california, photography, travel

Monterey County / 17-mile Drive

17 June 2017

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It’s over a month ago when I visited Monterey. Looking at that time from a bigger perspective gives a new meaning to this trip.

In the middle of my San Francisco adventure I decided to leave the town and go south to see the places I know from HBO series called ‘Big Little Lies’. The plan was to stay in Marina and bike to Monterey and Carmel. My bad luck and my even worse health condition got me a cold on the same day of this exciting trip and I felt like it is a huge mistake to go there. Runny nose, sore throat and no energy to move got me feeling down. It would have been probably easier if it wasn’t my 7th cold from September (imagine going through that shitty feeling over and over again, it’s like tortures). When I got out of the bus in Marina a strong, cool wind blew my direction and I felt even worse, I thought “Now isn’t that the warmest welcome?”. I got by foot to the Airbnb house I rented but the landlord wasn’t there. Apparently he had some serious problems with the previous guest and he had to run for new bed sheets… The guy was the coolest, he invited me for a car drive in his vintage convertible red Porsche and told me that I will be safe with him as he served in the army and is an ex-policeman. His house was a mix of Indian, Jamaican and American. He was very kind and borrowed me his ex-girlfriends pink bike, but when I got on it I realised it wasn’t a good idea. It had no air in the tires, it was way to small, uncomfortable and the brakes were stopping constantly the wheel. I cycled to the city centre against the strong wind and cursed this trip. I decided to get a hot pho soup in a Japanese bar, buy plenty of fruits, garlic, some pills and give myself some home treatment. I had two days in there, so if I rested enough (and if I pumped air in my tires) I could be able to go on that bike to Monterey and fulfil the dream. On my way back from the store I decided to just take a peek at the beach which wasn’t far away. Maybe I’ll be rewarded with a whale’s appearance, which is said to be common in this area? The wind was getting stronger the closer I got to the shore. Uphill road wasn’t accessible for me on that pink machine so I had to walk a bit, sand got in my eyes, I was cold and tired, but I did it. No whales though. The first pictures below are the effect of this short adventure.

I stayed in bed until 2pm on the next day trying to restore strength, watching Netflix, reading, eating a lot of natural medicine. I managed to get out of bed and get ready for an evening in Monterey. I took another bike from my lovely landlord and went straight to the bike store to pump the tires and of course it was closed… As I coursed my fate again a young guy cycled to the store and I asked him for a pump which he had! He was a wanderer with a surfer’s look and a big backpack. We chatted, I noticed he saw through me and saw my adventurous vibe. I heard the famous “Happy trails” and went to the bus stop for Monterey. Once I got to the famous city I’ve visited the Fishermen’s Wharf and noticed that I have enough energy to bike the Pacific Grove over the shore to see the Lover’s Point Park where they filmed some scenes of the series. With great music in my ears I forgot that I was sick this morning. I felt happy and powered up. I wanted to hike Point Lobos on the next day. When I got again to Monterey there was no bus to take me to Point Lobos because of the floods damaging the roads. I went straight to Carmel, got overwhelmed by the luxurious style of the town and biked down to the beautiful beach with white sand and turquoise waters. “OK, so what now? How about 17-mile Drive? I could bike all the way to Monterey and if I get tired I just stop and rest whenever I want, I can even go back by bus, no biggie. Too bad I just bought a huge sweater that filled my whole backpack, but OK, I can do it.”

My road trip started in the forest and the first part was the hardest as it was uphill all way long. After only 2 minutes I’m saying to myself “What the fuck were you thinking!? That you can go 17 miles without any preparations on a bike that barely works?!” But I cycled and cycled until I lost my breath, got some rest and cycled again. I felt joyous already after another 5 minutes and decided to check how far I’ve gone. What I realised is that I went in the wrong direction and I’m heading towards the end of the trail instead of the shore that I wanted to see. Imagine my angry reaction and then imagine my happiness when I rode down those hills reaching the starting point back within a minute with a huge smile on my face. “OK, that was my warm-up. Do not give up, just pedal and enjoy the views.” After I left the forest I passed huge American mansions, same as in ‘Big little lies’.  Then there were golf clubs. And then there was just the beautiful shore, hard rocks and frothy water. By the time I got to the half-point I was excited and hungry for more. I stopped at the picnic table by the beach, read ‘On the road’, ate hummus with carrots and tried to save water as I only got 300 ml of it (didn’t expect to do a 17-mile Drive when I packed my bag). Every biker I passed said hi or waved, the sun was shining and I had my favorite music with me, I forgot about all the troubles. When I got to the edge of the Drive I decided to take a longer road through Sunset Drive instead straight to Fisherman’s Wharf. I had no water by that time still hoping to find a store or a restaurant, but there was absolutely none on the whole way. I reached the final destination, bought a cookie and coffee and planned a huge dinner at home. I was never so proud of myself. All those obstacles, all those little problems are nothing when I really desire something. And you could see that in my eyes. On my ride on a bus back to Marina a stranger kindly joked about me and told me I have a beautiful smile. I bet he saw my glowing satisfaction. Actually him and the wanderer at the bike shop weren’t the only ones who talked to me or payed compliments. It was like I dazzled with my joy, motivation, hunger for adventure and self-confidence (so much for modesty).

This is a strength I used to always have, but now seems faded, lost. Writing this story and going through this experience again reminded me that I can have what I want. I just have to trust myself.

Click here if you’d like to check out the map of my route and find the places from the pics. And here’s my playlist for the whole trip.

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Pictures taken with Fuji X-pro2 & iPhone 6

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