Big Sur to Gorda Springs, CA

Today we have officially reentered awesome biking territory, but first we had to sweat.

We went down to the restaurant at the lodge for breakfast. The supported cycling group was there, eating, but we didn’t end up talking with them at all.

After our somewhat slow but tasty meal, we hit the road. It was already getting hot. I had built a good layer of sweat just loading up the gear. Right out of the gate was the biggest sustained climb of the day. The way the road was cut through the forest we didn’t get much shade. We stopped a little after the midpoint at a shady driveway to cool down a bit and have some water. Then we stopped again near the top at a deli to pick up better sandwiches than they had at the lodge.

While she was inside, Anne chatted with another cyclist who had passed us a few minutes earlier, wearing a black sweater and a backpack. He was going from San Jose to Santa Barbara. The sweater was because of sunburn from yesterday. He passed us again, much later, without the sweater. He looked much happier.

We finished the climb and descended back to the coast. Suddenly, things were much better. It was a little cooler. We got occasional shade. And there was a cool ocean breeze, cooling the skin, and keeping sweat from collecting.

The rest of the day had many smaller climbs and descents. There were spectacular views of the coast ahead and behind, many more than we had the patience or placement to stop and photograph.

As we passed one viewpoint, many people took pictures of us. A few even ran towards the entrance to get a good angle. Later, a car drove past us slowly, holding out a selfie stick for a better view. We’ve been photographed throughout the trip, but it seems like it surged today.

We came upon a construction crew, with a flagger. They were either doing general shoulder maintenance, or cleaning up after a landslide. The road was single lane for over a mile, uphill for the first part. When it was our turn to go, the other cars passed us quickly, and we had the road to ourselves for a long time. Then we got to where they were working, and avoided the heavy machinery. It took us quite a while to clear our, and I’d imagine some drivers may have been frustrated at being delayed. There isn’t really anything we could do besides proceed as quickly as we could, though, we’re legitimate road users, and didn’t choose the parameters of the closure. We cheerfully thanked the flaggers on both ends as we went past.

For the rest of the day, we enjoyed the effects of the closure. It meant that cars would be clustered, then we’d have a few minutes of just us in the lane.

We passed a motorist with a flat. Normally, we leave motorists to their own devices; we don’t really have tools, parts or any special knowledge to be helpful for cars. This time, Anne saw that the gentleman poking through his trunk was elderly and caring a portable oxygen supply. We had to offer to help, and he accepted. It turned out he had a flat, but was missing the part of the jack that turns the screw. Before we could do much, he found a bolt somewhere and was able to get things going. He insisted he was good, so we wished him luck and rolled on.

Shortly after passing Lucia, we encountered a surprise: a big stone-looking structure, which Ruth dubbed a bridge tunnel. It’s a rock shed, completed in 2014, a big structure designed to keep falling rocks off the highway. Anne said it was like something the Romans left for us. It was certainly a unique experience, sort of a tunnel with big windows to the sides. We saw it from the side in the distance, first, and watched as we approached it.

We rolled into the hotel almost two hours ahead of estimate. The day’s ride was dominated by climbing, and we seem to be a lot stronger than we were six months ago.

While unloading the bikes at our cabin, I heard one scream from inside, and then another. Ruth came rushing out, and told me there was something scary inside. Anne was able to be more specific. There was a lizard in the room, and I was assigned to escort it out.

He was a cute little guy, maybe four inches from head to tail. We’ve seen a lot of lizards skittering about in the grass, and had seen a couple on the rocks leading up to the cabins. As I got to know our new friend, I learned his name was Little Lizard.

Little Lizard and I had a good time finding the exit. I had the Allen wrench for Ruth’s trailer arm in hand, so tapped the floor behind him, on the opposite side from where I wanted him to go, through the open patio door. Instead, he ran into the bathroom. So I followed him into the bathroom, and got him back towards the patio. But he had another trick up his sleeve, and scooted up the electric floor radiator.

The radiator had no outside connection, so he was just chilling behind the heating element, tail drooping to the floor, and head poking out above. I considered turning on the heat to smoke him out, but he probably would have liked it. Plus, it was already plenty hot.

By now, Ruth had decided it was fun, not scary. It might have had something to do with the one side of the conversion with Little Lizard she could hear. She sat on the bed, offering encouragement and suggestions.

Little Lizard was either getting tired from running around, or calling my bluff with the tapping. He stopped moving. So I gently patted his head with the Allen wrench, and he dropped out of the heater and to the floor. Further pats did not cause movement. I tried blowing on Little Lizard, without success. Ruth offered to help, but even with her super duper blowing power, Little Lizard held firm.

We were back to where we started, a few inches from the patio door. But I didn’t want him sprinting under the bed or back to the bathroom. I needed something to scoop him up and get outside. I sent Ruth for one of the brochures we’ve been letting Max look at in his trailer.

She came back with the brochure for the Skunk Train in Fort Bragg, and Max following. “Choo choo!” Max was quite amused with the whole thing, squealing and giggling.

Now it was time to take Little Lizard on a train ride. First, his tail. Then, as his hind legs were boarding, he realized he left the oven on and ran out the door, pausing midway across the patio for a heartfelt goodbye. I love you, Little Lizard, go free!

At dinner, we learned just how friendly and/or rabid all the wildlife here is, as a raccoon came to the empty patio seating and started poking at the recycling bin there, several hours before dark. We left that one alone.

Tomorrow is expected to be a shorter day, plus a little cooler – in the 80s instead of 90+. Hopefully we’ll get similar breezes to help moderate.