So we’ve made it to Los Angeles. Actually, we’ve been here for four days now. We were not intending to stay so long. I’ll tell you about that later.
We figured we would start out slowly and ease ourselves into the trip. This would give us ample time to work out any kinks yet undiscovered and avoid the stress of long days. Besides we are not in any hurry to make it to Mexico so why not enjoy a little of California first.
Our first night on the road we camped in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, just 60 miles south of San Francisco. We did not make a reservation and lucked out to get one of the two last spots available. The park is in a beautiful redwood grove in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was a surprisingly chilly evening and the fire I built simply refused to get excited so we turned in early.
The second day we met up with our friends Ben and Anna for breakfast in Santa Cruz at Cafe Brasil. The hot coffee was the perfect antidote for our frozen fingers. We rode together to their friend’s house in the woods on the north side of Big Sur. It was a short ride and Diana and I debated continuing on further, but ultimately the charms of the house and the environment won the argument. We were glad it did. The evening that followed was quintessentially Big Sur. That is to say magical.
Wine-hearted solitude, our mother the wilderness.
Andreas, who would welcome us into his home on Palo Colorado road, was not around when we arrived. The house was, in fact, not one house, but several small houses connected by a stone patio. They were wood structures, simple, and perfectly natural beneath the redwoods. Andreas, when he arrived, proved to be a tall, quiet man with a warm heart. He had large muscular hands that spoke of their use. A creek flowed by in front of his house. The bridge across it had fresh wood slats and Andreas and Ben immediately went to work adding some supports for a hand rail.
Diana and I, meanwhile, settled into the hot tub. Realizing that I neglected to pack any swim wear, I opted to relax au naturale. No one protested. Once we were sufficiently warmed, and as other guests were beginning to arrive, I decided it was time to find some clothes.
We began chatting with Abby and Jeff who were another couple of friends staying at Andreas’s that night. They were staying in one of the other units. Abby was celebrating her birthday. They brought homemade wine that they were enthusiastic about sharing with everyone. I am not a wine expert. Though I enjoy a glass now and then, I can’t tell a Cabernet from a Merlot. But I can say that homemade wine is a different thing altogether. Perhaps it is, in part, the knowledge that you are tasting the effort and love and time of the person pouring the glass. It seemed, suddenly, like alchemy, altogether mysterious and fascinating, that it was possible to transform, through picking, stomping, and waiting, grapes into wine.
Everyone at the house on Palo Colorado, in fact, seemed to be masters of long forgotten arts, harvesting from their environments, perfecting nature’s bounties. Whether it was homemade wines or honey, bridges, furniture, or music, these talents emanated as a matter of course, directed by love rather than pride, and the evening was enriched by them.
When it came time to retire, Andreas gave Ben, Anna, Diana, and myself the two bedrooms, reserving for himself a downstairs couch. In the morning we had steak and eggs for breakfast and, with our stomachs and our hearts full, we said our goodbyes and continued south on Highway 1.
Big Sur has been my favorite area of California since I first visited six or seven years ago. It is a rugged stretch of coastline stretching roughly 100 miles between Monterey in the North and San Simeon in the South. Though Highway 1 follows the coastline the entire way, the area is scarcely developed save for a handful of restaurants on the coast and a few homes nestled along dirt roads up in the hills. The isolation is palpable.
I would have liked to ride on the 1 the entire way to Los Angeles, but mudslides last winter destroyed a significant part of the highway just south of Gorda. On Andreas’s advice, we decided to ride as far south along the coast as we could and then ride East over the mountain to Highway 101 on narrow and winding Nacimiento Ferguson Road.
We met several people along the way who were curious about our bike and enthusiastic about our trip. They offered advice like: take lots of pictures, or when you are riding through the Andes and you hear a knocking in your cylinder, adjust your idle mixture screw just slightly, no more than a quarter turn.
It is noteworthy how people’s perception changes once you have begun your quest. Once you are on the way, you are no longer an idle speculator, you are an adventurer. Their excitement to intersect, however briefly, with your path, paves the path itself.
We camped in Los Padres National Forest on the ridge of Nacimiento Ferguson Road and headed out the next day for what would prove to be a long and very hot ride. Little did we know that a heat wave had just arrived in Southern California. Coming out of the hills fully geared up we hit 100 degree weather for much of the 300 miles remaining to Los Angeles. It was not a fun ride and we began to regret taking it easy the previous two days.
Nearing Diana’s brother’s apartment, we rolled passed the Church of Scientology. From atop the gaudy, blue, B-movie-prop temple, massive condensed letters beamed ‘SCIENTOLOGY’ over the Little Armenia neighborhood. We would find its effluvium omnipresent in this city. Check out the documentary Going Clear if you haven’t yet for a rundown of the weird origins and frightening influence the organization has.
We intended to stay in LA just a couple nights to hang out with Andres and his wife Elizabeth and pick up a package that we had shipped here almost a month ago. Unfortunately, we soon learned that the package had yet to arrive. I had ordered, in the late stage of preparation, a tall aftermarket center-stand from SWT in Germany. Since I elongated the bike’s suspension slightly, the tires no longer clear the ground when it is on the center-stand. The SWT stand will fix that. It is not integral, but will make changing tires much more convenient on the road.
The USPS has been frustratingly opaque about delivery dates, so we have been waiting and waiting, always expecting the next day to bring our deliverance. Maybe Monday. Hopefully Monday.
The border is tantalizingly close. Once we finally leave LA, we will spend a night in San Diego, pick up a couple more parts at BMW San Diego, and cross into Mexico at Tecate the following day.