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Breakfast in the Clouds

By | June 18, 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to Plaskett Creek Campground
34 miles

Uh, yeah. We realized pretty quickly that we were at the bottom of that hill on the elevation profile, not half way up it. We started climbing right out of the campground. It wasn’t the steepest, but we didn’t get a chance to warm up our legs at all. Then it would look like we’d reached the top, but we hadn’t. I stopped to rest for the third time. It really looked like the top, but I noticed the telephone lines continuing to go up to the right. I prepared myself for the worst, but put my arm warmers back on, just in case. It was getting foggier and chillier. I’d warm up quickly climbing, but get cold fast going down. We rode a few more feet and could see around the curve that the road turned downhill, and the uphill was a driveway! Hooray! We coasted downhill and found the restaurant we’d been looking for in, maybe, a quarter of a mile.

Nepenthe’s is supposed to have the best views around, except in the morning when it’s shrouded in fog.

See the fog behind us?

I happily ate brioche French toast and sipped chai, feeling it was the least I could do after a three mile uphill climb.


Today is the road I remember. In 1996 or 97, I dropped Nathan off at UNR and drove over the mountains and down the coast. It was the last hurrah of my little Bronco II. I remember the narrow, windy roads with the shoulders crumbling into the sea, and an endless stream of RVs. Gas prices, perhaps, are keeping the RVs at bay on this trip, but there are more today than yesterday. I found it surprising, by the way, that gas prices on the remote California coast are about the same as in Chicago. The drivers are also generally more aggressive today. I guess the kids are crabby and everyone is on their way home from their weekend trip. Also, it’s been foggy all day, so the views at the Vista Points are limited.

There are more pickups and SUV’s today, which I like to think is because we’ve crossed the ideological line that separates liberal Northern California from more conservative southern California. I’m already seeing fewer “Water is a precious resource” signs.

It’s also a Chicago day, wind wise. If you’re not familiar with the Windy City, that means the wind is coming from several directions at once. Mostly, it’s not a tailwind, but every once in a while I’ll get an extra push uphill while at the same time a polar breeze is blowing in my face.

Today and yesterday were both very hilly, but yesterday seemed more downhill than up, and today, vice versa. Some of the downhills today even had a slight uphill grade! It never really warmed up today, either, so there was a lot of temperature management.

Arm warmers down, arm warmers up. At one point, I tried one down and one up. Wind vest zipped, then unzipped, then zipped again. On and on and on. So it wasn’t as stellar as yesterday, but it certainly wasn’t bad. I still got to spend the whole day biking!

There were many stops to rest. Sadie found a great stretching rock at one.


We had my new favorite biking sandwich at another: dry salami and laughing cow cheese. Mmmm, salt. And another time I stopped, frantically taking pictures of what might have been four or five rare California Condors. Though probably it was just a bunch of vultures.


We rolled in to Plaskett Creek Campground around five o’clock. This is quite possibly the first campground I’ve been in where the hiker/biker sites are the very first thing you come to. So often they’re all the way to the back, or up an extra hill where you have to walk your bike up a sandy hill trail. These were in a wide, grassy meadow with an ocean view (you had to imagine it through the fog) out the front door. The grass was great for doing a bit of yoga when we arrived, especially for rolling.


All of the campgrounds down the coast have been full of people tenting, which is rather refreshing. I have been in so many campgrounds on the bike where everyone else is in an RV, watching satellite TV. It makes it great to hear bunches of kids screaming as they jump around their tent. The family next to us appears to have eight kids running around their site. They even built their own swing to hang from a tree.

Sadie and I cooked mac and cheese on the camp stove, tossing in the left over salami, as well as a can of chicken. Protein style! I am still marveling how well the camp stove works when you turn it on correctly.

Then we were both in our tents to journal and fall asleep before dark. We don’t have much to do, because this is our second full day without internet or cell phone access. Also, we’re going to attempt an early (before 9:00!) start tomorrow. (The last two days we’ve left camp at 9:30.) We’ve got big climbs at the beginning and at the end of the day, and we want to do ten miles more than we have been doing lately. We’ve been keeping our mileage a little lower than we’d like because of the hilly terrain, but we need to step it up a bit to actually make it to San Diego in time. We do have a wedding to be at on the 30th. Of course, there’s always the train if we need it!

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