7/29 Day 18 - Woohoo! We have reached the half way point! Wellll kind of... We planned on this trip being 36 days of riding. So as long as we stay on schedule we're half way done :].
This morning we took our sweet time getting ready. We thought that we might sleep in really late because we were in a bed, but we actually woke up pretty early. We got dressed and headed down to the continental breakfast and ate as much as we could. We both had a couple bowls of cereal, an English muffin and Ethan had some donuts.
When we got back from breakfast we decided to go for another dip in the hot tub to loosen up our muscles. We had to ask the lady at the front desk to open the pool area for us. Can't imagine she gets too many people wanting to use the hot tub at 9am.
We didn't stay in the hot tub very long and after we left we showered and started packing. We took our time packing and checked out at the last minute. We were headed for the Avenue of the Giants in the Redwood National Forest and we were really excited.
We made pretty good time from Eureka to where we stopped for lunch in Rio Dell. It was a tiny town just off 101. We found a picnic table and made couscous. When we headed out we passed a local barbecue/cookout that looked like free food. We were kinda mad we didn't see it before :-/. Anyway, we stayed off of 101 for a little bit and that road took us through a town called Scotia. It was a really cute little town that was obviously really old, but it was well kept. The only reason the town exists, apparently, is because of this huge lumber mill there. When the mill set up there they built company housing as well so all the houses looked the same. It was weird, but cool at the same time.
A little ways after Scotia, and after being on 101 for a while, we got off the highway at the Avenue of the Giants. At this point we had about 20 more miles to go until our campground. At first the riding was great. It was relatively flat and we were going through some really awesome old growth forest. We stopped at a tree that had fallen and took a few pictures. It was one of the biggest trees we'd ever seen. It was a bummer that it was lying on the ground, but it was still cool.
After that stretch it started to get hilly and the riding got very tiring. Not to mention it had been gloomy and gray for the last two days. It's hard to be motivated when there's no sunshine. But we finally got a break and the sun came out when we had about 5 miles left to go. It seemed like that was all we needed to get us the rest of the way. But we were wrong.
As we were riding a silver mustang drive by and Ethan looked and recognized the girl in the passenger seat. The car pulled over and it was a girl that we had been riding through Oregon with. Her mom had picked her up from just across the Cal/Oregon border and they were driving down to Santa Rosa and decided to take the scenic route. Craziest thing right?! Not quite. We asked her about her last day of riding and such and she asked how we were liking Cali. After that she asked if we had heard about Frank ( of Frank and Josh). We both had no idea what she was talking about. She went on to explain that on the big hill we had to go over after Gold Beach (where we ate lunch on day 15) Frank had a heart attack and sadly he passed away. We both were in complete shock. Suddenly the sunshine wasn't so bright and we really just didn't know what to do or how to feel. It was horrible.
We sat there on the road side for a few minutes after she left trying to process what she just told us. We felt so bad that we didn't know until then and that there was nothing we could do really. We both decided we would keep Josh and his family in our thoughts and be thankful that we got to know Frank, even if it was for a very short time. He was a really great guy and we feel so lucky to have met him.
We rode the last 5 miles almost in silence. It was weird. We got to our camp, did our usual routine and ate dinner. We went for a walk down to the river with a couple guys we met the other day. We ran into another guy, Shawn, that we met at Humbug Mountain and told him he could share our campsite if he wanted.
The river was kinda boring, but the trees were really big and cool. On the way back the guys decided to walk up this tree that had fallen over and created a bridge to the top of the trail. They all went up and I watched thinking it looked too scary. But they all said it was fun so I decided I'd go too. I got half way up and started freaking out because it was a lot higher than I thought. I sat down on the tree and tried to scoot up but that was scary too. Fortunately Ethan was there and he coached me the rest of the way up. In hindsight I should have just taken the trail, but it makes for a good story.
When we got back Shawn had set up camp and was making dinner. The other guys and the girl they were with came over and we all hung out for a while. It was a good way to end a rough day.