Even though I hadn’t gone to sleep until about 12:30 after the mountain of sushi we had had the night before, I was up at 6:30. C was still sound asleep, so I tried to catch up on some admin things that I hadn’t finished on the rest day. By the time C was stirring, I had finished a blog entry and answered a couple more emails. It was a productive start to the day and I was glad to have it having not got as much of the blog done as I had wanted to.

It wasn’t until 8:30 that I saw either Victor or C walking round. C & I packed, while V prepared us some breakfast. His back was feeling a little sore, and he had some things he needed to do, but he was eager to start the ride with us. As always, we were happy to have company. We had been V’s first couchsurfing guests and he had been a great host.

We rode out and V accompanied us for about the first 6 miles. It saw us head through town and get back on the 101. Riding with V was enjoyable and he had lots of questions. He’s a little undecided on the exact direction of his life, and one possibility is to get in to bike touring. His plan currently is to go to South America in 2013 and, who knows, we might meet up again there.

After V left, we kept going along 101. It’s a US highway, but it felt a little like I-90 had in South Dakota. A big road with some traffic which isn’t too exciting but gets you where you want to go. I can see it being that way all the way down to San Francisco and I’m not that excited. During the ride there were definitely some parts where I was very glad to have my iPod with me and that, even having been laundered and then dried up in Lincoln City, it was still working, albeit without a backlight. I was using it to listen to the Spanish lessons that I had started months ago and for some reason got distracted from. With more Hispanic areas of the US coming up and then of course in to Latin America, I’m definitely going to be working hard on it.

My hope to get off the 101 was met shortly later as we came to a turn off for The Avenue of Giants, a 31 mile road through Humbolt Redwoods state Forest. I was happy to be going down it for another reason too, a headwind was starting to blow, but being in the forest meant we were sheltered. It was also cooler as the sun had been beating down and getting up around 80f. I guess I had gotten used to the colder weather we have been experiencing on the Pacific Coast as it felt warm whereas back in the heat wave of Minnesota 80 felt wonderful and 90 felt fine.

Not too far along the Avenue we came across a cycle tourist who was trying to take a picture of his bicycle in front of the redwoods. I stopped to offer to take a picture of him with his bicycle and learnt that his name was Barry. He had been living in LA for the last 41 years, but was originally from Manchester even though he had less of an accent than I did. He was on a tour from Seattle down the Pacific back to LA. I asked him how far he was planning to go and he said that usually he rides until about 4pm and then finds a place, be it a campground or a random place to put his tent. He carries enough food for a couple of days and will get to LA one day. such wonderful freedom. I rode with him for a few miles, but we had to get to Sam & Shirley’s place in Garberville and he didn’t so we parted ways.

When we got to the town of Myers Flat, we had had seen enough redwoods for the day and so got back on to US101. It was about another 90 minutes of riding until we would get to our destination of Garberville, but it was a few miles shorter and C was feeling hungry. My Spanish lessons came out again and anyone that drove past me with their windows down must have been confused as I had conversations with myself in Spanish. “Tiene que ver al doctor esta tarde.” “No, tengo que ver al doctor ahora mismo!” That combined with listening to Travis’ The Man Who for the first time in 10 years got me through although some of Travis’ songs were just as terribly dull as I remember. If we turn turn turn turn turn, turn turn turn. If we turn turn turn turn turn we might learn learn. Atrocious songwriting.

*Elmer Hurlbutt Memorial Bridge was built in 1967, and named by Assembly Concurrent Resolution 38, Chapter 115. Humboldt County pioneer and rancher Elmer Hurlbutt, (1882-1967), helped to develop the Garberville Water Company.

When I was descending to the turn off on US101 for Garberville I had my Kindle out to check the directions sam & Shirley had given us. A van pulled up to my left and asked me if I Was Dominic and that I should pull over. I figured it must be Sam, our host, and so did. A guy that I recognised as Sam got out of the car and told us that we should put our things in and he’d drive us to his place. He had 4 passengers in there at the time and I was a little confused how we would fit everything in. We took our bags off and tried to get our bikes in, but it soon became apparent that we wouldn’t all fit. We put our bags in and Sam gave us directions towards his house, but promised he would drop the bags and people off before coming back to find us. I figured that with nothing on my bike there was no real need to get a lift all the way so just expected to see him at his house. I was foolish.

We rode to a later exit and wound on to a poorly maintained road. Sam had mentioned that it was 3 miles long and would gain 1200ft in that time. It started off not too bad, but then rounding a corner it raised sharply and I was glad that I wasn’t fully laden. I was spinning a bit faster than C and the only thing I could hear behind me was her screaming at the road. We made it about half a mile up the road before Sam’s van came back down and we were glad to be getting picked up. I mentioned how it had been steep and was told that we would see how it got worse. Sure enough, after our bikes were in and we were riding up, the road got even worse. The climbs continued to be sharp with a couple of extremely sharp drops to make you lose hope and there were countless potholes. The last mile of the road was private road and so became a bumpy dirt road. It made me think ahead to my future travels and how there are going to be times when I’ll have to go along roads like it fully laden. They’re going to be fun weeks.

Getting to Sam’s house we honked our horn and his wife Shirley came to open the gate. We were shown in to our bedroom and left to clean up. The house is off the grid and they have 8 solar panels on the roof to generate electricity. Their water is from a 250′ deep well. After cleaning up I headed upstairs where we got to meet there other 4 couchsurfing guests. They have only just signed up for Couchsurfing and seem to be starting at the deep end with 6 guests at once. The eclectic group of people made me feel like we were in a hostel. Toma + Daniela are from Belgium, Ernesto is from Argentina and Cici was born and raised in our start point of Tampa, Florida. The talking ran in to the night as tales of adventures in South America, farming and being in Japan after World War 2 were exchanged. I can tell that Sam & Shirley are going to be very popular hosts!

Victor picking up my bike

Avenue of the Giants