posted on Friday, October 18, 2013

Richardson Grove

I left Eureka early morning with my flashing lights, through a dense fog. This was going to be a long day and a much anticipated one, reaching the Avenue of the Giants, a 31 miles scenic road winding its way through dense groves of redwoods. My early departure and the fact that I was cycling alone allowed me to cover ground faster and by 10 am I was already at Scotia where the diversion from Highway 101 starts.
Along the way I bumped into a cyclist a few times and at one point we stopped to chat and we were  surprised to find  out that we were both Italians! Valerio was a very active 63 years old who had traveled the world extensively on his bike and of course had lots of stories to share. He had been to some of the most remote part of the world, crossed Amazonia, Alaska, most South American countries, China all on his old trusted Koga Miyata bike. He talked about what he called his 'bicycle master', a spanish man called Pedro he had once met at the end of an around the world journey and who had inspired Valerio to start his journeys on a bike. Pedro had told him about some of his epic adventures like cycling in Iran during the revolution without being aware of what was going on around him and being caught up by armed gangs in Nicaragua who stopped him and started playing with him by shooting real bullets to his left and to his right before luckily letting him continue his wanderings!
The Avenue of the Giants turned out to be yet another unforgettable place of the many unforgettable places I have been fortunate to already witness in this trip. I once again admired the awe inducing power of the redwoods when Valerio, who was seeing them for the first time, said that he had never seen such beauty in his entire life.
Halfway he stopped for a snack while I went on to the quaint information office of the park, sat down on a wooden bench, soaking the warmth of the midday sun. I met Valerio before exiting the road in Phillipsville where he informed me that after twenty-one  years one of his spokes had finally snapped and was pondering what he should do next.
After the vibes of Arcata I witnessed one more time the thriving hippie culture of California when I entered Garberville. It seemed like traveling back in time to the sixties, a blend of vagrants, hippies, free thinkers and eccentrics, young and old wandering up and down Main Street. I could smell Marijuana in the air and wasn't surprised to remember that Jack's 'work' was actually down the hill in Redway! On a smaller wheeled bike wearing clean, laundered sports clothes and not looking to get a quick high, I must have seemed the most eccentric in town, so after stocking up food I moved back to the highway and reached camp at dusk quickly realizing that I would be the only guest of a deserted Richardson Grove State Park.