We are only a day from what is currently known as “California” !
There is a certain excitement that stirs in me when the thought, it feels as though the distance we have accomplished is extraordinary . Because it is the land where so many songs have been written about it, where sunshine apparently never ends. where the Terminator was governor ( I grew up on Arny films!) and where queers and hippies flocked in the mid 20th century to create a space for themselves in this world. For the most part I am getting ready to enter a state where the whole vibe will likely not be as mellow are the first two we passed through, or at least that is what I have heard from various people who have experienced it on bicycle.
First big thing is the beach is not deemed ” for the people” as it has been in “Oregon”, so accessibility to the ocean and sand are likely to be much more limited :(. The second thing is how much harder we have been told it is to stealth camp here ( pitching our tent anywhere that is out of sight, either in the forest, the sea pines or the beach). We have been warned that the police in that state prowl around quite a bit more, protecting the unused land from vagrants. Having all our gear on can feel as though everyone is watching us at points but I guess it goes to a whole other level in Cali in the evening hours ( looking for a spot). We have been told that people are far more likely to call the police if they see you walking your bicycles into somewhere. I mean, I already dislike it when I feel someone has seen me duck into the pines or the beach because that in a sense makes me vulnerable, in reality most people just don’t care as long as you aren’t making a ruckus.. There are apparently also a lot of pot farms in northern section of the state and these place are very, very well guarded and unless they know I am not out to bust them there could be trouble.
With that said we are going to feel it out, I sense that if we are well out of sight as we have been and set up before dark as we have been ( so we don’t have to use our l.e.d lamp) that it will be fine. This type of camping likely strikes people as more dangerous or sketchy, I really beg to differ. I really dislike campgrounds for the most part; they are full of people in thier RV’s or large trucks with trailers ( and sometimes ATV’s! Oh boy, oh boy! Heaven forbid we get caught up in a nature walk) which really takes away from the natural feel I a want when being in nature and the elements. Camp sites are also neck in neck beside each other, so you really don’t get too much space for yourself. The hiker-biker campsites have usually been put smack dab front and centre of the grounds, lacking privacy , vegetation cover and surrounded by all the eyeballs. The worst of all are the racoons…… they are relentless when they want your stuff! I had them steal a bag of my clothes on the first night when having a late supper ( now we eat well before nightfall, especially in a campground). All you see are thier beady, glowing eyes bobbing around in the dark as they are otherwise completely camouflaged in the dark. Two nights ago I had the scariest night by far on this trip ( and in a long time) where I was getting an extra sweater from my pannier in the dark when there was a very deep growl beside me in the trees followed by thrashing noises. I freaked out, cursed and yelled then ran back to the tent and fell backwards into it ( so my back wasn’t ever to whatever it was outside). I had my knife and bearspray but this only made me feel slightly safer ( better than not having them) because we don’t sleep in a large, locked metal box at night like everyone else in the campgrounds. Whatever it was came back and messed with out tarped bicycles. We keep our panniers on our bikes except the food/ bathroom items one that we usually string up into a tree or put in a lockable food box if it is provided. We made hissing noises ( Sara says mine sounds very impressive, like I am a large cat. Meow!) and they left for a few hours then woke us up again in the middle of the night messing with the tarp again. In the morning we saw unused ziplock bags and our brand new spanking mynstral pads spewn about the site. It was totally racoons…. the little bastards. Sara pointed out that they went for plastic/ platic wrapped things because they have been habitualized to the fact that food comes in plastic. The campsites are surprisingly really behind on having simple infrastructure to deter wildlife from being attracted to there, like those garbage bins that have latches that only humans can use. Seriously, they are using trashcans with the lids you just gently push one to put your trash in. They are sometime located right beside a tent site. A friend of mine who did this trip said she made a sandwich while setting up her tent, set it down beside her for maybe 10 seconds to use both her hands , went to pick it back up and it was gone. She looked around and not far from her a racoon had sniped it. She has also described having shone her flashlight into the bushes and being surround 360* by glowing racoon eyes.
I really dislike the racoons and having to deal with them.
Sleeping in a stealth location is far more calmer in so many ways.
Another thing I will miss about “Oregon” are all the places named for The Devil; Devil’s Punchbowl, Devil’s Elbow, Devil’s Churn, Devil’s Kicthen , Drunken Devil’s Road and Seven Devil’s Road . Seven Devil’s Road was a pretty tough one to ride through as it was full of, well, seven really steep hills to climb ( and a few extras just for fun). Someone, obviously a cyclist with a wicked sense of humour, spray painted the name of each devil after you crested that particular hill ( or devil!). The spray paintings went as follows; Devil #1, Devil #2 ( these two were the worst! so short of breathe after both of them), Devil #3 Aren’t you loving it?, Devil #4, Devil #5, The Actual Devil #5, Devil #6 , Devil #7 and You Devil :p. It was a 7.8 Mile stretch of insane hills. It was sort of fun 🙂 .