Posts Tagged ‘camping’


Day 2 we planned to be one of our longer days – about 65 miles from Pismo State Beach to Gaviota State Park:


Day 2 ride – Pismo Beach to Gaviota State Park

We figured that with how nice and easy our warm up day was, and how we’re in much better shape now than during our last trip, a 65 mile day should be a picnic. Well….we were mildly mistaken. We got started quite late – in spite of waking up at roughly 6:30, we didn’t actually hit the road until 9:45. Don’t ask me what we were dillydallying with for three hours, but that’s just how long it took that day. We had a good start, easily making the first 20 or so miles into Guadalupe. We got lunch there, and after again dillydallying for over an hour, we headed back on the road. Biking after a heavy delicious lunch is SO DANG HARD. I’m one of those people that apparently requires all of my body’s attention to digest food, so after a meal I always feel incredibly lethargic and sleepy. Nevertheless, on we went. It was a beautiful day in beautiful countryside.


fields outside Guadalupe


california fields


full and content

One of my favorite things about day 2 was when we stopped by a fruit stand and bought 2lbs of strawberries. We enjoyed those suckers for days.


getting strawberries


strawberries strapped to the front of my bike :0)


grapes ripening on the vine – fall in California

About halfway through the day we started getting into some hills. Now, mind you, these were not exceptionally big hills – less than 1000 feet, for sure. Still, they were the only real hills we had during this trip, and they happened to fall on our long day. It was beautiful up in the hills, and we figured we were only a couple of hours away from being done for the day. Based on our elevation map, it looked like just two slow and easy hills, and we’d be hitting camp by 6pm.


seany’s silly face


going down!


you can’t tell, but I’m actually somewhat terrified of going down this hill

….well, we went up. And up, and up. And then down a little…..and then back up. The fog rolled in and the landscape took on a quiet, mystical air. The sun started to set. And still, there was no sign of civilization, campsite or park.


fog sets in


fog sets in

The supposed short hill turned into miles of slow uphill peddling. It got dark and cold, and the thing just kept going and going. I have to say, that it wasn’t a particularly steep hill. Once it got dark, I could barely even tell I was going uphill at all. All things considered, it wasn’t a difficult ride. But this taught me a real lesson about the importance of your state of mind. I was languishing – getting anxious and tired and overwhelmed. And most of this wasn’t due to the physical strain on my body (though, certainly, physical exhaustion was also setting in) but emotional strain on my morale. That feeling of “we must almost be there” and “I bet that’s the downhill right over that ridge”, and having that expectation shattered again and again is so disheartening. Additionally, the growing dark, the isolation, the chill of the fog seeping in – it all adds up to a feeling of extreme desolation. We started too late, we took too many breaks, and by this point it felt like we would never get there.

But, of course, we did. After biking up and up and a little down and more up up up that infernal hill for 3 hours, we finally hit the top. This was particularly exciting not only because the top of the hill meant we were a mere couple of miles from camp, but because it meant a steep downhill. I had taken my glasses off because the mist made them useless, and by this point it was completely pitch black. My bike light was partially blocked by the sleeping bag strapped to my front rack. The cherry on the sundae of this insane descent was that it was at this precise moment that the bike lane disappeared and the road we were on joined up with highway 101. So picture this – you’re on a bike weighing roughly 80 lbs. You’re partially blind because it’s dark and you can’t wear your glasses. You’re on the shoulder of a freeway speeding downhill at roughly 30mph, while your husband rides next to you so his bike light can illuminate your path.

What can I say, it was an adventure.
We arrived at camp at about 8:30, after what turned into 72 miles of biking, completely drained both physically and emotionally. Thankfully, there were hot showers and quick meals to be had. We made an instant freeze-dried dinner (which, incidentally, was delicious) which included a Shepard’s stew and chocolate cheesecake. A quick game of cards later, and we passed out at about 9:30.


Sean, planing the next day’s route


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A few weeks ago (yes, I’m quite behind on blogging about it…) Sean and I completed another section of the West Coast on bike: San Luis Obispo to the Mexican border.

We started on Thursday October 18th. Early in the morning we backed all of our bikes and camping gear into our car and drove from San Jose to San Luis Obispo (a 3 hour trip). Sean’s sister Mariah studies there, so we planned the beginning of the trip in such a way that we would be able to hang out with her for a few hours that first day.  When she headed to class in the afternoon, we attached all of our gear to our bikes, slathered on sun screen, and headed out.

us in slo

Sean and I, about to head out of San Luis Obispo

That first day we had only planned for a brief ride, knowing we wouldn’t hit the road until 3pm. The ride was from the Cal Poly campus to Pismo Beach – roughly 16 miles. We figured it would be nice to start the trip with a warm up day to make sure everything on the bikes was fine and we were set to go.


riding route – day 1


lovely spot near first camp at pismo beach


the bikes, fully-laden


lovely spot near first camp at pismo beach

The ride out of SLO was great – beautiful, easy and short. A perfect warm up. We arrived at our camp for the night at about 5pm – with plenty of time to set up camp, make dinner, and even wash our clothes. These sorts of trips we usually bring two sets of biking clothes (shorts+top) and dry the previous day’s washed clothes on our bikes as we ride. That’s why in a lot of our pictures our bikes are covered in socks and shorts and shirts – it’s an effective way to air-dry laundry, especially if it’s warm out.

In the evening, Mariah drove out to the camp to join us for dinner and hang out with us some more (we left our car with her for the week).  We had a great time just relaxing and eating copious amounts of roasted marshmallows. Camping as it should be :0).

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Sean and I are not too good with plans. We often try to squish too many plans into too short of an amount of time, and either end up exhausted and late everywhere, or just bailing on the entire thing and hanging out on the couch at home. This past weekend I had an unexpected last minute request to photograph a company picnic. Though we had already planned to go camping on this rare, free weekend, I couldn’t miss an opportunity like this. But of course, we had really been looking forward to camping, and Sean’s been jonesing for a bike trip for a while…so we decided to go ahead and do both.

The plan was this: Saturday morning, get up early and pack all of our camping gear. At 10:30, Sean would drive me up to Redwood City for the picnic. I would shoot and he would…chill…until 3pm. Then we’d drive home in record time, collect all of our belongings and bikes and magically make it to the bus stop by 4:45. We would catch the bus to Santa Cruz, get there at 5:30, grab dinner to go, and bike 20 miles down the coast with all out gear. We would make it to camp by 8:30, hopefully still in twilight. We would then take our time putting up the tent and have dinner. The following morning we’d get up at 7am (Ha!), pack up, and bike all the way back to Santa Cruz in time for the 11am church service. Then we’d grab coffee or lunch, hang out for a bit, and take an early afternoon bus back home.  Easy Peasy. Right?

Well, it only *sortof* went like that. The part about getting ready in the morning went off well enough, mostly because Sean did all of the packing and prepping, while I got my gear, my outfit, and my brains together for the photography gig. We’ve gotten a lot better about storing our camping stuff in such a way that it’s pretty well organized and easy to pack up (or perhaps it seemed that way to me, because Sean did most of the packing). The photography event went well, though I didn’t take into consideration what effect the combination of a warm, sunny day, a long-sleeved black outfit, and walking around taking pictures for three hours would have on me. I was exhausted – not a good way to start a camping trip.

By the time we got home it was after 4. I had to import my photos, finish packing my stuff, randomly stuffing bits of food in my mouth. At about 4:35, we were still unsure about where we’d make the bus or not. We decided to go for it after too much waffling, stuffing our heavy-laden bicycles one at a time into the elevator. We live on the third floor, and carrying our bikes down the stairs normally isn’t an issue, but when they are laden with camping gear it is quite a different story. We hussled our butts to the transit center a mere half mile away, only to watch our bus pull away from the curb.


The next bus wasn’t for another hour.  By the time we made it to Santa Cruz, grabbed a subway sandwich, realized we forgot a memory card for our camera at home (D’oh!) and decided not to buy a new one, it was about 7pm. It was also cold, and completely overcast – we were losing light fast.

It’s hard to describe the exhilaration of bike touring: the freedom of being on a bike, the knowledge that you have everything necessary for survival with you, knowing you can’t stop until you get to your destination. It got dark *fast*. My light was barely enough to see a few feet in front on me, so I was left blindly following Sean’s blinky red light in the distance, careening around corners,  hoping there was nothing in the road, trusting his lead and the bike beneath me. The thick mist was more of a drizzle, so even my glasses were put away, useless. it was pitch black, without streetlights in some places. Terrifying, and exciting.

It’s amazing how much of a difference 40 lbs of weight makes in the ease of a bike ride. On a regular day, Sean and I can make 20 miles in 1.5 hours – this took us 3. All my muscles were burning and screaming, my stomach growling, my whole body turned into some sort of angry hungry animal. I may have cursed the hilliness of Santa Cruz more than once.

When we finally got to the campsite, it was 10:30 and cold. Sean set up the tent, I made “dinner”. We absolutely demolished a subway sandwich, a large beer, two grilled cheeses and two mini pies.  We passed out cold sometime around midnight.

The following morning, when the alarm went off at 7am, we both groaned, said “forget it” and fell back asleep. We rolled out of the tent at about 9, had breakfast, went for a long walk n the beach. It was a much needed peaceful respite, a necessary prize for all the effort of the previous day. Turns out that that particular beach, halfway between Santa Cruz and Monterey, is some sort of sand dollar habitat. Funny to think about it, but sand dollars are in fact critters, alive (and fuzzy!) and the parts of them that we pick up on a beach are their corpses, cleaned off by flies and gnats. Ok, so it’s not “haha funny”…At any rate, I tossed the ones that looked still alive back in the water, and collected any that were still whole, but obviously just shells of their former selves.

We packed up an headed out at about 1. The ride back was so much easier (turns out it was mostly uphill on the way there), in the sunny Sunday daylight, everything seemed happy and easy. We passed through quintessential  California towns, full of bikini-ed girls and dudes toting surfboards. We got some legendary Pleasure Pizza. We made good time into Santa Cruz, and spent a while hanging out at our favorite coffee shop, playing cards and relaxing.

It was all as it should be.

And that, my friends, is how you do a weekend :0)

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