Shileyanne provides yet another very pleasant breakfast with boiled eggs, cereal, and yummy scones. I wait a while to meet Maxine, who’s having a little trouble finding us. When she arrives I like her immediately. She’s an attractive, alive personality. She gives me her number and invites me to visit when I reach San Mateo.
Soon it’s time to saddle up on the wet bike. There are a few very nice state parks which I check out, looking for sea otters. I find a couple. They are unbelievably cute, floating on their backs while using their long furry bellies as a table for cracking shells.
In Carmel I stop for some groceries. Outside the store another biker approaches me and invites me out for a cup of coffee. His name is Dave. He’s not overly talkative, but slowly I discover that he is camped outside Carmel, waiting for spring. He says he lives here quite comfortably on $6 a day, which includes coffee. While we’re talking a local guy named Buzz stops to ask us about touring. Dave directs all Buzz’s attention to me, he seems to have no interest in talking. Buzz invites me to stay at his place tonight, even though he and his wife have dinner plans. Why not? I accept, and Buzz draws me a map to his house.
Dave offers to show me a better coffeehouse, so we ride a few blocks in light rain. He seems impressed by my ease on the recumbent. He buys me a coffee. I discover that he’s been touring constantly here and in Europe for 15 years. He makes his living doing watercolor paintings, especially portraits. He seems to like the life, especially being outdoors. He does get sick of outdoor clothing, he says. This spring he wants to trade the bike in on a kayak and traverse the great lakes. He gives me a book, The Blue Nile, explorer literature. I try to get him to take the Oedipus Trilogy by Sophocles, but he refuses. When we part I’m left feeling intrigued and inspired.
I follow the map to Buzz’s house in a very pretty, forested neighborhood. I meet his dog, a terrier, and his wife Cheryl, a stunning marathon runner. While I talk about touring with Buzz, she goes to the store to pick up some food for me. Even though they are going to a friend’s for dinner, she refuses to let me fend for myself in her house.
Buzz and Cheryl are both schoolteachers. I look around, they seem to be living very well for schoolteachers. He talks a little about the cross-country tour he did with his son Zach last summer. He introduces me to a term his son came up with, ‘The Pace of Discovery’. It fits my situation perfectly. He clearly was moved by the experience, even though he suffered from some prostatitis at times. He gets a deep satisfaction from my stories it seems, attracted to the self-contained, exploratory nature of my journey.
Cheryl returns and serves me a wonderful bowl of chowder with bread and cheese while we talk. I marvel at the apparent quality of life of these two – the extravagant house, dog, fine food, active lifestyles, and close family ties. They are affectionate with each other and generous with me.
As they prepare to leave Cheryl invites me to the table where the “rest” of my dinner awaits. My jaw drops. It looks like a feast for a king. A huge salmon filet, fresh asparagus, rice, and a monstrous salad. I haven’t even finished the bread and chowder yet. They leave, and I spend a good hour sumptuously finishing off this meal. It’s dark then, and I’m sleepy, so I go off to bed in Zach’s old room.