Day 26, Big Sur to Monterey, 35 miles
Rain on the tent this morning, again at Pfeiffer Big Sur. This is good. California is thirsty. Just a few drops oh her lips, this nighttime shower. More serious weather is expected this winter, El Nino rains from the warm Pacific. The ocean hasn’t been this warm since the ‘80s. This means my trip to Baja might be a wet one. Oh well. I am an Oregonian after all.
I stop at Ripplewood Cafe for breakfast, $15 for hotcakes and eggs. Big Sur prices. The cafe is cute, has been here for decades. Probably the same hotcakes and eggs cost $1.50 when it first opened. The staff are is speaking Spanish, I wonder how I’ll fare in Baja not knowing the language. I wonder if Trump wants to deport these hard working citizens. The politics are very interesting this election cycle, to say the least.
Sun is breaking through the clouds as I head out again. I’m cycling north, back up to Monterey to meet up with Alice and spend a few days exploring the peninsula and bay. I’ve only ridden through Marina, Seaside, Monterey, Carmel, all in a blast to get to Big Sur. This will be nice, to slow down, settle in for a bit, meander, linger. A bicycle tour resemble a forced march, after all.
I soon find it will feel like a forced march today, as I’m greeted by a strong headwind as I cycle out past Andrew Molera State Park and Point Sur. I’m not dismayed. The sun is shining, the skies brilliant blue, the seas deep turquoise. Such a beautiful day! So I gear down, put my head down and pedal. I come to the river delta, the forbidden beaches of El Sur ranch. Ice plants seem aflame along the dunes. The big climb looms ahead: Hurricane Ridge. I descend into the cove of the river, then climb out.
If found cycling along the leeward side of a headland usually is windless, and so it is climbing the ridge. Then coming around the front, the headwinds are fierce, almost blowing me into the traffic lane on several occasions. But I persist. I climb past tourists who’ve stopped to take pictures and to wonder at this curious creature cycling into the gale. No time to chat on this climb. At last I crest the summit, the vista area is filled with cars and tourists taking selfies. I take a picture of myself with Bixby in the distance. An accomplishment, though merely one more hill of a thousand, one more mile on the pedals.
I descend the ridge, not nearly as fast as going the other way, continue on along the coast, leaving Big Sur again. Knowing I’ll be back shortly. This place is beginning to feel like home. On through Carmel Highlands, then to Carmel. The distance from Big Sur is just 26 miles, a short hop, same a riding from Yachats to Florence back home. Now Oregon seems distant. Reports from the restaurant are good. Sales strong so far. Emily and Pete managing the shop for me, quite well. So much that I don’t think about the restaurant, sometimes for days. And when I do, it’s not with the normal sense of worry and dread. This year’s tour is a better holiday that any before. I am better than ever too.
It’s dark when I arrive at the Veteran’s Memorial campground, the Hiker/Biker site is empty and a bit spooky. The only other soul there is a drifter, who is either talking on a cell phone or to the imaginary friends or enemies in his head. I have compassion for him, separated from me by such a fine line, that of finances, family, privilege. What went wrong in his life, to put him here, lost along the highway? And I, voluntarily attempting to lose myself. How close to that edge am I? At the same time, I’m leery. I sleep sporadically, unable to drift off, worried my companion might at any point attack me, rob me, kill me.
After a restless night I rise before dawn, pack up, roll down the hill to East Village Coffee. Good coffee here! Spirits are up, I’m going to take a laundry day. I check into the Monterey hostel, happy to be meeting up with Alice soon. The Monterey morning is lovely, clear skies again, fog hanging back off the bay. Another autumn day in California.