Just a few years back .. I was in the middle of one of my many laps around the country as I leisurely rolled through Yosemite .. gazing down from Glacier Point with it’s breathtaking views .. and shooting thousands of digital memories along the way to be stored and sorted sometime down the road .. when I’m too old to do anything else. My fear is that I won’t remember what the hell I’m looking at when I finally take the time to tackle that project .. as I’m already afflicted with dementia on more occasions than I care to admit. But I guess that insignificant worry just can’t keep me from traveling and compiling a record number of photos that is quickly approaching the number of miles I’ve logged to date. But with over 174,000 miles now, you can just imagine the places and things I’ve seen in a relatively short period of time. Sadly enough, however .. I’ve often wished I’d had someone with me to share the sights and sounds that pictures just cannot capture .. no matter how good the digital technology .. but most of those miles have just been me and Bosco and whatever thoughts meander between my ears .. and that does have a lot of advantages too.
Back to my story .. I wandered down through Kings Canyon .. the Sequoias .. then up and over to San Francisco again to visit some more of my favorite places .. the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf (best clam chowder bread bowls on earth), Alcatraz, San Quentin, Sausalito, China Town .. more places than I have space to write. Just stopping Bosco at a traffic light while cruising uphill and running parallel to one of the old cable cars was a trip in itself .. it’s hard to imagine just how steep those streets really are until you’re actually climbing one and have to stop! All the while .. I just can’t help but “feel” the history of this remarkable city .. and imagine what it must have been like to have survived the earthquake and fires that virtually destroyed a majority of this historic place. But with the grit and determination of true American character .. its survival and transformation is just plain awe-inspiring …
As I headed down the coastline on the infamous PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) .. through Monterey, Carmel (mayor Clint Eastwood), Big Sur .. I made a point of finding an often overlooked historical site at the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. This is where the ONLY waterfall on the Pacific coastline falls directly into the ocean. Of course .. sometimes at low tide it lands in sand .. but the view was spectacular! One of the reasons it’s often overlooked is the fact that you can’t see it from the highway, and after you enter the park .. you have to walk nearly a half-mile back toward the coast, under the PCH, and along a narrow path hugging the cliffs until you’re in a position to look back at the waterfall as it endlessly pours into the cove. Understandably, it’s closed to the public .. since most of them are absolute idiots anyway and they’d surely find some way of destroying the area with liter and graffiti. So, thankfully, it’s observe from afar .. but even at the observation vistas along that one pathway .. punks have tagged and destroyed a lot of the wooden guardrails as pure testimony to how inconsiderate and disgraceful our society has truly become. Enough said .. I’ll put my soapbox away for now .. but I think you get my drift.
As I ventured further south along the Big Sur coastline .. along the Los Padres National Forest .. visiting the historic Pigeon Point Light House, the Rocky Creek Bridge (most photographed bridge on the entire Pacific coast) I picked up a couple other motorcycles I noticed following me for several miles. I tend to roll a bit above the posted speed limits .. and I think they were quite comfortable allowing me to lead them along the twisted coastline at a good clip. We came up behind a black, late model Trans Am .. which looked just like the unmarked cop cars I was quite familiar with back in Indiana. I stayed back a safe distance .. speed limit or less .. but didn’t dare attempt to pass for fear I’d be the one to hit the traffic court lotto that night. It was nearing dusk as we all came to a stop light at the little town of Cambria. There was a gas station across from the coast on my left .. so I decided to get some fuel and allow the “cop” to put some distance between us.
As I pulled into the station .. I noticed both bikes followed my lead as one rider pulled to the pump opposite me .. the other rider pulled to the pumps across to my left. I took my helmet off and made a comment to the closest rider about my sudden adherence to the speed limit for the last several miles and my decision to get some distance between us and my suspected nemesis. All of a sudden .. a voice from directly behind me said “so just what ARE you doing here in California?” I immediately recognized the voice .. somewhat shocked in disbelief that it could remotely be who I suspected … but as I turned around .. there stood one of my oldest and dearest friends from Venice, Florida .. Jim Duncan .. almost 3000 miles from home !! And when the other rider took off his helmet .. it was another good friend of ours, Larry Odle .. who now lived in Sausalito, in the San Francisco Bay.
Jim and Larry were best friends from Muncie, Indiana .. who now lived on opposite ends of the country. Jim had flown out to see Larry and to specifically ride down the Pacific Coast Highway together .. as Larry owned two bikes. We went a block down the street to the West End Bar & Grill .. had a great dinner .. and just couldn’t get over the fact that we ran into each other in the middle of nowhere. Jim said that just before they pulled out of Larry’s place .. his exact words were “who knows .. maybe we’ll run into Joe Richman out here .. I heard he’s out wandering around California somewhere”.
Now you tell me .. what are the odds that three people from Florida, Indiana & California are going to take off on motorcycles and run into each other at a little gas station on the Pacific coastline and share a dinner .. laughter .. and catch up on years past? Some things are just meant to be .. and I guess our chance encounter was just one of them. Unfortunately, by the time we finished dinner .. Jim and Larry had to turn around and ride another 250 miles back to Sausalito .. in the dark .. as Larry had forgotten his vital prescriptions. I’m guessing they made it safely .. I haven’t seen or heard from either of them since … but I’ll never forget that night.
Until next time .. ride smart .. ride safe
and the Adventure continues …