Day 8: Street Cred Is My Stink

October 17
Mileage 45
New Brighton State Beach to Monterey

The raccoons fight and play and eat my dinner spills half the night. And then I spend some time worrying about my bike getting stolen by the local homeless who frequent the nearby railroad tracks.

Although my legs are tired, I’m ready to go early. You see, I have a nearly impossible task ahead of me. 40 something miles by 1pm. My beer friend thinks I can’t make it in time. I leave at 8am. I relentlessly pedal. I pass a bicycles prohibited sign on a hwy 1 onramp because nothing is stopping me. 20 miles by 10am. I got this. Never mind that starting in Marina, there is the roughest, teeth shattering, slow-you-down bike path I’ve ever been on. It’s noon and I’m getting close. I don’t really know my way but keep pedaling in the general directing. I roll up at the Pacific Grove Natural History Museum at 12:45pm. Just enough time to inhale the sandwich I got yesterday. Here’s to planning ahead.

I’m dazed. I’m sweaty. I’m hungry. But I focus anyway on my introduction to nature sketching class. I’m grateful to be there and try to focus on learning. But really I’m counting the minutes until I can get out. And I spend too much time thinking about how much I stink. I’m afraid to get too close to people. I don’t feel like pushing out to Asilomar for the conference opening ceremonies. Why can’t all the events be in the same place? Oh right, we’re a car based society even though we’re naturalists and all that.

I go to the hostel to check in and it literally takes at least 45 minutes and about all my patience. Finally I get my shower and head out for dinner. Google maps says there is Gianni’s Pizza just around the corner. I get there and the place is loud and hot. Filled to the brim with people chowing down. It all seems overwhelming and yet I stay. Because why else would there be so many people there? I get a spot at the bar and there’s no messing around with the bar tender. Her gray hair reaches down her back and she dishes out the sass. Her seeming seriousness can be intimidating but you just gotta get on her good side and then she’s the shit. I watch her toy with those that are thirsty. I was going to stop at mozzarella sticks but then I had pizza too.

Now I’m sitting on the bay, sipping some barley and hops. It seems to be the spot where people come to smoke marijuana and crack beers. The waves roll up and try to catch those who aren’t paying attention. There are unknown sea creatures just past my view. And the tide is coming in.

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