It seemed like 30 miles whizzed by as I meandered through the valley, under redwoods, and past little riverside towns. Early evening, I began my attempt to find a legitimate home for the evening. According to my handy-dandy cycling map, there were supposed to be a bunch of campgrounds outside Guernesville. The first one I came upon was full, then I cycled to Armstrong Redwood State Park where the ranger explained that there was indeed camping inside the park, but that he had never actually seen a bicyclist ride the grueling 5 mile climb up to it (“never” is a pretty big statement in this very bicycle popular area). I asked if I he could give me a lift up to it, but that was against policy. I was still contemplating going for it until I learned that the campground would be $25 (no hike/bike rate) and had no showers. Forget that! I turned around and headed back to the river road. I passed a bright community church, on a healthy chunk of land, and saw a few cars parked out front. I thought that might be an option, so I cycled in to check it out. I found some grumpy fellow doing a radio show, who said he was not a decision maker. He pointed me to the maintenance man, who lived in a little trailer out front. Mr. Maintenance seemed encouraging as he told me that others had camped here before, but that he needed to check with someone. While he went to do that, an older uptight lady wandered up to me, and asked if she could help me. I briefly explained my plight, and the bitty prompted barked that camping was not allowed. The nice maintenance fellow sauntered up and said he talked to so and so, and so and so said it was bitty’s call. In an awkward moment, she grouchily said, “I already told her that the church doesn’t allow it. Too much of a liability.” Then she tried to back pedal and think of other options for me. I waived her off and said that was okay, that I needed to get rolling since it was now getting dark. I wanted so badly to say, “God bless you.” But glad that I did not, as I already know how Karma works –so it just was not necessary.
I took all those attempts to do right as a sign that tonight might be my night to finally do the “renegade camping thing.” After wandering about Guernesville and getting turned around for another 10 miles, I got serious about looking for a place to duck in off the road and make my home for the night. I saw my opportunity as a passed a gate that sported a sign, “Closed for the Season” and another one that said, “Trespassers will be Prosecuted.” I quickly maneuvered Steel around the gate, and we happened into what I’m guessing was once a campground, although indefinitely closed for many seasons from the look of it. I set up camp, nibbled some dinner, and took in a beautiful moonlit night. The land was a combo of overgrown areas and recently mowed paths. I didn’t really relax until it was dark, and then I was out..and slept soundly.