Depite trepidation over the last couple of days I'm back in the States. Yes, it is nice to be back; but it doesn't make me feel like I'm where I should be. But there again. where the hell should I be? Anywhere that feels OK for me at the moment!! And that is where the problem lies; I don't feel right, that I belong anywhere right now! If I ever felt lost and adrift its now. Having freinds at home was great. But they couldn't make up for the loss of Cai, however good the support they offered. I don't know how well I could have coped without them, I still don't know if I'll cope on the road alone. But I must try, I must find the strength and commitment to live my own life; one that Cai shares as a memory but can't contribute to himself.
My fear is greater now I'm far from home, though having Al and Lauren around makes it bearable. How can I expect to feel different; I've just lost my son! I've never put so much effort into a relationship with anyone else, I thought it was safe. How easily wrong that proved to be. Nothing can be done about this now, one redeeming aspect of it is that we spent so much time together while we could. So folks don't put off what you can do tomorrow, DO IT TODAY!!! Make the most of your loved ones and don't waste time on the negative shit.
A slight delay before I can leave for Canada, the bike's registration plates haven't arrived yet and I can't leave the state before they do. So off we go for a four day camp, hoping the plates will be back by the time we get back to Al's.
So, at long last I've restarted this god foresaken journey. It was nice to be on the road, despite it only being a four hour journey to Plaskett Creek. I had a nice bit of windy road from Ojai for about an hour and then a couple of hours thrash up the freeway. Once off the freeway the ride was a wee bit manic, the sun was low and blinded me every time I got halfway round each bend. I so wanted to wind up the throttle and crank it round the bends. I made up for it on a ride further north, to the Big Sur, on Saturday, They don't have double white lines out here, I've assumed the use of yellow ones are to provide me with a guide line for overtaking with oncoming traffic. Do Harley riders go so slow to ensure everyone sees their bikes, or are the bikes really that sluggish? Shame coz I love the sound of them!
For the first time I had to pack all my stuff up and get under way. Of course I had to reload my luggage a couple of times to get it all fitting in a balanced and logical way. I found out how chilly the brilliant desert gear is as soon as the temperature drops off. It may be fine for a quick blast along the roads at home, but not on a misty ride along the Californian coast for a few hours. I thought it was meant to be bloody hot here, all the time! I definately need more suitable clothing to keep me warm in colder climes. I did express this opinion to Cai, but he just thought I was being over cautious; bless him.
It was also a weekend camping with my Californian friends; so not really setting out as the bold explorer, conquering the unknown single handed. Not really the intention now though, more to provide the space to clear away all the crap and get on with a life I never imagined I'd have to face. Sharing this weekend was excellent, and the kids were such a joy to be around. Somehow it makes it feel good that life is still precious and I can have positive emotions, not just the painful ones. Layla and Iain seem to have taken a bit of a shine to me, which means demands for my attention leave me with less time to dwell on grief. As you can see Layla and me have become a bit close.
Despite a seemingly ever present sea Har the weekend was really nice. I got to watch some fairly impressive surfing.
And saw a small colony of elephant seals, be jay-zus aren't they big. The males are down right ugly too, with large manky flaps of flesh/fur hanging off them.
I've had to face one of the hardest moments in my life so far today. A time when I severely doubted whether I could maintain contact with my rational mind. What a change from yesterday, then I felt detached and insular. It made me feel guilty that I hadn't ended up in tears for a whole day. Well I certainly made up for it today. Hearing from those at home has tended to be a hard time emotionally, reading comments from folk today really tipped the balance. And yet once it was over I was so glad to have experienced such overpowering emotions. I have no idea how long my outbreak lasted, I believe for some time. It started as a few tears and just snowballed, there was nothing I could do to stop it and it just got worse and worse. I was in the house alone, couldn't walk straight, couldn't think clearly and fear overtook. My belly was vibrating uncomfortably, which moved up to my chest as well and scared the shit out of me. I didn't know what to do, wobbling around the house, confused and hardly able to catch my breath. Eventually some corner of my mind got me to stop moving around and get my breath under control. Once breathing more normal the uncomfortable vibrating stopped in the torso and settled into my dead as a dull pain, but still felt like it was vibrating. It was horrible, but at least I stopped it! At first I wanted to block all commments, but then I felt how good it had been. To lose it emotionally to that extent and still have enough mental faculty to get it together again waqs reasuring. Part of my anxiety of doing the trip still was if I could handle getting really upset and scared with no-one around. Now I know I can! I also know I feel stronger for that experience, and give not a shit how it sounds to anyone else. We do, after all, create our own versions of hell!
For many years I've struggled to have as good an opinion of myself as others seem to hold. I've put my vlaue in terms of my son, or other relationships; not myself. To hear people praise me and compliment me has made me feel uncomfortable. This is what started today's episode; reading people expressing their admiration for how I'm handling Cai's accident, death etc... So I realise now is the time to change that, time to focus on me and what life I have. So don't stop the supportive comments, I need to listen and take it on board; maybe then I can begin to realise my real potential, as an individual. Maybe I can be someone I'm proud of being, to see the reasons I should be proud of myself. Truly a frightening day, yet such a valuable experience.
On the road, even if its only a very slow one; in milage covered rather than speed travelled. The Sespe Wilderness I passed through yesterday was awesome, about a 50 mile ride of continuous curves. It was all so scorched, not just by the sun either! It was so clear how vast an area had burnt down in recent years. Apparently one in every four forest fires is found to be started by fire fighters; I guess thats one way of ensuring job security!
Out the other side of the Sespe was an amazingly arid zone which was was highly cultivated. The amount of water being sprayed everywhere was equal to anything I saw being done in the deserts of Israel, with a good amount of success too. There were a good variety of crops, loads of vineyards (see picture) and citrus fruits. It was interesting to see the agriculture, just as well coz the road was straight, flat and bloody boring.
Which is what the next stretch was like! OK, an oil rig is interesting when you see the odd one or two. But seeing a whole landscape of them is dull, even annoying. All I could smell was oil and all I could see both sides of the road was those damned wells sucking our reserves dry. All so greedy bastards like me can go on joy rides with our internal combustion engines. Such is life, I can see the faults but not stop contributing myself.
The riding has been generally great, my problem has been when I stop and my emotions sweep me away. Last night was horrid, I felt like turning around and heading back to Alasdair and Lauren's. The only thing that stopped me was feeling stupid for giving up so easily, jeeez there ain't no easy way out of this is there? Unlike me, I camped close to where other people were just to have someone close by. Not that I bothered them any, just kept myself to myself. Cooked a bland meal of stewed veg and read my book until about 10pm then got an early night. The ride today has been hard itself, very emotional whilst riding; which isn't helpful. Mind you I must remember, part of the reason of being here is to allow those emotions free reign.
A bit of bare arse sunbathing before starting was more in character for me, first chance I've had in the states! And WOW, what a lovely ride through the mountains from Lake Isabella up towards the Sequoia National Park. Into the redwood forests, through unbelievably twisty roads. I thought they were thrilling going up, coming down the other side was so tight. OK, the bike weighs a ton and takes a bit of stopping; but christ, did I have to lean the beast over a long way. And yes I did scrape my feet on the road, also overshot a few bands. Luckily the one to the right had a big run off to the side and the left one was devoid of oncoming traffic. Actually there was virtually nothing else on the road. The redwood forest was lovely and there's more to come today and tomorrow. And the smell is that gorgeous pine resin smell, mile after mile!
Seems strange, here I am writing away just the way I normally would in my own journal and then I get these people sending in comments that never fail to bring on the tears. Well keep it up people, its good for me. I could also do with a better sense of self worth, its been missing for too much of my life. And Cai can't personally help me with this anymore: but his memory can and does. .Thank you all, and thank you Cai! Please excuse the non-publication of all comments sent, some I'd like others to see; others I take as personal and wouldn't publish any personal details anyway Of course I wouldn't write anything that was personal to me either; and pigs might fly eh?
Those redwoods are really awe inspiring, they've had me speechless, whooping in delight and feeling well and truly earthy. The size of the large ones are humongous, this one is named General Sherman and is 11 metres in diameter. They reckon its 2,200 years old, mind you there are a number of others claimed to be the oldest living tree; so who knows, or cares really. I just love the smell and sight of them, how small and insignificant we seem in comparison: until some idiot goes and chops it down!
What self respecting climber doesn't get a stiffy at the thought of Yosemite? Especially El Capitan! I stayed in Yosemite Valley for three days and never stopped looking around gobsmacked at the gorgeous rock. So how many can claim to have climbed on El Capitan? Actually not me, I couldn't be bothered to scramble any further in full bike gear just to make a bullshit claim. Shame the photo just doesn't do it justice.
The pass going through Yosemite started yesterday's ride and is the highest I think I've ridden a bike before at over 9,500 ft. I rode up to 8,000 ft in just a thin top, and don't lecture me about safety! Its my risk and I've not got a death wish, I know the risks and will take what I feel right for at the time. Besides its excruciatingly hot, in the 100's. All the roads were great yesterday, resulting in me riding for over ten hours. Just so awesome I didn't want it to stop! Most was in what I'd call the high country, only towards the end of the day did I descend below 7,000 ft. No way was I going to stop to take photo's, even if there had been turn ins at the convenient places. It was joyous riding that route; Highway 120 east through Yosemite, 395 north to Carson City then Route 50 down to Sacramento. Actually starting to feel good with it all; even the grief when it emerges. For a long time on the ride I was having to control feelings of uncontrollable tears; to the extent of not being able to breath. I feel very lucky to have learnt the various techniques for breathing and relaxing with my meditation and Tai Chi. Take my word for it, they are very useful skills. It also does me good to address Cai at such times, for sure it makes me cry but its feeling good to let the tears flow now. But now onto San Francisco and the northern reaches of highway 1. Laid back beaches and wild cliffs.
Waah! What a fantastic last couple of days, especially as its only a couple of days. It feels like a decade, so many phenomenal sights, sounds and smells. Riding into San Fran and over the Golden Gate Bridge was definitely an anti-climax. Freeway into SF, which was dull, not even shouting "wanker" at big rig drivers improved it. The city itself was interesting; no rushing or hassle, it all seemed very relaxed and city hall was pretty vice looking. It was really misty on the bridge so I didn't get to see any of the supports while riding over. What I did see was hardly golden anyway, more like red oxide, peeling off to reveal the rust. Decided to stop and get a photo from the end as it was partially clear from the north end. Again no, too many tourists to even get a clear shot. C'est la vie, ain't my bridge!
As soon as getting off highway one and onto the notorious Route 1 the fun really began. Switchback heaven straight away, if you ain't pointing up you're pointing down and always leant over. Well, with the exception of a few score miles all the roads I've chosen have been like that. Pure joy, continuously! Ok, it did get real cold and misty yesterday morning for the first hour or so of riding. But the roads were still awesome, I just had to keep wiping the heavy mist off my visor and missed some of the views. But lots of lovely small towns, like Manchester, Westport and other familiar sounding names.
Sweeping through the Redwoods on wide open bends, no slacking off of speed just crank it over and smile. Again that gorgeous resinous smell wafting up my nose as 60 mph (more like forcibly injected), even nicer was an overpowering sweetness I kept getting and could never see what it was. Once was as I passed a home garden flower sign, and then I spied them; large trumpet shaped flowers, hanging round a main central stem.
I picked a track that would save me from going back onto Highway 101, but seemed to have missed it. Instead I turned off the main route asap. It was an unclassified road leading to Shelter Cove (Point Delgardo), even narrower, steeper and more gobsmackingly twisty. Thats where I saw this beauty, down the track that I should have taken instead of the 101.
Shelter cove seemed really promising, especially the locals I got speaking to. My first view of it was the mist rolling in over the sea, I could have camped on the beach free but wasn't prepared to leave the bike out of sight with any luggage on. The campsite was horrid and 30 bucks, so I went off to find one that was on the way to my next port of call.
It was about time I took the new set of wheels off road, there was a lot to do in the course of this trip so I had to start somewhere. So The decision was made and I headed for the campsite that was along a dirt track, from Shelter Cove to Honeydew. What I didn't realise was that the campsite was a real wilderness site with no facilities; more to the point no bear boxes to store food, but lots of signs warning about their presence. I can't really say I felt comfortable having bears sniffing around my food and stuff, so I had to improvise. I turned a bear proof trash bin into my storage bin; hey presto, problem sorted! Luckily I thought to put my crash helmet in as well, which someone else dumping fish juice all over my bags. But hey, at least I got some free fish. And some real nice company for the night, who got me stoned and made me laugh so much. Thank god for small mercies, eh? They also said not to worry too much about black bears in the wilderness zones. They tend to stay clear of us and are not too hard to scare off. Knowing they had fish heads outside their car made me very comfortable about having my food bag left outside.
The ride into the camp site had been about 5 miles of dirt roads, I had about ten to get out the other side and it was due to be rougher, steeper but passable. WOW!!! That was so true! It was definitely passable, coz I made it through. And I enjoyed it so much, though it would have been easier without the pipe I was given for breakfast. I can feel proud of the ride, it was the trickiest dirt riding I can remember doing. I felt I'd done it incredibly slowly. After I realised the speeds I manipulated the steep 180 degree bends off road was about that advised by signs for such bends on the tarmac. I felt a bit better then, but also felt there was no hurry anyway and it was fun pottering through it all.
I knew the route from a notice board, although there were more roads than shown and many more than the map I had on me. Trouble was to take a wrong one meant ending up at a dead end; 9 miles later, OH SHIT! I made the right decision, I'm pleased to say; it wasn't the obvious one. And today I hope to make it to Fern Canyon, for the obvious vegetation and the Elk that are said to frequent the place. Still no bears though!
And I thought the wilderness classed camp was basic! Last Thursday, day of last blog entry, I stayed in an environmental camp; which is a wilderness one without the facilities. I had to pack my stuff in for about a half km. So much for the reassurance of the bears from last night, its a bit different when completely alone in the pitch black. Every noise heard had me shining my rather puny wind-up head torch into the surrounding forest. I didn't even have my my beautiful bike to protect me! It was strange how a comment came into my head, as if Cai were walking by my side, as I packed in my gear. The comment was a simple one, "wow, this is really cool." It was such a strong and clear thought, felt lovely to feel his presence like that.
I ran out of highway one and it became a smaller, non freeway, Hw 101. Which took me out of California and all the way north through Oregon and taking a loop round the west and north of Washington. It remained a nice road, very little straight and boring; open, gorgeous, high speed bends with lovely smooth tarmac and the more north I got the quieter it became. But as soon as I got into Oregon the scenery changed. Long stretches of beach, lovley dark sand and totally deserted.
There were countless numbers of these that I saw from the road, I was being a bit security conscious and didn't want to leave the bike unattended while I went in search of a quiet spot to bare my arse. It also didn't help that it was just a touch nippy, though fine for sheltered bathing in the sun. I waited to get to a really long stretch of sandy coast I could see on the map; unfortunately when I actually got there it was miles and miles of enormous sand dunes. No sodding beaches for ages so I went and camped by a lake; on a pretty tacky RV park. At least I got to have a shower and shave, even if my bike gear is minging I might as well try and keep the personal stench down a tad.
Actually it turned out pretty good, I happened upon a weekend of drag boat racing on the lake and the grandstand view of the finish line was from this park. Have you ever tried to get a photo of an object travelling at nearly 200 mph? If it hadn't been for the torrential rain we got subjected to I might have stayed and watched the finals on the Sunday, but once the waterproofs were on I was sweating my cobs off. I had to get moving down the road to cool off. I was really lucky though, just before leaving I managed to catch sight of the resident Osprey and got a long range picture showing it clearly.
Thoughts and feelings of Cai were positive and reassuring for the days out around quiet wilderness areas. The last few days have changed again, for the first time anger has erupted. I was only having a semi out of control cry whilst riding and it just got out of proportion. I actually considered stopping and trying to find some source of solace, I felt so isolated and vulnerable. While considering my options a church was passed and it seemed a certainty some of the righteous followers would be sure to offer a shoulder to cry on. Oh shit, then the thought of GOD came into my mind, swiftly followed by tremendous anger at this supposed superior, all powerful being. If there is a god and he can stand by and let someone as perfect as Cai get wasted in such a horrid way I'll piss all over him. I was raging, screaming abuse at this thought of god. So much so that my throat swelled right up and I could hardly speak after. It didn't stop the crying either, but I did feel better for it. It came up again in a less ferocious way yesterday, but that was with other motorists.
Driving over here leaves a lot to be desired, once in a lane thats where they're gonna stay; however fast or slow they go. I guess in a way I feel such bad lane discipline was a contributing factor to Cai's death. Obviously this has been on the boil subconsciously for a while. Jeeez, was I forceful in my riding yesterday. I wouldn't overtake on solid lines but when they were broken I was going through; whether they liked it or not. And many obviously didn't! They did move out the way when it was obvious I was coming through anyway; they didn't need to else I wouldn't have made the overtake. Close enough for them to give me more space. And that isn't really the way I want to conduct too much of my highway riding, but it did feel warrented because of the selfish, inconsiderate driving.
My bike has been great, if it carries on in such easy style I might not throw it at the ground many more times. I don't think it minds too much though, if it does it hasn't grumbled about it.
I'm so made up over being allowed close enough to stroke Bonkers. Now she's gone that far I feel I can actually put her picture on the blog. Unfortunately she's been so badly treated before Nick and Emmah got her it'll take a lot more than a few days to become a friend in any way. But hey, she didn't shy off between each tidbit I fed her just before I left. Mishka on the other hand was all over me, wouldn't leave me as I packed and just waited at the door when I locked up.
Holy rooney (and its no reference to Wayne), Canada at last and it doesn't seem that different. Shops and houses look about the same, scenery is very similar to Washington state and prices are pretty similar. Actually, its similar but on a bigger scale. There are rivers rather than creeks and the lakes are brilliant, bigger than those I saw in Washington.
The people are definitely different, they have a sense of humour. They are also more relaxed, just as friendly but the towns are not as crowded and lack the hustle bustle of many towns and cities in the states.
The roads, well despite the fact I decided not to travel on Route 1 up the coast the tarmac seems to be prefect. Smooth as a babies bum, and cambered in the right direction. Unlike the states they have gone metric, so its back to km. But that's OK I just take the speed signs as if they mean mph. It certainly makes for a quicker ride and distances go much quicker than I'm used to. Well, leaving the main road was the right choice, I followed a minor road (route 18) across to lake Cowichan. Once at a small place called Youbou the road ran out and the route continued as a logging track/forestry trail. 62 miles of loose bumpy shite, what a ride! I loved it, felt confident and cruised through with no real problems. The views were spectacular, I even managed to stop and take a few photo's. I started going about 35 mph and soon was keeping it at a steady 40-45 mph. Strange how each time I meet another vehicle, and overtook it, I got a bit faster. Ended up blatting along at 50 mph and really having fun. Until I nearly lost it, that shook me a bit! Never mind, I've changed my underwear; as if!
Its the sharper bends that pose the problems, and when combined with huge swathes of deep, loose gravel its deadly. I'd got used to the rear end snaking a bit and the front end being twitchy; easy, just give it a bit more throttle. I just managed to keep the bike on the track and slowed down for a while after that. Forty felt quite relaxed as well, and I didn't go above 45 mph until back on the tarmac. Wow, what a great ride!!
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