Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Warp Speed our of So Cal: From Jammed Knees to Jam Sessions

Today, I awoke to bright rays of sun streaming in through the kitchen window of Micaiah's 13th-floor apartment. I haven't eaten breakfast yet. Robbie's in the shower. Micaiah went to work. Brandon is asleep on the floor. Sam is asleep on the futon. Our two empty sleeping bags and two empty bottles of wine decorate the apartment. Robbie's big, neon hoodie hangs from a chair and has chain grease and chile stains on it. Here is how Robbie and I came to be here, overlooking downtown San Francisco from our proverbial Cloud 9.

On Sunday, as we left LA, my legs and knees were tired from the 90 miles biked the day prior. That wasn't a problem: standard procedure. After 10 miles or so, I began to feel a sharp pain on the back of my right knee each time I pedaled very hard. Ten miles later, on the south side of Malibu, after traveling half the speed of smell for two hours, we called it quits.

We sat at a gas station, trying to find a ride either forward to Oxnard, or back to Los Angeles. It had to be a truck, to accommodate our bikes, with space in the cab to accommodate us. There are lots of little sports cars in Malibu. Robbie asked 4 people, but they were duds, stingy old folk.  I asked two and was accepted by both, though the first (a van full of hippies) didn't seem ideal, so we held out. Cory, a firefighter in a white truck, a prince and a noble steed as far as we could tell, drove us all the way back to the northeast side of La. We stayed with Sault Ste. Marie natives Brandon Carr and Sam Pavlat for two nights. The best way to proceed, letting my knee heal and continuing the trip, we agreed was to drive to San Francisco, where we had a free place to stay for a while to do some R&R.  We were going to rent a car, but Sam and Brandon wanted to take a road trip, so we bought a bike rack for their car, strapped the Mango Sentinel and the LO Ryder to the dodge charger, and headed north on the Pacific Coast Highway.

It was rainy and cold, and traffic sucked as we left LA at 8am. Robbie and I were ready to be done with the place, glad for having experienced it, and gladder for being on our way. We stopped to get gas....4.67 a gallon.

We could have taken the 5 right up to San Fran, and it would have been a 380-mile trip on an expressway, but we wanted to see the coast, even if we weren't biking it. The PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), was a 480 mile trip to San Fran, and a slower one, too.

First stop of note: Hearst Castle. William R. Hearst was a railroad tycoon who made millions back in the day, and built himself a castle that is now a museum. We stopped to see it. Be sure to look at the video so you can share that experience with us.

Still in the grasps of emotion from our castle stop, and me with a sugar rush from a berry and cheese croissant, we headed down the road only a few miles before stumbling on to a seal beach. We looked at seals for a while. They smelled quite bad.
As we left the seals, the beach turned into ocean cliffs, and we found ourselves scurrying along the windy cliffsides on the narrow PCH in the Dodge Charger, agile like a goat. For those people who don't enjoy heights or thoughts of falling to their rocky death, the drive caused a little anxiety. Every few hundred yards, basketball-sized debris littered the road before us: threats from the cliffs above.At one point, one of the two lanes were closed, and road workers with stop-signs and walkie-talkies were managing the few cars trying to navigate the bend without crashing into each other. They let us pass without bothering to tell us what was further down the road.

About 8 miles later, driving 25-30 mph around the climbing and diving bends of the Pacific Coast, we came to a sign:

The cliff had collapsed and covered part of the road. No se puede pasar. 

It was 56 miles back to a road that would take us to a detour. As we drove back up and down the cliffs and past the sinister road workers, we thought aloud that it would have been much worse on a bike.

Until we had to buy gas.
They had us by the short and curlies, 60 miles from anywhere. We had no choice. But we didn't buy their $6 bag of Doritos. Hell no, we didn't. We were hungry, too. When we did make it back to a town, we stopped at the general store for eats. Slim pickins. Brandon used the outhouse next to the store while the three of us pillaged the store for reasonable nutrition. I walked out with a blueberry muffin, a blueberry and cheese danish, and an iced latte for $5. Sam got a blueberry muffin, too. Robbie made it out cheap, buying a big disk of sweet bread and a pint of chocolate milk and an apple cinnamon muffin for $3.88. Ask him how the bread was.

After we had gone around the mountains on the detour,  we wanted to get back to the coast to see the sights. We stopped and asked a 40-year-old gas station attendant how to get back to the PCH. Stupid idea. The directions she gave us were to go south 40 miles to the PCH and then drive north. ETA at San Fran: 3+ hours. Thankfully, we learned from our mistakes, and I looked at the map before we left. We drove 18 miles northeast to the PCH and were to San Francisco in under two hours. If somebody is still a gas station clerk at 40, there is probably a reason why.

Words can't describe how pleasant our reception into San Francisco was. It was raining, but it felt like warm sunshine to me. Immediately, the vibe on the street was different from Southern Cali. As I pushed my bike, loaded up with all my supplies, through the rain from the parking garage to our hosts' apartment building, I had the feeling that things were looking up. Not in a way that would give us fewer or lesser tales to tell, but still looking up. Please click the link to our San Francisco Debut above to see how the night ended.


  1. The videos are taking a while to load. They will be posted later tonight.

  2. I am enjoying this so much - I have been concerned about the knee though. After 4 kids I was smart enough to just call Shannon - she is a sweetie - sent me an email and I didn't worry anymore.. Say hi to Mr. Filkens - and send my blessings - waiting eagerly for the videos...

    love you both momster

  3. AHHH haha! Such a good jam! That Uke sounds good, Stu. Rob, when you return we will play Amazing Grace for all of SSM from the PG like old times.
    I wish I was enjoying San Fran with the both of you! PEACE

  4. New Videos= Epic. G loved Herst Castle! It was b.e.a.utiful. Stu, I,m glad you and your crossaunt made it past Edgar Allen Poe, and if you need to get some tips on the A.D.D. talk to Rob I can help ya out... "O, bumblebee! Squirrel." Lovin' the footage it's what gets me through.