Monday, September 30, 2013

The road to San Fran

Mornings have been coming to us earlier these days. At the farm we would get up around 7:30ish and mill around making breakfast and reading. Nothing was really different except after eating we were packing up our bikes to get back on the road.

Once we were all packed up we said a few goodbyes and started back at the grind. We had a couple hill climbs to do before getting back on Highway 1 but thankfully it didn't take as long as we were thinking since we already had a long day ahead of us and we didn't have a campground to get too. 

Taking two weeks off was nice but we could tell that our legs got a little too comfortable with not cycling so we were not a our finest. 

When we arrived on Highway 1 there was a 30 mile stretch that was pretty awesome! The road was windy and hilly but it also added more cliff sides where we were riding so you look down off your right and there's the cliff down to the ocean. Still little to no shoulder, if there was any it was less than a foot. The scene just seemed more dramatic and for a Saturday lots more traffic so we just took it nice and steady.

We stopped off at Fort Ross a former Russian settlement. A large looking fortress with a quaint church and four or five buildings enclosed inside the wooden walls. It sat right on a nice bay where they actually defended their fort from the Spanish. A really nice detour from riding.

I don't remember the exact spot during the day but it was evident once we crossed some line or something we saw a ton of other cyclists, not touring but weekend warrior types out riding since it was Saturday. Tons of them! It was really strange to see a large group of almost 30 people riding around when we were accustomed to maybe see a handful of people in a day. Some loved us and wanted to chat our ear about the trip then the majority seemed disinterested or in their groove to inquire. 

As we got closer to Tomales, CA there were a couple hills and Evan was waiting for me at the top of one since I wasn't feeling too hot, thinking I ate something bad at lunch; Evan said 'we are close, like 4 miles away.' We went down the hill and not even 4 seconds were we in Tomales, we had a good laugh about that as we rolled into the small town. We didn't have a place to stay and intended to stealth camp. The Catholic Church sits next to the park so we made dinner at the park and was weighing our options and I found a hidden open space behind some bushes and under a tree that was perfect! 

We joked all night how we were going to get caught and about getting attacked by skunks and raccoons. Thankfully none of those happened. 

The next morning we came out of hiding and back to the same picnic table we ate dinner on but not breakfast; the Catholic Church parking lot was starting to fill up too. Got underway and rode through some fun part that went along an inlet and a nice forest was across the water and a few fishing towns perhaps villages on the other.

The riding seemed to go by quickly once we started biking through towns; we were mainly riding on bike paths or bike friendly roads. It was a busy Saturday so there were lots of people out and about and markets closing down streets having us reroute a few times but it was nice and easy riding.

We found ourselves awestruck somewhere close to San Francisco, I think Sausalito area, the view across the bay, filled with sailboats big and small whisking one way while others whooshed the other and the beautiful shimmering city and the many bridges stretching to connect to here and there. It was awesome! Perfect weather for a perfect view.

The Golden Gate Bridge crept closer and closer then we found ourselves up this hill at the overlook when we were wanting to get on the bridge. It was a pleasant detour where we soaked in the magnificent bridge and watched the busyness of the bay continuing to unfold.

Crossing the bridge was better than getting across to Astoria; being on a designated bike path with relatively little wind was really nice. Once we rode off the bridge we awkwardly road through San Francisco hilly streets until we arrived at Evan's cousin's place. We had arrived to the bay! 

That evening we got cleaned up and took the bus to some district with awesome Mexican food. Cities are hotspots for gluttony and all the different cuisines would be my demise if I ever lived in a large city. We had to head back since Evan's cousin had to be up at 3am to open at work the next day which was good for us since our bodies were tired from all the cycling and sights.

Last week at Starcross

For our last week at Starcross, we said goodbye to Blake as hen headed to the Bay Area for a couple days before grey hounding back to Idaho. He is missed dearly; it's been so great having him along. Three people is a good size I think for touring. Alas it is down to two now.

The last week at Starcross mainly consisted of painting the 102 yr old farm house. It hadn't been painted in decades so there was a lot of prep work like we scraped loose paint off of every wall, taped up all the windows upstairs and downstairs, and covered doors in plastic wrap. We had to be careful since most of the windows are original and at any moment we could've put our hands through them or popped them out of the window frame. Lots of the wood was rotted so we had to be careful while scraping so we didn't gouge out the wall, there's no insulation the walls inside and out are the same planks of wood.  Not only did the age of the house make things slow going, but the scaffolding we had was extremely slow to setup and move which we only really did once before saying 'screw this' we'll get it with ladders. It was such a hassle, the first day of painting it gave us so many problems and a sense of danger so after many attempts to make it safe and understand how it worked we discarded it. 

Evan and I were using rollers while Lance used the sprayer; it took lance 15 seconds to do what Evan and I were doing with rollers which took us several minutes. So Evan took control of the sprayer and since the weather was so good the paint would dry very quickly where I would paint detail oriented things on the front porch. It went smoother and faster when we started to paint together. Starcross colors are white and blue trim so the all the windows and door ways kind of pop which is nice. It looks really good now! Pretty sure the paint is holding most of the house together.

Sadly there wasn't any other farming to do since their garden had been harvested before we got there and what little remained we picked the precious week. They like to leave the remaining fruits and veggies as a give back to any animals around and for the ground. 

We had an odd interaction with Brother Toby one day; we were invited out to the olive groves to talk with him. It was more of a time for him to tell us about their olive trees, with really no time to answer any questions about Starcross itself. It was nice to learn a little about the olives but I found it rather strange the whole time we were at the farm not one time did anyone talk about religion, the monastic part of Starcross, or much of how it was started. I know they are quiet and removed people but I feel like there had to be some pretty big shifts in their lives to choose this way of living, especially Brother Toby who supposedly was the District Attorney for San Francisco. Wish they were more open about it all.

All in all it was a good experience at the farm. I know I learned a good amount and it continues to get me excited about attempting to have my own garden one day. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Starcross Community Farm

Today has marked 5 days of being at Starcross Community Farm and it has been such a wonderful experience thus far. Starcross sits on a semi-hilly area about 7 miles through steep hills to the ocean. It is a very open space and when we rode up to it we went past one part of their organic olive trees which was awesome to see and then at the front gate you see a white modern looking barn on the left, a plain Jane trailer home, a largish white structure further up, then sitting a top the knoll a modest white chapel, and right next to the gate a weathered 102 yr old farm house that has character seeping from its redwood core.

The farm house is where we are staying in one of the many bedrooms which ours is upstairs. Every day we seem to find a new room or closet or nook. The two bathrooms and kitchen have been completed remodeled an overhauled with the finest amenities one could ask for, washer, dryer, stocked kitchen, and a hot water on demand system so you'll always have a hot shower no matter what is going on elsewhere in the house. Most of the rooms are filled with furniture and tools and kitchen equipment but we but a comfy reading chair in the room adorned with four large bay windows where you can watch the sunrise and then dip over the hills to where the ocean lays. We get some good reading and blogging done. 

There is so much so hopefully I cover everything about the farm. Three people started Starcross Brother Toby, Sister Marty, and Sister Julie; I do not know much about then since they live up the property and we have a boundary to allow them to do what they do. I believe they practice some sort of monastic traditions, but they are not monks just regular people like you and I who decided that retreating to the wilderness to focus on gardening, writing, religiousness, and olives where what they wanted to pursue. 

Starcross is a nonprofit so they do some stuff with the community like today I helped with their food pantry that they have every Friday where fresh veggies, fruit, canned goods, rice, beans, bread, meats, clothes, and books are given to families in need. When they sign in there is someone there with information about programs that can help them get on their feet and support themselves. It was good to be part of that aspect of Starcross and see how each person is known by name and Julie or Holly knows their situation and if they are vegetarians and if they have kids. It was a very kind, gentle, and honest act of giving without an in your face 'do you know Jesus?' or demeanor of anyone being better than the other. I was thankful for that. 

The farm consists of thousands of olive trees, a small fruit orchard, a good sized veggie garden that will be expanded and add a couple greenhouses next year, a small Christmas tree farm (just for the families living on the property), and numerous wild acres of forests that are protected in a land trust. They have a patch of land across the street where they have given to the county fire department so there is a fire engine across the street which must be soothing just in case there is an emergency.

What is different about this wwoofing experience than when we were at Revolution Garden is that there are no other wwoofers, we mainly work with Lance the farms manager an only full time worker, there are no community dinners but we do get to pick out the fruits and veggies we want for ourselves when we harvest, also Holly or Marty make us goodies like cupcakes, apple butter, apple cobbler, we are actually doing farming work instead of solely handymen work which is fine but it has been such a learning experience by doing. Starcross also doesn't provide you with food like we had access to at Revolution Garden where we would so breakfast on our own then do community lunch and dinners and we could choose from a wide amount of foods but here we are each given $50 for a weeks work (20hrs) and actually any hours after 4 each day is paid, $10/hr so we have been making money while we are here and it's so nice! We go to town (Gualala) once a week for groceries and then we are pretty much around the farm. It does get a little boring after work because there isn't much to do besides read. I do sudoku and we can get a little bit of wifi on and off from the second floor window so sometimes we are able to see what is going on elsewhere. I would love to be able to play some guitar or even watch a movie but this free time has allowed me to write out and reflect on things that I take for granted when I'm back home, wherever that may be.

While we have been here we have harvested many kinds of apples, pears, and tomatoes. With the tomatoes we boiled them, juiced them, and canned them. With the apples we peeled and cut them for apple butter and cobbler. They were also given out in CSA boxes and at the food pantry. One day we delimbed and cleared a huge fallen tree and other tree trimmings from around the farm and made a huge burn pile. We will be painting the farm house exterior so we spent one morning and afternoon scrapping the old paint off. There have been other odd and end jobs we've done but those stand out.

We will be here for two weeks total so we finished our first week and we are going to Santa Rosa this weekend with some friends to celebrate Evan's birthda then come back Sunday evening. Blake will depart us then and head back to Idaho.

I feel like I'm forgetting something and hopefully I'll remember and will add it to the next weeks blog post. 

Heading to Annapolis to wwoof

We left the resort with basically no water and had our last major hill to climb out of to get back onto the coast. We went through a couple more wild towns filled with young people milling around.

Thankfully the hill out of Leggett was gradual and provided nice shade from the sun and had a longish downhill to the coast. As I rolled twisting and turning downhill after the hill climb, the road spits you out right at the ocean at a viewpoint. I saw a black Porsche that passed me a long while ago with his back end crunched in and a young Asian guy and what looked like his mother out examining the damage not looking too thrilled but I saw no other car around. 

This is where I met these two older guys who were touring too. They were wild! Probably in their 40s or 50s with a mountain bike and an old road bike. They looked like they might've been homeless and biking south for the warmer weather but they said they were touring and on vacation. They shared some crazy stories of scuba diving around the coast and the dirt road they just rode. We camped with them later that evening near Westport at my favorite campsite yet. It was right on the cliff of the ocean so we watched the sun dip over the seems like endless horizon then were whooshed to sleep by the waves. 

The next day was a normal day of riding, nothing too exciting. There was a brewery in Fort Bragg we wanted to have lunch at but it was closed until 4pm and it was noon so we headed towards out of town and came across a Godsend! NEW BEST BUFFET!!! Saw that sign and knew we had to go; Evan and I started chanting, 'lets get dirty!' Over and over as we turned around and parked our bikes on the side of the building. 

It was an alright Chinese buffet with some pretty decent sushi for a buffet. We knew it was gonna be bad news bears later but we had to do it. We carried on and somehow I was ahead of them for a bit and the town we were gonna stop at and decide if we wanted to go further or camp there I just kept going since I still was willing to ride further and knew they would keep going too so we met up in a small town called Elk where we stopped at a pub where we hungout a bit then continued on towards Manchester.

There were a couple construction lights to stop one side and let the other side go since it was a one lane road along the way today and there was another one and I could see the other light and across most of the bridge and saw no cars and didn't think it would pickup my bike so I went...only to come head on with a truck, slowly I might add, and he stopped and waved me passed and I foolishly waved and mouthed, 'I'm sorry'. 

Blake and Evan got a head of me later and I remember seeing something large and white go across the road and come back to the side and as I got closer I saw Evan with his bike unloaded on the side of the road and a young Hispanic guy. Evan's front tire exploded and he threw his bike and Ina running motion came off the bike safely. The Hispanic guy went and grabbed a couple things of Evans that flew into the other lane so it wouldn't get crushed. He was out watering plants am it scared him. So as Evan proceeded to fix his tube I chatted with this kid. It was tough since his English was basic and my Spanish is basic (Patty would not be pleased with me).

After a half hour we got back on the road and it was dark which isn't the safest on highway 1 but we knew we were 5 miles from the campground so we turned on our lights and started going. After a couple close calls with a few glazed eyed deers on the road we saw Blake biking towards us. We retold what happened and roamed into the campground way later than we wanted to be and still had to setup tents and make food via headlamps. The ground was lumpy and full of holes from gophers so we got some good rest of course. The luxuries of beds, kitchens, and a hot shower have been missed. I'm just in a complaining mood I guess.

Next morning we had only 35 miles to ride to the farm so we headed to Gualala which we can never pronounce correctly and got some meals for later and ate lunch. It was only 15 or so miles away from there and there are two roads that lead there so we took the coast then Annapolis Road which was mainly uphill with some steep grades which we were not expecting to do so it seemed to take a long while to the farm. When we pulled up I was very relieved at how nice it looked and at the amenities. 

It is a lovely little farm; I shall update about the farm tomorrow. We will be here for 2 weeks and Blake will take off to San Fran in a handful of days to head back to Idaho. More to come.

"Tensions are high. Tensions are high."

Synopsis snippet - lost coast climbing, terrible roads, not real spectacular beach, desolate campground, late night argument and gunshots, run in with black bear and cubs, Phillipsville girl fights, and staying the night at a 'resort'.

Got your attention. We had a crazy 48 hrs actually. We decided before the trip to take the alternative route out past Eureka to the Lost Coast that has an elevation gain of 8,500ft in 60 miles. So we had a couple tough days. Of course we missed the side road we needed to take so we had to backtrack 5 miles or so. 

We get to the little town where we were to take the road out to the Lost Coast and it is shady; some strange sign saying that this was indeed our route. Blake and Evan decided to eat lunch before heading out but I decided to start at it since right off the bat we had a hill.

The road to the Lost Coast is 'muy terrible' if I would say it in beginner Spanish. Mainly a single lane road with off and on gravel patches with potholes and bumps throughout. I struggle with hills anyway and adding a not so great road with logging trucks and some really steep grades, wasn't really selling the allure of the Lost Coast. I had a sour attitude, believe it or not. I haven't sweated that much since we laid that concrete at Revolution Garden.

You wind up and up and up then you get a 20 ft flat part then up up you go until you are on top of this ridge. This part was my only enjoyable part if I'm gonna be Frank or anyone else with you. I heckled some cows as I wiped my drenched forehead then went down a downhill and you would think this would be an enjoyable time because it normally is except this slim percentage because remember this road is overflowing with potholes, bumps, gravel patches that could do some serious harm when you are flying down a narrow hill road that is winding at a consistent 30+ mph. Then you get to a valley and have to do it all again...hahaha I thankfully can laugh at it but I wasn't too thrilled with this day.

The Lost Coast itself didn't really strike me as anything really spectacular and perhaps it was because of my sour attitude, but the beach was fenced the entire way so you couldn't go out to it. It was nice thinking back that it was empty, absolutely zero people. 

Back to the craziness. That night we camped at this campground I cannot think of the name but we were the ONLY people staying there. There were a couple cars that came and hungout then left and a family that walked through then went who knows where. 

(This next part is a collection from Blake, Evand, and myself's recollection.) We were each sleeping in our own tents am Evan in his tarp when we heard some people get out of a car and they were yelling at each other obscenities saying to one person "Get out of the car!" The only real audible thing really then we heard a struggle and then BANG! Slight pause. BANG! 

I awoke during the shots but couldn't tell if I dreamt it or what because I wear earplugs while I sleep. I laid there tryin to listen intently until I heard Evan and Blake ask me if I heard it and asking what should we do? I muttered lowly that we need to keep a low profile. 

Blake and Evan walked over to this house where a park ranger truck was parked but we aren't sure if this guy was the ranger or not. They asked if he'd heard the shots and he said he did and aske if we knew what it was and they recounted what they heard and the guy said, "yeah that happened last night too. (non-chalantly) Tensions are high. tensions are high. Meth is really bad here and the weed harvest is starting. I'll go check it out." Blake and Evan asked if we should call 911 with the cell service we didn't have and the guy said, "they wouldn't come out here anyway." Great...

The car left at some point and the guy went over to that area then went back inside and didn't talk to us the rest of the time we were there. So we all were up all night frightful of what just happened and then a couple hours later, someone drove into the campground and rummaged through the garbage bins and then took a long coin operated shower and mad such a clamor that woke us up again and kept us frozen in our tents in fear.

We jetted that morning to have another day of hill climbing. As I was descending after the long hill climb and going pretty fast I saw something in the middle of the road and noticed it was a mamma black bear and her three cubs. I stopped myself as she rose to her hind legs and I put my arms in the air and start talking to it to let it know I mean them no harm. She starts walking towards me, so I slowly back stepping never turning my back and I figured I would try an clap to scare it back into the woods which thankfully worked as Blake comes flying towards me and I stop him so he doesn't get chased down by the momma. A couple cars slowly drove by and we used them as shields and rode on through.

It still continues, Blake and I were ahead of Evan a ways. We enjoyed the scenic redwoods as we rode through the Avenue of the Giants. We stopped at this small town, Phillipsville to pickup a package I had mailed to me. As I was getting a hold of Evan these two high school girls start yelling and swearing at each other then they start landing punches in each others' face and one threw the other onto the ground and started punching more. Blake was one of the few people around who helped break them up but as they were separating the two one was throwing kicks and both were swearing and one was pulling her top back on and then one said something very funny yet crude to the other and then they separated. 

Not over yet. This town was full of young people from high school to my age, I think I saw three older people. This is how it was through this whole area too. It was super eerie. Some time passed and a car pulled up with one of the girls and her mother and they were yelling at some crazy guy at his house right where the fight was. Ask me to retell it and I will share more, just a lot to get across through typing on an iPhone.

That night there wasn't a state campground close to us so we stayed at this place called Dave's Creek Resort or something. It was a hotbed for more crazies but thankfully they all pretty much stayed to themselves. I'm pretty sure everyone lives at this 'resort'. You can't drink any of the water in this whole county because it is so brown with rust which throws you for another loop. We played some mini golf at the resort and took cold showers. People were living in huge tents filled with tvs hooked up to cable and blown up mattresses and unzipping their mesh windows where plumes of marijuana smoke filled the campground. We were just ready to move on from these places and get a restful night somewhere. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Eureka! (I have found it!)

We spent two days in Eureka and a bit in Arcata; we rode from our campground into Arcata where we were craving a good breakfast so we ate at The Big Blue Cafe referred by our friend, Amy. It was just what we were craving, pancakes, eggs, syrup, and cold refillable water.

The little town square in Arcata is pretty nice and had some drum circle banging away lookin like this is what they do everyday. After a little checking around we decided to head into Eureka and drop off our bags and stuff at our friend, Ainsley's mom's house. 

The directions to the house were simple enough except with the last direction, 'take the second lane', simple enough it seems. We see a mailbox with the address number and we set our bikes against the outside of the house and make ourselves 'presentable' then proceed to the door. Once at the door and already knocked, we notice the house number is much different. Door opens, not Ainsley's mom's house. Just passed the house looks like an alleyway, hence 'take the second lane' to a gated house with the an open front gate where posted signs warn of dogs, great. As we approach the house, two dogs start barking and running at us where I strategically place my bike between myself and the dogs to did out these springer spaniels want nothing more than to sniff our mystery scents on our bags and selves and gives us kisses.

After some knocking and seeing no cars at home we thought no one was home which was a possibility so we pulled up chairs from the front porch and was just kicking it when 15 minutes go by the front door opens...Brennan, Ainsley's brother, semi-greets us. He tells us we can bring the bikes to the backyard and setup our tents wherever; the backyard consisted of a severe slant down to a lumpy section then up a large embankment to a smoothed out gravel patch maybe 30-40 yards away. Not ideal. We found a small flat strip on the opposite side of the house and moved our bikes over there in a dazed state. Brennan showed us to the backyard then went inside and said nothing else, a man of few if any words.

We lingered around on the back porch for almost a half hour when I went inside kindly inquiring Brennan's name to ask to use the shower and after no response or activity of life so I showered. As I finished showering and shaving I had the door open to clear out the hot shower fog, when Ainsley's younger sister walked in not knowing we were even here. I scared hear, being a stranger in her bathroom (clothed thankfully) and toting a mustache.

That evening Ainsley came over after work and showed us around town then we went to Winco to pickup dinner supplies. We enjoyed a nice evening of good food and catching up.

The next day we awoke to an empty house. They said to make ourselves at home and have whatever they couldn't replace so we enjoyed cereal; I will just say one of the main things I miss is cereal. We kind of just hung around the house catching up on news and skyping with Larissa until 1 then we went to explore old downtown. 

Old downtown is a pretty cool place with interesting architecture, cool bookstores, a good bagel store, and a water front where I sat and read for sometime then went and got some amazing homemade ice cream. 

It was a nice day off out around town. That night we hung out at the house chit chatting and eating pizza. Thankful for our generous hosts for opening their house.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fern Canyon & the not-so day off

Our trend seems to be to plan on having a day off, then we do something strenuous. It's not a bad thing, but it is not adhering to what a 'day off' is supposed to be. 

I asked a park ranger what the best home or thing to do at this particular state park and he said, "Fern Canyon is our most popular attraction." I look at the park map and see a hiking trail from where we are to Fern Canyon and think 'this'll make a nice hike on our day off, plus it ends at the ocean.' This nice hike ended up being almost a 9 mile hike round trip which we saw at the trailhead and we proceeded; of course joking our way along the heavily forested path where enormous redwoods stand pointing to their source of life. Both Evan and I couldn't stop yawning, our bodies so deprived of oxygen; then all of us commenting over and over until the joke would no longer be funny for others how we of course choose a 10 mile hike on our day off even if it is rated an 'easy'. 

The redwoods were tough to wrap my head around; seeing the enormity of their bases and how bare most of the trunk is of branches, then much higher up, limbs the size of normal trees elsewhere sprawl out to embrace the sunshine. I imagined if there was a house carved out of a redwood base with stairs built in and how crazy that would be, but how unfortunate it would be for the tree. However we saw several redwoods with huge holes several stories high on their trunks and wondering how they were able to still be alive and hold up so much weight.

We hiked and chatted about many things other people were probably wondering what in the world we were even saying and following arrows pointing us this direction to the next staying on the James Irvine Trail (of course I joked saying it was the James Earl Jones trail narrated by the man himself through well placed speaker rocks on the path).

The trail towards the end pointed to two parking areas and one had the word 'beach' in it so we headed that way, but this Fern Canyon we were heading to only .2 miles away was conjuring up thoughts of anticlimax. Then we descended some earthen stairs and walked across a babbling brook and saw some logs bunched up and TURNED the corner 

All the hiking, all the jokes were moot. Fern Canyon was awesome. A literal canyon 30 or so stories high covered in little ferns from top to bottom and the canyon just snakes from their to an opening to the ocean. There are many pools of the creek that you have to jump over or climb over behemoth washed up logs all inside this canyon. Just was not what we were expecting. I love that unexpectedness.

Being 4.5 miles away from our campsite we didn't want to rehike what we just did we walked a mile down a dirt road and took another path back to camp. 

Once we arrived back at our camp we decided to ride to the next state park for some reason I am unsure of. So, on our day off we hiked close to 10 miles then we biked 22 to Patricks Point State Park; if we would've swam anywhere that day we would've been close to doing a mini triathlon! 

The running joke is that everyone else touring gets up early to beat the heat and get to their destination at a decent time, then there is us, who if we are lucky leave at 10. We do pump out miles when we do ride but this day we rode into the campsite close to 7pm so people were looking at us in bewilderment. 

Nothing like a nice day off :)

Leaving the land of milk and honey

If you ever get the chance to drive, cycle, hitchhike, walk, motorcycle, scooter or any other mode of transportation down the Oregon coast, please do, you won't be disappointed. Oregon is a blessed state with gorgeous and diverse beaches on one side, a spine filled with hiking/skiing friendly mountains, oodles of waterfalls scattered about, rivers a plenty slithering their way to the coast. 

I am pretty sure I heard somebody referring to Oregon as the 'land of milk and honey'; I will agree almost wholeheartedly but blast the rain, I am just not a fan, but as I've mentioned time and time again we have had wonderful weather (knock on redwood). 

We biked from Brookings, 5 miles to the Oregon/Cali border and right when we crossed over it looked and felt like California in a way that might be stereotypical for me to say. The shoulders shrunk from almost riding two a breast in Oregon to barely enough for one bike to no shoulder whatsoever. Oregon has bicycle specific maps with the route, elevation, town sizes and accommodations, and hiker/biker campsites well marked so you can plan accordingly; so far haven't seen anything like that here in California; granted we just ride in about 55 miles or so. I had to search the informational fold out on our cycling maps for the campground we are at tonight. I say this not to just harp on California (or Washington), but take note! At this campground alone there are 15-20 people touring and only 2 we have seen at other campgrounds and we have ran into probably 20 or more and this isn't even peak season. There is money to be made, people to accommodate, I would think all three states would as cyclists what they like or don't like or see things that need work and make proper adjustments but it only seems like Oregon is really making it a priority. Ok must stop ranting. 

We are camping in the Redwood tonight at Elk Prairie and as we rode to our site we saw a herd of elk in the prairie. We are planning on taking the day off tomorrow to explore the park and its numerous trails. 

The ride today had one tough 1000ft climb and a couple 500+ ones and then we added another 10 miles to get to this campground so I've got some sore jell-o legs (don't tell Bill Cosby). Need to look on groupon for a massage deal sometime soon.

Harris Beach

The ride today from the outskirts of Port Orford to Brookings is filled with gorgeous views of scattered rocks pretending to be islands while waves scatter around their bases shooting up their white, fluffy mist for the wind to carry it to your nostrils. Right now it meshes from one beautiful memory to the next. 

There were a couple longer, gradual hills during this ride besides the up, down, up, down of the coast. It seems with my lack of hair my for head just sweats like a faucet. I'll wear my cycling cap until it drips, then I'll wrap my bandana around my forehead until its soaked, then I just wear the helmet and try and let the air evaporate it? All the while wiping my face with my cycling gloves. I'm a sweaty mess when it comes to hills especially since we've had nothing but clear sunny days. Thankfully Liz King so kindly created a little bag filled with all sorts of soaps so I've been staying clean, especially since all the hiker/biker campsites in Oregon include a shower instead of like Washington and California where they resort to $.50 for 5 minutes. 

We stayed a mile outside of the town of Brookings at a campsite that actually sat next to the shore. It was a very nice campground, even including a playground and laundry machines. I remember how terrible we smelled on our last tour so I've been washing my clothes often and showering daily. You're welcome world.

The view out onto the ocean from the campground viewpoints were spectacular; clear and glimmering with golden sparkles on top of emerald blue water where a hypnotic crash came as steady as George Michael on the wood block. I remember arriving to the campground and being entranced. Later that evening as I made some phone calls to family, I got to be one of the lucky few who caught the sun dip over the end of the earth and scatter its light particles. I looked up and it was like a strange rainbow starting with a dark blue transitioning to lighter blues then to a twinge of white as thin as a wafer then drastically was blending oranges, yellows, and reds into a sherbet right to the fine line of the horizon. I stayed there until I was only able to leave by the aid of my head lamp. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Florence to Coos Bay

Florence to Coos Bay
Coos Bay to Port Orford

I was raised like most people with the emphasis on breakfast being the most important meal of the day; it normally consists of a couple oatmeal packets and maybe, maybe an apple or pear for myself, but this fine morning Aaron made us eggs, hash browns, and turkey bacon (I am trying to eat as organically and vegetarian as I can on this trip and I'm doing a lot better than I expect so I let the bacon slide). This got us on the right foot right off the bat.

Evan needed to go to a bike shop to get his handlebars adjusted and we wanted to top off our tires. So on the way to the bike shop we are riding in the bike lane all chatting and I am leading then Evan and Blake are almost riding side by side when I hear a zzzzzing sound and I look back and all I see is Evan's bike almost sideways and Evan out of his traps and in the air! I turn around to make sure I don't crash and turn around to help when I hear him scuff on the pavement then roll like a champ into a wood chipped area. Seems that Blake and Evan clipped panniers and sent Evan flying. His knee was a little cut up and his front tire chewed but all still functional.

The bike shop was peculiar reading, 'guitars & bikes'. It s exactly what you're thinking of; they're the only place in town that sells anything to do with guitars. It's what keeps them afloat in the winter. Safeway was across the street so we stocked up on foods.

Riding out of Florence had some hills so we climbed then went down then we clbed and went down. Another day of fine weather. As we approached North Bend, we ran into a group of supported cyclists and a Swiss gentleman who had been cycling South America, Alaska, and now the coast and going to head down through Baja and somehow get to Costa Rica. He is an accountant and over in Europe the holiday (vacation time) is amazing; paid for at least a couple months then there was some special Swiss thing he was talking about how after his holiday pay he still gets paid but only 80% of his normal salary so he's able to be on the road for a year or so without saving for the trip. We sure are missing out on some wonderful social programs and employers who encouraged their employees to get out and travel. Happy employees make more productive and loyal employees, I don't have the facts to back this statement up just from what I've heard Europeans say. 

There's a bridge you have to cross before getting into Nprth Bend/Coos Bay. We kept riding 10 miles out of town to a park for a campsite. Sunset Bay State Park has a gorgeous beach front and if you hike around the point it is mystical. The hiker/biker site was the worst so far; it's as if it was an after thought. They cleared off a marshy spot with no water or trash cans and its where the raccoons go to mingle when the sun goes down. More on that the next day.

The rain was starting and I was tired so I went to bed while others tried to get a fire going.

The next day was supposed to rain all day and it lived up to its forecast. We planned to have Rob meet us and spend the day dismal day out of the elements since the rest of the week was supposed to be gorgeous as usual. 

Sleeping in is nice since we normally toss and turn, get awoken by the sun then fall back asleep, then I get up around 8, so we slept in till 9 since it was just pouring. Evan and I shared his 1 man tent and my side was nice and damp. I sudoku-ed while we waited for Rob to save us. 

He arrived and hugs were given as the rain pelted us so we grabbed the few things we needed and hopped in the car. Our day off was spent hanging out in a local bookstore planning our day, getting Internet and catching up in the library (shhhh), getting chinese food, and sneaking oodles of candy into the movie theater as we were the only people watching World War Z. 

The rain subsided so we headed back to the campsite where we hiked around the point at the ocean and then said our goodbyes to Rob. The rain picked back up and we seemed refuge in our tents and read until we got sleepy...

...only to be awoken by getting body slammed by a raccoon! As I mentioned our site is there hangout zone and some were fighting over a banana peel someone left out (come on people) and one got tossed right into the tent wall where I was sleeping and I sleep with ear plugs so I was dead asleep then WHAM hit by a raccoon and I jumped and it scared Evan and Blake got out and shooed them away with his light. They haunted our campground until 4ish and the rain let up. 

We awoke haggard and tired and water logged. Giving in to the fact that we weren't gonna pack up everything all nice and dry. We got on our bikes and backtracked to the road we needed and joked that by taking this road we were going to avoid the few hills we knew we had right off the bat but it threw us head first into multiple hills and eventually on a plateau or ridge. 

The wind was in our favor today after the hills, giving us a speedy tailwind. We weren't really along the shore until we got to our destination, Port Orford. We stopped at the library to get some Internet and hit up the grocery store. The weather was cloudless and the sun was beating down and as we rode out of town trying to head to our campground there was a huge sign written on the road saying 'ocean view' with an arrow pointing up and over this little hill in 5 ft letters. You see this and you have to see what is on the other side and its one of those hills where you can't see over the crest until you are basically over it. It blew me away, how far you could see down the coast, how golden it was, and the large rock islands piercing through the waters. We spent a good time soaking it in and hanging out on the beach before rising the last six miles to our campsite at Humbug Mountain State Park. 

The sun was still out baking us so we laid out our tarps, tents, rainflies, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads to dry them out. The showers were right there so we cleaned up while our stuff dried and made camp when the sun ducked over Humbug Mountain. 

We filled the evening laughing about getting hushed at the library, our high fiber diets, and how our voices carry throughout the campground since the hiker biker site is up the hill. We made sure we had nothing out that would attract the wildlife and went into our tents at 8:36 wondering how to kill time before falling asleep. Sudoku and reading are on my agenda. Wishing Evan the best of luck tonight sleeping under his tarp, hoping he doesn't have any late night visitors.

Dragonflies & Headwinds

Newport to Florence (my reminder)

The title really tells it how it was, headwinds and dragonflies. We were battling the wind all day and winding up and down a couple decent hills. Lots of sweating and gulping down of water too. Some pretty viewpoints that we stopped at but just chugged along since the wind was not our friend today. 

As for dragonflies, I don't know if its common for that stretch but I've never seen so many dragonflies zipping from place to place, like a great migration you would see on Planet Earth or something. Many were lying dead on the ground as well as heading to and from the ocean.

We zipped down into Florence and stayed the evening at Aaron Vandahay's place and he took us to some great Mexican food and to some awesome sand dunes where him and Rodney used to sandboard and practice tricks. Amazing how the dunes shift and grow and spread into the highway and sit peacefully next to a lake. We hiked around a couple then had a lazy evening watching a movie and catching up.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Lincoln City & Newport

I am drawing a blank right now of anything that really stood out to me on the ride from Tillamook to Lincoln City, but once I think a little more I remember how golden it was that morning. Everything had that gilded look to it. The coastal range in the background had a shimmer, the giant airplane museum was reflecting a bright hue of gold, and the green grass fusing with the morning sun seemed too good to be true.

The pasture lands were lovely to ride through and soak in. This was the real memorable part for me. I know there was other stuff but I am just blanking so I am going to move on.

We stayed at Devils Lake that evening where we met up with 3 separate people touring in various length trips; only one really chatted with us, David, a nordstroms shoe salesman from Portland. He was just doing a 8 day tour along the coast. He is probably in his mid to late 30s and just a kind person eager to chat with others. He noted how he was enjoying the solitude of the biking but had been missing out on socializing at the days end so glad we were there that night. We actually stayed the next day at the same campground just outside of Newport too. 

Remembering a little more from that day, the bike route took a detour from the 101 and too us along Old 101 where the road was filled with unevenness and pot holes. It was much more scenic and almost vacant as we climbed switchbacks to the top of a hill. Obviously on the 101 there was a hill and we would have to go up and over it at some point and the route took us on a more safe and secluded part so we wouldn't be slowing down the rest of traffic.

Moving on to heading to Newport; we got up and packed up and did our push-ups for the day. We've been trying to do sets of push-ups every morning so we don't look strange with huge legs and twigs for arms. 

More awesome weather as we rode along the ocean with endless beaches and turn offs so one could soak in the spectacular views. Being on bikes we are limited on what we can see and do; I think I had certain grand ideas of camping on the beach and stopping a lot to explore around the beach cliffs but we just aren't able to do that all the time. We pull off at most viewpoints but to be honest lots of places on the coast look the same so we keep riding but we make sure we take time to soak in the spots that really stand out to us.

Newport is home to Rogue Brewery so obviously we had to stop and get some food and drinks. We had a good time just laughing and hangin out then we went to our campsite just down the road. I did somehow get a flat when we were at rogue cause I came out to a dead flat back tire. At the campsite I patched up my tube and found an industrial size staple piece lodged in my tire so I removed it and am up and running. 600 or so miles isn't bad for having 1 flat out of 6 tires. 

Just had a chill evening at our campsite in the trees and we chatted with some other cyclists before heading to bed.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Cheese Factory and one late night

Departed the farm after some breakfast and farewells. Was a sunny and warm morning where we rode through pastures filled with cows munching on golden green grass. I mooed at some and most ignored but occasionally one would look up and we'd both nod our heads in acknowledgement of existence. 

The road split and one could go either way to get back on highway 101. Evan and I went left and Blake was a little behind us and he went right. After a few miles of not seeing Blake we stopped wondering if he was just slow today after biking 80 miles from Portland the day before or if he was having bikes issues; the thought never came to mind that he went the other way. 

We waited 15 min, called and texted him but decided to go to the 101 junction and wait. So we waited there for 20 minutes and no Blake and we called and texted again but figured he would be fine and to keep going since it was going to be a short ride to Tillamook.

We rode along the coast and watched the multitudes of boaters coming and going from the river to the ocean and vice versa. Came along a small town on the ocean and decided to check it out so we rode up to the beach and there was an event going on; a fundraiser for the special Olympics. We watched the ocean waves building and whitening then curling and smoothening out when a group of people started inquiring about our tuxedo jerseys and loaded bikes. They loved what we are doing and encouraged their children to take note. 

We kept riding since we got a call from Blake saying he was down the road 5 miles. We caught up with him and enjoyed some rocky islands out in the water and a classic train rode by filled with children and the elderly. 

Ride into Tillamook where we immediately turned into the Tillamook Cheese Factory which was beyond full; your buses, campers, vans, and endless cars were parked looking to sample some tasty cheeses and ice cream. Our goal was to eat till we threw up but I will come off and tell you we failed. We did indeed go through the cheese line 3 times and got some ice cream but there was just too many people there. 

Headed to our friend, Bree's, house where we were going to stay. We did buy a quart of ice cream to share at the house. Spent most of the day catching up since we hasn't seen Bree since college. We decided to get dinner at a nice Mexican restaurant where the portions were massive! 

Later that evening Jared, Bree's boyfriend, was dj-ing out at Netart and we all went out for it. So it was at this nice restaurant and bar; we got there at 7ish and some college football game was on so we watched it and then proceeded to watch the SAME football highlights probably 15 times and we didn't get home till 3am! It was really rough. We were zombies from riding and being brained washed by highlights and we ha no way to get back to the house until closing. I remember laying down in bed and saying to myself 'always ask how long something is' and 'try and always have transportation if you get bored'.