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September 24, 2016

Day 3: The Salinas Valley

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Salinas Valley.

Day 3 - Saturday 9/24/2016 - San Luis Obispo (SLO) to Salinas, CA.
Starting Odometer: 45,650
Ending Odometer: 45,870
Miles Traveled Today: 220
Total Miles Traveled this trip: 539

I started out this morning in SLO. Picked up some gatorade and some snacks at the gas station between Marsh and Higuera there at the edge of town. I finally managed to take the right exit off of US 101 today. I'd been getting off at Madonna instead of Marsh. Doh!

I make it a practice to ride with gatorade and some food because I once got stranded on the Pacific Coast Highway with no cell coverage for hours due to a motorcycle mechanical problem. So now, when I travel, I travel with food and liquid. Like, I am capable of learning, it seems.

So I grab my littles and head out of town. Now, I'm following the signs for California Highway 1, aka the Pacific Coast Highway. It splits off from US 101 at SLO town, so I'm following the PCH roughly north towards Morro Bay.

I detour through California Polytechnic State University just because I've often wondered where all of those kids come from for the farmer's market on Thursday night. They're playing a football game today. The campus seems pretty small, so I leave and head roughly northwest towards Morro Bay.

I exit at Morro Bay because I've never really stopped at this town, as best as I can recall. And it has an interesting beach that I'd like to access on the bike. But an old man tells me you can't get out there on the bike. Only by walking. I stop and get some shots along the waterfront. Seems like a cool little town, anyway. The waterfront seems fairly vibrant.

Now, I'm rolling north again and I should mention that there are countless bikers all over the road. Like...an insane amount of bikers. I'm not clear what's going on. So, when I get to Cambria, I see a guy set up with a camera on each side of the road. So, he's got these automated cameras set up, and it's snapping photos of everyone that rides by. And, there's a large analog clock by each camera (one on each side of the road, so he's shooting them coming and going.) A sign says "Remember the time to get your photo" or words to that effect. It's pretty clever, really. This guy is taking photos of everyone that rides by automatically, and then he sells them the photos, and they can identify themselves by saying "I was there at 11:22 a.m."

So, I pull over to ask the guy what is up like...why are all of these vermin choking our highways with their bicycles. But he's just a royal jackass. He's sitting in a van, on his cell phone, guarding his cameras, when I pull over on the shoulder to ask him a question.

Me: "Why are all of these people out here on bikes? What's up?"

Royal Jackass: "You know, it's illegal for you to be parked on the shoulder of the road like that..."

Me: "I can stop on the shoulder if I want to. What if I have engine trouble? What if I break down? Why don't you go fuck yourself?"

Royal Jackass: "Do you want me to call the police?"

Me: "I'd love you to call the police you fat piece of shit."

And I leave. But, I do really like his camera setup. He's just too much of a jackass to communicate with, is all.

So, I continue riding up to Cambria.

Now, at Cambria, I exit from CA 1 to drive through town because Cambria is where they dropped me off when those people from South Africa saved my life by picking me up in a van when I was broke down on the side of the road a few years back. There are about 3-4 exits off of CA-1 for Cambria. I roll through town and I loosely recognize all of the buildings. The Bluebird is where I stayed, of course. Also, I ate in the Italian restaurant Lombardi's Pasta and Pizza.

But, I don't feel like waiting around too long or anything. So I stop in at a little taco stand at Burton Drive and Main Street. Choke down a couple of tacos, gas up, and I'm on the road again.

From here north, gasoline gets really sketchy. Like, there's only the town of San Simeon between me and Carmel, at this point. So, I'm never sure where the gas is. Also, I melted my plastic gas can, so now I'm riding without extra fuel. So, I'm watching my gas and I fill up before I leave Cambria, and now I'm heading north. With the bicyclists. On a very twisty piece of PCH1 that's just a 2 lane black top road following the mountains north up the coast.

By the time I get to San Simeon, I decide that we'll just have to kill all of the cyclists. Like, there's no way around it, the bicyclists have to die. Then just north of San Simeon, there's a sign that the ride is over, and they all disappear like snow in the spring time. I see a couple of cyclists on the side of the road, and decide to ask them what's up. Finally, they tell me what's going on. Something the jackass with the cameras couldn't bring himself to do, for whatever reason.

They're on a 100 mile bike ride from San Luis Obispo to the Blanco Piedras Lighthouse (White stones lighthouse). So, that's what's going on. Why couldn't that fat slob have just told me that when I asked him?


So, the good news is that I won't have to deal with these people any more.

Eventually, I pass the place where I was stranded on the side of the highway last time for hours. Then, I pass Lucia. So, apparently I was south of Lucia? I'm not clear. It's been a long time.

Eventually, I roll into Big Sur and stop for gas again, because I'm looking at the wrong odometer. I think I've gone 150 miles without getting gas when it's only been 75. I think that my memory issues are starting to impair my driving abilities.

After Big Sur, I'm at Carmel, and now the 17 mile drive. Now, last time I tried to make the 17 mile drive, the jackass wouldn't let me. But now, I know the trick. It goes like this:

Guard: Motorcycles are not allowed on the 17 mile drive.
Me: Oh. Well, I've got reservations at Roy's restaurant at the Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach.
Guard: Oh...are you a guest there? Are you staying at the hotel?
Me: Yes. (Sort of panicked. Wasn't expecting that one.)
Guard: And under who's name are you staying?
Me: Well, I'm not actually staying at the hotel, per se. I'm just eating dinner there.
Guard: Oh. OK. Very well.

And he lets me go down the 17 mile drive. Now, I'm not even really clear where the 17 mile drive goes. I haven't been on it in 20 years. But I just can't stand the thought that some jackass is getting paid good money to keep me off of it, so fuck him and the horse he rode in on.

And, I take the 17 mile drive which basically loops through the center of the Monterrey peninsula, and then returns down the coast around the Pebble Beach golf course. So, it's a nice ride. Near the exit, I see a sign for Carmel, so I go out that way so I won't have to guy by the guard that I lied to about my dinner reservations. And it spits me out into Carmel and now I'm heading for Monterrey.

I haven't been through Monterrey proper in a very long time and now, I'm looking for a park that Jen and I went to a very long time ago. It's called Dennis the Menace Park and there's a water fountain that I have a photo of her drinking out of and, it's been so long now I can't even really recall what the water fountain looks like. Only that was funny and I find the address of the park in my GPS and it routes me right to the park and sure enough...there's a lions head wide open that the kids drink water out of. Pretty cute. So I stop and get a photo of it.

I find the aquarium and somewhere south of here, Michelle and I saw a sailboat breaking up on the rocks below the cliffs, but now I'm looking for a place to stay. I'm really tired and the sun is getting close to the horizon. I decide to stay in Salinas, as it's cheaper than Monterrey or Carmel, so now I'm driving out into the Salinas Valley, and by chance, I pass by Laguna Seca, where Will and Jim used to race. I'm driving into the beautiful central valley, and now, I come to the US Highway 101, only I'm all turned around and I follow the GPS to the motel and crash for the night.

On the way to the motel, I see a sign on US Highway 101 that says San Luis Obispo is 164 miles south of here. So, somehow, I managed to drive all day...from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., and only went, by some measure, 164 miles. Doh!

Posted by Rob Kiser on September 24, 2016 at 9:04 PM


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