A wonderful time in Watsonville

12/7/21

Wow, what a great day! I woke up to a leisurely morning with my hosts (human and canine) in the geodesic dome in Soquel, just outside of Santa Cruz. Then I loaded up my rig and headed out on that beautiful redwood-lined driveway and road into downtown Soquel, where one of the hosts met up with me for a burger meal at a cool vegetarian place called Pretty Good Advice. We were able to enjoy the meal in the sunshine, which felt great after hearing the rain on the roof last night.

Thus fortified, I set out toward Watsonville. On the way, I passed through the quaint town of Aptos, and stopped in at a cute natural foods store.

For the remaining two hours or so of my journey, I passed beautiful scenery, including a park overlooking the ocean, where I rested and marveled at the surroundings. (Today the surfers were out!)

Toward the end of the ride, I passed a field full of Brussels sprouts, as far as the eye could see. I had never seen them growing before; it was quite a sight!

Then after I pedaled just a few hundred more yards, I began to smell strawberry jam. It was delightful, but I wondered where it was coming from. Then I realized it was strawberry fields (forever!) with actual, ripe strawberries. In December. I am in California, y’all!! In Oregon we have to wait until June for local strawberries.

I was tempted to go pick myself some treats (I had already enjoyed some strawberry madrone berry treats a few miles back, from a tree right on the side of the road) but there were workers in the strawberry fields, and I thought they might not appreciate it. (Some of you may recall that I encountered a similar dilemma with plums, early on in my journey.)

So I reluctantly left the strawberries alone, but enjoyed the scent for the next half-mile or so.

Soon I arrived in Watsonville, a cute agricultural town. My Warmshowers hosts were just returning home on foot from an outing, so they greeted me and showed me the space, including their large tabby cat.

After that, the evening unfolded magically! These hosts had two of their bedrooms occupied by Airbnb guests, but they were gracious and enthusiastic enough about hosting me as a Warmshowers guest as well that they had encouraged me to come and stay on the sofabed in the front room.

I met these two other guests—both of whom were meeting each other as well—and then we all sat down to an incredible spread of a home-cooked meal, and talked for hours about all kinds of topics, from bicycling to tomato-plant grafting to urban planning in cities around the globe. (I now want to visit La Paz, Bolivia, to experience their cable cars!)

Also, it turned out that one of the guests is a fellow Northwesterner (from the greater Seattle area) and the other, while originally from Mexico, currently resides in the small suburb of Raleigh, NC where I will be visiting my aunt and uncle on my tour this coming spring. Such a small world. Meanwhile, our hosts were telling me about all the wonderful rail-trails they had experienced on their recent bicycle trip across the country. (Sounds like Wisconsin is going to be amazing!)

This trip is filled with internal and external ups and downs. Today was a resounding up!

Tomorrow, I’ll be pedaling 33 miles—apparently largely along a car-free trail—to Pacific Grove, just the other side of Monterey. I’m looking forward to that as well!

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