Southwest USA Summary 2014

Morning sun rays illuminating the mist in the deep cove below still shadowed by the steep hills.

October 10, 2015 | Posted in California, Nevada, Places, Summary | By

Aside from Arizona, which has been given its own summary section, we did very little cycling in the southwest. We bounced around between tons of visits and music and also did some great hiking.

California (19 nights: Oct 9-16; Oct 18-31)

Distance cycled:45 mi / 72 km / 292,431 RJP
Elevation gained:785 ft / 239 m
Elevation lost:639 ft / 195 m

Our time in California can be divided into two distinct periods: Humboldt County and SF+.

We drove down to Humboldt County from Oregon for a long-overdue family visit after many years of absence. We stayed with my uncle with six of his seven kids in a doublewide trailer. It was chaos. It was amazing.

Sediment layers exposed at 45-degrees jutting into the ocean forming huge cliffs.

The Oregon coast has many faces. There are so many cool rock formations. Yeah, not actually CA, but I’ve never claimed to be consistent here.

Roosevelt elk with huge antlers grazing

The Roosevelt elk are the largest subspecies of elk in North America. They are HUGE. We saw a bunch of them hanging out in the middle of the expressway. A massive bull was staring down an outsized SUV.

One of the benefits of using a krr was that we had time to take a short backpacking trip which we’d been jonesing for since we left the Olympics. We chose the Lost Coast Wilderness, and WOW! The drive there is the first part of the adventure as you take a curvy, dilapidated road over some steep hills and drop straight down to the coast. We were only able to make a two-night in and out trip due to weather, but we were touched by this place and intend to return to hike the full length.

A dilapidated road drops down into a deep valley of range land

Tons of flabby sea lions basking on the beach

Sea lions everywhere. This is pretty much all they do the entire day, aside from lots of grunting.

Morning sun rays illuminating the mist in the deep cove below still shadowed by the steep hills.

This was the morning view from our first campsite. There was only one other group camped on the far side of the bay. There was a rock covered with sea lions and seabirds below us making noise all night long.

Brandy standing in front of a sea view from the highlands. Gold meadows surrounded by pine stands roll away to the sea below.

We climbed way the heck up to the ridge in the searing sun to make a loop out of it. I still have a scar from bushwhacking through a briar patch.

L is tiny among a half dozen virgin redwoods

On the way back we stopped to spend a bit more time with some big trees.

The SF part of our trip was a mixture of friends, family and music. Most of the rest of my CA family lives around SF, so we were able to have some nice visits. Phish conveniently scheduled their fall tour around our plans, so we were able to see the three-night run there and we even got one of my old classmates to go to a show, which he seemed to enjoy. One of Brandy’s goals for the trip was to go to a west coast music festival and we were able to check that one off the list with the Hangtown Halloween Ball.

Bright orange hills reflected in foreground water

Arriving in the Bay Area on Amtrak

A couple people back from Mike, Trey and Fishman

We waited in line one of the days to get up close.

I had been to SF three times in my life, but had never actually “visited” it rather than just passing through. I finally put that to rest with this visit and got to enjoy the city. It didn’t woo me while I was there (I think the crazy gentrification and housing prices were always in my head), but I think back now and realize that it is indeed a special place. I was also disappointed with the cycling there, but not surprised considering the stupid court-ordered moratorium on infrastructure that was only recently lifted. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by how much they had managed to do in such a short time since the moratorium. I was very impressed with how much cycling infrastructure was available in the surrounding areas as well. Oakland was particularly great for riding, but we also rode through the silicon suburbs when we went to visit my aunt and I was pleased to see how nice it was to ride there and how easy it was to bring bikes on the Caltrain.

10 SF cityview

Sign shows a bicycle and says, "Green Wave". Sign below says, "Signals set to 20 MPH".

Signals on several arterials in SF have been retimed to provide progressive green signals for cyclists. In this respect SF is far ahead of most US cities.

Bike route sign says, "The Wiggle" and has blocky zigzag arrow.

The Wiggle is a signed route for cyclists planned to avoid hills going between the center of the city and the western part of the city including Golden Gate Park and Haight-Ashbury.

Entire car is dedicated to bicycles leaned against the side with tie downs. There is one row of seats in back.

Bike cars on Caltrain are spacious and easy to use.

L riding on crushed stone path next to the bay

Cycling along the extensive trail network in the South Bay.

Nevada (4 nights: Oct 31-Nov 4)

Distance cycled:50 mi / 80 km / 324,923 RJP
Elevation gained:2,379 ft / 725 m
Elevation lost:2,733 ft / 833 m
Flat tires:1

I don’t have much to say about Nevada. I have driven all over that state and love it. We spent the bulk of this time partying it up with our friends in a house we rented for the Halloween Phish shows in Vegas. The drive to Vegas was beautiful, like the rest of Nevada. I was impressed by how nice it was to cycle in Vegas. It’s difficult to use the bike for transport because everything is so spread out, but the roads are so over-engineered that there is plenty of space for all the traffic in most places so we felt comfortable riding as we left town. There were some very nice multi-use trails as we got further out of town. We did NOT ride on the Strip, which is a horrible krr-oriented hellhole. It’s a hassle to get anywhere, especially on foot. It is specifically designed so that you either never leave the casino complex you’re staying in, or you take a taxi everywhere. I really can’t figure out why people love this place so much, but with great friends and great music, it wasn’t tough to have a great time.

Rows of tiny white barracks in a broad valley

Old barracks in a desolate landscape.

Profile of the Strip from a few miles away. The silly pyramid is especially visible.

The Strip from a safe distance

L rides down a drainage canal towards Lake Mead in the distance.

Part of the path to Lake Mead followed a drainage canal. This was a lot of fun slaloming downhill on the banked sides!

L riding on a paved bike path above Lake Mead.

Lake Mead

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

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