The rain progressively got worse as I wound my way across the hills to the west of Paso and down towards Cambria. I stopped a couple of times to take pictures while minimizing my time outside the car because my camera was getting wet. The hills were an absurd shade of neon green, alpmost imaginary. I suppose by August they’ll be brown and ready to ignite but for the moment in spite of the heavy sky and steady downpour, the were breathtaking.
These hills got me thinking about coastal California in general as it was my first time in this part of the state. Up north the hills are densely covered with pine and oak. In the Bay Area, coastal redwoods get thrown into the mix, making a drive say from San Mateo to the coast very different than what I see where I live. South of that around Monterey the hills get scrubbier and further down south towards Mexico, you have genuine desert tumbling into the ocean. Here it’s verdant and different in its own way. I was glad to see it like this.
I made it to Highway 1 and took the first Coastal Access road I could find. It turned out to be a bust as all it did was take me on a nice loop past houses that were sitting above the beach. Exiting that neighborhood I went north and took the next left as it was tagged with a sign that said State Park Ocean Beaches. It turned out to be just what I was looking for with a couple of turnouts where I could park and watch waves crashing the rocks and scan the ocean for seabirds. I did manage to spot a few Common Loons bobbing among the detached Kelp floats. Again there was no way to spend but a moment outside the car without getting wet. Satisfied with a few enjoyable minutes staring at the stormy expanse I turned the car east and headed back to town.
The purpose of this trip was a gathering of the people who make up an online cycling community that I’ve been a part of for nearly 20 years. From the very dawn of the internet well, at least at its conversion from a system linking military researchers to what we know today. There have been several of these meetings over the years but this was the first that factored well into my schedule so I decided to attend even though it meant 4 days in the car an a not insignificant financial outlay. But life is short and I figured it would be nice to put faces to names. After all, I actually spend far more time communicating with these electronic people than many real persons in my real life. The weekend was planned around a small cocktail gathering, a ride on Saturday and an afternoon party following the cycling.
Back in town I dropped in at the meet-and-greet and spent the next couple of hours sampling some excellent local wines, eating Kobe beef sliders and expanding on many of the conversations I’d had with these people over the years. We were outside on the patio at a local inn and thankfully under a roof because the rain just kept coming. Propane heaters made the cold tolerable as did the company. It was a nice introduction to the group. It all wrapped up around 9:30 and I went off to get some sleep, having been convinced to do the A Ride, a scenic tour of the steep, steep hills to the west of town.