Day 27: San Simeon State Park to Morro Bay State Park - Four Legs on the Slow Road - CycleBlaze

September 22, 2014

Day 27: San Simeon State Park to Morro Bay State Park

We leave the campground under the cover of fog so thick that sometimes we can only hear the ocean, not see it, but by the time we reach the hotels and shops of Cambria only a few miles down the road the sun shines down on us from a cloudless sky. Not long after that we leave the coast behind and follow Highway 1 inland, where we look out on brown and yellow rolling hills, livestock pastures, and squirrels that watch us with equal parts interest and concern from the other side of the barbed wire fence. Even though the weekend has passed traffic remains constant. I imagine it will be our companion until the moment we board our flight to New Zealand.

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When the tailwind picks up we speed ahead at sixteen miles per hour in our big chain rings, which is a revelation for as slow as we've traveled for the majority of this trip. It pushes us on to the beaches and antique shops and tiny but breathtakingly expensive homes of Cayucos and then beyond to Morro Bay with the ocean receding from view and then reappearing again at regular intervals.

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It's been a long time since we had a short riding day that didn't involve pedaling across a major American city, so we decide to fill up on horrible food in Morro Bay, ride to the state park, and go no farther after that.

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We're successful. We set up the tent in a grove of eucalyptus trees, where wild turkeys sometimes wander past in groups of three and four, and where vultures nest in the branches above our heads. When they spread their wings to fly, with the undersides shining white in the sun, they leap into the air with such force that they leave the tree tops cracking and swaying in their wake. In the distance, near a shore that we can't see, a fog horn sounds at some regular interval.

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But of course it's a state park, and at no state park in America can the fact that you're in a state park escape you. There's the old man with the ugly hat who brags about getting eighteen miles per gallon and zero-point-five percent financing on the mass of fiberglass, aluminum, and tinted windows that brought he and his wife here to a nearby camper with unfortunate timing who can't think of an excuse to get out of the conversation before that point where an escape becomes impossible. There's also the old man who clears his throat every five seconds, and the old man who sneezes eight times in rapid succession and then blows his nose with a sound best described as dying narwhal.

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Dogs bark, teenage girls scream, and motorcycle engines rumble at a loud idle. For a reason we can't figure out, every couple of hours a half-empty tour bus rolls through the campground loop. A central feature of this state park is a golf course, and the hiker-biker area is located along the edge of a fairway, so there's the ever-present danger of a hooked tee shot punching through the rain fly or breaking a few of our spokes. A lot of the RVs in the place are rented from Cruise America, which we can tell at a glance because they have images of highways and national parks plastered on the sides. It's almost enough to distract from the image of a golden retriever that looks like it's poking its head out the window of the side door. Then there's the campground host, whose motorhome now seems no longer mobile, what with the astroturf-covered patio out front and the ring of Christmas lights that run around the ground at its edges.

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At night, the headlights of diesel-powered trucks rumbling back into camp pour bright light into our tent from one side, while the flicker of competing campfires do the same on a much smaller scale from two of the other sides. Dogs continue to bark and kids continue to scream, it's just that now we can't see them. And from the curtained windows of travel trailers and the home-sized RVs comes the bluish glow of satellite television. I've spent a lot of time in campgrounds like this one during five years of bike touring in this country, and it seems like by now I'd have reached the point where these places start to make sense, where I'd start to embrace them, and where their appeal and their charm breaks through all of the irony and dump stations and makes itself apparent in this like overwhelming moment of clarity.

Nope.

Today's ride: 28 miles (45 km)
Total: 1,211 miles (1,949 km)

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