This letter came to us a few days ago and it is amazing. Please read and enjoy (with the author's permission).
I finally arrived in Santa Cruz this last Sunday and have been staying with my friends Pat and Eileen. It took me about 24 days to travel the 900 odd miles from Seaside, OR to Santa Cruz. I would have gotten here sooner but San Francisco was too interesting of a place to just ride through. I don't know what it is about that city but it had a hold on me for a few days. Some fellow bicycle travelers and I spent a few days in the Marin Headlands Hostel north of the city and then a few days in a hostel at city center. We stayed in a pretty bad part of town but the hostel itself was nice. We were warned of 7 foot trans hookers in the area but unfortunately I didn't spot any. Halloween was spent at a nearby bar with some bicycle travelers and some of the staff from the Marin Headlands Hostel. If you are ever traveling in the area, the Marin hostel is a cool place to stay. The people staying at the hostel are so warm and friendly it almost seems strange.....but you get used to it after a day or so. The staff there is not only very helpful and informative, but they're cool as hell...they even invited some of us over to their home while we were staying at the hostel. From San Fran, I spent a couple of days in Berkeley with my cousin, her husband and her 2 adorable sons. My cousins husband is the strength and conditioning coach with the Cal football team. He hooked me up with 3 tickets to the Cal game in the 13th row and passes to the "5th quarter" after the game with a free buffett and open bar. Pat and Eileen came up for the game and we took as much advantage of the free food and drink as we could before we headed out. On Sunday morning, I took the BART from Berkeley back to San Fran and then booked it the 80 miles to Santa Cruz.....and here I am.
I've finally had a few days to unwind and reflect. This trip has been pretty different from what I expected. I've spent alot time meeting people and getting to know them. My expectation was to be sitting in my tent reading up on Marxism, Capitalism and Anarchy and learning Spanish. It turns out that socializing, riding, eating and sleeping can be pretty time consuming. Enough so that I haven't spent much time with books at all. As expected though, I've seen some awesome sites. Cape Lookout in Oregon was one of the best campsites I've ever seen. I camped surrounded by enormous trees and could walk right down to a breathtaking beach surrounded by rocky sea stacks. While the rain in Oregon mostly sucked, the storms are amazing to experience. Waves grow from just a few feet to over 10 feet and the winds are enough to stop you dead in your tracks. The Redwoods in northern Cali are a must see for anyone going along the coast. The trees there really make you feel small in alot of ways. Despite some of the cool things I've seen, the trip hasn't been without frustration. I've had to replace or repair* numerous things and I've come face to face with my physical limitations on numerous occassions. I've also failed mierably at my attempt to 'not look homeless" on this trip. Sometimes, there are days and days that go by without showers or changes of clothing. My most distinct homeless guy moment came early in the second week as I rolled out of Port Orford, OR in the pouring rain with trash bags taped to my feet and recently purchaed rain pants that had already ripped all the way down the crotch. I was quite impressed with myself that day.
Drivers and people in general can also be sources of frustration....just like real life I guess. People have been very friendly but others have gone out of their way to be rude. I think I'll always remember the couple that drove past me outside of Devil's Beach State Park. The male driver laid on his horn as he drove past and his female partner stuck her head out of the window to scream at me to ride on the sidewalk. There's nothing like a good team effort.....I really hope it works out for the two of them. :) Then there was the guy in Northern Cali standing outside of a market with his $5k carbon fixed gear road bike. My buddy Collin was trying to make conversation with him and he responded by telling us that we should know something about bikes before we go asking stupid questions. He then walked about 10 feet away with his bike and just stood there while we laughed in shock and disbelief. People like that have very much been the exception....so much so that I remember them distinctly.
Over the last couple of weeks, I've decided to keep going south. I'm just enjoying the freedom too damn much. On Sunday, I'm going to head out of here and ride as far as my motivation, financial situation and physical capabilities allow. That might end up being a few days or few weeks, but I'm not ready to stop riding just yet. My hope is to make it to the Cali/Mexico border and to then figure out what I want to do....perhaps Baja will come next but I'm not ready to make make that commitment just yet. I miss all of you back in Denver and I've enjoyed reading your emails. Keep letting me know what's going on with all of you and I'll try and check emails whenever I can.
* "Casualties of Tour" have included broken toe clip, disintigrating front bags, broken rear rack, retired rear derailer, exploding chain ring and split rain pants. Repairs have included about everything you can think including flat tires, front and rear derailer issues, a drive train that just won't cooperate, wheel truing, constant brake adjustments and re-adjustments and general maintenance.