Our final few hours in the saddle beckon, (well on this trip anyway). We intend to cycle about 25 miles from Solana Beach to our Warm Showers hosts in San Diego, where we’ll drop off our bags and then (with our travel documents) cycle the last 14 miles to the USA/Mexico border.
We hope that we’ll be able to go across, have our photo taken, then cycle back – just so we can complete our border-to-border trip. We’ve heard so many different and conflicting stories about the USA/Mexico border on our trip so we’re not sure what to expect – watch this space!
Surviving Los Angeles on a bike http://boo.fm/b473295
Wednesday 31 August Portland to Neskowin
Thursday 1 September, Alsea Bay Oregon
Thursday 1 September, Seal Bay, Oregon
Saturday 3 September, Elks near Orick
Tuesday 6 September, between Sea Ranch and San Francisco
Tuesday 6 September, heading towards San Francisco
I’ve been dreading today’s section of our cycling trip for some time. Travelling into Los Angeles, the most car-dominated city in the USA, by bicycle is not for the foolhardy. To be honest the first 40-50 miles from Ventura to Santa Monica via Malibu were not as bad as I’d expected. Most of the way there was a broad shoulder or a cycle route. Even when we reached Santa Monica and had to head towards downtown LA the roads were signed bike routes and passed quiet residential streets for about 20 blocks. Then we had to turn onto Wilshire Boulevard for about ten miles of car dominated hell. This is when the nerves started to fray. I suggested we could try to see if there was a quieter parallel street we could use. Garmin said not and Mike wanted me to look at the Garmin map. I wouldn’t as to me there seemed no point as Mike was going to follow Garmin come what may. Mike still wanted me to look at the Garmin map, I still refused, this conversation repeated itself several times until I finally blew and cycled off into car-hell that is Wilshire Blvd. I only went two blocks then stopped to wait for Mike, but it was two blocks too far. A silence has descended on our holiday. Hopefully it won’t last long and providing we can get out of LA ok tomorrow and in one piece, (and speaking) we can resume normal holiday communications, which have been rather good up to now.
On a positive note the hotel were fine about us putting our bikes in our room (something we were slightly anxious about in LA) so Mr Van Nicholas and Mr Condor have a very nice 12th floor view towards the Hollywood Hills, the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory.
As we’ve headed south I’ve been expecting to see more Mexican-inspired architecture and generally this has been the case. What I wasn’t expecting was to find myself in Denmark, but that’s where we appear to be, having arrived in Solvang!
Soltang translates from Danish to mean ‘sunny fields’. The town was settled in 1911 by Danish immigrants and they tried to recreated a bit of Denmark right here in sunny California. In addition to timber framed buildings, there are windmills, lots of shops selling Danish pastries in abundance and a statue of the Little Mermaid and its creator Hans Christian Anderson. It’s all very lovely and a bit weird at the same time. Who knows where we might arrive next on our travels?
We’ve met lots of nice pets on our travels (and their owners of course), but we have also seen some alarming animal sights. In San Francisco we saw a man walking his cat on a leash – I suppose I should have expected this since it was the Castro. When passing through San Luis Obispo yesterday morning we saw a dog wearing a babies’ nappy. Initially I thought it must have been incontinent but then overheard the owner talking to a friend. It turns out the dog had come on heat the day before she was due to be spayed. Fortunately the nappy prevented us and other customers being put off our morning pastries. The most alarming animal image we’ve seen was in the Giant Redwoods. I know that the USA has a strong gun culture but I wasn’t expecting it to have extended to a familiar children’s character, but sure enough there was Paddington Bear with a riffle. Heaven help anyone who touches his marmalade sandwiches! Whatever next, Tinky-Winky with an AK46 or Thomas the Tank Engine pulling a cruise missile? Guns are one bit of American culture I can definitely do without.
As we head further south in California the landscape is becoming far more arid. Gone are the lush ferns and dense pine forests that were so familiar in Washington, Oregon and northern California and hello to palm trees. The sun has been our constant companion so far today, from the look of the earth it has been around these parts for a while. The grass is very yellow and brown which makes the dark skinned cattle stand out very clearly. The only break in the dry landscape comes with artificially irrigated land such as golf courses or private gardens, these too would shrivel if it weren’t for the constant sprinklers at work, (not sure I approve of such a carefree use of good water when California apparently has water shortages). Lots of suncream needed today – quite a contrast to the weather in the UK at the moment.