We were out the door by 7am to catch a second sunrise.
Beautiful scenes yet again and.....
.....our Wheaten Terrier, Jack, posed for this image. He doesn't look all that happy but he throughly enjoyed romping on the beach for several days. Then....
....into the CA traffic, ugh. It's three hours of this before we get east of LA far enough to enjoy a less congested environment. Door to door it's about 9 hours of driving and we'll come back soon after Gibraltar Road opens and warmer temperature. Low 60's each day was ok but 70's would be a bunch better.
Odd I did not think to check out the sunrise until our next to last day here. It was awesome! I arrived at the beach a couple of minutes before and enjoyed the scene and then....
Channel Islands in the distance, a few drilling platforms and kayakers stream by.
Water is still flowing from the mountains, into the ocean. Jack has had a great time at the beach, including some off leash time, romping in the waves.
We headed out for a 40 mile route I put together using Strava Heatmap. I've ridden several times in Santa Barbara but always up Gibraltar or a road that roughly parallels it, Painted Cave, always staying above the city. So.....
....the route included an extended distance on a bike path through UCSB. Interesting but wouldn't do that again. The path did have an actual roundabout, a first for us.
Unfortunately, I had a flat. Fixed it easily enough but I don't like riding without a spare tube so we cut the ride to 31 miles. The temperatures have been in the low to mid 60's for the day time highs and it's been a great visit.
Olivia, I and our designated driver, Amy, got on #154 to go over the mountain, into Santa Ynez Valley and the Denmark inspired town of Solvang. Hard to believe but this is a premier cycling destination with many miles of lonely country roads and challenging climbs. Today though, it was about wine tasting and the scenery.
We walked through Solvang, doing some shopping and then....
....no, not wine tasting, yet, but lunch! The Big Bopper is a not to be missed lunch destination. Olivia demonstrated a novel way of applying catsup to her fries. All these years, I've squirted catsup and then dipped but opening the broad side of the package and dipping is the way to go.
I set our schedule to visit wineries spread over a broad area so I could show the sights and wine tasting. We first stopped at Kalayra, then Blackjack and then....
....the newly renovated Fess Parker winery.
They recently invested $2 million+ into this and it shows.
We went through Los Olivos and got on the beautiful Ballard Canyon Road. We were all kind of running out of drinking energy so capped our winery visits at only three. On to more cycling!
We got a mile into today's ride when Amy discovered she was under dressed so as she returned to the hotel, I lingered close to the beach.
Our hotel, the Mar Monte is nice but kind of quirky. The nightly rate for this time of the year is $350 but my daughter arranged for a very steep discount. Still, even with that, the quirkiness is not enticing. We headed away from the beach and enjoyed a lot of good pavement on our climb to....
....the corner of Gibraltar & Mountain. The climb to this point had some steep pitches, one at 27%! I've climbed Gibraltar a few times and was anxious to do so again but alas, a stop at Fastrack Bicycle shop confirmed the road was officially closed due to storm damage.. Unofficially, you could go part way but some cyclists had been cited, others turned around by workers so we only went up a short distance.
The evidence, lol.
An estate had some mud slides damage.
Amy went higher than I did. Previously, she had not enjoyed the high traffic and lack of bike lanes but in this environment, she enjoyed it very much.
I talked to a local who described massive ravines wrought by run-off from the storms. Too bad.
We rode high enough that we got some great looks at the Pacific. Much of the climb zigs and zags with these awesome views. Once turned around, most of the balance of the ride was down hill!
We rode about half way on a wharf as part of our route and throughout....
...enjoyed the views. We finished with 31 miles and 2500' of climbing.
Daughter Olivia set us up in a nice room with a STEEP discount off the $350 usual nightly fee. OK, not a view of the ocean but that's fine with us as we have a good view of the mountains. Some great climbs in there, San Marcos, Painted Cave and of course Gibraltar.
We rode around the north side of SB with a nice climby route through Hope Ranch.
Jack the Dob loved the waves. We let him off the leash and he entered the surf over and over.....
....for anything we threw out there. We also....
....walked up and down State Street to look at the many retail and restaurant options.
Typically, each evening includes a visit to a local eatery and this time to a very good place named "Janes".
We head west via I-8.....
....drive through Yuma and to the west, the sand dunes on which there were dozens of vehicles surfing the sand.
We go north to reach I-10 but while doing so.....
.....snow capped mountains come into view, which border Palm Springs.
We pause at the Saulton Sea which has a very interesting history...you could look it up!
We continue on I-10 with the San Bernidino mountains in view.
We hoped to reach the coast before sunset but missed it by about 30 minutes. However,....
....we were on the beach the next morning. More to come.
Now that was an unusual rain event for southern AZ!!! Alas, all that rain flows down from the mountains, enters the network of washes and flows into the desert. Of course, some water recharges the aquifers and the one below Tucson is in good shape.
I've posted this perspective many times but so beautiful. On Wednesday....
....I slotted in with a group for a 41 mile ride. How bout that!?! Second consecutive ride with an average over 18mph. Unfortunately, the route spent one mile on a bike path that had a long section of mud. The slopes were too steep so just had to walk through. I'm puzzled why I did not carry my bike and my reward for being thoughtless was a mud caked bike.
From the west side of the Catalinas, another great view.
Our very unusual cold winter continues. Like wtf??? I've been forced to begin rides with the temps in the mid 40's!!! The next day I inspected a couple of washes to see by how much the flow had diminished.....not much.
A serene scene though.
Traffic was now getting through some washes but the county is not quick about removing the mess.
At the end of our road on Bonanza, the water was of course flowing but check out the depth of the sand/mud that accumulated. It was at least 6" and very broad. As Jack and I walked him, a small car passed, headed toward the wash.
Yet another stupid driver. He became stuck as he followed the tire tracks of a high clearance vehicle. Ordinarily I'd help but I had signed up for a group ride and did not want to miss. We head to Santa Barbara tomorrow! The rains have passed and we appear to have a good week of weather.
It began raining around noon on Sunday. There was a pause on Monday morning with a partial lifting of the clouds as I visited Oro Valley.
Snow levels had dipped to the front range of the Catalinas and farther up, heavy snow had fallen. Before the rain restarted.....
....newly trimmed Jack and I headed out for a walk but a strongly flowing wash thwarted our advance. The rain resumed until Tuesday morning.
Perhaps 2' of new snow was on Mount Lemmon as I drove around to....
....check some washes and all had strong water flows. At our place, we had 2.5" of rain since Sunday.
Beautiful scenery as always with the mix of clouds, mountains and sun.
Another beautiful day in southern AZ. The high today was forecast to be in the low 70's and it....
....coincided with a group ride. Our group of 14 did a loop to the south of 32 miles and I ended with an average of 18.3mph. Been awhile since I visited a number above 18 so I was pleased that my uptick in cycling miles is paying off. Unfortunately, another system approaches that will deter me from jumping on the bike for a couple of days. However....
....the rain held off long enough on Sunday so I headed to Sabino Canyon. The Rincons in the distance will have 8-12" of additional snow by the time the weather moves through.
I did a short hike at only 2 miles but it was good to get out in the great outdoors!
A long dead saguaro stands as it begins to lightly rain. I returned to my SUV just before it began to rain in earnest.
I headed south for a 42 mile loop with nice views of Rincon Peak as I chugged up Old Spanish Trail and then Pistol Hill as part of the route.
The sunsets are frequently magnificent and the.....
....sunrises too. Jack and I went to see if the washes were still flowing and.....
...they were. Rain runoff is gone but snow melt has taken over. Geez, the forecast for this weekend is another round of rain, could be significant with a lot of snow up top.
What a pleasant surprise. My daughter, Olivia, called from Santa Barbara. She works with an entity that manages hotels and resorts around the US. When one of the properties has "issues" she is sent in to manage a solution. If you're single and young, it's a great job. With only a day's notice, she was sent to SB and so we are going to visit her. We'll drive, take our bikes and for sure, climb Gibraltar Road. Really long time followers of this blog may recall my many spring visits to Santa Barbara and the neighboring Santa Ynez Valley. Gibraltar is a classic climb having a profile similar to France's Alpe d'huez. California is getting hammered with rain but our visit on the 21st should coincide with a dry period.
Another system moves through, dropping 9" of snow on Mount Lemmon. The clouds being to lift but can't get a look at the snow, yet.
The washes are flowing and the stupid drivers are out. A black truck on the right being pulled out of the wash by a white jeep. Meantime, a guy driving a white, 2 wheel drive truck, observing this mess, decides to give it a try. He becomes stuck too. Geesh.
Oh wow. The clouds have cleared and snow clearly visible. The ski lifts and slopes up there opened after this latest snow.
The rising sun the following morning, casts light on the mountain.
I joined the Cactus Club group ride and during a regroup, got a view of the mountain from the west side. The ride was only 30 miles but it's worth the drive over (about 30 minutes) from the east side. After waiting a day, the water in the washes diminished so....
.....I took Jack back to the aforementioned wash where he had a great time running after a tennis ball.
Another system arrives in southern AZ, bringing significant rain (by our standards) and mountain snow (9' on Mount Lemmon). I'm always infatuated with the mix of clouds and mountain views.
Previously I mentioned a preserve if I walk south a short distance but walking north and making a left into a wash brings me to another wooded area with a large pond. I think that's a giant eucalyptus tree. Landscapers have piled many fallen branches near this tree and I've begun carrying some home, cutting them with a hand saw and burning in the outdoor fireplace. Still thinking about buying a chainsaw.
The well behaved Jack poses for me.
I arrive at Sabino Canyon for a short hike. I'm focused on improving my cycling fitness for the near term. Getting blasted out the back of groups during a ride is nothing new to me but when it repeats itself too frequently and is due to my lack of fitness rather than the strength of the group, it's motivating.
I park in the overflow lot and head up with a neat view of Thimble Peak in the distance.
Sabino Creek has a strong flow of water and now with the snow melt, will flow for quite a while.
I'm on a loop and heading back to the parking lot and I pass this open mine. I'm surprised there is not a barrier in front. I walk to the entrance and peer into the gloom. Yeah, probably a bad idea to go farther.
I finish my 2.25 mile hike, always accompanied by grand views.
Jack lets me know it's time for the morning walk.
I made the short drive to Oro Valley to get in a 40 mile ride. Tucson is rightly maligned for the generally poor quality of its road conditions for cycling but the pavement in OV is really good.
We had a few days of highs in the 70s but a front moved through and as always, the clouds mixed with the mountains creates dramatic scenery.
We have a couple of gaps to fill in the backyard so visited an impressive nursery that had a variety of plants we had previously not seen. I thought after all the trail miles, I would have seen every plant that grows in this environment but no.
We bought "Tombstone Roses" which are supposed to grow vigorously so.....
.....into the ground they went, along with a trellis which we hope will be filled sooner rather than later.
I participated in a kind of short, at 30 miles, group ride with the Cactus Club. We paused at the Aqua Caliente park. Beautiful place with fine examples of mature palm trees. Great way to spend the morning of New Year's Eve. And it was a gut wrenching end as Buckeye fans know. Up 14 points in the 4th quarter over heavily favored Georgia. Last second field goal for the win, missed. Ugh, just ugh.