All right, thatís it. This trip is over. Iím staying.
No. I canít do that, at least not right now. But Iím coming back here as soon as I can. Iíd like to try a 50CC, the Iron Butt ride where you try to run coast to coast in 50 hours or less. The Jacksonville, Florida to San Diego, California route is the most popular, but Iíd like to try it from New York to San Francisco.
Around 2:30 PM, I head west across town towards the coast. Iím driving through the city as slowly as possible, trying to savor every last moment, every last block. I stop at Cliff House, just south of Point Lobos, where the ocean crashes against the city boundary. On the site is the third Cliff House, built in 1909. The first Cliff House, a modest structure, was built in 1863 and destroyed by fire in 1894. Two years later it was replaced by a grandiose eight story French Chateau. That building survived the 1906 quake but burned down the following year.
The Cliff House is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and I get another bonus stamp I hadnít expected. Just south, at the other end of the Ocean Beach, is Fort Funtson, another part of the GGNRA and a popular spot for hang gliders, who take advantage of the high cliffs and strong winds. But the Ranger Station here is only open Saturdays and Sundays, and today is Friday. I can see the stamp through the window but I I hadnít planned on getting this one anyway. Plus I got three stamps in San Francisco I didnít even know about. Time to move on.
The coastal highway is very relaxing and as I ride down Route 1 Iím feeling very calm and carefree. Iím supposed to drive all the way to San Simeon today, a 230-mile trip, but thereís no way I can make it before dark. But I donít care. For the first time on this trip it just doesnít matter. I feel free. Iím flying, breathing the ocean air, slowly, feeling each breath fill my lungs with the moist salt air. I know it will all work out. This road, this place, this time, itís all coming together.
I stop at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse just to get off the bike and look at the ocean. Itís like I donít want this moment to end and by stopping Iíll delay the inevitable. Iíve been thinking about that movie last night, and how the main character, Lester Burnham, looks back on his life when he was younger and tries to get himself back to that time. And Iím wondering if I wonít be looking back ten years from now and wishing I was back here at this moment and this time. I donít want to lose this feeling, this time, this beauty. The videotape will help me remember, but time will change everything. In ten years everything will be different, and itís almost like Iím losing it now. The next second comes, and then, itís gone. And people will come and go, and Iíll be missing you.
The National Geographic Scenic Highways and Byways book lists a 17-mile loop around the Monterey Peninsula which takes you along the shoreline past windswept cypress groves and the famed Pebble Beach golf course. But Chuck told me motorcycles arenít allowed. And he was right, but I had to see for myself. At the entrance gate to the drive the guard tells me that the residents donít want motorcycles riding through. Blame it on those loud Harleys with their straight pipes. Is this legal? Itís okay right now, and I donít even argue because I should be getting south anyway.
Past Carmel, the Big Sur coastline extends for 90 miles south to San Simeon. Route 1 rises along the granite cliffs with frothy waves pounding the ragged rocks below. I cross Bixby Creek Bridge, stopping on the other side for the obligatory photographs. The fog is working its way inland, and the setting sun is hidden behind low, milky clouds. Just past the town of Big Sur, I stop at Nepenthe; a charming restaurant perched 800 feet above the sea. Kelly told me I had to stop here and she was right. Itís a great place, with a roaring fire in the center of the main room and tremendous views of the ocean. That is, when you can actually see the ocean, which I canít because itís too foggy.
After striking up a conversation with the lovely Bartendress, I decide to stop here for the night. Iíll catch up tomorrow, when the fog rolls away and I can see more than 50 feet ahead. Thereís no point in riding down this wonderful road in the dark and the fog. After dinner, I get a room at the Big Sur Lodge (http://www.bigsurlodge.com), back north a few miles right in the middle of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Itís the only room theyíve got left and itís very expensive, but itís got a fireplace and a big stack of wood. A great way to end another great day.
"Forget your worldly
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