Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Thursday, May 22, 2008
We left our motel in Santa Maria at 7:30 this morning, relieved to see that the stiff wind that blew all day yesterday had calmed down. It roused itself later in the day, however, just when we were getting to the uphill part. At any rate, we started off at a brisk pace - the road was either downhill or level much of the way with a few significant bumps here and there. The temperature was cool again so it was pleasant riding. Outside of Santa Maria, we were in the Santa Maria Valley which contained large farm fields with various crops at various stages of growth. In several fields, there were workers hunched over harvesting the crops and we stopped to take pictures of a group harvesting strawberries. It was quite an operation - some workers were picking constantly while others served as runners, hustling full boxes back to the trucks and bringing empty boxes to the pickers; everyone worked briskly. Buying a box of strawberries in the grocery store will never seem the same again, I expect.
We soon came into Guadalupe, a quiet little town with some nice, historic-looking areas. They had a very nice Amtrak station, decorated in an old Western style. Leaving Guadalupe, we passed over the Santa Maria River - a wide bed with only a trickle running through it. On the outskirts of town, we went through more of the valley, with farm fields and ranches. Coming into Oceano shortly after that, we saw a glimpse of the dunes that Oceano boasts being the gateway to (the Pismo Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, to be exact). It was also an area with quite a number of big, fancy houses. We were finally back near the ocean, and Grover Beach and Pismo Beach followed in quick succession. Pismo Beach was our first glimpse of ocean since we left Gaviota State Park on Tuesday morning. But it was only a glimpse and then we turned inland once more. We went up a canyon with some interesting hills on either side of us and turned toward San Luis Obispo, home of our little B.O.B. trailer. We first passed through the little town of Edna in Edna Valley which was full of lush vineyards.
Knowing we'd hit the major climbs at around mile 40, just after San Luis Obispo, we decided to have lunch there to make the most of the relatively calm and flat part of the route. We stopped along a street trying to decide whether to eat at a fast food place in the shopping center there or try our luck farther ahead. A woman got out of her car in the parking lot right in front of us and said she rode a tandem too and asked where we were going. She warned us that the canyon road we'd be following was very hilly and even windier than where we were, given the wind-tunnel effect in the canyon. But she said it in a very cheery fashion. We asked her about places to eat and she gave us directions to a great burger place just 2 blocks off our route, so we felt very fortunate to have made the encounter. After lunch and a good rest, we went back to the bike, noticing it was much windier as expected and a good deal cooler too. So we hopped on and pedalled off. The canyon was very pretty. hilly, winding, and windy. It wasn't as bad as we feared though, and after about an hour and a half, we saw the marshlands around Morro Bay. Our route took us around the marshlands, through the state park, and then through the town - a typical shore town with lots of little houses and lots of motels and restaurants. Ours was near the far edge of town and we arrived at 3:15, having done 56 miles in 5-1/2 hours of bike time.
The next two days are going to be interesting. First of all, they will both be the hilliest days we've had yet. Second of all, it's the start of the Memorial Day weekend and all the available comfortable sleeping places have been snatched up a long time ago. We hear the hiker/biker places in the state parks never turn away tired bikers - they can always find a spot to put another tent. We will put them to the test tomorrow and Saturday. Even in the best case scenario, though, we will have very limited electric and internet facilities, so if we put up a page at all, it will be a brief one. We'll catch up in the next few days, however. Besides, you all will be busy with your own Memorial Day weekend plans, so you probably won't notice until Tuesday anyway, right? By then we should certainly be caught up. And on Wednesday, all going well, we'll be in San Francisco.