Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 85

Arcata, CA → Myers Flat, CA
Net Elevation gain: about 143 ft. (177 ft. to about 320 ft.)
Average Speed: 12.0 mph
Top Speed: 42.4 mph
Time spent biking: 4 hours 47 minutes
Total time for the day's travels: 8 hours 40 minutes
Miles biked today: 57.4
Total for trip: 4145.6 miles

It was a novelty to cook breakfast on a real stove this morning. Jenny made a scrumptious omelet with goat cheese sprinkled on top, while Brett put the laundry in to wash and did some writing. We hung out with Rebecca for the morning, and were off to a somewhat early start, by 10:00.

Cooking breakfast.

Rebecca, Brett and Jenny. Thanks for having us visit!

Only a few miles down the road we stopped to buy some food at the Wildberries marketplace before leaving town. Wildberries is one of those amazingly overwhelming, huge, local health food stores, where you just want to buy everything because it looks so delicious.

If you're ever in Arcata, CA., be sure to go here.

After walking around the store in a sort of daze, we decided to pick out some foods to eat right away from the prepared section, so that we wouldn't be hungry and would be able to then make better decisions about what to get for future meals. Our food choices after we had eaten ended up being: sausage, olive bread, hummus, carrots, beans, a peach, a large hunk of cheese, smoked salmon, salami, avocado, chocolate trail mix, and coconut dates.

Palm trees in the square in downtown Arcata.

By the time we left Arcata it was nearing noon. We had some good riding along 101, with the wind at our backs and food in our bellies. The scenery was mostly blah highway, but we had some prettier riding when the sun came out and we passed the larger city of Eureka.

More lovely orange poppies.

These trees have very pretty leaves. We think they might be eucalyptus?

We took a break by a marina in the outskirts of the city so that Brett could make a few phone calls for work. Jenny spent that time watching the pelicans. The little marina had a ramp that went out over the water and it was a perfect place to stand and watch the boats and the wildlife. Besides the pelicans and omnipresent seagulls, we also saw two seals! Jenny felt that she could have stayed there all day watching, particularly for the pelicans.

This place was so tranquil in the chilly afternoon.

Jenny could have stayed here all day watching these birds!

For lunch we stopped in the small town of Scotia, where we found a picnic table and snacked on food we already had, even though there was a store right there.

Jenny makes some hummus and salami sandwiches to eat.

On our way out of town we passed many lumber yards. The amount of wood that these places have is hard to comprehend. This picture only shows a small section of the expansive yard.

A more serene shot.

By mid afternoon, we made it to the Avenue of the Giants! This stretch of our trip was truly amazing. Nothing compares to slowly biking along the quiet roads that weave into the forest and around these humongous trees. Although it runs basically parallel to Highway 101, the Avenue of the Giants sees far less traffic, and certainly lower speeds. Ideal conditions for viewing the redwoods while biking.

A little bit of information about the Avenue of the Giants.

So. Tall.

Not long after starting along the Avenue of the Giants, we were passed by an interesting cyclist. He was in all the garb of a fancy biker out for a day ride, but he had a semi-large backpack on. When we talked with him later in the day, we learned that he was a touring cyclist, too, but doing things completely differently. Al got this (crazy, but fascinating) idea in his head to try to make it from Seattle to San Diego in less than two weeks. He is averaging about 130 miles per day. Yes, averaging. He is staying in cabins and motels and his wife is helping to arrange things from back home. He seemed really nice and down-to-earth, but boy is that a different way to do things!

We prefer to do things a little bit slower. With lots of breaks for photos!

A big hug!

A pleasant surprise along the road this afternoon was a farm stand. We pulled over and bought a few delicious tomatoes, some green beans, and a cucumber. The owner was really friendly, and after chatting for a while about her organic produce and our trip, she gave us a free tomato for the road! We love fresh food, and it always feels good to buy it right from the farmers.

Tonight we got to camp right beneath the redwoods! Burlington Campground in Humboldt State Park is a beautiful spot. There were a few other cyclists at the campground as well, but we had our own site because the one that the others were sharing was full. We cooked an incredible multi-course dinner, starting with bacon, which we ate as soon as it was cooked, then soup, made with fresh sausage, beans, potatoes and carrots. For dessert we had coconut covered dates and a peach. This meal made us feel as though we were eating like kings!

Cooking dinner beneath the redwood trees.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Day 84

Orick, CA → Acata, CA
Net Elevation gain: -10 ft. (187 ft. to 177 ft.)
Average Speed: 9.0 mph
Top Speed: 36.8 mph
Time spent biking: 3 hours 35 minutes
Total time for the day's travels: 6 hours 5 minutes
Miles biked today: 32.3
Total for trip: 4088.2 miles

After a restless night, we got off to a late start. Jenny took a shower while Brett worked on packing up. We ate some blackberries from the patch next to our campsite. We fed a few to the friendly horses on the other side of the fence. Turns out, they love blackberries like we do!

These horses loved blackberries. There were more berries on our side of the fence, probably because they had already eaten the ones on their side!

Even with our slow start, today was far better than yesterday. We were able to work together nicely, and after some snacking from our food supply and returning the key to the bathrooms at the office, we set out.

Most days we have a decent idea where we might camp for the night by estimating about fifty miles ahead, but we rarely know for sure. But when you are headed to a friend's house, it's different. It's just a matter of what time you'll get there! We knew we'd stay the night with our friend Rebecca, who we know through the UMass Juggling Club, at her apartment in Arcata.

The fog lends its own kind of beauty.

There are thousands of views like this along the coast!

Today wasn't a sunny day. It was bright and dry when we struck out, heading almost due south. The coast was a bit foggy, but the roads weren't, and we took our time pedaling along, knowing we didn't have to push too hard to get to our destination at a reasonable time. We passed by the little town of Trinidad, and were in the woods for a stretch, then after that on really nice roads with little traffic. We noticed that there seemed to be a lot of homes turned into places to rent a room, stay in a motel, or bed and breakfast.

A beautiful lagoon separated from the ocean by a thin strip of land.

When the woods opened up, we were right back on the coastline, along a really pretty bike path. We didn't go down to the water, but it was beautiful and so peaceful to gaze out over the waves and the sand. Today we saw the ocean meet the land at both expansive sandy beaches and rocky cliffs and crags.

Brett's view, including the pretty flower Jenny gave him.

A well-placed bench made for a relaxing break for a few minutes.

The sign describes how sea levels have changed with respect to the land over time. It was an excellent location to use as an example and fascinating to think about.

As we rode into the outskirts of McKinleyville, we were getting really hungry for a real meal. All that was left at the corner store that we came upon was one pre-made wrap that didn't look very appealing. We asked about how far into town we'd have to go to get to a restaurant or some other food store, and were told it wasn't far. We did have to climb a bit of a hill to get up to the center of town, but we were hungry enough that we thought it would be worth it.

When we got to the main stretch of stores and restaurants, we chose a pizza shop, and we made a GREAT choice! The pizza was so good that Brett even went back to order seconds.

We were SO happy with our pizza choice. Yum!

When we got to the main stretch of stores and restaurants, we chose a pizza shop, and we made a GREAT choice! The pizza was so good that Brett even went back to order seconds. While finishing up our meal, we checked the map on line for the best way to get to Rebecca's house from where we were. Since we had deviated from the Adventure Cycling Association route, it ended up looking more efficient to go directly south from where we were, instead of heading back down to the ocean first. We had one small bridge crossing on a busier stretch of highway, but it turned out not to be as bad as it looked on the map.

Jenny LOVES these! She pointed them out anytime we passed some on the side of the road. Sometimes it was just one, and sometimes there are whole patches!

The plants reminded us that we really were in California today. We biked passed palm trees, huge cactus plants, and many tropical flowering trees, some of which Jenny recognized from Florida, and some new to us both.

An example of the exotic-to-us plants we see in this area.

It took us a few tries to find our friend Rebecca's apartment, but once we did, we were greeted with hugs and a comfortable place to rest for the night. We hadn't seen Rebecca in years and it was fun to catch up. Her roommate Kayce was also fun to meet and chat with. Kayce showed us one of her favorite books, which Brett ended up reading the start of out loud to everyone after dinner. There was one especially funny bit when Rebecca was acting out all the crazy lifeforms Brett was reading about.

We didn't bike a ton of miles today, and the sky was overcast, but it felt so good to be in better moods and to be taken in by friends at the end of the day. We didn't have to set up the tent. Rebecca made us salad! We got to sleep on a comfortable futon mattress. We're in California, and we got here by bicycle! Life is good.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day 83

Klamath, CA → Orick, CA
Net Elevation gain: -10 ft. (197 ft. to 187 ft.)
Average Speed: 8.7 mph
Top Speed: 35.2 mph
Time spent biking: 3 hours 4 minutes
Total time for the day's travels: 6 hours 15 minutes
Miles biked today: 26.6
Total for trip: 4055.9 miles

Up early this morning, we didn't feel like eating a big breakfast, so we mostly just packed and left, eating a little bit during the process. The campground was quiet but chilly, and we were ready to move on. We were a little grumpy because we couldn't find a good place to plug our computer in and sit down at the same time, and the wireless signal wasn't great either.

We hit the road, but our moods didn't improve. Talking didn't help much, so unfortunately we were still unhappy when we started pedaling up a big hill into the redwoods again. Under the shade of the redwoods, it was chillier, and our hands were uncomfortably cold, especially on the downhills.

A view of a down hill. Brett wears his rain coat for warmth.

Cruising through the redwoods eventually brought our mood up considerably, and we continued to be amazed by the big trees. We stopped a bunch of times, just to take a couple pictures or even just to look around.

So. Tall.

We love these trees! Brett has been waiting a long time to meet them.

Reading the map on one sign, we made sure to visit “Big Tree.” Any tree that gets named among these giants has to be worth seeing, right? Big Tree ended up being an extremely old specimen, and appropriately wide in girth. We tried to get some pictures here, but it was busy with other tourists and taking any picture of a person standing near a redwood is hard if you want to get a bunch of the tree in.

The path through the woods to get to Big Tree.

Along the path there were many photo opportunities.

Big Tree.

Incredible statistics.

Coming down out of the redwoods, we saw a herd of elk! At first we were very excited, because we had hoped to see elk on the trip. Then, as we realized that this herd is very complacent around people, and were happy to graze for hours right next to the road, the excitement wore off a little. Of course, it's still great to see such big animals at a reasonably close distance, ostensibly in the wild.

Elk! They are pretty big.

A little further out of the redwoods, we ate lunch at La Hacienda, a Mexican restaurant. This long break did us good. It gets chilly when we go down, and there were a bunch of descents this afternoon. Since we are following the coast, any time we go up, we come back down. The wind takes a lot out of us. Outside the restaurant there was a very large part of a tree on display, which we admired after our meal. Part of the display talked about the economy of this area being based on the big trees over time. Eighty to a hundred years ago they were logging them, and now their economy is based on the tourism the great redwoods generate. It was really interesting to think about.

Jenny checks out the time line of historic events that occurred during the life of this tree.

After our lunch break, we stopped for a snack of blackberries as we pedaled out of town. It was only mid afternoon, but the biking just wasn't coming easily to us. When we came to a campground, we pulled in and decided to take a break and possibly stop for the day, instead of making it all the way to our friend's house in Arcata as we had planned.

The campground was nothing special, but Jenny especially just wanted to stop for the day and lay down. As we set up the tent, another herd of elk wandered within range of sight, between us and the highway. They weren't very exciting to watch for long, though. There were actually two campgrounds with the same driveway, and unfortunately we didn't notice the other one until after we'd already paid for this one. We could have saved $5 and stayed under the redwood trees rather than in an empty RV park.

We were tenting right next to a horse farm, and beyond that you can see the herd of elk crossing the road on their way to somewhere else to graze.

Jenny rested in the tent while Brett worked on the blog. He was sitting out in the cold by the office, which was closed. He hoped the caretaker would come back with the password for the Internet which we'd forgotten to ask for when we signed in. Eventually, he did get the password, and he did some work on line in preparation for next week back at work. After that, we snacked some, and pretty much went to bed feeling grumpy.

There were a bunch of reasons we weren't feeling good, but one of them is that sometimes it's hard for us when we change our plans. We waned to simply rest, but we also wanted to push on and get closer to our goal of San Francisco. After taking the day off recently, we figure we have just enough time to get there and ship our bike before flying out early on September 7th. Hopefully, our short day today won't set us back too much.

Even though it wasn't the most pleasant day, there were still beautiful and fun parts. We still got to see amazing trees and several flowers like this.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day 82

Brookings, OR → Klamath, CA
Net Elevation gain: 76 ft. (121 ft. to 197 ft.)
Average Speed: 10.4 mph
Top Speed: 37.4 mph
Time spent biking: 5 hours 6 minutes
Total time for the day's travels: 8 hours 20 minutes
Miles biked today: 52.9
Total for trip: 4029.3 miles

Last night, when we were speaking with Wim, we talked about how we never get early starts. He said he rarely does either, and that he's just made peace with that. Well, we're trying to. You might think that after the off-day yesterday we'd get a nice early start today, but if you did you'd be wrong. We got up early-ish, but Jenny hadn't slept well, so after breakfast of fruit on yogurt and some other snacks, after we each took a nice hot shower that helped us to relax, and after Jenny did most of the packing, we finally got going at 10:10. In fact, we were the last bicyclists out of the campsites. We did the right thing not to stress about it, but we really would like to start earlier.

Still a little bit misty in the late morning.

Before we even passed through Brookings, we saw two bikers paused by the side of the road for different things, so we really weren't so far “behind” as we might have thought. We got off of Route 101 for a while onto quieter roads, following the directions of the Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) map. We had to get back on for a short stretch to cross the bridge over the Smith River … and into CALIFORNIA! Our last state!

We definitely will.

We were really excited, and of course stopped at the welcome sign for a few pictures. Also stopped there was Bruce, a motorcyclist traveling on his own from Illinois. It was nice to chat with such a kind fellow traveler, and after we took a few pictures for him, he took a few pictures for us. Some motorcycles might be annoyingly loud on our ears, but we've liked most of the riders we've met.

Our last state. We made it.

They waved us through the Agricultrual Inspection checkpoint half a mile later, and that was it. California until we fly home. We savored the feeling of that for a while. We missed a turn for a quieter road that would have given us a view of the ocean, but we didn't mind riding Route 101 at that point because the road was nice, and we got back off it when the next ACA directions crossed over Route 101.

Look! Only 347 miles to San Francisco! Craziness!

The sides of the road were mostly unexciting, but some fields were clearly growing something different than we'd seen before. When we stopped for a snack a nice woman explained that they were Easter lilies. Jenny had guessed they were lilies, but we didn't know this was the only place that Easter lilies grow. Neat.

Fields of Easter lilies.

Our snack didn't do too much to stave off our hunger, so in a few more miles when we came to a market in Fort Dick, we bought a small chocolate milk and some of that mango-peach-pineapple juice we like, then sat outside at their picnic tables and cooked up our much-anticipated lunch. Pesto is so good, and we ate it over the last of our egg noodles plus some of the rice pasta Brett's mom sent, Italian sausage, Jarlsberg cheese, and Brussels sprouts. We made a lot of food, but we ate it all up!

It's always makes us happy to find a good spot to cook a meal.

Jenny noticed a sign while we were cooking that mentioned they had wifi available, so we took out the computer and posted another entry to the blog we'd written the night before. That felt good. We also got to read a whole passel of funny and sweet comments people had left. Thank you! They put us in a really good mood.

Our next town was Crescent City, but before we got there something very exciting happened: we biked our 4000th mile of the trip!!! We have enjoyed hitting the other thousand-mile milestones, but this one was by far the sweetest, because we know it's our last and because it's a very big number now. We celebrated with a whole strawberry-rhubarb pie from a restaurant in Crescent City, which in retrospect was a poor decision, but a thing we've been talking about doing for a celebration all trip. We didn't eat the whole pie, thankfully.

It was very exciting to get a whole pie. It would have been even more exciting if it wasn't quite so sweet and tasted better. Oh well. Yay for 4000 miles biked!

Just south of Crescent City, now back on Route 101, we started climbing a significant hill. We knew it was coming, but it wasn't so bad. Well, it was hard work for sure, but we were climbing into another exciting area of our trip that we've been looking forward to since before we left: the Redwoods!!

Brett spotted his first Coastal Redwood tree not too far up the hill, and we both found it amazing to climb amongst the tall giants. The hill took us from sea level up to an elevation of about 1200 feet over a few miles, so this was a big climb. Wim passed us, but it was fun to keep him in sight for a little while before we stopped to take pictures and a breather.

We made it to the redwoods!!

A huge tree, and Brett.

Taller than Jenny!

What can we say about the redwoods that would convey how we felt under them? It's hard. We've heard so much about them, and Jenny had seen them before at some point in her travels, but we experienced them together today. They are so straight, so tall, but once surrounded by a grove of them and their massive trunks we felt both calmly enchanted and also excited.

Downhill through the redwoods, here we come!

From the top of the climb, it was an amazing descent back to sea level. The views to our right (west) of the ocean from such a height were a bit dizzying. When we got all the way down, we got our first glimpse of California beach, and it was nice. Pretty similar to Oregon, but nice.

The coast of California!

Today was the first day on the coast that the wind wasn't pushing us along. We had a headwind on and off today. It wasn't windy under the great redwoods, but along the coast both in the morning and the early evening it was. Still, in the morning we rode pretty fast, and in the evening after the climb and descent we made decent time.

There are lots of different RV parks around Klamath, and we weren't sure which one to stay at. We even considered trying to make it up the next hill before we stopped, but then thought better of it. After a bit of asking and meeting up with Wim at a convenience store, all three of us split the cost of the next RV park we came to. It wasn't cheap, but probably nothing in this area is. At least it was reasonable when it was split, and we were glad to help Wim out in that regard as he'd already gone there and found it too expensive for one person.

It was pretty cold this evening. In fact, it was very chilly in the shade of the redwoods, too, especially going downhill. Jenny found it too cold to stay out, and dove in the tent. Brett cooked up some dinner from what supplies we had, and we munched on some potato chips as well. We had ramen noodles to use up, the rest of the pesto, a few leftover sprouts (ironic that Wim is from Brussels!), and some cheese. Brett also made himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to eat while cleaning up.

Jenny worked on the computer in the tent while Brett slowly packed up for the night and chatted with Wim. Sometimes Jenny would comment from the tent, or Brett would go and ask her something. Most noteworthy from the conversation was Wim's question and our answer to it. He asked, “Have you had any 'miserable' days?” Brett considered a minute and then answered, “There were definitely parts of some days that were miserable, but no, we haven't had any days that were 'miserable'.” Wim felt the same for his trip, but mentioned that he'd run into a couple two weeks into a year-long tour and they told him they'd already had a few miserable days. Interesting comparison.

Brett and Wim unpack food and chat while preparing dinner.

This campground had something that we didn't like. They have a fish cleaning station that they let the bears have access to. There is a family of three bears that come by about three times a day according to someone there, really predictably. We think this is not such a bright idea, because sooner or later something bad will happen when you are essentially feeding the bears. We didn't make the effort to go try to see the bear(s) before we brushed our teeth and went to sleep.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day 81

Around in Brookings, OR on our rest day
Net Elevation gain: 0 ft.
Average Speed: 8.9 mph
Top Speed: 21.6 mph
Time spent biking: 30 minutes
Miles biked today: 4.5
Total for trip: 3976.4 miles

Last night we had tossed about the idea of making today a rest day. When we woke up, we talked about it again, and after looking at the maps and the mileages, decided that today was a good day to take off. We would rest our bodies, take care of things for back home, and try to catch up on the blog. Joe and Giana stopped by on their way out this morning, and we gave them hugs in case we don't see them again, though we hope we will. It was hard to let go of the feeling that we should be out there riding, too.

It took most of the morning to really get going, so that was part of the resting. We had been told the beach was amazing at this park, so we were eager to go down and walk along it together. Since it took so long to get ready, we ended up just snacking a bit for breakfast, and then biking into town for brunch at Mo Joe's, a cafe with a wireless signal. Brett got the Belgian waffle with strawberries and whip cream, while Jenny enjoyed the Southwestern Caesar salad, and we split a yummy “frozen chocolate milk.”

Breakfast, lunch, and frozen chocolate milk!

The food was good, and we felt like we accomplished a lot on our to-do list while sitting in the cafe. We posted two entries, talked to family, read a few comments, sent an email or two, we dealt with issues that had come up with the rental property back home, and Brett made a work-related call. He also ran over to the post office to buy an envelope so that we can mail a copy of last year's tax return to MassHealth, which takes care of our health insurance.

After the afternoon was spent at Mo Joe's, we stopped at Fred Meyer again to pick up some groceries for the next few meals. For dinner we got frozen sausage and pesto to go with noodles Brett's mom sent. For breakfast we got yogurt and some fruit to go with the dry cereal and the few blueberries that are left. For lunch tomorrow we bought sandwich meat, sliced muenster cheese, a small head of lettuce, and a red pepper to go with the bread and hummus we already had. Then we took the bike path back out to the state park where our tent was still set up. It felt very strange to “come home” to our tent already set up someplace. That was a first on this trip.

The wind was very strong today, blowing from the north or northwest as it almost always does here from May to November. It was so strong and blustery at the campsite that we decided to switch our dinner meal with tomorrow's lunch meal, and we made up some of the best sandwiches we've had in a long time! Good bread, spicy hummus, lettuce, muenster, red pepper, ham, and pepper turkey created a
nice blend of tastes and textures.

These were the BEST sandwiches!

At last, we were ready for the beach. Oh, but not yet: we had to layer up. The wind was so strong and the sun was hidden behind the clouds that covered the sky. Both of us bundled up with just about all the warm layers we have. Brett, who is usually so warm had on two pairs of pants and a pair of shorts, three long-sleeve shirts and a short-sleeve one, plus his hat. In the end, walking to the beach was enough to warm us up with all those layers, and we didn't have to worry about being cold at all.

We took so many pictures at the beach! The camera filled up and we had to delete a few blurry photos in order to take all that we wanted. The ocean, the rocks, the sand, the waves: they are all so inspiring. We're looking forward to being home, but it has been so nice to see the ocean every day this week.

That's Brett way up there at the top.

Climbing down to the ocean.

Want to play hide and seek?

Ah, the beach. There weren't many rocks to look for, but this was a very nice beach.

Many colorful starfish. We just stood and watched this place for a long time. The waves flowing in and out around the rocks were mesmerizing.

A little bit "washed out", but a shot of us together on the drift wood further up the beach.

Back at the campsite, we sat at the picnic table without being cold because the wind had died down, and we wrote some for the blog, as well as transferring the pictures from the camera to the computer. We talked for a while with other bikers who came into the hiker/biker area. Wim from Belgium has pedaled 6,500 miles since May 9th, hitting New York City, Buffalo, Chicago, Phoenix, Wyoming, Portland, Seattle and points in between, and he's on his way to San Francisco and some more. Two others are on a week-long trip staying in their home state of Oregon. We all had questions for each other and stories to share.

Before we went to sleep, Brett read chapter three of The Incredible Journey aloud. We're glad we took the day off, and we hope we sleep well so we feel more rested for the next section of our trip.

A favorite picture from our stay at Harris Beach State Park.