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Friday December 27, 2002. Guadaloupe.
We stop in front of what apparently is the largest supermarket in town and are promptly greeted by a white haired man on a three geared bicycle (his equipped with a metal shopping basket on the handlebars–a sharp contrast to our fancy brand new Arkel panniers). "Welcome to Guadeloupe," he starts up cheerfully. He begins immediately to advise us on the many sightseeing features of the dilapidated town: a local park, the best Mexican restaurant, the nearby dunes, and even the computer education classes that he is running (closed of course today; but if we’re here tomorrow we can stop in). Realizing we probably need a map to navigate the six square blocks, he pedals off to his office to get us one. Note: You can click on the photo for a much larger version (100K in size -- might be slow if you are on a dial-up modem)
Meanwhile we pop into the store to stock up for lunch, selecting tortillas (of course) a jar of salsa, two hot chorizo sausages, a jar of coconut juice (with the pieces) and a treat on a stick for Yvonne that holds the title ‘Mama Pedro’ (it turns out to be a chocolate covered marshmallow confection on a large lollipop stick). The friendly grocer also seems in no hurry as he chats to us about our route and adventures so far and throws in a couple of candies for the girls as a welcome gift. As we pedal off I wonder if perhaps Guadeloupe is better off enjoying today rather than hurrying after tomorrow after all.
Sunday December 29, 2002. Lompoc.
The entire morning long the rain keeps pausing every half hour to give us enough time to creep out, begin undoing the bicycles, fire up the burner to heat up some hot chocolate, and then get totally soaked again. By 1:00 everyone is in a horrendous mood but the tents are down. It doesn’t look hopeful that we’ll make the next 25 miles over a second 1000 foot mountain pass into Gaviota before sunset at 4:45 (our speed on the hills carrying 100 pounds of gear and kids averaging 5-6 miles an hour). So we decide to visit the "La Purissima Mission" and spend a dry night in a hotel in downtown Lompoc.
La Purissima is one of 21 beautiful ancient Spanish/Mexican missions lining the California coast. Built in the late 1700s (and restored by the park service) it sits on a hilltop with pink and white washed adobe walls overlooking a valley of huge gnarled live oak trees and velvety green grass. Yvonne is horrified to find that one of the mission’s priests is on the way to sainthood and canonization in the Catholic church; so although his body is buried under the floor his knuckles have been saved elsewhere in a reliquary (for worshipers to view). Anya finds the olives on the trees to be inedible but perfect for an olive oil skin massage and peers over the oil press with soft supple brown fingers. We peer into an adobe oven, wander through the herb garden, observe a blanket being made on a loom and step into some Chumash Indian huts before cycling into downtown Lompoc.
In front of the Vagabond hotel stands a self serve newspaper box proudly displaying the Eber family on the front page of the Lompoc Register. Better yet, as Lorenz steps into the lobby the girl at the front desk exclaims, "I was just reading about you in the newspaper!" and gives us a special discount rate because we’re biking for a good cause.
Monday December 30, 2002. El Capitain State Park.
In the middle of a warm cheesy dinner in the dark we are greeted by a police car. And so after piling tents, bags, panniers, cookware and clothes into the back of the police pick-up truck, Anya and Yvonne get an escorted ride to the next campground, El Capitain, while Lorenz and I pedal the tandems (sans partners) in the dark another two miles and set up camp again under the helpful lights of our police escort.
Wednesday January 1, 2003. Carpenteria.
The Eber Family
Updated: Jan 6, 2003