Spirit Traffic is the story of the 10,000-mile motorcycle trip the author C. Jane Taylor took with her husband, John, and son, Emmett, to celebrate Emmett’s college graduation. They were all new riders, and it was their first trip. In May, Jane and John took Spirit Traffic back to the road on their BMW 650 GSs for a 97-day national book tour. Below is her ninth installment of Postcards from the Road, which will be published every Monday.
Related Story: C. Jane Taylor Rides 6,000 Miles on National Book Tour
Greg Drevenstedt is the editor-in-chief of Rider Magazine, a nationally acclaimed motorcycle publication since 1974. He and his wife Carrie – whom he met in fifth grade – hosted us in their home in Ventura, California, on Saturday and Sunday. We had a blast together. Carrie’s sense of humor cannot be beat, and Greg, though ten years my junior, is the big brother I always wished I had.
“You’ve got a gift from a fan,” said Greg when we arrived. I thought he meant a cold beer or something like that. I was shocked to find a huge bouquet of flowers in the middle of the living room. The note read “Welcome back to California, from a fellow Beemer.” My eyes sparked with tears of surprise and gratitude.
Greg introduced us to the concept of the “boot beer.” This is the deliciously cold beer you drink upon arriving at your destination. It is drunk before washing up and while still in one’s boots. The boot beer is the refreshment of choice for hot and road-weary motorcyclists. It not only quenches thirst, it relieves tension and bolsters nascent friendships. We drank, showered, then settled in.
Carrie made us lentil haystacks from the Trader Joe’s cookbook (lentils and rice stacked with fresh veggies, feta, and lemon juice) and a great Paso Robles red from Chronic Cellars called “Sofa King Bueno.”
On Sunday morning, Greg and Carrie gave us a tour of Ventura including a walk along the beach. Sunday evening, I read to a full house at Timbre Books. Bookstore owners Megan and Kyle started their “books for the people” community of terrific people and curated books in February 2020 and powered through the pandemic with enthusiasm and the mission of bringing great people together around great books. Kyle’s parents were among the great people gathered for Spirit Traffic. I was so honored.
On Monday morning, after a group selfie and meditation, Greg wished us well and sent us off with a carefully chosen route. We hit the road with Google Maps talking to John’s intercom. The route was spectacular! “Thanks, Greg!” was the refrain in our helmets as we wound along the most wonderful road we’ve ever traveled. We took a selfie at a scenic overlook and texted it to Greg with our gratitude.
After climbing mountains and threading through canyons for an hour of moto bliss, we stopped for some shade and snacks at a roadside picnic table at the edge of Los Padres National Forest. John checked his phone for a note from Greg.
“Oh shit! I just realized you are off-route and went straight up Highway 33! Please call or text when you can, and I’ll guide you back to the coast.”
Ha! We’d ridden more than an hour off course on the greatest road we’d ever seen! We turned around and did it in the other direction. Thanks, Greg.
“Sofa King Bueno!”
Day 60 – After the awesomeness of Highway 33, we were a bit late to find lodgings and ended up in a sketchy motel in the sketchy town of Lompoc. We slept in our sleeping bags on top of the bed.
Day 61 – We rode out early to Steaming Bean coffee shop in Pismo Beach where we enjoyed breakfast, coffee, and people watching. We sold a book in the grocery store parking lot and camped at See Canyon Fruit Ranch, a Hipcamp gem whose proprietor is a sixth generation Californian.
Day 62 – We rode the Big Sur section of the Pacific Coast Highway. It was magnificent and not nearly as twisty/scary as I’d imagined. We viewed elephant seals in San Simeon and watched humpback whales jump out of the ocean. (Whale watching from the motorcycle is ill advised; we stopped often.) We camped at another Hipcamp that advertised goats. I was enchanted by the idea of camping with goats. Goat yoga is all the rage, why not goat camping? Because pigs. Our treehouse campsite was near their pen, and the huge and friendly farm dogs were named Johnny and Jane.
Day 63 – We were hosted by moto legend Reg Kittrelle in Santa Cruz. Reg rode down to meet us at The Power Plant Coffee Shop next to the power plant in Santa Cruz. He is 80 and still rides like a kid born to the sport. He is also a writer, editor, unrepentant curmudgeon, and wonderful host.
Day 64 – We stayed with Katherine and her husband Michael in Palo Alto. Katherine and I met when we were 21 and have been close ever since. She’s in Spirit Traffic. We did a reading in San Mateo at her friend Lisa’s home.
Day 65 – We did a reading in San Francisco where we were hosted by Joe Ordona. He’s also in the book.
Keep the rubber side down.
Spirit Traffic can be purchased on the author’s website. It is also available on eBook and as an audio book read by the author.