Day 41, Carlsbad to San Diego

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What a GREAT night we had last night at Kent and Barbara’s very nice home. Great meal, great beverages and great conversation . . .

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. . . it would have been  Tom’s and my turn to cook tonight so of course we were happy to take credit for the GREAT meal!!!!

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. . .plenty of veggie and carne, whatever your choice!!!  . . . and two cakes, ice cream and pies for dessert!!!! No body is probably going home loosing any weight from this trip.

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. . . a photo of our gang with Kent and Barbara. Thanks again for a great night. Kent will be riding with us today down to San Diego and then taking the train back to Carlsbad.

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On the road, we were back along the coast as the sun came up . . .

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. . .  morning commuting traffic was HEAVY . . .

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. . . the stoplight waits s are LONGGGGGGGG in CA and it gives you time to chat with those along side you. Here was Laura, with Benjy and Peanut in the lane next to me. Everybody was happy!!!

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Great graphics for a coffee shop we passed . . .

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. . . along the way there was a statue of a surfer decorated, for Halloween,  as a hockey player. People dress him up for different occasions and holidays . . . FUN!!!

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The SurfLiner runs between San Diego and LA and we were right along the tracks today. Lots of trains and it has heavy local use . . . great idea!!!

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One of the only ‘low riders’ I have seen on the trip. I guess we didn’t get to the part of LA where they are common . . . this one was a surfing rig!!!

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. . .  first they go one way . . . then they go the other way!!!

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Along the way we stopped at the  Swami monument and beach . . .

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. . .  where  the Swami’s ‘rules of life’ were many!!!!

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. . . here was a great hedge someone was manicuring to create an overhang over the sidewalk. VERY INVENTIVE!!!

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. .  .the peloton stayed together for most of the day with Kent and Joe serving as our guides . . .

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. . . in Encinitas we stopped by the ‘boat houses’. Two boats serving as dwellings in the middle of a  ‘normal’  city street block!!!

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tight quarters but no problems with wake or tides . . .

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. . . upper and lower berths . . .

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. . .  and room for puppies!!!

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We stopped at the local ‘biker bar’ for coffee and goodies . . .

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. . . as we parked our bikes I noticed some great stamps the city used when laying the sidewalk. Wonder if people make rubbings of these???

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. . . as usual, when we roll in, we sort of take over the place . . .

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. . . most places in town are VERY puppy friendly, and they are well behaved!!!!

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. . . we have stayed ahead of the fires as they started behind us. We rode right past Will Rodger’s Park and the Getty where fires are now blazing!!!

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. . . hard to decide what to have for our stop . . .

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. . . I settled on the almond pastry stuffed with marzipan.

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oh yeah . . .

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. . . and they roast their own coffee in the basement.

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. . . each city we rolled through had a boardwalk along the ocean and it was nice to get off the busy roads . . .

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. . . look out for the high speed SuperLiners at intersections!!!!

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Cedros Avenue was definitely the place if you needed ANYTHING to do with home design.

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. . . and it had some great mobiles!!!

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. . . the Belly Up is a great local venue for music, and known worldwide!!!

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. . . and still bringing in headliners!!!

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. . . Wisconsin  products front and center!!!

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. . .  words to live by . . .

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. . . a BIG climb up to the top of Torrey Pines State Park gave us a great view of where we had been . . . .

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. . . and the ‘yurt girls’ lined up for a celebratory photo . . .

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. . . interesting sign at the golf course at the top of the mountain . . . lots of Porches and Mercedes in  the lot!!!

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. . . it was a white napkin kind of place, outside of our lunch budget . . . had to eat the PB&J sandwiches in the parking lot . . . nobody got hit by an ‘errant’ golf ball.

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. . . nice course on the top of the world . . . .

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. . . there were a few more great home locations along the way . . . the sunsets must be fabulous EVERY night!!!

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We arrived at the hostel in San Diego, our home for the night, and tomorrows ride to the Mexican border will be the trip to an end.

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. . .  nice ‘living room’ with a big screen TV for the gang interested in watching the world series (not me).

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. . . and like most hostels in this climate had a great outside living/recreation area . . .

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. . . this hostel is a lot smaller than the one in San Francisco and much more ‘homey’ . . .

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. . . with only five boys needing beds, we got two rooms and everyone got a lower bunk (much easier for those mid night bathroom stops) . . .

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What a GREAT celebratory last dinner we had at the Stone Brewery. The group on this tour have been healthy eaters . . .

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. . . but due to the volume of daily calories consumed, we will definitely need to cut back once we begin our ‘return to life as we know it’!!!

Day 42, San Diego to the Mexican Border

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Today would be our last day of  riding . . . sort of like the Tour de France, where the last day is a celebratory ride into Paris, today we would ride from San Diego to the border and back to San Diego . . .

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We’d head south along the east side of San Diego Bay to the border and take the west side of the bay back to the hostel . . . lots to see!!!

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. . . as we rolled along the bay through downtown San Diego, I saw what in my mind might be the epitome of a ‘penthouse’. Wonder if it has a lawn?????

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. . . lots of working vessels in the San Diego harbor . . .

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. . . soon we were at the Maritime Floating museum . . . home of the now decommissioned USS Midway aircraft carrier, circa WWII.

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. . . adjacent the Midway,  is a statue celebrating the famous photograph taken in Times Square after the war . . .

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. . . both of the individuals depicted in the photo, through time, had been identified and the sailor just died a few years ago . . .

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. . . of course we had to take of our many group photos!!!!!

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. . . other ships still floating that you could tour included ancient sailing vessels . . .

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. . . from several nations . . .

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. . . a US submarine . . .

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. . . and a ‘Ruskey’ sub that either didn’t weather its capture too well or is  victim of time and weather, or both!!!!

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. . . soon we ere riding along the Naval Base. Helicopters from the Navy and Coast Guard, as well as Navy jets, were taking off and landing all day . . . the helicopters were especially busy conducting frogman exercises in the harbor. Hugh told us the story of when he kayaked at night with a group of his buddies who called themselves the ‘Night Herons. One time, returning to shore in the dark after an ocean paddle, they were suddenly surrounded by US Navy Seals, in the water,  conducting a practice beach landing, dragging their waterproof duffel bags to shore . . . FUN!!!!!

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A Navy hospital ship in dock for some work . . .

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. . . I guess there are other ways to heal, or hide what ails you, too!!!

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. . . a LARGE salt water evaporation operation along the coast. Next time you buy sea salt flakes, check the label to see if they come from San Diego!!!

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. . . along the way there was this nice mural of a time past when it was a lot easier to cross the border between the US and Mexico . . .

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. . . we couldn’t figure out what this hand sanitizer message was all about until we notice the ‘nature’ of the area we were now riding through and figured some of the locals who use the bathrooms may try to consume it for the alcohol in the product?????

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. . .  or if you preferred something else, you could have it delivered!!!!

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. . . we rode through the countryside on the way to Imperial Beach and passed this metal works shop . . .

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. . . where there was a wide variety of their work on display . . . all colors and sizes available!!!

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. . . lots of great murals along the way, including this one that actually had pieces of a mirror embedded in the blade of the knife.

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. . . soon we could see the hills of Tijuana in the distance and needed to get to ‘Friendship Park’, the end of our ride . . .

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. . . mmmmmmmmm the directions needed a little tweaking. Best kept secret along the border.

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We finally got on the correct road. The monument is actually one of California’s State Parks systems but it quickly became obvious it was probably last on the list for financial support and improvements.

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. . . the roads definitely need some work. There was a $7.00 charge to drive a vehicle into the park, so the few that were visiting decided to walk to the end . . . Tijuana homes across the border.

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. . .  it was not a pretty sight. I felt like I was in prison!!!!

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. . .  and could be if you broke rule number one of the Friendship Park entrance . . .

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. . . local Border Patrol gendarmes on the 2019 version of ‘horseback’ . . .

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I was the first to arrive at the gate that is only open two days a week (not today) to cross over and ‘make Friends’ with locals from Mexico . . . and there was no Border Patrol vehicle there when I arrived.

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. . . within 15 minutes most of the rest had arrived, as well as the Border Patrol SUV that sat at the gate for our entire visit!!!

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. . . the end of our ride and the end of the fence . . . seems like a strong swimmer could just swim around the end of the fence, but I’m sure Homeland Security has that covered with some type of sensors . . . maybe trained sharks!!!

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. . . Rule #1, Don’t pass anything through the fence to someone on the other side . . . and NO Photos to be taken, although we snapped away . . .

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. . . ‘official’ end of a several thousand mile trip that began on September 20th . . .

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. . . lots of development on the Mexican side of the fence, including this bull fighting arena. NO DEVELOPMENT on the US side. Just sand and scrub grass. I’m sure that’s by design.

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. . . a couple of shots . . .

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. .  to mark the occasion . . . and we were on our way back to civilization . . .

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. . . including the Coronado Hotel.  An all wooden ‘Grand Dame’ of a hotel that reminded me of The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI.

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. . .  lots of great flowers growing . . .

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. . . a HUGE lobby area, of course . . .

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. . . many ballrooms and meeting areas . . .

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. . . and the rows and rows of shops had skipped Halloween and Thanksgiving and were now celebrating Christmas!!!!!!!

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. . . but they had a GREAT beach . . . rooms started at $300/night . . .

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. . . as we headed to the end of the Coronado peninsula, and to our pedestrian/bike ferry, we road along the broad boulevards of the area many retired sea captains and naval officers retire to. VERY genteel and expensive . . . .

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. . . we were a half hour early for the ferry . . . so why not have some ice cream!!!!!

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Soon we boarded the ferry for the 15 minute ride back to the downtown area . . .

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. . . where Tom, Liz and I broke off from the group and rode to Moment’s Bike Shop where we would drop our bikes for shipping home.  As with most of these trips, since ACA does not include group lodging for the last night of the tour, the groups usually scatter. Gina flew home tonight, Pam’s husband Barry had arrived by car to drive her home, Jenny was leaving at 4:30am, I was flying out the following morning and Denise was heading east on the AMTRAK in two days.

There is more to that story considering I was flying into Chicago, where emJay would pick me up, and they were having the same snow storm that was dumping 5-8 inches of the white stuff on MSN. Eight minutes before were to depart the plane got pushed back two hours because of gate and snow issues in Chicago . . . more to come!!

ps . . .  a week later, Connie arrived home via UPS

. . . mmm, that shifter should not be sticking out of the box!!!

Final Thoughts

Can’t get the song ‘Ventura Highway’ out of my head . . . as usual in life there is always more to the story. Ends up the group America’s member Dewey Bunnell had the inspiration for the song when he was on a road trip, as a child, with his family and as they traveled through Vandenberg Air Force Base they had a flat tire on their car . . .  guess who else had a flat on the highway in Vandenberg Air force base????

. . . and there really is no Ventura Hwy, only in one’s mind. The name may have been in reference to Hwy 101, which runs through Ventura. We spent most of our trip on Hwy 101 and Hwy 1.

. . . and it ends up one of the more colorful governors from my home state of MN liked the song too. As Dewey tells it, “The song won many fans, including the pro wrestler-turned-politician, Jesse Ventura. Bunnell recalled, “We went and played at Governor Jesse Ventura’s inaugural out in Minneapolis. He asked us to — his wife is a horse lady, and she’d always loved ‘A Horse with No Name‘, and he had adopted this name Ventura. So when he put together his cast of characters for his big inaugural celebration, he wanted us to come and play two songs, which we did”

But I digress. It was a great trip . . . they always are!!!!

I tend to consider four components of a trip: the scenery and culture; the accommodations; the environment and the food. Two A+’s, a  B and a C-.

A+ The scenery and culture was just as you would expect in WA, OR and CA giving us plenty to see from the deep forests of WA state,  to the redwoods, to the urban area of LA, to the desert of southern California. Sleet, freezing temps, rain, mild headwinds and BEAUTIFUL sun on your face . . . we had it all!! The people of CA  were the kindest, never honking at us, giving us the finger, trying to squeeze you out of the lane or coal rolling us. They have embraced the bicycle culture!!!

A+ the food on this trip was GREAT . . . no one pot meals like when you are traveling self supported. Everybody pitched in, took their cooking seriously and turned out some wonderful meals. What a difference van-support and three BIG coolers can make!!!!

B  The weather was an issue. Touring so late in the year the temps were routinely dipping into the 30’s at night with our lowest being 25 degrees, waking to frozen water and ice on the tents. LOTS of rain in the first several weeks, but it is the Pacific NW, you know. A bigger issue to me was the short amount of daylight. Usually we were eating breakfast in the dark. Most would get into camp between 2 and 4pm, with dinner at 6:00pm. When we had our map meeting at 7:00pm we were losing daylight and it usually ended in the dark. No ‘sunlight time’ to dry anything out. I would not recommend traveling like this so late in the year . . . the yang to that though is, there were probably fewer tourists on the roads!!!

C- Many of the accommodations were, as our past British riding partner David would say, ‘Unacceptable’. The parks we stayed in rarely had all the facilities working, something was ALWAYS broke. It became an issue of how many ‘Out of Order, Sorry for the Inconvenience’ signs one would see. It was the tail end of the camping season, most the of parks had laid off their seasonal staff, and I think a lot of repairs were going to wait until winter. No power, sometimes no water you could drink and no hot water for showers happened far too often. If you like to camp, most of the campgrounds were in picturesque setting, it’s just the ‘creature comforts’ were lacking’. At sixty-six I’m getting too old to wander around in the dark looking for the bathroom (no lights in most toilet shower buildings, inside or outside’ . . . bring your headlamp!!!).

Of course the real plus of these trips is traveling with the gang that quickly becomes ‘family’. We were all in it together and shared the good times, and the bad. This group was about half women so it was a lot more FUN than just a bunch of old guys (the norm on these types of trips I have ridden).

I returned home to MSN on a Thursday, to 4 inches of snow and airline delays, but made it home for emJay’s last day of work on Friday. I missed her official going away party but made it, on Friday, to the ‘taco bar luncheon’ held at her office with her immediate ‘TNC family’ It was truly a happy time with lots of laughs and a few tears.  GREAT send off. She turned in her key and credit card and walked out the door,  unemployed after 38 years with The Nature Conservancy!!! (Although she does have one more meeting on Monday!!!).

Now . . . it’s time for continuous FUN together as we travel together down our own Ventura Hwy, ‘in the sunshine, where the days are longer, the nights are stronger than moonshine ‘ beginning with a bike trip for a month in Thailand.

Stay tuned, if you are interested . . .

 

 

. . . we are on the road again!

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