Bicycling Beauty (Part 2) – My Solo West Coast Bicycle Ride

I always push myself to go a little farther, so after finding a perfectly good place to sleep before Sundown, I decide to get to what I think will be a superior place to rest which happens to be much farther down the road than I realize. So I ride into the night, there are no cars on the road with me. I wonder about being chased by mountain lions and I scan the area around me with my headlamp every now and then. I see a ring-tailed cat cross the road as I come to an opening in the land. With the stars as my light I can see the Eel River carving its way through a valley below me. I can feel the wildlife active within it and around me now that darkness has fallen. Around 9 O’clock, I arrive at the campsite and I stop to find the hiker-biker site. I catch the glimpse of a reflective sticker on a small tent and a head pokes out and says “Hi!”. This person is Theo, a 40-something guy on a solo bike trip from somewhere in Oregon, on his way to San Francisco. He is humble and kind. Somewhere along his journey, he joined up with a 20 year old talkative kid who seemed to be his opposite, but they worked well together as a team.

He greeted me and told me about the available space for us. Alone, I found my own private place, set up camp, and went to sleep in my tent. For the next few days, I would share my ride with him and several others. It was nice to be with others. On my way out of Garberville, my knees were killing me (later I discovered it was because my seat was too low). It was hot and I was climbing. Two young men passed me with glee. This made me think to myself “boys, you have no idea”. I saw them at the campsite that night, as well as all my other new friends including Theo. I loved the look on their faces that morning when they saw me up and out of camp way before they were ready. I was going to give these guys something to work for, since they are so proud. On the first mile I decided to raise my seat. This was a big climbing day up a legendary hill called the “leggett hill”. My friend Theo started shortly after me, and we rode up the hill together. I was ecstatic, singing loud. We saw our Japanese friend who had given me “the best campsite” while I was in Oregon. He said as we passed, “you guys too fast!” with a smile. I left them both in the dust, my smile driving me all the way up to the top. I crouched down as I descended, laughing like a mad woman as I descended the shady, windy road of Highway 1. I didn’t realize I was being witnessed until Theo came barreling past me as low as he could be. Slightly embarrassed but completely elated by this moment I was able to share with others.

The two young boys never caught up to me. I didn’t stop for a break until 40 miles into my day, where I sat still for a couple hours at MacKerricher State Park. I gorged on a sandwich of bread, coconut oil, spinach, avocado, and cheese as I sat by the sea on a log. That evening at Gualala Point, everyone was there. The boys expressed surprise that they never caught up to me. I was pleased to have totally kicked their prideful booties! That evening I watched the sunset at the point while talking to an old couple driving around in a classic cadillac.

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Winding along highway 1 the next day, I see all my friends again at Bodega Dunes. I wander down to the beach on foot as my friend Theo comes dashing by on his bike. I wonder why I didn’t ride my bike? The walk is sort of far. I wander into the dunes and as night falls I realize I am lost. I hike through the dunes for about an hour into some random neighborhood and with a little bit of battery life on my phone, I navigate through the neighborhoods on foot and find my way back to the campground. Everyone was wondering where I had been when I returned. It was nice to know that someone cared that I was missing!

The next morning Theo left early to make it all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge where he would conclude his bicycle journey, and I wouldn’t see him again. I rode the many miles of the swirling highway 1. The climbing was constant and the shoulders were narrow. Not only were the views totally epic, but the riding was equally challenging and truly made me feel immortal. After tackling the windiest and one of the most beautiful sections of my west coast tour, I arrived at Samuel P. Taylor State Park, a sweet little spot set inland in an old oak forest. I shared camp with my French friend from the Eureka KOA as well as the young pair of boys. I conversed at dinner with a woman who was just doing an overnighter from her home in San Francisco. I liked her. She was in her 50’s but I could see a child in her eyes, wild and vibrant as ever. The next day, I rode through the sweet little towns of Lagunitas, Fairfax, and Marin which all had so much character. There were bike paths through marshes, old brick roads, parks full of ancient trees, and lots of other bicycles! I giggled when I saw billboards on the tiny town streets stating “spandex isn’t body armor!”.

After navigating through ridiculous crowds at the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge I enjoyed a long, slow ride across it. It was probably my favorite (and safest) bridge I’ve crossed on the entire trip so far. A lot of long distance cyclists stop at this point, because there is a sea of big cities to navigate through south of here. Earlier in the trip I had considered stopping here if it felt right in my heart, but now that I am here, it just doesn’t. I am ready for this trip to go on for as long as it will, because I am so in tune with this mode of travel now and I love the simplicity of my days. I love cycling for a lot of the same reasons why I love long distance hiking. My days consist of feeding myself and finding the next water source. I am moving my body all day long every day which makes me feel like Wonder Woman, and I am exposed to real natural beauty on a constant basis. There is not much else that can provide the kind of calm I feel when I am doing this sort of thing. I just love it.

 

After crossing the bridge, I (unrealistically) think that I have enough time to make it all the way to Half Moon Bay even though it is around three in the afternoon. I ride along the sandy bike path and make my way to some busy highway riding again and then through some fancy neighborhoods. The sun begins to set and I know that I’m not going to make it to my destination. I look in my book to see if there is anywhere else to stay before Half Moon Bay but I find nothing. I texted my mom to let her know what was going on, she is always handy when I’m in a pinch! She gets on the computer back at home and finds a place for me to stay at the Montara Lighthouse Hostel. She even calls him to make sure there is a bed for me there. I am grateful to have such a helpful mom! I had a new destination, but I would still have to ride my bike in the dark to get there. I pray repeatedly as I climb up a shoulder-less, windy road in the dark. I felt like I was living on the edge of being killed by a car coming fast around a corner. I pedaled as fast as I could but still slow enough so I could sustain my speed until I reached the top of the hill. Pacing myself is very important, especially when I am in danger. There was no place to stop and rest on this road, I just needed to get through it as quickly as possible. At last, I reached the top and there was a pleasant detour that bypassed a very scary night time tunnel! The bike path was gated and I had it to myself. I stopped and stood on the hill overlooking the ocean. A hill behind me blocked the sounds of the road, and once again I was alone with the sound of the waves crashing and the stars twinkling over my head. Woo! I made it alive!!

I arrived at the hostel before nine, met the man who had spoken to my mom on the phone, and took full advantage of their laundry facilities, the kitchen, and finally – the SHOWER! I listened to conversations in many different languages in the community kitchen and enjoyed the feel of being with all of these travelers. I shared my room with an older woman who was very intrigued by me, she joked about getting my autograph “for when I am famous someday”. She was very sweet.

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On the road again, I stop in Half Moon Bay for a bike check up and off I go, cruising along as I do. I am listening to my iPod all day, feeling ecstatic and enjoying the brown fields against the big blue ocean in the distance. As I enter the outskirts of Santa Cruz, the sun is setting but I have an easy cruise to my planned campground at New Brighton State Beach so this time I intend to ride in the dark, and I don’t mind it because it is almost entirely on bike paths along the beach and through the city.

The beaches at night are still swarmed with people surfing, running, and ocean gazing. The vibes were positive and people were very friendly to me. As I rode through neighborhoods people were tucked into their cozy houses and I loved the feel of the quiet streets and all the people inside having dinner and watching movies with people they cared about. It was so quiet and I rolled through without anyone noticing me.

Arriving at my tent space I find a lot of other cyclists whom I’ve never seen. I suppose they’ve all just begun and/or are on a very short trip. All the people I was riding along with, besides the french man, went home once they reached San Francisco. I chatted with a young couple on the first night of their week-long bike ride. One grumpy cyclist inside his tent growls to us to be quiet. I stay up late doing camp chores and I notice a car that is running in the parking lot. After about an hour I walk by it and see a man asleep in the drivers seat, so I wake him up and tell him his car is on. He is startled and confused, leaves right away.

The entire next day I spend riding through farm land, waving to workers as they stare at this crazy girl riding by with bags on her bike. I enjoyed seeing them, and I think they enjoyed seeing me too. There wasn’t much shade on today’s big climb, so I had my lunch under a bush on the side of the road. I met a couple touring on a tandem, having two people on one bike makes for very fast travel. I spent some time riding along side them and chatting about our trips before they took off ahead of me. They were kind to snap a photo of me in action! As you’ve seen, most of my photo’s are just of my bike – or a bad selfie!

I cruised into Monterey in style… happy and smelly on my bike-house. I ran into my tandem friends before exploring the famous pier and having lunch there. I had plenty of time today because it was a short (40 mile) day. I cruised along the bike path overlooking Monterey Bay on my way to the Monterey Bay aquarium where I spent about four hours wandering around. I felt like a kid again, full of magic and love for the ocean. I was surrounded by glowing jellyfish and sparkly tuna. I laughed at a playful penguin and an otter who couldn’t stop licking his butt hole for the audience. Classy little guy.

As I got my bike ready to head to my campsite, something amazing happened. A woman rode up on a bicycle and I immediately recognize her. Eager to know if my eyes are playing tricks on me, I ask her “what is your name?” she looks at me and replies, “Jamie”. I squeal and wrap my arms around her as she realizes who I am too. She was my best friend when I was four years old. We were friends after that too, but we both moved and weren’t as close anymore. The last time I saw her was when I was ten years old. My mom, brother, and I rode the train to Boulder, Colorado to visit her and her family. The squealing lasted about a minute, then we just smiled and jumped around like “what the hell just happened?! How is this real right now?!” We looked at each other as though we had to be dreaming. After some chatting, I told her I would be in Big Sur for my 28th birthday the following day and that I would be camping at Andrew Molera State Park. She agreed to meet me there! And off I went to go to bed, totally blown away by such a once in a lifetime “coincidence”.

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Before departing Monterey, I visited the Monarch Butterfly sanctuary to see the sweet beauties as they migrated south, like me! I decided to take a detour to see the famous “17-mile Drive” where many movies were filmed on the picturesque beaches. I had a lot of fun speeding through the quaint town of Carmel before I departed the busy cities for a few days as I traveled through Big Sur. Not only would I be visited by my friend Jamie on my birthday, but Ted was coming to see me too! We had been apart for something like two weeks and I was excited to see him soon.

I made my camp at Andrew Molera State Park, a walk-in campground that I figured would be less busy than Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park down the road. And since I wouldn’t be using the hiker biker site, staying here made more sense financially. I was expecting Ted that night, but I got sleepy waiting and so I went to bed, a little worried for him. In the middle of the night someone just came into my tent, which would have scared the shit out of me, but I was relieved to know it was Ted. In the morning, we were awakened by the heat of the sun green-housing the tent so we decided it was time to get up. Ted is the sweetest guy I know, and he brought all sorts of delicious healthy food to nourish us on my birthday. He also brought a custom made birthday cake from Schat’s bakery in Mammoth, where he had recently picked out an apartment for us to spend our second winter there. When my friend Jamie came walking up, I was elated to see her again. The three of us sat in the shade while we gorged on birthday cake. Jamie brought a cake, too! We were definitely not short on cake. Plenty of cake to go around. I wish life was always full of cake. Did I mention there was cake?

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After Jamie went home, Ted and I walked to the beach. I collected pretty rocks and we wandered aimlessly, breathing in the beauty of this beach, with our toes in the sand. After sunset, we had dinner at a fancy restaurant down the road and took showers at another campground before coming back to our tent. I was very happy to have my Teddy again, he always knows how to make my birthday a special occasion.

Ted and I say goodbye the next morning, and I ride on down the highway to spend a full day riding through Big Sur, which is a very special place to me. In 2010, I came to Big Sur for my very first solo backpacking trip to the Sykes Hot Springs in the Ventana Wilderness. I have come a long way since that trip…

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First Solo Backpack Trip (Big Sur, circa 2010)

Down the road I go, twisting and climbing and gliding on my bicycle. The land buzzing past me. Big blue always in sight. Today’s ride is not an easy one, ever drive the 1 through Big Sur? Imagine biking it! It goes up and down and around for over 60 miles. After Ragged Point, I began the descent toward San Simeon where I would settle in for the night. I really pushed through Big Sur and didn’t take much time to eat or rest, so once at the bottom of the descent, I stopped along the road and hid behind some bushes to relax and have a little snack to fuel the last few miles of the days ride. Always hiding in the bushes on the side of the road! What a glamorous life I lead….

I arrive at my campground by dusk and discover that all water has been shut off (except for spigots to fill water bottles with) due to the serious drought in California. I guess I will take a shower some other time. I share a campsite with cyclists that I hadn’t met yet. A young couple from France who were on their way to Argentina and an American man who had been on his bicycle for three months riding the Great Divide. He was on the last few days of his trip. I saw the French couple again the next day in Cayucos, a cute little beach town. I have spent the past six weeks with the Pacific Ocean (including the last week of our hike on the PNT) and I still had not gone swimming! It has been too cold – but today the sun was shining and the weather was warm and welcoming. I was so tempted but timid to be seen in my undies by all the people on the beach. Loren, the French girl, said a few words that were all I needed to throw down my clothes and jump in. She watched from the beach as I waded into the ocean. The more I travel, the easier it has become to laugh at nothing funny in particular, but just for sheer happiness. This was one of those moments.

Continuing on, I could feel that I was now in Southern California, the days were hot and dry. While riding, I discovered the song “The Well” by Dirtwire and Rising Appalachia (two of my favorite bands) which matched the mood very well. I listened a few times until I knew the words, and sang it loud as I traveled south along the open road. I sing a lot when I ride, no one can hear me (or so I think) so I just belt it out as loud as I can. It gives me such a great feeling!

I passed by Morro Bay and through the city of San Luis Obispo. As I got into town, a huge Sprouts grocery store stood before me like a gift from god. Organic food is quite a treat to find! In my spandex shorts, hairy legs, and messy braid – I walked inside in style. Many people look at me inquisitively. They notice something different, but can’t pinpoint what it is – besides that I must be on a bicycle – because who else wears spandex shorts with butt padding? With a jar of coconut oil, a loaf of bread, fresh spinach, and various chocolate food things I am out the door and on my two trusty wheels.

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After Pismo Beach, I finally reach Oceano. My planned campsite is only a few miles away when I stop to do some laundry. I don’t worry about the darkness outside because I am so close. I warm up some canned soup on my backpacking stove in the laundromat and wear my rain gear while my clothes are in the washer. I converse with a man my age while I wait. He is intrigued and inspired. It is always fun to see people light up when they hear about what I am doing. I am so happy to be an inspiration, to cause people to question what they do and consider following their dreams. I really love that.

I head out thinking I am just a few minutes away, but when I arrive at where my map says the campground is, I find nothing at all. It is ten O’clock at night and I am standing on the side of the road with my bike completely dumbfounded. Where the heck is my campsite? How is it not here? After a while I realize the campground is in fact there, but under construction. It is blocked off by a solid fence, even the sign is covered up. Now what?

Standing there with nowhere to go, I begin to really take in what is going on around me. I notice sketchy people wandering around in the streets and realize I am in a bad part of town. They saw me riding back and forth, sensing my nerves like a predator looking for easy prey. I was acutely aware of their eyes on me. A park ranger comes driving down the road and I wave him down. He turns around and can see that I am scared. I ask him where the closest campground is and he directs me to an RV park just a couple miles away.

Relieved, I ride into the small RV park next to the road. I shower and make camp while everyone around me is sleeping. I feel somewhat safe here, but I make sure to lock my bike up and keep all my panniers inside of the tent. I don’t like this place much, but I will be out of here in only a few hours. This is the first time on my trip that I don’t feel entirely safe, and it won’t be the last….

 

 

Thanks for reading! Please stay tuned for Part III (final) coming soon…

Bicycling Beauty (Part 1) – My Solo West Coast Bicycle Ride

We finished. Our hike through the mountains and valleys of the pacific northwest from Glacier National Park in Montana to the sparkling pacific ocean off the coast of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington was over. We walked 1,200 miles with our rugged little human feet. And just like that we were done. It is a strange feeling to finish a long walk. After my Pacific Crest Trail hike, I headed home and it was like experiencing culture shock in my own home town. This time I planned a whole new ending, or should I say, beginning! Now that the hike was over, it’s time to hop on a bicycle and ride it down the west coast to my parents door in San Diego, a 1,800 mile journey on pavement, with wheels! Fast!

I buzzed around the apartment my parents good friends were hosting us in on Bainbridge Island. I was anxious. How am I supposed to switch all my backpacking gear to my pannier bags!?! This felt so foreign to me. It was such a simple task that I could not wrap my head around. I have this tendency to throw myself into lots of transitions into the unknown which is actually quite stressful, especially for the third year in a row. It took me almost the entire day just to move my things from one bag to four small bags. I had to choose what would go where, as though it was my last chance to get it into its perfect place, to be convenient in all possible situations I imagined I might be faced with. I had to be reminded that I was allowed to figure it out along the way and that it didn’t have to be perfect right then and there. This was my first bike tour, and Ted’s too. We were a little out of our element.

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With full bellies, a few tears, and some sarcastic comments about the huge hill ahead, Ted and I rode off in the rain to a distant land called Home. We stopped a bunch of times to make adjustments and were trying to get into a new flow together. From the wilderness to the pavement, it was quite a contrast. Cars driving by made us both nervous. We intended to ride our bikes 50 miles that day and we only made it 25. We argued on the side of the road and almost called it quits right there. But on we went with rain drops falling in my eyes. We stopped in a busy city with no shoulder and slept in a hotel our first night to wash off the mud and dry ourselves out. It was a harsh first day on the road.

Ted was already feeling like this bicycle ride wasn’t right for him, but we decided to keep going after some discussion. In my head swirled ideas of whether or not I would continue on my own if Ted did leave. Would I make it? I was having doubts in myself, for what? I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail alone, despite other hikers on the trail even, I deliberately slept alone almost every night. That solo journey has become a foundation for who I am still becoming.

We continued on our wheels, the cars terrified me. They came by me too fast and didn’t seem to care about me. It felt like they said “fuck you” every time one passed. I was not having much fun, and neither was Ted. We were going through a different kind of culture shock – a concrete jungle full of wild animals called city people! And what a strange world it was.

Once we reached Shelton Washington, Ted and I were rescued by my lovely friend Bonnie when we found no where to sleep in town. We celebrated Ted’s 28th birthday while at her house and enjoyed time with her, her husband Carlos, and their daughter Maya. This visit was truly a blessing, a great example that the trail always provides. We would have had nowhere to sleep if it wasn’t for her!

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Back to the road we go! With optimism in our hearts we peddled on down the road, and within just a few hours I was on the side of the road at a rest stop with tears streaming down my face. After talking with Ted about how frustrated I was with the cars going so fast, we continued on to our camp that night and the next morning I called my Dad to talk to him about continuing on or coming home. He always tells me, “Abbi, no matter what you choose, you will make it work”. After he walked me through some basic bicycle maintenance, Ted and I rode on, and towards the ocean this time! After all the time we’ve spent navigating through busy cities, finally – the ocean. This is what we came for!

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For the first time on this bicycle, I felt amazing. The ocean to my right and a quiet road to my left. I was cruising. I started having better feelings about going all the way, but Ted still wasn’t sure. Gettin’ in our groove, we traveled through sleepy farm towns, along quiet bike paths, and up and over steep hills as the sun hung low in the sky. Comparing myself to the almighty Ted made it difficult to determine my own fitness level, but when we came across other long distance cyclists and passed them going uphill like they were standing still, I realized my strength, which both boosted my confidence as well as my desire to continue on. We camped at a deserted campground that night, watching the sun set from the beach as we ate dinner. Tomorrow we would leave Washington and ride across a really long Bridge over the Columbia River into the state of Oregon.

We had our bikes looked at in Astoria and snuggled in our tent at the hiker-biker campsite of Fort Steven’s State Park. It drizzled all night. When we awoke everything was saturated. I drank my Naked smoothie, ate strawberries for breakfast and we headed out. For the next couple of days we rode along the coast of Oregon while my desire to continue strengthened and Ted’s patience with this ride became less and less. We cycled alongside a beautiful view of never-ending sea stacks and stopped at the famous Canon Beach where The Goonies was filmed. Bicycling was actually becoming fun, I was loving it! We camped at the most glorious hiker-biker site at Cape Lookout State Park. I frolicked and did yoga as the sun was setting, Ted sat on a blanket reading a book. Smiling at my shenanigans with love in his eyes. We have done so much together, spent so much time in places so far from anything, we are partners. We are connected at the heart and we both know we will likely separate soon. We try not to think about it as we get comfortable by the campfire with our new friends Sarah and Dade, on their overnight bicycle ride.

 

We continue south and after a huge climb, I surrender to a long and blissful descent with a smile that takes up half my face. At the bottom we find a tiny community with a small store. I make a sandwich while Ted shops for less nutritious snacks. We sit at a wooden table by the front door, surrounded by open pastures, listening to an old man talk about how he could care less if California fell off into the ocean. We both look at each other, wondering how anyone could be so hateful. We are Californians, and think it’s a fine state indeed. In California I have seen some of the most beautiful wild places in the world and I’ve certainly met a lot of great Californians too! All ya need is love dude!

Ted and I ride out of there and it is slow-going. Ted simply is not enjoying this part of our trip and there is not much I can do or say to change it. Our friend Flanders from the Pacific Northwest Trail has made plans to visit us when we reach Florence, so with that in mind I convince him just to make it there and then we will part ways and I will keep going. So we call it a day at South Beach Campground and make our final stretch together to Florence where we show up at the hotel Flanders got for all of us to share and we are flabbergasted at how nice it is. It is a fancy hotel right on the beach! All the frustration subsides when we are greeted by the wonderful smile of our familiar friend. We eat fancy food, drink fancy wine, tell stories, and enjoy the comfort of a big fancy bed. Flanders offered to take Ted to the train station the next day, so this night was our last together for a long time. Ted and I didn’t realize just how hard it was going to be to actually part after so long together, so many adventures shared. Outside the hotel, with my bike packed and Ted’s in the back of Flanders Subaru, we hug. Tight. Tears come streaming like a river from both of us, faces red and smushed, we say goodbye. Flanders and Ted drive away as I mount my bicycle trying to keep myself together…

Suddenly… I am alone. Ted and I have been together nonstop for the past two years, and attached at the hip for the past 3 months! Now it is just me, going down the road on my bike. I probably shouldn’t have been riding with all those tears in my eyes, but I did. For all the emotion, I made it a short day to get to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park where I planned to pull myself together and gain a new perspective on how this is all going to be for me now that things have changed.

I had feelings mixed with sadness and excitement, too. I loved traveling alone, and I knew I just had a few days to get through the lingering feelings of something missing. I hurriedly rode my bicycle through fishing towns and missed the turn off to my campsite, tacking on an extra 8 miles or so to get back to where I made the mistake. The detour was lovely, no one was on the road and I was surrounded by sand dunes. I felt ecstatic, singing and riding and eventually getting to my campsite in the forest, overlooking the sparkling ocean. I set up camp holding back my tears then put a few things in my daypack and wandered off toward the ocean on a trail that supposedly went to it. The trail took me to the dunes and I went barefoot towards the ocean, but I arrived at a road and across it was a dense forest blocking me from the water, no trail in sight and the sun would set soon, so instead of trekking on, I walked along the road and put my thumb out at the first car to pass. An old man and woman drove me back up to the campground where I sat by the lighthouse and watched the sun set, just me this time. Just me and the lighthouse.

With so many low mileage days behind me, the next morning I woke up early because I had an 80 mile goal to get into my solo groove! I was up and out of camp before anyone was awake and I cruised for hours without stopping. I only stopped when I got to a cannabis shop because I had offhandedly heard that on October 1st it was going to be sold recreationally in Oregon. Today was October 1st! I had to stop. The line was so long and I was in such a groove I didn’t want to waste any time, so I got back on my bike without any goodies and had lunch at a little cafe before beginning a major climb called the “7 devils”. I kicked all 7 of those devils butts and kept on going going going until I made it to my destination – the great, majestic Cape Blanco. Fucking amazing place to stop on a bicycle tour. Most beautiful beach I have ever seen, and pretty far off the beaten track. I had the whole hiker biker site to myself. I felt so proud of myself…

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The following morning I woke up and got out of there to ride my final full day in the state of Oregon. The ocean waves crashing and flowing beside me all day long, except when I rode around a cape. The road took me winding in through a forest with pines and aspens quivering in the breeze. A didgeridoo song came on my iPod, and I was feeling it. Wooooweeewoowiiiwooooowaaaaaa 🙂 I had lunch at a park beside the road. It had toilets, spigots, benches, and a river flowing through it. My day is silent besides the sound of the waves, the wind, my breath, and music from my iPod. I spoke to no one. I’ve gotten used to the buzz of cars beside me. I’ve developed trust in their ability to avoid me and the reality of their existence in my immediate environment no longer made me bitter.

With the ocean in view again after rounding the cape, I am in flow. I am a cruising lady, just rolling along, breathing in life, seeing beauty all around, legs spinning, mind full of song. I am content.

I find my last Oregon campsite at Harris Beach State Park just before sun set and I immediately go down to the beach so as not to miss the days finale. I carry my bike down to the sand to keep it safe and close to me. I explore the sea stacks with bare feet and see a lone woman eating beans out of a can. I sit by my bike and decide to make dinner, too. On her way back to her car she sits down with me and tells me she just came from Crescent City (a town I will pass through tomorrow) and that she is headed to Portland. We share stories and philosophies whilst sitting in the sand and hearing the crashing waves. She leaves me with a hug and I head back toward the campground to find a place to sleep for the night. A kind Japanese man leads me to the “best spot” in the hiker biker site and there I put up my tent and stash my food in the raccoon-resistant locker. Construction went on all night long and I barely slept at all! Which made me want to get the hell outta there as soon as I got up. Noise!!

Goodbye Oregon, nice flowing with you. Hello my lifelong home, California – my beloved.

After having lunch in Crescent City, I had a massive climb toward the Elk Prairie campground, my proposed destination for the night. I rode through bizarre communities who became famous for their giant sculptures of dinosaurs, Paul Bunyon and his blue ox. Evening began to set in after a lot of climbing, and less and less cars came by. I had the roads to myself. Once I reached the top of my last hill for the day, I breathed in the crisp fresh air of the great redwood forest as I descended fast toward my campsite. I feel complete and utter bliss when I descend, it is especially good when it is somewhere gorgeous like the forest! My bones were chilled once I reached the campground. The stars came out and darkness allowed them to shine so bright. It was so quiet as the fog began settling into the meadows. I camped with a couple who had taken a bus there from Arcata and were just backpacking around the area. In the morning I had the urge to leave, but I realized that I hadn’t taken a full day off in three weeks. So as my legs told me to ride, my mind said “um, why are we stopped?”, and my heart said to me, “it’s time to rest Abbi”. So I got a map of the trails from another cyclist and I walked through the ancient and massive forest to the desolate beach. I stretched and allowed the sun to shine where it usually doesn’t. There wasn’t a soul in sight.

I made a loop of my hike and wandered back through a fern covered canyon. Some of the fern species are as ancient as the dinosaurs! I splashed through the stream barefoot as I made my way, in awe of the greenery and the sound of the water. I climbed out of the canyon when it became too narrow and reconnected to a trail that would take me back to my sleeping place. I met a man who was hiking alone, we stood in the forest together and flowed right into a philosophical discussion about life and in his presence he honored me, and I felt acknowledged and satisfied after sharing that time with him. We wandered off in opposite directions never to see each other again, but with smiles on our faces. The walk was farther than I had anticipated and before I knew it, the forest was too dark to see. I was thinking about mountain lions and walking swiftly. I was relieved to find pavement that lead to my tent, and in those last few moments I met a fox whose eyes glowed in my direction. He scittered off without a sound…

 

The next morning I said goodbye to my new friends and rode off into the forest again, stopping in the “town” of Orick where I check the one store they have for some fruit to eat. I was approached by a man who wanted to talk to me about bicycle touring, which I am happy to do, but his energy came on a little strong, and I found myself trying to escape his grasp. I saw the white vehicle he was driving, and noticed it about half an hour later, stopped in the middle of the road as though he was waiting for me. Beyond creeped out! I never saw him again. I cruised past Patricks Point and into Trinidad, a really cute little beach town where I had lunch at the Beachcomber Cafe. They had homemade cookies and pastries, as well as healthy and delicious lunches full of veggies and greens! I spent a few hours here checking emails and writing in my journal. Children from the school across the street flooded in and bought all of their fresh cookies, one by one. I would really like to return to this town, it really stands out in my mind as a place that feels good to be!

Always beauty, beauty everywhere. Ocean beside me all the way. I am headed toward Arcata, a hippie-college town that I’ve visited in the past. I didn’t stay for long because I realized I didn’t actually like the vibes. This town seemed to attract hippie-looking people who yelled a lot and were drunk all over the town square. I didn’t like what I saw and hit the road again. I had to ride my bicycle on the freeway for a little bit, which was completely hellish. It was something like five lanes and everyone was driving 70 MPH or more. Luckily, the shoulder was huge, probably eight or ten feet wide. I ended my day at the Eureka KOA campground which was conveniently placed next to the freeway and some kind of a wood processing plant. It was ugly, noisy, and smelly. I cringed at the site of my campsite set behind the KOA store. At least they have a laundry facility and a shower and I was soon joined by another cyclist on the same trip as me. He was an older french man who was jolly and sweet. We shared light conversation over dinner. I was comforted by his presence.

The next morning I left. As I blew with the wind into the depths of the great redwood forests, my heart ached with the beauty of the journey I was on. Stopping on bridges just to look down to see the canyons and rivers along my way. Breathing and peddling, day in, day out. Breathing, peddling, seeing, smelling… Human-powered travel is one way to live in the present moment. While driving cars we miss so much, like the feel of the wind, the sounds of children playing, and the smell of a dead cat in the road. I sense the energy of the people passing me by, full of years of stagnant energy, tense and anxious. They need to go for a bike ride!

I ride through quiet communities along the Avenue of the Giants. Sunflowers swaying, red barns and stained glass in stillness beneath an indigo sky. I smell dinner cooking, I imagine it as fresh as the food I can see growing on the land around me. A homemade meal of fresh vegetables. I silently wish for them to see me and invite me inside to eat…

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Please stay tuned for Part II coming soon…