Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Last Week

You might want to grab a beverage or a snack for this one. I haven’t had internet access since Portland, so I have a lot to say. I apologize if you felt neglected. I did too.


Portland was a Portland time. As they say in Portland, “We drink and eat.” That’s really the jist of what we did, and it was nice to try some local brews -- not to mention cook the most amazing fajitas I’ve ever eaten with my sister. Yeah, we rock. The cherry and toasted almond chipotle truffles were pretty amazing too.

We grabbed some coffee and part of the Bears game at the ‘Fixin To’ on Sunday before our journey south in the fog. The gloomy rain and fog. I know I couldn’t live in Portland this time of year... and they say we’re hearty up in da U.P.!

The neatest part of this journey was the drive from Eugene to Florence on 126. The moisture in the air keeps the moss thick, green and lush. It really looked like a rainforest through there! The ferns were amazing too. It was all just so thick. Yes, thick, green and lush. Luscious.

In Florence, we finally got to our long-awaited Hwy. 101, which follows the Pacific coast from Canadia to California. So there we were on 101 -- in the fog. “Is that the ocean behind those trees?” We couldn’t tell. We could hardly see a football field’s length away. Darkness was upon us anyway, so we banked on a sunny tomorrow and sought shelter in a little motel in North Bend, OR. I think all that dark and wetness got to us because we each ate a pint of ice cream before bed. It was delicious.

But Cookie Dough and Huckleberry Swirl didn’t bring any blue skies the next morning. We had the same limitied visibility through the fog. Nodda. How were we going to see the ocean through that? We were used to our streak of bad luck by now (which I will spare you), so we just added it to the list of things we have endured and conquered.

But really. Where was that stinkin ocean? Does it even exist? I’m looking west and see mist. Just mist. And no, it wasn’t in my eyes.

Before leaving Oregon completely, we turned the corner in a little town to read, painted right on the road: “OCEAN VIEW.” We took that little turnoff because it sounded promising.

Sure enough. There she was -- the Pacific Ocean. We got out and took pictures. We were proudly tourists.

Oddly enough, most of 101 after that showcased the ocean... when we could see it. Sweet. And not so oddly enough, about 15 miles before California, the clouds parted, and the sun blazed through the car windows. I mean, it was hot! California, here we come!


Appoximately 4 miles before the Cali border, I got my camera ready. I wanted a shot of the “Welcome to California” sign. I didn’t know what it looked like, I just knew that I wanted a picture of it because I never thought I would be in California. After what seemed like 10 minutes of watching every sign that passed, there it was!

I turned my camera on, aimed, pushed the button... and missed completely. Aw crud. So much for that.

But, in beautiful, sunny California (I still can’t believe I’m in California) there was a giant piece that didn’t let me down. The Redwoods.

Pretty big, hey? Oh, yeah. Like monsters. Tall, beautiful, red and green monsters. I felt even smaller than I already did. Dwarfed. Dwarfed in awe, I tell you.

We even drove partially on the Avenue of the Giants just to bask in their glory a little closer. And when we got tired of driving 35 mph, we ducked back onto 101.

We stopped quickly in Arcata for advice on where to ride our bikes. Lots of hippie-looking people walking around. We were in California, man.

Then we furthered on south toward Shelter Cove on the lost coast, where we were going to camp for the night. In beautiful, sunny California. Ooh, is it fun to say that! The road to Shelter Cove was like driving a car on the bike trails. Slow, tight, curvy and hilly. It took us a good hour to get the 20-something miles to our camp site on those roads.

But we got there just in time to pitch camp before dark. By 5:30 pm we were sitting in the dark with a bottle of delicious wine and a waxing half moon. Stars popped more and more as the night went on. I saw two shooters. Ahh, just like the Keweenaw! I felt wonderful... maybe my wishes will come true....

In the sunny morning (because we’re in California), we set out to ride the Paradise loop by the Tolkan camp site we were at. We checked out the newly built skills park first, and that was awesome! Even I tried my mad skills (which are -- no, not really anything skillful. Sorry.). Then we were ready for the real ride. Our first real ride since Curt Gowdy (don’t ask).

The trails were just how I like them: smooth and flowy. But, uh, Aaron’s bike was broken. That ended that ride. Chalk that one on the list too. Oy.

I didn’t mind too much because then we got to do what I really wanted to do -- hike on the Black Sands Beach along the King Range coast. Yesssssss, a beach walk!

Besides the fact the “black sands” were actually black rocks and pebbles, it was everything I hoped for. Aqua-colored waves crashing into white foam on the shore, salt, sunny sunshine and even a 30 foot boulder for yours truly to climb up. Plus, I fulfilled my goal of putting my feet in the ocean. Yeah, and then I had to run out before I got swallowed! It was so worth it. So was the 10 minutes I took to just lay there on the beach. Except for the salt, it could have been Superior.

Riding in California

A beautiful, sunny Wednesday promised our first full ride in California along the Pioneer Trail, a trail along the ditches the pioneers built to canal water. Unfortunately, Aaron was not able to get his bike fixed, so he stayed behind to look for other options while Rich (in Nevada City, where we stayed) and I ventured out.

The trail was really cool. I liked riding on the berms next to the ditches. It gave a little excitement while still feeling safe. We rode through a “rock garden” which required much focus to stay on my bike. We rode under sugar pine trees, which I wouldn’t have known until my tires weaved through 14” long by 5” wide pine cones. Most definitely the biggest cones I’ve ever seen! I wanted to gather some, but they were really too big to stuff in my pack. Hopefully I’ll find some more around here....

Overall, it was a fun and peaceful ride. We only saw two hikers on our 12 mile ride. Wait, that was only 12 miles? I was beat by the end of it. But like I said, I hadn’t ridden for a while. Not bad for a couple cripples.

Luckily, Aaron got his bike fixed, and, since we knew we were all ready for a good ride, we attempted the 19 miled Epic South Yuba River Trail the next day. This trail zigs and zags along the South Yuba River on a mountain side. I mean, really carved in the side of these hills the whole way. Death was always on the left... all the way down to the river.

I’m not goint to lie, that kinda freaked me out. And the fact that I had come close to the edge with my tires multiple times in the first two miles of singletrack really wore on my nerves. Not to mention that some of those climbs were so steep that I ended up walking most of them. Not to mention that I couldn’t make it over hardly any obstacles on the trail.

But the sun was shining, and my body was feeling good, and I was out with two nice boys and my handsome pup (though they were always way ahead), and I was riding along the beautiful Yuba River. Sounds pretty nice, hey? Yeah. It does. And after I tried to concentrate on all that to turn me back into happy, smiley Amanda Wais, I would almost fall off the edge again. God f*$%!#& d@##!% exclamation point! Noooooo! I hate this! I don’t want to be a mountain biker any more! I want to get out of here now! I wanted to throw my bike into the river and lay on the trail until the animals ate my carcass. Twice I had to convince myself that this was not an option.

Whoo. So there’s my dark side for you. But I really wanted to make it through the trail. I wanted to say I did it.

Luckily, shortly after those first few hellacious miles, we stopped for a snack. My psychologists, Rich and Aaron, talked me out of my emotional tantrum and made me feel better about it all. Turns out that they were having a slightly rough time too. Okay. I can do this. Only 12 1/2 miles to go. Whimper, whimper.

Once I got my head out of my head, I really had an enjoyable time. The trail seemed a little safer. I didn’t mind that I had to walk up some of those hills. It was hard to keep traction while pedaling over a carpet of bay leaves and acorns. But, gosh darn it, I was going to finish the Yuba Trail.

We saw some cool sights along the way. Most mentionably, purple-capped mushrooms, waterfalls, quails, thick moss covering whole treas, a gathering of thousands of ladybugs huddled together (pictured below) and a ruby-red sunset. The latterest was bittersweet. Yes, it was an amazing color, but it also meant that it would be dark soon, and we were still in the woods.

Soon the leaves and rocks on the trail were all the same color. Oh, why did I take so long to cry on the trail when I should have just been pushing my bike? Now it’s getting dark! So I tried my tired legs tried to pedal a little faster. And just before I could hardly see my handlebars, I pushed my bike up the last hill... to the car. I did it. I rode the Epic South Yuba Trail.

1 comment:

  1. I was getting a little antsy to hear how your trip has been going lately, but it was worth the wait. Sounds like your trip has been "Rich" with challenges and excitement.
    Keep on keepin' on.