February 18 - Monterey, CA

Today we learned an amazing thing that will give you joy and happiness and faith in the goodness of the universe. We had an incredible uplifting experience. I have to share.

Let's say you are out riding your bike, and the temperature is in the mid 40s. When the hailstorm stops is when the joy comes.

This took place in the middle of endless miles of strawberry fields between Santa Cruz and Monterrey. Not so much as a tree to hide under. It sucked.

I started working on this while sitting in the Bulldog British Pub, waiting for my fish and chips to arrive. This might not be the first thing you would think of for dinner in Monterey, CA. It was next door to the laundromat is why. Jim has not yet realized he should just wash his clothes in the sink every night. These guys had Manchester United vs Liverpool on TV, but the crowd was hooting and hollering over an archival performance of The Lawrence Welk Show on another channel. Also, the Guinness was ice cold.

So we bailed out of the Bulldog British Pub, and went across the street to Hula's Island Grill, where I had a tasty Mai Tai. At the end of the bar was a suspicious plastic jar filled with dubious pink liquid.

Fearing pickled reptiles, I asked the bartender (pictured) what it was. She said it was a Pink Bikini Martini. I asked her if that stuff floating on the top was an actual bikini. She said yes, and it was dirty, too.

Jim and I are wondering which is more gross:

1. The Pink Bikini Martini

2. Ruou (see the section on drinking)

3. The Sourtoe Cocktail (for the record, I am member #512)

Anyway, the day started out great. Blue sky, fantastic scenery.

Of course there is some pain and suffering involved to experience this.

And this was all before breakfast, which we ate 17 miles down the road in Davenport, a tiny town with a cement factory and shops selling whale stuff for tourists. Good breakfast burritos, though. This is where the rain started.

We made very slow time through Santa Cruz, because we stopped in at all the numerous bike shops looking for a front rack and panniers for Jim. His bike is not very stable because he has this seatpost rack which is way too high. This took a long time because Santa Cruz is a very bike-friendly place and all the bike shop people had to admire the T-Bone. In fact one guy riding down the street stopped to ask "Is that a Reynolds?" I can count my fingers the number of times somebody has identified my bike. Part of this slow trip through Santa Cruz is we were hiding out from the rain.

I didn't take any pictures of the hailacous experience, since I didn't want to take the camera out. It eventually cleared up. Then we were in the artichoke patch instead of the strawberry patch. I can't remember ever seeing an artichoke plant, much less miles of them. The shipping cartons at the packing plant are labelled "Cal Chokes".



The end is in sight at last! That's Monterey across the bay. The last 12 miles or so are on a really nice bike trail.

Here is today's route. It was 75 miles, and not nearly as hilly as yesterday. We got in at 5:30, with plenty of daylight left.