Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Journey to the Lost Coast

On August 19th, we began our unforgettable 140-mile hitch to the Lost Coast Trail, commencing with the meeting of a hilarious and spunky woman named Sabrina. Every single word that came out of her mouth had us laughing! Sabrina was heading southbound to Orick, where she was to go on a blind date with Big Al, who was coming up from McKinleyville. She invited us along to share in the experience with them. And what an interesting experience it was!

Passing through Klamath, CA.

Sabrina was in a hurry so as not to keep Big Al waiting at the diner. 
We sped right past this herd of elk!

Soon we arrived at the Palm Cafe in Orick. Big Al hadn't arrived yet. Sabrina wanted to treat me to a glass of wine. She asked the waitress, "Do you serve wine?" The waitress responded, "Ma'am, we don't serve alcohol." Sabrina paused for a bit. "Beer?" The waitress repeated with a straight face, "Ma'am, we don't serve alcohol."

We seated ourselves at a table and waited on Big Al to arrive. The waitress took our order, 
two specials for me and Freebird. Sabrina told her, "I don't want anything, I'm too nervous to eat." 
Our food was ready when Big Al, a tall outdoors man and kayaker arrived. He placed his order, 
and then the waitress turned to Sabrina, who once again stated, "I don't want anything, I'm too nervous to eat." Once she returned with Big Al's dish, the waitress attempted to ask Sabrina one 
more time if she wanted any dinner. She even asked me and Freebird to recommend our specials 
to her! Sabrina told the waitress for the third and final time, "I don't want anything, I'm too 
nervous to eat." Finally, the waitress accepted and asked no more!

Meanwhile, Sabrina was entertaining all of us with her stories and jokes. But eventually Big Al 
just couldn't handle something she said, and his jaw dropped. Sabrina glanced at me and 
Freebird and exclaimed, "Awkward moment!"

We shared with Big Al and Sabrina the story of a spy that we had met along the journey. So Sabrina decided to play a game and pretend that we were spies as well. She gave herself the code name, "Breezy," and Freebird and I respectively became known as "Breaking Wind" and "Dutch Oven." Then truck pulled into the parking lot, right beside Sabrina's car. A man got out and appeared to be looking at her license plate. Freebird said to Sabrina, "Look, a spy!" He must have been the owner of the cafe because the workers warned each other, "Jerry's here." Minutes later he was standing to the right of me and Sabrina, behind the counter, checking on the employees. Sabrina whispered 
audibly into her wrist, "Breezy to Dutch Oven and Breaking Wind.... Jerry.... 3 o'clock!" 
Jerry clearly heard the whole thing. He just stared at Sabrina with confusion!

Big Al and Sabrina had previously planned an after-dinner beach walk just south of Orick. 
Since that was along our route, Sabrina offered to take us there. Maybe we could find 
a campsite around that area and then hitch early in the morning.

We climbed into the backseat of Sabrina's car as she was on the phone with her sister, providing details of the evening. "The date is going well so far. I'm following Big Al to the beach now. He's driving a red Ford pickup truck, license plate [....], and he's carrying a canoe - wait scratch that - a kayak (he already corrected me) on his roof. Don't worry, everything's okay. I have some hitchhikers with me. Breaking Wind and Dutch Oven. They got my back!" I wonder what Sabrina's sister was thinking. I imagine that she either shares this sense of humor or is accustomed to it by now!

We arrived at the windswept beach just moments later. While Big Al and Sabrina
went for a stroll, Freebird and I hid behind a piece of driftwood, trying to
keep warm while watching another incredible sunset.

 They returned shortly and saw us huddled up in my sleeping bag. Despite our insistence that we could probably camp in a forest across the highway and find shelter among the trees, Big Al suggested that we stay the night at his apartment in McKinleyville. "It's not clean. I wasn't expecting company. But it's better than staying out here in the cold. And in the morning, you'll be closer to the Lost Coast and can start hitching again." We accepted. We exchanged contact information with Sabrina, and then she returned to Crescent City as we continued southbound.

We had been concerned about leaving Crescent City so late in the evening. We knew not where we would sleep that night. Big Al welcomed us into his home, another provision from God. Jesus, who never owned a physical house and fully trusted in God and His divine guidance was, along with his apostles, often offered places to stay. Peace Pilgrim, who walked a pilgrimage around the United States from 1953 to 1981, would camp outdoors frequently but would also be welcomed into several households. I thought of these people as I remembered some words Jesus once spoke, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." I'm far from even comparing myself to them, but their examples are inspirational to me.

Big Al offered us showers that night and let us use the stove to cook some oatmeal
the following morning. He also gave Freebird a new wash cloth, since his enlightened
travelling companion, Patrick, was now ascending beyond materiality.

After breakfast we were pleasantly surprised that Big Al offered to take us to Eureka next. He had to mow some lawns there anyway, so he thought he might as well take us that much closer to the trail.

A mural in McKinleyville.

 We passed through Arcata and Eureka, reaching the southern edge of town, where we would wait for another ride. We say goodbye to Big Al, a man with a heart of gold. It was so generous of him to welcome us into his home and to drive us across such a large distance over the span of two days.

A few hours passed as we stood along the highway. One man stopped for us, but with his car being filled with cigarette smoke, we refused the ride but thanked him for stopping. Finally, at the suggestion of some locals, we moved farther down the road to a better area to hitch.

We came up behind a woman, who turned around to check if we were doing okay. Looking at her nearly toothless smile, it was evident that she had used meth before. She was walking along, smoking a cigarette. At the time, she only had one left and didn't know how she would get any more, but she offered it to me. I don't smoke, so of course I refused. But her generosity still struck me to the core. The realization that she was offering me the last of something that was so dear to her, with no worries for the future, was absolutely beautiful to me. I will never again look down ever on a person addicted to drugs. Aren't we all addicted to something anyway? In human terms, none of us are perfect and we all make mistakes that only hurt ourselves. But if we look beyond imperfections, we can see the divine qualities shining through. Our true Selves.

Now standing in a different location farther down the highway, we received a ride immediately.
We briefly met Darren, who could only transport us a few miles on his way to work. He had part-ownership of a Mediterranean fast food chain on the west coast. Not even a minute after Darren dropped us off, we were picked up by couple who just happened to be Mediterranean chefs!
Lynden and Josh were heading to the Humboldt County Fair in Ferndale, where they worked
at a booth that sold Mediterranean food. They invited us along for some lunch.

Lynden told a girl admitting people through the gates that we were only staying for lunch, so we were exempted from the entrance fee. We were then led over to their food stand, called "Nature's Serving." Looking over their menu, it was difficult to make a choice between all the tasty options. They suggested the $20.00 sampler platter of all their food, which they gave us at no charge!

As we ate this scrumptious meal, we overheard that a parrot show was about to begin nearby. 
We went over and joined the growing audience.

Before the show started, the host carried this macaw around to meet the children.

And then the show kicked off with so much commotion, loud music and kids screaming for joy.

We were introduced to four different birds, each of which had a talent to share with us. 
This parrot performed a duet with the host of the show.

This cockatoo showed off her flying skills, from retrieving an object from the top of a 
building to flying through an obstacle course of hula hoops held by several children.

After the show ended, we wandered around the fair.

We found the elusive Bigfoot! What a friendly guy!

This room displaying entries in various arts, crafts, and baking 
contests contained so many creative projects to admire.

I was drawn away from this mesmerizing Godzilla quilt upon hearing from
Freebird that some musicians were performing just outside the door. They were
very talented, and we stayed to listen to a few of their songs.

I was nearly in tears of gratitude at the first song we heard from them, which was about experiencing God and His love. It felt so wonderful to be in the fair at that moment, in the midst of a journey to the Lost Coast that had me in complete awe. Then they transitioned to a very energetic song, a cover of Cream's "Crossroads." That's our cue to get back on the road soon!

 But not yet... we had to witness this sideshow about to unfold.
As "Crossroads" began, Bigfoot danced in through the gate!

 He snuck past the audience to go play with two boys, joining them to pop some bubbles.
Freebird and I were laughing so hard at this point, that I was nearly in tears again!

 The laughter continued as Bigfoot and one of the boys schemed to cause some trouble.

 Bigfoot danced up on stage to ruffle the hair of one of the guitarists.

 Satisfied with the fun they've had thus far, after a high five,
Bigfoot disappeared through a door to have some lunch.

Sensing that it was now time to hit the road once again, we began venturing over 
to Lynden and Josh, stopping for a few minutes at this seal show.

Back at "Nature's Serving," we found Lynden and Josh, still serving food. We thanked them for everything and then walked back out the main gates, heading for the town of Ferndale.

An amusing decal on a car parallel-parked near the entrance of the fair.

 Upon entering Ferndale we came across this small burger stand. A local man approached us and said that we better try one of their burgers. According to him, they have some of the best burgers around. Despite feeling a bit full from that massive Mediterranean platter, we stopped in to place an order.

Despite this sign on display in the restaurant, they still hired a skinny cook. I told her that we probably couldn't trust her and requested a discount, but that didn't happen! Freebird and I split a burger which turned out to be amazing anyway. Okay, we'll trust her this time.

Walking through Ferndale, trying to get to the other side of town to catch a ride.

We stood outside this library's doors, trying to remember if either of us needed to use the Internet 
for anything. Neither of us thought so. Before we could leave, an elderly woman pointed us in that direction to see the historic doors which were made out of one solid piece of redwood. 
Upon closer inspection, they were not of one piece. But we figured now that 
we had been directed here for a reason. One of us had to check e-mail.

Their only two computers were occupied the moment we walked in the doors. But at the very moment that we approached the front desk and made the request, one of the people got up and left. The librarian, too, noticed the serendipity in this event. Freebird checked his e-mail first, and saw nothing very urgent. I signed into my e-mail account next, to find an e-mail from my dad who was very worried and upset about something at the time. I needed to answer him right away, considering the fact that we would be back on the trail for over a week. My dad would have been 
worried for a long time had it not been for that elderly woman.

That settled, we were now truly ready to hitch. We just had to get to the edge of Ferndale first.

 Turning the corner, we walked a couple blocks to a side road that would lead us to Petrolia. There weren't many people passing through there. One woman stopped for us, but just like the man in Eureka, she was smoking in her car. We kindly refused the offer and waited awhile longer. Not much later a man named Sam, a firefighter who resided in Petrolia, welcomed us into his car.

He said that he could take us right to the trail head, but he insisted that we come over to his house first. He and his wife grew an organic garden and said that we could pick some green beans and cucumbers. We parked in the driveway, met their four dogs and several ducklings, and walked through the rows of produce. Sam went into the house while we picked just what he had offered, green beans and cucumbers. When he returned, he exclaimed, "No, you need to take more!" He led us around, handing us lemon cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, purple beans, corn on the cob, lemons, miner's lettuce, and a heavy cantaloupe and watermelon! Then he added some chocolate zucchini bread that his wife had baked. Our packs now significantly heavier (especially that of Freebird, who carried the two melons), we slid back into Sam's car, now completely prepared for the Lost Coast.

Sam told us of his friend John, an artist, carpenter, author, and climatologist, who lived in a small cabin that he built along the trail. He told us that we could visit him and tell him that Sam sent us.

As Sam and Freebird talked, I dozed in the backseat for awhile. A half hour later,
I woke up to this incredible view. We were winding along through the rolling hills and
golden fields, looking down upon the deep blue ocean. We could see for miles as
the road descended down to meander along the coastline. 

After two days of some of the most memorable rides, incredible experiences, and unforgettable provisions, we finally made it to one of the most rugged areas on the California coast. Soon we would arrive at the northern trail head of the 60-mile-long Lost Coast Trail! Thank God!

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