Well, in the last few days I've gone from facing some end-of-the-trip adversity (in terms of weather and camping conditions) to finishing my tour and achieving my goal. I've successfully made it from the atlantic coast to the pacific coast and it feels amazing. Here's how the trip has finished up:
Day 48 - about that very early start that I wanted.. Well I got the early start (around 430 am), but it wasn't really by choice. So I took VW Tim's advice and decided to camp out in the park in Genoa. All was well - my belongings were safe and sound in my tent with me, my bike locked up and no one was bothering me - until I was rudely awakened at 11 pm by the sprinkler system. I wasn't happy. Actually I feared for my life because I had no tent cover and wasn't sure how 'waterproof' my tent was. And this wasn't one of those gentle spraying sprinkler systems - it sounded like someone was hosing down my tent with a water hose. As the water pelted my tent I felt the wall to see how much, if any, water was getting through. Fortunately I found out that it was fairly waterproof. Unfortunately, though, my shoes were outside and my vent was open. So I grabbed my shoes and quickly placed them inside and closed the flaps on my door as best as I could. I stuffed all of my riding clothes into my sleeping bag and covered my entire body to stay as warm and dry as possible. I fell back asleep and at around 4 am I woke up, slightly damp and completely annoyed. It was a little chilly and some of the water had finally leaked through the tent. I forced myself to get up and start moving around, eating and changing clothes because otherwise I would have just laid there miserable and not made any progress on the days ride. I got up, put on all my layers and packed up. I figured if anything this would give me an extra head start on the day. I set out at around 430 headed towards Carson's Pass (8,573 ft - my final climb of the trip!). I was pedaling pretty slowly and fighting to stay warm. Fortunately, the simultaneous moon set and sunrise kept me somewhat entertained. Shortly into the ride I crossed into California, my 10th and final state and at some point today I believe I crossed the Great Basin Divide. With my shoes still wet, my feet went numb about 10 minutes into the ride. I climbed for about 2 hours before stopping at a restaurant halfway up the mountain for breakfast and a place to thaw out my toes. Once I hit the road again the sun had finally come out of its shell and it started to warm up a bit. I ran into a couple of cyclists that gave me some encouragement and words of wisdom about the upcoming climb and one of them even offered me a place to stay in Sacramento. I finally made it to the top - I was relived and ecstatic that I had finally reached the top of my last climb. I layered up and headed down the other side. On the way down I had a couple smaller climbs, but for the most part it was all smooth sailing downhill. Kinda. It started raining on me about an hour into my descent, but I was so glad to have the climb out of the way that I didn't even mind. I stopped for a couple quick snacks, and soon enough I was down to about 2,000 ft altitude. The scenery passing through Eldorado National Forest was beautiful. Eventually I made it to Placerville, CA where I'm staying for the night. Needless to say I'm exhausted and after last night / this morning I'm rewarding myself with a hotel room. Tomorrow I'll be heading 70ish miles to Davis, CA where I have a warmshowers host waiting for me. I'll have a bit more downhill early before finally reaching sea level and some flat terrain. The weather should be decent with little wind and hopefully no rain.
Day 49 - I don't think I could have asked for a better day. I slept in a little after yesterday's long day and got on the road around 815. It started out a bit cloudy and chilly, but soon enough the sun popped out and it warmed up. I made it around 65 miles into Davis, Ca which just might be the coolest city I've visited on the entire trip. The downtown area is really nice and has more of a small town feel to it. Everyone is also very Eco friendly as well - a lot of people have solar panels and its been dubbed the bicycle capital if the world. The scenery on the ride today was pretty cool - not so much the natural scenery I've seen over the last couple weeks, but more of the man made city structural type of scenery. I rolled through Folsom, Ca and got a glimpse of the prison where Johnny Cash performed way back when. And I also rolled through my second state capitol of the trip, Sacramento. When I arrived in Davis I stopped at a bike shop to top off my tires with air and mingled around town before my warmshowers host, Nancy, called. I met her at the local co-op and we rode back to her house where I was able to get a shower and chow down on some delicious homemade veggie burgers. Tomorrow should be the final day of the tour. I should have a nice welcoming party waiting for me at the Golden Gate Bridge, as my friends Jeff, Bernadette, an Danielle are in town. The weather should be nice. I'm getting excited!
Day 50 - today was the day. I woke up and got an early start from Davis after a very delicious, but underwhelming breakfast at my hosts house. I had about 75 miles to go to San Francisco and was trying to set my arrival up so that I arrived at the San Francisco-Vallejo ferry with enough time to spare. I stopped for a quick, but more filling breakfast in Fairfield then hit the road again. The weather turned out to be fairly windy, as I was getting a good bit of wind coming off the bay, but I didn't even mind. I arrived in Vallejo at around 1 pm and grabbed my ticket for the 2 o'clock ferry and the realization that I had finally reached my goal began to set in. The hour long ferry took us by some awesome scenery heading up to the SF bay - Alcatraz, some other neat little islands and a few bridges, including the Golden Gate. Overall the scenery today was really amazing. Before entering the bay area I passed trough several vineyards and apple orchards then hit some beautiful rolling hills leading into the bay area. When the ferry docked in San Francisco my map had me heading to the Golden Gate Bridge, but my friends who were awaiting my arrival had mapped out another route for me so that I could end right on the beach, or at least so I thought. I got in touch with my friends and got some of the worst directions I've ever had - we're laughing about it now, but at the time it wasn't so fun because I was exhausted and I ended up riding up Divisadero street which is apparently the steepest road in San Francisco. After spending about an hour or so figuring out my route to the Golden Gate Park (where they were waiting for me), I was on my way. Rolling through the park was beautiful and upon my arrival I was greeted by my friends Jeff, Bernadette, Bernadette's sister and friend, and Danielle. A prematurely popped bottle of champagne and an American flag were awaiting me. I grabbed a quick glass and made my rounds of hugs and high fives and we headed out to the beach where we took some photos and I finally realized my goal. It was an amazing feeling. Though, im not sure which was the better feeling - the feeling of accomplishing my goal, or the thought of being able to wake up in the morning and not have to sit on a bicycle seat for 6 hours. Nonetheless it was an amazing feeling and well worth the 7 weeks of hard work and effort. We soon headed out for dinner and drinks before catching a beautiful sunset by the Golden Gate Bridge. We then headed out to a farm in Pescadero, Ca where Bernadette's sister is working for the summer. We're sleeping on the rooftop of the owners greenhouse under a beautiful, wide open sky full of stars - I couldn't think of a better way to cap off my trip than with this amazing view and some good friends. I've got another friend, Remy, flying in tomorrow to visit. Once he arrives we'll all be hanging out and exploring for a few days before I figure out how to spend the next 2 weeks before my flight. It's been an amazing journey that I'll never forget. I've met some amazing people along the way and made some memories that will last a lifetime. I've tested my limits and learned so much about myself and many others that I've met along the way. This has been an amazing journey that I'll always cherish and never forget. Thanks to everyone for all of the support along the way.