As I make tracks across my home state I am reminded of why I love this place. California has a little bit of everything for everyone. The old brick mission in San Miguel gave the town a Spanish feel. I ran through farmland yet again to get to the town of Paso Robles. I was running towards a known destination so the miles passed in a flash on the back roads. My mind was preoccupied as my feet moved. I thought a bit about what I was going to say to the kids at the Boys and Girls Club of Paso Robles. I planned to speak to kids of varying ages at the same time. It would be tricky because I had learned the attention span and interests of kindergarteners differed greatly from those of middle schoolers.
I had a quick lunch at Applebee’s before rushing over to The Boys and Girls Club. When I got there I was greeted by a room full of kids. Attentive eyes stared in my directions as I explained my mission. There were plenty of questions about the adventures on the road but I managed to steer the event towards a reading of one of our books. It was a fun time and I was glad I could give away some books. I left the kids playing on the playground and I headed back to the Hampton Inn for complimentary beverages and cheese. I chuckled when my image popped up on the screen with a news report about my journey. My giggles came from the fact that all the kids that I had seen on this journey equated being on the news with fame. I was just happy to have an extra weapon in my arsenal. I used every angle to get kids interested in books.
The next day was a trek filled with uphill climbs followed by the powerful grip of gravity. Wine country was everywhere. Rows and rows of vines decorated the hillside. I eventually hit the crest after eleven miles. As I ran downhill into a canyon, the roads narrowed and the motorists became less cautious. The combination could spell trouble for the non-defensive runner. Avocado farms added to the beauty of the canyon. When I spotted the water I took a deep breath. The sun glistened off the ocean. I picked up the pace and ran towards the Pacific. When I reached Cayucos the sea breeze kicked up. The Masterpiece Hotel wasn’t too far away but my knees were feeling the toll of the downhill pounding. I took in a lungful of ocean air and pushed forward. I used it as fuel to get me to my destination. Of course the idea that I would get a day of rest also improved my disposition. I smiled as I climbed a minor hill to reach my accommodation for the evening.
Stepping into the hotel was like stepping into a museum. Artwork decorated the halls and the rooms. The bonus came when they told me they were putting out complimentary cheese and beverages at 5pm. It must have been a common practice around wine country. Well, when in Rome….
The majority of my day off was spent lounging but I also got to check out the pier. Our dinner was donated by the Pizza Port and it was a tasty treat that was made with cream sauce. The garlic on my pizza tickled my tongue. I left the pizza shop with a spring in my step and a grin on my face.
Every day of rest on this trip had passed too quickly. My day off at Morro Bay was no different. The time disappeared into thin air. I had to hit the road once again. My original destination was San Louis Obispo but we pushed the day to Arroyo Grande because the Holiday Inn Express told us to go over and let the take care of us.
I ran the Old Carrillo Hwy also known as Hwy 1. On this road a cyclist across the way stopped and asked me how far I was running. I wasn’t sure if he saw me on the news so my reply was, “I’m going to Santa Monica” He gave me a thumbs up and said he was impressed. Maybe he had passed me earlier in the day. Shortly after the cyclist left, as I approached San Louis Obispo, a dark figure stumbled towards me. He was wearing torn and tattered clothing that had seen better days. When I was about fifty feet away from the hobo, a wave of strong pungent aroma hit my nostrils. Without a doubt the guy was drunk. As I passed him I saw a group of vultures around a carcass. It seemed that even those creatures were offended by his scent.
I climbed more hills and passed a couple of farm stands before I hit the corner where I would call it the day. Crystal took me to the Holiday Inn Express which was close by. Guests flooded in because of the extended weekend. I felt blessed that the hotel still managed to donate a couple of rooms on such a busy day.
As I approached my final day of the Great Reading Run II I wanted to start increasing my speed. I knew that I had stopped pushing my workouts to make me faster. It just wasn’t practical while logging so many miles. With the finish line in sight, I decided to move out of my comfort zone. I ended up at the Santa Maria Pines RV Resort before Crystal and my mom. I only remembered more vineyards and citrus trees.
The next day we were sure that it would be a night on the roadside. For miles and miles the grapevines continued to adorn the California countryside. I had to run along the 101 for most of my day so my attention stayed on the oncoming traffic. I was grateful to the DOT for creating such wide roads. When I reached the town I was pleasantly surprised to find out there was lodging. A historic building, built with wood was a sight that belonged in the Wild West. I imagined Billy the Kid having a drink at the Saloon. The inside décor came from another era. I attempted to crank the phone to get an operator.
The quaint hotel donated a room with a large antique tub and a toilet with a chain. I loved stumbling across unique places. It has been one of the best parts of this trip.