Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I left my heart in Big Sur.

A story of a much anticipated weekend spent on my motorcycle. Dedicating this to the memory of my friend John Ryan. I hope he would have enjoyed reading this blog post. May you Ride in Paradise John!


Three months of motorcycle withdrawals, for someone who loves motorcycling that can prove to be quite the damper indeed. In the parts of the country which gets blessed every year with that funny white stuff which falls form the sky, sometimes in obliterating amounts, they actually have a term for it. It's called PMS or Parked Motorcycle Syndrome, so you might say I had been suffering from PMS for the past three months! My PMS was due to some other funny stuff which was going on within the bowels of the motorcycle itself. Not 100% sure the funniness has gone away completely, but for now, that seems to be the case, and hope it remains so. Knock on wood!

This was the first long-range test, relatively speaking, of the FJR since undergoing multiple investigative surgeries to root cause symptoms which had rendered it unsafe to ride. There was also this errand I had to take care of on the Central Coast, something to do with a certain amendment to the constitution, two birds with one FJR, this was going to be fun. I won't go into the details of the errand, I will just say that is for me to know and a rude shock for anyone who decides to find out. 

I was sticking to the main thoroughfares on the ride south, this was a test run after all, if I did run into bike trouble, better chances of finding help if I am not out in the sticks! If I had any hint of trouble, I had planned to return the same day and on the same route, but when 352 miles of riding produced nary a hiccup, I switched plans and headed for the coast. 

Makes me think of Finding Nemo.
It was well past lunch time and I was getting hungry, so I headed straight for one of my favorite towns on the central coast, the little fishing town of Morro Bay. Although, Pismo Beach is also a cute place to stop along the coast, my buddy who lives close to there was out of town, so I headed to where I knew I would find some good eats near the docks in Morro Bay.

The docks in Morro Bay.
I had found this eatery on a previous trip, a little 'hole in the wall' next to the docks and very popular with the locals, there are a lot of other fancy restaurants on the Morro Bay harbor and they were all chock full of tourists on this Columbus day weekend. Dockside 3 on the other hand was virtually empty, it was well past lunch time and the locals were back at work, probably tending to the flock of tourists. No wait for me! Shrimp Tacos to kill for! :-D

Dockside 3. Nice 'hole in the wall'. Try it if you are in Morro Bay.
Tourism and fishing the two interdependent mainstays of this coastal town. Although, the fishing industry in Morro Bay has seen a decline, it doesn't look like tourism has shown any signs of abatement. A major share of the tourists I saw and met along the coast were not of American nationality, mostly from different parts of Europe. 

Morro Bay Harbor. Sleepy fishing village.
I like staying in Morro Bay. It is a small town with friendly locals, good restaurants and I love the sunsets by Morro Rock, and even though the harbor houses mostly working commercial boats rather than the recreational sailboat variety, I still find it appealing. When I had rolled into town, it was already bubbling with tourist activity. I hadn't planned to stop on the coast for the night, so I didn't have any hotel reservations. I rode around to some of my usual lodging options, hoping to find a last minute vacancy at a reasonable enough price. 

Maybe if it wasn't a long weekend (seriously, who gets Columbus Day off anymore?), I might have had better luck. I got online on my mobile device and was finally able to secure some acceptable lodging ~30 miles away in San Simeon. I figured it would have to do, I had never stayed in that town before and it really isn't much of a town, but when I also got a lead on a nice restaurant in San Simeon 'Manta Rey Seafood and Steaks' (good food is important to me when I am traveling), it seemed lodging and dinner were both going to be well taken care of so I headed north.

San Simeon Coastline.
A couple minutes outside of San Simeon, I found a vista pull off with access to the beach below the bluff. This was a great place to sit and enjoy the foamy surf as it advanced and receded as the sun dropped towards the horizon. It was very peaceful!

Love the foamy surf.
A delightful sunset was shaping up turning the waters into liquid gold. A cache of ephemeral bounty to reward you for a day well spent. 

Liquid gold.
The FJR had a ringside seat to the show of fire and water. Having been sequestered at home for so long, I am certain it was glad to be let out into the wild to enjoy nature's exquisite beauty! 

I love sunsets and my FJR.
The day ends taking with it the liquid gold, while leaving behind some vanishing golden sands. Every moment in life so precious, so fleeting, so temporary. It is all we can do and all we should do to gather them with both hands and hold them close to our hearts and minds! 

A California sunset and sands of Gold.
A cloudy, moody and murky morning had replaced the lucidity and brilliance of the previous day. My spirits, however, were still riding high, I was having a good time and the unparalleled magnetic charm of Big Sur was beckoning.

My first stop was to view the Elephant Seals near San Simeon. There seemed to be a bit of chaotic strife in the colony. I am not sure if it is breeding season (quick Google search says not until December) and the males were fighting for dominance or competing for females, but there were several fights breaking out throughout the colony and it seemed some had even drew blood!

Los Robustos Motorcycle Club members having a dispute.
It was a cold ride up the coast, the mist seemed inescapable, but then it is almost impossible not to have fun along the California coast. The twisting coastal highway a little north of San Simeon to the Nacimiento turn-off is unrivaled in it's beauty and riding pleasure. 

One of the many coves along the PCH.
Despite the overcast skies, visibility wasn't terribly affected. I turned off at Nacimiento Road and rode up to the first vista point for a shot of the coastal highway hugging the coastal mountains as it gyrates it's way along the cliff-sides.

Cloudy view from Nacimiento turn-off.
The turquoise in the coastal waters was trying so hard to manifest itself, given the lack of sunshine which makes it really radiate! 

Cloudy Coastline today. 
A thinning of the clouds or a break in them would really emphasize this gorgeous color and on a grayish day I was fortunate enough to have found a few of those moments. As my friend Mike so eloquently mused - "There is nothing like being on the coast on your motorcycle, when Mother Nature is undecided, but not mean". :)

Private beach along the PCH. Skies starting to clear up a bit...not really..
A very light and insufficient breakfast in the morning soon had me running on empty, the pullout for McWay Falls was overflowing with cars so I didn't stop and kept on riding. I did pull over at the next vista pull out and hurriedly captured another shot with my cell phone camera. I apologize for the grainy image quality. 

A quick cell phone camera picture. Sorry for the bad image quality.
I was hustling my way towards lunch. I had initially planned either Nepenthe or Ventana, but the murky fog had overpowered both areas, although I had heard really good things about Ventana, I already knew that Nepenthe definitely wasn't worth the premium prices without the view to make it more palatable. Instead, I headed to the Big Sur River Inn. In April of last year, I had organized a Ride To Eat (RTE) here for my FJR buddies and we had all had a good time. It was time to return and enjoy some serene moments by the riverside. The long weekend had this place bustling as well, but I was still able to steal some moments of solitude by the river, lunch was also exceptional! :)

The river behind Big Sur River Inn.
The sun had finally broken through on the last leg of my day's journey along the Big Sur coastline. Profoundly windy but bright and sunny..

The sun finally burns through near Carmel/Monterey.
After a lengthy longing and involuntary break from riding, another motorcycle trip was rounding off. I had missed the California coast and coming back to it's beauty and splendor, time and time again reminds me that I had indeed left a piece of my heart in Big Sur. :)

I left my heart in Big Sur.

Reminiscing and writing about this weekend made me think of something John had said to me: 

"It is your responsibility to make your world as perfect as possible." - John Ryan.

So go make it as perfect as you can for you! :)

Thank you for reading!


  1. Thanks for sharing. So glad the bike is healthy again. Ride safe :-)

    1. Thanks Cletha! Yes, the bike seems healthy again. I am happy about that! Ride safe also! :)

  2. Verry nice report, sorry to hear about your friend...I'm sure he would have loved your Ride Report.

  3. Beautiful entry and befitting tribute. WONDERFUL! My condolences to you, Sam, heartfelt...

    1. Thanks Donna! Always appreciate your heartfelt comments! Hope to see you around soon! :)

  4. Really a nice tribute to your friend, Sam. Some fantastic pictures, and I am delighted that the FJR is back from its hospital stay. I hope you get some more wonderful weather to treat your PMS before winter strikes.

    1. Thanks Ally! I hope to ride as much as I can this Winter. If it isn't pouring or if it isn't pouring where I want to go, I think I will ride! I have 3 months of lost riding season this year to make up for! :)

  5. That had to feel both good (to be back in the saddle) and melancholy (remembering and honoring a pal). Your work makes me feel as if I am along with you for every mile of the adventure and every curve in the road.

    Well done, sir.

    1. Thank you Mr. B. Yes, it felt great to be back on the motorcycle, and it felt fitting to honor a pal doing what I loved. Hope to finally meet you sometime, time flies by too fast!

  6. I am a new member following your blog. I share the same two passions as you, motorcycling and photography. I look forward to reading your next post.

    1. Thank you Joseph. Always glad to meet fellow motorcyclists and photographers. I hope to post sometime soon, but not sure when that would be at this moment. Busy busy life has gotten a hold of me once again!


I love to read your comments and suggestions and appreciate them very much, so please feel free to leave some. Although, to fight spam, I do limit comments to Registered Users which includes those with blogger accounts, or other Google accounts or OpenID accounts etc. Thank you!