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Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach, CA

I am back to driving alongside the ocean, but the heavy fog is thick this morning, so all I am left with is my imagination to feel my landscape.

I stop at Santa Barbara for a few hours and rent a bike to help me explore the area. It's fun to bike again! Then I stroll for a bit on State Street and enjoy a gelato. I would have stayed longer if I could see Santa Barbara with all the mountains surrounding it.

A half an hour in as I continued my travel for the day, the fog dissipated and the sun was peeking between feathers of white clouds, greeting me with its warmth and light. What a beautiful site!

A sea of mountains surrounds me with green shades created by the many trees around. Cows are eating the grass while enjoying this spectacular landscape. I want to stop and hike those rolling hills and mountains like the privileged cows.

It is a gift to see California dressed in green, with its many jeweled flowers wrapping it with love and joy.

By late afternoon, I get to Karlie and Steve's house. I am grateful for their kindness in opening their home to me, a complete stranger. Naturally, I want to get to know them, and I would like them to feel comfortable hosting me. I know ahead of time that I am in for a treat. Steve's and Karlie's music group is playing at their house today, and I am happy to join in. No, I don't have a musical bone in my body, but I still love to be part of it. It takes me some time before I get the nerve to take the drum they gave me to join in. We go around choosing a song to sing and play. I go with "This land is my land" and "Take me home, country road."

I start my day early, so I can do some hiking and run some errands.

Steve recommended Pismo Preserve for good hiking. Yes, I highly recommend it myself! I am hiking up the California mountains while enjoying the ocean view; who needs more? A hummingbird is resting on a branch enjoying the gentle breeze. One of the things I admire about California are the various trees and plants that grow here.

Remember that knot in my stomach? Well, it's back, but now I am aware of its source and I am at ease dealing with it. At least I hope so! The thing is... I don't know where I will stay for the next eight nights. I would be less nervous if I had a better car setup, where I could be self-sustained without needing to get out of my car. But all I can do is sit in my front seat (I cannot move my seat back) or lay down in my bed. I made a clear choice not to make reservations months ahead for the freedom of traveling in California. It turns out that showing up at a campground with the hope of a camping site is not that easy.

I continue my day for another hike at Pismo Beach. Steve mentions crossing a creek while walking on the beach, so I put on my sandals just in case. Well, I do need to roll up my pants to be able to continue. The water is cold and my feet are freezing with the wind in the air. I walk about two and a half miles until I reach a beautiful rock nesting at the beach's edge, where I can't go anymore without going deeper into the rising tide.

No doubt, being at one with nature and its relaxing sounds makes my knot untie, but I am still a bit nervous when I return to Karlie's house. Maybe I am not ready to totally wing it. Therefore, I checked to see if a camping spot is available at San Simeon State Park. There is one, so I decided not to take my chances and booked it. One less night to worry about!

I had a wonderful time with Karlie and Steve; Karlie gave me a crash course on the ukulele before I left. Who knows, maybe it's time to take up a new hobby?

I stop to refill my cooler with fresh food before heading up the coast again.

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