26 august – 5 september 2013

It was mid afternoon when I left Santa Barbara – it's not allowed to ride west on highway 101, so I had no choice but to go on highway 154 which entailed climbing a 3,000 feet mountain.... only about 6% average incline, but long and hot as well as a lot of late afternoon commuter traffic not really caring about a Danish bicyclist – they passed fast and close and occationally people made gestures or yelled at me.... it now seems fair to conclude that Californian drivers are the worst and most inconsiderate/ruthless/reckless together with those in southern Utah (I don't know if it's a coincidence but the same places also have the worst overall road quality).... Not too many views riding uphill but downhill after the pass, I had some great views of valleys and lakes.... I passed a national forest but it was too early and no good camping opportunities anyway, so I pushed on towards the old Danish “settlement” Solvang. It was fairly late when I got there and at a supermarket some people recommended me to pitch the tent by a nearby, dry creek. On my way there I stopped to ask for water and before I knew it I was invited to stay with Danish Inge and Bob who came to California in the 1950's. As hospitable and generous as any I have stayed with and providing a lot of information about Solvang and the development over the years... The next day I toured around Solvang that today is more Hispanic than Danish....

Pacific highway 1 is more a term than reality at least when bicycling – sometimes it's inaccessible and sometimes illegal to ride, so it's often necessary to find alternatives. From Solvang I headed north on smaller and bigger roads – occationally nice views and cosy, small villages like Los Alamos with many historical buildings.... After the morning fog had burned off around 9am it had been nice but also cool weather especially right next to the ocean – many people had told me I would face a fierce headwind riding north at this time of year and they were right – particularly from early/mid afternoon. As I progessed north on highway 135 past Guadeloupe, Oceano and Grover Beach it was overcast/foggy for several hours making the ride less interesting though not much to see anyway – mostly countless RV parks and fields with Hispanic workers (I'm sure they appreciated the cooler weather working very long hours without shelter). Fortunately the coast has multiple microclimates so when I got to Pismo Beach the fog was behind me leaving nice views of the beach and mountains – but overcrowded with tourists so I quickly moved on towards San Luis Obispo which I reached early evening. It was not allowed to camp within city limits so I continued a couple of kilometres out of town to search – everything was private and fenced but I was lucky to find a small spot under a railway bridge a bit up the hills off the main road; with no sign I assumed it was okay to camp there.... a quiet night except for one long, noisy train passing by...

I slept in waiting for the fog to burn off and left at 9.30am heading north on highway 1 past Morro Bay. Sunny and still cool due to the wind I passed many beaches, small coastal towns and state parks enjoying the fairly small rolling hills – it was nice but far from as spectacular (or hilly) as I had expected based on what people had told me. Late afternoon I passed Hearst Castle on a hill (without visiting) surprised that it's a national historic monument being a private residence and less than 100 years old..... Battling a fierce headwind limiting my speed to 6-7 k/h (4 mph) on a flat road I was happy to make a short stop to see a sea elephant colony – they were lying lazily on the beach and were much smaller than what I have previously experienced... Shortly after it got really challenging – on top of the wind came out of nowhere big climbs on narrrow, winding roads; a tough ride but finally also providing spectacular views making me think of the Great Ocean Road west of Melbourne, Australia. Despite only 100k (65 miles) it was getting a bit late and for a long time there were no camping opportunities because of the steep slopes on both sides of the road - so when I passed a desolate ranger maintenance station I didn't hesitate to pitch the tent in the back...

I left at 9.30am and proceeded up highway 1 continuously climbing high up just to ride down again immeditely after - amazing scenary with many beautiful views of the rugged coastline and backdrop mountains..... Riding on the inside of the road I constantly had to cross over to enjoy the views – most of the time traffic wasn't too bad, so not roo risky despite the narrow, winding road. Pictures became a hassle – occationally the camera worked but more often I had to hit it hard many times before it focused (sometimes for 5 minutes)..... After a long steep climb up to small town Big Sur I had lunch before continuing towards Monterey – well, before I got there I startet asking for camping advice but all people could suggest were beaches which is not my favourite – primarily because of the sand and no trees to hang the food at night but also it's a bit exposed to weather, people, etc... In upscale Carmel Highlands I asked for water and a friendly guy, Michael, suggested I pitched the tent at a vacant lot across from his house – to avoid problems I talked to the other neighbours making sure none of them found it a problem... People had warned me I would not get help in this upscale area, but again people turned out to be friendly.... I was particularly glad since it was my last night camping – incredibly I have spent less than US 30 on accommodation since I left Florida in March; and only because I obeyed the rules camping in national park campgrounds (it would have been easy to wild camp)....

I had a long ride up to Santa Cruz where I would couchsurf with Mara & Michael, so I got up early. Unfortunately the fog wouldn't burn off this morning so I spent 1½ hour in nearby Point Lobos State Reserve riding through the forest, talking to rangers and watching sea lions, an old whaling station, etc. At 10.30am the sky looked like it would clear so I continued towards Monterey doing the “17 mile Drive” around the very upscale peninsula with huge mansions, countless golf courses, beaches, etc. - allegedly very scenic but not this morning as the fog didn't lift until I got to Monterey.... From there I headed north along the coast through the dunes and next to highway 1 which I was not allowed to ride – as always a hassle to find an alternative route due to lack of signs; particularly surprising since riding the Pacific coast is legendary amongst bicyclists (the number of people I met in a few days confirmed this).... All afternoon I rode through farmland with all kinds of fruits and vegetables – most notable Castroville proclaimning to be the “artichoke capital of the world”.... Late afternoon I finally got to Santa Cruz where I found my hosts living in a beautiful, old building - very accommodating and generous people and as I had hoped for based on their profiles very interesting to talk to..... The next day we did a bit of sightseeing in beautiful and cosy Santa Cruz – the wharf, the coastline and the town admiring the many beautiful, old buildings.

After a relaxing stay in Santa Cruz I left at 6.30am to do the last 150k (95 miles) to San Francisco along the coast. To avoid the mid afternoon fierce headwinds I started at sunrise – a pleasant temperature but not much too see along the foggy coastline... Americans have a reputation for being fat and lazy but it doesn't go for many Californians; this holiday (Labour Day) - as I've experienced it during weekends - many people got up early to bike, surfe, fish, dive, hike, etc. After some hours I couldn't get my spare camera to work anymore despite so much hitting that my hand hurt – and after several attempts I officially declared it dead. Afterwards I took pictures with my phone camera but it's not very good and I couldn't see anything in the screen making the motives somewhat random .... After an initial, flat stretch it became pretty hilly until I reached Half Moon Bay at 65k (40 miles) where the weather also improved – from here it was a fairly easy ride except for Pacifica where the grades reached 14-16% uphill through the residential areas.... I rode into San Francisco around 14.00 and since my host Quensella wasn't home until early evening I bicycled around town seeing the Ocean Beach, Golden Gate Bridge, different parks, countless multi-coloured houses, etc. Because of their sheer number, groups of people that are hard not to notice are the bicyclists, the homeless (here they have supermarket trolleys contrary to the bicycles in Santa Cruz) and then the many “weirdoes” (talking to themselves, people passing by, animals, trees, God, you name it); on one hand nice with a city having room for everybody, but on the other hand sad that these prople are not offered help. In many ways the day turned out to be fairly representative of my whole trip across and around the US this summer - big hills and flat stretches, headwind, diverse weather, good and bad stretches of road, countryside and big city, etc.

Without a decent camera and coming back in both Spring 2014 before riding up to Alaska and again in Fall before going to Australia, it seemed less important to do a lot of sightseeing. Instead I spent a couple of days doing practicalities – most importantly biking to San Jose storing the bicycle with the parents of my good friend Mark (a fairly boring ride except for visiting the campus at Stanford), getting plane and bus tickets to re-visit friends around the US before leaving for South America, updating my homepage, etc. The evenings I spent with Quensella – so similar childhoods and mindset and yet so different lives led to many, very interesting conversations....

Including the trip to San Jose to store the bike, the last leg from Carson City was 2,000k (1,250 miles) totaling this Summer's distance at 13,200k (8,250 miles) – an amazing adventure far exceeding my high expectations.

Coming back from a visit to Denmark, Marks parents were kind to bring my camera after repair, but unfortunately (and incredibly) it still didn't work, so once again I had to return the camera to Denmark. As I didn't feel like shipping it to South America after repair I decided to stay in the USA procrastinating my departure from mid September to 24 October. See the next section “Summary, San Francisco, etc.” for my reflections upon this Summers trip compared to expectations, my stay in San Francisco, etc.

Highway 1 up to San Francisco
Representative for my ...
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I left Santa Barbara m...
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One of the few views o...
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Riding down on the oth...
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Stopping to study my m...
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Late afternoon I passe...
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The next day I rode th...
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The Danish flag named ...
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It might be a bit diff...
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Saying goodbye to Inge...
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Heading north from Sol...
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Riding through cosy, s...
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Riding northwest on hi...
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..and then of course H...
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Early afternoon I appr...
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Not much too see durin...
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An old train station.....
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After riding several h...
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A very popular tourist...
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Looking south where th...
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...and here the beauti...
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Most of the way it's n...
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It was not allowed to ...
Highway 1 up to San Francisco
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All land was private a...
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Continuing north on hi...
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The weather along the ...
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I don't understand why...
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Lazy seals resting in ...
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Approaching Cayucos......
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It was a pretty ride a...
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Late afternoon I passe...
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... it is the US, but ...
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A lazy afternoon at th...
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Shortly after the long...
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My spare camera was no...
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It was getting late bu...
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I was very lucky passi...
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The only advantage hea...
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Lots of orcas (killer ...
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...but most of them we...
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One of the biggest adv...
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Nowhere to pitch the t...
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I got up early next mo...
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The old whaling statio...
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I drove around a bit b...
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..... which it was - s...
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...as did it when I st...
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However, a few miles l...
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Passing through touris...
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One of the many marina...
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And here one of the ma...
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No fog in Monterey but...
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Late afternoon I got t...
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Spectacular lobby...
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and here my wonderful ...
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Santa Cruz is a beauti...
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Even City Hall is in c...
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Santa Cruz has a great...
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Highway 1 up to San Francisco
Mara and I took a walk...
Highway 1 up to San Francisco
...looking back at the...
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...and the famous boar...
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After a short but grea...
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This was the last pict...
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The fog came and went ...
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Occationally I got som...
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Just before small town...
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Going through the resi...
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Riding Great highway 1...
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Highway 1 up to San Francisco
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My host Quensella woul...
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Passing through some o...
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I spent some hours in ...
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...and here pompous Ci...
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The ride to San Jose t...
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Highway 1 up to San Francisco
Geotagging
Incredible - my bike t...
 
 
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