Waiting for the next chapter …

The southern Californian urban sprawl continued south of Los Angeles where each town flowed into the other with a never ending maze of cars and roads that made riding stressful and somewhat un-enjoyable.

 

We reached Dohney State Beach in the town of Dana Point where the campground was located in the heart of the town next to the marina. The lone hiker/biker site was positioned right behind the bathrooms and was very small. Luckily we are traveling in the off season, as there is no way that this site could accommodate more than two parties. This is also where we were reunited with our friends Bob and Laura Otwell whom we first met in Manchester State Park and then later in Bodega Bay.

 

One advantage of staying in the middle of town is the closeness of all the amenities and the opportunity to take in the local lighted boat parade. Coming from the prairies in Canada, this was a new holiday tradition for us. Each boat was superbly lit with music blaring and each one seemed to have a disco theme. It felt odd yelling “Merry Christmas” from the docks surrounded by palm trees and not even a hint of snow…

 

Christmas Boat Parade at Dana Point

 

 

Navigating through the maze of urban sprawl continued as we cycled with Bob and Laura. We were fortunate enough to be allowed to cycle through the US Marine Corps Base – Camp Pendleton which isn’t always open to civilian traffic depending on what is going on. If you get the chance the route through Camp Pendleton allows you to bypass the busy I-5, a busy freeway which equals not very enjoyable cycling.

 

Having a per-arranged mail drop in the town of Carlsbad, Bob and Laura generously opened their rented vacation home to us. They had decided to lay low for the holidays in this charming seaside town popular with the surf and vacation crowd. It  allowed for a perfect reprieve for the holidays where their three daughters cold come visit.  It was such a wonderful break to hang out with these two amazing people. Days were filled with chilling, getting some much needed errands accomplished, eating and getting our butts kicked at Yuker … turns out the sweet and innocent looking Laura can get pretty cheeky when she tries to steal the deal.

 

Bob and Laura

A truly wonderful and inspiring couple - Bob and Laura Otwell

 

Christmas came early for us with a packages from home and on-line stores to stock us up with extra parts before crossing into Mexico. We decided it’s better to have some of the more hard to get items with us than trying to find them in Mexico. We opted to purchase two spare Schwable Marathon tires, two spare bottom brackets, two spare chains and had our bottom bracket tool sent from home. Our cat, Nelson, also decided to send us an early present, a replacement for Mr. Turtle.

 

 

Present from Nelson

Present from our cat, Nelson, to replace Mr. Turtle

 

In addition, we received a replacement pair of rain pants from Shower’s Pass who warranted my rain pants without a question, as the inner seams seals were already peeling off after only about a months use. New sunglasses for Mike to replace the ones he had broke courtesy of Smith Optics Canada and Buffs (one of our favourite pieces of gear) from Buff Canada, one of our newest supporters who sent us out a few to pass onto other inspiring individuals we meet along our travels! THANKS GUYS!

 

 

Smith Optics

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After some much needed rest, mail drop and time with friends we continued south to San Diego, the last stop before crossing into Mexico, our third country!

 

Even the statues are in the Christmas Spirit

Even the statues are in the Christmas Spirit, on the way south to San Diego

 

To reach San Diego was such a feeling of accomplishment, a milestone marking the end of one stage of the adventure and the beginning of the next … the end of western living as we know it, the end of the familiar. We had purchased health insurance separately for the United States because of the inflated cost of health care that expired on the 15th of December. We had arranged with a Warm Shower’s host in San Diego as a staging point to for the final preparations before heading into Mexico and to check out the area.

 

One of our first priorities was to check out the World renowned San Diego Zoo. For nature geeks like us, this was a full and intense day of geeing out with the amazing botanical gardens, aviaries and exhibits that the zoo has to offer. This was one of our biggest tourist splurges at $42 USD/person but well worth the cost. The exhibits were well designed, animals well cared for and offered a lot of great information. Best to see with for own eyes, but in the mean time here’s a sneak peak!

 

 

 

My Rohloff had been leaking slightly from the axle side since Princeton, BC and we had initially contacted Neil from Cycle Monkey to check-in to see if this was something to be worried about. At the time, we were advised to just keep an eye on it and if the leaking got worse to get it sent in for repair. Well by the time we reached southern California, we had noticed that it was leaking substantially and had now covered my rear brake rotor with oil which in turn compromised the braking of my bike. Wanting to get the problem resolved before heading into Mexico, we sought out a bike store with a history of dealing with Rohloff’s while we were in San Diego.

 

This is where our problems started, in fact this story warrants it’s own post.

 

Thankful to our gracious hosts, Ann and Brad for opening their home to us while we waited for the bikes to be completed. It became obvious quickly that our bike were not going to be completed soon, not wanting to overstay our welcome and with the holidays quickly approaching we opted to move back north to the town of La Jolla to wait. We needed up staying in La Jolla for almost 14 days … fortunately our accommodations were comfortable and allowed us to do some much needed home cooking!

 

 

Our home in La Jolla

Our temporary home in La Jolla

 

Yummy homemade food

Maple and msutard glazed salmon, roasted potates and asparagus

 

Although frustrated with the delay it allowed for us to spend some more time with our friends Heidi, Reuben, Eden and Harper of Pedal Powered Family and allowed us to hook up with fellow cyclists Maria Mihok (Red Deer, AB) who cycled from Vancouver to the Mexican border to raise money for A Better World to build a school in a remote town in Guatemala and is now headed south, and Nathan (Lemonde a vélo) from Gap, France who is on a 2 year ’round the world cycle tour focusing on culinary specialties of each region he visits.

 

Our Christmas was quiet with just the two of us as we were delayed not only by our bikes but also with a freak out of thinking we had lost EVERYTHING from our computer due to disk being full and fire vault sparse bundle (for non techies read as EVERYTHING on our computer incl. pictures and video from the last 3+ months) being deleted … It all worked out in the end thanks to the Apple Store’s Genius Bar but lesson learned, NEVER go to Best Buy to look at your computer, never use FireVault, and back up LOTS!

 

Despite the delays and spending almost two weeks longer in the United States than we had originally planned we learned a lot of lessons and are very thankful that all of these problems happened before we crossed into Mexico where the solution was easy an accessible. Our delay taught is to take things in stride and gave us the opportunity to reflect on on the important things in life as we spent Christmas on Skype chatting with friends and family and enjoying each others’ company with thanks for the year that has passed, for our new experiences, new friendships forged and with excitement and anticipation for the road ahead.

 

 

 

 

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