Getting back on the road

Day 27, Daly City BART to Half Moon Bay State Beach, 22 miles

Three day weekend layover in San Francisco, getting used to not riding? Antsy to ride, more like it. Don’t get me wrong. I so enjoyed my time with Debra, deepening our friendship, watching Seinfeld and Maron on Netflix, talking and sharing. And then seeing my sons Seth and Shawn reminded me how much I miss them, every day. I’m glad we have such a good connection, overcoming the past challenges of a young step father trying to raise children without much “self awareness or self control” as Seth so aptly described me. I could have done without the poison oak blistering on the second day, just as I was looking forward to the hot springs. (Note: poison oak and hot springs do not mix.) Benadryl and rest seemed to calm the itching and outbreak, so I decided to move along as planned.

I reluctantly pack my gear, bid Seth goodbye with one more hug, then ride a block to the MacCarthur BART station. I could have ridden down to Jack London Square and caught a ferry across the Bay, then ridden the Embarcadero over to the Presidio and on south. But today I feel like a less strenous ride, not sure how my poison oak outbreak will handle exertion and sweating. I broke into hives last fall after a rigorous ride, but maybe that was caused the meds. I don’t want to find out this trip. Easy ride it is.

I get off the train, glide down John Daly Boulevard, then climb up to Skyline. The long hill is over quickly, then the steep descent into Pacifica. Clear skies and beautiful sunlight, shimmering off the waves on the calm seas. I stop at the Chit Chat Cafe, my tradition, so warm in there! Nearly 80 degrees outside, seems bikini weather. I ride on, past Pacifica beach then up the climb to the San Mateo tunnels. No tunnels for me, I turn onto the Devils Slide Trail, the old Route 1 converted to pristine bicycle pedestrian path. Spectacular views, sunlit ocean, cool breezes. And most notable: quiet. No traffic. I can hear the gentle surf below, the wind whistling through my helmet, the whirring of my bicycle wheels, the pace of my breath.

And in this quiet, I can hear my thoughts. Returning again to me, contemplating my life, the seasons of my heart. How beautiful it is to open to another, to share my deepest feelings and thoughts, to listen with openness and acceptance. And then, to stand apart, recognize my independence, my self direction, my sovereignty. I ponder how to reconcile what seem to be two opposing qualities, experiences: that of intimacy and of solitude. Embrace the both as necessary parts of the whole. Integrate, realize my choices, my feelings, my needs. I hear Mary Oliver again, “Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination.” I am called, to embrace this world, this community of plants and animals and humans, with love and acceptance, the tenderness and courage. To remember my place in the family of things.

A few miles descending past and through a traffic jam remind me of the joy and freedom of cycling. I ride on around Half Moon Bay, arrive at the campground with plenty of time to set up and shower before meeting Anisia for dinner. I haven’t seen her since last fall, miss our friendship. At camp I hear “Is that Ocean?” and look up to see Richy arriving. He’s just staying a night before going back up to SF, end of his trip across the country.

I walk out to the beach and sit down to watch the setting sun cast a gorgeous display of color and texture onto the sky and clouds.  I’m filming the last sliver of the red disc slipping below the horizon and notice movement in the waves, fins and flippers. Dolphins! I catch them swimming, spouting, diving. I am mesmerized, such that the chill air doesn’t phase me. I linger at the beach, sky growing darker, deeper reds and oranges. Then I get the text to meet my friend for dinner, glad to get in her warm car and drive to a restaurant. We’ve got stories to tell.

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