Wednesday, October 5, 2011
The Weaving of the Worlds
We have two lives. Reality this year is getting on a bike and riding 65 miles to the next town. It's sleeping in a tent and swatting bugs away as we eat. It's giving presentations to 292 excitable students. It's raising over $21,000 for our charities so far. Our imaginary life is being at home with friends and family. It's living in a house and sharing meals in a kitchen. Lately, we've experienced an interesting weaving of the worlds.
Spooner Pass was a beast! But after we crested that summit, riding into Lake Tahoe with the sun setting across the lake was serene. We watched a beautiful sunset, then continued down around the lake looking for a campsite. This is when it sunk in that, as beautiful as the sunset was, it was a sunset. The sun was gone and the dark was creeping in. We turned on our lights and pushed through.
Turns out, there's no camp sites along the North East side of Tahoe, so we tried our luck in Incline Village. No such luck. The light of day was completely gone and just when we were about to give up and turn down a dark road towards a $150 room, Larry and Candy pulled over to tell us not to bike that road in the dark and invited us to their home instead.
We spent the next few days riding to our destination of Chico. Two nights in the Sierra Nevadas, sweating in the heat of the day, bathing in the chilly river at night. Our first night's dinner was ruined by the uninvited bees swarming as we cooked some meat. Our second night, another uninvited guest came along and took Adam's bike shorts, hanging to dry in the tree. We told the kids in Chico that if they see a bear wearing a pair of bike shorts to let us know.
Chico weaved the beginning of our trip with the end. We met Rich on January 15th, day 6 of our journey, in Blythe, CA at the Blue Grass Festival. We gave him our card, he looked us up, followed our journey, sent some yummy Turkey Jerky along the way, and invited us to meet him, his brother and sister-in-law Gil and Jo, in Chico. Instead of sharing our dinners with uninvited guests, we got to share our meals with a family in a home filled with laughter.
Even as we took a couple days rest, we were still working hard and had two presentations: our first, to almost 300 students at Shasta Elementary School. They were an excitable crowd and we ran out of time before we could answer all of their questions. As we ended our presentation, the principal took the microphone and challenged his students to each bring in .50 cents and they could raise enough money to buy a bicycle. A bicycle for World Bicycle Relief is $134. We just found out these kids raised even more than that! The 4th, 5th, and 6th graders raised a total of $160: inching closer and closer to our goal of $25,000!
When in Chico, a must-do, besides seeing the World's Largest Working Wooden Yo-Yo, is visiting the Sierra Nevada Brewery. Loved our yummy meal followed by a brewery tour!
After our time in Chico, feeling mighty spoiled, our next destination was Eureka, CA where we were going to meet my Mom and Scott. In order to get there, though, we had one of the craziest, steepest, skinniest, most beautiful, scariest roads of our trip. Route 36 started off a treat. The first day, traveling up and up and up over the final mountain range to the coast, the Coastal Range, was a beautiful, hot, carless day. But this quickly changed. After camping alone in the dark, except for the four pairs of eyes that glowed in the reflection of our headlamps as we ate, we started our second day in good spirits and climbed the last big summit in the first ten miles of the day. It was all downhill from there... Literally.
As we continued on, the road got skinnier and skinnier but the traffic only increased. We soon found ourselves immersed in a Redwood forest, unable to enjoy it's beauty to it's fullest because of the constant logging trucks flying by. Logging trucks, I believe, are Cyclist Enemy #1. They slow down for no one, knowing the paycheck depends upon the amount of trips they make.
One more night, a short 20 mile day, and we were in Eureka awaiting the arrival of Mama and Scott. As soon as we saw them, it was like we were swept away from California, from the bikes, from our tour, and taken back to Madison, CT. We spent an incredible few nights at The Carter House Inn, courtesy of Mark Carter, himself. The bed and breakfast was a Diamond in the.... well, it wasn't in the Rough, but it was a Diamond, that's for sure.
We found some Redwood forests, the beautiful Pacific Coast, walked the town, and even enjoyed a home cooked meal by Scott.
Weaving it all together!
We shared some amazing meals together in Eureka, dining in places we'd usually never dream of walking into, but even though we were living the high life, we were all taken back to the outdoors when Adam found an inch worm squirming around on his plate(we're not going to tell you the restaurant name). Ahhh... I guess Mother Nature wanted my mom to experience a little of our reality.
All too quickly our time with Mama and Scott ended. We had mixed emotions as we climbed back onto our trusty steeds, Jenny and Ontwa, and rode away from Eureka and towards the end of our tour.
The emotions will be running high these next few weeks as we finish the bike-only portion of our Give a Bike: 50 State Tour.
Check out the awesome news story on NBC Eureka!!!