Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Kernville to Capitola Beach

Ok I'm still about a week behind with these, but here's another brief update... we woke up and mucked about in Kernville, Malcolm's guts were bad and I'd picked it up overnight. We had the runs. A Mexican hangover? Who knows. Anyway we eventually headed up the road to the gas station to fill up and ended up bumping into a young guy on a KLR he'd just bought two days ago. His name was Nick and he was heading into the mountains to camp, and since we'd heard there were bears around up there, and since Nick had a gun... well we thought yeah let's camp with Nick! This witchy woman at the health dispensary in Kernville had put the wind up me abut the bears, but in hindsight she was kinda nuts.

Anyway we rode up into the mountains and into the forest. After the deserts it was a real relief, and so beautiful. We rode up a trail at one point, until we couldn't go any further, and then walked the rest of it to get to this amazing lookout point. Coming back down we rode around for a bit looking for a spot to camp. We ended up at an actual campground but there wasn't another soul to be seen or heard, which was great. It felt like we had to whole world to ourselves. We set up camp, got a fire going, and chatted with Nick. Malcolm and I avoided the liquor. We hung our food in a tree as that's what we'd been told to do in case bears or anything else came around looking for food. I went to bed kinda nervous, but Nick seemed calm and he'd camped here before so that eased my mind some.

Woke up from a pretty good sleep feeling strangely disappointed that we hadn't had a visit from any furry friends. The food was still there. We packed up the tents pretty quick, took a photo of all 4 of us with the bikes, and hit the road to find some breakfast. What followed was a totally amazing day of riding... (after Joe shot Nick's gun for a bit!)

We left out campsite and headed down out of the mountains we were in. An amazing twisty road went on and on and on until we got to this cafe at Pierpoint Springs. This was a great stop. Felt like we were in Twin Peaks. Only bummer was Malcolm and I were still restricting our diets somewhat.

We left there and continued to wind down the mountain until we saw the "white barn on the right". Here we turned right and headed out into rolling countryside with beautiful ranches all around. Malcolm ran over a squirrel.

We rode with Nick and were planning to camp with him again up in the Sequoia National Park. We ended up fucking about a bit in small towns on the way though, partly because I was trying to get us tickets to see Jon Spencer in San Francisco in the weekend. Due to this shameless fucking around we separated and Nick headed off into the mountains without us with a plan to meet up the road.

Riding into the mountains of the Sequoia National Park is totally mind-blowing incredible. There's traffic of course. It's popular. But its so awesome it doesn't matter. The trees just get bigger and bigger until it's like you're in some kind of fairy tale, or a Tolkien book or something. And then – highlight of the day – we see a bear! It was just a small one kicking around near a carpark, but it was pretty cool to see a real live wild bear up close and personal. Quite a buzz.

We bump into Nick again at this point but he headed off – not so impressed by the little bear – and we planned to meet at a campground up in the Kings Canyon. We mucked around a bunch more, went for a walk to see the biggest tree (in the world?), etc. Eventually we did make it up to the only open campground in Kings Canyon but we couldn't see nick anywhere. We decided to go wait around at a restaurant/info centre that was still open, and I got really excited about the possibility of actually camping with bears around.

However... while sipping our hot apple ciders we checked the weather and soon discovered that it was about to start snowing in the mountains, and we were advised to leave right then and there or we could get stuck up there for the next 4 days! We were all pretty disappointed and we ummmed and ahhhed for a bit about making the decision, but eventually we thought fuck it and bailed out of the mountains towards Fresno. It had been such a great days riding, it was a shame to end it like this... esp once we hit the freeways into Fresno.

Having literally no idea where we were going I took us off the interstate at a random exit. With some kinda luck on our side it took us into the downtown area, and Malcolm went and asked a random couple where we should stay. Random couple turned out to be super friendly and informative, and having then checked into our Motel 8 we met them again at a bar/restaurant they'd recommended. Molly and James I think were their names? We had a good evening hanging out with them hearing stories about Fresno. It felt kinda like Christchurch actually. A bit shit but with good spots if you know where to go. We left Molly and James and went to a casino for a drink on the way back to the motel. We met a couple who were on like a Tinder date, but it wasn't tinder. They said it was purely to get laid. Not being a 'user' I'd thought that was what Tinder was for?

My Camera battery had died earlier in the National Park so I don't have any Fresno photos.

The next day was a strange one. Joe, terribly bummed out to not be going to Yosemite because of the weather, decided to go to Yosemite anyway. While Malcolm and I planned to head for the coast just south of San Francisco, in part to avoid the bad weather we'd heard was coming. We left Fresno and it was looking ok, but the sky got darker and darker all around us until eventually we were riding in terrible rain. Once we were wet and kinda resigned to it it was ok. The bikes handled great in the rain which was cool. We were running the interstate in pouring rain at 80mph passing trucks and shit. Pretty good. We kept thinking it would fine up the closer we got to the coast but it didn't and eventually we pulled off of highway 1 at a small, randomly chosen, beach town called Capitola Beach. And wow, Capitola is a beautiful spot! Event though it was still raining we felt like we'd hit the jackpot. We got a great room in a little hotel that felt like Chris Isaak mighta stayed there a few times, and went to wander the bars and restaurants. We tried to imagine how much more amazing this place would be if the weather was good. (I have some photos of Capitola on my phone, I'll chuck them up here when I get a chance.)

We eventually heard from Joe. He had been headed into Yosemite when it started to snow and so he'd turned back and had eventually made it right across to San Francisco. In the rain. We made a plan to meet him the next day... and to hopefully get tickets for the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion gig that night.

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