This is it! Today we leave for home. We woke up early to catch the sunrise with Taylor. We drove to a spot that was easy to climb up and had a great view. We went to bed in a warm cabin with a fire and woke up in a freezing cabin with no fire. The view was worth the cold though. We climbed down and said our final good byes of the trip. It is hard leaving my brother out here, but I know how much he loves it. As we get into the car, I can't believe it's over. We started on a plane in Tampa, landed in Seattle, rode the train to Portland, drove out to the coast, rode our bikes 850 miles to San Francisco, drove to Yosemite and now we are driving all the way across America to Florida. I can't begin to say how much I appreciate this opportunity and how glad I am I got to do it with my best friend. I would like to thank everyone who helped and supported us during this experience. It means the world to me. Seeing this region of the country has really opened my eyes to what is possible. Sometimes what you get is more than you could have ever imagined. Sometimes you just want to get the Hell out of Dodge. This trip is whatever you make it. I suggest you try it!
Today is our last day in Yosemite. We leave tomorrow morning on our drive back to Florida. We packed up our stuff for the final time today. We are heading up to Tuolumne Meadows to spend our last day in Yosemite. They call this area the high country because it it above the Valley, which was cut out by a glaciers millions of years ago. Before we headed out, we stopped at the base of El Cap. It is a super short hike to the base of it and boy is it worth it. To look up the face and imagine climbing up it is insane. As my palms were sweating, my brothers fingers were itching. He has gotten half way up it and is excited to conquer it soon. It really makes you feel small when you can hardly see the top of something. Once we got to Tuolumne, we drove around and saw the sights. Then we met up with Taylor's friend Chas to go bouldering. There is a neat little spot that has great bouldering. There was nobody else there, which was nice. It was like our own little desert osasis. It is amazing how much the landscape changes around here. After some climbing, we ended up at the Mobil gas station. Exciting right? It actually has a gourmet restaurant inside called the Whoa Nellie Deli. They happen to have live music outside on Thursdays, and it was Thursday. My brother said it was popular, but I didn't think it would be this packed. It seemed like every employee from Yosemite was there! I got the chicken - which was great! After dinner, we went to Taylor's friends' camp in Tuolumne. We sat around a fire and enjoyed each others company. Tomorrow we leave. I cannot believe it!
We woke up and met Roxanne for breakfast. My brother gets a sweet discount for family so we went all out. Roxanne is leaving in the afternoon today, so we spent the first part of the day with her. Taylor showed us Mirror Lake and some Native American caves. We went to the Native American museum, which had a bunch of artifacts from the native people. I didn't know that they had lived here. Must have been a nice place to be before all of the tourists started coming. After Taylor went to work, we met up with Roxanne's parents at another waterfall. They were ready to head back to SF to get to the airport. It is crazy to think that they did our whole trip in a week and it took us a month! (We saw more stuff!) It was sad to say good bye, but we will be home soon. From there, Derek and I drove up to the Mariposa Grove, a grove of giant sequoias. These are some of the largest living things on the planet. Though not as tall as the redwoods, they are a lot wider. There is one called the Grizzly Giant. The branches of it look like full trees growing off the side. It is really bizarre. The pine trees here have huge pine cones that are about a foot long. It is funny that they are bigger than the giant sequoias, whose are very small. After a hike through the grove, Derek and I set out for Glacier Point. This is a long, winding drive (we got used to them) up the valley. Once at the top, you are hit with absolutely gorgeous views straight out of National Geographic. This has always been a popular tourist destination and I can see why. You can see Half Dome from above, which seems impossible from the ground. You see all in the valley and realize how spectacular it really is. It didn't hurt that the sun was setting as we got up there. The orange glow was settling on Half Dome, which was exquisite. The view on the was down wasn't so bad either! Once we got down to the Valley again it was dark. We looked up at El Cap and saw two groups of climbers with headlamps in the middle of the wall. It normally takes a few days to climb up it (the record is 2 1/2 hours!) so you have to pitch a tent on the side of the wall. Crazy! It is awesome to see their little lights on these massive walls! We met up with Taylor at work and got a pizza. Tomorrow we set out for Tuolumne Meadows with Taylor.
We woke up this morning with one thing on our mind. I'll let you guess. Ready? Tartine! We walked to (I wish this was my life) Tartine and got some baked goods before Taylor arrived to pick us up. We enjoyed our food with Jacob and said our good byes. There have been a lot of these on the trip, but a lot of hellos too! Jacob was a great host and I hope to visit again. Taylor showed up and we packed everything into the van in a hurry. There was a lot of traffic so we were a little (2 hours) late! Taylor works in Yosemite Valley and had to be there by 2 pm! Though we were late, friends are more important than work. We stopped on our way out of SF in Berkeley, where Taylor's good friend Faryn works. We surprised her at work and she was very excited. After a quick chat, we were on our way to Yosemite! From the city to the coast to the city to the mountains! What an adventure this has been. It was a long, winding drive to Yosemite. I fell asleep in the car and awoke just as we were entering the valley. What a view! I have been to Yosemite once, when I drove out with Taylor, but it is a spectacular, breath taking view every time. Being from Florida, it all seems surreal. There is nothing this big in Florida. Not even close. Seeing Half Dome and El Capitan is out of this world. Huge granite rocks with flat walls, perfect for rock climbing. Though I prefer to stay on the ground on two wheels, my brother is a huge rock climber and has scaled Half Dome several times. I can't imagine. Taylor showed us his cabin and was off to work. Derek and I ventured over to the Ahwhanee Hotel to meet up with Team Roxanne. This is a historic hotel from the 20s that is over the top fancy inside. The fireplace is large enough for several people to stand in! Roxanne and Derek and I took s short hike to see Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America. We climbed over the rocks to get to the base and boy was it pretty. We met up with Roxanne's parents for dinner and Taylor came in on his break. It was a great introduction to Yosemite again.
Detail of a Margaret Kilgallen
We woke up early today to meet our next host. We are staying with another friend, Jacob, who lives in the Mission District. We had to meet him before work, so we hurried over. Jacob is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. After he left, we went and got breakfast sandwiches at a restaurant right down the street. Their apartment is street level, so when you open the door, you are right in the middle of it all. It is funny to think that I have to fly across the country to get to a big city when all they have to do is walk out the front door. It is like entering another world. After breakfast, we rode our bikes to the SFMOMA. This is my favorite art museum that I have been to. Today, the exhibits were nothing short of amazing. What was very exciting was a Robert Arneson exhibition. Arneson was a pioneer in making ceramics accepted in the fine art world. He made many self portraits that dealt with West Coast life and politics. Seeing some of his most famous works in person was a real treat! There was a room full of work from the Mission School Movement. It had work by Barry McGee, Margaret Kilgallen and Chris Johanson. These are three of my favorite artists and all originated in the Bay Area. It is cool to see that they place an emphasis on local artists. There was an exhibit on Buckmister Fuller and innovative architecture at the time. There were some really cool community projects included. I could have spent the entire day in the museum, but we had things to see. We were starving, so we headed to China Town. We wanted to get dim sum, so we looked up reviews on Derek's phone. We found a place on a side street that had everything written in Chinese. I get nervous when ordering as it is, so I rambled on and on and ended getting 12 pieces of dim sum for us. It turned out to be perfect because each piece was better than the next! It was amazing, but the best was pork and peanuts with vegetables. The perfect texture. I need more... We ate at the beginning of an alley which turned out to house the popular fortune cookie factory. We were notified of this when a huge walking tour passed us. They looked so funny, but like Derek said, it would be fun. Derek wanted to get a shirt in China Town since they are only $2, but they were so bad it wasn't even worth it. Next up, the MASH SF Transit Store. This is a bike shop I have been wanting to see for a while. When we got there though, it was closed. We could see inside and I am bummed because it looked great. Next time I guess. We rode to where else but Tartine! We had to get more. It is so cool to be able to ride a bike in a big city. It is so easy to get around and everything is much more exciting! We walked down Valencia St to go into some of the stores and who did we run into but Team Canada!!! We couldn't believe it. This was fate. We hung out with them for a little while and said our final good byes. It is a small world when you ride a bike across the country. Once Jacob got off of work, we set off to dinner. He took us to a Mexican restaurant with excellent tacos and Mexican Cokes. Perfect. After that, we went to BI-RITE CREAMERY for ice cream. Locally made ice cream is always the best. We had a great time talking and asking what it was like to live in SF full time. I can't imagine it, it is a whole different beast. We had a great time in San Francisco and tomorrow we are off to Yosemite! I wish we had more time, but there is always next time.
Green Apple Books mascot
We woke up ready to go. A trolley trip was planned for the morning! We went down to where the trolley gets turned around by hand on a turntable, classic tourists! It is still fun to see. We hopped on and took off up a very steep hill. The trolley is pulled by a cable that is constantly running underground. The driver uses a lever that grabs the cable when he wants to go. Seems archaic, but it works! It is really fun to see all of the people on board smiling and having a great time. I would love to ride the trolley back in the 1800s. I wonder if it was scarier? The sights from some of the hops of the hills in SF are amazing! After our trolley ride, we hopped on a vintage streetcar to get back to the hotel. Here, we said good bye to Team Roxanne. They are headed off to Yosemite! We will catch up with them in a couple days when my brother comes to pick us up. Once they left, we were on our own again, with our bags. We are staying with my friend, Destini, tonight, so we headed over there to drop our stuff off. I didn't realize how hard it would be to ride in SF fully loaded. Hills. Hills. HILLS! They live at the bottom of a huge hill, which we first had to climb up! There was no way we were going to ride up it, so we pushed, and I even had to walk backwards, pulling up my bike. Then, on the ride down the hill, I had to stand up and put all of my weight as far back as I could because I literally felt as if I was about to flip forward. CRAZY HILLS! We got to their house, dropped our stuff off and visited for a while. They took us to another great sandwich shop and 711 and we walked around to see some sights. We were going to go into the Frank Lloyd Wright building, but it was closed. It looked crazy inside, but very bland on the outside. It was hidden on a side street, which made it even more mysterious. After lunch, Derek and took our bikes and went for a ride around the city. We stopped at REI first, of course, to switch out my shoes. REI has the BEST return policy ever. We accidentally came across the painted ladies, the oh so popular Victorian houses that star in the Full House opening credits. There were a ton of tourists taking pictures, which I was included in. We rode through Haight Ashbury and went to Whole Foods to get milkshake ingredients. We rode into Golden Gate Park and made milkshakes by the carousel. How romantic... We rode past the science museum and the de Young Museum, which are in the center of the park. We were getting hungry again, so we rode over to the Richmond District. There is an Italian restaurant called GASPARE'S that my uncle took me to a long time ago that has really good pizza! It was loud and full of people. I missed this! I have gotten so used to going into empty restaurants in small towns, which can be nice too, but this was exciting. I really felt like I was in the city. We got the Manila special that has linguica sausage. I had this when my uncle took us here, but not since. It's SO good! After dinner, we went over to GREEN APPLE BOOKS, which is hands down the best book store in the city. It is super charming, has a great art section and a bunch of books with covers that make you want to buy them. I found a Marcel Dzama book that I had to get. He is one of my favorite painters. We headed back to Destini's, but not before stopping at Taco Bell. In high school, Destini and I always said that we would go to Taco Bell after school in my VW Bus, but it never happened. It finally happened! We watched a terrible western movie and hit the sack. More adventures in the city tomorrow!
Well, this is it! We made it! We are about to enter into San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge. Does life get any better? We woke up, said good bye and thank you to our hosts and were off. We headed towards the bridge down that steep hill we came up on. It was fun, but we had to keep the brakes on most of the way down because it was so steep! Easier than coming up for sure. We were riding through Sausalito when suddenly I look to my left. We are climbing up a hill and there it was! The Golden Gate Bridge. Wow. It started to sink in. We did it! We got to the parking lot before the bridge and met up with Roxanne. After pictures and such, we took off onto the bridge. The bridge is HUGE! Coats and coats of paint have been applied. The rivets are huge. The towers are tall. It's orange. It's the Golden Gate Bridge! We are on it! After crossing, I look at my cycling computer. 845 miles. We just rode 845 miles! I have to say, I am very proud of Derek and myself. 845 miles ago we were getting dropped off in Tillamook, OR. 20 days ago we were camping on the beach at Cape Lookout State Park. We rode through Oregon and halfway into California. On our bikes. With just our legs. And Coke, a lot of Coke. And burgers. We did it! We took our mandatory pictures of us and the bridge and were on our way. We were going to meet Roxanne and her parents at TARTINE BAKERY for breakfast. This is the world's best bakery, hands down. The best baked goods on the planet. Period. We rode through the busy streets of San Francisco, past my uncle's old apartment, on Geary St and through the Mission District. We arrived at Tartine with a table full of treats. The chocolate croissant was my favorite. After eating, we met back up with Team Roxanne at our hotel for the night. From there, we walked around to see some sights. These included Coit Tower, Union Square, China Town, and North Beach. We visited CITY LIGHTS BOOKSTORE, famous for being a hangout of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Great place! It feels crazy to be in a big city again after staying in small towns for three weeks. Quite busy! We finished up the day with an IKE'S sandwich and Derek stepping in dog poop with his cycling shoes (NOT easy to get out!). Our first day in San Francisco was exciting! I can't wait to explore more tomorrow. I still don't believe we won't be riding 50 miles tomorrow...
View from the top of the hill in Fairfax
We woke up and had a lazy morning with Roxanne and her parents. We left late and with Justin. We were headed to Sausalito, which was less than 30 miles away, so we knew we could take it easy. On our way out, we came across who else but the people with the cool trailer and Wagoneer! What are the chances?! They did the whole trip at the exact same speed as us. They were definitely smelling the roses. After riding out of Samuel P Taylor we hit the town of Fairfax. This was a very ritzy, but cool, town. It had a neat downtown with a ton of restaurants. We asked for suggestions and the Thai place was recommended. You can't really go wrong wit Thai, right? The place was empty, but tasted great. After lunch, we continued riding and met up with another guy who was on his way to San Diego. We started climbing a hill and as soon as we got to the top, I knew we were close. Justin took off with the new guy while Derek and I took a break. That was the last time we saw him. Good luck! We looked down the hill and could see Sausalito and the Bay. Pretty great. It was crazy knowing that we were almost done with this part of our journey! It seems like just yesterday we were dropped off on the coast of Oregon. One more day and we would be crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. We sped down the hill and found ourselves in Sausalito. It is a beautiful, VERY expensive town on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. We went to a Starbucks to recoup and figure out what we were going to do that night. We realized that the campsite we were planning on staying at was 10 miles back AND up a hill. No thanks. I logged onto WARM SHOWERS, a website that helps bicycle tourers find a place to stay the night, similar to Couch Surfing. I called the first number I found in Sausalito and they answered! She said yes and met us outside the Starbucks. She offered to take our bags up for us because the hill was steep. We complied and set off up the hill. She warned us it would be steep. Guess what, it was STEEP! 10% grade! I don't think I would have made it up with the bags. Well, I know I wouldn't make it. It was a beautiful winding road with stellar houses all around. We got to their place and went inside. The view was magnificent! You could see the Sausalito hills, the Bay, Alcatraz and San Francisco. The fog was rolling in. Priceless view. The people we stayed with were bicycle tourers themselves and were actually headed out to Seattle in the morning to go riding! I can't believe they were nice enough to house us while being so busy. Bicyclists are another breed... We took showers, talked with them for a bit and were off to bed. Tomorrow is the big day!
Today we meet up somewhere along the line with Roxanne and her parents! They spent some time in Portland and have been driving down to San Francisco for the past two days. We have planned to meet them today and I could not be more excited! We left Zoe and Rob knowing that we probably wouldn't see them again, as they were taking it easy today. It is sad to leave new friends, kind of like summer camp (which I never went to but I think it's like that?). Our first stop of the day was Bodega Bay. Before we left on the trip, this was one of the places I thought would be the nicest. Something about the name got me. When we got there, this was not the case. It was lackluster and didn't even have a good restaurant. What?! Preconceived notions don't always work out. That's what places like Stewart's Point and Westport are for, right? We left Bodega Bay and were on our way towards Samuel P Taylor Park, which we have heard nothing but good things about. As we left Bodega Bay, we also left the coast. We were headed inland where the grass is golden and the temperatures are high. It was very sunny and very hot and very hilly. Not my favorite conditions, but Derek was in heaven. We came to a town and pulled over to take our leg warmers off. I get a phone call saying don't go anywhere. I look up and there is Roxanne! Woo Hoo! A sight for sore eyes. I was a little bummed that we weren't riding though. I had this great scene in my head where we would be riding gallantly along the highway and they would pull up next to us honking and yelling. Not the case. That's okay. Westport. Stewart's Point. After a quick visit, we were on our way again. Something worth noting is the It's It Ice Cream Sandwich. They are all over California and I had my first at a convenience store with Roxanne. Oatmeal cookie, vanilla ice cream, coated in chocolate. Yes, please! Our next stop was Point Reyes Station. This is a super cool small town with neat buildings, unique shops and what looked like tasty restaurants. I love running into these cool places unexpectedly. They had a bike shop called BLACK MOUNTAIN CYCLES that looked amazing. Unfortunately, it was closed. Of course. Even without going in, I recommend it, based on what I saw inside. Vintage road and mountain bikes, Phil Wood parts and anything good that is cycling related. Next time... After seeing Roxanne again, we headed off to the campsite. This was turning out to be our longest day of the trip. It was going to be a 70 mile day by the time we got to the site. After getting lost several times, we finally found the road that would take us to Samuel P Taylor. It was a long, hilly, open road. Pretty scenic, but a little nerve racking until we knew it was the right way. This would have been a HUGE detour if we were wrong. As we approached the campground, Roxanne and her parents drove by. What a relief! We pulled into the campsite and were treated to more Redwood trees, an isolated campsite and a stream behind us. We were camping with Roxanne and her parents tonight in our own site. A nice change. As an extra bonus, the showers were FREE!!! While in Point Reyes, Roxanne and her parents picked up a couple pizzas from a wood fired pizza place. And cokes. Best way to end a day after spending a day on a bike for 70 miles. Ed, Roxanne's dad, noticed some bats by the stream and we made it just in time to see a couple. Really cool! I can't believe this Redwood Forest was in the middle of these rolling, golden hills. Then, Justin came by and told us that who other than Ben was here! No way! We went up and talked with him. We couldn't believe he was here. We thought he would be in SF by now since we took a rest day. He had taken it easy and was headed there tomorrow. What a funny kid. After smores and hanging out by the campfire, it was bed time. I was out like a light bulb!