Epic Road Trip (Day 18)

Published on August 13, 2015

Today was my last day on the coast before I made my way inland. I traveled 283 miles from San Simeon to Palmdale, California, with a little backtracking to check out the Elephant Seals I had passed up the day before.

It was worth the extra miles. The seals were surrounded by a massive crowd of tourists when I rode past the day before and they didn't seem terribly active this late in the day. When I returned, I was the only person there for some time and the elephant seals were playing in the surf. I was surprised to see several harbor seals lounging with the much larger elephant seals and I also learned that seal flippers are partially articulated. I didn't realize this until one of the harbor seals scratched his face and side while he laid in the sand.

Having satisfied my curiosity, I took off, stopping for breakfast in Cambria. I discovered this great little cafe (the Redwood Cafe), just off Highway 1, close to the center of Cambria and near a gas station (I hadn't filled up at the end of the day, and just put another 20 miles on my tank, so I definitely needed to gas up before I left). The food was fantastic and the people were friendly. Everyone I've met this trip has been genuinely surprised at the distance I had traveled (except the other motorcyclists, that is).

I also spent a little time searching for a hardware store. I had discovered the night before I was missing a bolt on my sissy bar, leaving only three holding the bar (and my travel bag) onto the bike. When I loaded my bike up, I didn't like how things were set, so I needed to get a replacement. I found a hardware store (Cambria Hardware) with some helpful people. We found a machine bolt (I got a steel one this time) that had a tapered head and fit nicely into the sink on the side of the sissy bar. I also got a locking nut and, after a bit of trial and error, had everything all set back up and sturdy. I'm glad I discovered this little issue before it turned into a disaster.

With my bike prepared, I started down the Pacific Coast Highway toward San Luis Obispo. The road had a lot of wide curves and great views of a fog-shrouded peak just north of SLO. It was here, that I rejoined the 101 until I reached Pismo Beach. I stopped in for a coffee at Penny's American Cafe, then found my way to the beach for a little coastal time.

From here, it was an easy ride through city and farmland along Highway 1, ultimately rejoining Highway 101 in Las Cruces, California, for the stretch into Santa Barbara. This being the last stretch of coastline before I would start inland, I found a great spot to enjoy the view. I met a fellow rider who was on a Suzuki V-Strom, an adventure bike I've heard some things about and will be checking out once I get more serious about buying a second bike. We talked for quite a while about travels and places along the coast and in Arizona to check out. I won't be surprised if I run into him on some Arizona Highways in the future.

With my final photo stop along the coast behind me, I had planned to stop in Santa Barbara for lunch, but ended up in Summerland at the Summerland Beach Cafe. With a patio view of the ocean, I enjoyed a tasty burger on a Sourdough bun. Worth it.

I set out toward Ventura and took in the smooth curves along the coast. From Ventura it was all city riding along Highway 126, a brief stretch of Interstate, and Highway 18 into Palmdale. Hindsight tells me I should have gone with my instinct and gone further inland to Victorville or Apple Valley for the night. There's not much of interest in Palmdale, so if you can avoid it and get further inland, I highly recommend doing so.

One final, and very long, stretch of the Mojave desert now lay between me and home. With a full belly, I made it an early night with the plan to get up very early to make it to Apple Valley for breakfast and to beat the desert heat.