Gorda Springs to Cambria, CA

Today’s ride was a refreshingly quick one, with two back-to-back climbs in the morning, then flat tailwinds for the rest.

We went back to the restaurant attached to the hotel for breakfast. While we were there, we saw a pair of cyclists roll up, including one Anne recognized from the Golden Gate Bridge. After we ate, we went to say hi. One, Jackie, was going from near Jenner to San Diego, scheduled to finish the day before us. The other, a Danish gentlemen I didn’t catch the name of, was going from San Francisco to Los Angeles. We swapped a few stories and went up to our cabin to get going.

Today’s route gave us two big climbs after a quick descent to warm up. The temperature was a bit cooler, and the grade for the first one was moderate. We powered up the hill without stopping. Much like yesterday, we enjoyed lovely views of the coast, mountains, bridges, cuts, and road ahead as we went. Traffic was light.

After an invigorating drop back down, we started on the second climb. This one was a little shorter, but quite a bit steeper. After most of the way up, Anne called for a stop in the shade of a driveway. I was secretly happy for the chance for a quick rest and water break. We continued, refreshed, and completed the climb.

Then back down again, with some short jaunts up, to sea level. On the way, we passed through a bridge under construction, reduced to a single lane and a light controlling. Luckily, it was downhill, so we had no difficulty getting through before it changed. Unlike yesterday’s single lane section, I think it worsened the experience for us later. Instead of bunching up the cars to give us breaks in between, it bunched up what few cars there were. Still, pretty light.

It was amazing how much changed right along the line to San Luis Obispo county. The coast had been mountainous, now it was flat. The road had been winding, now it was straight for miles. We knew we had a short day, and had already done effectively all the climbing, so we stopped for a longer-than-usual picture session, including using the tripod to get some shots with all of us.

Just as we were finishing, Jackie, the cyclist from breakfast, rolled up to chat, and see our setup.

As we rolled down the coast, we went past a large construction project a few hundred feet further inland. Caltrans is working to move the highway, presumably to get ahead of coastal erosion. There was earthmoving and bridges under construction. It’s always amazing the amount of effort it takes to build and maintain the infrastructure we enjoy.

We saw signs for elephant seal viewing, and knew it would be our lunch stop. As we approached, us grown-ups could see beaches where the seals were flopping about, but the guardrail kept it hidden from the kids. We stopped at the northern, far less busy, viewpoint. When we stopped, we realized we had been enjoying a considerable tailwind.

There weren’t any picnic tables, so we made our own picnic at the far end of the parking lot. We could hear the snorts and trumpeting of the elephant seals as we ate. A seagull watched us hopefully, but Ruth organized a shooing squadron with Max. After, I cleaned up while Anne took the kids down the path to see them swim, crawl up the beach, and lie around in big cuddle parties. When they came back (Max kicking and screaming at having to go), Ruth took me for a quick view of the highlights.

There were only ten flat tailwindy miles to go after lunch. We passed Hearst Castle, barely visible at the top of the hill. We stopped for some pictures, and I tried to explain to Ruth what it was.

Me: That big house castle was built by a man who made a lot of money with newspapers.  (now that I think about it, she may not even know what a newspaper is..)
Ruth: Why?
Me: He had more money than he knew what to do with.
Ruth: (a few minutes later) Is the castle filled with his money?

I think we sorted it out.

Once we got to the hotel, 15 minutes after check in time, we played in the pool. They had floating bed thingies and noodle thingies, which the kids really enjoyed. It made us parents nervous, since it left them one slip away from too-deep water. So careful supervision was in order.

Across the street, along the coast, is a nice boardwalk with occasional beach access. We explored it, and found Cambria’s downtown strip. It’s cute, with many antique/art/accoutrement stores, mostly already closed. We had pizza at JBJs Roundup, where the kids fiddled with the controls for vintage coin-op arcades games.

Tomorrow is a more standard length day, and then a rest day. We’ve been keeping an eye on the Sherpa Fire near Santa Barbara, which we’re scheduled to pass through on Sunday. A few days ago, we would have had a hard time getting through. It looks like things are mostly contained, evacuation orders are lifted, and roads are reopened. Hopefully it’ll continue to improve in the coming days.