Buenos dias, everyone! We’re coming to you today from the beautiful coast of Santa Cruz, California. We were lucky enough to find a free parking spot last night that was so close to the water, we could hear the waves crashing as we fell asleep. Ahh, sure is nice to be back by the ocean.
Before arriving in Santa Cruz, we last left you in a Walmart parking lot in Jackson, CA – a small town in the middle of not a whole lot. We were en route toward Yosemite, and had way underestimated the drive and hills Bertha would have to overcome to get there. We started the drive out of Jackson toward Yosemite on Wednesday. We had a couple of quick stops to make on our way out of town but soon enough we were on the road and had Bertha climbing and descending some pretty gnarly hills. One particular part of climb consisted of slow, winding uphill roads where we were lucky to get over 15mph. But she made it up like a champ and JB did a great job of driving. It wasn’t until evening when we finally pulled into our boondocking spot just a couple of miles from the entrance to the park. We settled on a spot, got Bertha tucked in, and JB decided to explore up the road a little, mainly in search of cell phone reception. Crazy enough, just another mile up the road, we found perfect LTE connection. So we moved Bertha again, re-leveling her and settling her into our home for the next two nights. It was a beautiful spot, with stunning sunset views.
As we slept that evening, we woke up in the middle of the night to our room smelling like a campfire. We peered out the window to see a haze covering everything in the light of the nearly full moon. It was eerie. Turns out there was a fire south of Yosemite that had been burning for a few days and had taken down over 11,000 acres. The winds must have shifted, bringing the smoke up to our camp.
The next morning we got up, had a nice hearty breakfast, packed up pb&j sandwiches for lunch, and jumped on Eeyore (sorry, “Super E” these days) for a day of exploring Yosemite. We started with a slow meander through the main part of Yosemite Village, stopping to take in the sights of Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, and The Half Dome. We stopped for lunch at Half Dome Village and were pretty blown away by the setup at base camp. People camp here in order to take the long trek up to Half Dome, something you need a permit to do. The village was pretty big, with a pool, showers, a cafe, and a shop. Basically everything you could need and more. After lunch, we decided to head up to Glacier Point – the most iconic and incredible views of Yosemite one can have without having to hike. It was another 30 miles and a lot of climbing to get up there – from 4,000 feet to over 7,000 feet. And there really aren’t words to describe the beauty, this is one of the times that pictures will tell the story better than we can. From the top, you get panoramic views of the entire park, including El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and The Half Dome.
We spent some time up there taking pictures and just taking in the views, it was sad to see the park in a haze of smoke from the nearby fire. As we started heading down, Heather noticed smoke on a nearby mountain, it looked as though a new fire had broken out. And sure enough, as we came to the turn we needed to take in order to get back to Bertha, the road was closed and we were told we’d need to find another way to get back. We loaded up Google maps as soon as we could find service, and saw that we’d be looking at an additional 2 hours, and 80 miles to get to Bertha, *sigh*. At least we left before dark and had plenty of time. It was a slow drive, lots of windy roads and slow drivers; it really did take us about 2 hours, even on the motorcycle. During the drive, we kept thinking of the “what if’s”; what if we can’t get back to her? What if the fire spreads near her? Or, what if she’s on fire?! But none of those things happened…after 200 total miles on the motorcycle for the day, we finally made it safely back to Bertha just as the sun was setting, so happy to see her in one uncharred piece. We pulled out a bottle of wine and toasted to the sunset and to a beautiful day exploring another amazing National Park.
Friday was a full day of driving in order to get Santa Cruz. We made a stop in San Jose, partly for a break in driving, partly to let rush hour die down, and partly to get in a workout and long shower at the YMCA (ahhh those long showers are incredible). We pulled into Santa Cruz after dark that evening, finding a quiet neighborhood parking spot to spend the night.
We were up early on Saturday morning to get Bertha moved closer to Ironman Village, where JB would get all checked in for his race the following day. We took a little stroll down to the water, just to check out the area. The marine layer was extra thick until well into the afternoon, keeping the temperature cool and inviting in that lovely ocean breeze. Our parking spot was perfect, JB was able to prep his bike, pack his gear, and make sure he had everything set and ready to go. Check in was fast and painless; he did have a small issue with his bike that the local bike shop was able to take care of for him, and by late afternoon, he had everything ready. At that point, Heather decided to head out for a 10 mile run along the coast, running a large portion of the half Ironman course actually. She didn’t realize it until she finished, but the run felt amazing, largely due to the fact that we’re back down at sea level. What a difference that makes! The remainder of the evening was spent making a healthy dinner and getting lots of rest in preparation for JB’s race the next day!
Sunday morning was race day! It was very different and much easier to just prepare one of us rather than both of us. JB got his game face on and prepped the last of his stuff, while Heather made him peanut butter toast and helped where she could. We got down to the transition area an hour before the race start and were on the beach by 6:30 for the 7:00am start. It was SO foggy! Santa Cruz has a pier jutting out into the sea and you couldn’t even see it, the fog was that thick. Thousands of rubber people in wetsuits were milling about the beach, trying to figure out what was going to happen. Finally, after JB had long since jumped in the water to warm up and get wet pre-swim, they announced that the race start was going to be delayed by an hour, and that the swim was going to be shortened to a half mile (instead of 1.2 miles). It was a cluster trying to get 3,000 people into the water and it took about 40 minutes to get everyone in. JB was in the water by 8:12 and back out in just 14 minutes.
Anytime the course is shortened, it’s a bit of a bummer since JB is racing for self-improvement from race to race and a change in course length, even in one segment, changes the race entirely. For those interested, the full race report will be available at https://www.jbmultisport.com/race_report?reportid=7330, but suffice to say this race was full of crazy race day variables from hard to spot buoys in the fog, almost losing his breakfast on the long (½ mile) run from the beach into transition, a beautiful, foggy bike ride, the eventual heat of the day turning things up, a trip and tumble on the run course (ouch!), and a total flop on the sandy beach’s finish line. All in all it wasn’t the race he had hoped for, but a great race nonetheless and more experience to add to his arsenal of coaching wisdom.
It was fun for Heather to spectate for a change. And the new Ironman tracker app made things much easier. Once she saw him get out of the water and start on the bike, she headed back to Bertha for a couple of hours. As he finished up the bike, she was able to get a great place right on the coast to watch him come in and then to run back out. It was an awesome spectating course to be able to watch the race while also staring out over the beautiful Santa Cruz coast.
Once the race was over and JB had his post race pizza, we got back to Bertha to get him showered and napped. We then moved to a new parking spot, nice and close to a burrito shop where we got takeout burritos for dinner and cuddled up to watch a movie in our cozy Bertha bedroom. Ahh post race relaxing is the best.
Monday morning we were up relatively early, surprising after a race day. JB headed to a local coffee shop to work on his Monday training plans while Heather went grocery shopping. We then moved Bertha once again, this time to our amazing coastal spot where we were able to spend two nights. Our plan for the day was to have a fun date day. Heather’s parents had recently joined a winery in the area, well they joined the one 40 miles away in Monterey but had suggested that we try the tasting room in Santa Cruz. So we unloaded Eeyore and spent the afternoon doing a little wine tasting. We ended up talking to two other ladies in the tasting room who had also done yesterday’s half Ironman. They were both over 50 and lived in Hawaii and were kind of badasses. The guys pouring our tasters were really nice and let us try a few of the reserve, member’s-only wine despite us only paying for the more inexpensive tasting list. The wines were all really good and after the tasting, we sat on the patio, each enjoying a leisurely glass before heading out. What better meal choice after a race and some wine than pizza?? We went to the nearby pizza place – Pizza My Heart – and ordered a large, though there was no way we could eat it all in one sitting!
And finally, today (Tuesday) was a low key day spent living in our coastal property. JB spent most of the day inside working, while Heather got out for a beautiful long run along the coast. It was an overcast, relaxed kind of day, ending with another movie night and the sound of the waves outside our window.
We’ll be leaving Santa Cruz tomorrow morning and heading north. We pick up Heather’s friend, Nina, in Sacramento on Friday morning, then head to Bend for Heather and Nina’s 50k trail run on Sunday! Stay with us!
Total RV Trip Miles: 21,383.5