©2019 by Jelle.

California Dreamin'

6/5/2018

My random journey completely changed when I decided to take the train to the West coast. After visiting San Francisco, I’m on my way to Los Angeles. After L.A., Phoenix is the next destination, with Las Vegas as detour stopover if I’ve time enough.

 

The train to Denver departed the next morning at 06:10 AM, and I was lucky enough to be able to find a spot for my tent just across the train station. The next morning at 6, I was, like dozens of other people, in line for the train to Galesburg. In Galesburg, I had to make the connection with the train to Denver. On my way to Galesburg, I realized that the train to Denver (The California Zephyr) goes all the way to California. I had just read an article in a newspaper about this train journey which is especially beautiful after Denver. I have always wanted to experience a long distance train journey, so I decided to take it and go all the way to California. This meant that my travel time increased with 35 hours to 50 hours! I bought my ticket in Galesburg and was really excited to go to California.

 

Surprisingly busy at 6 in the morning, Quincy, Illinois.

 

Galesburg, where I boarded the California Zephyr

 

My train departed at 04:30 PM and I had a decent spot at the window. I actually had two seats, which meant that I could kind of lie on those seats and kind of sleep a little bit. The train included a restaurant and a lounge with very nice views. While everybody was still asleep, I was watching the sunrise from the lounge. The next 35 hours, I mostly looked to the stunning views. The different altitudes in combination with the shifting longitudes resulted in a lot of different landscapes, from the Rocky mountains in Colorado to the desert in Nevada, it was amazing! I had an e-reader with me, but it just felt like a waste of time to read.

 

 

 

Mooners

 

 

On Saturday, 50 hours and two time zones further, I arrived in Emeryville, which is very close to San Francisco. In the train, I had sent a message to David and asked if he could host me in San Francisco. That was no problem! I took the ferry to Pier 41 and met a group of drunk supporters of the SF Giants. Apparently, it was matchday, as the entire city was turned into black and orange. My bicycle gear was perfect for the occasion! I slowly cycled my way to David’s apartment, with a very steep hill to end the day. This meant that the view from his apartment was great, though! In consultation, we agreed that I could stay for two nights, which enabled me to explore the city a little bit. David made me a route via Google Maps which went through the city’s highlights. I was really impressed by the city. Maybe it is my imagination, or maybe because it was Sunday, but everything seemed very peaceful and everybody looked very happy. Rightly so, because the city is gorgeous. It reminds me of Southern Europe. Furthermore, the Mexican influence is clearly present.

 

Fans of the Giants

 

Improvised roof terrace at David's apartment

 

The famous Golden Gate Bridge

 

You haven't been there unless there are pictures

 

View over El Presidio

 

At first, David cryptically described that he was working for an ad company. After asking some more questions, that turned out to be Google. He invited me to get some lunch at the office tomorrow, he would show me around at the same time. I had already read some things about the office, so I was really curious how it was like! I took the train to Mountain View, which brings you right into Silicon Valley. It’s only a couple of miles left to Google from the train station. When I met David, his boss, Bill, was present as well. David had told his Bill about my journey and he wanted to join us for lunch. During lunch, I told that I was going towards Santa Cruz today. Bill the boss had an acquaintance there. Within three minutes, he had arranged my next spot for today. After lunch, David showed me the office of Google, with, amongst others, gyms and a bowling alley. David showed me this as if it’s completely normal to have all this at your office.

 

Despite having a bowling alley at work, David told me he's still not very skilled in doing it.

 

 

Around half 3, I left Google and quickly cycled my way to Santa Cruz, where I arrived around 8. Marielle received me warmly. She had already turned on the Jacuzzi in the garden. Obviously, I gratefully used this opportunity later in the evening. While the Jacuzzi was bubbling, I realized how much I did last month. The first of April, I was walking through Washington D.C., while at the end of the month, I’m at the complete other side of the country. And it’s not that I just flew from A to B 😊.

 

In the days that followed, I cycled a lot of miles in the direction of Los Angeles. The surroundings between San Francisco and Los Angeles are extremely beautiful and the weather was great. In general, the mornings are foggy until it sun burns this away. After hours of cycling through the artichoke and strawberry fields, I entered route 1, a scenic route along the pacific ocean. I ended up at the kirkcreek campground with a very nice view over the ocean. I noticed that a section of route 1 was being closed until the end of 2018. The stories that people told me about the detour made me shivery. It would be dangerous; busy, narrow, no shoulder and without guardrail. Another cyclist tried to lift my bike and told me that it’s impossible to get up the mountain with all this gear. The latter only makes me more motivated, of course. And if you’re mentally prepared for a very tough ride, you can do almost everything.

 

Strawberry fields forever

This would perfectly fit on a postcard, right?

 

 

I left early, and started climbing without warming up as the campground was right where the detour started. The 7-8 mile climb of about 9-10% was pretty tough, but doable. I counted 5 other cars and the road was narrower than route 1, but it was not dangerous. I don’t believe it anymore when people tell me roads are dangerous or too busy, because it always turns out to be so much better. Later that day, it became smoking hot when I had to climb in 86 degrees Fahrenheit. I believe I drank like 2 gallons of water.

 

View on the campground from the detour

 

I’m currently like 120 miles from LA, which is perfectly doable in two days, so I’ll be there at the beginning of next week. I’m really looking forwards to LA!

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