bicycling · travel · Uncategorized

Everything is Better by Bicycle

After my company transferred me to California’s Inland Empire, I purchased a bicycle as a way to commute to work.  Besides saving me money on car payments, insurance and gas, I get an extra work out each day.  An added bonus is that I can also use my bicycle to explore other areas of southern California.

My first outing was to the beach at Santa Monica.  I began my trip by boarding the Metrolink with my bicycle to Los Angeles.  At Union Station, located in Downtown LA I transferred to the subway at 7th street and boarded the lightrail to Santa Monica.  The lightrail ends about a block from the beach.  As you can imagine, Santa Monica is busy during summertime and there are lanes dedicated just for bicycles down to the pier and Palisades Park.

I chose to explore Palisades Park first before riding down to the beach itself.  The park sits atop a bluff overlooking the beach area.

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Benches, palm trees line long paths throughout the park.  A fence runs along the edge of the bluff where you can lookout over the beach and boardwalk as well as the Santa Monica pier.

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Taco trucks lined the street that runs along side the park. People strolled along enjoying the view, getting a bite to eat and photographing the view. Having a bicycle allowed me to explore more of the park than I would have been able to do on foot, leaving me with enough energy to explore the beach area.

The path in Palisades Park leads to the Santa Monica pier.  There is a ramp down to the pier for pedestrians and bicycles.  Souvenir shops, restaurants and an amusement park can be found on the pier.  A ramp leads down to the boardwalk on the beach.  Once on the boardwalk I rode down to a cafe on the beach where I stopped for a drink.  Many people travel the beach by bicycle allowing one to really expierience the entire beach.

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People leave their bicycles at designated areas and head for the water on foot through the sand, stop and eat at one of the many cafes, rent a surf board to ride the waves or walk with their family to enjoy the scenery.

Santa Monica by bicycle is the only way to go.  By taking the train with my bicycle I avoided LA’s traffic jams and was able to see more of Santa Monica than I would have been able to on foot.  I got some great exercise in without it feeling like exercise.  And I spent time at one of my favorite places, the beach.

travel · Uncategorized

Taking the Scenic Route

In our fast paced world everything seems to happen at the speed of light.  Information is available in seconds via smart phones, we balance home, work and a personal life and we want things now rather than later. Taking ones time is almost an act of rebellion.  When I received a transfer from my company to California, I decided to slow things down and take the scenic route.

Since I had the time I decided to travel on the Coast Starlite Amtrak train from Seattle to Los Angeles.  Purchasing a ticket can be done easily via an app on your smart phone.  No ticket is necessary as a bar code may be scanned from your phone.  My train arrived on time and I was assigned a seat with more leg room than on an airplane.  Each seat comes with a fold down table and the seats recline almost all the way back.

Three meals a day are available in the dining car which is set up like a restaurant.  The seating is shared, giving one the opportunity to meet others traveling on the train.  The food was good and the service excellent.  For those not wanting formal dining a snack car offering everything from pizza to bloody marys is also available.  Selected items can also be delivered right to your seat.

If one is lucky enough to have obtained a window seat, sight seeing is a good way to spend the time.  We left Seattle and traveled through the rural areas of Washington state, through the city of Portland and were once again traveling through the farmlands of Oregon and California until reaching the Bay Area.  Shortly after leaving Jack London Square in Oakland, the train begins to travel along the coast.  Breath taking views are right out ones window.  If you do not have a window seat, an observation car with comfortable seating, tables and large windows is available.

The trip took a little over a day and a half.  I spent my time catching up on some reading, completing some sketches and enjoying the sights and my down time.  I met a lot of nice people, each with a unique story about where they were going and why they were traveling by train.  We pulled into Union Station in downtown Los Angeles and at a taxi stand in front of the station I caught a cab to my hotel.  Traveling by plane may be fast, but nothing compares to the enjoyment of slowing things down and traveling by train.