Day 13
June 18th, 2006
Casa Cortez                                                                           
Castro Valley, California     

Morning greeted me bright and sunny.  I finished packing and loaded the 1300 in 30 minutes.  
Joyce prepared a great breakfast and I ate a bacon biscuit.  Ray and Hope were heading back home, and would be riding out with me, but we were going in opposite directions so we would not ride far together.

I hung around till mid morning to allow the marine fog to burn off around Point Sur.  That usually happens around lunch time.

It was time to get on the road and to start the sad task of telling everyone good bye.  Don "the Freestyle" Cortez has become someone I look up to.  You just don't find better people.   Take motorcycles out of the mix, and I enjoy him just as much.   His insights about life, business, and relationships are spot on.   I've been fortunate to spend more time than usual with Free the last year.  Last June on my west coast tour, the VVV in Vermont in Sept, Friendstoc in May, and now this tour.  I'm going to try to find him in Texas next if he comes that way.
Freestyle reminds me of another dear friend I lost last year-Ray Holder.  Both about the same age, both funny and would do anything for most anyone.   Each have/had that rare ability to read people, and figure out where they are coming from.

Free must be a pretty good motorcycle instructor (MSF) he has coached Joyce into a hell of a rider.  Every year I come out here she has gotten better and better.  She is logging some serious miles now days.  It is good the two of them share something they both love.

I said good bye to Ray and Hope.  It was good getting meeting them and putting down some miles.
"I'll stay in touch, keep me posted on what's goin on out here in the Hotel.  You take care of yourself."

"you too"

And on that note I dropped into gear and eased down the long hill to the 580.

It was Sunday morning and traffic was calm.  I entered the ramps, carried out a head check, and moved to the far left.

Several Harleys were chugging along and I slipped around them, each gave me a friendly wave.

A short ride later I peeled off 580 and went to the 880 to start the ride south.  Today is not a long ride, but in terms of time it will take most of the day to cover about 250 miles.  I treat the Pacific Coast Highway as a entirely different, stand alone ride.  To try and do it in conjunction with something else would make me feel rushed.  This way I have all day to enjoy THIS ride only.  

I guess I could go to San Luis, turn east, and try for more miles, but then that diminishes all those great roads like 58 and 166.  No, I'm in no big rush to get home, and "gonna enjoy my time in California, and ride as many roads as I can."

The ride home for many can become anti climatic if you let it.  I treat the each leg (west and east bound) as 2 DIFFERENT rides.  I take out my maps and plot courses that will take me to interesting places on challenging roads.  That allows me to see what lies between here and Alabama.  Each of my tours out here have been different, taking me to see and ride a thousand different roads.  I really only need 2 roads to get home, I-40 and I-65, but instead I chose roads like SR 166 away from the coast, or SR 518 through the New Mexico Mountains.  Any halfway Long Rider can make it back East in 2-3 days, but going to take me 6 days, and I say that with pride.
Two weeks is a good time frame for a cross country ride.  Leave on Monday, arrive at the Hotel on Friday or Saturday, take a couple of easy days, then start back.

But that's just me, I just happen to think it's the best way, not the only.  If you are not a patient person, or get feelings of homesickness, then probably not going to work for you.

In Sunnyvale I gassed up at Shell con store.  I skipped peanut butter and jelly.  I was out of bread, and still full from the bacon biscuit I ate before leaving.

The 880 pushed me south through the urban sprawl surrounding San Jose.  Past hundreds of car dealers, malls, motels, and fast food boxes.

I stayed in the far left lane, at a pace just a little faster then the flow.  Occasionally I would have to move over to let a BMW 5 series by, running 90 mph or better.

This part of the ride to Monterey is not fun.  Traffic galore.  I left 880 for U.S. 101 and moved in on Carmel.  It is ALWAYS congested around there.  Using all my urban riding skills I negotiated the busy streets.

Carmel is the gateway for Big Sur and the PCH.  I saw 2 Harley's taking a break at a Chevron con store.  "That looks like a good idea, I think I'll join them, gotta make some phone calls anyway."

I pulled to the side and acknowledged them, and went in for something to drink and eat.  I didn't have a sandwich so bought a muffin and diet Dew.  I had 2 messages, one from Chris wishing me a happy Father's Day.  We see each other several days a week, and talk 3-4 times a day.   Father's Day is just not that big a deal to us.  "Look, when I get home we'll go to Jose's, and it will be on me."  "Sounds good, call me later."

I struck up a conversation with the 2 Harley riders, they were just off the PCH and said the riding was good but windy.  We talked about a lot of stuff, and they both said they liked the Honda, and might want to sport tour someday.  They were good people.
​I met these Harley riders at a con store in Carmel.
The Pacific Coast Highway, from here to San Luis Obispo, in my eye, is the greatest single road in the world.  Challenging, scenic, and all the intangibles.   I've leaned thousands of mountain roads, lots of coastal roads, and run outs, but the PCH is only one that has ALL of those things. 

My only problem today will be traffic.  It is not only Sunday, but Father's Day.  "Man all the dads and kids that don't do anything all year are gonna be out for a Sunday drive."

I left the con store and vectored over to the coast.  I timed it perfectly, morning fog was gone, and the day was bright and sunny, but cool.  Visibility was 10 miles or so out into the ocean.

The feelings I have riding this highway are special.  When I ride it I feel like I've validated my life.  I loved this road before I ever saw it, and wondered if I'd ever get to ride it.  When I was 14, California seemed a lifetime and world away from Autauga County.  But now, I treat the entire country like I use to treat my county.  I know all the backroads, and have certain places I go to whenever I'm in that part of the country.  I'm very intimate with the U.S.A.

The blue water of the Pacific was on my right, and the mountains on my left.  After a slow start the road begins to twist and I lean the Honda well.  I passed slower traffic rather easily.  Two sport bikes followed me, but eventually passed.  I moved to the right and waved them around.

I pulled off to mount the videocam to capture some of the ride.

It was very windy and several times I was blown across the lane too close to the center line.

When I arrived at the Bixby I took the turnout to take some pics.  I've documented my time here before, but I like to preserve each tour.  The turnout was busy.  The Bixby is one of the most photographed bridges in the world as is this entire highway.  
​The Bixby Bridge 2006
Highway 1 is extra good from the bridge to Big Sur.  I continued on my way savoring the ride over the Bixby,  Crossing the bridge, the highway moves up in a curvy serpentine manner.  
​Along the coast at Big Sur
What a ride.  When  I arrived in Big Sur I turned and ran the road the opposite way back to the Bixby (about 10 miles).  Too good not to.  

Riding it northbound the wind became a headwind and it rattled the 1300.  It was very strong near Point Sur, so bad it was hard to hold a line.  That was ok,  it was sunny, and NO fog.

I captured more video and pics off the bike, and after 90 minutes or so of just riding in and around the Bixby and Big Sur, it was time to move south.   I needed to run and to stop at a store in San Luis.

On the way south I ran into several Caltran patches.  The PCH  always has work going on, spread out the entire length.  The highway is under a lot of stress from the weather, cliffs, and traffic.
​The Pacific Coast Highway 
A long bending right hander tilted the 1300 hard, and as soon as I exited a steep uphill and bent left.  Moving up hill the nose of the ST was pointed to sky and blue filled my windscreen.

Fog was gathering several miles out in the Pacific and I assumed correctly it would move in by tonight or in the morning.

I was on 2 bars and pulled into a store at Gordo for gas.  I went to the pump.  4.79 a gallon!  "I'll risk running out!"  It was astounding, and eve more so some were buying it!

All the way down the coast the riding was terrific.  A bunch of sea lions were on the beach being lazy and had a 100 people watching them sleep.  I guess some folks just don't have nothing else to do.  "Look that one moved!"  "Quick get the camera!"  Ashamedly I pulled in, took 1 pic, and left.  Total about 5 minutes.  Some of those folks were there for hours.
 ​Sea Lions on the Coast
When I pass Hearst Castle I know I don't have far to go.  I was still on 2 bars, but was sure the reserve light would start flashing any minute.

The highway pulls in from the coast when you near Morro Bay.

A flock of seagulls flew over me, and I prayed they did NOT leave me a little gift.

By 4 pm I was in in Morro Bay and moving to the 101.  I was on reserve and stopped for gas on the outskirts of town.  "Now I don't have to gas up in the morning."  I picked up a loaf a bread from the store inside, and headed straight for the Motel 6.

I've stayed in this Motel 6 every year I passed through.  It's quiet with a nice restaurant close by.  But not for much longer, Marriot is building a big motel next door.

I changed into running clothes and went out for the usual 4 mile run I do when I'm in San Luis.  It was good running.  The route has a nice bike lane most of the way, and I get a chance to see the 350 Zs lined up at a nearby Nissan dealer when I come by.

Back at the room I put on a dry shirt, and went outside to Plexus the 1300.  A business man about my age drove up in a obvious rental or company car.  

He was tall, with salt and pepper hair, he had a pointed mouth that looked odd on his round face.  He carried one of those short roll bags, and slung a garment sack over his shoulder.  His laptop was on the other.  You could tell he as a veteran of many business trips.  I knew the type well.   He asked-
"hows it goin?"

"Good, and you?  In town for business?"

"yeah, two meetings in the morning"

"man, I know that sucks"

His name was Martin, from Henderson, Nevada.

"how about you? On vacation?"

"Not really, I retired a year ago.  I'm just out riding."

He went on to ask me about retired life.

"Look, early retirement is not for everyone, but I'll be damned to tell you as to why.  I can't imagine why anyone would WANT to work, when you could be out havin fun."

"man if I had the chance I'd be gone, but still a ways to go."

"well keep ya backside dry, you'll make it"

The 1300 now had a clean screen, so I went in for a shower, then took a walk over to Margie's Diner.   Good food and plenty of it.   My young waitress had a voice like that of automated robot, so kept the chit chat down.  Just as well, I had a lot of video and pics to look over.  I put notes in the Axim, but saved the phone calls for later.  

I ate a huge fruit plate, with my chicken and baked potato.  Good place, I recommend it if you ever find yourself in town.  While I was eating I got a text message from my niece.  

The walk back to the room was a cool one.  I stopped at the vending machine for something salty, and locked in for the night.  I made final notes for tomorrows ride.  SR 166 and part of old Route 66.  I was looking forward to it.