We were hungry when we cycled into Gorda. We’re used to eating plenty of food because of our bicyclists appetites, but we’d chosen to go light after we left Monterey. We knew that we had to cover some miles. All we’d had to eat that morning (after a less-than-adequate supper the night before) was two-thirds of a muffin each.
Believe it or not, this was the first time we’ve gone out for breakfast since we left the Yukon. We sat down and ordered eggs, home-style potatoes and toast ($9.95 + tax). The server wore a T-shirt with what looked like a sea-lion on it. Below it said The Great Seal of the Gorda Springs Resort. A sign post outside the window had arrows pointing to Los Angeles, Monterey, the bathrooms (Bouys and Gulls) – and straight out to sea – to whales. A painted wooden sign behind Malkolm said,
”the Gods do not deduct from Man’s allotted time – the hours spent in whale watching.”
“What about the hours spent in watching birds?” I thought.
Four people walked in, speaking German. They sat down next to us. The two men were dressed casually, but neatly. The women were straight out Vogue. The strawberry blond was dressed all in white. Her nails were the color of the smoked salmon on her bagel. The brunette wore tight jeans with a black blouse and jacket. Her nails matched the Heinz catsup on the table. It had taken us 45 minutes that morning to take down our tents, swill a cup of coffee, eat our meagre breakfast and load our bikes. I wondered how long it had taken them to get ready that morning.
Wendy leaned towards me and whispered, “They’re starved to perfection.” Then she said, “your shirt is on inside out.”
Our meals arrived. The “home-style potatoes” were straight out of a freezer – but maybe that is home-style these days. Our overpriced meals were every bit as good as a $2.99 Grand Slam at Denny’s. An Anna’s hummingbird buzzed past the window and hovered beside a profusion of honeysuckles and geraniums. Several crows squabbled over something. An orange tortoise-shell cat stood watchfully, hungrily. A bird fluttered against the transparent plexiglass lining the courtyard outside the restaurant.
“It’s a Bewick’s Wren,” said Malkolm.
The bird battered against the plexiglass and fell back under a table. Malkolm left his breakfast without a word and darted outside. He gently threw his light cycling jacket over the wren, reached inside and grasped it in a bird-bander’s grip. He walked quickly across the highway and found a cat-free resting place in a patch of Monterey Pines. He set the bird down and watched until it recovered enough to fly away.
For Malkolm, birds come even before breakfast.