Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Part 3 of a 3-part series.

The rain may never fall till after sundown.
By eight, the morning fog must disappear.
In short, there's simply not
A more congenial spot
For happily-ever-aftering than here
In Camelot.

- Alan Jay Lerner, 1960

THE POST-DUSK STROLL from Abalonetti’s on the wharf to our digs at the downtown Monterey Best Western was cool bordering on cold. Clams and linguine were nicely complemented by a local Sauv Blanc, but our concerns rested with a weather report to which we’d tuned prior to headed out for dinner. A thin layer of cloud cover masked any stars and only a gossamer-like thread of new moon sliver could be seen through the gathering overcast. We talked about the previous two sunny days and agreed that we were due for some bad weather luck.

The next morning, the weather reporter for the local television station stood before a telestrator upon which fluorescent green Doppler dots swept inland from the Pacific. “Expect unsettled weather throughout the morning and into the afternoon.” We engaged in a misty walk to a breakfast place noting from the wet pavement and running gutters that it must have “rained like hell” last night. But, by the time we returned to the Best Western, packed and saddled, the sky was as azure as a gemstone.

A bullet had been dodged. Or had it?

HIGHWAY 1 NORTH of Monterey is a freeway. Without yesterday’s crosswinds, the ride was smooth. Above Castroville the road pares down to two lanes and the cruise through the fertile coast valley is pleasant, if cool.
Our plan always is to take a break an hour or so in to every day and every hour or so there after. As luck would have it, Santa Cruz boasts Moto Italiano, a Ducati, Moto Guzzi, Aprilia and sweet little scooter shop just off the highway 1. A good bike shop always makes for a nice stop. On a relatively slow Thursday morning, sales guy Scott eagerly shares about the new-last-year Multi-Strada, a Ducati designed to perform favorably with our BMWs, all the while looking as dazzling as, say, Anita Caprioli. Randy straddled a red one, gripped the throttle and twisted.
Piaggio SpA
Meanwhile, I found a brand new three-year-old Moto Guzzi Breva that I felt would complement my GSA should I decide I needed a stable of motorcycles. (Save that one for me, will ya Scott?)

An hour quickly passed and once back on the highway, the specter of “unsettled weather” appeared on the horizon. Coursing north, an angry, black billow sat off shore. Beneath it, the Pacific’s horizon was lost in a gray, streaked downpour.

The bottom had, indeed, fallen out. Highway 1’s west-northwest cant seemed to be driving us directly into its core. Progressing toward Half Moon Bay, we couldn’t help but alternately eye the road and eye the incoming storm. The further north we ran, however, the further toward due west the thing seemed to rest, by the time an hour has elapsed, the beast was behind us. We stopped for photos.

Dodged another one.

ONE THING I’D VOWED never to do was to operate a motorcycle in the city of San Francisco. Clutches. Hills. Buses. Trolley tracks. Wacko drivers who squeeze through intersections on the red. But after a chilly detour up 35 and over to 101 – past the famed sport bike rider hangout Alice’s Restaurant, the temperature had dipped to 38 – we found ourselves heading north through the Sunset, across Golden Gate Park and over the bridge.

About mid-way, with a slight wind buffeting the motorcycle, I glanced at the waters below. I thought back to the gold country we visited as recently as yesterday – of the towns, the homesteads, placer mines and coyote holes – the evidentiary clues that history had happened. I thought of the people that changed California from pastoral to powerhouse and realized that a hundred and sixty years back, fully half of them sailed through the strait I was now crossing. The diversity we’d experienced, at once, seemed interconnected.

The three-day trip had come full-circle. We stopped at the north end for a view of the city and for farewells. Riding buddy Randy would return to Santa Rosa to turn in the GS although I know he’d just have soon continued north to Seattle on it. I would head across state route 37 to Sonoma, Napa, Berryessa and home. A grand time was had by both of us and the only thing we missed was the storm.



Moto Italiano Santa Cruz:

Again: Adventure Touring Santa Rosa:

Anita Caprioli:

© 2011
Church of the Open Road Press


  1. CB: I would love to go there for spring break, missing the beach so much!

  2. @ CB: Check the weather reports before you do. Especially this year. Would be willing to post a beach pose of you wearing woolens. Ha Ha.

  3. RB: Outstanding time. Brilliant is great tour guide among his many talents. Great way to spend 3 days. Exceptionally valuable church services - like a 3 day revival.