Fellow cyclist and campmate, Bruce, rolled out of camp. I rolled into town and did the coffee shop thing, where I met cool Bodega folks and got invited to a “slider” party (which meant little burger-yes, but also salmon,etc- of course) and a place to stay by a super nice local, Linda. What a gem of a lady! I didn’t take advantage of the invite, but it made my day to be invited just the same. By the time, I got back to camp a whole new round of cycling entertainers were rolling in (Act II).
Ben, a tall lean twenty-three year old Ozzy, was on his first extended bicycle tour and experiencing his first time in the US. He flew into LA and had already been to Yosemite, where he encountered some snow. He never checks the weather. “No reason to. I’m going to ride anyway,” he says. He loves to cook and had a deluxe kitchen set up, and kindly brought me up to speed on my stove (we had similar ones). I salivated watching him throw together a pesto pasta and luscious salad concoction. I actually said “yes” to a bite as it just looked so scrumptious compared to my lame Ramen noodle meal. I love that conversations with bicyclist revolve around us figuring out how to get the most calories into our meals…diametrically opposite to normal conversations with friends. We laughed about him being willing to drop a buck on food, but absolutely unwilling to spend money on showers. We couldn’t be more opposite.
Ben has until October for his adventure and wants to experience national parks in the US and get to Chicago (random, no?) because he likes the Bulls and wants to see the architecture -in particular the skyscrapers. He’s originally a farm boy (raised on a dairy farm), but studied architecture and now is taking some time off to figure his next move –but farming is calling to him. In the morning before he left, we had a laugh about his distain for safety gear and my love of my bicycle flag. He’s excited to not have to wear a helmet when riding (it’s illegal in Australia not to). Instead he sports a Chicago Bull cap. I encouraged him to carry on to my home town of Cleveland and pick up a proper Cavaliers cap.
Ben was very friendly, and immediately chatted up the cycling duo that camped across from us, who proved to be incredibly interesting too (Act III). Unfortunately, I did not end up chatting with them until later, so I only got their abbreviated story. But I did score their fantastic bicycle map of the area east of here, which is exactly where I wanted to go next (this is a bit remarkable because everyone else I’ve met is heading up or down the coast, not inland). Anyway, May (a Canadian with a strong Chinese accent) was visiting Mark, who lives in the Bay Area. They met while independently bicycle touring in Costa Rica (Really…dang, the roads are tough to drive, let alone bike!). Both were 60+ and only took up bicycle touring in the last 15 years. Mark explained that for his 50th birthday he rode from the tip of South America to Alaska. Together they had since rode through China, Nepal, Thailand, etc. May advised me on some cool options in Europe that she rode solo. This time, they were just catching up and enjoying a week of riding in Northern, CA -hotels in Napa, camping with us, and eating out the whole trip – a nice combo of comfort and adventure.
In the midst of chitchat with duo, a couple of backpackers (and a dog) rolled into the campground thanks to the kindness of Helen, a gal traveling via car to Oregon for some sort of alternative schooling (Act IV). Ben had shared a campsite with the backpackers the night before and laughed out loud to see them again. The backpackers were friends but each on a bit different mission. Backpacker A needed a break and so was on a mission to stop at every hiker/biker campground along the coast from San Francisco to the Oregon border. “I intend to touch my toe in Oregon and then head back.” Backer B intended to carry on with his pooch to Portland. Helen was just a nice, friendly trip too. We all shared a beer compliments of Mark before I retired. By the time I awoke, everyone except Ben was gone, and shortly thereafter, he was off too. Back to writing…