Day 17: Humbolt to Standish Hickey State Park

September 11, 2013. 51.71 miles.

I was the last one out of the  campground this morning (of the bike tourers, that is).  I  don’t seem to be one of the more efficient people in terms of packing up and getting going. Though I was faster than the crowd of people I met farther north.  I guess I’m in with a different set of people these days.

The last few miles of the Avenue of the Giants was as nice as the first.  Biking through redwoods is somehow very relaxing and peaceful.

Much of the rest of the day was either on 101 or on one of a few smaller parallel roads.  The stretches of 101 varied between being 4 lane divided limited access freeway, and small two lane winding roads through the woods with very little shoulder.  It’s a bit strange for one road to switch between these two styles rather suddenly and without major towns marking the transition.  It makes you wonder whether the small parts are impossible during tourist season or whether the large parts are just overbuilt.  Seems like it has to be one or the other.

One of the roads parallel to 101 was highway 271.  It really did run nearly adjacent to 101 most of the time, and had absolutely no traffic (it wouldn’t make sense to bother with it in a car, I suppose).  At one point both roads crossed a river on bridges that were right next to each other (though the 271 bridge was lower).  Again, it seemed a a little unnecessary to maintain both roads, but I certainly appreciated it for cycling.

As the bike shop guy a few days ago mentioned, there was a shop and grill stand across from Standish Hickey State Park.  Since it was a relatively short day, I got there early and was thinking of making some calls to people back home over dinner, but there was no cell reception.  I guess it’s kind of a remote area.

The grill place was quite tasty, and they had lots of seating in and around a small garden and patio.  They also had a small outdoor movie screen set up and a sign about Saturday movie nights.  I had a standard sort of burger with bacon and jalapeños and such, but there was also an option of getting a vegan tempe reuben.  That was a new one.

The campground had something like 17 bike tourers in it (including a fellow who rides a recumbent trike and writes prolifically about it on the Trike Asylum website — he was the one who counted).  The guy from a couple days ago who mentioned biking repeatedly between Montana and Arizona was also there, chain smoking and playing country music on the radio.  He is a very outgoing fellow, which almost makes up for the obnoxiousness of the smoking and unwanted music playing. Apparently he claimed to someone that he had several warrants out from his arrest.  No idea if that’s true, but I suppose that if it is, being on a perpetual bike tour is a good way of not being found.

I chatted until relatively late at night with a newly retired couple from New Zealand.  They interacted with each other in a way that was pretty much the stereotype of the old married couple.  A fair bit of bickering and accusations, but they still seemed to have a strong relationship despite that.  Anyway, we chatted about a lot of things, but at one point the topic of suing and personal liability lawsuits came up.  We agreed that the way we do it in this country was sort of ridiculous, but the New Zealand gentleman claimed he thought the prospect of civil suits on top of criminal is what made American drivers so much nicer to cyclists that New Zealand drivers.  I don’t know about that claim, but if it’s that noticeable to him I’m not sure I want to cycle in New Zealand.  He also talked about the problem of a lot of New Zealand trained doctors (and other professionals) permanently leaving the country after schooling to escape large educational debts.  The student loan problem is a familiar one, but it’s interesting that I’ve never heard of any Americans trying to escape their debt in that way.

Bronwyn Woods