Bridal shoes: Beijing, China
In the lead up to landing in LA we thought it would be fun to make our way down to San Diego to start our American leg of the trip from the south west corner. We had hoped that maybe we could make the train work by putting our bikes back together in the airport, cycle to the train station in LA, get on the train, get off the train in San Diego and cycle to our host's house. It turns out that after two days of travelling you just can't be bothered to do all of that so instead we hired a car for a few hours and I drove down to San Diego which ended up being much quicker, more convenient and enabled us to go grocery shopping.
Judd and Victoria were fantastic hosts and are perfectly set up for warmshowers. You can let yourself in with access to a key in a keysafe, have an outdoors shower if you'd like, set up your tent in their garden and just generally feel very much at home. Over dinner we told them about our wedding which was coming up very soon and that we still didn't have all of our readings sorted! The next morning, just before we set off on our bikes to head north towards our wedding, they gave us a wedding present: a book of John Muir's writings. John Muir was a Scottish-American early advocate of saving the American wilderness and used his influence to introduce a bill to Congress to make Yosemite a national park. Could this get any more perfect!? Rewind back in time to our stay in Sydney with Jen and Paul: Jen had encouraged us to consider really relevant people or aspects to our journey around the world and find readings from those sources. Immediately, John Muir felt like the right way to be going. Between receiving this book from Judd and Victoria in San Diego and arriving in San Francisco, we had adapted two readings from Carl Sagan and John Muir. I'm so glad we worked so hard on getting these two pieces together. They couldn't have been more perfect.
We still felt fatigued from jet lag as we made our way north but pushed on for as many days as we could. We were following the Pacific route suggested by the Adventure Cycling Association which at this point along the coast pretty much just followed the main highway. Some of it was a nightmare - the second day in we were passing through Laguna Beach where the main road at one point had a bike lane but then, in true western country fashion, it just disappeared and shoved us into the traffic passing very closely by parked cars. There is an alternative route which takes you up the 25%+ incline roads up and along the hills which sandwich the main highway up against the sea so we ended up walking through Laguna Beach itself. It was a minorly stressful day but ended up well once we met our next host, Quintin. He rode out to meet us on the highway and guided us back to his house where, yet again, we made good friends over dinner.
The next day brought us through the urban sprawl which was greater LA and we somehow managed to speed through it all until we hit Redondo Beach and could join the bike path the entire way to Santa Monica where our next host was. I think this day was where we got a bit disenchanted with Southern California - it just isn't that picturesque. The beaches were yet again not up to the same standard as Australia and we struggled to see the beauty of them in the morning/lingering afternoon mist but we just kept plowing on.
We tried a hiker-biker site the following evening at Leo Carrillo State Park. Hiker-biker sites are in most California State Parks where you get a cheap rate to camp if you get there under your own steam. We still paid $10 each (shower not included) so it's still pretty pricey for somewhere to sleep in a tent.
One of the joys of long distance bike touring is that you make good friends with the other cyclists that you meet and ride with for a while and one of those friends who popped back into our lives at this point was Arne. We met Arne in western Turkey and had vaguely stayed in contact through reading blog posts and messaging in south east Asia when we unfortunately missed each other again by a few days. He sent us a message which finally go through to us (our WhatsApp number keeps changing with all of the phones we've tried which just don't stand up to the dangers of bike touring [i.e. we break them]) which asked if we were going to stay in Santa Monica. It was a perfect stopping point after a chilly night camping and we stayed with an old work colleague of Arne's. I love the way people network for each other, the spirit of helping each other out definitely hasn't died.
We just kept plodding on into the headwind and over the hills until we reached San Luis Obispo a couple of days later where we were staying with the delightful and effervescent Tom and Nancy and Lucy (their dog). You may see a pattern with our hosts - we tend to send our first messages to those who advertise that they have pets. Once we reached SLO, we had to leave the Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) route because of a landslide along Highway 1. There were rumours of cyclists sneaking through now that the road is mostly clear, but since we were just over a week away from our wedding we didn't fancy any risk to reaching our destination. Since landing in the USA neither Mike nor I had been sleeping well, sharing stories of our stress dreams each morning and generally becoming more disspirited with our adventure and feeling like we might just fly home after the wedding. Logically and rationally, we weren't actually going to do this because... what's the point? But the very fact that we were feeling so disenchanted with cycling along the highway all the way to San Francisco, especially since we were about to miss one of the most beautiful parts of the Pacific Highway route (Big Sur) because of the landslide, told us that we needed to just head up to San Francisco by car and relax and get ready for the wedding. Really, we probably shouldn't have headed down to San Diego to do an extra few days of cycling. If we hadn't gone to San Diego we would have got to San Francisco by this point in time. Conversely, if we hadn't gone to San Diego we probably wouldn't have found John Muir's writings by ourselves and had the perfect wedding reading, thanks to Judd and Victoria. So swings and roundabouts really!
Tom and Nancy (and Lucy the dachshund) let us stay an extra night for us to organise the hire car for a one way trip to San Francisco. We were due to stay with the girlfriend of Jas the American cyclist we spent a few days riding with towards the end of the Nullarbor in Australia. Jess said it was fine for us to arrive early so off we went north to the Bay Area to get married.
We were having a small wedding: biological parents each, one friend and their partner each, our officiant who is an old friend of Mike's and our photographer from Glasgow. We love John's work (all credit to him for the photo at the top of this blog post) and he was interested in coming out to Yosemite when we were hiring him for the wedding reception we're having back in Scotland once we're home.
Mike and I went up a little early to Yosemite with my friends Meg and Sami so we could get our wedding license in time. You need two licenses to get married in Yosemite - the county license from Mariposa County Clerk and one from Yosemite itself. The Yosemite license gives you permission to have the wedding at a specific location at a specific time and the Mariposa county license makes it all legal. We had hired out a lodge in Yosemite West for the majority of people, while a couple of others were either in their own lodge or in a hotel further down the valley. In the end, we were mostly all close by and this certainly paid off when we had to get up at 5am to catch the morning light for our early morning ceremony.
I won't bore you with details of the day - but suffice to say Yosemite is the perfect place for us to get married: Mike's profile picture on Tinder which made me swipe was him on top of Half Dome. Half Dome was in the background of our view from the wedding location in Cook's Meadow. Our readings were ideal and the weather perfect. What more could you ask for? Just got to wait for September to have a big ol' party with a much larger group of family and friends back in Scotland!