San Francisco, The Day After The Election
This morning, Elisabeth and I find ourselves at the home of Coco and Guy (pronounced “Gee” in French), Elisabeth’s sister and brother-in-law. Their residence sits on a high hill in Richmond, California, overlooking the misty waters of San Francisco Bay and the beautiful cable-car city, which is now shrouded in fog.
As we sip hot coffee and eat our breakfast, we are intently following the presidential election coverage on CNN. The experience is surreal. Each of us attempts to comprehend the revolution that has played out before our eyes. Despite my concerns, I am encouraged that we live in a country that can embrace two completely different political philosophies, yet fluidly negotiate a peaceful transition between them. Possibly, it is my age that keeps me from jumping to conclusions about the road ahead, but for whatever reason, for the first time in my life I draw strength from the nature of our democracy. We are, after all, Americans, a people who share closely the business of navigating daily life – jobs, family, and community. This morning, as I look out across the bay, I see a beauty and strength in that ongoing navigation, which I believe binds us together despite our differences.
And despite politics, tomorrow, Elisabeth and I begin pedaling again.
A Pause As History Makes Itself Known
Since our arrival in Sacramento, we have not progressed much in terms of number of miles traveled, but we have deeply enjoyed our visits with Elisabeth’s sisters and their husbands. Last night Guy, cooked a spectacular meal of stuffed chicken, sautéed potatoes, and greens. We drank more from the magnum of red wine which was opened on the evening of our arrival, and Coco broke out a pumpkin teacake that we furiously nibbled up. But mostly, we sat together, checking in on the election occasionally and celebrating the great fortune of being together.
As our small group huddled around the dining room table, each of us was caught in the bright moonlight that shone through the large window. Guy entertained us by reading animatedly from a series of his poems. He was caught in his own dance, sounding out his passion for cooking, for people, and for life through the words he had crafted. I sat back, thankful that I have been included in this complex, talented family. Behind me, the lights of San Francisco cast a glow and the starlight danced in a synchronized melody as Guy swayed about the room.
A Different Cycling Adventure
In many ways, it is hard to believe Elisabeth and I are on a Pacific Coast bicycle trip. We have dined like kings and seen many wonderful sites, yet the aching in my thighs reminds me that our progress is tied to the miles we pedal. Still, I have arranged for one more comfort – which is mainly a measure of safety. Tomorrow, instead of attempting to navigate the streets of San Francisco on our bikes, a taxi will arrive in the morning and deposit us on Highway 1 along the coast at Pacifica Beach. From there, we will pedal a short day to Half Moon Bay, where we will camp at St. Francis State Park overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We are anxious to start pedaling the Pacific Coast Highway, for our journey so far has been a series of stops and starts. Although our time in Portland, aboard the Coastal Starlight, in Vacaville, and in Richmond have been completely enjoyable, there is something about making our way under our own power that we enjoy.
On Friday, we will find a place to camp near Pescadero. Then, on Saturday, we arrive in Santa Cruz. Well, that’s the plan anyway.
History Making and Cycling. A Coincidence?
I find it interesting that during my last bike tour, I negotiated the coast of the Gulf of Mexico when the Deep Water Horizon unleashed its burden of oil into those waters. I remember the angst and emotion of the people I met along the way. The talk everywhere was about the huge loss to the environment and the uncertainty of the future for those who worked and lived along the coast. It wasn’t until I traveled into eastern Texas that those strong feelings abated.
On this journey, the talk everywhere has been of the election and the future of our country. I suspect the days ahead shall be filled with more of the same. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that my bicycle travel has occurred at these interesting times. But whether it is coincidence or fate, it is a singular moment to be making our way along the west coast of this country, one pedal at a time.