San Francisco – Santa Cruz

San Francisco, what a great city that is! So different from the last city we were in, Vancouver in Canada. Vancouver is a modern busy city full of skyscrapers, but it also has its own charm. San Francisco has only a few skyscrapers, is spaciously set up with beautiful Victorian houses and is located on a hill. It is a really atmospheric city, with a cozy, but maybe a little too touristy, port and cute little trams. The people are different. No rough people here in pickup trucks, instead we saw the first electric cars (since we are in the USA). We now also see organic shops everywhere. San Francisco was a Spanish mission post with the mission of course to convert the native Miwok population, with no more than 800 residents. The city is named after the patron saint San Franciscus (yes the same from animal day) Then the Goldrush came in 1849 and the city was flooded with miners and Chinese people. That did not go well together and the Chinese were banished to one neighborhood, Chinatown, which is now one of the tourist attractions. In 1906 the city, which is located near the Andreas fault line that we visited last week, was largely destroyed by an earthquake, but due to the great decisiveness of its inhabitants, the city was completely rebuilt in 1915. In the Second World War, San Fran became a drop off station for soldiers who were suspected of being homosexual. That was the founder of the large LBGTIQ community in the city. And of course here in 1967 “the summer of love” was a phenomenon / gathering in Haigh and Ashbury street (and in many more places in the world) where young people from all over the country came to be together, more than 100,000 to be precise. Young people with new ideals, against the Vietnam War (which killed almost 100 soldiers weekly in that summer). Against the consumerism and for a lot of love, peace and happiness hihi.

With our own motorbikes we were able to let the hop-on-hop-of-bus for what it is. We took off the paniers, mapped out the route in google maps and went off. Ideal in the city such a motorcycle, and San Fran has special motorcycle parking places everywhere, although paid, but only 25 cents per half hour. I usually just jump on the back of Eriks bike on days like this. Saves fuel and I find it nice and relaxed to sit on the back because I can see a little more and don’t have to pay attention. But in San Fran it wasn’t quite ideal. The roads are incredibly steep, slopes and descents of 12%. But worse, when you go down or up, there are all crossings where the first to arrive has priority. Why (?!) Please give priority to the drivers that go up, in any case. I wonder if they have ever tried a slope test with a motor before they came up with this. Man man .. I almost always slipped off the saddle at the back. Erik had to stand with two feet on the ground at every slope test, get up and give a lot of gas, otherwise we would really roll back. We laughed a lot that day haha.

The first stop was Lombard Street, a street that was so steep that they had to make very tight hairpin bends. Great fun of course with the bike. Then on to pier 39 in the charming harbor area. Visited the sea lions there. It was a bit like going to the zoo, but it was nice to see them. So many sea lions, they are all sleeping comfortably on top of each other and making the corniest sounds. Then towards the farmers market at the old ferry terminal to eat some nice lunch. From the farmers market through Chinatown to Haigths street, the old hippie neighborhood. Now nicely decorated with lots of street art. Cool to see. Picked up some postcards and stickers for our motorcycles paniers and got some tasty Indian food with which we could also have lunch the next day haha. Erik visited his friend Misha in the evening, I was exhausted and I went to bed very early.

The next day we drove in one go to Santa Cruz. That was only 130 km so doable. Stopped en route at Mavericks. For the non-surfers among us, that is a big-wave spot where in winter can be surfed on waves of +/- 10 meters. You might know it from the animation film, Surfs Up. When we were there, no swell. But it was just nice to see it in real life. It is hardly indicated but the road signs covered with stickers tell you that you are in the right place.

Santa Cruz was full. The only campsite had no place anymore and out of frustration I dropped my bike again. Haha no, that was not the way it went. I drove past Erik and had misjudged the width a bit, so I crashed my paniers against his and fell over bike and all. My just healed leg, which was black and blue from my fall a few weeks ago, is completely black and blue again. The only campsite with space was on an RV park. RV parks often have a few camping spots, they are less beautiful and more expensive, but they also do have more facilities such as Wi-Fi and free showers. This was the most expensive campsite where we have been so far. 50 dollars for a spot, and that was with a discount too! It did came with a swimming pool, hot tub and pool table in return. In the evening we enjoy the bubble bath and sit there for a long time chatting with a nice couple. The woman was half native american and the man came from an island in the Caribbean. They knew a lot about the history of all kinds of worldly cultures and it was a pleasure to talk to them.

The next day we visited Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is the city where the surf culture originated. Not surfing itself, that comes from Polynesia or Hawaii (I think that still has to be fought out) In 1885 three princes from Hawaii came to Santa Cruz to study at the military school. Here they made surfboards out of wood from the redwoods. The locals also thought that looked like fun and that’s how it all started. The water was a bit cold and people started to wear woolen underwear. Jack O’neill thought there must be a  better way and started making the first wetsuits in his garage. He later opened the very first surf shop in that garage. His son Pat invented the leash years later. Because there were also days without waves, wheels were placed under the surfboards, and so the first skateboards were created. Even now Santa Cruz is a real surf / skate city with beautiful skate parks and even better waves. So clean! We feel at peace here as you will understand. It is full of surf / skate shops. Of course we had to visit the very first O’neill shop, but that is now just a big modern store like all other shops. The surf museum in an old lighthouse right next to a beautiful point break, was not open at the time it should be open. So we picked up a nice lunch at “the picnic basket” a very hip place, where we had to wait a long time. But the sandwiches were really delicious. We had lunch next to the surf museum with a view of the surfers. Then off course we had to go skating. We hadn’t skated since Vancouver and we don’t drag those skateboards all the way with us for nothing of course. The parks here are super beautiful and the skaters as usual very friendly (and of all ages). A better atmosphere than with surfing, sorry it has to be said. I practice in the halfpipe and try ollies till I’m too tired. Erik has fun everywhere.

After two days at the RV park we wanted to try it again at the nicer campsite near the center. It was full again, but by means of a waiting list we still got a place. But it was a spot on a yellow field in the hot sun. At the reception there was a warning for an aggressive shark. And in the evening there were fleas. A lot of fleas, I think sand fleas or something. (help, I need another wildlife book because the other one went only halfway to California) Those fleas weren’t there yet when we set up our tent, and also not when we decided it was so hot that we’d better open our tent to get some air in.  Result, whole tent full of fleas, aaargh. Really hundreds! They could not get out, so putting everything aside and washing the tent floor was the only solution. Sorry fleas, I too have my limits!

We were actually planning to stay a little longer at that campsite. We were stuck a bit. As in, we didn’t know what to do next now. How long do we want to travel on? And where to? We could go down towards LA. There you have the busiest traffic in the whole of the USA. Do not believe that we are hungry for that. Moreover, LA itself does not really attract us. You can get around LA, there are a few national parks there but they are still very busy and all campsites are fully booked for the upcoming time. It is still too hot in Mexico. In fact, we didn’t really want to go there until October, it is not nearly yet. Well, we had to make a new plan. And it seemed very relaxed to us to be able to stay somewhere quietly for a week and think things over. But we couldn’t find a place. We left the flea campsite the next morning. Nice and early because next to us stood a Russian family whose children were already allowed to play noisily outside at half past six .. grrrr. We saw a new squirrel again, by the way. A gray one with a huge fluffy tail. It was more tail than squirrel hihi, beautiful!

From the campsite we moved to a motel, a motel next to the skate park hihi. We stay here for two nights otherwise it becomes too expensive. And we are now certain which way we are going. Still a slightly shorter route around LA, across Joshua tree park. And we have done something else. The blood is crawling where it can’t go, let’s just say .. Not sure if that is an English expression too b.t.w. We have attached a surfrack to Erik’s motor. And bought two second-hand boards. We had this idea for a longer time and therefore also had lycra’s in the suitcases. Awesome! We had already shopped a bit at the big brands of surf shops but in the end we found everything we needed at a cute little shop called Midtown surf shop. Erik has a brand-new second-hand 5.9 and I have bright yellow second-hand 6.6 and we also got a bag full of savory and sweet cakes from the accompanying lunch café, since they were closing, how nice! This also means that we will send Erik’s small paniers back to the Netherlands. That turned out to be much less expensive than we thought if you do it through the regular post office. We then immediately put the linings and even more superfluous things in, nice to get  rid of that too and no longer be carrying around stuff we don’t use. Excited to see if we like this new set-up. The whole lot was tested yesterday at 50 km an hour and that works fine. We still have to drive a bit to the south because angry shark and the water temperature still cause me some doubts about surfing here. But according to the shop owner it is certainly possible in lycra if we go a little further south.

We also skated yesterday and went to the surf museum after all. It was a nice, small donation based museum. I sometimes talk about “the door” when I talk about my 8.2 longboard. But there they had a surfboard that was really made of a door. And the original redwood surfboard of course. Furthermore, many old photos. After that we watched the surfers at the point break. What a swell, more than 12 seconds and there was a sea otter in the line up! Today we take it easy, just skated very early in the park, there was almost nobody. I’m going to scratch a very thick, dirty layer of old wax off my board and Erik is doing some work.