Day 5: Elk Prairie to Eureka KOA, 46 miles
A chilly morning ride to start the day. Clouds hang low over the redwoods, treetops seem to tease the mist, which lands on my glasses. Not quite drizzle. Hard to see the road, which varies between ample shoulders and none at all. Cars and trucks seem to move over adequately, except when oncoming traffic meets them. No close calls, though pickups seem to love revving their loud, stinky engines just as they pass.
Breakfast at the Palm Cafe in Orick, a diner out of time, jukebox playing Bob Marley, 80s hits and a humorous country song. Stephen joins me, and our conversation is challenged by his broken English. He’s trying to travel with a budget of $5 a day! He cooks a lot more than I do, and will certainly benefit from WarmShowers.org hospitality. I pick up the tab for his hotcakes. I tell him though I don’t have a lot of money, my budget is a bit bigger. He’s very grateful, a gentle soul.
Tim and Lawrence show up in their many colored jerseys. The hot pink stripes seem to draw the wrong kind of attention, as if cyclists didn’t already pique the ire of so many motorists. I head off after getting more food at the market across 101. A strange store, with hunting and fishing supplies next to vaping and Bigfoot maps. I opt for some Tillamook cheese, a packages sandwich, and a couple Builder bars.
The ride ahead has less hills, but also seems tedious. Rolling over bluffs, around lagoons. Not many vistas, and lots of traffic. “Lumber lories” (as Tim calls log trucks) are carrying redwood loads. They give us enough room. It’s the RVs who don’t always know how big they are.
My mind wanders, and I find myself wondering again. Why do I do this? My legs are hurting, so is my ass. But my heart is lonely. I long for company, yet also am repelled by the idea of conversation, of trying to break the ice with new people, or of revealing more of myself to familiars. After many long miles I arrive at Arcata, a town with many memories from family visits and recent tours. My friend Josephine as since moved to LA, so I literally do not know anyone here. Until I talk with clerks, and book a tub at Finish Spa & Sauna.
Checking into the emails, texts, and Facebook. There are the strange connections of the modern social network. Comments on the blog are many this tour, and welcome! I’m glad to have readers, but at the same time, wondering – what have I to say. Can I entertain? And the most basic question – who am I, really? Why am I riding, what do I hope to accomplish?
My time in the tub is up, and my sore muscles thank my as I slip into the hot water. Ah, that’s why I’m here. In Arcata, to feel this, to experience my body, my mind, my quest. Off to the coop, I buy extra Builder bars to share with my road friends, who await at the KOA a few miles down the highway. When I arrive there at last, they call out, “The Ocean has arrived”. I join at the table for more conversation, late into the evening. This is how friendships are born.