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Diane substitute teaches and so had to head out early to go to work, but Dennis had some free time before having to prepare for the upcoming Newport Film Festival. He had invited me to go and paddle and with a short ride ahead of me I took him up on the offer. We drove over to his club where we met up with Kevin and John, two of his friends who would be hitting the water with us. We would be using surfskis which are a kind of kayak. Not being experienced, I joined Kevin in a two person boat after Dennis had given me a quick lesson and we hit the water.

Paddling is all about keeping your arms locked and rotating to create propulsion. I failed quite badly at that and my horrific form caused some pretty sore shoulders. Thankfully, Kevin has been paddling for a long time and so didn’t really struggle to do the work for the two of us. Other than the soreness, it was a really good time. We were out on the water for a couple of hours and I got shown the area which included some very expensive and beautiful houses as well as the highlight, sea-lions.

Some of the sea-lions we saw were swimming, but most of them were sunbathing on a buoy. The sight of them vying for positions and others trying to clamber on was just wonderful.

Dennis, Kevin and John are three members of the Donut Club which used to involve them stopping part way through their paddling to get donuts but now involved a post-paddle ritual of going for lunch and drinking Bloody Marys, a fine tradition. A large sandwich and my Bloody Mary meant that when we got back to Dennis & Diane’s place that I was ready to roll.

It was a bit later than I’d expected, but I figured that if I rode non-stop I could probably make it to Carlsbad before it got dark and so was thankful that it wasn’t too sunny. I got onto the Pacific Coast Highway, and it felt similar to riding along it back in Oregon where the rolling hills combined with some breathtaking views and, when the traffic level drops, being able to hear the ocean lap against the cliffs.

The PCH dead-ends into the marine base of Camp Pendleton and, if they are performing drills, you are forced onto the freeway. Thankfully that wasn’t the case and, after a bit of confusion on the exact route, I got to ride with another cyclist who was heading that way. It’s much easier to push yourself to ride faster when you have someone else to ride and talk with. He was out on his road bike just to spin his legs and was a pleasure to talk to.

The ride was split in two, firstly through San Onofre State Beach, which is actually part of the base, but they allow it to be used for recreation purposes most of the time. It changed when we past the guardpost and we entered the proper base. We showed ID and they waved us through. There was minimal traffic and I was amazed to hear that Pendleton hosts lots of events for the local community. It was a lovely place to ride for several reasons, one was that there was minimal traffic on base and they all moved over to give us the whole lane or slowed down when they couldn’t pass and the other was that outside of a few buildings we got to see what southern California would have looked like if it hadn’t been as developed as it is.

We parted ways about halfway through the base and I pushed on to Carlsbad and my penultimate night in the US. I had originally planned to arrive around 5, but it was 6:30 by the time I pulled up the hill to the house. My host for the evening was Steve, a science/PE teacher, and his family who were so warm and friendly that I had a great evening. Those interactions have been a huge reason that I’ve had such a good time in the US, and I’m really going to have to work on my Spanish to be able to get similar ones as I head south into Central and South America.

Riding in Oceanside

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