Land of Huge Hills, Huge Tress, Humboldt Gold and Hippie Kid Trimmers

Arcata to Rio Dell 58.94 km
Rio Dell to Burlington Campground 37.73 km
Burlington Campground to Garberville 37.73 km
Garberville to Redwood River Resort 27.79 km

We’re having our rest day before the Leggett Hill Climb although we’ve already done 900 feet in the last two days. We get to climb 1000 feet day after tomorrow and then we are done with what are nightmare hills for me. I wish I could say I have learned to master them – mentally – I obviously manage to get over them physically (still using the hikin and bikin method). But I still dread and worry and imagine the worst in between strategizing on how to get over them or out of having to do them! The secret is to not panic and to stop and rest and then keep going but I still give into panic too often. Today for example, I thought I couldn’t go another 10 feet when we arrived at the motel this afternoon. I was very grouchy and yelled at a dog who barked at me when we pulled into the motel (and he really just wanted me to pet him). But an hour after getting here I was walking around and carrying my bike up some stairs and realizing I could have kept going if I’d needed to as long as I took an appropriate break – like twenty minutes.

But here we are at the Redwood River Resort (our motel), six miles from Leggett, anticipating a quiet evening drinking a little wine and watching Monty Python’s The Holy Grail…there’s a dvd player and rental movies…not much on tv here…Tomorrow we get to do laundry and by the time we get up to do that hill on Sunday I will be rested with clean clothes and all will be well.

So, hippie kid trimmers and the county’s biggest cash crop – Humboldt Gold marijuana. We first noticed the dreadlocks and rasta hats in the plaza at Arcata where the shop owners grumbled to us about the army of kids that show up every year at this time looking for jobs as trimmers (pruning marijuana plants and picking marijuana buds). When they aren’t picking they hang about in groups and annoy shopkeepers and regular citizens. And I admit they are kind of annoying en masse, like any group of adolescents can be (loud, hormone driven: a kind of goofy that’s really only charming in small numbers or one-on-one). Yet, much of the economy here, including all the shop owners, relies on the money that is generated by the business. California legalized medical marijuana a couple of decades ago but was unable to completely legalize it in 2010 proposition 19 where the proposal was to regulate and tax it. As a result, it is still run illegally with criminal elements involved and the medical part of it is really a joke (everyone has a card that gives them a ‘medical’ reason to smoke or grow). What a way to make a total mess of a golden business opportunity. Here we have a bankrupt state, a whole bunch of out of work loggers and a cash crop that is grown whether government likes it or not. Instead of spending tax dollars trying to shut down an industry that carries on in any event, why not make the most of it? Proposition 19 estimated that 1.4 billion dollars a year could be generated for the tax man. It truly is a no brainer. Quit allowing the criminal element to make money and let the government collect some much-needed dollars. Remember alcohol prohibition???

In any event, we had a really nice time in Arcata where we met the brother of my good friend Sheila and had a great evening at his home visiting with him and his wife. We got the  lowdown on Arcata and some good travelling in Vietnam stories. Arcata is a together little town that has made some good decisions in its history, keeping the plaza in the center of town as a plaza and as a result, creating a pretty and functional main street with good restaurants and interesting shops.

We were able to get out of Arcata on a series of back roads through farm land and found ourselves at Loleta where we bought cheese at the Loleta cheese factory and bread at the amazing Loleta bakery. This netted us pecan/onion bread that we used to make sandwiches with our aged Monterey Jack cheese and jalapeno jelly. We began to climb as we hit the redwoods but we were happy to get off 101 and onto the Avenue of the Giants.

The Avenue of the Giants gave us a 31 mile tour of magnificent redwoods and we had a good camp in the middle of all those trees, sharing our campfire with Randy, an ex bike courier from LA on his way to a friend’s farm to trim some marijuana and make 150 a day. He told us he used to make the same as a bike courier before the 2008 recession but gave it up when he found he was down to 50 a day. He gave us some insight into LA bike culture – apparently there are great bike routes there now after years of lobbying and he told us how he lives in a housing co-op where cycling has become part of a whole community philosophy on urban best practices (along with recycling and composting, co-op businesses, and eating vegetarian etc.).

Today was a tough day on the 101 where we were intimidated by traffic again – there are parts of this route that truly are unsafe in my opinion. It is surprising that it is so heavily promoted as a bike route – especially in a country where people successfully sue McDonalds for making the coffee too hot – makes me wonder if anyone has ever sued the state for false claims regarding this being a bike route. So California, legalize your cash crop, generate some tax revenue and widen the shoulders. There are thousands of cyclists dropping money here every year.

In the meantime, we are off 101 tomorrow and onto Highway 1 which we have heard is much less busy…We shall see.

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