And then the sky does this

Day 36, San Luis Obispo to San Simeon State Park, 39 miles

I take my time rising. I hear others getting up, so now I think I’d best get on my way. Need to do some shopping so I won’t be stuck in Big Sur with no food. I chat with Natalie, raccoons were up and tearing through her panniers. I heard them growling at each other, a scary sound when you first hear it. Like cats fighting, only deeper.

Farewell to these friends as they roll out, perhaps we’ll never see each other again. Or who knows? I linger at the beach a bit longer. I don’t want to leave Southern California so soon. But also, don’t feel comfortable here. The people seem to have a strange denial. Living in the desert, with so many borrowed resources, especially the water.

I roll the palm tree lined road into town. Stop at the discount store, used to be a Safeway. I guess Albertsons won the grocery turf war here. I mail my old tent home, maybe I can buy poles for it from Eureka. Still has many years left. Then off to the train. I board Surfliner, see two other touring bikes already there. I chat with one cyclist, who’s also riding north to SLO to cycle back south to LA.

The three hour ride goes too fast. I’m not ready to ride again. So I stop over at Kreuzberg again. My am I delaying the inevitable, the ride over the hill, then north on California 1. Hours now to reach the campground at San Simeon, sure to arrive after dark. I’m begrudging the ride ahead. Thinking I should just board the Coast Starlight, head home. End this tour, now.

But I don’t. I ride on. Winds are from the north, but not too strong. I retrace my steps, riding back past Morro Bay, then around through Cayucos. The highway then climbs through Harmony, population 18. Still just 18? Strange little town. I’m struggling, as the sun is setting. Why am I doing this, riding 1500 miles, into nowhere, alone with my thoughts, my anxieties, my anger. Why?

The sun dips behind the hillside, I feel a cool breeze now. I stop and don my jacket. Almost suddenly, the sky is on fire with sunset colors. I’m taken aback, my complaints are silenced as I discover again why I am here. To experience this beauty. To set aside all my cares and complaints and worries and injustices. To drink in this sky, this color, this life.

I finish the final miles with my headlamp, past Cambria, then along to San Simeon. I roll into the very dark campground, greet other cyclists, then set up my tent. I’ve feeling a sudden change in temperatures. How cold here, when just last night I was in sunny Southern California. I bundle up and try to sleep. I remember the fire in the sky, and it warms my heart. I know why I’m here.

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