California Coffee Kicks

Day 18: Wherein we almost bike nowhere and consume entirely Way Too Much Caffeine.

We woke to the sounds and smells of Ericka cooking breakfast and getting ready to head out to help set up the habitat restoration event happening later that day. We were planning on dropping in after our town chores were done (a lil laundry, a lil grocery shopping, you know, the usual), which could potentially perfectly coincide with the free lunch beginning… Who knows?

Ericka suggested we make pancakes for breakfast, and we hopped on that train real fast. She left and we took over the tiny kitchen, whipping up some of the best god damn pancakes I have ever set my mouth upon. Seriously, ten times dope. I think this is the recipe we used, substituting flax meal for the egg and soy for the milk. Also added some muesli mix plus pumpkin seeds from Winco (in McMinnville! I carried it a long way!) and some raisins.

After consuming pancakes perfected, we packed up, rolled out and hit the SeaBright laundromat. Dirty clothes got thrown into the wash and we ran off to be efficient little bees by hitting the grocery store while the suds did their work. Hum, but now that I think about it, I don’t think we added any soap….

Anyways, Groc Out features once again in our story, as the bargain market of our dreams. We hit the snacks section real hard and came out loaded with gold. Timmy got the real taste of California (“Cali” as the locals call it) when an elderly man politely said, “Excuse me, bro,” in the casual air of speech found in the area.

From there, we raced back to the laundromat to give our now soggy but still sudless clothes a good drying (no, we were not worried that anyone would steal our items. they naaasty). There were tables to sit and write at, and outlets to charge our sleepy phones, so we were happy campers. The walls also offered all sorts of new and novel inspirational quote posters, urging us to follow our dreams! take the path less traveled! I am feeling very inspired just thinking about them.

After the clothes tumbled dry, they were stashed back into stinky bags and we headed out to Natural Bridges State Park (a couple miles backwards on our route!!!! this is special). We got there precisely forty-five minutes before LONCHE (!) would be called and it would be weed-pullin’ quittin’ time. Better late than never/It’s the thought that counts/Early bird gets the worm/. Apparently late birds get worms too.

But we did get to strap on double layers of gloves and get to work for a bit. We were pulling two invasive species out of the watershed habitat; thistle and hemlock. Thistle is real pokey lil’ bugger, but was relatively easy to pluck from the moist soil. As for hemlock, well, I didn’t see any so I guess everyone else was already on top of that…

After a good deal of pulling, we look up and notice everyone in our area was gone, just as an AmeriCorps volunteer coordinator walks down the path and asks if we knew that it was eating time. Hum. I just have to wonder if they all silently ditched us for showing up late… We grabbed our bags of invasive scum and trekked back to the buffet that had blossomed out underneath the canopies while we were away. There were vege sando making supplies including chips (cheeeeeps) and hummus.

There was also five gallons of coffee.



(also almond milk)

(and sugar cubes)


Tyler, Ericka, & Timmy. Rebecca was off elsewhere, you know, doing actual work...

Tyler, Ericka, & Timmy. Rebecca was off elsewhere, you know, doing actual work…

We feasted (and drank) while hanging out with Ericka, Rebecca (great job organizing the event! 10/10 would volunteer again), and their pal, Tyler. After the event ended, there was plenty of clean up to do, and plenty of extra food needing a home, and… and lots of coffee. What a waste it would be to get poured out…

We stuck around folding up tables and packing up canopies to be carted to cars (maybe sheepishly trying to make up for being those people), all the while, consuming more coffee than one ought to on a sunny afternoon. When all was said and done, we were loaded up with fruit, and the remaining contents of the day’s coffee carafes. ***I HAD AN ENTIRE GALLON OF COFFEE MIXED UP IN A ALMOND MILK JUG***

We said bye as our pals left, then walked over to the beach to check out those natural bridges everyone had been raving about…

We laxed about (well, as much as one can lax about under the influence of so much caffeine) and called our respective special lady friends. Before we knew it, nearly two hours flew by, and it was four o’clock. If we were going to get anywhere before dark we’d better leave then, so we did. Winding our way back through Santa Cruz, I dropped my phone in the street exactly twice (I was still chatting away with a special sumbuddy), we hit exactly one dumpster and chowed some half-eaten old cookie, and met exactly one beautiful dog during a restroom break on our way out of town.

His name is Toby and he’s quite old and his human said he had quite long legs for a basset (I couldn’t tell) and I’m sure he is the perfect match for this dog that I know of in my neighborhood back home (okay, I’m kind of obsessed with her. Her name is Shirl and she’s eleven years young. Here is her instagram account. Here is a picture from a photoshoot that I may have conned Shirl into doing. And here is the best video you will ever see on the internet. I think one day Toby & Shirl might meet/fall in puppy luv/get doggy married).

Moving along…

We got out of suburbia and once again were rolling through agricultural lands when it started approaching sunset. (so what if we only did 20 miles that day?? WE HELPED THE ENVIRONMENT. …also I met Shirl’s life-partner). We saw a sign announcing Sunset State Beach, and figured to head there for sneaky camping or not. We arrived in a small parking lot with a view of the ocean and as the beauty assailed Timmy’s eyes, my eyes were assailed by a run-over, grundgey looking golden box laying feet away. I scooted over there and picked it up, hoping for, like, a sweet dress shirt or something, but, delight upon delight, it was chock-full of chocolates, and that was the precise moment when we knew that we were in the right place and the right time for a night of camping.

We aimed our wheels up the steep hill towards the campground, but stopped short of even hitting the entrance, as we saw a path leading into the bushes off to the side of the road. We hit the trail and looked for a a nice place to sneaky camp, eventually finding a spot camouflaged by the tree draping over it, and found that it was a proven site, coming complete with an old milk crate for a chair. Home, sweet. We hid our bikes and set up camp. Timmy cooked up a fine dinner of triple beans with humus and vege cream cheese and we feasted in our cozy shelter with sounds of owls hoo-hooing overhead. (yes, that is the technical term).

In the morning we were startled awake by the sound of an ATV rumbling by just feet from our chosen campsite. The night before there had been many instances of people walking by, sometimes shining their flashlights directly on our tent (most likely alerted by the remarkably reflective gear  our Safety Turtle had chosen to employ for cautious touring.). No one had bothered us then, but no we figured we ought not to push our luck, and quickly set to tearing down camp and stowing away our sleeping bags. Once a tent is no longer present and sleeping effects stashed, why, then no one would have any reason to suspect that the night was spent there… (or so we tell ourselves).

We sat on our milk crate couch and munched some breakfast before heading back down the hill to clean dinnerware and use the bathroom at the day use area. As we readied up, a whistling backpacker strode past us and down the road. Once we got on our wheels we quickly caught up to him and asked him what he was up to.  We got the full spiel (he talked a mile a minute) (not sure how fast he walked in a minute though…), this man had been around by foot for hundreds of miles.  He was first motivated to go on long treks by his own personal demon, fibromyalgia. This year he was heading from San Diego to Seattle, just in time for Hempfest (weed is his only medication) (maybe also wine) (definitely wine). He told some stories about encountering angels every day, including but not limited to the Weed Angel and the Beer Angel (who come down just in time for St. Patrick’s Day this year). I could definitely relate, having encountered many Snack Angels and Dollar Bill Angels while on the road myself.

But for real, people are good. Most folks will warn you to be safe, watch out for the folks in the next town, and wonder how you could manage to travel at the mercy of all the psycho murderer type people out there, but really you just normally find yourself in the safe treatment of grandmas and grandpas and people just trying to lend a hand.

Anyways, we wished the fella well, and continued on our slow, but not that slow, journey of our own. We reached the town of Moss Landing after a few brisk morning miles, and pulled off to the side of the first bridge to check out what our pal Ericka had reported as the best most consistent otter viewing spot this side of the Mississippi.

She wasn’t wrong, within seconds we could see the critters popping up out of the water of the bay, float on their backs and snack on whatever delicacies they had procured from the seafloor below. (It also kinda looked like they were just laying there ticking themselves so we entertained ourselves for a good while by miming their voices and high pitched laughs) (Tour makes you crazy) (Sometimes you already are crazy though)

Eventually we had to tear ourselves away from the cuteness, and get back to riding. After another mile or more through increasingly strong headwinds, we saw a big farm stand materialize ahead, luring me in with large signage proclaiming 5 avocados could be had for the price of $1. While said avocados were hard and unappetizing, we did pick up a few kiwi and a grapefruit for a song. (Not the Langlois song) (That’s priceless)

We met a couple outside who were heading home to Portland after a California vacay, no doubt they’d be there in seconds flat with their newfangled auto-mobile cruising machine. Ah well, maybe I’ll see them around sometime once I get home.

that bowling pin in that crazy persons bicycle basket is coffee. wonderful coffee

that bowling pin in that crazy person’s bicycle basket is actually just coffee. wonderful coffee

Once again we had to get back on the bikes and face the headwinds, now with grey clouds looming threateningly overhead. We battled along, hoping to reach the next town before something awful happened. In Marina, we stopped again, for bathrooms and the prospect of charging up phones, and while Jack in the Box was helpful for the first, the outdoors outlet seemed to have been deactivated and was a flop. We rolled on a block or more two and off to our left spotted another Grocery Outlet! Unanticipated but highly appreciated, we quickly got into the turning lane and headed straight for our favorite snack center. We loaded up on bargain goodies (such as jalapeno multi-grain bars and Big Foot Candies, which are actually just foot shaped Swedish Fish), and then had to loiter around outside for a bit, testing out our new treats and making room for them in our bulging saddlebags.

After that lil session, we hopped back on and went scarcely a block further (sometimes you just don’t make much headway  when you give in to every whim on the road) and stopped at a small cafe to sit and charge and write and drink even more coffee (we were still nursing our jugs of leftover coffee from the event, but a fresh hot cup couldn’t hurt). Maybe thirty minutes in to our chill sesh, a fellow pulls up on a bike and parks in front of the cafe windows. He came in and helped out a bit in the shop, then meandered over and started talking with us. He had all sorts of interesting things to say, like this idea he has for a 9-volt battery powered hydration system for your bike that is also gravity fed. Also he noted that my bicycle license plate expired in 1953… my Nebraska license plate. But anyways, he was a sweety, and also offered us free refills if we wanted, which we actually did decline, having consumed an inadvisable amount of caffeine.

We eventually pulled out of our pit-stop mindframe and got on the road for real, and basically did the next 35 miles without stopping. It rained during this stretch and we got soaked, but the weather wasn’t so cold, and rain gear would have been more unpleasant than helpful. After a bit the rains stopped and the wind from riding dried our clothes out, a true chrustmus miracle. Towards the evening, we hit a fork in the road, with Google asking us to take a right for “Foothill Road” and our guts saying to take the equidistant “Fort Romie Road”. It was about this time that the sun was deciding to set, and the rain was spittling about, thinking of returning for another pouring.

We debated stopping there at a ‘Satisfactory’ rated sneaky camp,  which was a rocky spot under a large oak tree just off the road, through some tall pokey weeds and up and down some steep ditch embankments. The other options included heading down Fort Romie, which seemed to be more agricultural fields, which offer little in the ways of sneaky camping, or to do the unthinkable, actually voluntarily choose to take a route down a road with the word “hill” in the name, which seemed to offer more trees and spots that could be camp worthy.

Timmy was decisive and voted for Foothill Road, and I was just tired and wanted to go to bed and hopefully not get rained upon again, so I acquiesced. As we pedaled up and down the foothills, I tried not to begrudge Timmy for his horrible stupid decision and why couldn’t we just stay back there at that dumb oak tree and be in bed already…. but as it got darker and we saw nothing that would be equivalent to or better than the oak spot, I had to eat my words as I saw the painted words “School Zone Ahead” splayed out on the road in front of us.

A school! Home sweet. Schools can be wonderful sneaky camp spots, as long as you remember a few rules such as, don’t be seen, get out early, and take advantage of covered areas.

also, fyi, google maps on satellite mode is excellent for scoping sneaky camps

also, fyi, google maps on satellite mode is excellent for scoping sneaky camps

We did the trifecta, and did it in style. When we pulled up there was one car in the lot and lights were on, so we tucked our bikes away and sat along the side of the school, being very quiet. We thoughtfully moved the bikes over to our side after a few minutes, quite thankfully, because not long after, we heard voices and people opening the classroom doors on either side of the building (like many sunny California schools, the classrooms have outdoor ‘hallways’). We were then very extra quiet and made not a peep or rustle.

Only once we heard the car drive away did we break out the self-congratulatory (and very very loud) Jalapeno Kettle Chips that we had scored at Groc Out earlier that day. We moved our little party to the covered porch/outdoor hallway thing on the back side of the school and made ourselves at home.

We cooked dinner and got cozy, no need for a tent tonight. Tim laid out on the concrete and I took one of the benches and fell asleep, quite pleased with ourselves (aside from the fact that we had to set a 5:45 alarm for the next morning to be packed up before any faculty might show up to do some early lesson planning).


luv luv,


omgg i luv toby

also here’s Toby again in case you missed him the first time…





Santa Cruzin’ through Whale Country 1

It was a major accomplishment to reach San Francisco and meet with the Watsi folks, and a major pleasure to spend an evening chatting with Tim, our last minute San Fran host.  We awoke fully rested the next day and with a view of San Francisco lit by the morning sun.  Lizzy and I made a pot full of oatmeal that we guzzled down and took our time leaving our host’s.  He headed off to work but was kind enough to let us hang out as long as we needed.


Sunny morning in SAN FUNSISCO

Like most days we had non-mileage-related goals: They included visiting a Trader Joe’s, and attempting to catch up blogging at a library in Half Moon Bay.  We left Tim’s and coasted down the hill that just the night before foreshadowed his kindness and the comfortable futon we slept like babies on.  We planned to go to Pescadero, which hosted some state beaches that may work well for sneaky-camping.  We headed SE and made our way through some hilly suburbia that made me hotter than any other time on the trip; the black top and the persistent hills we climbed radiated the open sky’s rays and the reliable housing blocked any breeze. It was hot.

We made it to Trader Joe’s and reloaded our snack sacks.  We talked to some police officers who were very enthusiastically interested in our trip.  One kept saying in astonishment, “Wow! So you’re really doing it.”  I’d say he was rather impressed.  The sunnier conditions have been requiring sunscreen, but all we had was the most thick cream you can imagine.  Like toothpaste but perhaps less sticky and more chalky… We’d had enough.  I bought some spray sunscreen and things have been a little better ever since.  This might not seem important, but I’m sharing it because I think this is the point where we ceased to hope for clouds over sun, simply so that we wouldn’t have to put on sun cream.

We cruised on down the coast with the challenge of navigating.  Some areas where we’d planned to take the 1 didn’t allow bicycles, but we are experienced bicyclists so with the help of google maps telling us where to ride our bikes… we suceeded.  A little ways south of TJ’s we were about to begin a climb when we saw… to our complete and utter amazement… Something we still have a hard time believing.




Anyway we did the usual there and ended up chatting with a couple older cyclists who were enjoying a nice post-ride-beer at the pub next to Groc Out.  They warned not to take the tunnel ahead, and to be very careful going up the next hill- maybe even to “walk our bikes…”  I think people forget to consider that on our second week of our trip (especially after doing the 101 in Oregon) that we’ve experienced some narrow roads in inclement weather- surely before walking our bikes we’d have to see it for ourselves.  The bikers were friendly, funny, and interested, hopefully ya’ll are reading this!

Unsure of what we’d find ahead, we rode up the hill whose conquering had been delayed.  We found the road to be narrow but nothing we hadn’t seen before, and eventually came to the tunnel.  Our options were to take the tunnel on the 1, or to take a very windy and hilly side-route.  Being rather safety-oriented, I weighed the options in my head; the tunnel seemed like a really bad idea to the cyclists we’d just talked to- Google biking also recommended an alternate route.  The right decision seemed obvious, so we continued biking to the daunting tunnel’s mouth.

As it turned out, the tunnel had some very special qualities; it boasted a very wide shoulder, was lit well, and was all downhill- sure enough our backwards reasoning had helped us make another good decision.

Leaving the tunnel we ranted and raved about the experience.  Continuing along we passed the California beaches we’d been expecting for a while, with folks swimming and sun-bathing and everything!

We continued along and arrived in Half Moon Bay, where we looked forward to using computers for writing and maybe a little trip planning.  Before we knew it the doors closed and we continued south- Almost…  A brilliant idea snuck into my head. Eureka! I suggested that instead of continuing onto Pescadero we stay at the state beach in Half Moon Bay.  The real draw here was the fire ring that we could cook our previously purchased veggie dogs in.  It was decided- we’d cut our day short for a fun night at a real hiker-biker camp.  Lizzy and I had a great fire under clear skies with a dead bush that we found- it’s cremation had been looming, so we went ahead and did the chore. One word for Hiker-Biker camp; luxury. 

The next morning, after a breakfast of apples and bars we scooted off for Santa Cruz.  There we’d stay with Ericka, my friend from college, and her girlfriend Rebecca.  We were excited to have hosts-something to spice the trip up- and I hadn’t seen Ericka in nearly 2 years.


Very happy boy to be camping with fire

We rode through fields with headwinds that kept us working.  We stopped at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse after about 20 miles and complained about our butts hurting and the wind (and I about how I was COLD- it wasn’t actually cold, just windy and whiney).  After some snacks to revamp morale we continued south.

Similar to the day before we passed several beaches that told us we were in California- surprisingly, even on this partly cloudy and windy day, the beaches were full of die-hard Californians.  The day seemed full of cliffs and beach on the right and agriculture mixed in on the left.  At Davenport, about 15 miles from our destination, we stopped in a market to look for sweet deals and maybe reapply our new sunscreen.  We headed off with a couple bags of skittles for our final stretch before Santa Cruz.


Fresnel lens that was used at Pigeon Point in the past. STATE OF THE ART during its age.

Something truly incredible happened as Lizzy and I were biking south along a townless stretch of the 1.  Looking out into the vast ocean beyond 100 feet of fields we saw a massive whale breach the surface of the ocean.  We both stopped in amazement, with truly unbounded excitement about what we’d just seen.  Luckily it breached again and several times more over the next few minutes.  We saw others spouting; a group must have been traveling together (I bet whales do this…).  From what we could tell it was a Gray Whale, especially considering that our friend Ariel said that they were currently migrating south.  I say this a lot, but this was a very special moment.  After 10 minutes or so of amazement we continued into Santa Cruz to meet with our friends.

After examining some maps on my phone and very specific directions that Ericka had sent me, we found her house and met Rebecca (Ericka was out fishing for a little while longer).  Lizzy and I took turns showering as we chatted with Rebecca about her year-long AmeriCorps position as a Watershed Steward.  We also learned about the restoration event (i.e. noxious weed pulling) that she was putting on the next day, it sounded like a pretty sweet deal.  It made me happy to see Ericka after so long, a rather genuine person.  Ericka and Rebecca were so generous, and made us a wonderful home-cooked meal of chili and cornbread (vegan cornbread- thank you!).  You could taste the love in that chili from a mile away.

We headed out to a local brewery to meet with some of our host’s AmeriCorps friends and enjoy a beer.  Lizzy and I talked with a man at the bar that was very interested in what we were doing- excitedly amazed might be the best way to describe him.  We thought cocaine maybe, or perhaps just a lot of energy.  We learned from Ericka which Laundromat in town was the least weird and that were was a GROCERY OUTLET just blocks from the Laundromat.  With a plan for the next day we headed back to Ericka-and-Rebecca’s and settled into our pull-out-couch-paradise.  We slept well that night after finishing the chili leftovers and catching up on our journaling.  A great day of cycling followed by a fun evening with friends.

From Somewhere in California, that’s all folks.  Stay tuned- we have a couple of very special days coming up…

Safety Turtle

Sandy Frandy

Back again! Still attempting to catch up on the blugging (yes, I am writing to you from the future). The next chapter of our saga entails the tales of our San Francisco fails, and our, uh, prevails…ing. I swear I can write.

So, the day begins like any other, except with us waking up IN A REAL BED, IN A HOUSE, WITH A KITCHEN AND, LIKE, COFFEE. On account of that, we may have snoozed a bit. There were only about 45 miles to go to get to Watsi so we felt okay about taking a bit of time to chill out/max/relax all cool in the morning. We chatted with some other folks staying at the Airbnb, who were from Italy, and whom we may have disgraced by admitting that we tend to consume our coffee by the cupful straight from gas station countertop carafes. They took pity us on and made a lil extra Turkish coffee to  put in Timmy’s thermos for the day (which turned out to be awesome) (good coffee is good) (sometimes you forget).

When we finished packing up and getting the last bloop of cell phone charge in (and the last use of a real restroom), we rolled out the door and back onto our true love, the one and only, the one, Highway One.

…For like a mile, then the real adventure of trying to navigate into a mega-metropolis began, benignly enough. We took our directions seriously at first, dutifully making all the correct turns, being rewarded with nice rolling hills of green, usually a good shoulder, and respectable enough car traffic.

We started to ignore them as we got into more urban areas, with Google advising, “Here, try and take this unmarked bike path! Turn left at some point! Try it! It’s FUN”. We stuck to our road, and felt quite content.

So long rural and scenic sights... we're heading to the big city (but we appreciate you along the way)

So long rural and scenic sights… we’re heading to the big city (but we appreciate you along the way)


After a good 20 miles, we stopped at a little grocery market in Fairfax and picked up some goods (snacks, mostly snacks), then I went out back and picked out some other goods from some bads in the dumpster. A couple slices of rye bread (unspoilt by coffee grounds) and a whole box (minus the red ones) of Swedish Fish, carelessly tossed out by some purist fanatic. We dusted them off and enjoyed our rewards before getting back to work.

Our next task was to get across the Golden Gate Bridge, which we planned to do purely by ignoring Google’s pleading voice to please take a sideroad, and to just shoot for the 101, which had never failed us in the past. We wound through suburbia until reaching a handy onramp, and, ready to join the traffic whizzing by, looked up and saw a large sign banning us cyclists and other fellow non-motorized-car folk from the road.


We can take a hint.

We back tracked, and found one of those innumerable bike paths and hopped on, Google feeling quite triumphant and I’m sure gloating in it’s weird 5th dimension cyberspace head.

The path turned out to be great. Through open wetland areas and along beach fronts, we rolled, at our own pace, content on the hard packed gravel.

Google, why do I ever mistrust you? (Note: Google can and should be mistrusted. There are many times when it has tried, and succeeded, in waylaying we weary wanderers)

As we climbed the final hills to Vista Point, families with rented bikes walked down the steep descents on the other side of the road, no doubt wondering why they thought it was a good idea to rent a bike in one of the hilliest places around…

And finally, we were rewarded with the site of the great orange beast itself, the top obscured by fog, and the traffic from 101 endlessly streaming through it’s towering gates.

The sidewalks were full of sightseers, taking photos and, well, mostly taking photos. We wove around them and passed over the bridge, a few photos of our own snapped along the way.

Upon reaching the other side we had more directions to puzzle out, but quickly found our bearings (I mean, once we literally let Google take the wheel, er, bars, by turning on navigation mode and popping in an earbud to hear). We biked along the waterfront for a bit, reveling at the fact that the ground was flat, but then turned off into the undulating streets of San Francisco. It was fun to bike through the city, where you need to be alert and aggressive to fight for your space among the cars. It’s a nice contrast to biking for miles on end through the countryside, but I wouldn’t know which I prefer more. As we charged along, I chatted a bit with a bike commuter, who wondered where we were from and going (the baggage on our bikes isn’t particularly sleek or inconspicuous).

After a few more turns (and climbs) we reached the Watsi headquarters, sweaty and red faced as always. We buzzed in, had a heck of a time getting both the fully loaded bikes into the hallway, then ascended the stairs to greet the friendly folks that keep the non-profit running smoothly. We knocked on the door and were greeted by a puzzled face, as I’m pretty sure we looked like two lobster thugs, lobster mobsters if you will. But then we were recognized by our contact, Grace (who endures my many emails), and were ushered in and offered all sorts of snacks and cool beverages.

Timmy and I stood around awkwardly talking about the bike trip, self consciously stinky, sunburnt, and silly in a clean sleek office environment. Then, as folks were ready to get back to work, Grace let us borrow a computer to do some last minute planning (such as, finding a dope vegan restaurant for dinner, and finding a place to sleep that night… in that order). We scoped out like fifty potential meals, and sent out a blast of emails and texts to folks on Warm Showers (the reciprocal bike tourist hosting website thingy). Quite quickly we got a response from someone who said they wouldn’t get home till nine, but that we could certainly stay at their home!

Hurrah! Mission accomplished! We said awkward good byes and back pedaled out the door, hands full of snacks and bubbly waters.

We walked our bikes a bit down the road to the a giant grocery mart we had seen that reminded us of our beloved Winco Foods back home. Foods Co was …something special alright. Timmy and I took turns, one of us standing sentinel over the bikes (in a lovely corner reeking of urine), while the over scoped the deals/mayhem that embodied Foods Co. It was overwhelming so we didn’t come out with much more than some coated peanut snacks and some applesauce, but it will probably haunt my memory for years to come.

After that, we hopped on our steeds and headed to the nearest vege eat, which perfectly enough, happened to be a vegan burger joint in a food truck pod, which meant we could wheel our bikes right in and take over a picnic table while we wolfed down our burgers in seconds flat. We sat there for awhile, killing time before nine by listening to the live bluegrass music, writing, and starting wistfully at the empanada truck offering five different vegan options, but at the steep price of $5 a pop… (which was a good deterrent, as we were already feeling full to the brim, almost at the critical Endless Fries Potato Belly level that we had so dangerously toyed with before).

At 8:30, we headed out to the address from the Warm Showers profile, ready to entertain our host, and get the aforementioned warm shower out of the deal. Timmy and I climbed some steep hills, but I distinctly remember saying, “Wow, San Francisco hills aren’t actaully as bad as I always imagined!” which inevitably cursed us. We got to the address and knocked, with no answer. Timmy checked his phone and the person had texted saying they’d be a few minutes late, so we sat on the stoop and entertained ourselves by eating a buncha skittles. When we got the message that the person was now home, we were confused, but went up to knock at the door again, and that’s when I noticed through the window the little old lady sitting inside on the couch… Hmmm.. We quietly backed down the stairs…. I was about 98.9% sure that we were the target of a rather elaborate prank, a fake Warm Showers profile, complete with even faker raving reviews. HOW COULD SOMEONE BE SO CRUEL?

Tim had better sense though and called the guy up…Turns out we’d mixed him up with another Warm Showers prospect… and we had just gone to the wrong address. Our real host, Tim (now don’t get confused), lived a few miles away, and we were still welcome. He said the good news was that San Francisco was small! (Sure, just after I had just been saying the place seemed huge compared to Portland). So, what else to do but get on our bikes and head to a home on a street quite menacingly named Grand View Ave.

This is where the real spirit of San Fran showed it’s colors, as we backtracked and pedaled up steeper and steeper hills till we reached the complete top of the town and it was there that I knew we’d have the best host in the world, because, unfailingly, the best hosts always live atop the highest hill around. We reached his door and gave him a ring, and out came Tim and he was a delight. He lead us around to a garage that we could store our bikes in and then up inside to his one bedroom apartment overlooking the whole city.

We settled in and he offered us a couple tasty beers (Racer 5 IPAs) and we all sat down to some of the most enjoyable conversation we’ve had on this trip. Within the first five minutes, Tim had showed us how to use a slide rule (he’s a physic, and obviously had one sitting out on his shelf) and explained all about slide rules. He was genuinely interested in us, and us him, and we peeked around the room seeing artifacts from years of bike racing in insane places, like Death Valley. He said to come through again some time when we weren’t on a time crunch, and he’d take us around the city to see the sights. He even had an ancient bottle of Solarcaine (my new favorite thing in the whole world) laying around in one of his old emergency kits for the bike race support teams.

(Solarcaine, if you don’t know, and I didn’t, is a magical cooling potion that you can just repeatedly and thickly slather on your crispy burnt skin. Tim gave us the whole bottle. We’re coming back to visit him again. DEFINITELY)

After healing our wounds and offering a ridiculously comfy futon and any food we wanted to eat, he headed to bed for work the next morning. We promptly headed to kitchen for midnight snacks, and then passed out ourselves.


Stay tuned, we’ll see you next time on WITHIN BIKING DISTANCE: THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES







Endless Fries 2

Howdy folks. I write to you from King City, CA (but shh… we’re behind on our blogging).  Here I’ll tell you the story of how Lizzy and I rolled (actually climbed a lot- despite every elderly man joking to us that the whole trip is downhill) down the coast, nearing San Francisco, a real milestone for us.

After eating breakfast with Ariel at a nice cafe in Mendocino we walked to the cliffs once more to look for whales.  We had no luck, thanks to the heavy fog but the scenery was still beautiful. We stopped at a post office (Lizzy writes a post card every single day) before returning to Ariel’s, saying our thank yous and goodbyes, and rolling down the mega hill which she lived atop.

We didn’t head out of town until around 11 AM, and hoped to go 50 miles to Gualala.  As we rolled through intermittently fog filled agricultural land I sang Gua-La-La-Gua-La-La to the tune of “Monday Monday” (which has been stuck in our heads since we heard the song in some on point cafe earlier in the trip).

We met a bicycle tourist from Quebec who was headed North; he told us a little about his travels through Mexico and told us to “eat lots”- he definitely has the right idea there.  He mentioned Guadalajara, and from then on Lizzy occasionally referred to Gualala with this new name.

We rolled along, and eventually the fog seemed to clear up.  We passed a field of baby sheep and slathered on a thick layer of sunblock to protect our sun-starved skin… despite thorough application Lizzy and I both have burns that we won’t forget about anytime soon.

We stopped at the Point Arena Library to work on the blog, see what was ahead, and do some general planning.  We left town with 18 miles to go, and perhaps a little less daylight than would have been preferred; by the time we rolled into Gualala it was getting dark.

Our destination was a park a mile past Gualala, to which we rode most cautiously.  We set up our tent behind a day use area restroom (out of parking lot sight hopefully) and prepared the nightly special- Beans, corn tortillas, sauces, and chips.  We were happy to have a free spot for the night, and hoped we wouldn’t be disturbed in the morning…  We planned to get up early and bust out a longer day to make the next- our San Francisco day, a low-mileage one.

As we fell asleep, very hopeful to not be in some sort of trouble in the morning, we joked that if we pulled this camping spot off it’d be the greatest heist in 100 years. We now say this about anything remotely sneaky we do.

Sure enough the next morning we awoke to some noises beyond the structure that hid our tent and we began packing up quickly without discussion.  Someone had indeed showed up much earlier than we’d expected, to open the day-use area gate, but must not have seen our tent, as the only car in the parking lot belonged to a friendly fella with a good looking dog.

We climbed out of Gualala and up some rather impressive cliffs on the 1.  Lizzy and I were both surprised by how much agriculure/grazing occupies the land adjacent to the many high ocean cliffs.  Cow vacation property… Cowndo.

Our morning break destination was Jenner, which we’d seen on a mileage sign, and dreamed of how it would host a nice market with good deals and maybe a dumpster. On arrival we were disappointed by the small size of the town.  Why put it on a sign if it doesn’t have great snacks?  In all honestly, it was a beautiful place situated on an Estuarine river system with many seals onshore.

After a short stop we climbed ten miles out of Jenner to Bodega Bay, which was indeed slightly larger and as we learned upon entering town, had a very special hot dog joint.  We headed to The Dog House to use their wifi, maybe get some fries, and consider our hope of an 80-mile day, especially with 40 miles of hills bullying our legs already.  We had no idea what we were getting into.

As we rolled around a corner The Dog House  cam into view, along with a sign boasting “endless fries.” We were in.

The 5 baskets of fries that followed will not can not be forgotten… Not only were they the highlight of the day, freshly cooked and with their many sauces, but they were the hot topic during our next 40 miles of riding.  Lizzy, complaining of “potato belly” and us both experiencing occasional but not completely unpleasant vomit-burps.

We used the wifi at our french fry detour to find an airbnb to stay at that night. My sister Ashley had offered this as a birthday gift, and Lizzy and I figured it would be a good night to have a comfortable place to sleep, as well as to shower the day before we biked to San Fran and visited Watsi.

Eventually we left Sonoma County, which we’d biked all 58 miles of that day.  Luckily the tallest hills of our day were during our first half.  I say luckily because as we approached Point Reyes Station, the small rolling hills felt more like more major accomplishments than small rolling hills. Especially with Potato Belly.


Large fireplace in the Airbnb

Just as the sun was setting under partly cloudy skies we arrived at our spot for the night.  We hitched a ride into town which boasted a small but comprehensive market.  We got some fresh vegetables to make tacos, as we do when we have a kitchen to cook in (the veggies not the tacos).  The night was filled with cleaning, looking at how sunburned we were, catching up on our writing, and finally prepping a full taco dinner- mushrooms and salsa and all.

Lizzy and I were pooped and both fell asleep dreaming about cycling that night- I guess the long day had gotten to us.

Hopefully all are well- stay tuned for our adventures in San Francisco and beyond! Lizzy’s got lots to tell ya’ll about!