At the end of April, Norb, Randy, Stella and I took a ride to the central coast of California. We left on Thursday, the 30th of April with a goal to make it to Pismo Beach on Friday to meet with Stella’s Cousin Richard and his girlfriend Nancy. After meeting with Richard and Nancy, we pointed the bikes North up the coast. We saw some awesome scenery along the Big Sur area, through San Francisco and to Petaluma and home. Here is a slideshow of all the pictures and following is my “ride report”.
Day 1 – Chico to Monterey ~ 275 Miles
We met at Norb’s house in Durham, rarin’ to go. It was a little cool but a beautiful day for a ride. We were looking at a 275 mile day with lots of slab, down 99 to I5 to Santa Nella, then turn West to Hollister (we bypassed Hollister and decided not to terrorize the town like Marlon Brando) and on to Monterey. We stopped for Lunch at Anderson’s Pea Soup in Santa Nella We’ve gone past it a zillion times and never stopped. Not a bad lunch for I5 road fare.
The last 15 miles into Monterey were a harbinger of something that would heckle us for the next three days – wind. The wind was blowing off the ocean so hard we felt like we were driving sideways. The sand dunes and freeway cuts gave us a little relief but the blast at the end of a dune made us pay attention! Randy had made reservations at a Super 8 in Monterey and it wasn’t fancy but clean and reasonably priced. We unpacked into our rooms and went into Monterey for Dinner. Randy knew about a Mexican restaurant right on the water named El Torito. Nice place, a little pricey but ya pay a little extra for the view of the Bay. The Super 8 had a free continental breakfast that wasn’t bad so after gassing up on sugar, we took off.
Day 2 – Monterey to Pismo Beach ~ 156 Miles
We intended to follow Hwy 101 down to Pismo Beach and decided to make it a little more interesting so we took Carmel Valley from Hwy 1 to Hwy 101. That turned out to me a good decision, Carmel Valley Road starts just a little South of Carmel and meanders over to Hwy 101 – starting as a busy Hwy and slowly shrinking into a twisty, picturesque little road. Near Hwy 101 it travels through a valley that is just thriving with agriculture – miles and miles of vineyards, very pleasing to see all the activity happening in the fields.
Hwy 101 in that area is just another superslab passing through more farm lands. We passed a convoy of military trucks and when we stopped at a minimart/gas station for a butt-rest and ice cream cone, the convoy also stopped and filled their fuel tanks and their bellies. We had a good time talking with the Marine Corp soldiers and checking out their vehicles. They were from Sacramento and were typical of the Marines that I have met in the past – very polite with lot’s of Yes Sirs and Yes Ma’ams and patient with our dumb questions.
Back on the road we arrived in Pismo Beach in the early afternoon where we were to meet Stella’s Cousin Richard and his girlfriend Nancy. We found our room at the Oxford Suites and it was a nice one. They didn’t have the accommodations that we needed (2 rooms, 1 for the guys and one for Stella and I) so we took a suite that had three beds and Stella and I took the foldout couch.
Part of the reason to start our coast route at Pismo Beach was to deliver
Stella’s Aunt’s remains to Richard who lives in the LA area. We planned to have a little memorial in the morning.
In the mean time we made reservations at a nearby steakhouse named Mclintocks. Stella and I had eaten at Mclintocks a few years ago and it’s a fun place with excellent food. They are staffed with college students from nearby San Luis Obispo and they are part of the show. They have a little deal where they pour your water from a couple of feet above the table and they never miss (?). Once in a while they have a customer hold an empty water-glass on their head, then they stand a chair and while blindfolded they pour water into the glass without spilling a drop. I don’t know how I became the next lucky customer (chump?) to have the blindfolded routine practiced on me but I suspect someone at our table was the culprit! I should have been suspicious when the young man said this was his first time but I was game and smiled while he proceeded to dump water all over me! Norbert had my camera and videotaped the whole fiasco.
The next morning we went to the Pismo Pier and Stella and Richard walked on the beach and remembered his Mom’s life. Then we all went on the pier and prayed for Aunt Lala and said goodby. It was nice to visit with Richard and Nancy and we really thank Randy and Norb for bring patient while we had a family visit. we then packed up and headed North following Hwy 1 with a goal to spend the night somewhere near Monterey.
Day 3 – Pismo Beach to Santa Cruz ~ 188 Miles
The central California coast has some of the prettiest scenery in the world and there we were enjoying it from the back of the bikes. We made an obligatory stop at the Hearst Castle but opted not to take the tour – we just rested for a few minutes, took some pictures and moved on up the coast. We were getting hungry by then and started looking for a lunch spot. We were in the Big Sur area by then and we were so busy watching the scenery that probably skipped some good restaurants but we finally stopped at a little place called Whale Watchers Inn. As we started to go in, Randy remarked that this was probably one of those places where they have 15 dollar hamburgers. When we got inside, the menu showed hamburgers were in fact 14.95! Since we were hungry and it looked like slim pikens along the coast we went ahead and ordered. I had a hamburger and while it was good, it wasn’t worth 14.95!
We continued along the coast and had intended to find a room in Capitola. We have a mutual friend, George who has a family cabin/house in Capitola and we’d heard so much about it we wanted to check it out. We couldn’t find George’s place and we couldn’t find a room either! It seems that on Saturday night they are booked solid. We drove over to Santa Cruz and stopped at a Best Western Suites and asked the nice girl at the counter for a room – it was a little pricey so we wanted a room with 3 beds. After showing us a couple of rooms she gave us a 2 bedroom suite with a bathroom for each room (with a jacuzzi in the tub), a living room, a dining room and a fireplace. Pretty nice digs- as big as a lot of apartments. She only charged us 175.00 and split 3 ways that was pretty good. Randy made a little video tour of our digs. They had a really nice breakfast set-up where you could cook your own waffles and we gorged and headed on up the coast.
Day 4 – Santa Cruz to Petaluma ~ 130 Miles
We proceeded up the coast following Hwy 1 towards San Francisco. Along the way we stopped at a lighthouse – Pigeon Point Lighthouse which turned out to be a neat stop and butt-rest. We walked around the grounds and took a bunch of pictures and generally enjoyed the scenery of the old lighthouse and the coastal views. There were vistas of the breakers crashing on the rocks below and if we looked close there were Sea Lions basking on the rocks.
We then continued up the coast through Half Moon Bay and on into San Francisco. It was interesting to ride through the surface streets of San Francisco and look at the sights along the way even though the traffic on a Sunday afternoon was pretty congested – sometimes bumper to bumper. The Golden Gate bridge was our destination and it was cool to ride across even though it seemed that the whole city had turned out on this nice sunny day to gawk at the sights like we were doing. On the Marin side of the bridge we pulled into the vista point and after circling a couple of times, finally found a parking place. There were lots of photo ops there and we snapped a bunch. I had my new telephoto lens on the camera and was pleased with the shots I was getting.
We continued up the coast and this was a part of the coast that I hadn’t traveled for years. I was pleasantly surprised at the ocean views that we were seeing on this stretch of Hwy 1. I had forgotten how pretty it was along this part of the coast.
We stopped in Olema and had a nice lunch. While eating lunch we dragged out the maps and decided to head inland with the goal being to reach Petaluma to spend the night. We followed the Point Reyes Petaluma road which turned out to be a nice motorcycle road that wandered over green hills and through pretty agricultural valleys.
Day 5 – Petaluma to Chico ~ 183 Miles
After spending night at the Best Western in Petaluma, we hit the twisties again over through Calistoga and Middletown to Hwy 20 and down to Williams where we had a nice meal at Granzella’s. Granzella’s has been a standard stop for us on our motorcycle trips for some time. A few years ago it burned to the ground but it is now rebuilt and roomier and still serves great meals.
From Williams we followed the River Road back to Chico and home. We had a very nice trip with good friends and great scenery. Thank you Lord for giving us the ability to enjoy your creation with great friends!
*If you’re not bored yet, Click here for a slideshow of the trip.