Forest For The Trees (USA Day 124)
We set two targets for today: a realistic one and an ambitious one. Amy’s ankle felt fresh, and so while we doubted we’d be able to make more than the past few days, there was that small chance that we’d manage more. The Avenue of The Giants began about thirty miles south of Eureka, and it had a bunch of camping opportunities. Twenty miles further, however, was Burlington Campground with the promise of a cluster of fellow cycle tourers and a bear box for our smellies.
Our first stop was with a doctor friend of our hosts, who took a look over Amy’s ankle in his back-room brewery, pushing and pulling at her ankle while asking if any of it hurt. Much of it didn’t, which appeared to be good news. He gave us some restrictive tape and a handful of apples, and sent us on our way with renewed confidence.
The miles passed more easily than they’ve done recently. Under an uninspiring, grey sky, we pedalled along the 101, not bothering much with the view as we drifted inland, wondering when the ankle would begin to throb.
We stopped for lunch in Scotia: a town where the world seemed to have ended. It consisted of two buildings: an enormous abandoned warehouse and a shop, where a meat-slathered butcher roamed the aisles and accused me of having a question to ask. I promised that I didn’t, then let him return to his gristle chopping before asking where to find the coleslaw. A few ghostly figures pulled various packets of crisps off the shelves into their depressing trolleys, and a girl spooned some potato salad into a polystyrene cup for me with such hatred that I felt obliged to sniff it when she wasn’t looking. One aisle had lots of candles with Jesus on them. The ceiling was unsettlingly high and weirdly dark.
Under the guise of putting more sugar in Amy’s coffee, I surreptitiously heated up some microwaveable pizzas that we’d bought a couple of days ago and carried them outside in their boxes. This felt like a significant victory, but an even greater one would come. As we munched our pizza in the chilly late afternoon, we realised that Burlington Campground, our stretch goal, was only fifteen miles of flat forest away.
Buoyed by our weirdly easy progress and our weirdly spicy pizza, we clocked our first fifty since the injury and rolled into Burlington to set up camp beneath a canopy of age-old redwoods, amongst half a dozen lovely cyclists from three different continents. There was a fire, sharpened sticks and the ingredients for s’mores (WHY?), and the sort of camaraderie that we haven’t felt since the TransAm.
Best of all, we plan to do the same again tomorrow. We’re back in the game.