West Coast: Week 3

Week Three started out in the Salinas Valley with a ride through Salinas, the hometown of one of America's literary giants, John Steinbeck.

My road-worn pal was so giddy when he got to meet his predecessor and idol, the truck that Steinbeck drove around the country for one of this final novels, Travels With Charley. Behold, the storied Rocinante:

From Salinas we rode through rain all the way to Santa Cruz. I was surprised at how things turned mountainy so quickly. From there we climbed along Highway 9 through mountain towns and beautiful redwood forests. The size of the trees was just amazing. So was the big banana slug that tried to hitch a ride on the bike.

I plummeted down from the mountains and rolled up to the very pretty Stanford University, enjoying a coffee and apricot-oatmeal loaf while still damp from the forest rain. I met a man there who told me some of the trees in the center of campus were planted in the 1890s. The geographical and cultural diversity of California is truly astounding. Consider that the photos above and below were taken just hours apart.