Sunday, July 31, 2011

San Fran Tour - Day 10

Day 10 – Wild, Wild West

Stats – Little River to Gualala – 50.4 miles

The alarm went off at its usual time of 6:20am, but I let us sleep in a little as I knew we wouldn’t have a lot of miles to accomplish today and my body also reminded me of the crazy amount of hills we did the previous day. I slowly woke up to the drippy sound of a drizzly rain outside, and when I finally opened my eyes, I discovered a giant banana slug lumbering its way across the outside flap of the tent. Ewwww.

We made a lazy morning of it, enjoying our usual coffee and oatmeal (Eric, who likes to swim upstream, enjoyed his tea and tortilla with peanut butter). We said goodbye to our friends Gwen and Roger, Rose, Loren, and Jonathan, and watched them ride off. We finally set out, only to find the leg from Little River to Elk to be very hilly. Our legs were very angry at us, complaining since they already did so much work yesterday. The northern California coast doesn’t have a lot of sandy beaches, mostly just rocky bluffs, so the road takes you up and down, from one bluff to another, through dry, brown grass and agricultural land.

We arrived in the small town of Elk around 11am for second breakfast, which has become Sabrina’s favorite meal of the day. There is an adorable little bed and breakfast there, with a beautiful garden, and even has a little garden shop and general store on the property.

We bought coffee and peach cobbler at the little café and the manager suggested we sit out back on their deck and enjoy the view. That we did. There was a fabulous ocean view below, with large rocks and big waves. We watched a flock of pelicans swoop around, listened to hummingbirds chitter, and watched a lizard sunning himself near some wildflowers.

We reluctantly left our oasis at Elk to find the hills not much easier. In fact, about a mile out of town was what we were warned as the “steepest climb on the Pacific Coast”. Umm…. Yeah. We all walked it at one point – except for Eric. It was ridiculous – tight turns, and super de-duper steep. I would be afraid to go on that hill even in a car.

When we got to the top of the hill, we found a bikelist from Portland who had snapped his chain climbing said ridiculous hill. He tried to fix it, but the chain tool broke and his extra link became unusable. He was preparing to hitchhike back to Fort Bragg to get to a bike shop, have his bike fixed, and then bike the 30 miles he just did – again. Fortunately Ben had a chain tool and also had an extra link on his chain that would work for his bike, so after a little delay we were able to get him back on the road.

After that crazy hill, things seemed to settle down a little. We got in a good groove of “fun rolling hills” – bomb down the hill as much as we can and try to let the momentum carry us up the next hill. There were no straight stretches. Just one hill after the other. We were planning on eating lunch in Point Arena, but it ended up being a linner due to the hills and the crazy headwind we hit entering Point Arena. In town, we found it to be lacking the organic burrito place we heard about. In fact, most businesses were either closed down for good, or closed because it was Sunday. It was kind of hard to tell, due to the shape that most of the buildings were in.

We did find a cute co-op Market/Deli in the town, simply called Arena Market. It had a large selection of organic groceries as well as some food that was made in-house. We all got some deli sandwiches, and Ben and I got some white corn soup. The couple from Tennessee were there, as well as Loren (the Bike Friday guy). They also had free wi-fi, so we took some time to recharge and work on the blog. The weird thing about this co-op was that it was extremely out of place. Everyone in this town looked sketchy. Ben mentioned this to the normal, nice guy behind the counter at the co-op, and also told him about our fugitive experience in the redwoods, and he was surprisingly met with a confirmation. Yes, this is where people go to hide out. This is the area where people take kids when they are kidnapped. The cops don’t come to town for burglary calls anymore, because they are so many and it’s too far to drive.

Okay. Don’t live on the coast of Northern California or in the Redwoods. Unless you are Big Foot.

As we left Point Arena, the climate got a little cooler. We noticed some deer prancing through someone’s yard, and a group of turkey vultures leering at us, trying to figure out which of us was the weakest.

Watch out, there's a T-Rex in Gualala, too!!!!

We rolled into our campsite at the Gualala Regional Park at a decent hour in the evening, but once we got to the hiker/biker area it felt like dusk. This would be because of the amazing bay trees that covered the whole area. Eric and I wanted to climb them very badly.

Here we found Rose, Gwen and Roger, the couple from Tennessee, and the old Trek guy again. Most of them had planned to go to Salt Point State Park, but that was about another 20 miles and they, like us, decided to take it easy on their poor overworked legs.

Once everyone was quiet and mostly asleep, Ben heard a rustling near our tents. He opened up his tent to find that we were being raided. A clan of about nine raccoons had come into the camp and were eating food left on the ground, but then were preparing to locate more. They knocked over Tennessee guy’s bike and were getting ready to gnaw into panniers when Ben found them. He scared them away, woke up the rest of our friends to warn them to secure their food, and secured our own food. Sabrina and I stayed in our tent and listened as they came within a few inches of our tent, and hoped they decided to leave us alone. Their little sniffers were loud, and they chewed with their mouths open. Sometimes they would come near Ben and Eric’s tent and Ben would slap the side of the tent and they would scurry away to the bushes and chitter. It was a very entertaining evening. Murphy valiantly guarded the critter box (but we lost the picture... sorry guys).

Only a few days left until we are in San Francisco. The adventure has been amazing, and we have certainly learned a lot. But we are starting to look forward to soft beds and showers that you don’t have to feed quarters into. Here’s what we learned today:

If you are a fugitive, the Northern CA coast is the place to be.

If you are a raccoon, raiding campsites after dark is an essential skill

Always put the food in the critter box.

Raccoons are loud chewers.

Our legs can carry us super far, up hills, both ways.

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