Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Strawberries for Christmas

Southern California is a land of seeming contradictions. On Tuesday I rode a nice little route on the beach from the place we are staying in Oxnard to Ventura. It was not a lot of miles, still it took me to places streching far across the social landscape in just an afternoon.  I could not help but stop (frequently) for pictures. It was a great JRA ride.

Greg had warned me that the prevailing winds were from the north when the Santa Ana’s are not  blowing. So my first half was into the wind but not a problem for me: No icy blast, no freezing fog, no frozen mud puddles or frozen water bottles.  I wore a SS jersey and bib knickers. My thermal vest was in my seat pack but never needed.

It’s a Hodge Podge along the beach; you can tell this area has been inhabited for many years. There are a few old houses, lots of new and newish places, working, and pleasure boat marinas, even a power generation plant and oddly, a sewer treatment plant.  I guess that's not so odd: wherever you find people you will find a "wastewater collection and treatment facility", almost always adjacent to a flowing water body, the big blue Pacific in this case.  You know the old addage: "dilution is the solution to polution."

As I rode along the ocean the fancy places were to my left, and to the right there were fields of row crops.

The Strawberries are not only ripe but in the process of being harvested.   If you are anywhere west of the Rockies and having fresh strawberries with your Christmas feast, there is a chance that they may be in one of these pictures. Seems so strange that to my left there are million dollar homes, yachts, and resorts while just across the road, campesinos, bundled in hoodies labor to make a day’s pay in the fields. I felt a little self-conscious to be lolling along on a bike ride in the middle of a work day.

There’s a ton of history here, we drove down from San Jose on highway 101. In places six lanes wide, wide enough to hold 3 of our hwy 101’s out on the Olympic Peninsula… that’s six lanes one way, another six lanes headed in the opposite direction (is my red neck showing?) All along the way there are historic markers for the Camino Real, which was the ancient route that connected the Spanish missions. We’d like to have stopped to do the tourist tap dance but in this case it was about the destination, not the trip.

So far, the destination has been well worth the trip. We arrived before sunset on Monday, the place is tres luxe, we were there because Mrs. Dr. C had a few airline points, or club points, or some such which helped bring it down from the ionosphere to the stratosphere. It’s very nice and I like it, but we checked out for cheaper digs after a couple day:  it was that or washing dishes and doing the grounds keeping for the next six months.

I am completely enthralled with the local flora. Looking out at the beach and seeing palm trees in the sand, just makes me giggle.

I went around the inner courtyard and took pics of the giant plants that we are used to seeing sitting on the window sills 'en del norte':  Calla lilies in bloom, just a few of the many Bird of Paradise plants, roses in bloom,

and then this caught my eye:

Late Last summer I bought a banana tree which was at deaths door and prices accordingly. I brought it home, trimmed it up and repotted in an oversized pot. I placed it near the waterfall in the Koi pond, just outside my office window which is the most protected spot we have on the place. It responded well, putting out four new leaves before the weather took a dive. When the pond froze over last week I noticed the banana palm was looking very bad. This is a picture of the blooms we’ll have if it ever gets tropical again back north.

Before we left I was corresponding with some of my six degrees of separation rando friends about a Solstice ride that they are putting on here. I was mildly interested so put my name on the ‘on the fence’ list. Since that time the emails were flying back and forth and against my better judgement found myself in the company of several other rando goofs rolling out on a 200Km perm up highwat 1 on the Big Sur coast from San Luis Obispo to Carmel.

Fun riding with people from all over SoCal (NorCal too, riders from SF!) It was not the death of me but I was Hors Delay, something about that 7,000 feet of climbing and not getting enough sleep the night before.  I did OK for the first 90 miles, but from 90 to 100 miles I was falling asleep on the bike.  Those swoopy, swervy descents in the dark while falling asleep on the bike were terifying.
Shawn and and his co-pilot gave us GREAT support!)

Watching the SIR Google list, I noted the discussion devolved to the merits of studded tires for their Solstice ride given the forecast for possible freezing fog.

Today, for a recovery ride we rode 10 miles out to Avila Beach (from San Luis Obispo) for lunch.  It was 70 degrees and the more adventurous locals chanced slipping out of their long sleeve fleece tops.

SoCal is definitely a place where they live for their cars.  I found these two beauties parked along the streets of Ventura:

And this little number in SLO
As further proof of the auto-bias I spied this uniquely Californian construct:

The Pediestrial Penalty box(?)

I don’t often declare my genius out loud, unless I’ve discontinued my medications for a period. BUT, …. the decision to make this frivolous trip may have indeed been a stroke of genius. True we haven’t been here long but so far it’s two thumbs way up.

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