Day 6 pt 2
Rolling down HWY 1 in the dark was fascinating, another fun road, and the first test of my new fuel system. I got over two hundred kilometres from my main tank, and one hundred and ninety from my rear tank, with a generous reserve left in both. Much less stress than watching the odometer roll up to 100 and knowing I'd be stopped in the next few minutes.
I'm starting to discover themes in my travels. So far every trip, and every leg of this trip I've taken on a bike I've left late, in the rain, and generally ridden late or through the night. First riding from Saskatchewan in a thunderstorm that chased me all the way across Alberta to British Columbia. Now each leg of the current trip. It suits our riding style, Aurora and I both like meandering along well below the speed-limit singing and exploring, without any cages in sight to disrupt us. This theme will come to an end when I cross the border, as much as I enjoy it, it would cross the line from calculated risk to reckless behaviour where there are chronic problems with drunk cagers, wandering animals and unknown road conditions. I had installed heated grips in Sacramento, using a set of heating elements, some epoxy and 8$ rubber grips, a real luxury and blessing for 35$ at least when they deigned to work. A continual series of increasingly bizarre rituals trying to determine why they would work great after the bike sat at a gas station for a while, then die out as soon as I was up to speed, then refuse to work again despite trying every combination of switches. They worked for almost an hour when I ran on low beam only, then cut out as suddenly as before, never to work again with that trick. At first I thought the wind might be sucking the heat away since they were directly fixed to the metal bars, but without turning the bike off, I could idle indefinitely without ever getting more out of them, nothing makes a rider grumpier than snatching away a nice luxury that instantly becomes a necessity after enjoying the ability to move fingers without minutes of warming up and pain. I stopped in Big Sur to test my stove out and make some tea, we had a nice break, with a few weird looks from locals seeing me cooking outside a closed store.
With a hot water bottle stuffed in the crotch of my rain suit I enjoyed a nice warm ride for a while. I was hoping to camp on the beach along the way, but with true consideration for travellers, someone had avoided putting up fences or rails where it was possible to try diving off a cliff, and fenced the hundreds of miles where you might be able to stop and sleep without a large drop and a cold death with nice barbed wire. The one beach I found that looked nice even allowed off road vehicles, unless you dared to arrive outside of sunset when you couldn't pay your 10$ entry fee, with a 300$ bail set if you ignored the rules.
About three in the morning my highway ran out with a road closed sign and construction vehicles parked along the road.
We parked behind the signs, and slept until the sun came up, Aurora in the lee of a sign and me rolled up in my tarp.
I was greeted with a sunrise, and finally saw the golden hills of California. I will always regret missing some of those pictures with a flock of white birds above the glowing hills.
Riding on I stopped in Bueliton to balance my load, warm up and refill my water. Following the instructions of a local resident, I ended up the wrong highway but didn't know it,I passed through Lompoc, looked then using the sun got myself to the coast, ending up at Lompoc/Surf Amtrak station, beautiful ride and an amazing view. Following the sun and the ocean I would have been just fine if the Air Force hadn't dropped a gate and some dire warning signs in the middle of that road. Thankfully I read the sign about the illegality of photographing the sign and fence before I took a picture to show where I had stopped. Right next to the fence was the empty train station, I stopped there to wait and ask someone where I was going.
The first man who stopped turned out to have lived there his whole life, riding horses and bikes all through the hills. Turning 87 next year and having just lost his wife, he still had a strong handshake and a clear eye.
He told stories of the area before the air-force took over, from the town that was there, a train crash where we stood to stories of the days of pearl harbour and some destroyers foundering on the point. He was born just behind that point, on land the air-force now owns.
Out of range for a picture from the road, he finished by telling a lady who pulled in some more history.
He really enjoyed seeing my bike, as it turns out the point he was born near was called Honda point. Chance meetings like this have made me glad I'm travelling by glimpses of maps, the position of the sun and sea, with a GPS I would always be organized, following a small triangle and encased in a cage I wouldn't even see, a wireless prison keeping me on track, as part of the machine instead of free.
Back on the road down the coast, slowly seeing ever more signs of civilization, I stopped for dinner at a restaurant recommended by a traveller in SF. The prices much have changed since he was there so I just took a rest and tried an appetizer, which was enough of a meal for me. The nicest thing I've eaten on this trip by far, absolutely incredible view too.
Arriving in LA I almost made it to the right hostel, but ended up staying just a block away, at another hostel and met interesting people, including a guy who's written a screenplay, and is trying to get it produced now, and make his own life. I'm in awe of anyone with that kind of dedication. We swapped music and hung out late into the evening exploring on foot, or just hanging out. I caught up on homework and this report and met some more riders heading south near Santa Monica Boulevard, one on a KLR, the other on a BMW Dakar, They're taking the west coast route, hope they make it safely. In my defence, both hostels look identical to the picture on the brochure, and they're both on the same street, turned out to be a good place to stay.