First off, I would like to thank fellow GSers Rob and Lisa Hayward for their generous donations. The GS resources website has been a great help on mechanical issues and is still holding first place on donations. Thank you for everything guys.
My reunion in Ashland with Gib was bitter sweet. I stayed with him for 3 nights and left for California on Sunday. He gave me my last million-dollar haircut with his Hikari scissors which are unbelievably sharp and expensive. They are handmade by the Samurai people and the smallest scissors they make are sold for around $600!
He wanted to buy a laptop and I wanted to get a smaller one so we made a deal and I exchanged my 15.4” Dell for a 10.1” HP that he paid for. This machine is very compact and portable but it’s like an “Etch A Sketch” compared to my old one. We flipped a coin for the farewell lunch and after feeding me for the last time, I was on my way to California.
I took Todd’s advice to take the California Hwy 96 and what a great route it turned out to be. California has the best roads in the world in my opinion, and 96 was no different. With all its twist and turns, it passes through the Klamath National Forest which is breathtaking. I was hoping to camp somewhere along the way but I kept on pushing toward Eureka. At around 8pm I decided I had enough and wanted to camp but there was no camp spot around and I was approaching more populated areas. In Hoopa I found a campground that was closed but I figured I would poach it anyway.
Hoopa is on an Indian reservation and the whole place looked kind of iffy but it was already dark and I had no choice. Plastic bags and trash all over the place, this campground was a true dump but if that wasn’t enough, two Indian guys in a truck rolled in and stopped where I was going to camp. They shouted something that I didn’t understand and drove off and parked about 100 yards away. They started howling and making war noises (I used to watch a lot of western movies so I know what that sounds like). After a while they got in their truck and started approaching my site still making noises. It was pitch dark and no one else around so I didn’t take their noises as a friendly gesture. I got my hatchet out, opened my Kershaw knife and got the bear spray out of the sheath. I turned on the bike headlight and stood with an axe in one hand and pepper spray in other behind the light, waiting.
The truck stopped right in front of my campsite and the guy in the passenger side started putting on black gloves! At that moment I knew I was in it for more than a friendly talk. I gripped the axe handle harder and stood still, but he never came out of the truck.
The driver stepped on the gas and the truck took off with a screeching noise and they left the area. I really wanted to camp there but I didn’t want to be surprised in the middle of the night by a truck full of angry Indians so I rode off on my bike like I stole it.
For the first time since the start of this trip, I rode at night and the Hwy 96 became my nemesis. With my crappy headlight ,I could barely see the turns let alone the flat spots off the road to pitch my tent and the night dragged on. I was getting pretty tired and my eyes were hurting from concentrating on the road and looking for but not finding a single spot to camp.
I got to Eureka at 10:30pm and went straight to a Super 8 Motel and checked in for $59. I was mad at myself for getting in a situation like that and risking my life when I could have easily camped out at 6 pm for free in day light. Never again.
The next day all hell broke loose and Northern California experienced its first storm of the year (it was on the front page of the San Francisco news). Rain came down in sheets and oily roads turned into one big skating rink. I took it easy all the way and stopped to check out the giant Redwoods of the Northern California forests along the way. Ranging from 500 to 2000 years old, these threes are about a size of a submarine! Standing next to them I felt like one of the little people in Gulliver’s Travels.
That night, I stayed with Harrison and Elizabeth, my couch surfing hosts and was out of the rain. I had a great time staying with these two love birds. Both smart and athletic, we talked about climbing, current politics, stupid things and drank some fine scotch out of Harrison’s collection. He gave me a lock-picking tool and a practice lock and lectured me on how it works, but as much as I tried, I never even came close to successfully picking the lock. But I’ll keep trying.
I’m staying here for another night, then meeting Tom in San José for some bike maintenance. Stay tuned…