The coastal air was colder than I remembered. It was like a thick woolen blanket had swooped over the sea and sucked the warmth out of everything it touched. Mysterious. As I made my way up north to Santa Cruz, I found myself wearing my sweatshirt and thick wool socks, thankful that I carried them for so long in the desert.
I met a man who loved balancing rocks on the side of the road. "Everything has its balance, Enoch. You just have to feel it."
I met some new friends in Carpenteria, Claudia and Christa. Claudia and I like to cook together and talk about bicycles.
I rode further north, edging closer and closer to San Louis Obispo. The sunlight made its way through the fields alongside the road, casting beautiful shadows that gave new dimension to the landscape.
"Where are you going to sleep tonight?"
I was on the phone with my father. I hadn't sent a GPS beacon with my location for the night, and he wanted to make sure I was safe.
"It's getting hard to find a spot, Dad. This area isn't really conducive to stealth camping."
Thick grass lined the side of the road, and while it was beautiful, the light was fading fast. I didn't want to be in another situation where I'm sleeping next to the road. Serial killers, anyone?
Finally I end up finding a pullout - an entrance to a horse ranch. I make my shelter behind a tree and fall asleep watching the sunset.
Someone is here.
I wake up in the darkness, my senses alive with the feeling of being accompanied by a strange force. I could feel three entities in a fifteen foot circle around me, my heart raced as I scrambled to grab my flashlight. Give a face to the feeling. Show your face.
I can't find my flashlight.
My heart is pounding in my head. Where is it? Fingers scrambling over multitools and T-shirts. Finally I wrap my hand around a familiar object - my bicycle's powerful headlight. Harry Potter would have been proud by the way I aimed my light towards the intruders, pressing the power button with my arm outstretched.
It doesn't work. A tiny red LED light glistens in the night. My battery is empty.
Stuck in this terrifying bind, I listen. The entities haven't moved with me scrambling about. They seem massive, my eyes trying to define their shapes with the light shining down from the starry sky.
Horses, I realize. Are they dangerous? I don't know, but they're awfully close. I decided to say something:
"My name is Enoch Cincotta, and I mean you no harm."
A soft equine melody from the darkness.
Back to bed.
Almost to San Louis Obispo, I got a hookup from a good friend.
"Enoch, call my friend Eric. He'll take care of you in SLO."
I call. Eric picks up the phone.
"Hey man, was about to go surfing - you want to come?"
"You can't think about catching the wave. The moment you question, you lost."
Eric and Chris tried to show me how to ride the waves, but I wasn't ready for the surf life. After the session they we're making jokes about how they didn't see any sharks in the water.
"What are you guys talking about?"
Eric looked at me, laughing at my question.
"We didn't say that there were sharks here because we didn't want you to worry about it, but yeah, last week someone got bit. You have fun?"
I rode up to San Simeon State Park, and spent the night with a rowdy bunch of cyclists...
...meeting up with Claudia and Christa again and cooking delicious food...
...and then saying goodbye as Big Sur beckoned with its blue coastal smile.
I spent five days in both Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and Andrew Molera State Park. Meeting new cyclists/adventurers every day, sleeping in the hammock, and wandering the trails. Silence on my mind, ocean songs in my ears.
I hitchhiked with a new friend out of Big Sur to escape the dangerous weekend traffic...
...finding myself revisiting roads with year old memories attached to them.
I pulled into Santa Cruz (!) and headed for my friend Katy's graduation party. Now a UCSC Grad, she is known for her surfing ability and ability to make anyone feel valued.
Staying the night with the Goodring family, getting lost in the art of shaping surfboards and watching Game of Thrones.
Meeting up with my friend Chris and going mountain biking at Wilder Ranch...
Finding myself at the boardwalk with cycling friends from England and Russia...
And I'm done! The sound of the road is sweet, I feel like I am finally home. The past six months have been quite the adventure, thank you for joining me on this epic quest of mine. For the next few months I'll be working here in Santa Cruz as a camp counselor, hopefully utilizing some of the skills I've learned to be a better listener for those that need it!
Special thanks to my family, S.K. Finn, T.Sparrow, Chaz and Charles Cincotta, Kelby Patterson, Stephanie Gates, Dalton Rhone, Mary Abell, Carrie Armold, Ivan Lipovsky, Anastasia Poland, Sara (!) and Suzanne Haley, Art and Susan Lloyd, Robert Shirley, Theo Cincotta, Betsy O'Niell, Sarah Dellett, Samantha Townsend, Alicia Elkins, Parker Beene, Janeen Bond, Colin Apgar, Amy Allen, Bedrock Sandals, Softstar Shoes, and anyone else that donated time, money, energy, and encouragement to me on this adventure. After recovering great kindness I am paying it forward at any opportunity.
I hope that you find the freedom to experience, and dive deep into the unknown.