My first stop in OR was Cave Junction, a small town that made a good impression.  I dropped my wallet and a nice guy waived me over to return it.  Then his wife recommended I ride over McKenzie Pass on my way north as the highway is closed to vehicles, but open to cyclists until mid-June.  She was the first of many friendly people that suggested this route.  If I get a suggestion once, I don't usually remember, twice maybe, three times almost always, more than three I consider going out of my way to get there.

After a 100 mile ride through the Rogue River Valley I arrived in Ashland for a highly anticipated visit with friends from CT, Ryan and Jess.  Ryan suggested that at least 2 paragraphs would be needed to cover the visit.   After 10 days of biking, hiking, a bit of running and yard work, and lots of good eating this should be no problem. 

A good place to start is with sweet baby Willow, their 9 month year old golden retriever that is the recipient of unlimited affection.  I got to take Willow on a couple outings to the park and for a nice hike along the creek.  Willow lives up to her retriever nature, loving sticks and water, and will stay fully submerged in search of sticks longer than any dog I have seen.  She has one very annoying habit of picking up sticks and jamming them into the back of your leg while you are running or hiking with her, but she is working on this. 

Willow doing what she does best in her favorite swimming hole in Ashland Creek.


San Francisco to OR Border

The coast north of San Francisco is as beautiful as the coast to the south.  It is also sparsely populated and hilly, but has a greater diversity of landscapes and eventually transitions into the wet coastal forest.

Since I took a week off the bike in SF I decided to do a couple hilly 80 mile days to get back into the swing of things.   There is a good climb out of Sausalito, a fun descent down to Muir Beach, and then a Big Sur like up and down section into Stinson Beach.  The riding through the Point Reyes area is more like a rolling country road, similar to New England riding, before heading back along the ocean on the Sonoma Coast.  

The coastal prairie and rock formations on the Sonoma Coast section of Highway 1


San Diego, CA to San Francisco, CA

There is more diversity of people and place in California than any other state I have been to.  After more than 2,200 miles of riding in CA I surely waited too long for a blog post. There were too many people to talk to, too many hills to climb, and consequently too little energy left at the end of the day. 

Riding from San Diego to Santa Barbara via LA wasn't so bad, as I was warned it would be.  There was a lot of traffic on the road, some crappy industrial areas in LA, and some big commercial farm areas south of Ventura, but mostly nice beach towns with places to sit, and plenty of other cyclists on the road.  My favorite part was riding through places I previously knew only from pop culture (from La Jolla to Leo Carillo, through Laguna, Long Beach, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Malibu).  North of Santa Barbara everything changes.  The coast is largely undeveloped and idyllic.  Hats off to CA for keeping so much of their coast in a relatively natural state. 

In Laguna I had one of my favorite long lost friend visits with Lauren, who I know from my 2 years at the University of Denver.   She arranged for me to stay at her parent's house where there was an extra bedroom, tasty food, interesting drinks, and delightful company.  Twelve years and a couple kids later Lauren has the same wonderful sense of humor and laid back personality and it didn't feel like more than a decade had passed.  

Madlen, Lauren's younger sister, gets the prize for putting the most effort into fixing me a drink.  There is not much I can't eat or drink, but despite my best effort I could not come close to finishing her concoction, which tasted like breakfast, fiery shrimp cocktail sauce, and vodka.             

 The OC Bloody Mary.  Luckily there were other beverage options, including tasty Kombucha, which Lauren's other sister, Kirsten, makes.