Have you followed this whole journey from the beginning? Follow this link to find all the episodes of our North American Cycle Tour – 2019.
Sunday 11th August: Brookings, Oregon to Crescent City, California, USA: 44kms
Ride Time: 2hrs 36mins / Ave Speed: 10.4mph
We awoke to clear skies this morning, but our tent and the grass were still really wet. As the tall trees surrounding our site were blocking the sun, we moved everything around the back to the riverbank and spread it out to dry. In full sun, the tent was dry in 15 minutes. Just one of the great things about our Vango tent – we love it!
As expected, pushing our fully-loaded bikes up the steep driveway was something of a task. We had to stop a couple of times to catch our breaths, and then again on the side of the road at the top.
We crossed the bridge over the Chetco River using the pedestrian footpath and deviated down around the harbor. This bought us out onto the 872 through the village of Red Rock and joined us back onto the 101 about 7 miles later. It was an excellent, quiet option to the heavily-trafficked 101.
We immediately crossed over another bridge with a pedestrian bikeway, and ten minutes later, we struck the Californian border. To our surprise, there was a large, multi-lane border control post on the Californian side that was checking cars and trucks. We rode up to one of the gates, and the guard motioned us to keep going. I guess we just weren’t interesting enough for him! I found out later it was an Agricultural Inspection Station. No fruit and vegies on us – nor weed!
Feeling like a coffee break, we stopped at Smith River. A small coffee van was on the corner of the highway and the main street. We hung out there for a while as we were in no hurry. Our accommodation for the night was at a church in Crescent City. There are no Warmshowers or cheap hotels there and most cyclists tend to call Katie and arrange to stay overnight in the hallowed ground. So that’s what we did, and we gave her an approximate arrival time.
Having to do only 44kms today, leaving late, and really taking our time, we still arrived in Crescent City early. Our first impressions weren’t so good either. I guess we’d been told too many negative stories about the place. We managed to find a Burger King and sat around there in the air-conditioning for some time. The place was pumping with overweight children and shifty-looking parents. There were too many bad vibes here, we weren’t looking forward to staying around for the night.
Once again, we talked to Katie and told her we’d be over at the church in ten minutes. She met us at the door of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and opened the garage of a building next door for us to store our bikes in, then showed us around the place. The building was used for church meetings and for looking after the city’s homeless. Inside were toilets and showers, clean towels, an industrial kitchen, and a well-stocked pantry with plenty of things left behind by fellow cyclists.
There was no need to sleep on the floor either, there were two large and comfortable lounges in one corner that we were welcome to sleep on. Katie was the perfect host, very warm and kind, but I could tell she had a hard edge. She was dealing with all kinds of society’s outcasts and had seen it all, I think. She made herself particularly clear about locking the door at all times, which put us on edge. Unfortunately, there were plenty of windows in the large room, but no blinds. If we were to turn on a light tonight, anyone on the street would be able to see us in there and it might attract people looking for a handout. After all, this is where they come normally.
So, after she left, I walked down the road to get some beers and snacks for the night. I wasn’t back long when someone began knocking on the door. Katie had told us not to open the door for anyone. This was easier said than done since the teenage boy, now standing outside, could see us clearly. I could see that he was crying and didn’t have the heart just to ignore him. There was also a voice warning me I might be inviting in trouble.
I looked carefully around before opening the door. Sobbing freely, the boy told me he had been kicked out of home by his parents because he had his bike stolen. He was about 16, I’d guess, and pretty upset. He was looking for somewhere to sleep for the night, but trying to sound strong, I told him he couldn’t sleep here, that we were visitors and weren’t allowed to let anyone in.
He stopped sobbing for a minute and asked if I knew where he could go to spend the night. It was just getting dark, so the pressure was on him. Not sure what to do, I told him to wait while talking with the owner. I rang Katie and told her what was happening. Oddly, she didn’t seem too worried for the boy. She just told me to tell him to go down the road to the next church as they’d be open and would look after him.
I relayed the message. The boy looked doubtful as I guess I sounded like I was fobbing him off. Even I felt like I was fobbing him off, but he thought about it momentarily and then walked off. Instead of feeling relaxed, I was now very alert to the fact that strangers were walking around outside.
Katie had told us there would be an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in the church next door tonight. Soon after the boy left, people started hanging around in the verandah that joined the two buildings. We sat quietly as mice, trying not to get seen and draw their attention. We kept all the lights off and didn’t dare turn on the TV. Finally, whoever was running the meeting turned up, and they all went inside.
Shazz and I drank our beers and waited for the meeting to finish. It went on for about an hour, then a few stragglers hung around chatting and smoking outside. It seemed like forever before they all left, and we could relax and get some sleep. However, it wasn’t to be. We could hear voices outside during the night and smell weed. It seemed people were sleeping out there on the verandah. This did nothing for our nerves.
Not a great start to California, but it did get better. Take a look at – Land of the Giants: Traveling from Crescent City to Ukiah.