On the second night from Portland we stayed at Ryan’s parents beach house in Waldport. Once again, thanks to the generosity of others, we were temporarily living a life of luxury. We enjoyed ocean views, laundry, showers and a full kitchen. We would like to give special thanks to Ryan and his parents for so generously accommodating us on such short notice.
Rather than report on the daily routine of our travel between Portland and San Francisco I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the colorful characters that we encountered along the way.
The Pacific Coast Cycling Guide that I used for camping references, warned against transients in many of the hiker / biker campsites down the coast. The book states, “You may be better off paying for a regular campsite.” Parker and I would like to tastefully disagree. It was this so-called transient traffic that made this trip down the coast so memorable.
Kemo (the earth ox) – Avenue of the Giants, California
As Parker and I pedaled through the majestic shadows of the Redwoods on the Avenue of the Giants I caught a glimpse of a barefoot man navigating a dry creek bed and climbing over downed trees. I smiled and thought to myself what an interesting cast of characters this magical place seems to attract. We pulled over a quarter mile later and I ran inside a local shop to refill my water bottles. When I returned this same barefoot man had Parker cornered and was in the process of delivering an impromptu sermon.
Kemo (as his friends call him) is an “earth ox” traveling the “silk road” through America. The route is arbitrary and is determined by the word of God. Kemo’s silk road has conveniently dropped him at some of America’s biggest music festivals including a recent outing at Reggae on the River.
Kemo has had 4 wives, kids with all them, has spent time in a straight jacket in a mental institution, and was once diagnosed as “retarded.” He used to live an affluent life and would vacation in Hawaii every year but didn’t gain purpose until he took to the road. Kemo travels the silk-road in a Ford Windstar and he also calls this van home.
You can imagine our astonishment when Kemo told us that he was carrying over a thousand pounds of organic vegetables and fruit in the back of his vehicle and our shock when he announced that he would be giving us food for our trip.
We left Kemo with full food bags and sense of bewilderment. How could someone who has nothing be so generous?
Robin, his dog & Chuck – Van Damme State Park
When Parker and I arrived at Van Damme State Park it didn’t take Chuck but 5 minutes to make our acquaintance and figure out our story. Chuck was so inspired by our passion for travel that he brought us a paper bag filled with vegetables and started handing them to us to cook. It was apparent that Chuck had spent the afternoon lubricating himself with libations but regardless this guy’s generosity with his food was overwhelming.
After cooking Chuck’s organic vegetables, Parker and I invited Chuck and Robin to share dinner with us around one of the picnic tables. We were both excited by the prospect of getting to know these two interesting characters.
Chuck’s clean-cut appearance and well-groomed moustache disguise the fact that he lives a challenging life. As it turns out, Chuck is homeless and lives in a shelter in Santa Rosa, CA.
This marks the second occasion in one week where Parker and I received a generous portion of food from a homeless person. Throughout the trip we have both been amazed and humbled by the kindness of others but it is the openhandedness of people that have nothing that has given us a new perspective on humanity.
Robin has been traveling the road for over 20 years. With hundreds of thousands of miles of hitchhiking and backpacking experience, Robin has truly mastered the art of budget travel. It’s guys like Robin that need to write travel guides because he makes the Lonely Planet Traveling on a Shoestring Series look like a joke.
Robin has lived and worked everywhere. His list of professions includes; fishing boat deckhand in Alaska, painter, contractor, fisherman, farmer in Mendocino County, etc. Although he currently calls Reno, Nevada home, Robin spends most of his time and energy traveling.
Life is all about putting yourself in situations where you will be able to walk away with a good story. Robin’s has taken this philosophy to heart and his current collections of stories are mind blowing. Some of my favorites include…”how I bummed $100 off a bum,” “my decision to never buy a fishing license,” and “my trip down the Pacific Coast Trail” and “my plan to take over the world.”
Oris - Point Arena, California
We met Oris as we were leaving a Taco Shop in Point Arena. After brief introductions, Oris says, I know you’re probably asking yourselves ‘is this guy closer to 78 or 79?’ Well I can tell you I’m closer to 79.”
Oris has been passionate about bicycle travel since a young age. Oris has pedaled his Trek bicycle over 81k miles (pictured below). When I commented on his Keen Newport sandals he told us they have helped him to pedal over 12k of those miles.
Oris told us that in all those miles he had never encountered anything as crazy as what had happened to him earlier that morning. As Oris rounded a bend in the road he caught sight of a large buck deer. The deer was extremely startled by the sight of Oris and in a panic decided to jump in front of him. As Oris braced himself for impact with the deer a pick-up truck came flying by him and struck the animal head on. Oris said the animal exploded like a “cherry bomb.” He said the only thing more amazing than the truck hitting the deer was the fact that he was not covered in blood.
Other notable characters include; two homeless wanderers that we ate dinner with at Clam Beach County Park in Humboldt County, Cat Boy in Gerberville, CA, Jeannette, a Canadian woman who is traveling solo on her bicycle for the next year.
To see the photos from this segment of the trip click here:http://pebblepedalers.com/photos/show/72157622550411940