The day started with texting.

Mom: “Where are you headed today?”

Me: “To Lompoc. Where W.C. Fields filmed ‘The Bank Dick.’”

Mom: “Careful. He never gives a sucker an even break.”

Before leaving Santa Maria, I ate in a local restaurant that filled my stomach with breakfast and my ears with annoying 1970s songs that would stick in my head all day long.

Then I headed west to Guadalupe, one of the most genuine, soulful-looking towns on the central coast. I took a selfie that included the water tower hovering over the town, a bit north of the railroad station. (Later I discovered a smudge on the lens that made everything look fogbound.)

There’s not much in Guadalupe – no Target, no Verizon store, no In-N-Out Burger, not even a hotel, as far as I could find – and maybe that’s why the place is so soulful. There are, however, about 275 Mexican restaurants. As an example, it’s hard not to like a restaurant that calls itself La Simpatía (friendliness, amiability).

Much easier than a restaurant with a name like Humberto’s #3. Or El Torito.

Guadalupe also has two Chinese restaurants (on the same block) for when you get tired of Mexican food.

I rode the soft ups and downs of Highway 1 southeast toward Orcutt with cloudy skies and the robust tailwind that marked most of the trip. Frankly, I had dreaded leaving Guadalupe because I knew that approaching Lompoc from the north means you’re in for a climb: either the indirect one at the Vandenberg Gate, or the Full Dorsal Assault on Lompoc via Harris Grade Road.

I opted for the latter. In spite of the steep incline and exhausting s-curves, it’s the devil I know (having ridden it once before). From the summit I looked south to Lompoc and the Lompoc Hills beyond.

Then came the downhill terror: 20 to 30 miles per hour of s-curves on uneven pavement, and a long ride into the valley. Plus the reassurance that if I can do that, I can do anything.

It was good to finish cycling by mid-afternoon. I did laundry, bought groceries and spent an hour on the phone with a Mount-Whitney-climbing high-school friend I hoped to see a hundred miles later. We both wondered aloud what the old people were doing today.

The day ended with texting.

Mom: “Where are you?”

Me: “In Lompoc. Had a drink with Fields.”

Mom: “On him?”

Me: “No. He suckered me into paying for it.”

Mom: “See? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

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