Day 12 miles 387-410
We woke up to the sound of rain this morning. Knowing it would last a while, we decided to wait to call it until 11. We spent the morning eating pb&j in our tent and snuggling the puppy. Ru absolutely loves the tent. He is the first one in when we set it up and is always the last one to leave if he’s not forced out. He eventually started doing an uncomfortable little dance dog owners and parents know well and joey took him for a little morning walk, got him breakfast and some water.
Unfortunately his walk had rendered him too muddy to return to the warm sanctity of the tent. With much whining we coaxed him into his trailer (which stays quite dry with the rain flaps down) and got back into the tent to make a plan. We knew the rain was going to last a couple days. We had done 5 solid (though not overly long) days since leaving Laytonville and in my opinion were due for a rest day. The private campground we were staying in was nice but expensive so we looked on the map for alternatives we could make it to in a half day. A state park 20 miles away caught our eye. It was over the next long climb and would make us feel like we accomplished something but was close enough to reach in just a few hours riding.
At around 11:30 we rolled out and went the 2 miles back up the camp access road to the 101. I had been a little wary of leaving so soon after the rain stopped. The roads were wet and the first part of 101 we rode had a big long bridge (probably half a mile long) with no shoulder and a waist height guard rail. That’s a little low for our center of gravity. Thankfully there were warning signs for the motorists and we were able to take it nice and slow. Once we got through the bridge we were on the Yoruk Nation’s land. We stopped at a gas station and bought 2 days worth of food. Met a couple in the parking lot on vacation from eastern Kentucky, small world even in that small town.
We got back on the highway and ascended fairly gracefully up to the top of the 1100 ft hill. Joey took the trailer on Thursday and I got my first taste of riding simply loaded. It is so much easier. Joey, of course, is a champ and takes every new obstacle as a challenge. He talked up the hills as much as always but I think he began to realize my struggle on the first day of the 101.
We got to the top and descended about 200 ft to the turn off for our campsite. Then we descended another 500….
Although it was disheartening to lose so much elevation we arrived at a fantastic hike and bike campsite in the Mill Creek Campground in Del Norte Redwoods state park. After setting up the tent and a strategic tarp we cooked dinner and got in the tent as the rain started to fall. Here’s to a rolling rest day.
Day 13 rest day fo real
So we woke up and it was raining. Ru must have learned from yesterday because he determinedly held his bladder until we compelled him to leave the tent around 10. He stayed clean enough to be invited back in too, looks like little nugget is learning fast.
We had the same bargain as yesterday, if it’s not raining at noon we’ll go, if it is we’ll stay. It was raining so we prepared for rest day laziness. Joey went and paid the camp fee for the second night and I read my book. I am almost through the second book of the Outlander series. I am a little hooked, but I am not sure when we’ll pass a town big enough to warrant a book shop. Some would say that is cause to savor it and read only a little at a time, but fuck them it’s my rest day I’m gonna read my book.
The rain stopped around 2:30 and we took a walk around a loop trail near the campsite. Ru made a break through on the water front. He crossed a log bridge over a small stream and ran through some 4 inch deep water to get to a tiny island! Then the clouds started rolling back in and we re turned to camp. Tonight we have a plan to make a fire, cook some taco chilli (1 can chilli, 1 can black beans, 1 pouch taco seasoning, 1/2 sweet potato we have left over), and sleep well. This pushes us back a little. Our logistics day in Grant’s Pass will be Wednesday not Tuesday but we are still on track to hit Yellowstone in time.
Day 14 miles 410 – 458
Fresh off our rest day it was time to climb out of the valley back to the 101. Annnnd about 40 minutes later we had slogged up the 2 miles to the road. That campsite treated us well but man that climb made it almost not worth it. Once we were back on the 101 it was a cool 10 miles to Crescent City.
We have made an executive decision in the trip to avoid larger cities like the plague. We haven’t been treated well in the mid sized cities of California. In most of the cities up and down the coast, there are so many “travelers” (some actual, some not) that there are strict anti-homeless policies in all public places. That translates to us in most scenarios. For example, while stopped at a Winco to buy food in Eureka we had the following conversation with a security guard:
Security jerk: Is this your bike?
Me: Yes it is
SJ: *crosses hands behind back like military personnel at ease* I’m going to need you to leave right now.
Me: Really? I just bought all this food from the Winco, we were just going to eat and go
SJ: There is no loitering here
Joey: We aren’t loitering I am going to go buy more food after we eat
SJ: *shrug* you still need to leave
Joey: Is there a park or something where we could be to eat lunch?
SJ: The Dollar General has ashtrays outside for people.
Yea, he really didn’t get it. Then as we were packing up under his constant glare a kindly older woman started talking to us about the tour and the dog. Her son had done the pacific coast recently and she was animatedly telling me a story about him getting nicked by a truck when mister man rounded on us and I said loudly “I’M SORRY I WOULD LOVE TO CHAT WITH YOU AND THAT MAN RIGHT THERE HAS TOLD US WE NEED TO LEAVE IMMEDIATELY EVEN THOUGH WE ARE CUSTOMERS”. It didn’t do shit to stop the situation but it made me feel better.
So in conclusion we decided to skirt around crescent city. Just didn’t want to deal. We stopped at a market on the side of our side road, made Ru a vet appointment for Wednesday in Grants Pass and went on our way. We had some climbs to climb that day and we needed to get a move on.
We followed rolling hills through some gorgeous national forest and it started to feel a lot more alpine. Getting away from the coast really changes the timber and timbre of the land (😂). The trees close in on the road and it began to feel a bit more like Oregon. We were getting pretty close to the border. This part of the trip took us off the adventure cycling association (ACA to the in crowd) maps we have and out is back in the hands of the fickle God that is Google Maps. You can view the last set of maps you looked at offline. By strategic zooming and map loading while in the service area, we can track our progress with all the features when we are out of range. But neglect to zoom enough or go far enough down the route and you can find yourself in the middle of a miles long climb you didn’t see coming with no way to know when it will end. Not great for morale
All that said and done we knew there was a big climb to get out of the park and a tunnel at the top. What we didn’t realize was that this would make it the single biggest elevation day of the trip thus far. It was a looooong slow 10 mile climb. We pushed through it and it was made a bit worse by our dwindling water. I was nervous for the tunnel, there were clouds brewing overhead and I knew I just needed to get through that tunnel and the universe would provide. Joey was towing the trailer and was having a time of it. Champ that he is, he just did what had to be done. He wanted to camp on the lead side of the tunnel. He was right.
We got to the tunnel and realized 2 good things, it was over the crest of the hill and therefore downhill, and there were lights to warn people there were bikes in the tunnel! Ease and safety, what could go wrong?! Right?!
We got to the other end of the tunnel and realized the only thing holding back those clouds I saw was the ridge. It was an utter deluge. We scrambled to find a campsite and ended up hiding under the tarp on some BLM land and hating life. We set up the tent in the rain as fast as we could and threw everything in it. We got comfortable in the tent in time for the rain to stop…after everything we had was soaked through…
Day 15 458-498
The day started a little tense. There was not a no camping sign, but there wasn’t a yes camping sign either if you know what I mean. We were worried we made a bad choice due to a revving sound in the vicinity and our own general paranoia. So we left as quick as we could, rushing through our normal steps and anxious over leaving things in the rushing. Once we got down to the road and saw no one was there we took a deep breath.
The next 15 miles to Cave Junction were lovely winding easy roads. We have been on 199 since we left the 101 and it is mostly just two lanes and has many fewer big rigs than that aptly named crash course in tour biking. About a half mile from where we camped we got a happy surprise: OREGON!
We are finally a state away from our origin. This was a huge milestone not only for us geographically but also mentally. We have traversed a border. Really doing it, ya know? Also, Joey and I have a very strong fondness for Oregon. It is the land of our birth as adults. Also it has a great social climate. As soon as we crossed the border most all of the anti-homeless, mistrusting infrastructure disappeared. Also in Oregon, you are never the dirtiest one there. If you think you are, wait for one more person to walk in. All things go.
We rolled on over to Cave Junction and got ourselves some bagels. I picked up a newspaper at the bagel shop and read about the Oregon primary over my fried tomato, and egg jalapeño cheddar bagel (drool). I voted in this Oregon primary, but I did it mega early and since we left Walnut Creek ~three weeks ago I haven’t really thought about much beyond the next hill. The world marches on though! I am glad that Bernie won the state, that is as political as I’ll get here.
We pushed on and did some ups and some downs. We were trying to get within 10 miles of Grants Pass to camp tonight so we could roll in early tomorrow. We eventually settled on a site in a Josephine county park called Griffin Park. It’s 13 miles away but our other option had Yelp reviews saying the owner pulled a gun on them while high on painkillers so we figured we were better off doing the distance tomorrow.
We are all settled in for a night of camp stove burritos, free mother effing showers, and picking the ticks off the dog when he falls asleep.