As Hannah and I descended from the mountains, the first indication that we were in transition was the six lane motorways, with thousands of cars speeding past our previously quiet cycle paths. We had a short respite while we cruised across the bay on a ferry, but when it berthed at Fishermans Wharf, we were thrown into real life. Thousands of tourists were pushing their way past the shops, resturants and street performers. We looked at each other with disbelief...."Oh my goodness. Where have we ended up?" The crowds thinned a little as we headed towards the Golden Gate Bridge, but still there were hundreds of tourists on bicycles, heading along the trails towards the bridge. Not nearly as many actually cycled all the way to the bridge, and we hung out there for a while, soaking in our achievement, and enjoying the sanctuary away from the throngs. It was a weird feeling. I asked Hannah.... "What now?" and we both laughed, with a shrug. Yep, so what do we do now? I remember seeing the same question asked amongst Pilgrims finishing the Camino de Santiago, in Spain. We decided our next move was to find accommodation.
On my map, I found some hostels, so we cycled back into the city. The best route turned right....... oh bother, it's uphill. No its not just up hill, it's the street you see in all the movies, where cars chase each other, and fly over the bumps. It's a series of very steep inclines, with a short flat sections between. We are fully laden, and getting cheers from tourists, who are struggling to walk up the slopes. Leavenworth Street. We stopped to ask a cop how far we had to go..."Only another three or four more ups.... Man you guys are tough......"
And then, the hostels are all full, and really expensive. We eventually get a very untidy room, that we're sharing with two others, for $65 each a night. "How come you decided to come to the most expensive city in the USA, on the busiest weekend of the year?" Apparently there is some huge music festival happening......
We eat, we sort gear, we buy tickets. Hannah is flying back to Colorado at 6am on Sunday. I'm going to LA by train, except San Franscisco doesn't have a railway station, so the first five hours is in a bus, but I don't have to box up Fiona. I help Hannah load her stuff into a shuttle at 4am, and go back to bed. I have the luxury of a 7am start, and cycle the mile or so to the bus station.
Fiona and all my gear fit easily under the bus, and I meet a lovely young lady to chat to on board. The five hours whizz by, and then the five hours on the train are really scenic, so the trip was not nearly as arduous as it might have been. Folk on the train give me advice as how to get to Manhattan Beach. "No I should not even attempt to cycle there. Take the Metro. It's Sunday, it shouldn't be busy..." They forgot about the "Dodgers" game. I had to go on three different lines, negotiate several esculators, and find the special sections for bicycles. Trouble is, LA folk, and especially very happy, intoxicated Dodgers fans are not too polite. I missed two trains because I wasn't aggressive enough pushing Fiona on board. Oh well. Eventually, I made it to the end of the line, and Myles was there to meet me.
Myles is from Kaiapoi, making it big in LA. He and partner Brittany have offered to put me up for a couple of days. More amazingly generous folk. They live 800m from the sea at Manhattan Beach. Pretty special place, but it's also very busy with "beautiful people". This definitely is not Iran. There is a lot of flesh being flashed.... more than I've seen in a very long time, and everything is pretty expensive, even in the supermarket. Flash cars, beach cruiser bicycles, surfboards, skateboards, muscle bound bodies, beach volleyball, whistle blowing life guards.... and more. Nope. It's definitely not Nevada either. But I'm not staying long. I'm very keen to get to San Diego.
Annie lives in San Diego, with husband Royer. I've known Annie for over 30 years. She's a Rotherham girl, with an amazing job in a local University Hospital. It's a long time since we've caught up, and the train ride, along a gorgeous coastline, is a small price to pay, to see her again. We bore Royer silly, reminiscing, catching up with what families and friends are up to, and just enjoying each others company. Royer takes a day off to show me around. He's amazed that I stop to talk to so many people, and equally amazed that they actually let me talk to them. I said..... "That's what we do in Hanmer Springs.... we talk..."
I'm very happy, but my journey is not over. Another train journey, back to LA. Juliet arrives tomorrow. I'm very excited. We are cycing the last overseas section of my journey together, from Portland Oregon, along the west coast, back to LA. Sharing it with such an amazing lady..... it's going to be fantastic.