Day 13, MacKerricher Beach to Van Damme State Park, 19 miles
A restless night, raccoons scratching at the food boxes, lumpy sleeping pad keeping me awake. Lucky that Alice and I planned to have a “lazy day”, moving camp just a short ways past Mendocino. She’s up packing her gear. I rise in time to bid Elgin and Magali farewell. They are heading to Manchester today.
Alice and I cycle along the old haul road, which starts at the MacKerricher day use area. Likely an old rail right-of-way, this is now a rough multi-use path which parallels the coastline. Waves break softly just past dunes covered with grasses and crimson ice plants. It’s overcast with high fog, but not too cold. We cycle across the Pudding Creek trestle, below is one of the Fort Bragg beaches my parents brought me to as an infant. Here I in the place I was born, so was my love of the ocean also born. We ride on to the Noyo Headlands, a mile long bike path which winds along the rocky shore. The path dead ends at an old lumber mill, forcing us to backtrack. I pedal quickly, eager for breakfast!
We cross multiple tracks as we pass the Skunk Railroad Station, turning on Main Street to find Eggheads Cafe. This quirky Wizard of Oz themed restaurant serves up breakfast on paper plates with plastic utensils, as do all Fort Bragg restaurants due to the Class 3 water emergency. California needs rain. After omelet and toast, we cross the street to find the Mendocino Cookie Company. Here more coffee and a chance to plug in all the electronics. Bikes securely locked outside, next to the Bernie 2016 storefront. We then park ourselves at a table in the large inner mall area and stay there for hours. Alice has been waiting to catch up on emails and writing. I’m beginning to look at flights from Cabo San Lucas to Portland. Cheaper than riding the train back up! Baja is calling me.
It’s well into the afternoon when we set out again. First a stop to get a new sleeping pad for Alice, as her self-inflating pad developed and uncomfortable bubble. At the Post Office, she mails the defective pad home to the UK to deal with the refund later. Back on the bikes, we pedal on south through town, then start down Route 1, The highway has a decent shoulder, but traffic is much heavier than north of Fort Bragg. There are many places to visit, but we’re pushing on to Mendocino. The time is getting late and we want to set up before dark. A quick stop for groceries then back on the road, just a few more miles to the camp.
Van Damme State Park is tucked in behind a little cove where past tours I’ve seen abalone divers. Alice sets up in the hiker biker site, while I head back out to the beach in search of a cell signal so I can help Emily print paychecks back home. My Assistant Manager is doing a great job running the shop while I’m gone, and I am again filled with gratitude. I tell her this, again. I catching a gorgeous picture the sun as it sets over the headlands across the cove. A quintessential Mendocino vista.
Back at camp, Alice and I share another simple meal, wraps of avocado, cheese, lettuce which as traveled all the way from Arcata. I make up another cous cous creation, this time with bell peppers, kalamata olives and black pepper cashews. Cous cous is my new favorite cycling food, since minimum boiling time is needed. I bring out an extra candle for light. We talk late into the night, laughing at the inside jokes only two travelers would understand. Two adventurers exploring both new and familiar lands.