Santa B to Santa M :: Signs of the Unraveling

Leaving the beautiful shoreline of Santa Barbara behind.

The 90 miles (146 km) between Santa Barbara and Santa Monica brought us a combination of meandering bike paths and roadways, with each mile pulling us into more aggressive vehicular traffic.  It was obvious we were heading toward a great metropolis so we reluctantly filed away our memories of the serene and secluded coastline of Big Sur and pulled out our best defensive cycling techniques.

Despite the freakishly spectacular weather that we enjoyed all the way down the southern coast of California, scenes unfolded before us which broke our hearts and our patience, again and again.  Carpenteria State Park, although practically empty, displayed the same discriminating behavior as many other state parks we’d visited, sticking us next to the rail tracks, far from other campers, the beach and the bathrooms, and if that wasn’t enough, literally made their point of segregation clear by installing fencing around the hike/bike camp area.  Oil rig after oil rig stared back at us each time we searched for whales migrating along the coastline.  Miles and miles of pavement covered miles and miles of shoreline, catering to the fossil-fuel driven recreational vehicle, while sign after sign indicated tent-camping was not allowed.

How tragically poetic to see hundreds of people plopped in lawn chairs in front of their recreational vehicles staring out at the metal giants that lined the horizon.  It was almost as if the scene had been laid before us as a public art performance, a commentary on our addiction to oil, with the addict watching the supplier furiously drilling, ever deeper and more dangerously, to keep up with their ferocious consumption.  But this was not staged for entertainment, and the azure waves and brilliant sunshine could do nothing to counter the depressing reality of it all.

Miles of RV campers

Miles and miles of Recreational Vehicles line the coast

Oil Rigs off shore

The ever-present oil rigs.

Later that day we rode up to the gate at McGrath State Park only to find it closed for the winter so we made a mad dash toward the next campsite on the coast, Point Mugu State Park .  What a pleasant departure from the other state parks!  No oil rigs or rail tracks in sight, with our choice of ‘primitive’ campsites (meaning they were natural sand sites and not paved with toxic asphalt) right on the beach, and only the host and one other RV camper there for the night – it was perfect.  With porta-potties, access to water and a cost of only $14, it provided everything we needed to be happy.  While setting up camp under the last light of day we declared it our favorite campsite in California.


Tempting Signs lined the roads to Point Mugu

Point Mugu

Our shadows racing toward Point Mugu

Sheila setting up the tent, Point Mugu

Sheila setting up the tent at our campsite, Point Mugu

View from Tent, Point Mugu

View from the tent the next morning.

The next morning we hesitantly left our haven at Point Mugu and rode on toward Malibu.  There, we found what we expected to find:  wealth hidden behind gates, protected by dogs, and watched by security guards and cameras.  There was a distinct desperation in the air, one of people holding back and hoarding, with little left to give to others.  Fellow cyclists passing by in top of the line spandex and on expensive road bikes wouldn’t even raise their eyes in greeting despite our attempts to embarrass them into doing so.  Whooping and hollering our hellos, we offered exaggerated, sweeping, waves and big smiles but even the use of our bicycle bells wouldn’t wake them from their determination to ignore us.  We witnessed a sad example of loneliness and a grasp for recognition by an aging Hollywood star who wandered the local grocery store aisles in grandiose behavior only to be silently passed  by everyone around him.  The reality of the wealth gap came full circle when, as we cycled through town, we watched a man in torn and dirty clothes wake and silently rise from from the tall grass lining the roadside.  Yes, everyone in this town appeared as ghosts of themselves, their intent denial of each other making them virtually non-existent.

Kai, Coastline, Highway 1

Leaving our Point Mugu

Coastline, Highway 1

Coastline, Highway 1


Malibu, nothing pretty here.

After lunch we raced from Malibu to Santa Monica, wanting to keep our lead of being two days ahead of schedule and to plan for our next day’s adventure of riding into Los Angeles.  We had arranged to pick up some supplies at a local bicycle shop and to visit Muriel and Matt of Swrve clothing company.  We were looking forward to checking out Swrve’s Made in USA clothing, to find out more about their business, and to explore the City of Dreams for the first time.

Santa Monica

Santa Monica

Santa Monica Hotel

Ouch. Our over-priced hotel in Santa Monica, after finding out our cheaper option was booked for the night.


Next Stop :: Los Angeles, Golden Saddle Cyclery & Swrve

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