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Trans-Am Trail and beyond! - Days 44 to 46, Half Moon Bay to the end of the adventure

Day 44 - Half Moon Bay, CA

I slept well and woke relatively late, grabbed a quick shower and then went with Steve and Shell to pick up the boys. On the way back we stopped off at the 3-Zero Cafe at Half Moon Bay's airport for breakfast. The airport is tiny, mainly supporting local private pilots, but the cafe has a big reputation. The walls and ceiling are adorned with hundreds of photos of wartime aircraft and pilots, as well as countless model aircraft, including a "bucket of planes" (the collective noun, apparently!) for the kids to play with. It was busy, too, and not surprising as the breakfast was very good. After stuffing our faces we went back to Steve's where he helped me plan a route round some of San Francisco's sights. Now I delibrately didn't want to do the normal tourist things, like visiting Alcatraz, as I want to do that when I get out here with Tracy. But there were some things I wanted to do, like ride across Golden Gate Bridge and down the infamous steep twisting road that I'd seen in various films. With a route planned out and Steve attending to his chores, I set off on my own to explore.

My first stop was "Lands End", where the ocean enters the bay area proper. Here I got my first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge under a clear blue sky. I took the opportunity to get off the bike and have a wander around, enjoying the sense of relaxation I felt.

The Golden Gate Bridge viewed from Lands End

I then rode a short distance further to the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, an impressive museum overlooking the bay. As I pulled up to park, a flight of 3 warplanes flew in formation along the entrance to the bay and over the bridge. A few seconds earlier and I'd have got a truly outstanding photo, dammit! The palace is an art museum, and had I had more time I'd have been happy to spend a few hours wandering around inside, but as it was I was content to photograph the casting of Rodin's "The Thinker" in the courtyard.

The California Palace of the Legion of Honor

The Thinker

Outside is a small memorial to victims of the holocaust, complete with an eery statue, where the person by the fence overlooks the bay. It was very moving, although somewhat ruined by the couple using the raised area on which the statue sits to take posed holiday photos of each other, as though totally oblivious of the statue and its meaning.

Holocaust memorial complete with insensitive tourists

I rode on, down to the beach then back up and across the Golden Gate bridge before dropping down to the Travis Marina. I thought it apt, as that's Stsve's surname (although I don't think he owns the marina). In the bay were a couple of sea lions, but their calls were drowned out by the regular soundings of the foghorns in the bay.

The Golden Gate Bridge from the Travis Marina

From here I rode through the pretty town of Sausalito before heading back over the bridge to my next objective. This was the "windy road" that has featured in many films, being both very steep and very winding. It's a single lane part of a main road, Lombard Street, and in the centre of the city. A block or two before the main road turns away, complete with most of the traffic, as Lombard Street climbs very steeply upwards. I say "most of the traffic" but there was still nose-to-tail traffic going up the hill. Or rather, stopping on the hill, then inching forwards a car length, then stopping again, as the traffic moved across the junctions crossing the road. I got plenty of practice at hill starts, the incline being very steep indeed! Once near the intersection that leads to the twisting downhill part, I pulled over and took a couple of photos, looking back down the way I'd come up and then down the windy bit.

Looking back down Lombard Steet - steep or what!

The infamous windy bit of Lombard Street

The ride down the windy bit wasn't as bad as I expected it to be, with the stop-start traffic meaning I had to stop several times before inching my way down. At the bottom I turned left, and got a great view towards Alcatraz Island.

Alcatraz Island

By now it was getting on a bit, so I headed out of the city and back down highway 1 to Half Moon Bay. Stopping to take a quick picture of the bay, which is just a short stroll from Steve's house. Nice place to live, eh!

Half Moon Bay

Back at Steve's we popped out to the shops to get supplies so he could cook, which he then did, an excellent Indian chicken meal accompanied by spicy chick peas. Washed down with a couple of beers and then the Grey Wolf wine we'd bought in Paso Robles. The evening lasted until quite late, as we sat outside under a clear, starry sky, warmed by a fire in the firepit and putting the world to rights. Just like old times. Perfect for my last evening in Half Moon Bay.

Day 45 - Half Moon Bay, CA to a faceless motel by the airport

Today is Sunday, and Steve is showing a friend of his how he goes about bre3wing beer. Now I remember making home brew way back in the late 70's early 80's when I was too poor to buy it in the pub (or too young, and hid my brewing from my mum!). In those days it was a simple case of opening a tin, mixing the contents with sugar and water and then sticking it somewhere for weeks, until it became beer. Only I don't think it ever did, although it certainly became alcohol and was drinkable if you'd lost your taste buds. Steve's approach is a lot more like a micro brewery, and the results I can personally testify are excellent (so much so, that at his 4-year old's birthday party the week before we met up, all his mates drank all his beer, leaving none for my visit. B*st*rds!). So I spent the day standing around watching the process as Steve firstly cleaned and sanitised his equipment, then ground the grain and made the mash, then the wort which he boiled for an hour whilst adding different types of hops at various stages, before finally cooling the wort, putting in glass containers and adding the yeast. It will now ferment for 10 days or so before being transferred to a cask and be turned into an excellent IPA. Only I won't be here to drink it, which is a real pity! Sadly, I was brain-dead and forgot to take photos, except a couple on my 'phone. Seems I have already accepted my trip is over...

Steve's brewing gear

Cooling the wort

In a couple of weeks, this will be delicious!

After the brew was safely tucked away in the temperature-controlled modified freezer (I told you he was serious), I loaded up the bike and bid him and his lovely family farewell. Last time I stayed here, before I rode the Trans-Americas, I wrote "I've always believed that there are some people you meet in life that will instantly become friends, people who are genuine, open and just good company. Steve is one of those people...". It still rings true. I look forward to getting over to see him and his family again at some point in the future. And of course, to go riding with him again!

Once checked in to my motel by the airport I sorted out my packing, putting all the heavy non-essential items into the grey bag I could strap onto the bike and let it come back in the container, then did some final washing. I even washed my riding pants so they'd be clean for my last ride in the US. A chinese meal from an all-you-can-eat buffet a short walk from the motel left me once again stuffed to the gills, but mostly with fresh fruit!

Day 46 - Saying goodbye to my bike...

My trip is now finally over. A grand total of over 8,250 miles, over 4,800 of which was on the dirt roads of the TransAM Trail. All but about 10 have been fantastic (the 10 includes the downhill sections of the high Colorado passes and the section in the forest outside of Richfield, Utah and the deep sand of Nevada). But it's over and now I need to get the bike on its way back home. So this morning I got up early and rode my bike in the US for the last time, across Bay Bridge (which is multi-story, 5-lane highway that runs for almost 5 miles across the bay from San Francisco to Oakland) and to Aladdin Freight in Oakland. I arrived just before 8am, and met the very friendly staff who are going to send my bike back to the UK for me. Inside their warehouse they have a large number of old cars that are being shipped over to Europe - mostly Porsche 911s, but also a numnber of VW vans, 3 Volvo P1800s (including a rare SE estate) and a number of American muscle cars heading to New Zealand. They also had a couple of adventure bikes heading to Sweden, their owners having shipped them into Mexico and ridden them north. They clearly know what they're doing and I felt reassured that I'd left my bike in good hands. I handed over the title and paperwork from when the bike was imported, together with a copy of my passport and that was that. I got changed and was then given a lift to the BART station to catch the tram back to the airport and my motel. Saying goodbye to good friends is hard, saying goodbye to my bike, well, that's hard too!

My bike, ready to come home

A small selection of cars waiting export to Europe

Classic Volvo P1800 coupe heading to Europe and a full restoration

Catching the BART back to the motel was easier than I anticipated, and I was back in my room just after 10am. Time for breakfast before completing the story of my journey and then attending to the other jobs I have before flying out in the morning. It's been a great trip, but it's time to go home. I just need to work out how I can afford another trip - and what that should be - after all, there's no limit on the number of "trips of a lifetime" one man can have, is there?

Now a request. If you've read this far, congratulations! But please leave a comment below. It's easy to do, you don't need to supply your email (unless you want me to contact you) and I'd be delighted to know what you think. And if you're rich, you could always sponsor my next adventure!

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