Murder in the Big Sur

Murder in the Big Sur

Many days have passed since I last updated my blog.  The Californian Coast still has some wilder areas where cell coverage and internet are non-existant!

Wild Coast

I am now in Santa Barbara, a beautiful town with a definite latin feel, and about 400 km from the Mexican border, where I will take a break and fly back to Canada for some time. As mentioned before, the journey has been incredible and so full of amazing moments, views and encounters that I need to take time off to absorb it all and get ready for the next leg. I thought about it for a while, but see so many benefits in doing it in “chapters” and very few disadvantages, other than I won’t be able to say “I rode the Americas non-stop”…

The area has a lot of farm lands. I rode along strawberry, Brussel sprouts, pumpkin and celery fields, amongst others
This is where a lot of our fruits and veggies come from!
Sometimes I felt like sitting in the fields and eating the crops

Since I last wrote a blog post, I left San Francisco, and enjoyed watching people surfing early in the morning, before they went to work.  What a lifestyle!

My Warmshowers hosts in San Francisco gave me a free pass to the De Young museum
The SUP ancestor
View from the De Young museum tower. Too bad it was foggy as you get a 360° view of San Francisco.
My WS hosts told me about this funky fish shop. All I can say is I am glad I am not a fish.
Supper with WS hosts Heidi and Martin, with another cyclist from Quebec

It was a foggy morning, but a nice ride to reach the lighthouse at Pigeon Point, where I stayed at the Youth Hostel. The wind was cold, but it was a treat to watch the ocean knowing I could retreat to a warm room for the night.

Foggy morning
Lots of beautiful beaches
Pigeon Point Youth Hostel
The lighthouse

The next day took me to Santa Cruz, a beautiful town with a farmers’ market, lots of little cafés and more surfers. The Californian Coast started to be a little more gentle, with less of those never-ending short but steep ups and downs, and I started enjoying my rides a lot more. I even started singing again…

Colourful flowers along the road
Anybody knows what these are called?
Once the fog lifted…

The next town, Monterey, was certainly one of the Californian highlights. The town is pretty, but its aquarium is absolutely world-class. I spent a whole day there, it was fascinating. I also reconnected once again with Mark who had gone ahead of me while I was enjoying a few extra days in San Francisco.

Monterey is where Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row” was set
The jellies were my favourite critters at the aquarium
It’s relaxing to watch them
Some look like delicate necklaces
Nature is fascinating. Watching the animals reminded me why I became a biologist.
A tank full of jellies, moving slowly and gracefully
Ocean or space?
Nature’s art gallery
They also had penguins, otters, fish, sharks, birds, octopus, etc.
And artwork!
Corals and anemones
I felt like snorkelling in these tanks!
They looked pretty friendly

From there, we entered the Big Sur. A wilder coast, with few services, but whatever services there are come at a high price… I stopped for coffee one morning: $4.75 (US) for a drip coffee. Needless to say, I didn’t get one. The place was called Gorda (“fat” in Spanish), so I thought maybe it refers to the bill you get when you buy something there.

Picture of a table top in a café in Moss Landing

It was a lovely road, even in the fog. I can just imagine what it would be like on a sunny day. It also reminded me how much I enjoy the wilderness, and memories of riding the Dalton Highway came back and made me smile.

Cloudy but still nice
The fog gives the scenery a mystical feel
Up above the ocean
No horizon
Peaceful morning ride
I enjoyed listening to the waves crashing as I rode along the coast
Near the Plaskett Creek campground

The first night in the Big Sur, Mark arrived at the campground telling me: “Hey Cat, look what I found!”  It was Sam, who I hadn’t seen in a while. I was glad to have company as it gets dark shortly after 5 now, which makes everybody want to go to bed ridiculously early. Mark sponsored us some firewood and we spent the evening chatting by a campfire.

8000 km, or roughly 5000 miles

That night, I woke up around 3:30 to the voices of Mark and Sam. Sam had gotten up to answer nature’s call, just as Mark was woken up by a critter that was crawling under his tent. Sam came to the rescue, and together they managed to chase the critter away, but it quickly ran towards my tent. Seconds later, a felt something moving under my mattress. Half asleep and not knowing what it was, I immediately got into “DLP” mode (Defence of Life and Property): I didn’t want a rodent to chew a hole in my tent to get to my food (which was actually stored in a metal container away from my tent). I grabbed my shoe and hit the floor in the general area where the movement came from. The movement stopped, so I thought I had spooked the intruder away, and went back to sleep after I laughed a few times recalling the scene.

But when I woke up in the morning, and packed my gear, I saw the motionless intruder where my tent had been. First I laughed, thinking it was going to run away now, but then realized that I had killed it and felt really bad. Of course, that was just one more excuse for Mark and Sam to tease me. At least they knew what would happen if they tried to get into my tent! I felt bad and ashamed all day thinking about the cute little mole that I had murdered.

The mole
Sunset in Morro Bay
Morry Bay
Leaving Morro Bay in the morning
I met these friendly ladies at the Visitor Centre in Pismo Beach. They warned me about a short but very steep hill ahead. I cockily thought, “Pffff… how bad could it be”. Well, they were RIGHT! My ego deflated as I pushed my bike up the hill.
Riding on flat roads for a while was delightful
Los Alamos is a cute little village on the way to Santa Barbara
It reminded me of Dawson City!
Boom town/Far West look
And now on a big highway!
Stunning views as I approached the coast again
Busy road but nice shoulder
The pier at Gaviota State Park
Sam and Mark jumped in. Cat didn’t.
Sunset at Gaviota Beach

The 3 of us spent a few more days together. We all rode alone most of the time but spent our evenings at the same spots. I couldn’t have asked for better travel companions. Mark is now on his way to finish his journey in San Diego, Sam will leave Santa Barbara today also on his way to San Diego, while I plan to enjoy one more day in this beautiful city. I have more time than I need to reach San Diego. And who knows, we may meet again!

Mark and Sam, best travel companions! Thank you guys!

Today’s final words…


10 thoughts on “Murder in the Big Sur

  1. Having ridden my bike this very section over 25 times, I appreciate your blog in that it reminds me how lucky I am. In my humble estimation, Big Sur is one of the four great rides in the world, the others being the east Adriatic coast, San Carlos de Bariloche to Puerto Montt, and the middle Chilean coast.

  2. Quelle belle citation pour terminer ce blog que j’ai adoré. Tes photos de l’aquarium sont tout simplement magnifiques.
    À bientôt!!

  3. Bariloche, Puerto Montt, tu vas adorer.

    Et moi, en attendant, je vais te préparer un bon café.. gratissss…..

    A bientôt à Québec


  4. Cat, so many beautiful places and people you have met so far along your journey. Glad to hear that you have come to a decision that you are happy with, and it will be great to see you soon!

  5. Quel beau récit avec des descriptions colorées et des photos qui nous donnent envie d’aller ces endroits. Ne te sent pas coupable pour le taupe. J’en ai plusieurs que ravaude dans mon jardin et je voudrais bien avoir ton soulier magique pour qu’ils s’éloignent. Mon jardin ressemblait à une passoire avec tous ces tunnels.

  6. Allo Catherine
    Santa Barbara. Quelle belle ville c’était, en 1985! Maintenant, elle est peut-être toujours aussi belle, malgré ses puits de pétrole, au large …
    Il te reste tellement de beaux lieux à visiter jusqu’à San Diego!
    Cette côte, que j’ai parcourue , à moto comme en auto, m’a charmé à chaque fois. Ça vaut la peine de s’arrêter de temps en temps pour observer la mer, les surfeurs, la plage, tout ce qui est important, quoi!
    Dans le temps circulaient quelques “bumper stickers” rigolos dont un lu sur une planche de surf, qui disait (en américain, bien sûr): Il n’y a rien d’important à l’est de la 5.
    Profite bien de cette portion de ton voyage.

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