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Day 234-241, 2-9March 09. Back on the bike, LA to San Diego. Jai Ho!

March 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Trip reports

2nd March 2009: LA – Lomita via Santa Monica, 50km

The Sarraseca family, LAWe spent one more day and night with Claudia and Diego, watched our new favourite movie, Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire (Jai Ho! became our new motto :)) and then we headed out again. We wanted to start again, where we had been picked up by Diego, so we actually first went North-west, back to Santa Monica.

It took us about 20km right through Los Angeles, which simply confirmed itself to be a rather ugly place.

Felix and Ivana, LANot that we ever felt any danger (besides from ridiculously oversized trucks and SUV’s of course), most of the people on the streets were very friendly. But the roads are a mess (especially for such a car-centred society), trees and parks missing, and houses and streets dirty.

It reminded us more of something we had seen in developing countries than one of the most important cities of the USA.

Only when approaching the coast, the houses got cleaner again and the areas greener. We enjoyed the Sushi buffet one more time and headed down the coastline.

The weather was great again and we walked down the Venice Beach boulevard, receiving some small gifts and encouragements from the street vendors, the homeless and the neo-hippies. The route stayed nice, following the nearly deserted beaches all the time.

Venice Beach boulevardThe spirit of Venice Beach

5 March: Lomita – Newport Beach, 60km

We had stayed two nights in Lomita, with a special host. Nepalese-born Shamu is the father of Japhy (Jeff), who is also cycling down from the US to Argentina. Just this same week, he had stayed with Ivana’s father and with her mother, both living close to each other in the San Juan province of Argentina, on the other side of the planet.

So while Jeff’s father was taking care of us, Ivana’s family was taking care of his son even though none of us had ever met before. That is the great thing about the hospitality of the CouchSurfing and WarmShowers hosts.  Shamu also introduced us to one of his friends, who not only took us for a nice walk on the Redondo beach, but also taught us a lot about hydro culture and natural foods. Oh, and we watched Slumdog Millionaire again :)

Captain Bueno and son Jake, Newport BeachThe section through Lomita and Long Beach was one of the most horrible so far, traffic wise, with no shoulders and thousands of trucks, but soon enough we were along the beach again, where the wind blew us swiftly past kite-surfers towards Newport Beach.

We had contacted Harry Barton through CouchSurfing but when we told him that we would stay for one night only, he stressed that he did not live near the beach, but on the beach :)

We ended up staying a few nights with ‘Captain Bueno’ (his LA radio alter ego from the 70’s) and his kids and enjoyed talking about politics, technology, travel and life in general, while catching up with work and blogs.

8th March, Newport Beach – Carlsbad, 80km

Ghost Bike memorialWe kept cycling close to the beach on another hot winter day. Just before entering the Military Zone (where cyclist can pass through as long as they have ID and a helmet and arrive before about 1500 hrs), we passed a strange sight: dozens of drinking bottles and a bike frame and –jersey were hung on the side of the road, a tragic memorial to a killed cyclist.

(edit: Steve Stuart send me the following correction/addition: “To clarify – it was a memorial but the the cyclist was the owner of a bike shop in San Clemente just north of there. He wasn’t “killed” but had a heart attack and passed away when riding at that spot.  Your description sounded like a car hit him and I thought this was a little less depressing. At least he passed doing what he loved.”)

A bit further down the road we met a German biketraveller. Kris had just gone up from South America.

German biketraveller heading NorthHe had his camera robbed in Colombia, when some girl pretended she was interested in him. It caused such an outrage and shame when the local TV and radio found out that he got donated a new camera and he got new lenses almost free as well…

Somehow we managed to miss the right entrance of the military zone and suddenly found ourselves on the broad shoulder of the busy Interstate 5. Cycling was actually allowed here as besides the army zone, there is no other road.

At least it got us into Oceanside quickly, where we found ourselves arriving in Redneck Heaven; what had happened to all the nice little beach towns? It was a mess on the street and every car seemed to have extra exhaust pipes for extra noise, oversized tires, loud paintings, darkened windows and even louder music. I wanted to ask the drivers if they were born stupid or raised that way, but probably none of them never even saw me (or anything else with those windows), so I had to let them off the hook.

Maybe it was just the influence of the military bases nearby, as fortunately the atmosphere improved considerably when approaching Carlsbad and that evening we found ourselves in a nice house behind a huge plate of delicious lasagne and salad, prepared by bike advocate Steve and his wife.

9 March 2009: Carlsbad – San Diego, 60km

My knee was doing the same as before: quite ok during cycling, but afterwards it was hard to walk and only ice and NSAIDS (anti inflammatories) relieved. Before reaching San Diego, we had a few hills to climb, but they did not pose too many problems. The many small towns on the way looked nice, we were really getting into the surf-and-relax area.

Our guidebook managed to show us the way through the busier suburbs like La Jolla. On one very busy uphill road, a car was parked on the bike lane, with the driver still sitting inside. I honked my horn several times, but he just waved in the direction of the busy road where cars were passing non-stop at 50miles per hour. As I was barely going 10% of that, overtaking would mean suicide…

So I had no choice but to climb up the sidewalk. Normally I let things like these go, but I felt angry and tapped his window, which he lowered after a while.

“Excuse me, but what part of ‘No Parking, Bike Lane’ you don’t understand?” I asked him, pointing at the signs.

“Eh, I, I am not from around here..” he stumbled, which made me angrier.

“So you also do not stop for STOP or other signs here?”. He did not know what to say and just looked straight ahead.

“I am sorry, I am not from around here…” is all that he could utter, at which point I thought it would be wiser for both of us to just go and continue the climb…

Finally, San Diego

Ivana, San DiegoAfter more than 8000km/5000miles of cycling (of which 3000km in the Lower 48), we entered San Diego.

We arrived from the North West, first alongside nice beaches of Mission Bay, then along a busy road and finally a long shared walking/biking path alongside Harbour Drive. SD is situated nicely along some pretty bays and peninsulas, the weird thing is that the airport is exactly in the middle of several popular (and populous) neighbourhoods and every 2-3 minutes a jet would fly over the hills of Balboa Park, drop down quickly and land between a few highways. An accident waiting to happen and definitely not good for anybody’s health.

We worked our way up the steep hills of Broadway until we found the house of Daniel Wolf. We only stayed with him for a night, but he was the first of a few interesting hosts that would help make San Diego feel like home, a last stop before heading into the great unknown called Mexico…

1000 Americans: Steve Stuart, cycling teacher, Carlsbad, USA

March 9, 2009 by  
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Steven Stuart, Carlsbad

Steven Stuart is a teacher, and as he does not want to take away family time for keeping in shape, he gets up early every morning and cycles an extra hour to get to his work.

“High school chemistry teacher, sport rider,bike commuter, occasional cycle tourist, outrigger canoe paddler/racer, general outdoor travel and ocean enthusiast. Wife and 3 kids at home. Often times a pick up game of volleyball or basketball next door in afternoons.” (from his profile at WarmShowers.org)

1000 Americans: Harry ‘Captain Bueno’ Barton, Newport Beach

March 8, 2009 by  
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Captain Bueno, Newport Beach

Harry used to host a radio show in LA in the 70s, being ‘Captain Bueno’. Coming from very humble beginnings, learning at 12 schools in 12 years, he worked his way up to the highest corporate executive positions and financial levels and has friends of all kinds.

Now he is back where his roots are, enjoying the simple life on the beach.

1000 Americans: Shamu Dhungana, Lomita, USA

March 5, 2009 by  
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Shamu, Lomita, USA

Shamu Dhungana was born in Nepal, but moved to the US later and is now helping Nepalese immigrants with the many legal papers.

(His son is currently also cycling from Alaska to Argentina, see http://www.transformundo.com )

1000 Americans: Michael Fuselier, Las Vegas

February 27, 2009 by  
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Michael Fuselier, Las Vegas

Michael works in a bar in the Downtown area of Las Vegas, so his ‘daily’ schedule is more nightly… Once his kids graduate, he is planning to travel and hit the road again…

He is also is the CouchSurfing city ambassador for Las Vegas and he knows a lot about the city. Even though he ad his father visiting, he still hosted and we had a great time with both of them, even convincing his father Tony that Couchsurfers can be fun and interesting people 😉

1000 Americans: Kourtney & Brian, San Francisco

February 4, 2009 by  
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Kourtney and Brian

Kourtney & Brian (and the cuddly cat) work from their home office in the nice Fillmore area, renting out offices to companies worldwide. The time they save on commuting is spent on more work, but they also like to travel and see the world.

KP had contacted us through our the contact form and it was a pleasure to stay with them for a few days. They are a positive and generous couple and we enjoyed their first CouchSurfing with them :)

1000 Americans: Kim & Nate, San Francisco

January 15, 2009 by  
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Kim and Nate

Nate & Kim enjoy life, and are avid Couchsurfers, having hosted dozens of travellers. Kim is also known as DJ Kimpo, spinning the nights away…

Currently they are on a round the world trip, read their reports and see their images on http://www.anotherfuckingtravelblog.com/

The photo above was taken in the Yerba Buena Museum, one of the few museums they took us to.

Day 152-160, 10-18 Dec 2008: Breaking a knee in steep California: from Red Woods to a Golden Gate…

December 20, 2008 by  
Filed under California, North America, Trip reports, USA

We had camped in the cold Redwoods & enjoyed the rest of the Avenue of the Giants leisurely. After no more than 35km we ended up in Redway, where we called Johnny, our host for the night for directions to his home and he picked us up and took us far into the curvy hills.

He told us how basically everybody in the entire county was somehow involved in the growing of marijuana, either for ‘medical’ or for business reasons, and that even the local radio had special announcements when ‘the helicopter’ would be on patrol.

This got confirmed by Todd, our host for the next night and was amazing to hear as we thought that with the ‘war on drugs’ and all, easy targets (like very citizen in a 50 mile radius) would be focused on first, but apparently it was just part of life here.

We had been told about Todd by our friend Kristen from Vancouver, who had cycled and met him here a few years ago. But before we could sit down at the fire and listen to his stories we had two encounters.

1000 Americans: Dakota & his horsesWhen going slowly uphill I noticed some fresh looking scat on the side of the road. It didn’t really look like Grizzly material and I thought we had left the wildest bear country by now.

Soon I saw more and with the sun in my face, I viewed a dark shape halfway up the hill. Even though I was only going about 8km/hr (5mph), it was the first thing I encountered on a hill that was slower than me and soon I caught up with a strange sight: A large wooden horse cart, pulled by 3 horses -with a 4th on the side- was slowly making its way up the hill, completely blocking one of the two lanes.

An old man with was standing proud. he was not too friendly and didn’t say much, but I found out that his name was Dakota and he had been travelling like this for 25 years, all west of the Mississippi…

Ivana summits Legget HillOur next encounter was with a dreaded place: the Leggett Hill. Actually it was much easier than feared beforehand, steep but constant, narrow, but zero traffic. We did not have to walk and Ivana arrived at the pass as well without much problem.

A Short downhill later we arrived at a level part, called Haley’s Grove, where we spent the night inside a trailer. Read about our chance meeting with Todd here on 1000 Americans.

12-14 Dec: Breaking a knee and viewing a lion between Hales Grove – Jenner, via Mendocino. 74km + 78km + 70km. Plus 3km  up and down..

A long downhill through the woods brought us back to the coast, but there was one more surprise, the Rockport Hill. When going up, my knee started hurting and we both pushed up several parts as it was too steep in places.

Steep roads on the hills of the california Coast. Phot by Ivana

Steep roads on the hills of the california Coast. Photo by Ivana

Back at the California coast, the road kept on oscillating between sea level and a few hundred meters above it for the next days. In 5 days we had climbed more than 5000m, so 1km vertical per day. My knee started hurting more, even on the flatter parts and at the end of the day I could barely walk as my knee would not bend.

Probably the best thing to do would be to rest or see a doctor, but we were on the ‘Lost Coast’, far away from any medical assistance. Besides, we were only a few days from San Francisco, se we decided to continue and seek help there. Also, not only my knee was bad, our multi-charger had broken down and I had no more batteries for my cameras, which made me feel even more handicapped than the fact that I stumbled more than I walked…

We had stayed with Barry in Mendocino, who was about to embark on his own bicycle trip. as happens often with our hosts, he called some friends, Chuck & Maria, to ask them if we could stay with them the next night. Some hours before we arrived, I was waiting on the side of the road for Ivana to catch up so I could point out a large group of deer, when a car pulled over.

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1000 Americans: Doug Henningsen, Sausalito

December 19, 2008 by  
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1000 Americans: Doug Henningsen, Sausalito

Some people are Couchsurfers without evening knowing it and Doug is a great example. he contacted us through the contact form on WorldOnaBike.com and sent:

Just in case you don’t have a place to stay as you approach San Francisco, I thought I’d at least provide an option – my very spartan/small apartment in Sausalito CA (3 miles north of the golden gate bridge). Unfortunately I can’t offer much more than a warm, dry place to stay, a shower & (carpeted floor) for sleeping. (…)

Doug (me? – avid cyclist – have cycled N/S & W/E across the US…years+++ ago, international traveler, CPA and building contractor by trade, single, no kids)

We had some great time with Doug, he took us up the viewpoint to overlook San Francisco, helped us out with all kinds of errands and made some great meals. At one point he mentioned that it would be great if there would be a website to connect cyclist or other travellers with hosts and we pointed him towards CouchSurfing and WarmShowers, of which he is now a member, so contact him if you are near!

And if you already live in the area and want to get fit, join him on a fast bikeride :)

1000 Americans: Dub & Beth, Eureka, California

December 12, 2008 by  
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Dub & Beth, Eureka Actually, Dub’s real name is Dubya, but for obvious reasons Dub & Beth decided that it would be better to call the cat ‘Dub’.

They live in a nice place in Eureka, which has a friendly downtown with Victorian-style houses and a nice harbour. Beth loves to host people and does so with a lot of positive energy!

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