Dana Point - Looking Back With 2020 Vision, Part I - CycleBlaze

January 2, 2020

Dana Point

I don’t have many words this morning, or much time.  I wasted it by obsessively reading the depressing news of the horrendous fires consuming so much of Australia and the fact that we seem to be declaring war with Iran.  On a day when it feels like our world is literally going up in flames, it feels a bit frivolous to enthuse over a short, easy ride down the coast on another spectacular day.

And as if the news from the real world wasn’t depressing enough, due to technical difficulties there’s no video today!  Rachael promises it will be back tomorrow, and points out that the previous video was twice the normal length anyway.

For the record though: it’s another shirt sleeve day when we leave our room this morning.  With only 25 flattish miles ahead, we’re in no big hurry.  We start with a lazy roll down the waterfront to the end of Balboa Peninsula, then double back up its bay side to the ferry to Balboa Island.  This is such a pleasant little ferry, with virtually no wait time as three small craft shuttle continuously across the narrow channel.  Cheap entertainment, at $1.25 for pedestrians and bikers.

We get off to a poor start though, losing track of each other just one block after the motel.  Hard to explain how it could take ten minutes and two phone calls for us to reconnect when we were never more than two blocks apart, but that’s the Andersons for you.  Just business as usual.

Leaving our motel on Balboa Peninsula. A nice little place, with the emphasis on little. No wasted space.
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Balboa Peninsula is more relaxed this morning.
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On the sea side, Balboa Peninsula.
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Balboa Peninsula is a cheerful place to roll along. Rachael was really looking forward to seeing the video from here, but sadly it was not to be.
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Nearing the south end of Balboa Peninsula.
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At the southern tip of the peninsula, staring across at Corona Del Mar.
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On the Balboa Island Ferry, chatting with the crew after forking over our $2.50 fare. Annoying to have to share the deck with that SUV, knowing we’ll be held up waiting for it to disembark first at the other end.
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One of the other two Balboa Island ferries. It looks like the three of them are in continuous rotation. I wonder what happens if there are no passengers. Do they sail anyway, just to keep the rotation going?
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I should start keeping metrics for a recap for this short tour. Some key stats so far: number of dead snakes on the road: zero; number of live ones: zero; minutes on the ferry: 5.
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Jen GrumbyI've been wondering about your dead snake count.

You have a ways to go to catch up with Bruce!
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7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyI know. I’m quite discouraged. He has such a head start! Maybe we’ll have more luck in the next phase of our tour.
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7 months ago
With plenty of time on our hands, we can afford a few minutes for a tour of the Big Island.
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So what is this climber? Grows like a wisteria.
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Shawn AndersonLooks to be a Trumpet vine.
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6 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Shawn AndersonThanks! I’ve never heard of this plant that I can recall, but it sounds like it mostly grows in the south. Did you see it in Tyler when you lived down there?
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6 months ago
Shawn AndersonTo Scott AndersonI'm sure there were some growing, but probably didn't take notice back then. From what I read, there are quite a variety of them, but seem to thrive in the Southern costal climates.
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6 months ago
Balboa Island, tiny as it is, is actually two islands split by the Grand Canal. We’re in Venice!
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Finally back on the mainland, we turn south.  After biking through the neighborhoods of Corona Del Mar we settle in on the ride down busy Highway 1.  For a highway ride, these miles are surprisingly pleasant.  There’s a wide shoulder, and on the right we bike past several miles of green parkland, getting off the highway here and there to ride the trails.  We stop for lunch on a bench at a lookout above Crystal Cove, enjoying spectacular views north and south.

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Looking north to Pelican Point.
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Looking south along Crystal Cove to Abalone Point. I like the way the beach is carved up into a string of small scallop shapes. And the tire tracks add a nice textural contrast.
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Back on the highway again, we’re soon biking through congested Laguna Beach.  We remember this as a scary stretch last time, the coastal stretches lined solid with parked cars and an occasional opened door, and the main drag through town narrow, busy and tense.   It was late in the day, the light was fading, and we were feeling exposed.

It was much better this time, mostly because we’re here at midday but also because we rode through town a few blocks inland from the Route 1.  Much quieter and safer.

By 2 we arrive at the interpretive center for the small Dana Point Headlands Conservation Area, preserving one of the last stretches of undeveloped land on this part of the coast.  We spend a couple of hours here, stashing our panniers inside the interpretive center, locking up the bikes, and walking the bluff side trail down to the shore.  I’m quite content to sit there and watch the waves crash against the headland for awhile as Rachael continues up the coast further.

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Looking north from Dana Point Headlands Conservation Area.
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A very therapeutic way to spend an hour, watching the waves crash in as thousands of sand fleas hop around nearby.
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A mockingbird, uncharacteristically calm and silent.
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Jen GrumbyThat eye looks like it's staring right into the camera lens.

He must have found you quite an interesting human specimen!
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7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyIsn’t that great! What a lucky shot. I’m surprised he hasn’t taken flight yet.
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7 months ago

It’s a steep drop from the headland down to the marina at Dana Point, one we remember well from our first visit here.  We arrived then right at sundown, thankful to be getting in before dark but feeling vulnerable on the steep, twisting descent in the fading light.

We’re here on January 2nd, the exact day we were here four years ago.  I think we’re staying in the same inn that we slept at last time too, and possibly eating at the same restaurant.  When we’ve remembered Dana Point, it is mostly for the fantastic light show it puts on for the holiday season.  There must be a billion lights wrapped around every tree and post along the harbor.  We don’t go in for this sort of thing normally, but it’s quite seductive and charming.  We enjoy it as much this time as we did then - probably even more so, because it’s much warmer and more comfortable to walk around after dinner.  It adds a nice touch to hear a few sea lions barking from across the water, out there in the dark somewhere.

The steep drop down to Dana Point.
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Jacquie GaudetYikes! Riding it, okay, but stopping to get my camera out? Chapeau to you!
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7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetWell worth the effort. Spare no expense to keep our followers entertained.
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7 months ago
Dana Point Marina is a riot of color for the holidays.
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At Dana Point
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Jen GrumbyI love to imagine the wisdom stored in trees like this. Beautiful!
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7 months ago
I wish we’d taken a closer picture of the adorable dog sitting on that woman’s lap. She’s squatted there trying to get him to hold still and pose for her selfie.
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Ride stats today: 26 miles, 1,200’; for the tour: 544 miles, 24,300’

Today's ride: 26 miles (42 km)
Total: 544 miles (875 km)

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Jen GrumbyThank you for brightening the day with this post about a beautiful bike ride.

When it seems the world is going to sh*t, these are the stories that we need to create, and tell, and celebrate.

Love those lights at Dana Point!
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7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyThank you, Jen. Such bleak times these are, but I think we need to keep seeking the light.
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7 months ago