Tree's a Crowd (USA Day 122)
Though the sun rose at a regular time, its arrival upon our tent was delayed by a very rude cliff which had decided to get in the way, so we woke soggy and stayed that way for some time. In place of drying off, we stalked the beach, following interesting tracks which might have been from a mountain lion, or an otter, or, more likely, a dog. The mist concealed glimpses of great munching elk who roamed the shoreline for choice ‘n’ spiky morsels, so we watched our trajectory carefully to avoid bumping into one and coming off the worse.
By the time the sun had risen to meet us, the day was in full swing and all the other campers had already left for their day of movement-related fun. We slightly dreaded the lurch back over the too-steep-for-a-bad-ankle hills, but eventually got ourselves on two wheels and worked our way back to the road. Hills presented themselves again, but with patience, the promise of good views at the top and the secret knowledge that we’d be able to sprint them if it weren’t for the ankle, we made it over each one just fine. As we sat overlooking a particularly fine bay, a chap emerged from his RV with two cans of coke.
“I don’t normally do this,” he said, sheepishly, “but I think what you guys are doing is just swell. These are for you. I got a whole fridge full of them, and I reckon you need them more than me and my 96-year old mother.” And he handed us the drinks and drove off.
I love that. ‘I don’t normally do this.’ How many cyclists had he driven past before stopping for us, toying with the idea of giving away his first drink? Obviously, we were hugely appreciative. It was such a sweet moment. I hope he makes it a normal activity, because it made our day.
From Patrick’s Point onwards, we ducked off the 101 to take some ‘scenic drives’, which is American for smaller, windier (fitting in its ambiguity) roads that you can’t drive down with your big caravans so don’t even bother. The hills were steeper, which was a little naïve, and the surfaces were terrible but that isn’t our fault. On the good side, we feasted our eyes on regular eyefuls of delicious coastline, offshore rocks, bays stacked with white horses and gallons of sea mist. With every sunny day, the winds conspire to blow us along with an encouraging waft, only becoming unsettling on exposed headlands when their true intentions, of removing us from the cliff and depositing us in the sea, are revealed.
We found Ben’s home up a sharp road away from the coast. He lives and works in a tree nursery, which we fully expected to be a euphemism for cannabis farm, but which, refreshingly, was not. Ben led us through rows of young sequoias and balsam firs to the workshop, where the seedlings are packaged in neat plastic tubes and sold on Amazon as kitch gifts. Ben’s recently adopted dog, Harley, had an ear infection, and shook his head if you stroked him in the wrong places. This place is so peaceful, and utterly off the grid. Ben’s power comes from a solar cell, which means that at various points through the evening his caravan began to beep and he was forced to turn off another lamp. Yet another person in the Southern Oregon/Northern California hills who’s carved a little piece of the world into their image, and made it work for them.