With Paul and Babe!
Today turned out to be a race against the clock. At the beginning of the day, we decided to catch up with Ben, who always got ready and left way before we did, at Elk Prairie Reserve State Park. Derek and I were riding with Justin again today. The day stated with our climb up the "mountain." I was not looking forward to riding up what we rode down yesterday to get to the campsite. We reluctantly set out and I stormed up the nearly vertical hill. I may have made it out to be worse than it was, but I just kept chugging along and made it to the top. It took me 26 minutes to get up the 2 mile hill, but I was very proud of myself. I thought I would have to walk some of it, but I stayed on the bike for the entirety of the ride. Once at the top, it was all worth it because we had a huge descent ahead of us from the climb the day before. We were speeding down the hill through a dense layer of fog. It was everything I had pictured before coming out here. You could barely see 20 feet in front of you, let alone realize that the ocean was just 100 feet down the cliff to the right of us. We stopped at a scenic vista and took in the beauty. It is something else to be able to watch the fog literally roll in and blanket the coastline. Just amazing. After reaching the bottom of the hill, which is always a bummer, and riding for a bit we reached Klamath. This was one of the stops I was looking most forward to. There is a giant statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. If you remember from the Timberline Lodge mosaic at Mount Hood, I have a fascination with this folk tale. The statue is at the entrance of the Trees of Mystery, which was on the billboard we saw yesterday. The statues are almost archaic looking. They look like giant reproductions of a folk art carving. They are extremely simplified, but get the job done. They tower over you and make you feel like a bug. They also use a bit of humor with a hand that waves, an eye that blinks and a talking voice. That's right, they have someone somewhere listening to the audience and talking back to them through a speaker. We could not figure out where they were hidden, which added to the mysteriousness. It was very entertaining. I love to add humor to my work to make it more approachable, and this is an instance in which it works in the "real world." I wanted to see how folklore varied throughout the country, and this gave me chance to do this. I have seen one of these statues in Bemidji, MN and this one was a bit more simplified. Maybe it was due to the logging traditions and the redwood carvings that came from this. These redwood carvings that I have seen so far on the trip have been simplified and sometimes just plain awful. Nevertheless, they are a blast to look at, and of course, I would want one in my yard. They had a great gift shop here with a cabinet of vintage souvenirs, which included a museum of Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest. It was very cool to see some of the artwork and crafts from the natives of this area. My favorite pieces were a rug with a beautiful geometric pattern and a seal intestine rain jacket. Some of my favorite inspirations for my work are quilt patterns and animals, so these two objects fit in perfectly. After soaking all of this in, we set out to reach Elk Prairie. It was a nice day of riding until we reached the campsite, where there was no Ben to be found. We got there relatively early, so we figured he had kept going to the next campsite, Patrick's Point. We had heard this was one of the best campsites on the route, so we decided to try to catch up. We left, but not after talking to another bike tourist who was moving from Seattle to Missoula! This was too funny because I am going to Missoula for a two month residency at the Clay Studio of Missoula and I just left Seattle which I would love to move to some day. Great minds think alike. Shortly after leaving the campsite we saw a herd of Elk grazing in a field. They were huge and very elegant. They would jump over a fence, but it looked like they were simply stepping over it. We stopped at a convenience store to get some food for dinner and found a jar of peanut butter for $9.50! What!?! It is always best to stock up at supermarkets. We passed a campsite that was listed as having no water to see if Ben was there, but luckily it was closed, so we kept going. Water is kind of a necessity. As we were going up a hill, I broke another spoke on my rear wheel. This was it. I could barely ride the bike forward, as the wheel was wobbling so bad that it was hitting the brake pads. We tried to find me a ride to the campsite, but nobody offered. It was getting late and starting to get dark, so I trued the wheel the best I could and we kept going. I knew that since spokes kept breaking, I had to replace the wheel. That was tomorrow's mission. Luckily we would be in Arcata, where there are several bike shops. We finally made it to Patrick's point in pitch black dark. Of course Ben was there, about to go to sleep. He always beats us! We set up camp, had some spaghetti (with real tomato sauce) and our beloved Cherry Pepsis and hit the sack. Today was a long day. Some of the best sights of the trip so far!