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Welcome to Santa Cru-uz!

By | June 14, 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Ano Nuevo to Sunset State Beach
46 miles

Another slow start today, but less slow than the last two days! I had a hard time waking up because I didn’t sleep very well. At 3:15am, I had bolted awake, sure that a raccoon was skulking outside my tent, trying to figure out the best way to chew it’s way in and get my new loaf of bread. I banged my shoes against the side of the tent to scare it away, and shone my headlamp all around. Then I worried it would still chew its way in and bite me, so I was nervous and couldn’t sleep. I read on the Internet til I finally got tired again. Then I dreamed that eight rats and a small, very soft dog kept getting into my tent and I had to keep picking them up and tossing them outside. It was not a restful dream.

There was a misty rain when I finally awoke in the light, which didn’t make me want to be out of bed, either. So I ran to the comfort station and then went back to bed, curled up in my sleeping bag to stay warm. Sadie got up a little while later. We wanted to do laundry, since we were at a campground with facilities, but had to wait til the store opened at 10 to get detergent. Sadie went to wait in our living room, a foyer with comfy chairs in the lodgier part of the area. I went back to sleep.

Around 9:00, Sadie had met someone else who was waiting for the store to open to get detergent, and they found someone who was willing to open it early for them, which was cool, except it meant I had to get up. We put in the laundry, and I decided to cook the quinoa we didn’t eat last night for breakfast. Since I had decided to carry the camp stove with, I was determined to get some use out of it.

It’s been over a year since I attached this backpacking stove to the fuel bottle and turned it on, so I thought I should review the instructions, which are packed with it. The first step is to prime it by releasing a little fuel, closing the valve, burning it off, and then starting the burner. Hmmmm. I did not do this step on my last trip at all. No wonder it was always such a dangerous conflagration. This little contraption burned like a normal stove flame after it was primed, rather than flames continuing to lick over the top of the pot the whole time I was cooking. That’s good to know.

Figuring out the priming and just getting everything attached took nearly 45 minutes, because the clothes were ready to go in the dryer soon after the cooking actually started. After eating, we broke camp and packed up, then we ate PB&J’s for good measure. With all this, we still rode away just a bit after 11:00. Not bad, considering. We rode downhill back to the road, since campgrounds are nearly always at the top of an obnoxious hill, and I realized I’d left with two empty water bottles. It wasn’t that warm out, and I wasn’t going back up that hill, so we continued on.

After a little while we found a fruit stand and bought some delicious apricots. Yesterday, we passed the first fruit stand we saw, thinking we’d stop at the next one, which of course never came. So today we weren’t taking any chances.

A bit after that, we stopped on Davenport so I could get some water. There were a few businesses, but we chose the bakery. We ate muffins at a sunny table outside. I might regret later that I passed up the chance to try olallieberry and honey ice cream, but it just isn’t that warm here. A woman asked us where we were going, and told us we should stick to the coast in Santa Cruz. She also recommended a vegetarian restaurant.

As we entered the Santa Cruz city limits, the bike route signs pointed one way, but the directions we’d been given pointed another way. We stopped to look at the map, both paper and online. Within a minute, a cyclist pulled over and directed us to the costal route, which he highly recommended. Standing on the corner looking confused is becoming a really effective strategy for us to get information. This same plan worked really well for me in China, but I hadn’t used it to much avail in the states til now.

The Santa Cruz ocean front was beautiful, though the windy, cliff top bike path was neither the quickest nor shortest route through town.


After the amusement park boardwalk,


we ditched the coast and beelined for Dharma’s restaurant. It was fabulous! And very hippie Santa Cruz.


And it made me wonder, why don’t I eat tahini and Bragg’s on everything? And why don’t I drink beet carrot lime ginger juice more often? Yum!

We’re eating our way down the coast, and it’s so good! Not like in the South, where everything is fried. The grocery stores we’ve been to don’t have not organic food in them. We haven’t stopped at a convenient store yet. Sadie says there’s time for that later, when there isn’t anything else. I don’t need to start eating Cheetos and Snickers until I have to. And why would I, when there is so much local deliciousness? And also, it’s not that hot, so I’m not craving salt.

We met a few touring cyclists today, briefly. Two men on a tandem passed us, going uphill, of course. They didn’t pause to chat, but they nearly fell over when they passed me, so I surmised they haven’t been riding together long. Only the captain was climbing out of the saddle, as well. From experience, I know it can take a while to get coordinated enough to have both riders standing at the same time.

Another rider, carrying barely any gear, slowed down to talk long enough to tell how he had ridden from Maryland to Seattle, the down the coast. I don’t know how people travel with so little! All of his gear would probably not fill one of my panniers. I was pleased when he mentioned that Sadie and I were not carrying nearly as much stuff as most of the tourers he’d seen. But he said he’d met one man who was riding north from San Francisco to Seattle, which is basically right into the wind, to ride the Cascades. This cyclist had less stuff than him, and was riding a fixed gear! Whoa.

On this trip, people tend to ask, “Where are you going?” or “Where did you come from?” They are curious, but they are often cyclists, and they get what we’re up to. On the way into town,one rider yelled, “Welcome to Santa Cruz!” as he passed by. True, there really is only one way to get down the coast. But still, it is so different from my previous trips, where most people looked, wide-eyed, and asked, “What are you doing?”

So what has the riding been like today? Rolling hills, mostly, the kind you can get most of the way up in the big chain ring, and even further if you stand up for a bit, if you’re lucky. Of course, our campground was up not one, but two, steep hills.

Here’s Sadie coming up another hill. Flat Chicago, I miss you!


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