Lopez Canyon - Winterlude 2021 - CycleBlaze

December 10, 2021

Lopez Canyon

Today looks like an outstanding day to ride - sunny, reasonably calm, and nearly fifteen degrees warmer than yesterday.  This is the sort of weather we’ve driven so far south hoping to find!

It’s still on the edge when we start out at about ten, planning to ride a loop to Lopez Lake and then south through the outskirts of Arroyo Grande - a near repeat of this ride we took almost exactly a year ago.  Revisiting that ride now, I see that we were here partly to stop in at the REI in San Luis Obispo, a detail we both completely forgot about but will be reminded of when we stop in again tonight after dinner to purchase a new set of cycling gloves for Rachael to replace the ones that presumably were dropped in the shopping mall parking lot up in Paso Robles when we loaded up the Raven for the drive back from yesterday’s ride up Hog Canyon.

We haven’t actually ridden through downtown SLO before this morning though, and we’re suitably impressed by how bike friendly it is as we follow well marked, generous bikeways from the door of our motel all the way to the Amtrak station where we cross the tracks and pick up the excellent Railroad Bicycle Trail east to the outskirts of town.  It’s only been a year, but we’d only dimly remembered what a fine path this is.  It’s short, but a joy to experience again.

Downtown San Luis Obispo is very cycle friendly and easy to navigate.
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Jen GrumbyWhat a cool sign! Portland should paint one on Clinton, with all the parents schlepping kids on bikes.
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1 month ago
On the Railroad Bicycle Trail.
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On the outskirts of town we pick up Orcutt Road and follow it east for about ten miles, until the turnoff to Lopez Lake.  This is another road we’ve ridden before - twice before actually - but are surprised anew by what a fine ride it gives as it rolls over a series of low ridges through scenic wine country.  Traffic is light, it’s well surfaced and has a good shoulder most of the way, and it obviously sees a great deal of bike traffic.

Along Orcutt Road.
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Along Orcutt Road.
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Turning off onto Lopez Drive we climb about five hundred feet in the next two miles following Arroyo Grande Creek upstream, with most of the climb coming at once as we circle up to the top of the dam that impounds Lopez Lake.  From there we skirt the eastern shore of the reservoir until we come to the bridge crossing Phoenix Creek, the primary source for the lake.  

The bridge crosses the creek quite a ways above the upper rim of the lake, but both the map and the satellite view show the lake as extending upstream beyond the bridge.   It’s apparent that the reservoir’s surface elevation is quite a bit lower than it has been in the past.  This was the case last winter also, when we looked down from this bridge and watched a park ranger throwing stones at a pair of peccaries to drive them further from the park.

Some lemons, along Lopez Drive.
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The modest climb up to the top of Lopez Dam.
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Lopez Lake.
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On Lopez Drive, loosely following the eastern perimeter of the lake.
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Another mystery succulant, clinging to the side of a south-facing cliff.
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It’s not the same plant, but it reminds me of that Dudleya farinosa we saw at Point Lobos two days ago. Or a kohlrabi.
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Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like another species of Dudleya. Possibly Palmer's live forever.

https://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?query_src=photos_index&rel-taxon=begins+with&where-taxon=Dudleya+palmeri
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1 month ago
Standing on the bridge, looking toward the upper end of the lake. It looks even further off now than it did last winter.
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Our ride plan was to turn back here, return to Orcutt Road and then continue southeast to the outskirts of Arroyo Grande before turning back west through Corbett Canyon.  Instead though we decide to continue up along Phoenix Creek on High Mountain Road, seeing a sign that states that the pavement ends in six miles.  From this end it looks like a fine cycling road, and with this extra distance we’ll just skip the Arroyo Grande loop and turn the ride into a pure out and back.  Rachael is quite pleased at this, and in fact had reminded me early in the ride that out and backs are her favorite and wanted to know why I wasn’t including more of them on this trip.  Pretty impatient I think, since this is only our second outing.

Eastbound along High Mountain Road, from the looks of it an excellent cycling road.
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This proves to be an excellent idea.  High Mountain Road is a beaut, nearly as attractive as yesterday’s ride into Hog Canyon was.  Staying in San Luis Obispo has turned out to have been a fine choice for a short layover.

I stop for a few photos while Rachael takes advantage of the out and back by biking on ahead.  She turns back just before pavements end, and soon after we meet up again we find a wall by the side of the road to lean against while we sit in the warm sun, enjoy the views, and eat lunch.  She asks me if I saw the deer, which I didn’t; but I did get to pet a horse which was really just as cool.

On High Mountain Road.
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On High Mountain Road.
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No apple? Well, scratch my nose anyway then.
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Lunch stop - leaning against a wall in the sun, with character.
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After lunch we head back toward San Luis Obispo.  The first eight miles are fast and nearly all downhill as we drop back to the lake and the Orcutt Road.  At the lake when something catches my eye - a pelican, as it turns out - so I stop and Rachael continues, shouting out that she’ll see me when I get back to the room.

Over the next few miles I find several more reasons to stop, so I get further and further behind.  From the Garmin I see that she’s nearly a half mile ahead when I get back on Orcutt and start riding nonstop again. She’s keeping a fast pace I see, but I keep a better one and eventually she comes into view again.  I’m only about a hundred yards behind her - in earshot, really - when something else causes me to stop again and she pulls away once more.

Dropping back down High Mountain Road.
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A white pelican! Unusual to see both of our pelican species so close to each other.
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Another view along Orcutt Road.
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And one more.
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Approaching San Luis Obispo from the east, passing along a string of peaks. The nearest is Islay Hill, and I think the farthest is Cerro San Luis on the far side of town.
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Some boots, Orcutt Road.
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Two boots and a windmill.
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Bruce LellmanYesterday's rusty sign was art but these boots do not strike me in the same way.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanNo, I agree. Just two rotting cowboy boots, no big loss. The windmill is nice though, don’t you think?
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1 month ago

For dinner we head over to Giuseppi’s, a nice Italian place that we would likely have enjoyed more if there hadn’t been an hour-long wait for indoor seating.  It’s not too bad outdoors and there are space heaters, so we take a chance on it; but the wind definitely has a bite to it and drives Rachael indoors between her soup and main course, pretending she has to go to the bathroom so she can get warmed up.

She looks cold.
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Jen GrumbyBrrrrrrr! (Is that an onomatopoeia?)

Love how the heat lamp matches Rachael's jacket!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyYea, and good job with the spelling. And you’re right about the heat lamps. I hadn’t noticed that.
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1 month ago
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Ride stats today: 46 miles, 2,500’

Today's ride: 46 miles (74 km)
Total: 447 miles (719 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 9
Comment on this entry Comment 8
Kathleen ClassenSorry to hear about Rachael’s gloves. If it makes her feel any better I lost one of my favourite leather gloves yesterday…between the house and the carport. How is that even possible? I keep thinking it will turn up, but despite much searching (under the vehicle, in the umbrella stand etc.) not so far. We are both really enjoying your journey. Keith is off the bike for about six weeks recovering from hand surgery. The weather has been miserable here, so, since it had to be done, this was a good time of year for it.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Kathleen ClassenAnd my sympathies to Keith for his hand surgery. I hope he has a smooth recovery and is back in the saddle come springtime. Aren’t you two about to Poke Around Europe again?
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1 month ago
Kathleen ClassenOh we do hope so. We are hoping we don’t need to be familiar with the entire Greek alphabet before this is over!! We have no concrete plans right now, but are looking at all the possibilities. I am wanting to go so badly. We feel very fortunate to be where we are though as we work our way through this. Keith has had his booster shot, but I am still in the queue. I tried to convince them to give me my booster at the same time. I even tried out suggesting I am his caregiver but all I got was a good laugh from the gatekeeper 😂🤣😂.
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1 month ago
Suzanne GibsonWhat a beautiful ride, I am so envious!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Suzanne GibsonAs you should be. Two stellar rides in a row! I’ll bet you’re sorry you’re not living back in the good old U S of A now, huh?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Kathleen ClassenDon’t give up hope just yet. Rachael just found her missing gloves!
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1 month ago
Kathleen ClassenTo Scott AndersonI had given up hope, and then eagle eyed Keith found my glove today! I was absolutely delighted. Remember I managed to lose it between the house and the car. Jeez. I was even back out in the car with my cell phone flashlight this morning…black interior, black glove…but nope, it wasn’t there. We have a black hose coiled up for the winter in our carport and somehow it became tangled in that. It was nearly invisible but Keith spotted it, earning many brownie points 👍. Funny how such a small thing can make one happy.
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1 month ago
Rachael Andersonglad you found it! Scott frequently helps me find missing items, also.
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1 month ago