Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cali Coast Road Trip Part 3: The Coast

After a quick run in Mission Beach and some delicious fish tacos I left San Diego to head up the coast.
Along the way, I stopped for the sunset just north of Santa Barbara.

Upon arrival in Solvang, I went straight to the brewery to see how the beer was since my last visit (2011 cycling trip).

Solvang is a beautiful Dutch town that not only includes multiple delicious pastry restaurants, but even has a windmill in the middle of town! This night also happened to be by far the quietest I've spent inside a town anywhere. I remember being baffled at not hearing a single noise while car camping in a neighborhood.
Just north of Solvang is the quaint and quiet Los Olivos. Usually bustling with activity, at this time of day and season, I about had the town to myself.

The weather was overcast upon arrival in San Luis Obispo so I drove on through up the coast to Big Sur.

While it is a much better road by bike, the drive was not too bad.

This is the same bridge I shot a picture of with my bike and put on my first business cards when I first came through here in February 2011.

The rocky coast, even outside of Big Sur is simply spectacular.

Upon leaving Big Sur, I caught a gorgeous sunset in Carmel-by-the-Sea after a nice long run along the beach and up through the trails inside Pebble Beach.
Driving around the bay, I spent a quiet morning on a secluded section of beach reading and making tea (as is my morning routine) before going for an incredible run along the coast in Santa Cruz.

This was one of those neat spots that would spray water up 15ft or higher on occasion.

Freshly arrived in San Francisco, I booked the downtown HI hostel for a shower and some camaraderie. I picked the right day too, as Thursday happened to be Pub Crawl night.
English guys are always crazy. Especially when there's a birthday.

We hit up 6 different bars throughout the night and even went dancing at the last one!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Cali Coast Road Trip Part 2: Moab to San Diego

After a solid three days of intense non-stop hiking, cycling, and trail running in Moab at a lovely and very cheap hostel (Lazy Lizard- $11/nt), I hit the road again. 
 This is one of my favorite stops along I-70 east. Took a nice little nap in the parking lot before heading on.
Past there are tons more great scenic stops right on the highway. This is just one of them.

Heading south on I-15 towards Vegas, mountains were once again in sight.

Incredible lighting from this sunset.

Outside St. George, this tough hike up to the top of Signal Peak provides views of the Grand Canyon far off on the right and Zion National Park on the left. It's a long, rough off-road drive (ground clearance required) to the trailhead, but there are lots of nice, free camping spots along the way, and the views even at the start of the trailhead are quite spectacular. The hike itself is quite rough as well with lots of overgrown trees and foliage blocking the trail, and climbing quite a bit with a few sketchy sections of loose dirt and rocks to cross, but the payoff is well worth the effort.

The leaves were changing at the time and made the Signal Peak hike quite a beautiful one.

In total, the hike took a bit over 3 and a half hours at a brisk pace. One bottle of water was certainly pushing it...

A quick stop was made in Vegas for a big buffet dinner after the rigorous hike. I went to the Bellagio for an approximate $45 dinner and loaded up on fresh sushi (with excellent spicy mayo), prime rib, various vegetables, and incredible desserts. I had orange juice with dinner and it was deliciously fresh squeezed. The crab legs were quite disappointing, however, as they were cold, hard and not too tasty. Overall? Well worth it.
After Vegas, I stopped overnight at the first rest stop I hit in California. It was, luckily, still far enough away from LA that it allowed overnight parking. The next morning, I made it into San Dimas for the Bonelli Olympic Distance Triathlon which included a beautiful swim in a clear lake with a view of mountains in the background transitioning into a tough 3-lap bike of climbing and descending followed by a tough run around the lake with a lot of nice off-road sections. My swim and run fitness weren't great at this point, but the bike power was good and it set me up for a top-10 finish and age group award. 

On arrival in San Diego, I headed to the suburb of Chula Vista to hang out with my old roommate. Because of his work schedule, I spent a good amount of time hanging out at this park, reading and enjoying the view.

The sunset over Chula Vista.

The next day we went for sushi and some down time at the beach in the Sunset Cliffs area. This was a nice, quite spot in relation to the other beaches around. With cliffs.

Got a couple nice shots of the sunset here.

Finally, after attending his bible study group, we finished off the night walking around the Gaslamp district. Was surprised to see how busy the place was on a Monday!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cali Coast Road Trip Part 1: Moab

Recently, I decided it was time to return to the place where my adventure started. Well, not the adventure, per say, but the idea for the adventure. The inspiration behind it. The magical, raw beauty of the California coastline.

As I packed up and left my new, temporary home of Boulder, CO, I caught the sun descending over Lake Dillon.

 Wherever this particular bike path goes, I plan to find out next time I come through.

After a beautiful, starry night at my favorite free campsite in Rabbit Valley, I crossed the border into Utah with a nice sunrise backdrop.
From there, I again took my favorite scenic drive (Highway 128) along the Colorado river down into Moab.

 These shots show how incredible this drive is.

Along the way, I found my new favorite hike/run along the Negro Bill Trailhead to Morning Glory Arch. It's a nice 4 miles with only a few stream crossings and such to interrupt the run.

Fisher Valley is another beautiful area along the route. If you do the La Sal Mountain loop on your road bike, you will pass the same sights though.

Next up was a hike in Hunter's Canyon, but I found the trail too rough to run, so I turned around and went for a run on one of the many mountain bike trails along the way. It's incredible the terrain some are able to ride bikes over.

To finish off the day, I hiked up to the top of the ridge overlooking Moab for a look at the town at sunset. In the distance, are the La Sal Mountains which can be biked up to by road (about 64 miles with 6k+ft climbing for a round trip loop; that one was made tough by insane always in your face winds...) or by mountain bike with a shuttle ride.

From the top of the Moab Rim Trail looking down on Cane Creek Blvd, Hwy 279, and the Colorado River.

The sunset was well worth the steep hike.

In summation, Moab is not just a climbing/mountain biker's paradise. The road riding and trail running is quite fantastic as well. For trail running, I recommend the Pipe Dream trail for good up and down and side to side flow and for road biking, Highway 279 east from 191 for a nice scenic and flat out and back ride through the canyon.