60 km on a bowl of dry cereal

60 km on a bowl of dry cereal

Some people asked if I ever have a difficult time. It’s hard to believe but over the last 5 months, I don’t think I ever had a bad day, I can only remember a few bad moments. It’s been just a great adventure.

But somehow, about a week ago, something happened.

But first thing first, I’ll go chronologically…

Last time I posted a blog, I was  in Mendocino, a cute little village that had a café with a generator. Because the power was out.  A few people had asked me if I would be affected or would have to change my route because of the forest fires, and I always said no, partly because to me forest fires are a summery thing, and also because I suffer from that “it’s-not-going-to-happen-to-me” syndrome.

Well, I was wrong.

Leaving Mendocino, it took me a while to even find a toilet, as most public facilites were closed. There was no power in several districts, due to fires.

Ocean view on the way to Mendocino
The Coast
Small farmers’ market in Albion where I was offered an apple “on the house”

Luckily, that night I was hosted by Judy and her family. They had water, and access to a generator from time to time, so I was safe, well fed and looked after. But without power, and therefore no internet, it was hard to get information about the situation. We eventually found out that major areas just south of where I was almost all the way to San Francisco were being evacuated, most public places were shut down, and it would be hard to find water, food and places to stay, not to mention the smoke I would breathe if I kept going.

So I stayed at Judy’s, 4 nights! These are the kinds of people you want to be with when things like that happen.  Extremely kind, welcoming, generous folks, and a very entertaining family.  I had a great time with them, felt totally adopted by the clan. They took great care of me as we settled into a kind of daily routine. As inconvenient as it was to be “stuck”, it was also a great way to learn more about life in rural California, meet the really nice neighbours, and rest my knees! Compared to people who were loosing their homes to the fires or had to be evacuated, I considered that I was doing pretty good.

The power came back 5 days later, and I was happy to get back on my bike. After a short day, I ended up in a really nice campground where I reconnected with Mark, who I had met in Montana about 2 months ago, and 3 other cyclists, 2 of whom I had met already days before.

Cooking facility at the KOA campground in Manchester
I watched the sunset with Mark and Sam
The days are getting shorter

But that night, I couldn’t sleep.  My belly was really not feeling right. I eventually had to carry my mattress and sleeping bag into the restroom, and spent the night shivering on the floor, until eventually my ramen noodles were officially rejected. It was not a glorious moment.

Feeling not so great the next day, I considered staying at that nice campsite another day, but the nights have been very cold recently, and all I want is to get further south. This is how I ended up riding a sluggish 60 km on a handful of Mini-Wheats, the only thing that I could eat that day!

More nice coastal views
Fort Ross, where the Russians grew crops for a few years, until the gophers heard about it

That night I stayed in a State Park campground, where 3 of my “cyclist friends” played the guitar and sang by a campfire. I just pitched my tent and slept 13 hours.

The next day, I felt better and finally ran into the family from Quebec who have been travelling since July.  4 kids, age 9 to 15.  Super nice folks, impressively strong, it was a delight to finally meet them and ride with them for a while. I wish I could have camped with them that night, but they had just started and I had been riding for a few hours already, so we said goodbye and I rested in Bodega Bay for some time, weighing my options.

The Quebecers and a French couple who have been riding with them for a while

Mark and Chris caught up to me and decided to stay in Bodega for the night. I realized that I still had energy to keep on going. But there was no campground for a long way. All I knew is there was an orchard about 25 km further, where I thought I might be able to camp.

Luckily, Jan and Lou agreed to let me pitch my tent in their yard. And not only that, Jan gave me an apple cider, brought me a nice bowl of pumpkin soup and a piece of bread and told me to eat as many apples as I wanted. When I brought the empty bowl back to the house, she traded it for a piece of apple pie!

I fell asleep listening to the owls and coyotes.

The landscape reminded me of Idaho and Oregon
Camped in the orchard
Yummy apples

The morning was chilly, below freezing again, but Jan let me in, toasted some bread that she had made and gave me a cup of coffee. We had a nice chat. I left with 2 more pieces of pie…

It was a great day of riding. I was actually glad to leave the coast for a while and ride some flat sections. Because I was getting tired of the Californian coast. Up and down, short but steep hills.

Perfect morning ride
Near Point Reyes
Sleepy fishing villages
Lovely bike path to Sausalito

What?  Getting tired of the coast?  Why is everybody raving about it and not me?

This is when it really hit me. I have been on the road for 5 months. I have really been on a high for 5 months.  I loved almost every minute of it: the Dalton Highway, the Alaska Highway, the Stewart-Cassiar with Rick and Deb, the Yellowhead, the Icefields Parkway, a short part of the Great Divide Trail, Montana, riding with Rose and Will in Idaho and Oregon, Bend, Portland, the Oregon Coast… I met countless nice people, saw miles and miles of incredibly beautiful places…

But over the last few days I have been grumpy at times, complaining about the rough road surface, the hills, the cold nights. I have less patience to listen to people’s stories, which is usually one of the highlights of my travels. And the weirdest thing is that I seem to suffered from Alzheimer. I really have to make an effort to remember where I slept the night before, I forget the name of villages, of people I met, and when the French-Canadian family talked about the 2 really big hills before Fort Bragg, it took me at least 5 or 10 minutes to remember them, although they were definitely memorable…

My memory is full. As in: I can’t add anything to it. I still enjoy riding, but nothing registers anymore.

Maybe a few days off will be enough to make space and carry on, as usual. But I have been thinking that it may also be time to go home for a while. Rest my knees, my stomach and my soul. And start over again in a few months with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

I don’t know.

This feeling took me totally off guard. It’s so strange, like there is no good reason to stop. I still enjoy riding. I am in shape. I am excited about Mexico. Why would I stop? I am not unhappy.

But I am an introvert… And more and more I crave quiet time alone, time to process all the experiences, encounters, sights and thoughts. And this is almost impossible to find on the road.

I am just on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge now. I plan to spend a few days in San Francisco. And decide what to do. I may go home from there. Or maybe I will finish riding the coast first, and close the North American chapter. Maybe I will keep going. Time will tell.

Until then, I have a big city with palm trees to explore!

Float houses in Sausalito, just north of San Francisco
Old Town, Sausalito, full of friendly cyclists
First view of the big city
Just as you would imagine the San Francisco area
Hostel in Sausalito, in a lovely old building
Common area inside the hostel
Loooooong tunnel on the way to the hostel

Today’s final words:

10 thoughts on “60 km on a bowl of dry cereal

  1. Allo Catherine,
    Tu devrais peut-être t’écouter et faire une pause à cette étape-ci de ton parcours. Ça ne veut pas dire abandonner mais tout simplement te donner une chance de retrouver le plaisir et un nouvel élan pour poursuivre un peu plus tard…. toi seule sait cependant ce que ça implique et ce qui est le mieux pour toi.

  2. Salut Catherine,
    De tes expériences de voyage précédentes, t’es-tu déjà retrouvé dans le même dilemme?
    Y-a-t’il des moments ou situations particulières dans lesquelles tu te retrouves quand ce sentiment d’épuisement t’assaille?
    Est-ce que ton corps essaie de te passer un message?
    Une semaine ou deux de repos à San Francisco? Une pause en trouvant un endroit pour faire du woofing?
    Qu’est-ce que un retour à la maison va t’apporter de plus? Besoin de solitude? Mal du pays(j’en doute)? Lasse d’être nomade?
    Une belle réflexion en perspective! Je te souhaite de retrouver ton chemin et de le poursuivre sans relâche!
    Ciao, Pierre

  3. Salut Cath ton choix sera le bon. Je crois qu’il est aussi possible de trouver des moments de tranquillité sur la route. Tout comme les rencontres il faut les créer. À l’inverse de toi quand je voyage…j’ai davantage de quiet moments et je dois me pousser pour rencontrer les gens. Petit côte sauvage…ou individualisne? T’imagine ENSEMBLE comme ce serait le mariage parfait! Bonnes réflexions. Xxxx

  4. Sounds like you need some quiet time. It is getting cold here in Burns Lake although my lake has not frozen yet, may be tomorrow. Time for warm meals and books and naps.

  5. Allo Catherine
    Ton message ne me surprend pas trop. Je m’attendais à un signal semblable, mais ne savais pas quand tu l’aurais.
    Le centre de ton projet, ton axe, s’appuie sur une activité physique intense. Comme ton esprit est tout entier compris dans ton corps, il reçoit toujours le message de ce dernier en premier. Au début, quand tu parlais de tes genoux “incertains”, je me souviens t’avoir dit d’écouter ton corps. Aujourd’hui, je me permets de te le rappeler, car l’air que tu respires sur la route est ton intrant principal; ensuite, ton foie doit “processer” ce que tu ingères , crème glacée comprise!
    Message du corps, indigestion. Suite du message, la récompense, soit les souvenirs, s’estompe. Autre constat, ça fait environ 2 mois et demi, que tu as fait une pause famille après 2 mois et demi de route. Peut-être que tu peux ajouter à ces observations celles de ton cru pour t’aider à décider quelle est la meilleure prochaine démarche.
    Je crois que tu peux te fier à ton flair pour décider, à condition qu’il ne soit pas amoindri par les fines particules présentes dans l’air californien actuel …(double sens de flair, bien sûr).
    Bisous
    Fernand

  6. Hello Catherine. It made me laugh … your first picture in this blog says “Prepare to stop” … perhaps that is a sign that you should take time for restoring … it is equally, if not more, important. No need to fear your determination will wane; the road will call you back in due time. Good awareness of what’s going on for you … how else would your body and soul speak to you. [heart][smile]. All the very best dear Catherine, and take good care of you.

  7. Great post Cat, and glad you’ve made it to San Fran. I like the way you describe not being able to remember any more stuff. I’m not surprised you’re thinking about taking some time off the bike, and resting up. Five months is s long time to be on the road. As you may have heard, the coast highway going south of San Francisco is a lot different than the coast highway north of San Francisco; with considerably more traffic. Have a blast in the city. It’s a great place to meet people, and a friendly place.

  8. Cat

    Great to follow your journey and great to hear that you made it to the Bend therapists for your knees.

    I understand the concept you speak of when your mind is full and not able to accept all the trip stimuli like a fresh sponge.

    That sponge does need to expell the water it is full of to be able to take in more and more.

    Perhaps all you need is a brief rest or maybe a clean slate for a while that only home may bring and perhaps some rest for your knees.

    The road is always there for you whenever you return.

    Wishing you a clean and empty sponge for whenever you return to the open road.

    Ciao Bella

  9. Salut!
    Reviens-donc nous voir. Tu vas respirer de l’air frais et tu vas pouvoir te lancer dans la neige! (oui il a neiger). Une pause va être bien pour toi et pour nous aussi! Ça veux même dire que tu vas pouvoir venir à mon tournoi de volley! Penses-y bien!

    Lily <3

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