OK, back at it! Sorry, got distracted over the weekend with a trip up to Tahoe via Highway 50 for a bachelor party- great ride! The groom's brother had an old HD Sportster and tried to convince me to take the long way back and cruise the west side of the lake, but I had a fire under my ass to get back home- good thing too, it was broiling hot and beastly windy the whole way.
Speaking of wind...
We got back on the road from the expensive gas station, and just rode for a bit. I think we all felt good getting back on the bikes, digesting breakfast and letting the jacket liners thaw out a bit. It got warm quick enough, we came out of the valley, and back onto Pacific Coast Highway.
Half an hour later we were back on the coaster, and had to stop for another photo op. Here's Walter and the blue, blue waters of the Pacific.
The ocean isn't always that blue along this coast, but haven't seen any storms in a while, so it was this wonderful clear blue color today. We were all a bit captivated, and Walter borrowed my phone. He got a good shot that really encapsulates what this was like- dark under the trees, sunny slopes full of chaparral down to the cliff, and then those foaming white waves crashing over the rocks with blue, blue, blue water just screaming for a pirate ship to come skulking up the coast.
Then we turned our attention back to Wayli's bike. Specifically, to the grease spot that was rapidly spreading under his engine. You could see the drops now, every 30 seconds or so. His back tire was slick on the right side, his pipe was smoking from the spatter, and there was oil all over his license plate.
There was a lot of hemming and hawing and poking at the bike. We narrowed it down to a bit of tubing coming out of a mysterious little box, filthy with oil, behind the cylinders. None of us knew what this was or what it did, but it seems to spit oil when the engine was on. The more we poked, the more we found that this beast really was just sweating the black stuff out everywhere, but we couldn't find any specific crack or seal it was coming from. It just seamed to ooze from all over, and especially that weird little box.
Naturally, some wise-ass *coughmecough* started questioning Wayli about his oil fill procedure. Was it possible the bike had too much oil in it, and he was just making it worse by topping it off all the time? Could it be venting the stuff out the crank case breather?
Nope. He quoted me chapter and verse from the owner's manual: ride the bike 15 minutes to warm it up, put it on the side stand, let it cool 5 minutes, drain the old oil, replace the plug, refill to the line. OK, then.
There was nothing we could do, so we took more pictures. Wayli's looking a bit worried here, but by and large we were still on cloud 9.
Then we got back on the bikes and just rode for a while. After the oil argument I think we were all feeling the heat and needed to be alone with our thoughts for a while- I sure did. There was a little bit of a sense of... not urgency exactly, but... foreboding? Nostalgia? I don't know, but even though we were moving steadily away from home, we were on the way back. All of us had our eyes open for Road Q 18 or whatever it was east across the Diablo Range.
But mostly, we were just riding and enjoying the spectacular scenery. There comes a point when the area you're riding through is so gorgeous that you just can't stop at all the pretty places, and you just keep riding, drunk on the glory of the country around you, so utterly overwhelmed and happy that even things like leaky bikes don't matter anymore. Just ride, baby, ride until you can't ride anymore, ride until that bike breaks down or you run out of gas or you're home again, but until then- ride.
So we did. We rode. We probably rode for well over an hour down the Pacific Coast, the land gradually turned from brilliant sunshine and steep cliffs to rolling hills, bluffs with beaches and a thing, glistening haze hanging over the water. It got warm and humid.
Then we passed a sign: San Simeon.
Woah. That's... a ways down. Wasn't there a road? No, impossible, we couldn't have missed that. We kept riding.
Then another sign: overlook.
OK, screw it, time to put our heads together and figure out what's going on. The overlook had the prerequisite parking lot, railing, etc, but the beach was only about four feet down from the rail. We tumbled off the bikes and stomped around, stretched and got feeling back in our butts. My head without a helmet felt disturbingly like a hermit crab without a shell- naked and cold. Things were starting to get weird.
According to the map, we'd passed our turn off 30 miles ago. Should we go back? Nope, it was another 15 or so miles to San Simeon and gas, and probably another 50 back to the turn off and then across the hills. We needed gas. OK, keep going south, find gas, and then 46 east to 101 and haul ass northward as a righteous pace. It was already after 1:00, and we were a long way from home.
But first, seals!
There were seals all over that beach. Thousands and thousands of seals. Most of them looked like young elephant seals, but there were a few other ones as well, without that funky nose. Maybe they were young- they didn't seem to get a really big honker 'till they were older, I don't know. And man, they smelled.
I can't get the damn video to embed, but you can see it here
We at some cliff bars, jerky, whatever, drank some water, and got back on the bikes. My butt was starting to really hate that seat, but whatcha gonna do? It wasn't like I had a spare seat with me. Back on the road toward San Simeon and gas.
A few minutes later we rolled into San Simeon, past the old Mission San Simeon, the historic hotel, the historic bar, and back out of San Simeon. No gas. Okeeeeeey, we got going.
Finally we hit Cambria. Cambria, as it turns out, is a neat little resort town and popular with bikers. I think we saw a dozen Harleys line-of-sight of the gas station. we got in, fought our way through the line, gassed, and hopped across the street to a funky little deli thing.
Oh, man, was that food good. Really, really tasty sandwiches. If you come into Cambria from the north, it's the first building on the right. Park on the street by the fence next to the building, you'll be fine, and relax with lunch and a fresh-pressed cold juice. We did, and it was amazing.
Lunch did wonders to bring back everyone's flagging spirits. Sure, we'd missed our turn, but we we had gas, and we were near a highway that would take us back to 101, a boring but guaranteed way to get home in good time. The sun was out, and the afternoon was warm. I think this is where I picked up a nasty sunburn, but whatever.
Somebody summed it up perfectly: Dude, I think we're in So Cal.
Yep, we were definitely in Southern California now. Palm trees, warm sun, Harley riders in t-shirts and vests, people trucking off to the beach. Good times. Walter had a date in Santa Cruz at 5, so he was getting a little bit antsy, but the rest of us were content to enjoy this for a bit before we got back on the freeway for, what, a couple of hours back to San Jose? This was probably the last real stop.
Walter was determined to get a message out. Elizabeth was happy to forget technology entirely.
Naturally, things never go as planned- they would go awry soon enough, but we didn't know that yet.
And with that, I'm going to leave you all and crawl into bed. I'm still tired from my madcap run down from Tahoe yesterday, but at least we're through the slow bit into Cambria. The next leg gets is where plans seriously went out the window.