The Lost Coast

[ Day 25 — July 7, 2012 ]

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Sausage links sizzled as they cooked while pancakes rose to golden perfection nearby. A cheery, middle-aged woman named Barbara presided over the tabletop griddle and hot plate, welcoming sleepy-eyed campers as they wandered into the breakfast tent, lured by the promise of familiar, unpretentious fare. It was breakfast time in America.

I sat across from Erin, sipping coffee from a styrofoam cup and marveling at these simple comforts. How different this was from my solitary, spartan mornings in the Cascades. All things in their own time and place, I thought.

On our way out of camp, we rolled past the breakfast tent, rabbit hutch, rental bikes, and who knows what other campground ornamentations. This KOA—like many others—seemed to walk a fine line between charm and absurdity. It was an over-the-top twist on camping, something fundamentally not over the top. Yet it somehow presented its absurd offerings with authenticity. I was glad that there wasn’t a KOA nestled in the High Sierras, but I was glad that there were KOAs elsewhere in the world.

Erin and I rode together for about twenty miles, until my route left the 101. She continued south along the Redwood Highway while I headed west towards the Lost Coast. I was content—excited, even—to take a solo side adventure, knowing that we would reconnect two days later in Manchester.

I crossed the Eel River, grabbed lunch in Ferndale, and started my climb over the Kings Range. The grade was truly insane. Fifty of the next seventy miles would involve climbing, about 6,500 feet in total. It was like being back in the Sierras, except whoever built the roads through the Kings Range saw little need for switchbacks or responsible grading. I was charmed by the land, though, and never second-guessed my choice to tackle the extension.

After refueling at the general store in Petrolia, I finished a modest ride to AW Way Campground and spent the afternoon swimming and sunning in the Mattole River. At the day’s end, I laid down under brilliantly starry skies and fell asleep listening to a lone guitarist playing folk music, her nighttime performance both public and private, at once.

[ Daily Miles: 60 ] [ Total Miles: 1315 ]

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