Day three: Monterey!!

Start: Sunset Beach
End: Veteran’s Memorial Park, Monterey
Miles Biked: 57

I knew today was going to be a great day when, by 9:15, the sun was shining, I’d already seen a bunch of sea lions…

…and I’d found an amazing fruit stand on the side of the road where I was able to buy farm-fresh kiwis the size of my fist that dribbled kiwi juice down my chin when I bit into them. Delicious.

Indeed, the third day did not disappoint: like I wrote in my journal, “today was an I’m-so-happy-to-be-alive day of the most glorious sort.” Even thinking about it now makes me happy all over again:)

There were a few things that made it so good. First of all, the sun–out early, then staying out–made a warm backdrop against which everything seemed more lovely, more possible. Also, can anyone say bike lanes?? I started the day on back roads and farmlands, then, after only a brief stint on a very busy Highway 1, turned off onto dedicated bike paths, where I stayed for most of the day. It’s so wonderful to have a road made specifically for you, away from traffic, and, for the most part, right along the ocean. Here’s a sample of what I was biking on (and a good thing to look at if you’re one of the people who consistently told me how dangerous it would be to bike down the coast;)

Also, since Sunset Beach was only about 35 (I think) miles from Monterey, I made it to my campsite by noon. Which meant that I was able to set up my tent in the sunshine and let it dry out all afternoon. It also meant that I could stash my trailer again and then take off for a bike tour of Monterey without schlepping all my stuff with me.

Oh. My. Goodness. Monterey made my heart swell. Bike lanes right along the ocean? Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row? The aquarium (which I biked by but couldn’t bring myself to forsake the gorgeous outside weather for)? Amazing rocks, expansive beaches, sea lions and harbor seals, tons of other people out on their bikes…I kind of fell in love a little.

Of course, it has its ridiculous side. I took a ride down this road called 17-Mile Drive, which is basically a humongotron gated community/golf course for the super wealthy. You have to pay to get into it if you’re driving, though biking in is free. It’s amazingly beautiful, continuing the roads that are right on the ocean, sweeping beaches and dramatic rocks, graceful cypress trees, the sounds of sea lions (and, less exciting to me, golf thwacks). But the blatant opulence of it all made me a little uncomfortable. Or rather, I enjoyed biking there when the ocean and the nature were prominent features; once the road took a turn inland and the main attraction was the sprawling mansions, I was much less excited about it. It didn’t seem right, somehow, that people should have so much, all to themselves.

One of the most humble, free attractions of the day was actually my favorite: south of Monterey in Pacific Grove, there’s a little bitty butterfly grove, where the monarch butterflies go to rest and mate before they head up to Alaska as part of their mysterious, thousands-of-miles migration. Hundreds of butterflies cluster in the eucalyptus and pine trees, hanging by the branches kind of like bats until it gets warm and sunny enough for them to want to flutter around. When I was there, the air was thick with butterflies (and then through the rest of my trip, every once in a while I’d see a lone monarch fluttering above me, which always made me smile). It was an amazing place, made even more awesome by the fact that there were a few docents with telescopes and binoculars you could borrow, all free of charge.

Except for the fact that it’s drastically expensive, I would totally move to Monterey in a second. (I saw a house for sale for $13 million. Does that kind of thing really exist in the same world as me?)

This day made me so, amazingly happy for the opportunity to be traveling by bike. What a lucky stasia I am! :)

Farms, mansions: from production to consumption.

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