The Day After

San Luis Obispo, CA

I slept in until 10:00, lazed around and didn't get out the door until 11:30. There wasn't much on the agenda for the day: check out the Madonna Inn, go to the post office and go to a bookstore. Before I left my room, I set up my CD-RW drive to write a back-up CD of photos.

Although it was less than a mile away, I had a heck of a time walking to the Madonna Inn. In a grand display of butt-head engineering, Madonna Road had a sidewalk on the north side of the road over a creek bridge, then a sidewalk on the south side of the road for the bridge over U.S. 101. Once I got across 101, the Madonna Inn was on the north side of the road. This required crossing twice at each of two very busy exit-ramp intersections. There was so much traffic that I had to wait through the signal cycle for " walk" signs. Then there wasn't even a sidewalk on the road that led to the Madonna Inn itself. They probably wanted to encourage their guests to dine in their own expensive restaurants rather than venture two blocks to Denny's. The Madonna Inn turned out not to be worth the trip. It was just a goofy, expensive  place. I was glad I hadn't shelled out $130+ to stay in one of their themed rooms. I was really disappointed because this place was on so many must-see lists. I prefer my kitsch a little cheaper, thank you.

I stopped by the Travelodge to pick up some things I wanted to mail home. My last back-up photo CD was finished copying when I got back. If my laptop was destroyed  in a horrific train crash, at least my trip photos would make it home. At the post office, I mailed home seven pounds of stuff I didn't feel like lugging on the train, mostly emergency bike things. If I wrecked a chain or my STI failed on Wednesday morning, I'd just have to walk my bike to the train station. At least it would be a whole lot easier than it was to drag the thing through the sand to the Pacific yesterday. And if I fell down, I'd just have to bleed because the first aid kit went home as well.

My next stop was Barnes & Noble. I only had one book to read, and I wasn't far from finishing it, so I had to get more for the train ride. I got lucky and found something almost immediately in the bargain books section. It was a history of  the failures of U.S. military intelligence from the Revolutionary War through the 1990s called Senseless Secrets. While the subject matter could have been very dry, it turned out to be a fascinating book. When I left Barnes & Noble it was 1:30 and I hadn't had anything to eat or drink all day. I chose a place nearby called Pizza Solo for lunch. The woman who took my order recognized the circles on my hands as cycling glove tattoos. I said, " What I don't like are the tan lines on my face from my helmet strap."

" Don't you wear sunscreen?" she asked.

I explained that I did, but on a cross-country bike trip, some tanning and burning were inevitable. She congratulated me and said, " I'd like to do a trip like that someday. No... I will do a trip like that someday."

I ordered a Hawaiian calzone (pineapple & Canadian bacon) and a Coke. The calzone wasn't so good. The crust was too thin and the insides too watery. It occurred to me that maybe Californians don't know how to make a decent calzone (if anyone would like to dispute that supposition, feel free to e-mail me--I'll send you an address where you can send calzones for taste-testing!). However, I did enjoy the free refills of Coke and the people-watching from my seat by the window. I should have known better than to order dessert, but I did anyway. It was basically a pizza crust with cinnamon-sugar goo, and it didn't taste good enough to justify the calories. I suppose I might have gobbled it up if I had been riding all day, but maybe not. I ate less than half and walked back to the motel.

As I was packing, I had a brainstorm. I remembered what a pain it was lugging four panniers around at the start of the trip. Now that I had mailed so much stuff home, especially in Lost Hills and San Luis Obispo, I might be able to compact my load. Sure enough, with a little creative packing, I was able to put my front panniers inside my rear panniers. I suppose ideally I would have figured this out earlier and just mailed the front panniers home instead (taking several more pounds off  my load), but this was still going to be a big help.

After a couple of not-so-good experiences with California pizza restaurants, I was reluctant to try another for my last meal in the state and probably my last decent meal for several days. I went down the street to a place called Ben Franklin's Sandwich Company around 8:00. They closed at 6:00. Oh well, now pizza was the best available option. Woodstock's Pizza bragged that they were voted San Luis Obispo's best 14 times. Their whole wheat crust sounded interesting, too. I ordered a pepperoni and bacon pizza on wheat crust. It was a great pizza, improving California's record to two good ones out  of five (combining pizzas and calzones, excluding Domino's). While that record isn't impressive, at least the two that were good were truly exceptional

After dinner, I finished packing. I had set out my cycling shoes to dry, and now I had to shake out the sand before packing them. I think I could have built a castle with what I shook out! I cleaned them off the best I could, then I stuffed them into a plastic bag to hold in the rest of the sand until I got home. I planned to wear my running shoes the next morning to avoid changing at the station, especially since my cycling shoes would make my socks dirty. I figured I could manage 1-1/4 miles without clipping into my pedals. I got to bed a little later than I had planned, but there would be plenty of time to sleep on my long train ride.

Click here to see San Luis Obispo photos.

Copyright 2002-2013 David Johnsen. All rights reserved.