Most mornings I have it together but this morning I'm a mess. My gloves and glasses have disappeared into the dark and foreign depths of my panniers. At least with a real stove, Rachel cooks up some real protein for breakfast, maybe the eggs and sausage will jumpstart some neurons.
It doesn't. I walk to Safeway across the street and it takes me like half an hour to pick up hot chocolate and pick out some ziplock bags.
On our way out of town, I see a sign for peach pie and can't help myself. I love pie. This is also the pie tour of America and the limp pumpkin in Alturas was a bland disappointment.
The lady at the pie shop says we only have two little hills to worry about. Douglas and Lowenda, a couple in their eighties, finish off cold coffee in ceramic mugs and shake their heads about how burned out Burns has become since the mill closed in 1980. Then they tell me the story again.
Right out of Burns we're sailing (we must have had a tailwind, we averaged like 18 mph) and see a red outback with a bunch of bikes on top.
At this point we haven't seen a floor pump since Sacramento three weeks ago, so when we see it pulled up ahead, we figured we stop and asked. Mmm we rode up all excited to say hello but then they're making out in the front seat and the guy looks up at us kinda horrified. We sped off feeling pretty red in the cheeks too.
At the first rest stop into Stinking Water, though, there's a car with a pretty-looking bike mounted on top so I dropped in for take two. Turns out, Colin had taking Adventure Cycling's Northern Tier across the country a couple years back. So we talked for a good while and he was kind enough to donate his mini pressure gauge to the cause.
My knee started acting up for the first time the whole trip. Just a pain on the inside of my right kneecap. We'll see.
Stinking Water and Drinking Water are definitely not two little hills. They are very large, very steep ones. The views of the valleys, their perfect rows and pristine tractors, those were good though. The downhill was almost worth it.
Despite the winds/grades, I signed a lease in Ithaca along the way! Finally have my own apartment, so if you're ever in the area, come hang out.
It was getting late in the evening when we pulled up to Juntura to fill up our water and find out directions to the hot springs. The last two miles were all headwind and no fun, and we took the wrong turnoff the first time so we ended up going on this dirt road all the way around the outside of the river.
I bumpy road kicked a shirt I had hanging off the back of my bicycle, so I ran to go grab it while Rachel went to find the actual entrance. On my way back, I ran into Tom, an older, fit guy who crossed the cracked and blocked off concrete bridge we were avoiding. He helped me carry my bike across and then Rachel and I played tag trying to find each other, but eventually got all the bikes and gear onto the correct side of the river (future campers/ hot spring goers, take the highway exit furthest from Juntura, it's a gravel road).
Tom offered to cook us dinner and we were a little wary but are learning to accept the abrupt kindness of strangers. And he had an incredible bounty in his camper van. He was on his way home from a tour of Oregon and California, and the ex-heart surgeon-turned-distiller was something of a foodie too. So he fed us dried meats, pungent cheese, raw almonds, fresh bread and then fried up some home-grown potatoes. Plus he had some of the best lettuce I've ever tasted. I don't know if I've been starved of vegetables or something but this lettuce tasted sweet and full, texture soft but still with some crunch. It was perfect. We stayed up until 1 am with him, talking and talking about politics and his kids and food. The moon rose and lit up the whole inlet.
Rumor has it, the hot springs are haunted, but bellies and hearts full, we slept easy and late.