Friday, July 13, 2012

No such thing

At 1:28am, a strange noise then silence. Someone might be removing a glass louver from the bathroom window, as a prelude to breaking in. Wait and listen. OK, probably no one is in the bathroom. Scurry in there to retrieve my pepper spray. Should have put it by the bed in the first place.

At 9:20 roll out of Patrick Creek. Kinda late, but breakfast was worth it. Western ommie, hash browns, banana bread. In-room coffee, made double-strength. Ready to go.

Was chatting with a teacher from Humboldt State who is clearly a regular at the lodge. She is a connoisseur of swimming holes of all things, collecting and swapping intelligence on them like some people collect baseball cards. This is her furthest point east along 199. She dunks herself in the river here, then stops at a couple other choice spots before heading back to her teaching life.

Her reason for coming is "y'know, playing in the water". She says the water is so clean it's a spiritual experience. Apparently the Mattole, Eel, and Klamath are the warm rivers. The Smith, like the Trinity River, is cold and fast. Clear, no algae at all on the rocks. According to her the Smith River is the #1 cleanest river in the country. Aside from that empirical data point are the many seekers who are drawn here for subjective, mysterious reasons. She tells the story of two siblings who carried their father's ashes. They were looking for a creek that had been dedicated to their mother, a place to reunite their parents forever. She says the old hotel has a ghost, a woman abandoned by her true love.

She says she meets such interesting people out here. She's interesting too, maybe with a tinge of sadness.

I've been warned about the next few miles of road, that they're narrow and steeper. It's no problem though. Warnings like this are usually misfires from car drivers. A bike is made for roads like this.

The Collier Tunnel, 1000 feet long and without shoulder, is an exception. To avoid it I take a left on Oregon Mountain Road. It's clearly signed, which is nice. The biggest treat of the day, a drop-dead gorgeous road  almost totally shaded by trees. Manzanita, fir, pine, and maybe madrone. Paved except for one short gravel section. 7 miles without another human soul. The road actually winds across the top of the tunnel, without giving a clue, and dumps out at the Oregon border. Perfection!

It's windy in the Illinois Valley and I find the towns depressing. Liquor and thrift stores. Shuttered old motels and other businesses. No folk art, as people struggle to make a living. Fox News on the TV at the Wonder General Store.
Turkey sandwich with a side of Fox News
Applegate Valley, another excellent bike route. 20 miles of gently rolling farmland along the Applegate River. Reminds me of the Swedish countryside. The wind mostly at my back. Wave to the first cyclist I've seen since leaving the coast. Grateful to give Grants Pass a miss.

Today and yesterday there have been emotional moments on the road. They come in waves, uninvited. That's unusual; when I ride there's a goal and a means to achieve it and food stops along the way. Lots of welcome distraction in the scenery and people I meet. My life is still in ragged pieces, maybe that's the reason. Or seeing all the places of my childhood again, with their trigger points.

Sort and then sort some more as the pedals spin.This is a way of honoring my family. My parents' values and where I grew up. Piloting my little ship along new and different roads. Taking care of everything myself.

At the end of the day, dinner is waiting at the Ashland Food Co-op. It was a hot afternoon, a hot ride. My iced tea comes in a glass bottle with a cap. Turn the cap over and it says:

There is no such thing as too much love - even too much is not enough.


1 comment :

  1. I really like this entry. For the people, for the introspection, for the ride. Thanks for posting.