Today’s distance / ???????: 46 miles / 73.8km
Average speed / ????: 9.4mph / 15.2km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 4h 53m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 4084mi plus 280mi (?) / 6573km plus 450km (?)
Ascent / ??: n/a
Descent / ??: n/a
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N126.96.36.199, W188.8.131.52
Made it. Pacific Ocean. Big pond it is.
I got up early. I wanted to beat the morning rush on narrow and busy highway 76. Didn’t help getting up early. I had to walk frequent sections of the roadway due to the lack of shoulders and heavy car and truck traffic on the weaving slither of roadway. Eventually however I got to where highway 76 changes its name from Pala Rd to Mission Drive. Mission Drive had shoulders and it was all go.
I enjoyed the odd old section of road where there was no traffic.
I kept the pressure on, and thanks to some very nice cycle paths coming into Oceanside, I was at the water’s edge by 9:25am, the 2nd of April. 118 days (3 months 27 days) since I left Key West, Florida, on the 7th of December 2007.
I meandered along the beach front, enjoying the cool Pacific Coast breeze.
Houses were very “Californian”…
As stoked as I was to see the water, my day was well from over. From Oceanside, I still had (have) another 70 or so miles until I reach LA, where my flight to China leaves from. No rest for the wicked therefore. I made my way to the Camp Pendalton Marine Base.
The only way to get from Oceanside to the next town, San Clemente, is to pass through the Marine (army) base. If you’re in a car, this is easy. Take the I-5 freeway. If you’re on a bicycle, it is also easy. Go to the front gate, and they’ll take note of your ID, and let you through. If you’re on a skateboard, you may have more of a challenge.
Yesterday, I had called the front gate of the base in order to make sure that I would be able to travel through the base on my skateboard. During the phone call, the Military Police Officer I spoke to had to check with several people before he gave me the OK. “Is it just you? Or is it a group?” the officer asked.
“Just me,” I answered.
“OK, let me check.” A few minutes later, the officer returned to the phone. “So long as you are wearing a helmet, Sir, you may skate through the base following the bicycle route,” he said.
I thanked him, and carried on skating feeling confident that I would have no problems.
That was yesterday. Today:
Problem One: There was a different team of officers on the front gate.
Probelm Two: Communication between teams of officers is non-existent.
Problem Three: The main officer on the gate today was about 19 years old (no rank therefore no authority to think for himself) and made comments such as “I don’t understand why they even let bicycles through…”
I arrived at the gate, and went inside the booth. Officer Blythe, the main officer, was not sure whether I was allowed through the base on a skateboard. He did two rounds of phone calls to his superiors.
The bottom line after his phone calls? “I’m sorry Sir, but you are not allowed to skateboard through the base. You’ll have to go around the base, or take a cab.”
Not a good start to my impression of the US Army public relations bureau.
I reminded him that in order to ‘go around’ the base, one would need to take a 250 mile detour. I also reminded him that I had spoken to a front gate Officer yesterday on the phone, and had been given the OK. I told him that I was in the position to take an alternative route yesterday when I called, and had called to confirm whether I would be able to skate through the base, and being given the OK, I carried on towards the base rather than the alternative route.
“Is it illegal to skateboard on base?” I asked him.
“No Sir, it isn’t.” he replied.
“So…what is the problem?” I asked.
He wrote down a number and suggested that I call it. The Public Relations Office or something. I called it. A woman answered, and listened politely to my plight.
“Let me check and confirm this, Sir, and I will call back at the front gate,” she said once I had finished.
10 minutes later, the front gate phone rang. Officer Blythe picked up the phone. Smiled. Perhaps he was on my side after all.
“You have the OK to skate through, sir. You must be wearing elbow pads, knee pads, and a helmet though.”
“Yesterday I was told all I needed was a helmet. I’m impressed with how quickly your base updates their safety regulations.”
Officer Blythe called the PR woman back. After a short conversation, I was given the OK to skate through the base, sans knee and elbow pads. Long process which on a bicycle would have taken a few moments.
Anyway, it was interesting skating through the base. Intermittent rapid gunfire, amoured vehicles driving down the road, “TANK XING” road signs…
I got told off for taking photos, of course. “Signs and stuff are OK, Sir,” said the adolescent MP Officer, “but make sure you don’t take any photos of the facilities.”
Dunno whether the top photo there qualifies as a non-allowed shot, since it has some of the buildings in the background. Oh well. I’m leaving the country soon anyway.
Hit more beach once I had made the 25 mile trek through the army base unscathed. Very Californian beach vibes. Very Baywatch. Minus the beach babes however, since it was still a little chilly.
I was making fairly good time by the time I arrived at Dana Point. It was 4pm. Still plenty of time to keep moving. Then I chanced upon the Dana Point State Beach. There was a campground with coin-operated showers, and best of all, a few empty campsites. Since I arrived into the State Beach via a back entrance for cyclists/hikers/walkers, I had no idea what the idea was for campsite fees. I set my tent up anyway, amidst a sea of large RVs and campervans. When I went to bed, my ear plugs dulled the incessant hum from numerous generators feeding electricity to all the campers’ needs. So much for a quiet holiday away from the hubub and modern society’s trappings…