Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Santa Cruz 2012 (Part I)

So our friends in Santa Cruz decided to throw another party and asked Kiri and I to come visit.  Last October I drove out by myself and had such a good time that I knew I had to go again.  Kiri wasn't about to be left behind this time. But as much as she loves riding passenger on the Bonnie, the bike wasn't designed to transport two people ~2000 miles in comfort.  So she decided to fly out for a quick day of riding in the redwoods and then attending the party in the evening.  This is where the story takes a fun turn.  My dad and I have been talking about riding up the coast together ever since he decided to buy his bike.  I was headed that direction anyway, so why doesn't he tag along?  And if he's riding up, why doesn't my mom fly out with Kiri and we can all experience the Redwoods together.  Wait it gets better.  My uncle got wind of the trip, and he had such a fun time riding to Alpine, could he and a friend ride up as well?  SURE!  And thus the great family Santa Cruz trip of 2012 was born!

View Santa Cruz Trip in a larger map

It's dang hot in Arizona these days.  To make the second day of the trip shorter, and to avoid riding in the midday sun, my father and I decided to depart Tucson around 7:00pm Wednesday night.  Our goal was Blythe, CA which was about ~5 hours away (275 miles).  This would put us there around midnight where we'd check into a hotel and grab 6 hours of sleep.  A quick shot before we departed.  Our dog Sheeba asked to have her picture taken while doing the "gotta get that cat" pose.
Our first gas stop was the, now very familiar, Gila Bend Shell station.
Every time I stop here I see something new.  I think the dinosaurs are multiplying.
Even riding at night it was still in the mid 90's.  We'd apply water to our bandanna's to keep cool.  Going down the road they'd work like evaporative cooling for our necks.  We made it to the hotel right on time and quickly hit the hay.  The next morning we were relieved to find the bikes right where we left them.
My uncle and his friend Ed showed up around 7am.  They had driven in from Prescott, AZ starting around 3am.  Our goal for the day was to make it through LA without hitting any traffic, and to pit stop in Santa Maria, CA.  From Blythe it was a 6.5 hour trip (380 miles).  For my uncle and Ed it was going to be a 9.5 hour ride (537 miles).
We made good time and didn't hit any heavy traffic going through LA.  We pulled over at a Chevron station at the corner of Ventura Blvd and Vanalden Ave around 1:30pm.  As we were filling up we notice a large number of people heading inside and coming out with amazing looking food.  We went inside and they have this small Mexican grill going with people standing in line between the rows of Doritos and Power Bars.  I didn't take a picture, I wish I had, but we ended up ordering taco's and took a nice break outside.  I figured you people wouldn't believe me about Chevron gas food.  So here's the Yelp page on the place:)  4 1/2 stars!
We made it to Santa Maria around 4,5,6?  I can't remember and checked into the first hotel we found.  After unpacking our gear we found a local steak place called Shaw's Steakhouse and gave it a try.  Unbelievable Tri-Tip and Linguica sausage with chipotle dipping sauce, a traditional Portuguese dish.  We had so much Tri-Tip that we wrapped it up and brought it with us the next day.  It was even better as leftovers overlooking the ocean.  Yes, there is a vegetable on the table somewhere..I thought I saw a lettuce leaf in the first picture.  That counts.
 The next morning, we quickly packed the bikes.  Eager to start the Highway 1 portion of the trip.
Our first stop was Avila Beach, which sits at the very top of San Luis Obispo Bay.  Our reason for coming here?  Apparently when my dad and uncle were in their teens, my dad vividly remembers his brother jumping from one of the piers into the ocean.  This got him in trouble with the local life guards and other officials.  My uncle has no recollections of this event.  But we came to relive the good old days.  I was leading the pack and drove as far as I could, which led to the sport fishing pier.  The incorrect pier, it would seem. My dad had wanted to go to the pier in the town, but it was such a nice spot we explored for a bit. 
 The local natives were a bit stand offish. 
 I later found out that you could drive your vehicle out on this pier.  It would have been a great Bonnie shot.
After talking with a few fishermen, and seeing the sites, we drove back around to the town where the "correct" pier was.  The town of Avila Beach is pretty nice.  If you're looking for a vacation spot this would be a good one.  Get your reservations early!
A nice couple offered to take our picture.  It looks cloudy, but it's just the normal morning haze that burns off around 10am.
I dragged my uncle over to recreate the events of 40 years ago.  The local lifeguards gave us a dirty look.
There was a resort that was setting up beach activities.  The cabana boys were out prepping for the morning beach goers.
Another employee was bringing over the wet suits and boogie boards.
After a last look at paradise we headed out.
We got off Highway 101 in San Luis Obispo and filled up with gas before heading up the 1.  There were so many motorcycles in the area.  Tons of people were heading north.  We later found out there was a MotoGP race in the town of Salinas and everyone was riding up the coast to get there.  My uncle checks out a couple of Ducatis as I put on some sun screen.
When I came down the coast last year I pulled over at spot just west of Hearst's Castle where you could spot Elephant seals.  So I pull over again, and yes the seals were out again.
Don't worry they're not infected or anything.  They're just molting their skin or err fur?
I like this one.  If you look closely you can see his two bottom tusks.
The Piedras Blancas Light Station off in the distance.
 As more people stopped to take his picture the more nervous he got.  I think five people was his max limit as he flew off at that point.  I think if five people started crowding around and taking my photo I'd depart as well.
Sid and Ed checking out the wild life.
 As we were heading north of San Luis Obispo we got passed by a couple riding a Tiger Explorer, just like my dad's, and a BMW K1300S.  We found them at this stop and my dad and the guy started chatting about the bikes.  My dad really liked this gentleman's GPS mounting setup.  The other guy asked why my dad drove around with only one box mounted.  We all laughed.
This is what the woman was riding.  And before you ask the lady in the back, not the rider, is in fact not topless.  I think she just had a boustier top dress riding low.  I swear I was taking a picture of the bike.
More pictures later....getting tired.


  1. Ha, I actually thought it was a skinny guy in that last pic with swim trunks on, not an almost topless woman, oops.

    Looks like a great trip so far. Can't wait to hear about the trip through the redwoods with the womenfolk. Great idea having them fly out for a leg of the trip.

  2. You are lucky to have family who ride. I have none, actually not even a riding buddy.

    I think it is great to ride with family. Nice photos. You should have ridden on the pier for a photo shoot

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

  3. @Trobairitz - I'm hoping to get some pictures from my dad before the next post. He has some nice ones I want to use that show the base of some of the larger trees.

    @Bobskoot - Thanks for reading! I consider myself blessed to be able to ride with so many close family members. I'm sorry to hear that you don't currently have a riding partner. You seem to have so many connections in the blogging community that I'm sure if you put the word out, for riding partners, I'm sure you'd have hundred of requests to tag along. And even if some of your adventures are solo, It's not hard to think of everyone who reads your posts as silent riding buddies. Some of us live the adventures through you!