I was looking forward to today’s ride. I would enter California and cycle through the Redwoods forest. I ate a few bagels and an apple and made my way out of Brookings. 10 miles later, I hit California.
The ride was scenic and rolling. Ken told me it would be like this until I passed Crescent City, where I’d begin to hit pretty big climbs as I went into the Redwoods area. As I rode into Crescent City, I started scouting a cheap place to get a sandwich. And then I saw it. $2.99 meal at Jack in the Box. You get a burger/chicken sandwich, taco, fries, and a fountain drink. You couldn’t make it cheaper than that.
I was eating my food at Jack in the Box when this really loud, cheerful guy dressed in tattered clothing walked in. He ordered the same thing I did and told the employee his name was Obama. He just wanted to hear her say it when she called out his order.
Seeing my bike, he walked up to me and started conversation. He told me it was great to see young folks traveling, but out of nowhere brought up a young Canadian guy that got hit by a car in town. Weird change in dialogue. He then gave me a bit of advice. Vince said, “My dad always told me to think positive.” He cupped his hand upwards to mimic someone asking for money and said, “Some people are like this.” He flipped his hand over, flattened it, and made a jabbing motion and said, “And others are like this.” I guess he was saying some people go through life asking for hand-outs and others poke people with their hands. Who the hell knows. He was still cool.
On the way out, he told me a few generic jokes. “Hey, a mushroom walked into the bar. The bartender wouldn’t serve him because he was a fun guy [fungi],” he said laughing. Terrible, but it was funny coming from Vince.
Cycling the 101, I’ve seen a lot of hitchhikers on the road. A lot of these hitchers are young kids who seem to be rebelling against their parents. They’re all needlessly dirty and grungy. They could easily clean up in a convenience store bathroom and even handwash their clothes in a body of water. I guess they’re trying to put on some front. Either way, I ran into these two annoying kids:
They were crying out for attention. I stopped just to take a picture of them, and they loved it. They asked me for money, and but I denied them. The two teenagers had expensive backpacks and gear. The pair were probably from middle class families and were crying out to have some sort of hip experience waving their ‘Tits’ and ‘Weed’ signs about.
Another pair of hitchhikers yelled out to me, “Hey! Do you have any food?” I stopped and gave them two apples. Same scenario. A lot of these hitchers are takers. It was obvious because they wouldn’t even ask about your journey or even your name. “Hey, do you have — ?” was the first question out of their mouths. If you decide to hitchhike, learn how to start a dialogue with somebody without being a blatant beggar.
the mystical redwoods
The first climb out of Crescent City was a monster. There was no shoulder, so I decided to just take the lane and force cars to the passing lane. As I approached the top of the hill, I looked back and saw a cyclist without any panniers. I challenged myself to not let him pass me, and pass me he did not. I stopped for a rest at the top. I was curious to see if it was the Mel. Nope.
His name was Brad, and he told me he was trying to catch up to me. “You were my inspiration to get up this hill,” he said, “but I couldn’t catch you.” He was traveling with just a backpack and a few extra clothes. Brad let me know that his friend was just behind him. We looked down the hill, and we saw a cyclist walking his bike up. I laughed and said, “That’s not him, is it?”
The other cyclist’s name was Aaron. As soon as he saw me and Brad, he hopped back on his bike. Man. I wished I was on an unloaded bike. Greg and Aaron were from Michigan and doing a two week tour of the Oregon coast down to San Francisco. They had just graduated from school and were ‘credit card touring’. That’s why they had no panniers.
They went on their way, and I decided to write the message ‘Trees Save Hobbits’ on my bike board. It seemed fitting for the area that I was cycling.
The next 30 miles took me through some amazing forest and coastal areas.
And one more…
the three amigos
I finally arrived to Prairie Creek, a campground located in the heart of Redwoods National Park. It was $3 for a biker site and $0.50 for a 5-minute hot shower. Damn. California camping rocked. I made my way towards the campground and saw a few other young cyclists that had already set up camp and eaten dinner. The hiker/biker camp was nicely secluded in a Redwoods grove away from all the other motorist camping spots.
They all came over and introduced themselves to me. I’ve found that the camaraderie amongst touring cyclists is pretty strong, and most of them will just walk up to one another and begin conversation. Tim and Sasha were two guys from the south that were moving out to the west coast. The two of them had started a Trans-America tour a few months ago, but due to some tendinitis, they had to stop only 5 days into their tour. They shared with me a pretty cool story about them getting kicked off a campground by a fat guy and his son in the Appalachians because they thought the pair were loitering at their lodge. Now, the two of them were touring the Pacific coast down to San Francisco.
Simon, the third cyclist at the camp, was also a pretty interesting character. The Swiss cyclist was only 19 and touring an unfamiliar place. The guy definitely had balls. He was telling us stories about how unbelievably hospitable Americans were to him and recanted a story of a guy in Washington who gave him $20 for lunch. Simon was shocked to see how Americans always said ‘hello’ to one another with a smile on their face. “In Europe,” he said, “this is not the case.”
We sat around the fire sharing a few more stories. I really enjoyed my time hanging out with them and hoped I’d run into them again on the way down to San Francisco.
It was a little past midnight by the time I crawled into my tent. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was out cold.