“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
I have been living in a cloud for the last few days. I would wake up, with a wet tent, in a cloud. I would bike all day, through the cloud, which made for horrible visibility. And then in the late afternoon or evening, I would arrive at my campsite only to find that I still hadn’t escaped that darn cloud. It has been the foggiest few days of my life, and I could never imagine living in this dreary area, even though the coast and scenery is beautiful. The last stretch of the route has taken me through the countryside once again, where there are probably more cows than humans. A large town in this area was anything over 1,000 people, as most of the towns had under 300. The highway twists and turns around sharpe bends, and climbs (and descends) constantly. I was able to share this somewhat treacherous ride with the same bikers I have been with (not every night, but often) since Oregon, but now that we have all arrived in the big city, we have gone our separate ways.
As I arrived at the Golden Gate Bridge I was pretty excited to bike across it. I had just spent the morning meandering through city after city to arrive, and was ready to settle down for a few days in San Francisco to explore the city. I realized right away though that crossing it was more of a hindrance than anything because of how many other people were crossing it as well. There were hundreds of bikers (mostly families and people who obviously don’t bike often which makes them very unpredictable) and people walking across, and absolutely no room for us all on the one little sidewalk that was open. Once I was finally across, I made my way tediously through town in order to meet up with the person I had arranged to stay with on warm showers (which is an amazing couch surfing type site for cyclists around the world). Within five minutes of being in the city, I realized one thing for sure. I will definitely never be a city gal.
San Francisco is extremely bike friendly, and it is pretty amazing to see a whole city based around a biking community. It’s the kind of place more people own a bike than a car, and where tourists rent bikes for the day to see the sites. There are bike paths all over the city with their own little signs, and a bike lane on almost every road. At the start of one descent there was even a sign stating, “caution cyclists, spandex isn’t armor.” Even so, it’s still scary and frustrating biking across town. I am use to it being just my bike and I along a deserted road without anything but a small cluster of houses every dozen or so miles, and a passing car every few minutes. I can go whatever speed I please, and get to stop when I choose. In the city, it’s a whole different story. There are so many people, cars, and bikes everywhere, and it takes an hour just to go a few miles because there are so many traffic lights and stop signs. I have realized how much I enjoy living in a place I can ski, climb, camp, fish, and be completely surrounded by wilderness all within a few minutes from my house. I can’t even imagine living here, being surrounded with skyscrapers, concrete buildings, cars, roads, and so many people all the time. People always say there is more to do in the city, but when the things you enjoy doing require rivers, mountains, and wilderness, this man-made urban environment doesn’t leave you many options.
I am glad, however, that I was able to take a rest day, do laundry, explore the Golden Gate Park, and relax. It is funny after camping every night how nice it is to have a kitchen to use, a bathroom to wash up in, and a safe dry place to store my stuff. My hostess was great, and I was able to spend some quality alone time exploring but also go out with her. My time in the city is nearing its end though, and I will be on the road again tomorrow!