To San Luis Obispo - Winterlude 2021 - CycleBlaze

December 8, 2021

To San Luis Obispo

So let’s keep this brief.  How much do we want to read about another 6 hour drive in a steel box?  Not much, I’m sure.  Its foggy when we get up and will remain so well into the day.  The ride plan is to drive down the coast - we’ll take 101 to San Francisco and then 1 south the rest of the way, with a stop to stretch the legs at Point Lobos south of Carmel-by-the-Sea.  We let the GPS do the navigating for us, which is great from a sanity and safety perspective but it lets you disengage your mind from where you’re going - all the way from Petaluma to Monterey Bay the traffic is dense and fast moving so I’m not really concentrating on anything but the drive itself, other than conversation and listening to more favorite CD’s we haven’t heard for ages (today: Miles Davis/Porgy and Bess; Brandi Carlisle; Joni Mitchell/Ladies of the Canyon).  You’re just following an instruction set and keeping your eyes on the road and traffic.  Looking back now I’m embarrassed to say I wasn’t even aware of the actual route, or that the huge bridge we crossed was the Golden Gate.  Really, to see anything you have to get out of that comfortable steel box.  

Which we do, for about an hour and a half at Point Lobos.  It’s wonderful, a beautiful spot with so much to see and experience.  We could have made a whole day of it there if we didn’t still have a significant drive ahead.

There are so many attractions at Point Lobos, but the Monterey Cypress forest is near the top of my list.
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In Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.
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In Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.
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Many of the cypresses nearest the water are coated with this brilliant orange growth. I was thinking it was lichen but it’s a green algae, Trentepohlia aurea. It has worldwide distribution and thrives along sea coasts, so this must be what we’ve seen before in Tasmania and other places. The orange color comes from its carotene pigments.
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Labeled ‘the crown jewel of the California state park system, Point Lobos is very popular and close enough to San Francisco that it is often very crowded. We’re lucky to be enjoying it at an unusually quiet time.
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In Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.
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A plant I’m curious about. Ideas?
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I’m not sure if white is its natural color or if it’s mildewing.
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Bill ShaneyfeltMight be Dudleya farinosa.

https://debraleebaldwin.com/succulent-plants/about-dudleyas/
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1 month ago
Andrea BrownTo Bill ShaneyfeltI was just going to toss off that it was some kind of sedum, but you are absolutely right. I didn’t know a thing about this plant, so the linked article was really amazing and disheartening that people are poaching these unique plants. That they will almost certainly die when planted in unsuitable spots adds tragedy to outrage.
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1 month ago
In Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.
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In Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.
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Image not found :(
In Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.
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For the Alphabet Quest: Neatly Ordered Pelicans.
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There were many times today that I wished I had one of those huge lenses along, but the one I have is at least a great improvement over the naked eye. These noisy sea lions and the green wall on an offshore rock were just a blur of color until I zoomed in on them.
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Another spot I’d have liked a more powerful zoom - five or six oystercatchers were sloping on a reef just offshore. Frustrating that none of them would look up and flash it’s brilliant orange dagger-like beak.
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I was surprised to see a paintbrush still in bloom, and was apparently just lucky today. This was the only one I saw in the whole walk.
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And what’s this, if you don’t mind telling me?
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Bill ShaneyfeltAs usual, these yellow many-petal flowers gave me fits, but I'm going to say possibly seaside woolly sunflower.

http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/carr/ofp/eri_sta.htm
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1 month ago

With another three hours ahead of us, we’re back on the road at about one.  We’re driving down Big Sur, something we’ve biked together once and I’ve ridden solo two other times but I’ve never driven.  We want to allow time for frequent stops, but we only take a few; and even though we expect only a three hour drive it takes four and a half and we don’t arrive at our motel until after dark.

Two reasons there aren’t more photos, even though this coastline is jaw-droppingly amazing for sixty miles.  One is that seeing it from a car is just too unsatisfying - it all moves past too quickly, and you’re limited by where you can pull off.   The bicycle must be the perfect way to experience it, and today would have been a brilliant day to be on a bike and in fact we did see four or five bikers loaded down with panniers today.  I would love to bike it again someday, but I doubt I’d drive it again.

Another reason though is that I’m out of practice driving and still new to the Raven, and I don’t notice our gas situation until we’re about twenty miles north of Lucia and I finally notice the gauge is nearing the red zone.  We’re in a cell coverage dead zone off and on so we can’t tell how far we are from the nearest gas station, but once we finally get service we learn that the nearest one ahead of us for certain is sixty miles away in Cambria, but there’s also allegedly a Shell in a tiny unnamed development about eight miles behind us.  We must have just passed it when I noticed we had an issue.

So of course I turn back.  On the way there the low fuel alert comes on and announces I have 40 miles left but I know it’ll be less than that on this twisting, hilly snake of a road.  It’s a huge relief when we find the Shell station open, not visible from the road.  We wouldn’t have known it was even there without our GPS.  And we’re more than happy to fork over the $6/gallon they’re charging for their service in this remote location.

When we leave the station we see a tiny hand painted sign in the brush by the road that says the next gas station is 40 miles away.  They might get more business with a more prominent sign.  For the record though, the 40 mile warning is accurate - the next station is in Gorda, and after that there’s not another until Cambria.  If we’d known about the one in Gorda we could have gone forward to it, and we might have made it there.

The Bixby Bridge, one of the iconic viewpoints along Big Sur. There’s a small traffic jam in the road from people trying to pull off to get their shot. When we came back to the car, we find that someone had parked right behind us, blocking us in.
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Bill ShaneyfeltQuite a viewpoint! Stopped and looked around there with my daughter a few years back.
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1 month ago
Along Big Sur. It’s a beautiful day and time of day to be here, with an interesting sky and lighting.
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Along Big Sur. On a day like this you could take a thousand shots, but this isn’t the time for it. Before I die I’ll come back with the bike and go through slowly again.
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Along Big Sur.
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Along Big Sur.
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But that’s not the end of the fun for the day.  About 20 miles north of Cambria the Raven throws up a different alert, one I’ve never seen before.  It’s telling me there’s a problem with my tire pressure.  And now that it’s pointed it out, the ride does feel soft.  It’s a very anxious next 20 miles as I worry about what the issue is and if we’re slowly flattening.  There are more spectacular temptations to stop for, but we’re not biting.If I have a slow leak I’m just praying we get to the station in time.

Which we do.  The Raven’s right, and the tires are all low - especially the two on the right.  I doubt that they’ve seen fresh air since we left Arizona, eight months ago.  Something to remember when we pick up the car from Elizabeth after our next long absence.    it makes me very grateful to be driving  newer car that’s smarter than I am.  Ravens are so intelligent!

We’ll be in San Luis Obispo for three nights, so we should see some biking in the next two days.  It’s about time.

Thai food tonight! And an IPA, for those who’ve been hoping to see one. The Union Jack, from Firestone Walker Brewing Company in nearby Paso Robles.
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Graham FinchMaking me thirsty!
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1 month ago
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