Thumbs up and happy smiles

Thumbs up and happy smiles

Another week just went by since my last post, it’s amazing how time flies. Leaving Santa Barbara was particularly hard, the city was so beautiful, my hosts really interesting and their house absolutely gorgeous. I also had a chance to have dinner with Barry, who I had met in Sausalito and then in San Francisco.

The County Courthouse, from where you get a 360° view
The view
Beautiful architecture
Lewis and Marianne, who generously hosted well over a hundred cyclists over the years
View from their house

The riding has been much easier and it felt great. After almost 6 months, I don’t seem to question my capacity to do my day’s ride anymore, it just happens, one pedal stroke at a time.

One of many bike paths

From Santa Barbara, it felt like I started the urban home stretch towards San Diego. Riding in urban areas has its own challenges. More traffic, more noise and the need to navigate. More than once, I missed a perfectly fine bike path and ended up on the freeway!

That is a busy road!

It also involves a lot of stopping at red lights, which breaks the momentum but generally it wasn’t has difficult as I had thought.  Except around Malibu: every cyclist I talked to agreed that this was the worst section of the whole Pacific Coast. And I got there when it was pouring rain, and I could hardly see anything.  Oh well, I survived and made it to Santa Monica, my entry point into LA.

LA: a huge city!

Once again, I expected people in the big cities to be harder to connect with but once again I was wrong and experienced a lot of kindness. Once I was waiting at a red light and a pedestrian walked by. Without even saying hi, she said: “I can’t believe you are doing this alone! Where did you start?” I told her and she said: “Oh I am so happy I got to meet you, and so glad you are safe and happy!”.  It is just a small thing, but it feels so nice, to connect with people, to get this kind of support. Over the last few days, so many people gave me the thumbs up, wished me a good ride or waived. It was heart warming.

I chatted with these friendly cyclists on their eBikes

And here is another one: when I got into LA, I was a little lost and was trying to find my route on my phone. Right way, a guy walked out of his bike shop to ask me if I needed directions.  How nice is that?

Lots of people playing volleyball
More bike paths with more palm trees!

Shortly after, I arrived at the Youth Hostel, where the staff was also super friendly.  A few guests came to talk to me, it was awesome to see that not everybody was on their phone and antisocial. I also bumped into Julie and Imka, the 2 Quebecers that I had met a few weeks ago!

Bad weather: only crazy cyclists are out

I spent the next 2 nights in Hollywood. Barry and Susan were my super nice hosts and another cyclist, Sven from Germany, was also there. Sven had communicated with me months ago through my blog, and finally after all these months we ended up at the same place, by chance. He has been traveling for a loooong time and it was inspiring to hear his stories. From there I walked the Walk of Fame, went to the Griffiths Observatory and the Getty Museum.

Susan and Barry, super Warmshowers hosts
With Sven
Walk of Fame
Kiss, my first favourite band (as a 4 year old)
It was fun to see some names that I had forgotten (or not): New Kids on the Block, Patrick Swayze, apparently even Shrek as a star!
The Griffiths Observatory. Pretty amazing.
If you think storms are bad on Earth, try one on the sun!
Foucault’s pendulum
Periodic table
Including an example of what each element is used for
The Observatory was pretty cool
The garden at the Getty Museum
I was fascinated by these books, handwritten/painted
I loved to see some of the famous paintings

That one was my favourite
Cacti on a terrace, with a view of LA in the background
Beautiful buildings: the Getty

There is so much to do there, I could easily have stayed a few more days. I was surprised by how easy it was to ride my bike in this huge, busy city. But one day I took the bus and as I tried to figure out how to pay for the bus ride, I realized that I needed a TAP card, that you refill in the bus as needed. It was going to be a bit complicated to find one, until a man handed me his, without even saying a word.

Another angel.

Ahhhhh, I get it now:  Los Angeles!!!

Laf also made a friend
I never get tired of palm trees
Another day is over

From LA, I often rode along the beach on bike paths. Luckily I was once again able to find Warmshowers hosts as camping options are pretty limited. One night, my hosts took me an another cyclist kayaking.

Ken and Kenny, who took me kayaking
Kayaking at Long Beach
Alvin is a dog… just in case you wonder

And yesterday, I fell in love with a town called Laguna Beach. A little gem in the middle of busy Southern California. This town is full of art galleries, one of my favourite places to spend time. I like it because of the beautiful artwork but also because most of the owners usually have time to chat and have interesting stories to tell.

One of many beautiful houses

I chatted with one owner who came from Croatia, another one who grew up right around Laguna Beach, and the last one I visited was owned by a woman who had many paintings from an artist from Quebec called Martin Beaupré. She told me a bit more about him, and then she got really interested in my journey. She was just the loveliest woman, so concerned about my safety but also excited for me, to the point where she “had to give me something”.  She grabbed a cute little painting that she had made and gave it to me. I left her gallery with a big smile, and not only because she thought I was a teenager!

I really like Martin Beaupré’s paintings
The painting that I received from Lu Martin

I could have stayed much longer, but had an ice cream meeting with Sam, Julie and Imka.

Seriously delicious ice cream

That night we were all staying with Ryan, who ended up with 6 cyclists in his small but beautiful house!

Ryan, one of the most enthusiastic Warmshowers host I met!
We spent part of the evening listening to old songs from the 80’s. Ryan and I are the same age…

Tomorrow is my last day of riding before I fly back to Canada to take a break. I definitely plan to continue this journey to Argentina. It’s been just amazing.

But I still have a few more days to explore San Diego and start processing and absorbing all these extraordinary moments…

Only one day left

Today’s last words?

9 thoughts on “Thumbs up and happy smiles

    1. Salut Catherine! J’ai adoré te lire! Tes aventures m’ont fait rêver et même donné la piqûre pour le vélo. Cet été j’ai commencé à aller au travail en vélo (18km incluant le pont Jacques Cartier) et j’ai hâte de recommencer au printemps. Bonne pause (plus que méritée) et je reste dans l’attente de pouvoir te relire quand tu reprendras la route! À bientôt xx

  1. Je vais manquer beaucoup tes ”blog” et les superbes photos qui les accompagnaient.
    Tu as été un exemple de force mental pour mes jeunes.
    Merci, bon retour et à bientôt.

  2. Hi Cat,
    it feels so good to read your blog. Can’t wait until cycle from the Canadian border to Mexican border next year. Have a goot time and relax in Canada.
    Reiner from Germany

  3. Allo Catherine – toutes mes félicitations pour cet accomplissement hors du commun. À lire ton blog et voir ton enthousiasme au gré des km parcourus et des rencontres humaines nous donnent le goût de partir ou de devenir “warmshowers host” 🙂
    Bon retour, à bientôt

  4. Keep eating ice cream my friend. Look forward to following the next segment in the near future. Thanks for inspiring me! Barry

  5. Huge congrats and keep eating ice cream my friend. I’m looking forward to following your next part of the adventure in the near future. Thanks for inspiring me!

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