Twin Peaks (USA Day 127)
The further down this coast we get, the more beautiful the views. It’s hard to even get the miles done, not because it’s hilly (though it is) or bendy (though it is) or windy (though it is) but because every half mile there’s a view that just asks to have a photo taken of it. Honestly, there’s nothing to do but step off, snap the photo, wonder why it doesn’t quite capture it, then move on to the next op.
At the top of a particularly steep hill that doubled back multiple times, climbing up to a viewpoint overlooking a calm bay framed by some gigantic rocks, with the both of us gasping for breath, Amy pulled me over to discuss a problem she had.
“I wish I’d got a picture of you coming round that switchback,” she said, regret in her voice.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Shame.” I knew what was coming next.
“Aww,” she said, letting the pause hang.
I waited for as long as possible to get my breath back. “You want me to do the hi-”
“Oh, would you?”
I had the spare energy. I quite enjoy the steep ones, actually. I found myself rolling down the wrong side of this hill, clutching the brakes, yelling up for a sympathetic acknowledgement that I’d descended far enough. Then, once out of shot, it was time to climb again.
With dread, I looked to Amy for an indication of success. “Get the shot?”
Thankfully, she nodded, and the day continued in the right direction.
From a viewpoint overlooking yet another incredible bay, we munched canyon trenchers and watched for the glints of whales’ wet skin in the sun as they crested the waves, the little splurts of spray, so energetic, so businesslike. After five glints, five splurts, you got the real treat: a big tailflip, before the beast descended out of view. Then it was back to watching for another glint. Amy was far better at spotting them than I, but that might be because my concentration was often grabbed by either the numerous carrots that needed eating, or a fairly hostile praying mantis that had set up for battle on a nearby twig and was hissing at my leg.
By the time lunch was finished, we’d seen either six whales or one whale six times. Either way, it was time to move on. We reached Gualala by six and trawled town for food, finding a taco restaurant which served only pizza (huh?) and a supermarket with such a confusing range of food that I ended up, despite my best efforts, coming out with a tub of sauerkraut.
The usual gang waited at the town’s campsite: Colin, who rode his friend’s vintage bike and who’d shredded its vintage tyre on the rough road surface; Natarsha, who’d bought a plastic bottle of whiskey to warm our chilly hearts against the cold mornings; Rupert, a brit who’s always keen for Brexit banter and who ridiculed our sauerkraut; Felix and Felix, the Germans, who’ve been riling everyone up with their loud late-night tent chats but who warded off a pack of hungry raccoons from our panniers, so they’re even on our books. We’ve only known these people for a few days, but it’s a family unit in its own fragile, temporary way. Every morning we leave separately and there’s a very real chance that we’ll never see each other again. If someone gets a puncture, chances an extra twenty miles, takes a wrong turning, they might never fall instep with the gang again. That’s just the nature of touring. But for each evening in the campsite, squeezed in the darkest corner of the field or wood to make space for the higher-paying RV types, we share our road stories and laugh at each other’s dinner choices.