Day 40: America’s Fertile Crescent (Thanks Irrigation!)

Day 40 (2016-10-05): ~45miles from Santa Cruz to Monterey, CA. Farm roads, bike paths, and very little highway.

This morning Tisho was up early and I followed soon after. We chatted a bit more before he left for work while he boiled some eggs and set out fruit and nuts for breakfast. It’s chilly this morning but the sun is out in full force and it won’t be long until the road heats up. Riding out if town was uneventful, in part because I had a bike lane the entire time even though the route took me on a handful of different roads.

After finally clearing the metro area I’ve entered the country’s garden. Farms stretch as far as the eye can see through rolling hills and dry flatlands. It’s weird to see so much green amid such a brown and yellow landscape, but this is California. I pass many fields of cabbage before entering into Strawberry country. Clearly, strawberries are labor-intensive as seen by the many, many hispanic workers out in the fields. I pass vans blasting Mexican music and taco trucks selling lunch to the quickly gathering crowd. My mind drifts off, wandering through the convoluted paths of immigration, labor, and politics in our country. When I break from this spell the time continues to slide by as I talk to myself in Spanish, practicing all the things I might say should I speak with one of the workers. Suddenly, I am back on Highway 1 with a rad tailwind and soon hit mile 25 just outside Moss Landing.

A field of cabbage stretching on for at least a quarter-mile

Celery, cabbage, strawberries, cauliflower, corn, lettuce, other greens, artichoke, and pumpkins. I saw all of these things growing and being harvested today. I know almonds and raisins are around here too because I keep seeing signs for then at produce stands. So much food!

I decide to stop, needing lunch, water, and a restroom. I pick the Market & Deli with an outdoor produce stand advertising 6 ripe avocados for $1.00. Cannot be real. It is, and even though they’re tiny 6 for a dollar is a steal. They’re not the best but they do what I need them to do alongside a kiwi, banana, and some buffalo style pretzels. A nice man comes up, chats a bit, offers me a homemade mango fig newton from the produce stand, then walks away and hops in his FedEx truck. I love nice folks, and there have been quite a few down here.

Continuing on I hit headwinds and a pretty boring stretch that sapped my motivation. This area is a lot like what I imagine the southwest to be like: flat, windy, sunny, and sandy. Except there will be a lot fewer people. I was right near the highway but there was still nothing around but farms and trucks. I guess this was good training. Mostly, I am glad I had music to listen to…

This is what it looks like without irrigation.

I didn’t see much of Monterey because I was losing energy and just wanted to get to camp. What I did not know was camp is at the top of a VERY difficult hill. I’ve encountered steeper sections of road in other places but only for a couple hundred feet at most. This climb was a half mile long, at the very end of the day, and well over the usual 5-6℅ grade. Sheesh. You’d hope after all that to find a nice campground… you’d be wrong. Just a city park with a couple of homeless folks camped out. I hope my British friends show up so I can feel a little safer about my things.

After sluggishly setting up the tent I crawled inside, had a snack, and passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow. I may not even eat dinner tonight, feeling so unmotivated. I only came to when I heard Sophie’s loud voice rolling into camp. Wohoo! I’m not alone. 🙂

After sleeping it off I felt better and realized I had been rather dehydrated, which explains the exhaustion and sluggishness. It’s tough to drink enough when it’s technically kind of hot and brutally sunny but the strong winds make your evaporating sweat chilly. Whoops.

Made dinner after all, chatted a bunch, read for an hour or more, and called it a night.

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