I felt good heading out from Los Osos. I’d had an enjoyable rest the night before and kept thinking that the worst of it all had past….ah, blissful ignorance!
The muscles were a bit stiff going as they always are after a rest day. It felt great when we went up and over a hill and were hit by beautiful coastline and rows of perfect streets. Now this is how I pictured California!
Witnessing a crime
I stopped at the top of a street to take a picture of the view. 2 young men left the house just to my left heading towards their car. I turned to look because I wanted to see what sort of person lives in a house like this. Hmmm….that’s not what I was expecting!! Tracksuit bottoms and retro bomber jackets?!
The first guy made eye contact with me. His body language confirmed my suspicions that they were up to no good.
I turned to Gil and saw by his expression that he’d also come to the same conclusion. We jumped on our scooters and bolted. Of course my first thought (oh America!) is that they might have guns. We scooted as fast as we could, turned a corner and quickly hid behind a large car making sure that they couldn’t see where we went.
There was a lady further down that street having a yard sale so once we were sure they hadn’t followed us we scooted over to her. She lent us her phone to call the police. Part of me wanted to just walk away from it but we couldn’t not help.
The police arrived and drew their guns to check the house. Then more police arrived and even some detectives in unmarked cars. It was all very dramatic. We started to worry that maybe we’d completely mis read the situation and the guys did actually live there….That would be really awkward!
The police officer told us to wait at the end of the road so they could get statements from us. The neighbours started spilling out asking us what was happening and then why we were on scooters.
‘You guys are hero’s’ they kept saying….I’d left out the part about us hiding behind the car!
Then the donations started coming – even Nancy from the yard sale who’d lent us her phone donated $20. It turned out to be a great fundraiser.
It took a couple of hours before we were able to give our statement and leave. The police officer confirmed there had indeed been a break in (phew!).
If only we’d been able to drop our fundraiser card through the letterbox of the house that’d been broke in to!! Donations very welcome 🙂
We scooted through Pismo Beach and all the surfers. Then up a hill to Brad and Olga who were our warm showers hosts for the night. They insisted on taking us out for dinner (literally no one is letting us pay for anything…we are keeping track of all the kindness though and will donate the money we would have spent).
We had a couple of uneventful but relentless scoot days following all the drama of the break in. I could feel the temperature rising slightly every day and was starting to dread this heatwave that was coming.
We spent the night in Los Olivos where we’d booked an Airbnb on a farm. We had tried to pay for it but the owner refunded the money which of course will be added to the fundraiser.
I was feeling drained so we agreed to switch off for the evening to read and watch a film instead of our usual work I feel like I’ve barely seen Gil – of course we are scooting all day but we are usually in single file and focusing on scooting. Then when we take breaks or have time in the evening we are spending time with hosts or answering the questions of curious passers by. Working out accommodation or route plans for the coming days, blogging and updating social media or working on fundraising (contacting press, finalising talks, thanking people, etc). Or we are actually working – me on Love Her Wild and Gil on building websites. So it was nice to have a bit of down time!
Stopping for a few hours made me realise how tired I was and also how much I was missing home. Seeing the kids play in the garden behind our Airbnb made me miss my nephew and niece so much!! I also realised I’m carrying this feeling that I’m not doing enough or that the expedition isn’t as successful as it could be. There’s a lot of emotions right there!
So THIS was the worst day
We left the farm and headed for the mountains where we knew we had a big climb before reaching Refugio Beach – the halfway point of the day. We were both in great spirits and I was thinking it was going to be a good day. So wrong.
We chatted to a couple of people who were out walking their dog which had been a nice distraction. We’d been scooting for a couple of hours when we saw the sign saying road blocked ahead. I had a real sinking feeling but remained positive that there would be a way past for cyclists or pedestrians as there usually was.
When we reached the tree cutters (the reason for the road closure) they were working on a 20 metre stretch of road. One the guys came up to me and in a rude manner told me there was no way through, we were trespassing and the entire road is closed. I tried to explain our situation and to ask if there was an alternative but he wouldn’t even let me speak, he just started threatening to call the police. Seriously??!
We tried to speak to someone else but he’d obviously told them all to ignore us. I thought about trying to jump the barbed wire fence either side and find an alternative way round. Back home I wouldn’t hesitate to do this in a second but in a country where trespassing and guns Are very much a thing I didn’t want to risk it. Especially as I think the guy would’ve loved calling the cops on us. It wasn’t worth getting in trouble with the police over this.
I knew they weren’t going to let us through which left us only one option…to turn around and scoot all the way back. We’d then need to take the alternative route which was an additional 74km. It was 11am on the first day of the heatwave. I was hot and tired and this was all too much. The tears started flowing and just didn’t stop.
Once back to the familiar crossroads where we had taken the road I saw the road blocked sign. We’d missed it as we’d taken a short cut through the car park…a critical mistake.
Every km the rest of the day felt like 3 times the distance. My emotional state made my body feel heavy and I don’t think I’ve ever sweated so much in my life.
We reached Refugio Beach At 4pm. We’d still need to go another 40km to reach the warm shower host in Santa Barbara we’d arranged to stay with. There was no way I’d make it so we aimed for a campsite nearer instead. I just hoped we’d be able to get food delivered there as we had nothing and were far from the nearest shops or restaurants.
Desperate for this day to be over
We followed a bike track by the side of the coast. I normally would’ve loved being on a trail like this but not today. I literally couldn’t believe it when 10km along we saw another road block sign. There was no way on earth we were turning around so we jumped the fence. The path was collapsing in parts which was why it was closed but we just took it careful.
We reached the campsite via the back entrance and had to scoot another km to reach the entrance….just for them to tell us the hiker/biker section was at the furthest point right where we’d come from. The tears started again and the teenage boy looked super confused and embarrassed (to help set the scene you need to imagine me looking a complete state – bright red in the face and soaked with sweat)!!
I felt like i was radiating heat. I took a freezing cold shower pitched up the tent and just lay down as still as I could. Stretching and recovery shakes could wait for another day. The pizza delivery came (thank goodness!) and my spirits lifted enough for me to momentarily enjoy the beautiful view and the sounds of the waves….until the freight trains started passing and the large teen group next to us started singing Justin Bieber songs. Well…it was doomed to be the worst day of the trip.
Things can only get better
The plan had to be changed for the next couple of days to make up the extra miles we’d had to do. The next day we saw there was another campsite we could aim for about 52km away.
To miss the heat of the day we set off at 6am. I was surprised by how good I felt mentally. I’d re read all the kind messages people at home had sent me on Facebook and Instagram and it gave me a real boost (yesterday when I read them I just blabbed like a baby). I embraced the sun and enjoyed the sea views from the day – listening to podcasts and music.
Everything felt lighter.
Santa Barbara had a great vibe and we soaked in the atmosphere and enjoyed watching the holiday makers. We were able to take lots of breaks in coffee shops along the way as we’d started so early.
We got to our campsite at 4pm and took it in turns to go for a refreshing swim on the beach. The annoying thing with camping is we can’t leave our stuff as it’s vey common for tents and their contents to be stolen.
I went for a nice stroll on my own as the sun was setting and then we settled in for the night watching an episode of ‘Jane the Virgin’ on Netflix before bed. Totally addicted to that show!
We are doing this expedition to raise money for ACE. Please help us build a school in Tanzania by donating here. Thank you…..your support means a lot!!!
This expedition is being supported by Vivo Life!