Monterey to Lompoc / by Lisa

Spent the past week riding through the Big Sur and Los Padres National Forest area on Route 1, including a section of Route 1 that just reopened this week after being closed for a year after a slide. It’s been a week of mountains, bluffs, rivers, beaches, farmland, cold misty weather, hot sunny weather, and everything else in between. 

On Monday we rode from Monterey to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, where we took a day off for some hiking and exploring the park.

 On the way to Big Sur we stopped at Point Lobos to see sea lions, but also had the luck of seeing a pod of humpback whales feeding right off shore.

On the way to Big Sur we stopped at Point Lobos to see sea lions, but also had the luck of seeing a pod of humpback whales feeding right off shore.

 On the ride into Big Sur, headwind flipped to a crazy tailwind. We rode up a hill, without pedaling, at 20mph. At one point I honestly felt like we were riding scooters because we were rolling uphill so fast.

On the ride into Big Sur, headwind flipped to a crazy tailwind. We rode up a hill, without pedaling, at 20mph. At one point I honestly felt like we were riding scooters because we were rolling uphill so fast.

 Climbing up to Big Sur.

Climbing up to Big Sur.

 Getting ready for bed with some rounds of gin rummy. The hike/bike site at Big Sur State Park was beautiful - right inside a grove of redwoods.

Getting ready for bed with some rounds of gin rummy. The hike/bike site at Big Sur State Park was beautiful - right inside a grove of redwoods.

 Took Tuesday off as a rest day and hiked up the Buzzard’s Roost trail in the park. I swear this is a candid shot—this is how he looks at redwoods.

Took Tuesday off as a rest day and hiked up the Buzzard’s Roost trail in the park. I swear this is a candid shot—this is how he looks at redwoods.

 The view from the Buzzard’s Roost trail.

The view from the Buzzard’s Roost trail.

 After days of cold coast riding, it was a shock to our systems to go a few miles inland and hit 90 degrees.

After days of cold coast riding, it was a shock to our systems to go a few miles inland and hit 90 degrees.

FullSizeRender.jpg
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
 After our hike, we spent the rest of the day hanging out by Big Sur River. 

After our hike, we spent the rest of the day hanging out by Big Sur River. 

IMAGE.JPG
 Redwoods above our campsite.

Redwoods above our campsite.

On Wednesday we did a short but hilly ride to Plaskett Creek, a campground in Los Padres National Forest.

IMAGE.JPG
 This was easily one of the most scenic days of riding we had, just blue skies and coast. We were bracing ourselves for bad traffic, but there was hardly any, which made the day even better.

This was easily one of the most scenic days of riding we had, just blue skies and coast. We were bracing ourselves for bad traffic, but there was hardly any, which made the day even better.

IMAGE.JPG
 Found the perfect spot for our PB&J. And we had run out of other food (with no stores in site) so we just had two sandwiches each. Worth it for this view!

Found the perfect spot for our PB&J. And we had run out of other food (with no stores in site) so we just had two sandwiches each. Worth it for this view!

 After our ride to Plaskett Creek, we spent the afternoon hanging out at the nearby Sand Dollar Beach.

After our ride to Plaskett Creek, we spent the afternoon hanging out at the nearby Sand Dollar Beach.

IMAGE.JPG
 I have never seen seaweed like this before. These things were like 10 feet long! 

I have never seen seaweed like this before. These things were like 10 feet long! 

 It was a pretty cold, misty night, and Plaskett Creek didn’t have showers, so we had to go to bed dirty. Our dinner was a $6 can of beans and a $6 can of chili we found at an insanely overpriced camp store. BUT we had a sunset view of the ocean from our tent.

It was a pretty cold, misty night, and Plaskett Creek didn’t have showers, so we had to go to bed dirty. Our dinner was a $6 can of beans and a $6 can of chili we found at an insanely overpriced camp store. BUT we had a sunset view of the ocean from our tent.

 Thursday we rode to Morro Bay, which included plenty more mountain switchbacks.

Thursday we rode to Morro Bay, which included plenty more mountain switchbacks.

 We stopped at San Simeon to see elephant seals! This colony only formed in the 1990’s and now has over 15,000 seals in it. For an animal almost hunted to extinction, pretty amazing to see.

We stopped at San Simeon to see elephant seals! This colony only formed in the 1990’s and now has over 15,000 seals in it. For an animal almost hunted to extinction, pretty amazing to see.

 We pushed for another long day today (just over 70 miles) to get through a long inland stretch of hot farmland without many state parks or hotels.

We pushed for another long day today (just over 70 miles) to get through a long inland stretch of hot farmland without many state parks or hotels.

 After waking up to cold rain in Morro Bay, we were happy to get inland to San Luis Obispo, where it was sunny and warm and there were donuts!

After waking up to cold rain in Morro Bay, we were happy to get inland to San Luis Obispo, where it was sunny and warm and there were donuts!

Halfway through the ride today, we thought we found what would be a good shortcut to shave a few miles off the ride. Wrong: what we found was an insane hill, nearly 15% grade for almost 200 feet. Somehow we both got up it, but it is not an exaggeration to say I thought my heart was going to explode. Probably the steepest hill we’ve done so far. That’s what we get for looking for shortcuts!

A bit later, on a long stretch of road through farmland, I saw something ahead in the road. Before I could stop to ask what it was, we were biking through a full-on swarm of bees! Somehow we got through without either of us getting stung.

 We ended today’s ride by climbing the 1,000 foot Harris Grade Road over to Lompoc, which included some incredible valley views at the top.

We ended today’s ride by climbing the 1,000 foot Harris Grade Road over to Lompoc, which included some incredible valley views at the top.

The next three days are short rides that will take us through some great beaches around Santa Barbara. From there, we’re stopping in Ventura, then onto LA and San Diego and Mexico!

Hard to believe, but we have just over a week left. We can both feel the difference a month of riding has made - today would have wiped us out at the beginning of the trip, but we both felt pretty good at the end of the day. We didn’t even get more than 2 entrees at dinner!

For my part, I’m excited to cross the finish line, to be done with cold, damp nights and 2-minute showers and wearing dirty clothes day after day. But I’m sad this experience is coming to an end. For all the struggle and moments of misery, this has been a life-changing experience and like nothing else I’ve ever done before. Seeing the country this way, meeting people day after day, earning every amazing view by climbing some long hill, being close to the earth and all its beauty—how can it not change you? One more week on this adventure, but more living and adventures will follow!