Besides getting to visit briefly with dear friends in Denver, our break from bicycling allowed me to go on an interview for a teaching job at Fort Lewis College in Durango. The Biology department at Fort Lewis is hiring a new faculty member and they are looking for a ‘molecular microbiologist’. If there is anything that does describe my professional qualifications, then ‘molecular microbiologist’ describes me to a tee (as a scientist, at least) and I was eager to apply for this job back in September. After leaving my position at CU, I realized a more teaching-intensive job, where I didn’t have to hustle for research money might be a better use of my talents. After a phone interview, the search committee at Fort Lewis invited me to come to Durango for a few days to meet all the faculty, give a research seminar and give a lecture in the advanced microbiology class.
Hello, dear reader. In this blog post I’ll be looking back at the week I spent in Denver during late November. Caroline will chime in for the next blog post to tell us about her side trip to Durango, but I stayed in Denver so I’ll share the interesting bits of my week with you. Our primary reason for coming to Denver was to get Caroline some interview appropriate clothes from the storage unit where most of our belongings currently reside. Her nice clothes were easy to find, but we couldn’t unearth the box with her shoes, so a subsequent trip to the shoe store was required. While at the storage unit I had a giddy moment when I realized I could take with me a pair of jeans and a couple fleeces. I’ve been wearing the same few items of clothes for months and so a comfy pair of jeans felt like quite a luxury. And it was so cold in Denver that I definitely needed a couple more warm items to wear. That evening Caroline continued to work on the lecture and research talk for her interview at Fort Lewis College.
After getting the bike boxes delivered to Fedex and shoe-horning our stuff into a single bag yesterday, we also made shuttle arrangements to get from Salinas to the San Francisco International Airport. I’m not sure if we’ve clearly blogged what we’re doing for the next couple of weeks, so here is the plan. This week we are flying to Denver where Alan will stay with our friends Jessica and Shane, and I’ll spend part of the week in Durango, interviewing for a job at Fort Lewis College. Then, next week we’ll fly from Denver to Las Vegas to be reunited with our bikes and spend the Thanksgiving holiday with Alan’s family. We depart for New Zealand on December 4 and restart this traveling adventure in the southern hemisphere.
Fortunately for us, Catherine had the day off work yesterday. After she got the kids off to school she drove us into town to a nearby bike shop. They had a couple bike boxes they were happy to give us and we stuffed them into the back of Catherine’s SUV. Before heading home we walked around downtown Salinas a bit and had a very tasty lunch at a place called First Awakenings.
We set out from the Rio Sands hotel with an immediate steep climb from sea level. It looks like some of these houses are struggling to stay put up on this bluff. This was followed by a gradual descent back to the ocean along Monterrey Bay into the Salad Bowl of California.
It was still cold and foggy this morning, so we took our time getting on the road and we dressed warmly when we did leave the motel. We rode through Half Moon Bay today, which was scenic and partly on a bike path. We had to stop for groceries here since our food pannier was pretty empty. We were planning to camp tonight so Caroline wanted to pick up something for dinner.
Our plan for today was to leave San Francisco around noon and to take an easy ride down the coast. We figured traffic would be pretty bad on a Sunday, but we didn’t want to wait until tomorrow so we agreed to do a fairly short ride today if the traffic was very stressful. Our late start meant that we were able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast with Mary Kay and Ryan. Mary Kay’s sister and her sister’s boyfriend also came over for breakfast and we had a nice time talking with them about biking and travel.
Thursday, we left Olema Campground and set out for San Francisco. We got one last view of giant redwood trees as we rode through Samuel P. Taylor State Park. The park was originally the site of Taylor’s paper mill, and according to the park web site “the mill produced newsprint and the worlds first square-bottomed paper bags—a novelty at the time.” We followed Sir Francis Drake Boulevard from the park to Lagunitas, where we stopped for a mid-morning snack. After Lagunitas, we entered the orbit of San Francisco, cycling through a number of charming small towns that all blend together at the outer reaches of San Francisco. Forest Knolls, Fairfax, San Anselmo, Ross, Larkspur, Mill Valley. In Larkspur, we enjoyed burritos at Burritoville Cafe before riding up and over a big climb, dropping us into Sausalito and our approach to the Golden Gate.
We enjoyed our complimentary breakfast at the Inn at the Tides this morning. Before we set out today, I spent some time working on the talks I’ll be presenting on my interview in Durango in November. I figure a little bit everyday will get the job done.
Good thing our campground last night had wooden food storage boxes. The raccoons were pretty bold and one woke us up rattling the door of the wooden box to see if it could get to our food. Other than that it was a quiet night with no other campers in the hiker/biker area. Today was full of really great scenery again. The landscape is definitely more dry and arid now. There are rolling hills of dry grass and brush as well as occasional groups of pine trees. Looking to the left side of the highway you could easily think you’re in Colorado or Wyoming, but then you look to your right and see the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean.
This morning I noticed that there were a bunch of birds in the trees around our campsite. The campground was mostly empty, so it was nice to just watch and listen to the birds a while as they flitted around the trees and grass. I wonder if this spot is popular with birds because there aren’t many trees surrounding here. As I’ve read the Biking for Birds blog this year, I’ve learned that isolated pockets of trees tend to be popular spots for birds.