5 February - Nogales – Green Valley - 75km
We crossed the border into the USA, which
was just like any other border crossing, slow and drawn out,
maybe even more so. We needed a permit and had to join the short
there were about 10 booths, only two were manned and it was
12h30 before we finally got on the road.
We did not even encounter a sign saying
“Welcome to the USA”, but we were at least welcomed by the
familiar golden arches of McDonalds!!
It turned out
an interesting day on the road as we cycled past Tubac
old village and Spanish fort, now more of an artist community
fort. Later we arrived at Green Valley, a small village close to
the copper mine. We stocked up with food from the local
supermarket and set off into the desert to camp. The campsite
was a bit of a disaster as it was so covered in thorns that we
could hardly find a place to pitch the tents.
6-7 February - Green Valley – Tucson
We left Green Valley rather late in the
day as Ernest still had to fix our punctured tubes, and he is
already so slow in the mornings. LOL
the local sheriff came to check us out and asked what we were
doing. He was quite friendly though and wished us well on our
journey. At last we were on the road and cycled the short
distance to Tucson. We had our first
with the police as they stopped us and
kicked us off the high-way. In fact,
it was not like other places where they just tell you to get off
but we were given a written warning!!!
Once in the city we found a
park amongst the many
trailer parks, (yes,
people do live in trailer
parks) to pitch our tents. The
following day we set off to look for a bike shop and some tire
liners (to prevent further punctures). Tucson is a nice city and
also very cycle-friendly
with cycle lanes. We zooted around town,
looking for what we needed;
always a good way to see a city. Tucson has a modern University
campus and has a nice young vibe with many bars, cafes and
interesting shops in the downtown area.
8 February - Tucson – Picacho Peak SP - 70km
We cycled along with a nice tailwind until
suddenly the wind changed and started gusting and swung
completely around. We were told that a storm is coming so we
picked up some food and pulled into the small,
Picacho Peak SP. I quickly pitched my tent and cycled to the
viewpoint to see the sun set over the desert. It became bitterly
cold and it rained during the night.
9 February - Picacho Peak NP – Coolidge via
Florence - 88km
Fortunately the rain had stopped by the
time we woke and although still windy and bitterly cold, the sun
came out for us to pack up. We had a pleasant day on the road
and soon arrived in Coolidge;
it was still early and we decided to carry onto Florence.
Florence turned out to be a
quaint and historic village
straight out of a Wild West movie. After looking around we
decided to head out on the road again. Cycling along we heard a
cell phone ringing and found one lying in the road. We picked it
and it was the owner looking for his phone. We
him directions and he
soon arrived to collect the phone. The owner was rather pleased
to retrieve his phone as he slipped me a $20 bill. We headed
straight back to Coolidge and used the money
a cheap roadside
10-13 February - Coolidge – Phoenix - 97km
It was quite a bit further than expected
to reach the city centre.
We soon enough reached the outskirts but it was easily another
50km into town. Fortunately it was Sunday, and we had an easy
ride into the city centre
via cycle friendly cycle paths. We located Phoenix hostel
without a problem and it turned out to be a very nice place. It
is a rather small hostel but they had an old trailer at the back
which we could rent for $25 a night (considered a bargain). The
trailer was rather nice, although small, and we had a radio and
heater making it rather cosy.
The next day we went in search of an outdoor store and bike
shop. We found both but did not buy anything at the bike shop.
At the outdoor store Ernest found a sleeping mat and I finally
bought a pair of shoes to keep my feet warm.
It was such a nice place that we stayed
one more day, did the laundry,
and waterproofed the tents. I took a walk around town and was
intrigued that no one walks in Phoenix!! It was
on a Wednesday and there was not a soul around…… only the odd
person pushing his trolley and talking to himself. People who
drive past shoot you looks that clearly say:
"You poor fool, don't you know no one walks here?" The whole
place looks like a big,
deserted movie set….very strange. The only other person I met on
my walkabout was a sad looking teenager,
trying to buy a joint off me!!!
Phoenix does, however, have the most
amazing murals. Just a short walk around Roosevelt Row, the
heart of the Downtown Arts District, showed that there is a very
interesting side to Phoenix. I found the Phoenix library an
interesting building with its mix of steel,
concrete and glass -
it’s an impressive building. The interior is no less impressive
with plenty of
light and glass elevators;
it is known as the Crystal Canyon.
14 February - Phoenix –Wickenburg - 103km
It was a beautiful,
sunny day as we left Phoenix via the Arizona Canal cycle way;
what a nice and relaxing way to leave the busy city (we heard
that a body was found in the canal shortly afterwards.
good thing I did not see that). Once the cycle path came to an
end we met a really nice cyclist who offered to show us an easy
way to the highway. He cycled with us all the way to the
highway, something which took him way out of his way.
What a nice guy!
After the gradual false uphill slog we
reached Wickenburg town fairly late. We found an RV campsite
before the sun disappeared,
as it gets rather cold after sunset. True to the small towns of
Wickenburg looks a bit like an old wild South-Western town with
a historic centre. Old-fashioned-looking shops and inns line the
streets and there are even some lifelike displays,
making Wickenburg look like a movie set. The locals are rather
friendly and the campsite owner was no exception
had a long chat and then he offered us beer and the use of the
electrical plug in his office.
15 February - Wickenburg – Peeples Valley -
It was bitterly cold in the night and we
took forever to pack up and get back on the road. It was a
steady climb all day and therefore rather slow going. It is a
rather vast and desolate area,
dotted with small and interesting villages with equally
interesting people. At the tiny settlement of Congress we
chatted to one of the old-timers,
Dave, who gave us some of the
history and told us about the many Snowbirds still prospecting
for gold in the valley. What an interesting area…..people still
prospecting for gold!!!
Americans seems genuinely interested in
what we are doing and will often just come up and talk to us.
are amazed at where we come from and how long we have been on
the road. We continued up the hill past the quaint village of
Yarnell and on to Peeples Valley. We pitched our tents behind a
bar and settled in for the night. And what
a cold night it was.
16 February - Peeples Valley – Prescott -
We awoke to find our tents covered in
ice……. brrrrr. We slowly warmed up in the morning sun before
setting off up the mountain. Soon after leaving Peeples Valley
we turned off onto a back road past more “movie set” villages,
like Kirkland and Skull Valley. Kirkland is no more than a
Skull Valley was no bigger but at least there was petrol and a
shop. Arizona is a rugged state with desert-like spaces and
rough mountains. We continued uphill, and although it was sunny,
there was still plenty of snow on the Southern slopes and shady
sides of the road. It was slow going as we climbed and climbed
up to Prescott.
17- 21 February
Ernest came down with a cold and I wanted
to look around this interesting looking village so we decided to
stay another day. We found a room in the “6 Motel”,
a place with fantastic showers and clean rooms!!
We had a drink at the Palace Saloon
famous bar on Whiskey Row. The story goes something like this:
“On July 14, 1900,
a fire raged through Whiskey Row.
Quick thinking locals managed to
save the 24ft Brunswick Bar. After lugging the solid oak bar
across the street, these resourceful citizens then continued the
party. The Palace Saloon was rebuilt in 1901 and still houses
the famous bar.”
Q moved in and we
decided to bunker down and wait the storm out. There is not much
to do but visit the local museums in weather like this. During
one night it started
snowing, and in the morning the town was covered in white…….my
word, this is absolute madness!!! I need to get out of here in a
hurry!!! It is incredibly cold and I now seriously wonder how
to move on from here.
22 February - Prescott – Ash Fork - 85km
We awoke to blue skies, so we quickly
packed the bikes and set off. It was still bitterly cold but it
was a beautiful ride past granite boulders and beautiful lakes.
It was not exactly easy riding as it felt like we were going
uphill into an icy cold wind. By the time we arrived in Ash
Fork, I weakened and we took a motel room on the historic Route
66. This tiny village has all the paraphernalia, such as vintage
cars, old style neon-ad
signs, and labelled gimmicks,
such as cigarette lighters and so forth. How cool it this?
23- 24 February - Ash Fork – Seligman - 44km
We headed west on Route 66. Built in 1926,
the historic Route 66 stretches from Los Angeles to Chicago
across 8 states. Now nicknamed “The Mother Road”, it is fun,
kitschy, retro -
call it whatever you like, I love it!! In
the icy breeze we didn’t go very far today, and as soon as we
reached the small town of Seligman I knew I was not going any
further! Give me a retro motel, a restaurant called the “Road
Kill Café”, a bar playing music from the sixties, and I´m
The next morning we woke to a bitterly
cold wind blowing at 47km
per hour and gusting to about 56 km
WOW!! It was an easy choice to stay in
our warm and cosy
25 February - Seligman – Truxton BLM - 84km
The sun came out, the wind dropped,
and we were on our way. We followed Route 66 West,
past the interesting settlement of Grand Canyon Caverns (where
one can see real cowboys,
and all!) to Truxton. The road ran through the Hualapai Indian
Reservation and past the tribal capital of Peach Springs. At
the wind picked up again and we battled into an icy breeze.
The good thing about this part of the
world is that there is a thing like
where one can camp for free. We found the gate, which the owner
of the store in Truxton told us about, and turned in. All one
needs to do is fill in the register and take a permit. On
you make sure to take your rubbish with you and that the gate is
closed. How cool is that?!
Soon after sunset it once again became bitterly cold and we
quickly made a fire to keep ourselves warm. I felt like an old
time cowboy sitting by the fire,
eating tinned beans and corned hash-beef with tortilla chips.
As soon as the fire died I dived into my
tent. It was a bitterly cold night, I wore nearly everything I
and still felt cold. I woke in the morning and found my water
bottle (which was in the tent, next to me) frozen stone hard!!
26 February - Truxton – Kingman - 63km
We waited for the sun to defrost us, had
and followed the road past vast plains of nothing but tumble
weed. We stopped at Hackberry with its rather interesting
general store! (The owner told Ernest to move his bike, as it
may fall over and onto his $150 000 antique Corvette, and he did
not feel like shooting anyone that day!!) We picked up a bit of
a tailwind and rolled into Kingman
in good time. It was time to say
good-bye to Route 66 and head north in the direction of Las
I believed to be much warmer.
27 February - Kingman – Chloride - 38km
The road out of Kingman leads over the
Coyote Pass. Once over the pass we were straight into a freezing
cold wind again. After grinding into the gusting breeze for some
time, we turned off into the hills to inspect the old mining
town of Chloride. Chloride turned out to be a fascinating town,
where once there were more than 70 mines producing silver, lead,
zinc, turquoise and gold. Today Chloride is a bit of a ghost
with eccentric locals and a few old buildings, including the old
jail and Arizona’s oldest continuously operating post office. We
found ourselves a room at the Sheps Miners Inn (an old
adobe-style miners living quarters) and set off by foot to
explore the village further.
28 February Chloride – Lake Mead - 103km
It was another rather windy day and we
past the small settlement of Rosie´s Den and burger joints where
one can order a burger and get
shoot a machine gun while waiting!!. Once over the Householders
we descended down to the Hoover Dam and the Lake Mead
a vast area with stunning scenery. The weather was much warmer
along the lake, the sun came out and for the first time in a
we could go sleeveless. We settled for camping at Boulder Beach,
a basic campsite on the lake. Unfortunately, by the time we got
there, the campsite was full. While cycling around to see if
a spot somewhere, Tom, a fellow camper from Alaska, was kind
enough to offer to share his spot with us.
It was a lovely campsite and although no
it had beautiful views. The following day we cycled along the
Old Railway Trail to the Hoover Dam. The dam, built in the
1930s, is a true masterpiece and I´m sure the largest dam in the
1-4 March - Lake Mead – Las Vegas - 51km
The weather was beautiful as we followed
the River Mountains Loop Trail out of the area and headed in the
direction of Las Vegas. Although Nevada is the most arid state
in the USA,
the scenery is stunning and the
amazing. Even from quite far away one could see Vegas, with its
tightly packed high rise “Strip”;
a shimmering mirage in the distance.
It was an easy cycle into the city, and
what a spectacle it was. A fantasyland of Egyptian Pyramids, the
Paris Eiffel Tower and even the Venetian canals and New York
skyline!! Casino after casino,
hotel after hotel, amazing shows, dancing water fountains, neon
lights, slot machines, limousines, Ferraris, and sleazy looking
with drunks and people down on their luck………a crazy place where
your fortune is decided by the roll of the dice. Our needs were,
however, slightly different and we found a motel room on the
strip where we could take the necessary shower.
I was impressed with all the outrageous
from The Flamingo (the oldest hotel on the
strip) to the MGM, the largest hotel in the world. I wandered
around, stunned by the opulence and decadence, staring in
amazement at the amount of money being spent in the casinos and
enjoying the free shows.
Of course I had to take a pic of Las
Vegas' most famous (and most photographed) landmark, the welcome
“Welcome to Las Vegas” sign has been the city’s most famous
landmark since it was built back in 1959.
Another picture I had to take was of the
bronze sculpture in front of the Rivera Casino. The performers
of Crazy Girls, (including deceased transgender showgirl,
Jahna Steele), are now immortalized in a bronze sculpture out
front (the thong-clad buttocks have been worn to a shine by
hands, apparently for good luck in the casino!).
5-6 March - Las Vegas – Primm - 70km
After two full days I was ‘Vegased-out’
and it was good to be on the move again. Instead of heading
we headed west
(in the direction of San Francisco),
trying to stay in the warmer part of the USA. Despite the
weather forecast of high winds it was a nice sunny day with
hardly any wind, or at least until midday. The wind suddenly
picked up and by the time we reached Primm (and I noticed the
steep climb ahead) we called
it a day. The little settlement of Primm came as a surprise as
it consisted of nothing but 3 casinos and 2 petrol stations. A
bigger surprise was that the rooms were rather cheap and for $35
we got a huge room with 2 double beds and
equally large bathroom. They obviously count on you spending
hard earned dollars in their casino! We took full advantage of
all this luxury and even had a long and luxurious bath!
We seemed to have run into another winter
storm and woke to a howling wind, so we decided to stay. There
wasn’t much to do as we didn’t gamble, although the room was
7-8 March - Primm – Baker - 80km
Although the weather forecast was less
than perfect we cycled off in the direction of Baker.
road runs through the Mojave Desert, the lowest and hottest
place in North America. After we’d climbed the big hill over the
pass, it did get a bit cold but luckily no rain or snow. We
ended down at the town of Baker, which is the entrance to the
well-known Death Valley Reserve.
Baker is a rather small village with a population of
750. The town's most prominent feature is a 41m thermometer,
known as the "world's tallest thermometer”,
visible for miles (but unfortunately not operational). It
commemorates the hottest temperature ever recorded in the United
States, 134 °F (56.7 °C), measured in nearby Death Valley in
1913. Today it is nowhere close to that, and snow is forecast
tonight. Baker is also known for some strange UFO sightings, so
it is no wonder that there are alien displays around town.
During the night it started raining and it drizzled on and off
all through the morning, needless to say we stayed put.
9 March - Baker – Yermo - 95km
We left the tiny town of Baker behind and
continued on our way towards the coast. The scenery was rather
bleak and I can truly say that there was nothing happening along
the road!! Desert scenery prevailed;
only a few sand dunes and some Joshua trees kept us company as
we went. Fortunately there was no headwind as I cannot even
begin to imagine doing this stretch of road into a headwind.
As there was not much else to look at, I
once again noticed the truly bizarre discarded items along the
highway! Besides the normal empty beer cans, one can see shoes,
clothing including underwear, household items like brooms,
towels and even a pillow!!! How the heck did that land up next
to the freeway??? However, today along the highway, I even saw
dildo!!! Say no more!
At Yermo we found a formal campsite and called it a day. After
sunset it became bitterly cold so I zipped up my tent and had an
10 March - Yermo – Boron - 75km
After a breakfast sandwich and a cup of
coffee we were on the road again, and as the previous day there
was not much to look at. The road just went on and on, mile
after mile of nothing but low shrubs and Joshua trees!! Even
small settlements indicated on the map turned out to be nothing
more than a few abandoned buildings. Believe it or not, but it
was actually a good day on the road. It was nice and warm with
very little wind and I cannot ask for more. We pulled into the
campsite at Boron village, which was so cheap that it was better
than camping wild. Down the road was a
supermarket, and Ernest went the whole hog
and made hamburgers (with an
accompanying salad and all).
11 March - Boron – Mojave - 55km
These little towns can come up with some real treasures. We
spent the morning at two local museums. Boron is known for the
nearby Borax mine, and “The 20-Mule Team Museum” covered the
history of the mine, including the mules that had to transport
the rocks over the mountains to Bakersfield.
Just as interesting was the aerospace museum next door, with
items and pictures related to the nearby Edwards Air Force Base.
Also on display is the old computer used in the early
development of the space shuttle. These IBM computers originally
had about 35 kilobytes of magnetic core memory each. They had no
hard disk drive, and loaded software from magnetic tape
It was after midday when we finally got
back on the road and cycled past the famous Edwards AFB. There
was truly nothing along the way
desert and access to a few military bases.
We arrived in the sad town of Mojave where equally sad looking
people wander the streets talking to themselves. Mojave is a
typical crossroads town and had a few motels, liquor stores, and
very little of anything else. In keeping with the mood of the
place, there is also a large airplane graveyard next to the
12/14 March - Mojave – Bakersfield -
We cycled a couple of thousand feet up through the Tehachapi
Mountains, passing hundreds of wind turbines along the way. The
small town of Tehachapi came as a pleasant surprise. Tehachapi
is a historical village (established in 1860) and is said to be
the oldest settlement in the Tehachapi Valley. We were very
impressed with the Apple Shed & Fudge Factory - perhaps the best
fudge in the world!!
The hills around Tehachapi are also one of California's largest
wind resource areas, hence all the turbines. Soon we started
heading down the pass, past the famous Tehachapi Railway Loop.
One of the engineering feats of its day, the Loop was built by
Southern Pacific Railroad beginning in 1874. The first train to
use it reached Los Angeles in 1876. On the loop the track passes
over itself, gaining 23m in elevation as the track climbs at a
steady 2% grade. A train more than 1,200m long thus passes over
itself in the loop.
We sped down the pass with a good tailwind
into the San Joaquin Valley and into its famous Tule fog. In the
process we had left the desert behind, and there
now green meadows, farmlands, and vineyards along the road. In
Bakersfield we found a good campsite with some real friendly
Ernest needed to go to the bike shop so we stayed another day.
We also met some real nice guys doing demolition work in the
area (they are all from other parts of the country, but live
here in their caravans during the week). They even invited us
for supper and we sat around chatting…a real pleasant evening.
We retreated to our tents with 2 brand new California Wrecking
15 March - Bakersfield – Blackwells
Corner - 111km
It was a beautiful,
sunny day as we crossed California’s Central Valley. We were
very much in the heart of the agricultural area as we cycled
past large fruit plantations, all in full bloom. Spring is
definitely in the air and it was a pleasant cycle along
58 and then north along Route
33. Once on Route
33 the fruit plantations disappeared altogether and we suddenly
found ourselves in the middle of the oil exploration area where
thousands of oil derricks pumped away silently.
By the time we reached Blackwells Corner
it was already dark,
so we pitched our tents at
the gas station.
16 March - Blackwells Corner – Paso
Robles - 95km
We were up rather early as we did not want
the owner of the gas station to get there and find us still
snoozing. We waited for the little shop to open, had some coffee
and a muffin,
and set off over the hills. Again it was a beautiful day as we
cycled past more fruit plantations, this time they were not in
Along the way we
the junction where James Dean had his fatal car accident, at the
tender age of 24. We continued until we reached the pretty town
of Paso Robles. With its abundance of wineries, production of
olive oil, and almond orchards, it reminded me of Stellenbosch.
17/20 March -Paso Robles – San Luis Obispo -
Ernest´s front rim broke and we knew we were not going far that
day. Fortunately it was not far to San Luis Obispo where we
could find a bike shop. It was an interesting ride past typical
small American villages like Templeton, Atascadero and Santa
Margarita to historic San Luis Obispo. We found a well-stocked
bike shop right in the main road and Ernest spent the rest of
the evening spoking his new rim.
Seeing that we found a reasonably priced
room we also decided to
organise our new bank cards. Making
an international phone call seems to be easiest with a phone
card and far cheaper than phoning any other way. I also took the
opportunity to hand my camera in for cleaning. I found the most
wonderful camera shop, The
Photo Shop, where they quickly
cleaned my camera and what a difference
21/22 March - SLO – Morro Bay - 35km
We packed up at leisure and cycled the
short distance to the coast. We finally arrived at the
Californian Coast at Morro Bay
beautiful spot where we camped at the Morro Bay State Park and
had our first “hike &
bike” experience. If hiking or traveling by bike one can camp in
these parks for $5 per person.
Seeing that we asked the bank to send the
bank cards to The Motel 6 in San Simeon,
we now have plenty of
time to kill as San Simeon is just up the
road. The card is said to take 7 working days, but as Easter
Weekend is in a few days’
time, I think it could take longer
We stayed in Morro Bay an extra day,
just killing time before moving on. The
most prominent landmark is Morro Rock. The spectacular rock at
the entrance to Morro Bay is a 23 million year-old volcanic
plug. I found it interesting that Morro Rock is part of what is
known as The Nine Sisters. The Nine Sisters are extinct volcano
peaks which run in an approximately straight line for twelve
miles, stretching from Morro Bay to San Luis Obispo.
23 March - Morro Bay - Montana de
Oro State Park - 25km
We cycled the short but hilly distance to
Montana de Oro State Park. It seems like the Californian Coast
is going to take us a long time to cycle as there are so many
fantastic parks. Montana de Oro State Park is rugged, beautiful
and remote. The camping was rustic without electricity and
but it had water and toilets. Nature is the draw
here. One can hike or bike the
many trails. It is such a pleasure to be off the bike and to
walk along these fantastic trails. There was also no shortage of
birdlife in the area.
24/25 March - Montana de Oro State
Park – Morro Bay - 25km
We met another cyclist in the park and
chatted for a long time before packing up and cycling back to
Morro Bay. I was in desperate need of a shower and we decided to
book into the Motel
6, have a shower and do some internet and laundry. In fact,
we were so comfortable that we stayed another day. I wanted to
have a haircut but all the salons were closed on a Monday so
nothing came of that.
26 March - 2 April - Morro Bay – San
Simeon State Park - 35km
It was time to move on and find another
state park. We cycled past Nit Wit Ridge in Cambria. Nit Wit
Ridge is a house built entirely of found objects. It was built
over the course of fifty years. The builder was the eccentric
Cambria garbage collector and junk hauler,
Arthur Harold Beal.
It seems that it never really gets very
hot along this stretch of the coast. Although the days are
sunny, fog moves in from the ocean,
making the evenings rather nippy.
We camped at the San Simeon State Park for
2 nights before moving to the Motel 6 in San Simeon. We wanted
to be at the hotel just in case
but after staying at the hotel for 2 nights and still nothing
we moved back to the campsite.
Again we camped at the park for 2 nights
and on the Monday we moved back to the Motel 6. We waited in
great anticipation but nothing arrived……
let’s hope the cards will arrive
3 - 4 April - San Simeon
After days and days of waiting for the bank
cards to arrive I was getting rather bored. There was not much
to do in San Simeon except for cycling into Cambria town to the
supermarket. By this time we had enough of the TV and the luxury
of a room, so we phoned the bank again, only to find out that
the cards were never sent!!!! We’ve now arranged for them to
send the cards to Fort Bragg, further up the coast, but I have
my doubts whether that will happen.
5 April - San Simeon – Plaskett Creek - 56km
It was good to be back on the road, albeit
minus a bank card. It was a particularly stunning stretch of
coast - the road runs next to the ocean, climbing high up
against the side of the cliffs and then back down to the beach.
The wind picked up and came gusting around the corners, making
it rather difficult to keep the bike in a straight line on this
Along the way we watched elephant seals
basking in the sun - they were rather unperturbed by all the
tourists staring at them. Up and down the hills we went, past
lighthouses and fields of Californian poppies.
We reached Plaskett Creek, a beautiful forest
campsite with a bike and hike section, and called it a day. We
also found Marlene in the campsite, whom we met in San Simeon
Park. What an extra-ordinary, independent lady. She travels
around on her bike and prefers the forest areas to get away from
people. She has trouble with her legs and therefore walks with
the aid of two sticks, but she seems fine on the bike. In fact,
I don’t think she has a home, this is her life!! She is
terribly shy but seemed pleased to see us again.
6 April - Plaskett Creek – Big Sur - 55km
Again it was after 11h00 before we finally
left the campsite and cycled along the famous Big Sur coastline.
The scenery was stunning, but again there were big hills and the
going was slow. We stopped many times along the way, admiring
the view, with the result that it was already 17h00 by the time
we reached Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.
The park is quite magnificent and the
campsite situated amongst huge redwood trees. These trees can
grow up to 350 feet high and it is reported that some are
between a 1000 and 2000 years old!!
7/8 April - Big Sur State Park – Monterey -
We were slow to get going and sat chatting to
other cycling campers, with the result it was close to 12h00
before we finally got underway. With the Big Sur behind us I
expected the road to flatten out a bit, but that was not the
case, and again there were plenty of good climbs along the way.
The scenery was no less spectacular than the last few days.
Again the road climbed high up against the side of the
mountains, with wonderful views of the ocean and bays below. We
crossed some spectacular high-arch bridges before finally
reaching Carmel (home of the renowned Pebble Beach golf course).
We lent our ears out to locals and took the
scenic route, getting lost in the misty forest hills, and
eventually accidentally ended up in Monterey in the gathering
dusk. We found one of the less expensive overpriced motels, did
some shopping at Trader Joe’s down the road, and put our feet up
in front of the TV. It was Ernest’s birthday so we stayed in the
room for another day and he treated himself to 4 x 1.2 liters of
9 April - Monterey – New Brighton State Beach
We packed up slowly and cycled past Aptos to
Soquel. Past strawberry fields and fields of artichoke we went.
I never knew just how artichoke grew or that it had so many
uses. Bicycles are not allowed on the highway so we turned off
onto a smaller road though farmlands where fresh fruit and
vegetables were being sold at low, low prices. We could not
resist and loaded the bikes even more with loads of fruit and
veggies. Soon we reached the beautifully located New Brighton
Beach, situated on top of the cliffs high above the beach. It
was a great spot.
10 April - New Brighton Beach State Beach –
Rossi RD - 59km
Again it was after 11h00 before we finally
left our campsite and set off on a cold and windy day, past
Santa Cruz and Davenport. My word, can this wind blow!! I
nearly got blown off my bike before we turned off the coastal
road and followed a small road behind the hills. What a
spectacularly beautiful road it was. The road ran past farms and
up a steep hill, through dense forest and huge redwood trees,
until we finally met up with the coastal road again. We battled
into the wind and finally pulled into Rossi RD and set up camp
for the night. The wind continued to blow throughout the night.
11 April - Rossi RD – Half Moon Bay - 44km
We made an effort to get on the road earlier
in order to escape the wind, but it was all to no avail! The
wind blew us all over the road, but we hung in and cycled the
short distance to Half Moon Bay. In a storm-strength wind we
tried to hide behind a tree and pitch our tents. There was not
much to do but hide in our tents.
12/19 April - Half Moon Bay – San Francisco -
Miraculously the wind dropped during the
night and we woke to a beautiful morning. It was a beautiful and
interesting ride into San Francisco. We were fortunate to find a
cycle path which ran through the Golden Gate Park with beautiful
views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the city and Alcatraz Island.
It was a stunning, fog-free day.
There is more to San Francisco than meets the
eye. The more I wondered around the more I discovered. I ate
steamed buns in Chinatown, drank coffee in Little Italy and
shopped for a bracelet at the hippy district of The Haight, with
its very sixties vibe. Fortunately, I was on foot when I
ascended Russian Hill and descended down the other side via the
switchbacks, eight sharp bends on a forty degree slope. Although
most of the city was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire
there are still some stunning examples of Victorian
architecture, including the famous “painted ladies” - a row of
Victorian houses with the San Francisco skyline in the
Needless to say I made good use of the
variety of transport modes the city offers: from the iconic
cable, in use since 1873, to the street cars at only $2 for a
Despite the fog rolling in I wondered around
the waterfront with its perfect view of the infamous Alcatraz
Prison. From the mid-1930’s until the mid-1960's, Alcatraz was
America's premier, maximum-security prison. I find it
interesting that Native Americans kept well away from the
island, calling it "Evil Island" and believing it to be cursed.
I´m sure that many inmates would agree.
Back in my room I had the shock of my life as
I looked at my passport and discovered that, when entering the
country, the border control staff only gave me a three month
pass instead of the six months they gave Ernest. My head was
spinning and besides going back to South America for a while
(which was a real option) there was not a lot of places to
escape to. I quickly checked the Canadian Visa situation online
and it appeared that the only place one can apply is in Seattle
(waiting time thirty days). Not much to do but quickly pack my
stuff and retreat to my country of origin.
In no time at all I bought a ticket back to
South Africa, discarded most of my stuff, and only kept the
really necessary items. I boarded the plane on the 20th
and only arrived in South Africa on the 22nd, after a
very long and boring flight.
Now it is time to take stock and decide what
to do next – so many options and places to go! First I´ll catch
up with all the gossip, have a braai or two, and enjoy the South