Two Rides, Different Scenery

Pam told me that people like to see pictures. Well, this time, both times  I should say, I took pictures. The scenery, although different both rides, is very much like The Netherlands. Yes, there were some rolling hills, but then again that is what I grew up with in The Netherlands (Limburg). There was also a nice river and some lush trees. But the majority of the landscape here is open and ‘golden’. The pictures speak a thousand words I am sure.

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After passing by a bunch of farms the landscape opened up and the ‘golden’ fields that California is known for started to appear. That stand of trees in the distance were planted/grown trees. It looked like they were originally planted to be sold, but it did not look like that was their purpose any more.

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That is one thing you don’t see in The Netherlands, hills in the distance. Those are the hills of the coastal range between the valley and the ocean. That is what makes this valley so hot. Oh, did I mention that it was getting hot? The summer was just about to unfold upon us. Bummer! Many 100+ days were ahead of us.

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The areas most visible birds, Turkey Vultures. See the one showing off his wing span? I think he was just hot, because he just kept doing that for minutes while I was hanging out for a few moments and taking some pictures of them. They did not seem to mind at all.

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Here is a field with a tiny bit more color. This year’s winter had been extremely dry, so it was not the best year for wild flowers, but the few that were there were quite pretty (see close-up later on).

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A hidden little inlet of Black Butte Lake. Yeah that looks quite pretty and the lake is nice, but most of the cost line was the same ‘golden’ fields.

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I spy a DisCatcher disc golf target. I knew there was a disc golf course here at Black Butte Lake. That is why I took the 3 mile detour to go here.

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This is a full 18 hole disc golf course. Owen and I came back here about a week later and we played a round on this course. It was a great round of disc golf. The course is plenty challenging, with lots of up and down terrain and many nice and long holes. Too bad it got hot towards the end and we started getting a bit sloppy, because the best is in the end. The very last hole is epic going from one hillside to the next over a canopy of trees. Too bad I was spent and I opted for a roller down the hillside instead of soaring over the top of the canopy (I guess I also did not want to chance loosing one of my better discs), but boy was it tempting to go for it. In the end the roller was near perfect and made it just up the other hillside. I botched the uphill though, but I blame that on the heat and the accompanying fatigue. Sure!

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Ah, here is that close-up of those wild flowers I showed earlier. This was on my way back from the detour.

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This little town, Orland, seemed to me to be the water capital of the north. There were multiple aqueducts (for you international visitors I know that you spell it as aquaduct, but the US English spelling correction wanted me to go with the ‘e’ variety) coming into this little town and it seemed to be making it quite thriving despite the ‘golden’ surroundings. Well, to be fair, most of  the fields around this town were cultivated. By the way, the town we are staying in, Corning, is the olive capital of the state. Or is it the country?

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Here is the route overview. This was a very nice ride, with mostly flat roads and not too much wind. But as you can tell I did take it easy. Granted, I never hit the pause button while I was admiring the view or eating a sandwich, so this includes all the time I was not moving. This route seriously reminded me of riding my bike in The Netherlands. It brought back plenty of memories.

Another fun ride

That is why I ended up going for another bike ride later in the week. This one was much shorter, but possibly more beautiful. I started later in the morning and I effectively had only about 3 hours for this ride. Anything after noon gets very hot, so leaving at 9am meant aiming to be back by noon. Although I started my tracking for this ride the app failed miserably on me. I even checked to make sure that background app refresh was enabled for this app, and it was, but I checked it after I had already started the workout, so I blame the failure on this sequence of events. When I checked the route about 2/3rds of the way around Corning, I discovered the mishap, a straight line from where I started to where I was now, even though I had gone quite a way around the town before making it to the Sacramento river. My guesstimate is that the total ride was 18-20 miles. Below are some of the pretty pictures that I took.

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The Sacramento River definitely is the pearly string in this landscape. That is why there are multiple pictures of it here. You can’t see it here, but on the right side there is a recreation area and there are quite a few people there already, but on the opposite side it was still nice and quiet.

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The river tends to separate around islands in the river. Here the river comes back together. The landscape right around the river is nice and lush.

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Steep drop-offs are created by the cutting of the banks due to high water levels. Not sure if this still happens though, because of the damming of the river and the creation of Shasta Lake about 70 miles upstream. Water levels are probably controlled and I guess that allowed these islands in the river to grow those healthy trees.

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The road next to the river here is wobbly, but a delight to ride none the less, because of the surprise views of the river.

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Here is an impossibly steep path to the river below that I did not follow, but judging on the state of this path it is used by the locals quite a bit. As I was standing there looking at this beautiful view a local youth expressed his dislike of my presence while passing by in his car by honking excessively. He did not expect me to still be right there in the tree line, because as he was passing me he was in the process of raising his arm to show me the universal gesture of dislike, but as he saw me he dared not finish it. That pretty view must have made him soft, or was it my vision that made him rethink his actions?

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Try to capture that beauty when you have a chance. The beauty of riding bikes is that you can stop much more easily and take in these gems. I love it!

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Just to the right of that path down the steep bank is a warning. Hmm, seems to me like the locals strategically planned that path just far enough from that sign to claim plausible deniability.

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My Iron Horse. My trusty steed. My mountain bike turned into a touring bike taking a well deserved rest at this prime lean spot. Just hanging out taking in the views.

 

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Massacre at the lake (not as macabre as it sounds)

Learn from us. Make sure all screens on windows and doors are tightly closed.
Learn from us. Make sure all screens on windows and doors are tightly closed.

There was a massacre at the Lake last night. We were all sitting on the couch planning more stops for our trip when we all of a sudden realized that there were some bugs on the wall. These however were only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. My oh my did we have bugs in our trailer. Some of our screens on the windows were not securely seated and the bugs were flocking to the light.

We pulled out all the stops. First we started swatting like crazy. Sorry little bugs, but you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. When that took care of a Lot of them, but not all, we started steaming them with hot water and later with some of our essential oils. In the mean time we kept swatting. It was a total massacre!

We eventually piled up in Owen’s room, because his light had stayed off and did not have the battlefield scars like our bedroom. Surprisingly we had a quiet night and all slept well, albeit a bit cramped.

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Here is a picture of our newly painted wall covered in bug smears. Yuck!

My first bike ride on our adventure

Tuesday was my first time riding my bike while on our adventure. The ride was great, although there was quite a lot of wind. Only the last 5 miles were straight into the wind, but it was brutal to end that way. It did not take away from the wonderful ride though. About 13 miles from where we are staying is a place called Twin Lakes. We had already checked out this place by car earlier, but I wanted to ride all the way around it this time. By car that is not possible, because there is a stretch that is really just for hiking. I had to pull and carry my bike over boulders and fallen trees, and across a few streams. It was all worth it. While I was heading back on the paved road on the other side of the lakes I spotted a dirt road going up the side of the mountain, which I had noticed earlier on my way up. I decided I wanted to make this ride worth while, so I turned into the road.

I was not completely convinced yet if I wanted to actually trek up that road, because it looked quite steep and I was already not so fresh anymore. But the adventurous spirit in me won again and I decided to go up and check it out. The dirt road was pretty well maintained. I was not sure yet where the road was going, but I quickly discovered that it was the road to the buckeye campground, trail and hot spring. I had read about the hot spring and it apparently attracts quite a few people. This explained why the road was in a good state and it made the ride up not bad at all. A bit washboardy at times, but there usually was at least one track that was relatively smooth. I saw the sign for the campground, the trailhead and the hot springs, but I did not see any of the actual sites. I did see some of buckeye creek and it looked very nice with plenty of trees.

By this time I had figured out that the road, if it did not dead end, would most likely connect me to the 395 a few miles above Bridgeport. The condition of the dirt road past the creek was far from what it was before the creek, but most of it was going downhill by now and it was not all bad either, just more bumpy and rocky. The further I was able to guess the destination of the road, the more convinced I was it would connect me back to the 395, and it sure did, although maybe a mile further from Bridgeport than I had hoped for. Not too bad, because I started off with some downhill once I got to the 395, but it quickly flattened out and turned straight into the wind. Those 6 or 7 miles back to the trailer were my real challenge for the day.

All in all a very fun ride with plenty of surprises and challenges. It was exciting to try out roads without consulting a map and aiming for success. After all I could have turned around if needed. But it is so much more sweet when it all works out in the end. Yay!

View of Upper Twin Lakes at Mono Village a few days before my ride.
View of Upper Twin Lakes at Mono Village a few days before my ride.

Last Week Recap

6/11/14

Last week was my ‘last week’ at work. We still had a lot to prepare before our departure and at the same time I had to work one more week. We ended up being out and about after work just about every evening. It is interesting how many little things need to be taken care of last minute, from donating some more items to getting a phone and a mifi (cellular internet access device). We managed to do all this and more.

Final good byes were said to co-workers, friends and family

It turns out that one more thing should have been done, but more about that later! Our final two days at East Shores RV Park were still not completely quiet, but there was some time to relax every once in a while, like when we were doing laundry and we were waiting for the washers or dryers to finish. We did walk a bit around the lake and that was nice. Next time I want to find some time to ride my bike around and explore some more. Things should get quieter soon, at least that is what we are telling ourselves.

Whirlwinds

May 18, 2014

In the words of Maria Carey: “Make It Happen”. What a journey this has been already, and we haven’t even left yet! Whirlwinds all around us. Pam and I have been working strong as a team. Many things needed to be taken care of and a lot of them have been done. Many surprises have come our way and they are being dealt with. (Like last-minute selling on craigslist.)

With great strides we are moving closer to our departure date. Pam is keeping us organized and on task. It sure is crunch time right now, but somehow we will get through and we will look back with a smile once we are on the road. For now I am intent on keeping focus and we will make it happen.

Fears & Insecurities

April 26 Saturday

Our fears and insecurities created this big ball of negative energy last night. We were mean to each other. Pam said a lot, I said hardly anything. We were very upset with each other. The most important thing right now is for me to say sorry. Sorry honey!
I hope we can overcome this. It is hard to break through that barrier of resistance of living a safe and familiar life. In our case it seems to create conflict between the two of us. Pam is a planner so maybe we need to sit down and make some concrete plans so there is still a level of familiarity, but at the same time we are working towards our new goal.
What she wanted to hear was hard to say last night but I love her very much. I hope she comes home soon so I can say it to her in person.

Pam’s Note: Owen & I spent a day with my sister Donna and Abby at a Lemon Festival. It was nice to escape and take a break from this plan.