High times on the Redwood Highway

Day 11, Burlington Campground to Standish Hickey Recreational Area, 46 miles

As with previous tours, I’m waking in the early hours to blog, then sleep a bit more. A strange sleep cycle, but seems inevitable at this point. The sun is setting ever earlier, days shortening. Less light makes it quite natural to be in bed by 9pm. I poke my head out of the tent and see no one else is up yet. Ah, back to sleep for a few more winks.

When I finally rise, I see Alice packing up her gear. She’s fast than me this morning. The other two cyclists have ridden on. I bid Mia good morning and farewell, and invite her to visit me if Corvallis if she’s ever up north. Then down the Avenue of the Giants. A beautiful quiet morning spin through the immense trees. There is a fragrance in the air, aromatic trees, needles on the floor, wild dill growing along the road. We continue on the Myers Flat, for coffee at the Daily Grind. This shop has a cantankerous owner whose intention seems to be as rude as possible to tourists, though I’ve seen him be friendly to the locals. The signs in the shop are telling. I’m almost disappointed that he’s not there, just an overwhelmed employee trying to serve the many hippies and hitchhikers congregating at the only coffee shop for miles.

We ride on, stopping frequently for pictures. Alice apologizes for pausing so much, but I encourage her. “This is your adventure, it must be relished!” I have found that I rather enjoy riding through here with people who’ve never seen redwoods, or California. I feel like a cycling ambassador, and getting a vicarious pleasure from their experience. It all seems new again to me. I’m remembering when I rode these highways back in college, and again in the early 90s. My wanderlust pounding in my veins, and my legs, hurtling my bicycle over hills and headlands, down into valleys and along rivers. Again, I see how the bicycle is a time machine, stretching my consciousness past this highway, this day, into the past, into the future. Whoa.

The Avenue ends too soon and we’re back on the 101. My philosophical musings come abruptly to a halt as we begin a series of hills which will last all the way to the camp. And then there is the heat. Warm air is blasting down the hills, giving us a modest headwind to contend with as well. I’m glad I’ve got my legs back, and am climbing strong. We stop in Garberville for a coffee break. Alice meets another Brit in front of the cafe, a colorful bloke (as she might call him) who is hitchhiking and volunteering at a local melon farm. The town seems a bit tamer than the last time I was here. Garberville, actually all of Humboldt County can be a bit of a zoo this time of the year, with the pot harvest bringing in trimmers and all sorts of colorful characters.

Back on the road and back to the merciless hills. Climbing on and on, then descending through the narrow Richardson Grove, then on the final ascent to the camp. It’s getting late in the afternoon, and we want to get to camp before dark. But the final miles include four steep climbs. Alice barrels ahead as I lumber along. At last, the final rise, then the camp. We stop at the Peg House for burgers, just 5 minutes before they close the grill! (7pm for you other cyclists) I get the huge Bigfoot Burger, which at first seems too much. Alice enjoys her veggie burger. Then off to set up camp by flashlight (or torch as Alice would call it). We meet the two cyclists from before, who arrived long earlier. Showers and bed come early tonight, exhausted from the rigorous ride.

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