Day 30 – Arriving into San Francisco

Day 28 on the bike, which happens to be a Saturday, ends up as the best day of the trip so far. I start my day at Stillwater Cove Regional Park. I cycle up 600 feet of super steep vertical cliffside, with the road right on the edge. The tailwinds are strong, the fog rolls in thick, but the sun is always threatening to come through. No chance of rain today!

The uphills are surprisingly amazing as the wind helps push my heavy bike upward, a welcome change from the storm headwinds in Oregon. There is little traffic and amazing views when the rolling fog clears. The downhills have me cheering and hollering like a little kid. The views are insane. It’s the prettiest day of the trip by far. Maybe it’s because San Francisco is so close and I feel like I’m “arriving.” Whatever it is, I’ll take it.

I pass through Jenner Headlands Preserve which appears to have many hiking trails. I make some notes in my maps to come back later. Heading down the coast, I pass through a town (really just a bend in the road with a gas station and coffee shop) called Jenner. Café Aquatica was recommended to me by a future Warm Showers host in San Francisco. I stop by and the sun is fully shining now.

I order a latte and a sandwich, and then two guys start playing Bossa Nova on a little makeshift stage in front of the ocean, covering songs by Caetano Veloso. Amazing. I was already missing Brazil (read: “saudades“) a bunch, and this little slice of Brazilian music makes my day.

After an hour or so of hanging around and meeting the musicians, I get going again. I planned on making today a “rest” day of sorts, with just 40-something kilometers to ride. No rush. I get to Bodega Dunes State Park before sunset and set up camp.

I plan to write about this wonderful day before bed, but something I ate starts messing with my stomach, and I can’t get to sleep or focus on anything else. It’s the first time I’ve felt any kind of sick this trip, so I can’t be so angry! So far, super healthy. Maybe some lettuce in my sandwich wasn’t washed properly… I decide to skip dinner, unable to eat.

I wake up Sunday to a group of bikers yammering on and on about the COVID vaccine and science at about 6:30 AM. I almost scream at them from my tent but refrain. I’m grumpy because I didn’t sleep well. All I want to do is sleep in.

Today, I have a mission. I need to get to Samuel P. Taylor State Park so that it is an easier day of travel on Monday to finally get into San Francisco. More importantly, I get to meet my Uncle Steve’s cousin Matt who lives in Marshall, CA. He is located right on Highway 1, so I have to stop by and meet part of my big family tree!

I get to Matt’s house exhausted and still feeling a bit sick, but his hospitality is incredible. His family welcomes me with open arms, prepare some food for my empty stomach, and shows me their private beach and the fort that their two kids built in the sand. It’s nice to take a break for a couple of hours and chat and see how our families are all connected. It’s a small world! Plus, Matt shares a lot of interests with me, including solar energy and sailing.

I definitely want to go back and visit!

Arriving at the campground, I pass out quickly. The park ranger lets me sleep on an empty campsite that is normally reserved because the hiker/biker campsite is overflowing with people. This is such a gift and I wake up refreshed like never before.

San Francisco, here I come! I get going late, in absolutely no rush, enjoying one more morning among the redwood trees. The route I’m following takes me on a bunch of bike paths throughout the park, a city called Fairfax, and then up until the Golden Gate Bridge. I avoid traffic throughout most of the day, and it is so much more enjoyable to ride this way, even if it takes longer.

I cross the Golden Gate Bridge by bike and euphoria takes over. I get into the city absolutely famished and stop at a vegan Mexican place that is fancier than expected.

I plan to stop for a week or so in San Francisco to explore all the specialty coffee roasters and food eateries here. My budget is about to be blown on food and drink, but I need a break and have been curious to explore SF for a long time. I justify it in my head. Plus, Caitlin and Devon, my Warm Showers hosts for the first two nights, welcome me into their home at the top of Mission Dolores Park. After taking a proper shower, I realize just how skinny I’ve gotten after looking into the mirror. Even though I’m eating really well, I am working out all day. Just in April alone, I spent almost 4 full days moving on my bike. Time to eat a bunch of food!

I reach a major milestone for this trip. Thinking about getting to San Francisco is what kept me sane during the hard days of the first month’s journey. Now that I’m here, I can re-evaluate what exactly I want to get out of this trip and continue on south with a different and improved mindset. I’m curious in exploring a bit more slowly… I’d still like to get to Mexico, but I’m not hellbent on doing the entire Baja Divide from start to finish.

I want to leave more time for spontaneity to show me the way, as it has done in the slower days so far. I’ve met tons of amazing people through Warm Showers and toured the beautiful coastline. I’ve seen friends that I haven’t seen for years and am about to see more here in the city. Life is good. It’s great. I’m tired and rest is needed, but that’s all part of the adventure. I’m sure I’ll be itching to ride again after a week or so here. It’s all a cycle.

Until then, I will be enjoying San Francisco to the fullest!