“Welcome to Moclips – I’m serious!”

Day 6: Lake Quinault to Pacific Beach State Park, 32 miles

The sun breaks through the trees and I wake. I hear geese and loons down on the lake. Foggy morning, dew on my tent, I pack up my gear. Stretching my back and legs, I feel good. Ready for more miles.

Up the road a half mile to Lake Quinault Lodge, I’m hungry and so are my electronics. I see three touring bikes parked at outside the entrance: the Canadians! Inside the door, there they are, charging their phones. The modern touring cyclist’s needs: water, food, electric outlets. We are formally introduced, my touring friends from our northern neighbor are Brandon, Brandon (yes 2 Brandons) and Kane (who says his middle name is Titanium). We chat briefly, and they are off to the next destination.

I head to the lodge restaurant, looking for breakfast. A swank joint this is. The server recommends the sweet potato hotcakes, so I order a smoked salmon omelet and a side hotcake. Coffee is good, so good. I spend a couple hours blogging, surfing Facebook, gazing out over the manicured lawn at the lake. Mist shrouds to forested hills across the still water. Must be a beautiful spot to stay, rest, swim, play. I linger past noon, then head into the chilly clear afternoon.

The ride is easy, a lot of downhills. I turn off the 101 onto the Moclips Highway, 20 miles of empty back road to the coast. Nobody out here except the bears, as evinced by the squat marking the road. I put on some tunes to pass the time, Paul Simon, Dave Carter, then I settle on Ani diFranco, nothing like some punchy feminist folk rock to fire me over the hills. I turn at last onto 109, just a few miles to the town of Moclips. A short steep hill requires my smallest gear, I bear down and muscle up it.

A small market at the top of the rise, and a man with a gray handlebar mustache runs out holding a bottle of water. “Welcome to Moclips,” he says as he thrusts the bottle into my hand, laughing. “I’m serious, Welcome to Moclips!” I accept the gift, but I don’t stop, balancing the bottle of water with my slowly climbing bicycle. I later will wish I had stopped, thanking him formally, sharing a story or two. Next time! I don’t want to miss an opportunity to receive the friendship and hospitality of the road. Like that last time in San Francisco…

I was feeling worn out, isolated, questioning my trip, myself, my life. Stopped at the Ghirardelli shop, Ghirardelli Square. Hot cocoa to soothe my lonely soul. A man next to me asked “Traveling far?” The opening, a question I’d heard many times, and bragged before in response. But this time, I muttered “Yeah”, looking away, probably scowling. I didn’t feel like talking, bragging, sharing. The inquisitive man looked away too, rejected. Maybe I read too much into this. Wondering if he thought, oh, another white man not wanting to talk to a black man. Wondering if my latent racism was fueling my rejection. An opportunity to bridge a cultural chasm, lost.

I vowed later not to let this happen again. To respond to every offer of contact, every query, as openly and honestly as I can muster. And this trip, so far, so good. Sending my thanks to the handlebar mustache man.

Three miles later, I’m rolling into Pacific Beach campground. No more delightful sign than “SHOWER TOKEN MACHINE TEMPORARILY OUT OF ORDER” Free shower! First shower since Sunday, I’m basking in the hot water, cascading over my chilled body. Next I’m cooking dinner now, kielbasa, sautéed onion, carrot, tomato, with cous cous. Campground gourmet.

Getting the tent up, everything secured for the rains that are coming, later in the evening. Texting with Jennifer, connecting with home and love again. I curl up in my warm sleeping bag, my nest for the night, ready for rest and dreams.

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