Day 14
June 24th, 2002
Redwood City, California

I delivered Debbie to the airport at 10:15am, checked her in, then walked her down to the security checks.  I said "see ya in a week, I'll call ya tonight," I kissed her good bye, then went out to find the truck.  Like I said, I hate long good byes.

It was a quiet drive back to the Ryan's house.  For some reason I left the radio off, perhaps to get ready for the long solo ride across America that was coming up.  I was looking forward to it.

I made it back to Dennis' house and began strapping my stuff down on my nice, shiny ST.  The Roadcrafter had been hanging in the closet for a couple of days.  I slapped my map window on, and zipped up, checking all my pockets for the essetials-money in my right sleeve pocket, phone in the right torso pocket, Kraft caramels in the right thigh pocket, and change in the left thigh pocket.  There is nothing to match the feeling of strapping on my Roadcrafter in anticipation of cross country ride.

I can't find one of my bungee straps.  I moved a small duffel bag out of my left saddlebag 5 days ago, and now strap it down to the top of the Tourmaster.  It's a little high, and I feel it, but the bag is not heavy so its not too bad.  I like having the left bag almost empty.  I keep my gloves and thinsulate there, and now I have a place to stash stuff I pick up along the way.

Dennis makes it back from work to tell me good bye.  He also trades his long bungee for one of my short. 
I fire the engine up and and give last minute hugs and hand shakes.  I tell Norma NOT to cry. With the sun warm and bright, I pull out of the Ryan's driveway and begin the trip back to Alabama, and home.  Home to hot, muggy summers, bills, grass cutting, my job, family, friends, my Playstation 2, Sony TV, CD juke box, and surround sound.

I take 101 south out of the Bay Area.  The traffic is not bad, and I quickly settle in.  It feels good to be on the road again.  

It is after 12 pm, and I have 200 miles of coastline riding to do, so I have to skip the PCH out of Half Moon Bay south to Monterey.  I had to compromise.  I needed to put some miles down.  Besides, the best section of the PCH is Monterey to San Luis.  North of there is ok, but not near as good as the south end.  Can you read BIG SUR is located in the south?

I see a exit sign for Lodi, and the juke box in my brain loads up Creedence Clearwater Revival. "Just about a year ago, I set out on the road; Seeking my fame and fortune, lookin for a pot of gold, things got bad and things got worse, guess you know the tune; oh lord stuck in Lodi again"

Things go nicely till I near Gilroy, and get snagged in a looooong construction zone.  Is every highway out west this year being resurfaced?  Sure seems like it.

"Rode in on the greyhound, I'll be walking out if I go, I was just passin through must be 7 months or more; ran out of time and money, looks like they took my friend, oh lord stuck in Lodi-a

I eat a late lunch in Mcdonald's in a town called Prinedale.  I had the #5, chicken nuggets.  Suitable local places can be hard to find near expressways.

I parked next to a big black SUV. I was standing by the bike gearing up, when the occupants returned.  A family with 4 kids, that almost knocked me down when they opened the doors to load back up.  They were fighting over who was going to get the window seats.

After lunch, I rode down the street and gassed up at a Exxon station.

I slip through the congestion of Monterey and Carmel and go the PCH.  I overtake a group of 3 Harley riders just south of Carmel.

It is cool, windy and cloudy, but at least it's not foggy.

I am nearing my favorite spot.  The place that defines long distance touring for me.  The Bixby Bridge.  Why?  Because every Wed. night it was in the opening scene of "Then Came Bronson."  That forgotten TV show heavily influenced my life.  Jim Bronson was a loner.  He traveled the country, seeing places and meeting people.  He was freedom defined.  If he didn't like a place, he rode out the next day.  No mortgage, credit cards, car payments, bosses, or schedules to keep.  His own boss.  The opening credits of the show rolled up as I watched Bronson riding south on the PCH over a mist shrouded Bixby.  Go to www.thencamebronson.com for more.
​  The sweet curve of the Bixby.  Southbound
Every week I asked myself, " Where is THAT bridge? What road is that?  I remember seeing the Parade Magazine Q and A section, and reading the answer from someone else who wanted to know, and then did something about it to find out.  I never THOUGHT I would actually get to ride this road and lean the curve across the bridge.  

A bridge with a curve was located a few miles from my house.  A narrow span, maybe 300 ft in length over a small creek, 10 ft high.  I use to "curve" my Honda 70 on it, pretending to be Bronson.
​A Favorite Spot of Mine.  The Famous Bixby Bridge.
I would not want to be Bronson full time, but a few weeks a year? YES.

Motorists were continually pulling in to take pictures of the bridge.  It is one of the most photographed bridges in the world.  Every car maker has used this bridge in a  commercial at one time or another.

A young couple from Kansas asks me to take their pic and I comply.  I hung around the bridge about 30 minutes, then road back out.  I rode over the bridge 3 times south to north.  I love the gentle right hand curve as you enter the bridge.  For 30 minutes I was 14 years old again.

I leave the Bixby and ride south, and break out into the sun a short time later.  Nice timing.  The colors of Big Sur amaze me.   I never tire of this ride, and will probably ride it every time I come here.  

I am not  into leaning today, but still manage to stay ahead of the cages.  The rocky shore line is distinct, and the white foam of the sea can be seen around the rocks.

The road climbs and twists as it follows the coast line, splitting the mountains and the sea. 
I see another fog bank rolling in, and I ride through it, coming back out into the sun in a few short miles.

When I ride over the bridge at Limekiln, I see brave souls trying to swim in the cold water.  None were any deeper then their ankles.

The signs for Hearst Castle appear but I keep going.  Not really interested in seeing some rich guy's house.   So he has a big fancy home, la te da, I bet he never had as much fun as me.

Way too soon I arrive in Morro Bay.  End of the line for me on the PCH.  South of San Luis, the road is not very scenic, in fact much of it is not even on the coast.

I join up with 101 and land in San Luis Obispo, my stopping point for the day.  It is 5 pm.  I begin to search for the Motel 6 I stayed in last year, and like last year have trouble finding it.  It is not easy to see from 101, and I miss it.  I double back to it the over the same route.

It's kind of traditional for me to over night in San Luis on Hotel California trips.  Don't know why, creature of habit I guess.

I have camping options, but I'm way under budget for this trip so splurge on a room.  I check into room 102, and go out and run 4 miles.  Nice run.

I covered 251 miles today.  A nice little ride.  Very relaxing and easy.  

After I shower I walk over to Margie's Diner.  I debated going back to the Mexican place I ate at last year, but decided to be different.  This is my 3rd time at this motel, and each time I wondered about Margies.  I had a humongous chicken fried steak.  An excellent choice.

I spent 30 minutes on the phone with family and friends after supper.  I asked my son more about the game on Sunday.  His college coach says he may move to catcher for his senior season, to add some offense to the position.  He has never played catcher before, and the coach asked his amatuer summer league coaches to give him playing time there-

"how'd it go behind the plate yesterday?"

" I threw 2 jokers out stealing 2nd"


"yeah the catcher, and a sub off the bench with a bad leg"

"damn Chris that ain't got much respect for ya when they try to run the CATCHER on ya"

" hush, I did get him out"

The night air was cool walking back to the room.

I clicked channels, watched the news and drifted off to sleep about 11pm.

Tomorrow I ride SR 58, another road I've been longing to get at.  After that though, I begin a long 2.5 day slog across the Mojave and Utah Deserts.  My goal is Las Vegas tomorrow at this time.  I'm ready.

Footnote-  This story cannot end before I give a big thanks to all the brothers in the Bay Area.  A fun, hard riding bunch of guys. They are not just brother riders, but good friends.  Their hospitality and concern for me is more then anyone could ever expect. 

A special thanks to Dennis Ryan.  Who shared so many miles with me.  Good miles, bad miles, rain, cold, crazy cages, and some of the best riding any 2 lone riders ever put down.  He also looked out for me in the Hotel California. My wife and I say thanks to you and your family.

Ride safe out there brothers, till next time.