Sunday, January 1, 2017

Too Few Winks, But We Made It!

Happy New Year! I'm sitting here at a picnic table in Chula Vista at the San Diego Metro KOA. The sun is shining, and there's not a cloud in the sky. I finally got more than just a few winks of sleep.

Brent and I left Olympia the morning of Dec. 30th. Brent's daughter, Emily, and son-in-law, Andrew, came with us to the Amtrak station in Centralia to drive Brent's truck back to Olympia. The Coast Starlight was late, but we were hoping for that (more on why in a moment). We got the tags for the bikes, and we were just carrying on the Chinese shopping bags, and panniers. I had put the things I wanted to have with me on the train into the panniers.

The nice station lady let us put our carry on stuff on the luggage trolley cart, while we scootered on the bikes all the way to the baggage car (the train had 14 cars). She was concerned that our tires would not fit on the bike hooks (apparently, Amtrak says no more than a 2.5" tire, ours are 3"). Fortunately, the guy managed to get them on the hooks. The gal gave us a ride back to our car, and we got on the train. Missions 1 and 2 (getting to the station, and getting on the train) were complete!
Now we just had a day and a half to sit on our butts, working our way south to LA where we would change trains to the Pacific Surfliner.

The train ride was uneventful except that, instead of getting progressively later, the train made up time, and we arrived in LA an hour early! In the last hours on the train, we ran several different scenarios as to what we would do once we got to LA. Because it was New Year's Eve, there was a big party going on at Union Station in LA. So, option one was to change our Surfliner tickets to the next morning, and just hang out at the station for the night. Problem was we didn't know if we would be able to hang out there the whole night. Plus, because we were getting in so early, it would have been a longer time. Another option we bantered about was getting the Surfliner at our scheduled time, then riding to a Denny's (or someplace else that was open 24 hours) and hanging out until we could go to the KOA. In the end, we decided to go ahead and get into Dan Diego at the ungodly hour of 1:00am, and just ride on to the KOA (8.1 miles from the train station). This was possible because I had been in contact with another Baja rider from Kansas who had decided to camp at the KOA too, and was interested in sharing a site. He had booked the site as he would be arriving the day before us. While on the train, I texted him to find out what site, and he also gave me the code for the gate. Had he not already been here, we wouldn't have been able to get in.

Once we arrived in LA, we were able to put everything on the bikes because we would just roll the loaded bikes onto the train ourselves, and put them in bike racks. By the time we got everything on the bikes, we only had 20 minutes before we were to return to the train platform to get on the Surfliner for our 10:10pm departure.

The Surfliner, being more of a commuter train, stopped several times between LA and San Diego. The announcer had something to say about each stop ("Ladies and gentlemen, we are now arriving at our next station stop of Van Nuys. Van Nuys, the suburban gem of San Diego! Our next stop, Van Nuys!"). It was quite humorous, but we were also trying to get just a little bit of sleep. Neither of us had slept much on the Starlight. We were both pretty exhausted. With station stops coming as often as every 10 minutes, sleep was somewhat elusive. We rang in the New Year while on the Surfliner just as we pulled into one of the stops...I think it was Oceanside, but my brain is a little fuzzy. Oh, we also met Herb from Ashland who is also doing the ride (that's how we found out they didn't allow tires bigger than 2.5" on the bike hooks. Herb had boxed his bike).

Just after 1:00am we pulled into San Diego. I had mapped our route to the KOA. Brent was using his headlamp, and I had thrown in my headlight at the last minute. Brent didn't have a tail light, so I rode behind him. After a few adjustments to stop Brent's Chinese shopping bag from rubbing on his tire, we made our way toward the KOA. Most of the time we were in bike lanes. For about a mile, we were even on a bike path along the Sweetwater River. It had been raining, so everything was wet, but it didn't rain while we were riding.

We arrived at the KOA at 2:00am. Luckily, there was a KOA employee who happened to be driving a golf cart as we came into the campground (I guess I should say Kampground). We asked him where site 1430 was. He said to follow him, and took us right to the site. If he hadn't done that, we would have been looking for a very long time. This KOA is quite large. Quiet as mice (very tired mice), we set up our tents, and finally crawled into bed around 2:45.

We met Marty this morning. We were up at 7:20. Today is a day for relaxing. I plan on taking a nap or two, and going to bed early! I also got a nice hot shower this morning! Tomorrow we begin!

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