Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Looking for Land


A beach at Sinkyone Wilderness State Park along California's "Lost Coast"


I awoke at 9:00, having rested eleven hours. It’s simply too peaceful here on the ocean!

The morning air is fragrant: fennel, something that smells like marijuana (could it be?), tobacco, sweet floral smells.

I followed Wilder Ridge Road back towards Garberville. I don’t like what’s going on here: people moving into the forest, then cutting it down. Selling off the timber. It's insane. Maybe that’s why "Pacific Lumber" can scale back its clear-cutting? Private land owners are cashing in their timber.

Turned toward Usal Road on the Lost Coast, then turned around. Decided to go to Garberville first and explore the area east of that town, then fill up in Garberville and ride the Lost Coast on my way home.

Garberville's a funny town. Stopped in at the Organic Bagelry. A long wait for service. No rush here. Hippies, organics, drugs. Shops like the Hemp Connection and Holistic Hoopology. But there's a good, vital energy in town. Lots of seemingly itinerant young people, some clearly impoverished. Living life.

I headed off into the hills east of Garberville. The mountains are higher than I expected. Snow chains are apparently required at times. ("This won’t do - not if I continue to ride a motorcycle.") The ridges are windswept, grass-covered, opening to a panorama eastward. Immense lands out there. Wild. Drove on toward Alderpoint. Farms in this area are increasingly eroding the forests. But it's attractive land. I look at people I pass, the drivers or people out on their land. I sense there’s a feeling of competition. These folks have managed to secure their piece of ground, and will defend it as needed. A game of musical chairs - I’m still running and know the music’s about to stop.

Alderpoint's a great refuge but probably too remote. Winter access without four-wheel drive is questionable. As I travel these backroads of Oregon and California, I notice many sunken roads. This past winter must have been extreme in the north.

Turned north on Alderpoint Road toward Bridgeville. Soon, it became too chilly and windy. There's a northwest-southeast oriented valley that channels wind from the coast. "This won’t do either. Too cold." And there are some curious construction projects going on back here. Large tracts of land being cleared. A few big homes or ranches going up.

Connected with Highway 36. My general sense is that it's way too cold and damp in this area. Passed a small country store on 36 and thought it might be fun to run a country grocery. (I've passed a few on this trip - such as the Honeydew store.) Rejoined U.S. 101 at Fortuna. Low on fuel, but figured I could make it to Garberville. I am getting over 45 mpg.

Too much rain forest until Garberville. ("That’s the line for me.") Refueled. I had just a few tenths of a gallon left in the tank. Dropped in to see the guys at "Madrone Realty". Kirby was out, but I talked with Brian. There's not much on the market presently.

"You pretty much have to die or get busted for property to turn over."

"Do I give you guys a wish list?"

"Yep."

I told him I'd send one in.

Brian said that Honeydew to Ettersburg is the most beautiful part of Southern Humboldt. I have to agree (preferring the area closer to Honeydew.) He gave me directions to one parcel being forced to sell.

Stopped for a hamburger next door. Definitely not organic. Not great.

Returned to "Madrone" and asked Brian for directions again to a property in Miranda, which he called “stunning”, a real estate term that immediately repels me. (I think it refers more to the price.)

Nearing Miranda, I determined “too far into the rain forest.” Reversed direction to Redway and Briceland Road. Suddenly I wanted to be home. This particular mission is complete. "Besides, I need to water the few plants in my yard."

To make it appear I wasn’t bailing out completely, however, I considered returning via a “road less traveled.” In mind was the drive through Whitethorn, and out to Usal Road, which rides the crest of the Lost Coast Range, then south to Highway 1.

Whitethorn is deep in the rainforest. Rarely is there a drying wind here, I suspect, and outside the small village, up a canyon, there are small undeveloped lots with old trailers, campers and shacks, rotting in the understory, though apparently still inhabited.

Near the ridge, I reached a four-way junction. In the direction I thought was correct, a sign said “road closed – local traffic only”. A pick-up was also stopped at the intersection, three young men gathered around the back of the bed, looking at a map.

“Do you guys know where you are?”

They couldn't tell me anything about the road south. It is over 20 miles to Route 1. I would hate getting close, only to be turned around by a washout or other obstacle. Still, I decided to undertake the adventure.

Almost immediately, I was climbing a steep canyon, the road of deeply rutted, slippery mud. The ruts were too deep and narrow to ride in because of my luggage, but riding on top between the ruts meant there was no where to put my feet down if I started to fall over. A frightening prospect. If I couldn’t ride on the crown, the only way forward would be to carry my saddle bags up the mountain, then drive up via the ruts.

I had to utilize the lessons of Adventure Camp, and the strongest concentration I could muster. "Keep your focus up ahead, on the path you need to follow. DON'T look down! DON'T look at the ruts! And keep on the throttle!" Man, I hate this stuff! But I survived. This slope, so early in the journey, turned out to be the worst of it.

Where the sun had managed to penetrate the dense forest canopy, the road was beginning to dry out. The dry patches were more frequent the further south I went.

The road dropped down from the ridge to a river crossing and beach. This is Sinkyone Wilderness State Park. Drove out the access road and onto the beach. This is close to the southern edge of the "Lost Coast".

I breathed a sigh of relief at reaching Highway 1. Rather than continue down the coast, still a long ride home, I turned east to pick up U.S. 101, again enjoying what I consider one of the best motorcycling sections of highway in the state, Route 1 between the coast and Leggett.

Coming into Sonoma County, I was disoriented by a strange glow in the mountains? It took a few moments to realize it’s the "River Rock Casino", perched in the mountains overlooking Alexander Valley. How did that obscenity, underwritten by Las Vegas developers, ever receive approval in this rural wine country? Utterly incredible.

Arriving home, “okay, what did that accomplish?”

Really, not much. I’m still faced with “reality”: no employment. ("How can you afford land? You can’t. You would have to work at least another ten years, to pay for something.")

Turned on the radio and listened to the election results coming in. I didn’t vote in this primary. The first election I've missed in many years.

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