NEW TRIP & PICTURES……
All my life I longed for different things. You know, the usual toys that guys want: Bike, ATV, a boat, a car, etc, etc. the one thing I realized later in life was that each one of those things was a vehicle to reach a destination. In other words, each one, to me, was at its best when it could take me SOMEWHERE. It could take me to an actual destination and not just in circles like a Ferris wheel. For example, I once rented a jet ski and after 10 minutes I thought, "now what?". Maybe it's just me, but even when I ride my bicycle I usually pick a spot as a destination and ride there and back. I might explore along the way, but there's a destination. We had boats when I was younger, but when I was thinking of buying one later in life I changed my mind during the test ride after thinking the same, "now what?". If I were ever to buy a boat it would have to be one that could actually GET me somewhere, not just take me for a trip around the bay.
So when I got into motorcycles I found the perfect match. A "recreational" vehicle that could actually take me places. Far away places (like the Canada trip this thread was started for) or closer places like this weekends destination.
The plan was to go to Monterey, making the not-so-long trip there the first day, hang out around Monterey that same afternoon, and then head down the coast to Big Sur the following day. We hadn't really been able to ride the bikes much lately, so we were happy to hit the road as we always are. We woke up to some fog, which I hoped would burn off before not too long. After loading up the bikes in the garage, we headed out.
The temperature was right around 62 degrees, so not too chilly, but what we found once we were closer to the coast was a pretty dense, almost rain-like fog. So aside from the obvious lack of sun, this also meant soaked roads. I spent my entire life (with the exception of the last year and a half that we've been here in the Bay Area) living in south Florida and experiencing the monsoon-type rain that's typical of those parts. because of this, the rain here still makes me nervous. It won't rain for months at a time here, then all of the sudden you get this little drizzle that does more to activate the grease on the road than rinse it off. With that being said, we weren't breaking any speed records....steady she goes.
Once on HWY1 it was no longer just a mist and was actual rain. Not quite the experience I had in mind for us. We plugged away though. Riding, even on a day like this beats the alternative events that life dishes out at you (i.e. WORK). I mentioned this during the last trip to Victoria, but riding a motorcycle to me is one of the few things I can say takes my mind off everything. I don't know if its the concentration that's necessary to ride or the fact that all your senses are heightened by being exposed to the elements (temperature, sights, smells, sounds, etc,). Whatever it is....it works!!
Even though it wasn't the nicest of days, we still manage to get some scenic, albeit cloudy glimpses of the ocean. It's always interesting how different places look under different light and conditions. The forecast (and hope) at this point is that the weather clears up and we get some sun. We rode on in anticipation of said event.
It was still a bit chilly and overcast as we approached the place we typically stop at when we come up this way, Davenport Roadhouse. We were hungry and could definitely use something to warm us up a bit. We pulled in, parked the bikes where we could see them and went inside.
This place is interesting. It's on the coast, but kind of in the middle of nowhere. I guess what makes it "interesting" is that it IS a really nice place yet it's kind of in the middle of nowhere. Middle if nowhere in that there really isn't a large community around it, yet there always seems to be locals there. Where do these people live??
Whatever…time to eat. Once inside we were seated by our waitress, a nice woman whom I'd say is in her mid-thirties. As she seated us she said she and some of the others were admiring the bikes as we parked. Turns out she moved there from L.A. and "also" commutes on 2-wheels…..a scooter (close enough).
The food was good, but not as good as it's been before. It was definitely nice to get out of the cold and get something warm to drink though. We had made good time and since it's not a long ride in total to Monterey (about 130 miles), we had plenty of time to kill. From here we only had about 50 miles to go.
Bellies full and bodies warmed, we headed out and back south on HWY1. The temperature still hadn't budged and neither had the fog. We made our way thru Santa Cruz and as is usually the case, it was sunny and substantially warmer there. Always amazes me how these areas have such different microclimates. This area of Santa Cruz also always has a bit of traffic, but once we got past Santa Cruz we hit the area that also always seems to have EPIC traffic. Luckily lane splitting is legal here in CA so traffic merely means having to drive carefully between the cars that are virtually parked in the street. Most of the people are happy to scoot over, but every once in a while you get some miserable person that figures, "if I can't go, neither can you". One particular lady was nudging towards the center of the lane and when I looked over and into her car I see it's a lady in her mid to late 60's who was YELLING at me and giving me the finger!!!.......Repeatedly!!! lol I couldn't believe it. Worst part is that traffic was just then starting to move along so not really sure what she was so upset about. Haters will hate I guess.
The rest of the way was straightforwards enough. The weather, once out of Santa Cruz, continued to be overcast and foggy. As we approached Monterey it cleared up a bit and although not sunny, at least the fog had cleared.
We got to the hotel and as we unloaded and traded a few comments on things we had seen during that last stretch (like the irate old woman), we checked in. This hotel (last minute find Best Western Plus) happened to have a covered parking garage, which is one of the reasons we picked it. It's in downtown Monterey, within walking distance to the wharf and all the restaurants around. This would come in handy should the weather not cooperate and we end up staying around the town.
Other than the parking, the hotel was ok. Nothing too special. And to our surprise, no AC. At the moment that wasn't a problem, but we had read about road noise at night (which seemed odd), but we then realized that it must be because you have to sleep with the windows open. We'll see.
We unpacked, showered and made our way out for dinner. We had planned on a sushi place about a block away that had good reviews but when we saw it it looked more like a takeout place. Another sushi place was right down the street so we went there. When the lady tried to seat us, she took us to this tiny little two-person table which I wanted no part of. I asked for a bigger one and even though the place was practically empty, she said she couldn't. I point to a four person table and ask if we could sit there and she says no, that she might need it for a larger table (if they come). We say thanks anyways and leave. How someone could turn away ACTUAL business for the potential of business is beyond me. We ended up a few doors down at a Mandarin restaurant that turned out to be pretty good.
The waitress was (the Asian version of) a cross between my 2 grandmothers. I thout this was nice and that it gave the restaurant a little more character than the franchise inspired decor might lend itself to. My food was good, but Stephanie unfortunately didn't know about hers. She wasn't feeling that great so we decided to take hers to go. We paid the bill and went out onto the street, which was now being doused with a light drizzle of rain. Remember, I'm from Miami so to me the rain here in California is kind of a joke. Walking down the street I spied one of these self-serve, by the lb frozen yogurt shops. No matter how Stephanie felt, I know this is something she will never pass up. No matter what I knew she'd at least take it with her to the room to eat later. Holding her hand, I stepped into the shop which she hadn't even noticed. She was giddy. Stephanie is a mature, responsible woman but instances like these turn her into a little girl. She's happy, I'm happy. She got her ensemble of favors and toppings and took it to go.
(Next day I snapped this picture of the restaurant we ate at)
Back at the room we watched some tv while she ate some of her food and of course, the yogurt. Sleep time......
Or maybe not.......
At 1:30 I wake up to what I thought was an earthquake. Taking inventory of my surroundings and the sounds I was hearing, I realize its coming from the hallway and open the door to see its some drunk-ass guy beating up the machine that had apparently taken his money (or he thought it had taken his money).
By the time I open the door and looked out he had gotten the chips he had so desperately wanted and was standing there eating it. I honeslty just wanted to sleep so I closed the door and that was the end of it. There's a lot of words that came to mind, but moron was the one I thought most appropriate.
The next morning we awoke to actual sunlight. A good sign. We went down to get the (you got it) free breakfast. While eating we met a group of young, Spanish-speaking, Argentinian guys that were here on vacation. Poor bastards had been to SF and had a bunch of their bags with passports, laptops, cameras and more stolen from their car. They were on their way to L.A. where at the same time they'd go to the Argentinian consulate to get new passports. That SUCKS!!
we finish eating breakfast and the sun that had been out just a short while ago was gone. it wasn't bad out but we figured since it was still kind of chilly out we'd go for a walk to the wharf and do the tourist thing for a bit. The forecast was for sun later so we'd wait it out to see if that materializes and make our way out on the bikes when and if that happens.
We walked around and saw this:
The sun still hadn't broken out, but we figured we'd head out on the bikes to at least get lunch at a place we've gone to every time we're out this way. It's a restaurant that is RIGHT on the ocean side of hwy1 in Big Sur, called Rocky Point Restaurant. The food is nothing to write home about (or a ride report about), but the views makes it all worth while. The hope was that the sun would make a guest appearance sometime during the ride. Sure enough, it did.
A few miles past Carmel on HWY1 the sun started creeping out and in no time, we had perfect blue skies and comfortable riding temps. Life was good.
This is the exact image that I always pictured when we made the decision to move to the west coast from Miami; Stephanie and I, riding along HWY1 in perfect weather just enjoying life. This and trips like the one we did to Canada and back was and IS exactly why we we're here.
Traffic was manageable and before long we were at Rocky Point Restaurant. The food, as anticipated, was ok but not great. The view though......
(what was left of the fog, slowly dissipating)
(HWY1 and Rocky Creek Bridge in the distance)
Sitting next to us was a really nice couple whom said they met recently at work (by the copier we joked). Nice people. He rode a Yamaha (think it was an FZ1?). As you can see in the pictures, hanging around there is not the worst thing in the world, but after a bit of lounging we decided to push off and head back. I needed gas so we stopped at a gas station just a few miles back in the direction of Carmel and Monterrey where we were staying. At the gas station I asked Stephanie if she'd want to just keep riding. It was still beautiful out and still early enough where we could squeeze some more riding in. She agreed and we headed back south towards Big Sur and the restaurant we were just at. The ride was fantastic. Aside from a little traffic which we eventually left behind it was about as nice as you could imagine. To make things even better, it was in the afternoon light which is my favorite time of day. About 30 miles down the road we figured it was time to turn around.
We stopped at a small resort parking area that had gas pumps and restrooms. When Stephanie came to a stop her bike got caught in gear. THIS would not be good. It happened to her once before on a trip down to Mendocino and happened the same way......when she was coming to a stop. I told her to get off the bike and that I would take care of it while she used the restroom. After prodding it a bit, it popped out of gear. she came back and we turned the bikes around and headed back. Every minute that went by made the ride more and more enjoyable. To help visualize it, picture riding along an oceanside cliff and the occasional bridge (like the bixby bridge), and to the left is the Pacific Ocean and its crashing waves being painted by the setting sun off in the distance. To the right is your shadow, an abstract image of you and your machine racing along a strip of coastal highway that most people have only seen in magazine ads and commercials. Those moments, taking it all in, are moments I can only describe as pure happiness.
Unfortunately that had to come to an end and it was time to get to the hotel. It was getting dark and we were due for our next meal. Also, the Miami Hurricanes (football) were on TV so the plan was to go to that take-out sushi place, pick up some food and bring it back to the room.
We got to the hotel, showered and got ready to go. After calling ahead to order, we walked a few blocks and got our food. Back at the hotel I watched the Canes lose over a very good meal. Oh we'll, was still a great day. Time for some sleep.
The next morning we had our free breakfast, packed and hit the road back towards home. It was a lot windier today. It was sunny out, but It also seemed to be a perpetual 57 degrees out. Literally, every time I looked down at my outside temp reading on my dash, it read 57 degrees. This of course was with the exception of Santa Cruz (which did have the same s#!t traffic). And again, a good 10 degrees warmer. Of note: saw some guy on one of those Zero Electric Motorcycles. Pretty cool bike, except for the fact that we flew past him as he was tucked in what I assumed was his top speed. No thanks. Probably great to commute around town in though.
Past Santa Cruz and further down Hwy-1 it was time for a stop. Again we would stop in Davenport, but this time at a small cafe that is a few shops down from the Davenport roadhouse where we stopped on the way down a few day previously.
We scored good parking right in front, which of course is nice since we have the tail and tank bags on the bikes. As soon as we got there and sat down and almost as if planned, another 15-20 bikes pulled up with most of the riders going to the coffee shop next door and a few into where we were eating. The group consisted of mainly sport bikes and a few motards....and a lot of one-piece leathers. My guess was that they had all gotten here via skyline drive, a popular place with riders around here. It's a great road and close to us, but a bit too crowded for our taste.
I walked outside at one point to get something our of my tankbag and see a guy sitting next to his bicycle. He had some serious panniers on there so i asked where he was riding from. He said "BOSTON"!!!. He was British and had spent the last month on the ride. This was his last leg of the trip and had another day to kill before heading back home. Talk about an adventure!! This guy was like Forest Gump on a bicycle!! He asked about the bikes and where were were riding to and after a little more conversation I wished him well and went back inside.
It turns out this place is owned by the same people that own the Davenport Roadhouse. The food was cheaper and actually, better!! Cheaper and better is always welcome. We had plenty of time to get home so we took our time with lunch and with the very much welcomed hot tea (again). Plates cleared, cups emptied and bill paid......it was time to get going.
The rest of the ride back was uneventful. We reached Half Moon Bay where we ran into traffic (Once again, thank god for legal lane splitting) and after that rode on the highway thru San Francisco and onto the Bay Bridge. It was late afternoon now and the view that stretches along the bay, with views of the city skyline, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge is always a welcome sight. It wasn't long before we were pulling into the garage at home. I said it before and I'll say it again: our trips on the motorcycles are the ony times that I can truly say I don't want to come home. We would gladly keep going.....every time!!
That's it for now. It was time to wash the bikes and get them ready for the next journey......