Morrow Bay to San Diego. 5300 miles. 10th November 2000
The temperature is about 70deg in the daytime and chilly to cold in the evening as soon as the sun goes down at 5.30. We have never been cold in the tent but the mornings are still damp with dew and the tent needs to dry out a little before we pack it up.
Parted company with Peter and Daniella who had to catch a flight to New Zealand to carry on their tour. We gave them the E-mail address of Phil and Louise, the round the world cyclists from Cambridge, who had emigrated there. An E-mail from Milpitas told us the parcel had finally arrived there two weeks after posting!
Joan phoned a hospitality address in San Diego to ask if we could use their address for parcel delivery. She struck lucky. Not only could we send parcels there, but also she suggested that we stay for a week. The offer was accepted gladly. The parcels were redirected.
At Pismo beach a kindly ranger gave us two bags of fresh hot popcorn and some chocolate on a cool damp evening, it was most welcome.
We headed inland to Lompoc and passed the 5000-mile post. All prices were now much lower than on the coast. The sun shone warmly as we crossed miles of flat farmland growing asparagus, cabbages, tomatoes, grapes and various other crops. One area seemed to be the artichoke growing capital of California. A 1500ft climb gave us a good view of Lompoc with its oil fields full of Nodding Donkeys and yet another detour led us around the town to the campsite. Forget Bears and Raccoons. This time we were warned about Cougars and Rattlesnakes. The campsite was only two dollars each but the showers closed at 5.30pm to keep out the local farm workers (and us!).
For the birdwatchers: We spotted four White-tailed Kites, which according to our book are very rare in the US but are found only in the very area where we were. The next day we saw four more!
Continuing inland we came across Cacuma Lake. The ranger at the gate said as it was almost empty we could go anywhere we liked for four dollars and we found the best spot for ages. It was on an elevated grass ridge above the lake with stunning views over the lake and the mountains behind. Ospreys once again.
After another 2000-ft climb Santa Barbara and the Pacific could be seen way below.
Santa Barbara is an expensive area with large houses on the hillsides and many posing joggers and Lycra clad cyclists on 5000-dollar bikes. As there were no state campgrounds we stayed in a private campground on an elevated position overlooking the sea and Los Angeles in the distance. Sherrie and friends invited us to a hot meal in their RV. They were locals on a weekend trip.
Santa Monica, and now rapidly approaching LA. Many more skaters, bikers and joggers along this world famous strip of coast. We tried to ride the coast bike route but it was too dangerous with all those cyclists and joggers around. It was much faster and safer on the roads. A decision was taken to avoid the worst part of LA by riding into the airport and taking a train to Long Beach. There were buses with racks on the front especially for bikes, but we couldn't find one going our way. On the platform there was a huge police officer checking for people without tickets and he had arms two feet thick and a neck to match. This was all muscle and surely a match for Tyson. He didn't bother us fortunately. After eventually finding the train station and paying about 2 dollars each, we traveled about 20 miles to Long Beach. The wealth here is amazing. Rollers, Ferraris and all sorts line the streets and the hotels start at astronomical sums. More posers. Our goal for the day was San Clemente State beach. The road was slow as traffic lights stopped us every 100 yards and with the weight on the back, pulling away each time was a pain.
San Clemente State park asked for our passports before they let us in! The border is another 60 miles! This was for our security we were told. It didn't stop several homeless (a common problem here) and a weirdo getting in though.
A problem at South Carlsbad State Beach. We got their early as it was nice and sunny and we wanted to relax for a while before being picked up by Joe, a local Sports therapist who had invited us to a meal in the evening. At the gate, at about 2.30pm we were told that we couldn't go in until 4pm, and had to wait outside. Others in cars were being let in. "It is the rule" the jobsworth women at the gate informed us. "All the state parks have the same rule", she said. We protested but to no avail. She couldn't even tell us who to complain to, and so David phoned the State Parks Bureau for California from a phone box opposite. They were no help either and denied the existence of any such rule but offered to call the woman in the booth opposite. "As it is nearly 4pm" she said (it was 3.20 by now) we could go in but must use site number 178 as the hiker/biker site is not in use. Then she asked for our passports as ID, which we reluctantly offered. The site was OK and we set up camp. A little while later a Ranger, who we later found out was her boss, stopped by and asked if we were OK and had we chosen a good site. We told him that the site was nominated for us and about the problems getting in but he seemed not to care. He said it was "all for our safety."
At 6pm, Joe, a local Sports therapist who was originally from Spain and had met us earlier along the road, picked us up. He took us to an "eat all you can" Chinese restaurant. We ate all we could and had a wonderful evening learning about his family in Spain before he drove us around the town on a sightseeing tour before dropping us back to the site. At the site there was another tent we didn't recognize and no bike and so we went to bed. In the morning we were awoken by someone swearing loudly nearby and a peek out of the tent revealed that it was our neighbor. David approached him to find out what was his problem and to offer him a coffee but all he got was more abuse and a large stick waved in his face. David was ready to give him a squirt of pepper spray if necessary but it wasn't. Apparently he was upset because the people in the RV opposite had queried it when he set up camp in our spot but they didn't know that the site warden had nominated it as a hiker/biker site and therefore communal. As the site had at least 150 empty spots there was no need at all to put him in with us-but it was the same woman at the gate again! We left as soon as we were ready.
The whole of the coast from Santa Barbara to San Diego was full of surfers. Even the road signs had pictures of people carrying surfboards to warn us of surfers crossing. What else do they do?
An easy ride to San Diego past many oilrigs and Nodding Donkeys. Some of them were squeaking as they worked and Joan suggested that they needed some oil. We had to find the address we were given in San Diego by a lady who had invited us to stay in her apartment. Nowhere could we find a map shop until we got to downtown at Maceys. Here we bought a street map and found that there were three streets of the same name in San Diego. We opted for one of these and headed in the right direction. On the way we found a library and decided to ask directions as we were still several miles from our intended destination and getting lost frequently. The bad news was that we were heading for the wrong street. The good news was that the right street was just two blocks away!
We settled down with Maura for a week's rest. As Joan's panniers did not stand up to really wet weather and the sleeping bags and food were in danger of getting wet, we decided to buy another set of Ortlieb panniers. These cost $140 from REI. Expensive but worth it.