashed. We will now always remember to WALK bikes over train tracks when it’s wet outside. Luckily no one was hurt, the bikes were fine and we were on a calm road with slow traffic. As it was getting to be late afternoon, I got a flat a couple miles before Monterey. As I was riding the caboose Jackie and Gordon didn’t notice that I had stopped but it was only a few minutes before Jim, a friendly old man, threw my bike into the back of his truck and as we caught up to the other two, I waved from the shot-gun. We pulled over and as it was already getting dark, Jim offered to give us a ride to the campsite, stopping on the way to pick up coffee and sandwiches. +1 point for humanity
Monterey to Big Sur - 30 miles This was an EPIC day. It was pouring rain off and on all morning so we went grocery shopping and stopped at a coffee shop to ride out the worst of the rain. By the time we got on the road, it was already 1pm, which happened to be the perfect time to leave. The rain had stopped and the sky looked incredible. We made many stops to marvel at the first views of the classic Big Sur scenery and the light peering out of the clouds that made it look like the heavens were opening. We stopped to take a picture and suddenly the wind picked up and a vicious storm blowed through. We hid behind rocks as the rain was coming horizontally from the ocean in an aggressive apocalytpic turn of events. Five minutes later the rain stopped, the wind was gone and a beautiful rainbow appeared right behind us. One of the coolest 10 minutes of my life. We continued riding to the top of a hill where people stopped their cars and were outside waiting for the sunset. As beautiful as it was, we also noticed another aggressive-looking storm was coming in from the ocean again in about T-10 minutes. We made it downhill and behind a rock just in time for another 5 minute horizontal rain storm. After the rain passed, it was rapidly getting dark and we had a group meeting to talk about a game plan to get to the campsite. I added the useless opinion of “I don’t know what to do” and threw my arm up to the sky surrendering to God. As I looked back I was pleasantly surprised to see that I seemed to have flagged down a truck. Filaberto got out and asked if we needed help. Within minutes our bikes were in the back and we were on our way. What a guy. +1 point for humanity.
Faith in Humanity wins yet again!