Riding into the past

Day 33, Morro Bay to Pismo Beach, 26 miles

I wake and it takes awhile to remember where I am. I look up and see the towering eucalyptus, smell the pungent leaves, feel the cool morning air. Simple oats today, and a quick launch. Not tent to pack up, after all.

I cycle along the marsh, water reflecting several majestic stone mountains, similar to the rock in the bay. Must all be related. Volcanic? I’m not sure. The ride is short today, just hopping over the pass, through San Luis Obispo, down to Pismo Bay where I’ll meet my friend Carmen. Short ride, yet filled with stories, memories, feelings from the past.

I remember the same trip, 1987, passing the California Men’s Colony on Route 1. Naive, I thought it was a men’s community, a retreat perhaps for raising consciousness. Around the bend, I nearly gasped at the razor wire, the guard towers, the dull concrete walls imprisoning men with maximum security. I wheeled my bike up the drive a way, and saw a small building. “Friends Outside”. Inside, I met Lorna, a woman who was volunteering to provide support and services for families of those incarcerated.

We talked, and I found myself thinking of a possible career change, to a helping profession. Like what Lorna was doing. She invited me to dinner at her house, an offer of hospitality I graciously accepted. She lived down the hill in Pismo Beach. I finished my ride, setting up camp, then rode over to Lorna’s for dinner. Her friend Dan played Dylan on guitar. A warmth of community, stark contrast to the cold concrete of those in the Men’s Colony.

The next day, I visited a small gallery, where a 90 year old artist displayer her folk art. “Ma Eno” was featured in Reader’s Digest, and her motto was “Keep on Keeping on.” Good motto for a bicyclist too. Pismo Beach was a quaint town then, gravel roads, men casting long lines directly into the surf, bringing up fish they threw into buckets. So many changes in 28 years. Both for this town, and for this rider.

Today I spend a long time in the Kreuzberg Coffeehouse, all decked out in Halloween cobwebs. Emails, writing, mindless surfing, daydreaming, searching for meaning, casting aside explanations. I’m searching for answers, and also searching to abandon the unanswerable questions. Enough of this, ride on, up and over the hill.

Sirens against the sky. I ask another cyclist if they are for tsunami. He says no, Diablo Canyon, just behind that ridge. The nuke built on the fault line. In fine print, in a small sticker on the siren box, a sheriff note says in you hear a siren for 3-5 minutes, go inside. Turn on the radio for further instructions. Such folly.

Friends Outside. Men locked inside. Nuclear dangers outside. Questionable safety inside. I’m glad to see the palm trees of Pismo Beach, looking forward to meeting Carmen, getting out of my troubled head. She’s suggested i stay at her place in Santa Maria, where she lives with her daughter and son. In past tours, I’ve declined such offers, opting to camp, to continue my solitude. But on this trip, I’ve vowed to never turn down an offer of hospitality. This will be the first, hopefully of many.

2 thoughts on “Riding into the past

  1. I love your thought on never turning down hospitality, very inspiring to this particular introvert! What a contrast between the years and between incarceration and freedom. We can do that to ourselves too. Be free! Ride safe. ❤

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