• Brian Rawson

Spirited Seals and Abundant Artichokes - U.S. 360 Day 34 from Santa Cruz CA to Monterey CA

My cycling journey around the American perimeter

47 miles – Total so far: 1713 miles

Woke up to the harmonious sound of seals barking in the ocean below, unfortunately not totally in unison. Got dressed, snapped a few pictures with some new friends, and headed South. An hour into the day’s ride, I realized I had left my camp towel hanging in a large pine tree at the campground. The good news is that my load is a bit lighter, the bad news is that a bandana will now be my method of choice for toweling off. I consider myself a pseudo minimalist, but that just seems wrong, very wrong.

The route today was an interesting one. I spent the entire day traveling from one end of Monterey Bay to the other. Santa Cruz lies on the North end of the bay, the city of Monterey lies on the far South end of the bay. The scenery was also very different today, at least from the previous few days of rides. Upon leaving Santa Cruz, the route turned inland, so we were treated to a mostly agricultural day. Stalwart food companies Del Monte and Dole farms were seemingly everywhere.

The cash crops today were primarily artichokes, avocados and onions. The fields of artichokes were expansive, and plants were loaded with the vegetable. Interestingly, the artichoke plant is part of the thistle family, and virtually 100% of the U.S. production of artichokes comes from Monterey County. So, I guess you could say I was in artichoke heaven. Given the sheer number of artichokes I saw today, and the demand I witness in Texas, I fail to see how there is not a worldwide glut of the vegetable. At lunch, we stopped at an artichoke stand and made a thoughtful decision to consume an artichoke burrito, which the proprietor assured me would be the best thing I’ve ever eaten. So, with that prediction, along with the fact that I was in starvation mode, I ate my first artichoke burrito. Looking back, I can honestly say that it was astonishingly good! One of the many benefits of bicycle touring off the beaten path.

I passed through the towns of Capitola, Aptos, Moss Landing, Marina, Seaside, and Monterey today. Of particular note was Moss Landing, where I saw literally hundreds of barking, assumably happy seals frolicking on a pier in the town. Their antics, specifically their barking, was fun for a while, until it wasn’t. Soon, we were back en route to our final day’s destination, Monterey. Monterey Bay was active for much of the day with sailboats, cold-braving surfers, and beach combers. The water in Monterey Bay may well be the deepest color blue I’ve ever seen, and the vistas are beyond spectacular. The most noticeable animal species I saw today were millions of fat squirrels, which I assume are probably feasting on the almonds indigenous to the area, as well as plenty of lizards.

A sort of scary moment later in the day. Moments after ignoring a rare “no bike zone” sign on Highway 1, I looked behind me and saw a speeding California Highway Patrol car with sirens blaring and lights blazing heading right for me. Luckily, it was chasing a speeding automobile and didn’t seem overly concerned with a 52 year-old adventure cyclist speeding down the Pacific Coast Highway at a raw 10 mph.

Arriving into the outskirts of Monterey, I came upon some of the most incredible biking infrastructure I’ve ever seen. A separate two-lane biking path began probably 15 miles outside of Monterey and transported us all the way to downtown Monterey. Californian’s, certainly with respect to cycling, do it right! We finished the day atop what appeared to be the highest mountain in Monterey at a campground called Veterans Memorial Park. The climb to the park was crummy, but we were rewarded with a beautiful campground and views upon our arrival. We’re camping with an estimated 15 other adventure cyclists from all over the world this evening. There will be plenty of sleep tonight, given the difficulty of tomorrow’s ride, coupled with the fact that we must pack food and water for two days, and prepare for an extended time with no electricity.

It’s All Good.

Photo of the Day: Yes, I am now the California artichoke king!

Click Here to read my daily tour journal entry on crazyguyonabike.com

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