Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Day #29: Crossing Borders

Today's Route: Bootleg Campground (8 miles S of Walker, CA) to Hope Valley Resort (5 miles W of Woodfords, CA) (61 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 1,136

Yesterday, I used the Buff in bank-robber mode to keep the flying gnat-like creatures away from entering the orifices of my head.

This morning I looked equally dorky. Only this time, I wore my balaclava to keep my head from freezing. It was damn chilly this morning, especially since the first eight miles of our ride were downhill, in a rocky canyon. The sun had not yet risen above the canyon walls to warm up the air.

Wearing my balaclava, also in bank-robber mode.

On the bright side, my balaclava was one piece of gear that I had packed but not yet used. Now I've used it. So, yeah!

The eight miles of downhill delivered us into the town of Walker, where we found a cute little coffee shop that offered piping hot drinks.

There was an adorable little doggie running around the coffee shop. Petting him made me miss all the lovely animals I cared for while I housesat. Petting him made me miss my weekly volunteer sessions at the Seattle Animal Shelter. And, of course, petting him made me miss my two little babies, Russell and Mitzy (see my The Nomad Sits Atop Houses and Nine Lives posts).

The adorable coffee shop doggie.

When we left the coffee shop about an hour later, it was sunny and warm. It's amazing how quickly sunshine increases the temperature. The balaclava and the multiple other layers I was wearing got stuffed into the bottom of my pannier.

A little while later, we entered Nevada.

Hip hip hooray! Jumping for joy as we enter a new state.

Randy points for joy.

The truth of the matter is that the official Sierra-Cascades route doesn't go through Nevada. However, today's official route went over a nasty pass called Monitor Pass. This pass has been included on the list of "death rides." I'm not exactly sure what constitutes a death ride. Perhaps it's referring to the ridiculous elevation gain. Or perhaps to the number of cyclists who have been killed on the route. I kinda don't want to know.

A few days ago, Randy spotted Monitor Pass on the map. He emailed a cyclist friend of his, who lives in the area, to ask if there were any good detours around this pass. Sure enough, there were a few options. We chose the most pleasant of the options, which included eight additional miles and one additional state. Score!

Alas, 28 short miles later, we reentered California.

Back in California already?

While California has been a joy to ride through, California is a really tall state. We've already spent 29 days riding through this state, and it will still take us another week of riding before we enter Oregon.

Our big pass today was Simee Dimeh Summit. This pass is hardly worthy of a photo. However, there's a little story behind this summit.

The not-so-elevationally impressive Simee Dimeh Summit.

Throughout the day, Randy, Alex, and I were playing cat-and-mouse. At some points in the day, Randy was riding ahead of us. At other points in the day, Alex and I were ahead.

Randy was riding a ways ahead when Alex and I reached Simee Dimeh Summit. From a distance, we saw that Randy had parked his bike beneath the sign. Randy is not one to stop and take photos of summit signs such as this. Alex and I thought that perhaps our photo taking of every summit sign had somehow influenced Randy to take photos of summit signs as well.

As soon as Alex and I approached the sign, Randy ran to his bike, hopped on his saddle, and off he went. Moments later, Alex and I noticed that Randy had left a note for us on the sign.

Randy's note.

The note made us laugh. It's so true. After our 9,945 ft climb over Tioga Pass two days ago, the elevation of Simee Dimeh is peanuts.

I've been amused by the cattle grates we've seen in the roadways. The cattle grate below is the real deal. Cattle are afraid to cross over the grate for fear that their hooves will get caught between the parallel bars.

A real deal cattle grate.

We've seen a number of "fake" cattle grates along our route. This cattle grate has painted parallel lines. Are cattle really so dumb that they fall for this?

The fake cattle grate.

We're starting to come across more and more bike tourists heading in the opposite direction. Two days ago, there was the chatty French guy in Yosemite. Yesterday, we saw three tourists heading to Los Angeles. This afternoon, we ran into a guy biking from Albuquerque to Sacramento. And then later this evening, we met two guys who are biking the Western Express route.

Seth and Neil are biking the Western Express.

We are camping tonight at the Hope Valley Resort. One of the great things about sharing campsites with Randy is that Randy is the magical age of 65. This means that he gets discounts on camping rates. Discounted camping rates divided by three is a helluva lot cheaper than the non-discounted rates I paid for myself on my previous solo trips.

The showers at Hope Valley have been the warmest and the strongest that we've had all trip. So, you can imagine how long my shower lasted. I did some laundry in the sink, too. Yeah, for clean clothes. I dried my clothes on my clothes line. Like my balaclava, today was the first day that I used my clothes line on this trip. So, yeah!

Drying clothes in the warm breeze.

What a great day of riding! It was fun to unexpectedly cross borders, especially since doing so saved us from having to ride over the "death ride" pass.

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