The long drive, part 2 - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

November 28, 2020

The long drive, part 2

So, after twelve days, we’re moving on.  We could stay longer, really.  The weather has turned fine, and looks beautiful for the next two weeks.  A bit chilly, but still warm enough and quite bikeable.  Our time is up at our studio apartment though, and we can’t extend it further than we already have.  As long as we have to relocate anyway, we might as well seek the heat. 

The unit, by the way, was terrific.  An excellent place, well located, well equipped, well run.  If you find yourself looking for a place to stay, you should consider Jerry’s apartment, accurately listed as “Beautiful studio apt next to Bidwell Park” on AirBnB.  Thanks again Jerry, if you’re reading this.

Before we leave town though, let’s look at our last meal in Chico: a fine spread at the Red Tavern, outdoors of course.

Enjoying the seasonal house salad at the Red Tavern, under a shedding pistache tree: Mixed Greens, Pomegranate, Persimmon, Feta Cheese, Citrus and Champagne Vinaigrette.
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A reason to smile: fettuccini and butternut squash, with shrimp; and grilled swordfish over cauliflower purée, roasted leeks and fennel. I wish we’d found this place sooner so we could go back for seconds.
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It’s another long drive to our next home: Morro Bay, just south of Big Sur.  350 miles is just about the limit for us on a one day drive.  We get an early start, with thoughts that we’ll stop at Coyote Lake for a hike halfway down to give the backsides a break.  Not long after 7:30 we’re packed and on the road, my hands still cold from packing the car.  There’s a very fine icing on the windshield, reinforcing the team’s plan to move on.  

It all fits, again. This car is really perfect for us and our lifestyle, when we need a car at all. Room for the essentials, with no wasted space. 20 years and 190,000 miles old, she’s still got a lot of life yet. Aging better than some other members of the team, truth be known.
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Once we start driving, we just keep rolling.  Thoughts of stopping for a hike go by the wayside in favor of just getting there.  We break for the essentials about every hundred miles, but otherwise drive nonstop.  For about the first hour the ride is gorgeous as we drive past now familiar scenes of the upper Sacramento Valley: flooded fields with rafts of geese and swans bobbing on them, miles of orchards, mountains around in the distance.  It kills me to just drive past one particularly lovely spot, a glassy wetland spotted with waterfowl, Sutter Buttes ahead in the distance and mirrored across the water’s surface.  We’ve only just begun though, and with seven hours of driving ahead I content myself with a quick mental snapshot and look back at the road ahead.

After that, we’re not really tempted by anything other than loo, gas and stretch breaks.  The further south we get the heavier and more impatient the traffic grows and the grimier the air seems.  By the time we reach Sacramento visibility is already poor; and by Fresno the horizon disappears entirely beneath a dispiriting brown miasma that persists for hours.  It’s a relief in more ways than one when six hours later we finally break west into the coast range and see a bit of blue in the sky ahead.

Well, we need one photo of the ride anyway. A half hour past Yuba City, we’re lured off the road by a great come-on: “Rest rooms open, 7 days a week”. While Rachael’s taking her turn I pay our dues at the espresso stand and check out the wetland next door. Waterfowl murmur in the background, Sutter Buttes are still barely visible back north through the growing haze.
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We arrive at our new home before three, checking in at La Serena Inn and then immediately walking the few blocks to the waterfront to see what’s open and has available outdoor seating.  No kitchen in our motel room, so I imagine we’ll be seeing a lot of fish and chip meals by the sea in the coming nine days.  And some biking: the south end of Big Sur is just a half hour’s drive north.  Maybe we’ll even get out on the bay for a short spell in a sea kayak.  It’s been years, but we might still remember how to hold a paddle.

Looking south from Morro Bay. The dramatic view is off screen to the right - the huge haystack rising from the bay - but the light’s better this way.
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Sundown, Morro Bay. There’s nothing but sun in the forecast, so I imagine we’ll be seeing a lot of these.
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Morro Bay.
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A reef of sea lions bark just offshore. Noisy bunch.
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And there’s this. It looks pretty full to me, but the almanac says another 40 hours. Hard to see where there’s any more room to swell out.
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Jen GrumbyWhat a beautiful place! That video makes me want to go out for a paddle.

Hope you get out for at least a short kayak outing!
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