Another cloudy day and another rainy night in the forests and hills along the winding Eel river, then the cycling path leaves Highway 101 to the coastal Route 1. A few long ups and downs, then I reach the coast again. Warm sunshine dries the damp clothes and lifts up the spirit. Eagles high up in the blue sky. Marvelous sunset and seals in tide pools nearby Fort Bragg. Down to Mendocino, and further to Point Arena. A bit of American cliche photographs in the costal towns.
Lots of ups and downs along the rugged coast line. The landscape alternates between flat dry dairy farm lands and Pine and well smelling Eucalyptus trees patches (that don't originally belong to this part of the world). In a County Park just South of Gualala I camp between the Redwoods again, and have lots of fun with barely shy raccoons sitting next to me on the benches, invading my mates food bag.
Another big climb to get into Bodega Bay area, followed by the long stretch of the Tomales Bay, which is part of the San Andreas fault. Last stopover is the Samuel P. Taylor State Park between Point Rey and Fairfax - one more time camping in the shadow of Redwood trees. Few old-growth samples remain here, but heaps of raccoons :-)
The rear wheel of my bike blocks badly when I use the brakes. A big pothole on the road that I did not see apparently ruined it, as Miguel from Krakatoa Bikes in Fairfax decides after one hour of wheel tuning. He does not have replacement wheels in stock, yet recommends some other shops on the road to San Francisco. So I'm on my way again, looking for a 9-speed MTB wheel for V-brakes, nowadays where everyone seems to use disc brakes for MTBs... It starts to drizzle. In the seventh shop, 30 kilometers later, I get what I need. And a new chain and new tubes. Apperently I catched two punctures on the bicycle tracks to get there, even with my bullet proof Schwalbe Marathon Extreme...
Still drizzling. I'm soaked. The long awaited crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge from Sausalito into San Francisco is clouded by thick fog and mist. I can't see the top of the bridge towers nor opposite side of the coast. For two nights, I stay in a Youth hostel in Fort Mason rather than in my tent. Ronni, my room mate is taxi driver, and during our diner on the first evening, he gives me ideas what to visit in town, and heaps of stories and historical background of San Francisco. After two coffees I excessively use the internet and the illumination at night time while Ronni snores peacefully in the dormitory.
Having slept just 3 hours, I criss cross the city on my bike the next day. The colorful and touristy Fishermans Wharf, next up to Telegraph Hill and Colt Tower to marvel upon the sunny view over the skyline of the financial district and San Francisco Bay. Alcatraz, Sausalito and the Golden Gate Bridge in hide behind clouds. The Italian quarter, the skyscrapers, further on into the colorful Chinatown. Riding down Market street to the grandious City Hall and Theater buildings next to each other. Down to the Mission district with some small backstreets with outstanding graffiti. I climb up 23th Street and marvel upon the neat and colorful painted Victorian houses on the steep ascend, eventually make it to the twin towers, San Franciscos highest hills with splendid view over the city. A few tourist hippie shops and graffiti are left in Haight Ashbury, the hip quarter back in the 1970ies. A brief visit to the Golden Gate Park with a fairly authentic Japanese garden. Japan town, and back to Fort Mason for a nap. What a ride! Set out for an outdoor shop to finally buy me a gas stove, I get a replacement for my leaking Thermarest sleeping pad. Great, very very cool, saves me some 90 bucks and restless nights. Getting out of the store, the clouds that covered the Golden Gate Bridge all day have cleared up, and allow a marvelous sunset view of the great bridge. What a lucky day! Back in the hostel, I have dines with Kevin from France. Brigitte joins us, and eventually Ronni shows up too. Brigitte persuades Ronni to take a Chinese Fortune Cookie, which makes him taking us out in his car. Splendid view of the San Francisco skyline from Treasure Island, and a few beers in a cozy bar with live music. San Francisco Nights...