Alright, time to bust this joint! Oceano, it was nice knowin’ ya. I went on through a few shady towns before reaching Lompoc where I stopped for lunch at a cute little cafe. When I was finished eating, a young man approached me and asked, “why are you doing this?” with sincere wonder. I explained to him that I enjoy the challenge and that I want to experience beauty. He hugged me and saw me off as I continued my way toward Santa Barbara. I had a big climb ahead, one that took me farther inland than any part of my entire route. I cycled into the dry and dusty hills with old oak tree’s. During my ascent up this very large hill, I was ecstatic. I felt the power of the distance that I had covered. My smiles were contagious to the people driving the other direction, and I felt that by doing this, and by living my life in the way I felt I needed to, I was spreading happiness to those who witnessed me along my way. I gave my smiles to others, and was never depleted. Smiles are infinite!
When I reached the top of the hill, I was ready for another long and thrilling descent to reward my hard work! I cackled and yelled out as I enjoyed the ride, keeping my body as low as possible to gain as much speed as I could. It would only be a few more miles before I would reach my destination at El Capitan State Beach where my best friend Danielle (aka Dandelion), her son Isaiah, and boyfriend Ryan would be meeting me to spend a couple nights reconnecting, swimming in the ocean, and giving me a well-earned day off with someone I cherish.
We parted ways after a wonderful time together, eating delicious food and hanging out! I rode my bicycle out to Santa Barbara. This city seemed to glow in the colors of summer. Flowers everywhere and white terracotta houses against the great blue ocean. The people on the boardwalks weren’t anything short of colorful either!
The ease with which I flowed made for another pleasant day of travel. I stopped at the farmers market for lunch and headed toward Ventura. That evening I stopped at the beach to watch the sun set as I usually do, chatting with locals and riding off toward KC’s house. KC has been a close friend of my family since before I was born, and he was enthusiastic and excited to see his best friends daughter getting into the sport of cycling – my dad and his all-time favorite way to recreate. So he and his partner Gail were very kind to host me and fill my hungry belly with food and beer! KC rode with me for my first 30 miles the next day. It has been so nice to be visited while on my journey!
I ride through Malibu which is very busy without a shoulder, but by now I am used to imminent danger! I know I will get through it, just have to keep moving. The beaches are gorgeous all along the way. As a southern Californian, I often forget how accessible completely pristine and incredibly beautiful beaches there are! I am jaded by the ease I can get to all the usual spots near home.
My day ends as I wander around the bike paths in Santa Monica by the famous muscle beach and into Venice where I watched the sun set from the pier before getting to my hostel by dark to avoid the crazies. I don’t know if there is camping in this area, but I really would not even consider it! I wanted to sleep in a safe place. And it was. There was even a guard who made sure no one went upstairs into the guestrooms unless they were in fact guests. This strict enforcement made me feel locked in and safe.
I woke up the next morning before all other guests and chatted with the night guard as he cleaned the kitchen and I ate the complimentary breakfast. His name was Patrick, and I told him about my journey and showed him my route on a map. I left thinking I would never see him again – but he became my coworker this past winter at Mammoth Mountain! I intended on doing my first century this day, but the traffic was so slow-going through Los Angeles County that it was impossible. After riding through the sketchiest roads, seeing the most unhappy, and unhealthy people living on the streets, and inhaling pure smog, I finally made my way back towards nicer beaches. I breathed in the smell of salt water as I passed by Trestles and then rode into my proposed camping area at San Onofre. The campground was closed, and I couldn’t go any farther because within a mile was the entrance to the marine base, and I had no interest in attempting to be allowed to pass through when it is already dark. So I made my way down to the beach, which I am pretty sure is illegal, but hey a girls gotta sleep. I tucked my tent into the nook of a canyon in the cliffs. I was the only one on the beach besides a couple of coyotes playing together. It was so peaceful, and I was so happy for this place to be my last night on the road. It was perfect.
I packed up and rolled my bike up the hill as the sun was rising to avoid getting caught by any rangers who might like to give me a ticket, and so began my final day on this 3,000 mile human-powered journey. I greeted the frowning military man at the entrance gate to the military base. I gave him my ID, looked him in the eye, and said “Hi!” with a huge smile. He seemed slightly sickened by my happiness. I felt bad for him, he obviously is very unsatisfied in his life, and that theme rung true as I continued my ride through the base. There were no colors on the buildings or apartments. Everything was grey, industrial, and boring as hell. How could anyone be happy in that environment? There are few things we actually need to be happy, almost all of which are nonexistent on a military base… Freedom to express ourselves authentically, physical outdoor exercise, whole foods, beauty for the senses, peace, and positive relationships. Riding through here, my heart ached for the people living their lives in a way that didn’t satisfy them, and that they might not even realize there is a better way to live not far from their reach. The area felt like a prison. I was relieved to reach the exit that took me out of there before they confiscated my happiness, too.
As I left the base I rolled into the many beach towns I have been familiar with my whole life living in San Diego. I was now in my home territory, and it felt cool to have ridden so far as I did for as long as it took to reach home. I hurriedly rode to meet my Dad near San Elijo State Beach where apparently the news would be waiting and my Dad and I would ride the last 30 miles home together. When I arrived, the news asked me some questions and had my do silly things with my bike for the camera. My mom brought donuts for me, which I devoured, and my Dad and I were on our way!
After some seriously arduous miles cycling inland towards home with my first flat tire(s!) on the whole trip, we finally made it for my homecoming party! I rode up Orchard and turned onto Sunset Road, where I had spent 20 years of my life. The sounds of cowbells rang and I saw all the neighbors standing outside all along the street. Many friends and family members stood at my parents driveway, Wesley my niece, and my big sister Anne held a ribbon across the road for me to ride through like a finish line! It was a beautiful moment of love and it made me feel so happy. It is a moment I will never forget. After my finish, the champagne came out and we all enjoyed lots of chatting and hugging. What a precious memory made possible by some very special people! I’m done! Over the course of 4.5 months, I traveled 3,000 miles, covering five states all under my own human-power. Thank you for reading!
As I write this to you all, I am sitting on a porch overlooking the Pacific Ocean from the big island of Hawai’i, my stories on this new journey will be flowing in throughout the summer. Stay tuned!