Sunday, August 5, 2012

Santa Cruz 2012 (Part II)

Continuing our trip up the California coast, we were on our third day out of Tucson. This leg started off in the town of Santa Maria.  Now we were headed north to San Jose (245 miles).  I had wanted to make this segment as short as possible to give us plenty of time to enjoy the sights.  According to Google maps our destination was a little over 5 hours away.  I believe we left our hotel in Santa Maria around ~8:30am and didn't get to San Jose until 7:30pm, a total of 11hours!  This included a stop in Avila beach, visiting the elephant seals, small road stops, lunch, bad traffic coming into Santa Cruz, and a small detour through some redwood forests.  I only mention this as it's important to add sight seeing into your time tables.  Here we are at our first stop after the elephant seals.  The clouds and burned away and we were left with beautiful views of the ocean.
Traffic wasn't too bad, but there were more vehicles in July then there were last October.
Just north of Lime Kiln State Park we hit some construction traffic related to a pretty impressive bridge project (PDF of the Pitkins Rockshed Project. !Warning! 5MB in Size).  The road was down to one lane and that meant that we had to wait our turn to proceed.  This allowed me to jump off the bike and snap some pictures.  This is one of my favorites of the trip.  Even though my uncle was stopped, it feels like he's cruising down the road, wind in his face, Pacific ocean as far as the eye can see.
Waiting our turn for the light to change.
View behind us.

I tried to zoom in on this group of riders.
Around 1pm or so we pulled over for lunch.  I had stopped at this section last year and I think it has one of the most scenic views.  I just can't remember what the name of the bridge is that it overlooks.
Do we look like we're all related?
Ed striking a pose.
We spent some time here eating the previous nights left overs, enjoying the sights, and watching the rented RV's come and go.
This is one of the last shots I have of the coast.  From here we made our way into Santa Cruz.  We hit some really bad rush hour traffic coming into town and worked up the nerve to start lane splitting the parked cars.  It saved us about an hour of sitting on the bikes doing nothing.  We also found it becomes addicting rather quickly.  Traffic jam? Just go though it!  We took a short detour through some redwoods coming into San Jose and eventually met up with my wife and mom at the hotel.  That evening Kiri and I met our friends for Sushi in Santa Cruz and didn't get home until 1am or so.

The next morning we had a quick breakfast, at the hotel, and then set out to explore the hills southwest of San Jose.  If you're ever in this neck of the world I highly suggest exploring highway 9 and 236.

View Larger Map

After enjoying an amazing ride into the hills we pulled over to stretch our legs.  I think this is in the Castle Rock State Park portion of highway 9.
My mom was a little chilly, so she warmed up in the sun as we talked about the ride up.
Thanks to Ed, we were able to get a family photo.
From here we switched onto highway 236 that winds up into Big Basin Redwoods State Park.  Half of 236 isn't even a 2 lane road.  Just a single ribbon of asphalt that snakes in and out of the trees.  There was a bicycle event going on and we had quite a few cyclists pass us as we headed into the park.  My dad posing in front of one of the giant redwoods.
The majesty of these trees can't be captured by mere photographs.  But we tried anyway.
From Big Basin the group split up.  Kiri and I had our party to get to and the rest of the group headed out to the coast.  My dad has been in the cement industry for quite a few years and he wanted to check out a cement plant in the town of Davenport.  Apparently there's been a cement plant in Davenport since as far back as 1906.  Here's my mom studying the map to make sure they're at the right location.  Either that, or she's trying to locate the nearest quilt store.
Random cement plant images.
On the way back into town my dad snapped this picture.  "These aren't the droids you're looking for."
The party ended up being as great as last years.  I may have had one drink too many.  Dumb on my part.  Don't worry, I wasn't driving.  But it made getting up the next morning a bit rough.  We had breakfast at the hotel and then said our goodbyes to Kiri and my mom, who flew back to Tucson.  The rest of the group packed up and we headed onwards to Bakersfield via Fresno (275 miles).  This was was taken near the San Luis Reservoir.
My uncle wanted to try my bike out on the highway so we switched bikes at this point.   This was the first time I've ever driven a Harley/cruiser bike.  I kept putting my feet down where my controls were supposed to be rather then out in front.  That took a while to get used to.  I also had a bit of trouble when we got into town.  The muffler was so loud I couldn't tell when the engine needed to be shifted so I'd end up downshifting when I could have just stayed in the current gear.  Which made the muffler even louder. 
My uncle is suggesting I should probably stick to British bikes.
We had pulled over at a nice park in the town of Los Banos.  This was on a nearby plaque.
When we hit Fresno my uncle and dad wanted to go visit an old college friend from waaay back.  He lived in the town of Clovis which is just northeast of Fresno.  We had called ahead and he said he had lunch waiting.  The sun was starting to get a little warm.  We were already missing the cool temperatures of the coast.  Our friend was nice enough to let us park the bikes in his garage.
We enjoyed an amazing lunch as we discussed old times.
Before we left our friend led us to the backyard where he said we could pick fresh plums and peaches for the road!  Covered parking, lunch, and fresh fruit!!  What more could you ask for?
Fresh plums.
The peaches were amazing.  We packed a few away and were able to snack on them for the rest of the trip.
We said our goodbyes and headed south to Bakersfield.  We stayed at a hotel at the edge of town and took a dip in the hotel pool.  It was like a scene from the movie Cocoon.  Luckily no photos were taken:)

More to come.

1 comment:

  1. The men in your family definitely look alike, but you are missing a mustache, lol.

    What a fun trip. Great that your wife and mom could join you and ride for a while.

    I tried the Triumph America once when Brad/Troubadour had it and the forward controls drove me nuts. I just can't do it, lol. I too kept putting my feet down straight and there weren't any pegs there.

    Oh and that fresh fruit looks delicious. So good right off the tree.