California on Hwy 101 (part 1)

Posted by on Oct 08 2006 | 02 USA 2006, English

It has been quite a while since the last update and some 800km filled with encounters and stories waiting to be told. But where should I start?

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Well, southern Oregon, Harris beach S.P. just outside of Brookings was our last stop before entering California.

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At the campsite we found Thomas and Marianne’s tent (swiss couple we had met before) and were looking foreward to some more chatting in Swiss german. We had arrived early and went for a bike stroll into town to look for the Visitor Information where we wanted to pick up the official Highway map of California. As it turned out, the Visitor Information was just across the street from the Park and we had missed it!
Back at our camp we got ready to cook dinner, when more and more cyclists turned up and set up their tents. They invited us for dinner with them. At a nice camp fire we shared corn on the cob, baked potatos, wine as well as biker stories. Chan had a blast taking Randy, one of the other bikers, by the hand, pulling him all over the hiker/biker site and finally riding on his shoulders.

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In Brookings we had to replace Florian’s back rim, which had some small cracks. The mechanic showed Florian the inside of his wheel (the cracks were a known problem to him for ths particular brand), where some of the cracks went over 4 spike wholes! Lucky Florian that they didn’t collaps the rim while we were riding!

We had been warned several times about an inspection station at the border to California where all fresh produce would be collected. It is prohibited to bring any fruits or vegetable into California because of a fruit flie plague some 30 years ago. So we ate our last fruit a few 100m before entering California, but what disappointment: The inspection station was closed!

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After Crescent City Hwy. 101 led us on a steep windy road up into the redwoods. And that’s what it sounded like for us: “Truck! Auto (car), auto, auto… ui, ui! (Pause) Achtung (careful), Achtung, logging truck, schnell drab, drab (move over)! (Pause) Auto, Truck schnell (fast)!” Florian’s back mirror was broken and so I was warning him about traffic in our backs. The further south we got the busier 101 was and somethimes it even turned into a freeway, shoulders coming and going! We took every chance to get off that 101 onto smaller back roads.

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One of these detours was on a road closed to motorized traffic, because the road had been washed away. The police asured us though, that we would be fine on bicycles. Only that our bikes were quite heavy and wide too, so that we needed help from Pedestrians getting the trailer over a road barrier and through the worst part…

Beautiful was the ride on a Redwood National Park road closed to commercial traffic and with a 45 m/h speed limit! The trees lining the edge of the road were some of the oldest redwood trees left. Huge are some of the trunks and how small we were next to one of these giants who can reach up to over 100m into the sky!

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So far we weren’t very successfull in repairing Chan’s trailer. Arcata was the place we wanted to get it done. Randy had introduced us to a website where bicyclists offer “warm showers” to each other. That’s how we found Sandy and John, hosts close to Arcata. They served us a delicious dinner and helped us finding a place that could fix the trailer. The next day Chan and I spent at the Arcata food coop (organic and local) while Florian was working with a mechanic on the trailer in a car body shop. Late in the afternoon we headed out of town and for the first time asked people again for a spot in their back yard to put up our tent. I got a glimps of kids trailer in a back yard and that’s where we stopped to ask. “Of course, come on in!”, said Greta, mother of two small kids. Her backyard was full of toys, there was a huge gardening space an apple tree, goats, chicken and a dog. Chan quickly found his way to the toys and played with the kids while we were setting up and cooking dinner.

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We were turning our backs to the coast for a while now, following the Eel River along the Avenue of the Giants. What a relief to be emersed in the green quiet of these ancient trees, away from the noise and busyness of 101. Chan loved our campsite in the midst of the redwoods climbing on old stumps and drumming away with fallen branches.

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Garberville! That’s where we finally decided to get a new trailer. We think that our trailer has some weakness in the design and that it would therefore be only a matter of time until the next crack, once on gravel roads in Central and South America. It would be a lot harder to repair or replace the trailer after crossing into Mexico. So we went to an internet cafe (one of the rare once since Canada!) and sent out a few messages ordering the trailer from a german company and organizing its way to us via a friend of Florian’s.

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