October 28, 2006
It’s after dark. I sit at a picnic table, and stare into a lone candle’s flame. To my right is Robert. He’s “twice my age,” from Portland, Oregon, and is riding from there to San Diego. Across the table from me is Heather. She’s 21, and riding from Victoria, Canada, to the southern end of Mexico.
A hundred yards away are Redwood trees that stand 30 stories high, as well as a field bordered with signs that read “Danger – Wild Elk – Do Not Approach.” There’s a metal bear box for storing our food, as well as bear proof trash containers. A half-moon lights the sky, and the stars are out. A damp, cold mist gradually surrounds us, and slowly advances.
HEATHER: I’ve come on tons of good food at grocery store dumpsters… all of these wrapped up, perfectly fine baked goods that they just throw away when they expire. One night we had two picnic tables full with all these muffins, cookies… and raccoons came after it!
ME: Ha, it’s like they came along and said, “Dumpster food is OUR property! WE have the rights to that!” The other day when I was in this McDonalds, I had my helmet sitting on the saddle to keep it dry, you know, so through the window I see this big black bird land on it. I watch it for about a minute, feeling the helmet with its claws, and then it starts ramming its beak into my helmet like a woodpecker! So I run out and shoo it off, and go back inside. Whaddya know, like a minute later, there it is again, just ramming away! Finally I just went and brought the helmet inside – there were these people watching the whole episode, laughing at me.
ROBERT: It must be the texture of material that it liked or something. Did you see the Paul Bunyan today?
ME: Yeah. Did you guys see the billboard ad for those, like, “Redwood Cable Car” rides?
HEATHER: I think it was a kind of ski lift or something.
ME: I remember coasting down that last hill, and it was one of those really good descents where the road is curving, but straight enough that you don’t have to brake, you know – like you do on switchbacks – no traffic, I had the whole road to myself, smooth, no potholes, looking up at these awesome trees, and I’m thinking “I bet this is a whole hell of a lot better than that cable car!”
ROBERT: You know what my favorite thing is? When it’s just you, riding along all alone, and everything’s completely quiet. Well there’s the noise from your tires on the road, but that’s all. I really like that.
ME: I didn’t even realize how quiet it was back in there until I stopped to take a picture – going all the way up that hill, you know – all I heard was how I was breathing so loud, then on the way down there’s the wind in your ears, and the tires, like you said. … I was hooting and hollering and stuff to hear the echo…
ROBERT: So was I!
HEATHER: Me too, and singing a little
ME: Did you see any seals in Oregon?
HEATHER: Oh, tons! And in Depo Bay on the beach it was like, “Cool, there goes the blowhole on one… wait… seals don’t have blowholes…” and this big tail comes out of the water, like, “Whoa! That’s a whale!” The one guy said there’s all these shrimp there that the whales feed on or something.
ME: Did you see the emus in Klamath today? And the gold bears at the bridge?
HEATHER: Yeah, those were cool
ROBERT: I didn’t like that sink hole called Crescent City very much.
HEATHER: You just didn’t like climbing up out of it!
Me: I actually really liked it there. Did you see the driftwood mermaid?
ME: Like this life size mermaid somebody carved out of driftwood. It was sitting on this bigger piece of wood too – awesome – like something that belongs on the bow of a pirate ship. Out near the docks I was checking out the boats, and turned my head and saw it, and I was like, “Woah. Hello.”
ROBERT: I can’t decide whether to go use the shower here or not.
HEATHER: I think you have to put quarters in to work it.
ME: No way would I want to be all damp like that before going to sleep. I can’t decide whether or not to rig my rain fly tonight – like which is worse, condensation or fog.
ROBERT: I just don’t want a bear to smell the deodorant I’m wearing and come nosing around… so I thought maybe I should take a shower and wash it off.
ME: Tell you what – I’m gonna open my jar of peanut butter, and keep it in my tent with me tonight!
ROBERT: You better not!
ME: Then when the bear comes, I’ll throw the peanut butter at your tent!
* * *
I get somewhat of a late start out of Brookings this morning, checking out the library when it opened at 10am. It’s only a few miles from Brookings to the California border… Kingdom of Ahnold! Tha Govornator! I am Hanz, this is Franz, and we are here to pomp, you, ahhhhhhhp!!
Ahem. The signpost at the state line is filled with cyclist’s graffiti, so it’s kind of like a spontaneous Pacific Coast rider’s registry. I have a girl on a road trip take my picture here, and turn around and finally get one of the Oregon sign too.
Today’s route stretches through country roads and wide, flat cattle farms before reaching the coast again in Crescent City. This is like a California paradise town, and looks really expensive and upper-class. A road follows the peaceful beach on this clear blue day, and I look out to see surfers on the waves. The town park is right on the water, and there’s a youth soccer match in full swing.
South of town there’s a tough climb, but it rewards me with a view back to the north, and my first experience with Redwood trees. Unfortunately I’m on Route 101 with no shoulder, so weekend recreational traffic requires most of my attention.
I descend to Klamath, and have a Reese’s Fast Break snack (My latest preference over Snickers). Sunset draws near, but I decide to press on to Orick for the night, and begin the ascent into the Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. This takes me off of 101 in the late evening, and I have the road all to myself, amid towering Redwoods. Wow. The following descent is long, straight, and especially glorious. Just at the edge of the park I meet Heather, another touring cyclist.
“Where are you heading?” she asks, “I was gonna go on to Orick, but then it started getting dark, and camping here for three dollars is too good to pass up.”
“Just three bucks? I’m in!”
Life is good.
just imagine coasting for miles and miles down a deserted road among a forest full of these…
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Google Map Route may not be 100% accurate.
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