Day 14: New Brighton Beach to Monterey, 45 miles
Another cold, foggy day. I break camp not as early as I want, stop and linger at Heather’s Pattisserie a bit too long. Reading the Sun, writing in my journal, connecting with my feelings, my quest. Why I’m out here.
Onward, across Soquel, then north on Freedom Boulevard into Watsonville. Farmland, conventional “chemo-agriculture”, fields covered in plastic, fumigated with toxins. Ironically, the small town of Watsonville has a center to provide support for families of children with cancer. Do they know why, so many children there get cancer?
I meet a woman walking, Samantha is her name? She’s on a pilgrimage, walking to all the missions. Started in San Diego, headed to San Francisco. She is glowing. Her sandaled feet are also bandaged. I give her directions, Freedom Boulevard would be a good road to walk. Mission Santa Cruz is next. So beautiful. The fog is beginning to break, blue skies above palm trees.
Past Watsonville I descend, back into deeper fog, deeper chill. I break my cardinal rule, put on ear buds as I ride the broad shoulders of Highway 1. U2, Joshua Tree. I first listened to this epic album while I was at Cornell, when I first cycled this coast. Suddenly I am transported, though space and time. And I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. Still.
In Moss Landing, second coffee break. Two more cyclists! Manny and Sarah, touring from Davis to Tucson, he’s a videographer, making a documentary too. We chat, share stories of the road, then ride on together. First time for me, riding in a group. I’m not sure I’ll ride fast enough. I’m reluctant, but head off. A short way down the 1 we meet Dave, who was also camped at New Brighton last night. He joins the group, who are all following me as I navigate the route into Monterey.
Del Monte Boulevard, agricultural giant as its namesake, breaks into rolling dunes covered with crimson tinged ice plants. It’s still cold, and I am hauling, pedaling far ahead of the others. Then at last Monterey. Manny and Sarah peel off to do laundry, Dave and I hit the East Village Coffeehouse, the site of last year’s disastrous Open Mic. Coffee there is good, charging phones, journaling more. Trader Joe’s, then climb up the big hill to Veterans Park campground.
I’m glad to camp with Dave, as there are quite a few homeless folks occupying this hiker/biker site. I’m beginning to relax, share more. Make jokes. Become myself. This connection is something I crave, yet also recoil from. Once a friend said I was a loner, riding this tour solo. I’m not a loner, just find myself alone a lot. Not to my liking.
But tonight, I’m together with others. Manny and Sarah roll in, much after dark. More stories. Then he asks me about the writers retreat, and about my journaling. Been journaling for 30 years.Am I embarrassed reading it? Things I wrote so long ago. Yes, of course, I tell him, and also I learn about myself in the re-read, in the reflections. And in revealing myself. In the exposure.
This is my great hope for the upcoming weekend. That, at last, my 5th writers retreat with the Sun, I will connect, open myself to the process, share and reveal. Risk exposure. Write with others, read my writings, listen, learn. And frankly, heal, overcome. Arrive at my true destination. Me.