South to LA

Refreshed after a week in San Francisco, we continued along the coast towards San Diego, along beautiful coast line packed with postcard views around every corner. After a two days we reached the town of Monterey famous for its aquarium; keeping with our loose traveling technique we arrived at the aquarium just as it had closed, never mind maybe next time.

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After another night spent in a hiker biker campsite we got going early and cycled along the much talked about region known as Big Sur. Meaning ‘the big south’ the terrain offers some of the most stunning coastline views of our journey so far, and some of the most winding and exhausting climbs. Stopping for the day we found ourselves a great campsite under the shade of redwoods and also made some lovely Chinese friends who shared lots of their fruit with us.

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The campsite was so good we spent two days exploring, the surrounding woods that gave way to a winding and rocky gorge, which we climbed, read our books and then washed a towel we had found a few days earlier. (I had lost my ultra lightweight and snazzy travel towel and Martin had kindly found/discovered/unearthed a towel while we were cycling along on the side of the road. Being the clean and well presented guys that we are, we washed it in the river before use).

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Leaving Big Sur we pedaled for consistently long days through some more remote areas of the west coast, after doing 100 miles in a day we found ourselves in Santa Barbara. On arriving in town we asked directions from a fellow cyclist and were kindly offered a place to stay that night. We made our way around town, drank some coffee and then discussed the best way to carry 25 litres of water on our bikes for our ever nearing arrival in the deserts of Mexico.

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That night we were treated to a home cooked meal by Kitty and John, two inspiring locals who lived in a beautiful house with views of the mountains.

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We spent two nights with Kitty and John, who took us around the local beaches and treated us to some really good burritos (& salsa!). On hearing our plans to venture in the Mexican desert and our concerns about water sources, they had a friend with local knowledge of the area come over to talk us through our route and offer some invaluable advice. Thank you Kitty and John we had a really great time staying with you in Santa Barbara, we hope the wedding went to plan.

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Cycling out of the Santa Barbara we would be in Los Angeles in two days. That night we found our way to Ventura where we camped next to some train tracks in protest against paying for the local campsite which had no showers.

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The next day we had lunch on a beach, ran up and down a sand dune for fun, rode through Malibu and then cruised into LA along the beach boulevard. LA was the car paradise we had been led to believe, dual carriage ways cut through in all directions. Feeling a bit out of place on our bikes we made our way to Beverly Hills where we had been very kindly offered a last minute place to stay by Eric Zimmerman and his family.

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Eric is a frame builder and has created some beautiful bicycles.

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Wanting to visit an art museum while in LA for a much needed dose of culture we were recommended LACMA, (The Los Angeles County Museum of Art ). On arriving the Museum we asked if we could store our bikes somewhere and after explaining our trip we were treated to cheap tickets to the museum by the manager (insert name) and also entry into a sold out show of James Turrell, including entry into Perceptual Cell.

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Feeling very lucky we wondered around the exhibits, there was a great piece by Chris Burden called Metropolis II, an enormous kinetic sculpture of a city with road ways full of speeding cars, think the best scalextric ever.

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The exhibit by James Turrell consisted of two main parts, the first was a walk through various light sculptures and rooms of ambient light. The second was called ‘Perceptual Cell’; I think the museum website describes it much better than me

“Turrell’s Perceptual Cells series are freestanding enclosed structures that provide an experience for one viewer at a time. In his Perceptual Cell at LACMA, Light Reignfall, the viewer enters a spherical chamber on a sliding bed. A program of saturated light (operated by a technician) surrounds the viewer for twelve minutes, so that they may experience the intense, multidimensional power of light and the complex seeing instrument of the human eye.”

We both agreed that this was one of the most impressive visual experiences we had ever had, quite indescribable. Tickets for this had been sold out for months so we have to say a big thank you to (insert name) for giving us the opportunity to experience this.

After spending the day at LACMA we left quite late with 60 miles to cover to reach the campsite, with experience of how these things go when we leave late we decided to to find somewhere nearby to camp. LA is not a place for camping, we cycled around and could not find anything even remotely secluded. Scouring the map for patches of green, we found a promising spot, but we arrived to find two guys fighting each other and decided against staying.

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We settled down for the night in a lovely little spot amongst some bushes in downtown LA.

Location

Los Angeles, California USA

Date

5th August, 2013