8/20/11 From San Luis Obispo to San Francisco. It was another good day on the road. I guess the thing that stands out most in my mind was the weather. It is so weird that the temperatures can vary so much in such a short distance.
Most of the ride, the temperatures were in the 60s. We got on Hwy 1, the famous Pacific Coast Highway in San Luis, and headed north. The skies were gray and heavily overcast. It misted a little along the way, but no rain fell. At one point, the highway swung inland for several miles, and the temperature rose from 63 to 85. Then the road swung back towards the ocean and the temperatures dropped back to the mid 60s. The ocean has a definite cooling effect on the temperatures.
The PCH is a wonderful road for motorcycle riding.. It runs along the beach most of the way, but in California, the beach and the mountains are literally feet apart, so the road is just like riding the twisties in the mountains, complete with hairpin turns and significant elevation changes. While the speed limit is 55, there are few places where most people can reach that speed. There are straight, level stretches for a mile or so along the way, but much of the road is twisty, making it a motorcyclist heaven.
Along the way, we saw a sign for an elephant seal viewing area, so we went there. On the beach below were about 25 elephant seals lying on the beach, sleeping. They would lie still and periodically flip sand on their back. Why, I don't know, but all of the seals did that. Occasionally one would move towards the water, moving it's body in an undulating motion that pushed it forward a few inches. They are definitely not fast on the beach, but I bet they can really go fast in the water. It was something to see!
Gary worked on his headlight problem while still at the hotel. We were not able to get the spring to stay in its holder. But in testing, we determined that one of the leads to the bulb was the problem. Something about the wire was causing a short that turned off the headlight circuit. He finally decided to leave the bulb out and ride with only a high beam. That worked just fine. He'll work on it more at home.
We rode into San Francisco on Hwy 101, and experienced first-hand the famous slowdowns on that road. We stopped and rolled and stopped and rolled for a long time, making little progress. Finally, the traffic picked up and we rolled into town.
After taking a few pictures, we headed back into town to the motel. Along the way, we did the famous Lombard street, the "crookedess street in USA". It is pretty steep and switchbacks every few feet. It would be a bit of a challenge on a motorcycle to ride down it without traffic. However, we were behind a car with a driver that appeared to be terrified, stopping every few feet and then inching forward. Going that slow made it very difficult because we were stopping on a steep slope in a curve with camber, making it hard to touch a foot to the ground. I almost dumped the bike twice, and Gary said he almost went down once. It was not a fun ride down the street.
We found the motel, checked in, rested a few minutes, then walked down to Fisherman's Wharf for dinner. We had a good dinner at one of the places over the water and then walked around to see what we could see. Gary knew that seals would be hanging out down by Pier 39, so we went there to see them. Wow! There were 7 docks covered with seals! They were honking and hollering to each other; it was quite a sight.
We finished the night life by stopping at an Irish bar for some Irish coffee. We sat in front of the bartender and watched him preparing the drinks; it was quite a performance. He would line up a half dozen glasses, rims just touching. Then he poured hot water in all of them in one swooping pour. The water sat in the glasses for just a while, I guess to heat the glass. Then he poured the water out and placed two sugar cubes in each glass. Next came coffee, about half full. He then did a motion with a spoon to swish coffee out of the glass without making a real mess. Next, he stirred the coffee, dissolving the sugar, all in just a second or two per glass. Then he poured Irish whiskey in each glass, in one swooping motion again. Finally some frothy cream on top. He was definitely an expert in his craft of making Irish coffee. It was very good!
Then back to the hotel for the night. It was a very good day.
Sunday, we'll see a few more sights, have lunch, and then head for Yosemite National Park.