Day 234

Carmel, CA to Soquel, CA

I wake up earlier than Buzz and Cheryl. Looking around Zach’s old room, I see jazz posters, bike pictures, and a picture of Zach meeting Dizzy Gillespie. There’s a bike quilt with panels made by various family members for Buzz’s 60th birthday. I take a shower and poke around until they get up, then we have a light breakfast together. I’m still full from last night. Cheryl talks Buzz into riding with me for a while today, even though it’s raining.

Before we leave we take some photos. When Buzz takes a picture of me and Cheryl we put our arms around each other and I suddenly become aware that this 59-year-old marathon runner is a firm, warm, appealing woman. I try not to embarrass myself.

Buzz and I take off over Carmel Hill in the rain. I have to huff to keep up with him. When we get to Monterey Buzz gives me a little tour. We stop at an old storehouse that’s now a museum. I learn that well before the gold rush, California had a cattle boom, and cowhides were the dominant currency here. This was also the first place to fly the California flag as the US contended with Mexico and Russia for possesion of the territory.

We continue along a bike path, passing big dunes along the beach. In Seaside, when we pass a big mall, Buzz bids me farewell. Cheryl will pick him up here. I thank him for everything and continue on my own.

The path follows highway 1 to Marina, then goes off along a county road to Castroville. There are big agricultural fields here, and I pass a complex of scrap metal shanties where some of the workers must live. A little smoke rises out of one. They don’t look like they’d keep this pounding rain out. Some smashed up cars are parked outside.

In Castroville I stop for a burrito and enjoy a few moments out of the rain. It’s not letting up though, so I’m soon soaked again. I see a sign for Sunset Beach State Park and consider stopping, but it seems too early.

The fields and shanties continue for miles. In Aptos it finally shifts to quiet neighborhoods. The water level is getting serious now. I have to find a way around one section of flooded road. In other places the road is like a shallow river. I feel like I’m sitting in a boat as I ride along.

After going through Soquel I stop at a coffeehouse, partly to escape the rain and partly in hopes that someone will offer me a place to stay. No such luck. It’s getting dark, so I head for the coast and New Brighton Beach State Park. On the way I take a turn onto a small river of a road. The surface is beneath several inches of muddy water, and I somehow slam the rear wheel into an unseen pothole. It puts a huge dent in the rim so the bike will barely bump along now. Luckily I’m not far from the park entrance, but the road in is flooded. I explore around a bit, but soon give up. There’s a picnic table in the woods near the entrance. I try to put up the tent there without getting it too wet. Outside I peel off my rain gear and hang it under a sign. Then I sit back into the tent and feel a splash, as if the tent has filled with water. My heart sinks, but when I look I see that I’ve just sat on my pants. I get naked and crawl into my bag. Considering the situation, I feel fairly warm and cozy. It’s not hard to fall asleep.

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