Day 39 (2016-10-04): ~60miles (with 5 mile detour & 5 mi checking out town) from Half-Moon Bay to Santa Cruz, CA. Highway 1 with a detour to Pescadero via Stage Road/Gazos Creek Road.
Stage Road…well, there it is. Highway 1 continues straight and with a pretty decent shoulder and low traffic. So why am I standing here looking at this little road that drops down into the valley, winds up through the hills, adds 5 miles, and triples the elevation gain? Perhaps the easier questions is: why not? For that I could only think of one answer: didn’t know about it. Since I do know about it, I guess I have to take it.
I found out about this little detour last night while researching the next few days of the riding. Thank you to Hunterfryellis for your blog post about this and other details between San francisco and LA. Just north of California State Route 84, Stage Road cuts inland and winds down into the tiny town of San Gregorio. Honestly, It’s not really even a town. The road continues, climbing into the foothills at a modest grade on a small, one-lane road full of switchbacks and open views over the valley between foothills. I cruise down the other side only to come to the bottom and see a sign reading “gravel on road” followed by “bicycle not advised.” I pay little mind. This is an adventure, after all. Turns out the road was recently microsurfaced, so it was perfectly fine just some loose gravel.
Horses, cows, pigs. Dogs, cats, birds. A few deer. A turtle. This is why I took the path less traveled. Rolling into historic Pescadero I was in for a surprise: Arcangeli Grocery Co., a cute small-town Grocery store famous for its breads, jam, and pies. Hidden down the driveway and behind the store is a small picnic area complete with porta-potty and washing station. There is also a bike stand, pump, and all the tools you need for basic maintenance. Wow, this place rocks! I was over the moon!
Of course, I absolutely must support this place so I go inside to find a snack. At this point I am trying to cut weight by eating food so I think I’ll just buy a piece of fruit and perhaps a pie. Well, there are no pies by the slice so I opt for a small jar of the homemade Olallieberry jam. I don’t have any peanut butter right now but I’ll pick some up soon for sandwiches. And I’m staying indoors tonight, so toast! The real kicker though was the bread. Oh man, this thing smells so good. It’s garlic herb bread stuffed with artichoke and it is still warm! Cannot say no. If you come through town this place is a MUST!
Continuing on I made a left on Pescadero Creek Road and, due to a detour, bypassed Cloverdale Road and made a right on Butano Cut-off Rd to return to Cloverdale. This was a quite road leading to the state park where it morphed into an even quieter, winding one-lane twisting through the shade and met Gazo Creek Rd. This wound alongside the Gazo Creek and led me back to Highway 1. PRO TRIP: Most of the climbing on this route is between San Gregorio and Pescadero. From Pescadero south it’s mostly flat.
Joining back up with Highway 1 was not too welcome but I did enjoy a nice tailwind and cruised another 5 miles in no time. Until I saw this sign. Hell yes! I pulled over and found the Pie Ranch to be more than just a store selling pies – it also has veggies, flour, fruits, and other its grown or made here. Plus it’s a certified Food Justice Producer and hosts all kinds of events and runs a education program for youth. Coming up is a special on food justice and racial equity, bringing local experts to give TED-like talks. So cool!
Okay, on to Santa Cruz. I’ve discovered an interesting way to use my sunglasses if it gets sunny but I’m not wearing contacts.
This place is pretty cool. I’ve only been here for 30 minutes but I am seriously considering the possibility of living here with Scott when he finishes his degree in May 2018. He recently visited, loved it, and will almost definitely stay in California with his teaching certification. Since I am homeless but not aimless, I keep thinking about my options. This one looks good. Scott. Sunshine, flat but with hills and mountains, plenty of nearby outdoor recreation, easy access to San Francisco. Home to a lot of organic agriculture (I am increasingly interested in food) and University of California, Santa Cruz. The city has about 60-70k people and the greater area including Monterey is close to 250. Affordability is not bad, given that I lived in Seattle.
I learned all this hanging out at the library waiting for my Warm Showers host to get off work and researching it. This, of course, led me down a tangent thinking about my future and potential for MBA, MPA, and other Master’s degrees. Or perhaps first I take some non-credit courses and think about starting my own business or organization. Who knows. So many possibilities!
I was just killing time until Tisho gets back from work. And now we’re chatting about all things. He’s a recent immigrant from Bulgaria and we’ve already discussed his green card situation, a foundation he started in Bulgaria, and a bunch of other stuff. We’re going to head out for some dinner soon.
Tisho is really cool. We chat for a long time about all kinds of things, eat the hottest damn taco’s ever, and wash it down with some ice cream before heading back and calling it a night. For a night I felt like I was with a long-time friend which felt really good after yesterday kind of sucked and today was only my second day riding solo.