After one more night on the campground near Capitola, Reed joins me for a ride half-way to Monterey. I am very happy about this, since there are very few road signs indicating the bicycle trails beside the busy Highway 1. We ride along endless strawberry fields with small teams of bend down Mexicans working on them. 60 percent of the American strawberries are produced here, says Reed, and briefly mentiones the work conditions and pesticides used on the fields.
We share a great lunch in Moss Landing - fried Squid and Fish Tacos before we say Farewell, and I make my way to Monterey under the grey sky. Vegetation changes a lot, shrubs and small plants with meaty leaves and flowers grow along the road. No more big trees at all, no more oaks nor gum trees. Even if it is neither sunny nor hot it feels almost like desert.
The following day is sunny again. A pleasant ride along the 17-Mile-Drive on the scenic shore. Seals on "Birds Rock". And a young German Jewelery Sales Manager lady on a day-off from her business trip admires my freedom she says. She'd love to just sit down here at the bench, yet has to drive back to LA still today. Five minutes later she overtakes me in a red Ford Mustang Cabriolet. Now I'm a kind of envious. :-)
Wind shaped cypresses and pines on the rocky shore, golf courts and million-dollar houses in the nice and touristy Carmel. Stuff where movies are made from, California dreamin' - live and real. A few more decent climbs along the rugged and dry coast line on the way to the Big Sur valley. Big bridges span over the valleys of some creeks and save a bicyclist from worse clims. In Big Sur I stay the between the Redwoods of the Pfeiffer State Park campground for two nights and explore the area. The rather narrow and lush green valley is seperated from the Pacific Shore by a range of vivid green hills, and limited to the East by some desert dry mountain rigdes. With the Big Sur river, and the fog from the ocean, it has its own microclimate, that supports the most Southern occurence of the Coastal Redwoods. As well as Big Sur is an area for artists since decades - Henry Miller used to live here among other famous writers (which is the reason why I knew about Big Sur at all). Condors on the blue sky. Timy, an Australian Rasta and Ryan, his Candian cycling mate arrive at the campground. We met before in Santa Cruz and Monterey, and now spend a good time exploring a gorge and sharing a camp fire.
The next day turns into a long ride above the fog over the ocean and the steep cliffs umderneath the road. A waterfall drops from a cliff directly on a small beach, and disappears in the thick fog again a few seconds after my camera fetched the foto. There are only a few opportunities to stock up with supplies out here, which I skip for their prices (2 Dollar for a banana). So I have to keep riding rather than to spend another night on a campground along the way. Some long climbs take its time and price in the evening. Gurgling sea elephants roll on a beach before San Simeon at sunset. It is pitch black already when I arrive in town. A pole of my tent broke this morning, I remember, and decide to stay a night in a motel. Gladly, I can fix the tent pole with a piece of brass pipe on the next day. Heavy face wind in the morning from Cambria to Ayucos, two beautiful Western style towns. Decaying animal cadavers (mostly Racoons) on the side of the road in the burning sun emit an intense smell. Great scenery at Morrow beach with the giant rock in the sea. I keep pedaling, manage to get as far as Grover Beach and spend a noisy night right beside the noisy highway on a County campground for 22 Dollars. Timy and Ryan show up later that day, and we share the space. Earplugs to sleep because of the roaring trucks on the highway. Following a bliss and an advice from a local cyclist, I leave the bicycle path and turn inland to Lake Cachuma, the scenic man made water reservoir of Santa Barbara. Another day rest there before cycling to Ojai, where I'd love to learn about organic farming for a while. Back on the coast, in a twon called Summerland, I stop at a corner with Buddha scultures and Thi like shrines and a pretty Asian style garden. Talking to some branic healing lady in there, she knows the people of the farm where I'm going to, says she'll phone them and tell them about my coming. The way up to Ojai is a scenic ride through orange and avocado tree plantations between steep dry hills and a nice lake in between. Ojai town itself is charming with its Mexican style buildings. Sunset, and still 5 miles to go. Uphill again. Reaching that farm fairly exhausted, I have to learn that certain things - even pitching my tent on their campground - requires telephone confirmation. Om shanti. Eventually, I get back to a vacated State Park to pitch up my tent in utter darkness. Stealth camping instead of hospitality...