I woke up at 6 am when Tal's alarm went off downstairs. I packed everything up and was out of the door at 7:30 when he left for work. Not wanting to drift away again, I promised to keep in better touch this time. Thanks for helping me out of my jam, Tal!
I wanted to say goodbye to Raven, but he was a night owl. We had agreed to meet up at 9. To pass the time, I found a local diner with free wifi and picked my route over breakfast. Then I swung by Raven's and we said our goodbyes. Thanks for letting me stay there and for driving me around!
Wanting to make up some time after being stalled a few days, I hit the I-5. I was so excited to be underway without needing to be rescued that I didn't even care that it was the freeway. I tried to outrun the rainclouds. There was a sprinkling of rain, but not enough to see if I'd fixed the hiccup along with the start button. The bike ran great! It was so liberating to finally have everything going my way! I called Ed to let him know the good news - He'd volunteered to come "save my bacon" if I couldn't figure out the problem. It's always great when I can have a plan B.
In Grant's Pass, I got some kerosene and a grout brush and took the time to clean and relube my chain in a Walmart parking lot. it was getting pretty gross. I found it odd that nobody said a word about the mess I was making, but filed that information away for later.
Eventually, I hit the California state line. Goodbye Oregon, you crazy, waterlogged state!
I chatted with another long-distance tourer named Rush in Weed, CA. He was from Alaska and was on his way to Monterey. He was going to try to get there tonight, and it was almost sunset already! Crazy. I found Mt Shasta and Highway 89 near sunset. The view from the rest area wasn't that great.
I did really like the way the sun was hitting the hills on the opposite side of the freeway though... it's neat how it illuminates all the contours.
Darkness fell. Off the 89, I found a promising forest service road east of a small town. The first dirt offshoot I attempted had a gate. While turning around very slowly, I rode over some branches and the bike slipped out of my grasp. Fully loaded, with a full tank of gas, I had my doubts about whether I could pick it up, given how challenging it had been to pick it up previously...
The rack and giant panniers came in useful! With the added height off the ground, I was able to just barely pull it upright. It required a lot of swearing and wiggling as I braced myself against the seat, but I got it done! Woohoo!
I went further down the road and found another dirt offshoot. I am actually pretty glad I attempted this one at night, because I am not sure I would have braved the moon dust if I saw it before I was underway. There were lots of "oh shit" moments. The road itself was straight and flat, nothing crazy, but the dust had me skittering around. More than once I thought to turn back, but I figured that if I stopped I was likely to drop it anyway so I might as well continue. Never before had I been so grateful to see rocks and pine needles, for the traction they provided.
Eventually I came to an "intersection" and barely managed the turn. I found myself in an open clearing dotted with cow shit. Based on the tracks, I guessed this was a spot where people brought truckloads of cattle to graze. It seemed suitable for a nice camp. I started setting up around 10 pm.
I didn't get to sleep until midnight, and then it was fitful. Lower back pain and chill kept waking me up. I ended up wrapping my sleeping bag with the silver tarp and piling my riding gear on top, which warmed me considerably. A tip from the homeless, but it works! Woke up several more times as the tarp moved around which created cold spots.
I slept in late, until 10 am. I didn't sleep very well, so I needed all the extra I could get. I set up my solar panel to charge my droid and spread out my stuff on a nearby helpful thorny bush to dry out the condensation.
In the daytime, the moon dust wasn't as scary, likely because I could anticipate the road up ahead a bit better. It still skittered around, but I didn't have any problems.
Such a late start. I hit pavement around noon, and rode for a while. It was a nice, sunny day, warm enough to not need my liner or thermals. I was glad to be out of the rain.
I stopped for lunch at a nice picnic area near a river. I'd eaten almonds and fruit for the past two meals, so I wanted something a bit more substantial. I don't usually cook lunches because it takes a while to pack and unpack everything, usually an hour or two, but I wasn't in that big of a hurry.
I decided to make a stew with TVP, carrots, dried shiitakes, pasta, freshly filtered water, mushroom powder, salt, pepper, chipotle chili powder, italian seasoning, and garlic powder. The penny stove did a great job.
"But wait!" you might say. "That's a lot of different spices!" Well yes. Yes, it is. The penny stove and the sterno enclosure I've posted about before, but I don't think I've gone into my cooking setup.
The main piece is a set of three nesting pans from MSR. I got these secondhand over a decade ago, and they've served me well. I don't need all three pans often, most often I just use the smallest one, but it can be handy to have the larger ones too. They can be used to do dishes, laundry or hair (haven't needed the last two on this trip yet, but have in the past), to give a dog a bowl of water, or to cook for more than one person. The steel cup I use for tea and sometimes soup. The lid of the largest pan can be used as a non-nonstick frypan. Better hope you have a lot of grease, or a lot
Inside the smallest pan, and into the gaps between the pans, I cram every available square inch full of useful goodies. This is dead space - no matter if the pans are empty or full, they will take up the same area, so it's become a bit of a game to see how much crap I can shoehorn in there.
In the center are my spices. In deciding to carry all this stuff, my reasoning was that "no matter what else happens to me, at least my food will taste good". It's been hard to argue with that. I appear to be carrying at least six different kinds of tea. The spices from the top are: italian seasoning, chia seed, pepper, salt, lemon pepper, granulated onion, cinnamon, cloves, seasoned salt, garlic powder, chipotle pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, cumin, and chinese five spice. I've also got waterproof/windproof matches, a magnesium fire starter, a collection of stolen condiments, taco seasoning, sugar, tea ball, miso paste (instant soup), measuring cup, and utensils.
After my delicious meal, I filtered more water for the road and was on my way.
I wanted to check out Bumpass Hell in Lassen before it got too late, as I'd planned to be past Lassen today. It was already after 4PM. A sign appeared for "Subway Cave" and I pulled over and turned around. I had to check it out! I haven't been inside a cave in a very long time.
I descended into the darkness, my headlamp lighting the way.
The cave was pretty neat! The interpretive signs informed me that it used to be a lava tube. One of the offshoots had some GREAT acoustics, and I narrowly resisted the urge to put on some music and rock out. I twisted my right ankle a bit on the uneven floor, but I didn't think much of it. The roof of the cave was bumpy and streaked with white. Water trickled down in some places.
The cave was not terribly large, and I was soon done exploring. I saw this sign near the parking lot, apparently the rodents in this area have the bubonic plague? I guess that's one way to make people take "don't feed the squirrels" seriously...
When I got back to the bike, it was already after 5pm. I considered my options - no free or distributed camping in national parks. I knew I wouldn't be hiking the 3 miles to Bumpass Hell this late anyways, it would be dark by the time I got back. I decided to look for a place to camp on the way there, to camp outside the park boundary and try again in the morning.
While cruising down the highway, I saw a small sign for "Battleground Reservoir Campground". Sounds promising. The road was nine miles of pleasant, even dirt. I had fun! I even stood up for several miles of the route! Standing up while riding is something I try to work on, when I can. I'm definitely not used to it, and need to build up endurance in some of my leg muscles.
I found the campground, and managed to set up my camp before dark, for once! This campground had no fees. It looked like it might have had fees earlier in the year, but that they probably shut off the water for the winter, and then they stop charging fees in the off season. Suits me fine!
I took advantage of the rare treat of a table, and set up my bluetooth keyboard. I wrote down notes for most of the past week, and then layered up and hunkered down, anticipating a cold night!