As promised, here comes the second part of my report of my tour from San Francisco to San Diego. After I rode from San Francisco to Berkeley with the amazing Bikeshuttle I had to take the ferry back. This was mainly because my ambitions to be at the station by 7:00 where somewhat limited. After I left San Francisco I came back to enjoy the sunny beaches along the Californian highway.
My first campsite south of SF was then contrary to my expectations not an official campground, but a small niche in the brush directly on the pacific coast. On the photo though it might seem like it could have been an illegal drug depot, never the less I have slept there, quite excellent. On my way south, I was of course always looking for nice places where I could up my tent for free. Mostly I was looking for little side streets and dirt roads, in urban areas these are a bit rare which unfortunately caused my days to be sometimes a bit longer than planned.
Luckily, I was informed by a park ranger about the fact, that you can go camping in national parks where ever one wants. Except in restricted areas. So next thing I know, I’m pitching my tent right outside an official campsite. The next morning, I went to have for breakfast and brushing my teeth on the nearby beach. I really enjoyed that!
Back on route, I saw two people with these weird Ortlieb pannier-things on their bikes standing by the side of the road. Antonio and Amanda fully loaded, with the Ortlieb colorline bags on their way to the south. The two were on their way from San Francisco to Terra del Fuego, on the road for a week with the ultimate goal of getting to Africa and Spain Blog So we decided to continue on together for a little bit. From Los Angeles on onward we had different time schedules and unfortunately our paths separated again. Together we had a very good time on various campsites. The two also shared my opinion that paying $10 for pitching a tent on a patch of grass behind the restrooms or next to other inconvenient places was a little over the top. You can get hostel rooms for a few bucks more! So we had one or the other time where we had a quite early start to the day 😉
One of the most exciting experiences was to find a stealth camping in a region where there were only vegetables and fruit fields everywhere. The usual „throw your bike into the bushes“ was hopeless and we tried our luck on two farms, and eventually on a golf course. Pretty disappointed we finally found a small spot on the side of the road and had just decided to put our tents behind some trees. Suddenly Kevin stops at the roadside, Kevin plays golf and had noticed that we are looking for a place to sleep. Without further ado he offered to us to sleep in his garden, unless we wanted to rather sleep in the bushes 🙂 The answer was clear … Once in his garden we immediately started with the usual tent routine, then we met his lovely wife Jo and sleeping out was no longer an option. The tents spent a night alone in Kevin and Jo’s garden and we slept very comfortably inside.
So, once again things change in the course of a few minutes. All of this has only become possible because we went to the golf course, despite the hopeless odds. The next morning at breakfast, we then exchanged a lot of interesting travel stories and then had to get back onto the road to continue our way south. As mentioned earlier, our paths separated then just before Santa Barbara, where I spent a night at a Warmshowers host and the two where staying for a few days at a friend Amanda.
My highlight in the following days on the way towards LA were definitely the dolphins that were swimming in the sunset over at the beach near my campsite. The video will hopefully be featured on a new episode of StandOut media soon 😉
The closer I got to Los Angeles, the more difficult it became to find campgrounds at all. A little east of Malibu I spent one night at the beach. Unfortunately, that was not as romantic as it may sound. I was not able to build a tent, there was no way to get out of sight there, so I thought my summer sleeping bag will probably do the trick, and since it is yellow it might help me to hide. Around midnight, I then unpacked my down sleeping bag, it was not really cold but the wind was really nasty and I used my Ortlieb bags and Frank as a windbreak. The next morning I got up about an hour before sunrise and took to the streets, because I was afraid of getting caught. After about an hour drive, I then passed the entrance sign of Los Angeles by the break of dawn, and saw, peacefully sleeping all kinds of people on the beach there. Well, did i worry to much? Who knows …
My daily goal was then, to get as quickly as possible through LA to reach a tent site just outside of LA. Early in the morning I then realized, that I would not make it, because of the expansive suburbs and city traffic. My previous attempts to find a Warmshowers host in LA were unfortunately unsuccessful. After I studied the map of the area repeatedly, I tried my luck by calling a few of the hosts directly. I was very embarrassed, normally I would always give them a few days lead and not a few hours. Luckily I called Mary, Saturday morning at 10:30, and unfortunately woke her up. Although she at first did not knew who I am and what I want from her, she allowed me to spend the night at her place.
The rest of my day in LA was then characterized, by trying not to run over any tourist. In LA they rent these dreadful beach cruiser bikes out, so then everyone who wants to can drive along the beaches. Unfortunately, most people seem to forget, that by bicycle is just as unhealthy as by car to go in the opposite lane, stopping in tight turns or to take pictures or to read the map in the middle of the road. Since I am about as flexible as a freight train with my fully loaded bike, the wear off my bell was quite considerable… I had the GoPro on recording most of the time to use the material as evidence for their stupidity in case I run over any tourists 🙂
When I arrived in the evening at Mary’s place,I found out why she was so confused at first, she had registered a year ago on Warmshowers because her now ex-boyfriend wanted to take a tour of the States. But she had forgotten to delete her account and so I was the first biker who was allowed to stay with her, have a reviving hot shower and enjoy her comfortable couch later. After joining her and some friends for an all-you-can-eat buffet in the evening, she was even so kind to lend me her backpack for my Grand Canyon trip. Someone she had not even known for 24 hours. Someone who had woken her a few hours earlier from sleep. A reunion was thus inevitable, since I had her backpack, that I would of course return to her. I’ll get more into detail about this in my report from the Grand Canyon.
Full off joy I set out then to head towards my goal out off LA to San Diego. I managed to arrive with great difficulty just before nightfall at the Crystal Cove State Park. Unfortunately there was no campsite, but I remembered the kind words of the Ranger about free camping in parks in the U.S. So cook, eat, pitch ten, sleep. I liked it there so much that I decided to spend another day to take a little break.
Around noon I heard a friendly voice, „Park Ranger – Is anybody in there?“ Oh no, so I climbed out of the tent just in boxer shorts and a shirt. I could not camp here, who Am I anyway and if I am armed. While having one Ranger chatting away with me about my recent trip and my experiences, the other one was standing there the whole time hand on the gun, keeping me at arm’s length distance. After the dispatcher had informed them that I am not sought for mass murderer in the state of California and Interpol had nothing against me either the whole situation got a bit more relaxed. I was out of danger now to be shot by a park ranger for illegal camping. They told me then that I may tent in national parks where I want, but not in state parks, which I was already aware of, but it can’t hurt to act stupid every know and then 🙂
Since I very much prefer to finish this trip alive, I decided to spent all future nights on official campgrounds until I get to San Diego.
The rest of my tour then proceeded without incident, and I reached my Warmshowers host in San Diego. There I then took care of finding a place to stay for Frank, since I did not want to take him onto my trip to the Grand Canyon.
The rest of my days here in San Diego I spent at the Ocean Beach Hostel and with a few friends from Tzu-Hsin. Except for a few joyful days on the beach in the Pacific sun and a quick trip to Tijuana Mexico, this represents the rather unspectacular end of my bike trip.
Now this is it?
Of course not! In the next report, I will write about my brilliant trip to the Grand Canyon, my 48 Hours of Horror Tour from Las Vegas to San Diego and why I’m writing this report from Independence, Texas.