The day started at one of the most beautiful camp grounds and ended at one of the most bizarre. Let’s start from the beginning…
It was a foggy and chilly morning at San Gregorio State Beach and after a hike to the top of the park, we decided to pack up and get breakfast on the road to save some time.
Well, thank goodness we did because shortly after we turned out of the park, the park ranger came by to open the gate! We were totally oblivious to the entrance sign that said the park opens at 8am and had no idea we were leaving in the nick of time. I think the only thing they could have done was give us a ticket but in any case, we successfully avoided detection woot woot!
From there we headed south on Route 1 and did a quick walk about Pigeon Point lighthouse, where they actually have a hostel! We met a bike touring couple a few of days later that stayed there and told us there was a hot tub below the cliff, overlooking the ocean. Sounds like hostels have really changed! The Pigeon Point Lighthouse operated the first ordered Fresnal lens made for lighthouses, which weighs 8,000 lb lens and was manufactured in Paris in 1872. Today, the lens is no longer in use and the lighthouse is structurally unsound for operation.
After lunch in Davenport, we started to come across California’s vast farmlands. We would see much more in the coming days, but we were a bit surprised to see such farmland next to the ocean. Aren’t oceanfront sites prime real estate–for homes?!?
We quickly biked through Santa Cruz, a funky vintage-like surfing town and couldn’t help take a picture with “The Surfer” sculpture, dedicated to “all surfers: past, present and future.” Such a surfer thing to say, right?
After some annoying city-riding (Santa Cruz/Soquel/Aptos) we entered acres and acres and more acres of strawberry fields. The air was incredibly sweet smelling and we watched migrant workers in the field doing some back-bending berry picking. Dole, Del Monte, Giant, Dricoll’s, etc–they all have fields up here. We settled on a strawberry and cherry tomato snack from an organic farmer down the road. Soooo good.
After a four-mile jaunt on the interstate (yes, our maps directed us on a six-lane highway), we picked up a lovely, well-paved and maintained bike path into Monterey. I started to feel a little wobbliness in the back and realized I had a slow flat. We had 10 miles left till we reached camp, so I decided it was better/easier to pump every half hour rather than change the tire. It totally wasn’t a problem until the monster two-mile climb into Monterey’s Memorial Veteran’s Park, where we were camping for the night. Not the ideal way to end the night (flat tire; steep hill) but once we got there and saw all the tents in the hiker/bike site, we were excited to chat with everyone. Until we realized homeless people accounted for 75% of the tents. So weird. First, one guy/couple was blasting an African drumming recording (which I initially thought was live seance) for a couple of hours. Then there was a woman cooking a large pot of food for four other people–and this definitely wasn’t cooking equipment you would carry on a hike or bike tour. After a shower, we were too tired to chat and went to bed. Or tried to at least. The naval academy/school next door started playing taps. People kept on coming in and out of the camp site, shouting their friends name to hang out in another friend’s tent or shaking people’s tents. And this little village of homeless people kept on shuffling till 3ish. I’ve never experienced anything like this at a campground before! I’m just thankful none of our stuff was stolen the next day. Major case of heebie jeevies. Anywho, we did meet some British girls, Lulu and Charlotte, who were biking from Anchorage to Mexico. It was nice to talk and exchange stories with some fellow tourists!
Total miles: 90 miles (click here for map route details)
Weather: started in the 60s and foggy, but the fog burned off by 1ish. Very pleasant.
Riding conditions: Good except for city riding (narrow shoulder and aggressive drivers) and interstate stretch.
Campground: First time experiencing what a homeless village feels like. But $6/person and free hot showers is a plus. Grade: C-