I rode frantically like a chinchilla on speed past LAX airport navigating through the crazy airport traffic. I realized there would be no time for filming because it was too dangerous and scary. Following the fancy-people-path to Malibu I got some luxurious Jack in the Box. I shoved a crap burger down my dumb throat and felt it quickly work its way to my bowels. There was no time for pooping because it was time to get tough. The lolly gaggin' was over, it was time to move!
It could of been this attitude that got me into trouble down the street when I almost met my end once more. I was trying to make up time by full throttling it downhill. Out of nowhere my engine seizes resulting in a locked up back tire and a long squiggly skid to the side of the road. Adrenaline set loose and I couldn't believe I didn't crash or get hit by a car! (Balance grasshopper). I unloaded the moped and looked it over. I guessed I had too much weight on the back so I shifted some to the front. With the tire locked up, I thought I could just go home and get into a warm bed with my girlfriend and gently snack on baguettes with brie cheese. Unfortunately, my destiny could not be escaped. I stepped on the pedal and pushed down hard, there was a loud click, the tire unlocked and became pedal-able so off I went. With the sunset approaching, I jumped off the road to camp and spent the evening enjoying fireworks off in the distance. Right above me was the night sky with more stars than I’ve seen in a long time. Although I was road worn and lonely I could feel a surge of adventure and eagerness to get further north into bigfoot country.
(Lompoc to San Fran)
The next couple of days were jam packed with crap happenings. At first I laughed at the signs for "gusty winds" but when saw several large trucks swerving through this "Valley of the Strong Winds" I laughed no more. The gusty winds attacked me head on, and the sun attacked me from above with strong vigilance. Just when I thought all my foes had shown themselves, gravity attacked my buttocks through my not-padded-enough seat. This wicked combination of sun, wind and gravity would be my main situation wrecker for the first leg of the trip.
camo suit battling gusty winds!
Of course other problems would occur, every good adventure has to have them. When I pulled into the town of Lompoc I was greeted by a "hello" from a piece of glass and a "why don't you stay awhile" with a flat tire. This would be my first flat tire change and I really wasn't up for it. By now I had become sun-burnt as well as burnt-out. I tried my quick fix, a fix-a-flat for bicycles, but it wouldn't work for me this time. I was tired, dehydrated and ready to pay someone for my laziness. Searching for a local bike store I met a pirate bum. He had a rad three tired bicycle with a pirate flag and baby cart thingy on the back! We exchanged compliments on each others rides. I told him where I came from and he told where he came from.
"You see, I rode this here bike of mine up from San Diego and just took the freeways. Eventually I was pulled over by a CHP officer who told me that when there is no other way to get around a freeway bicycles are allowed by law to use the shoulder".
Since I already had to do that a little (and it was nerve racking) I was relieved to know that at least I could relax a little about "the heat" coming down on me. I found a shop, bought a patch kit and went to work with a little help from the kind shop owner. While changing the tire I noticed a few things missing from the back of the bike and cursed the gusty winds. This would not be the last time for cursing the winds. Besides almost blowing me off the road, into trucks, or blowing bugs into my face with the impact of a BB gun, they also made me cold and exhausted. I would have plenty of time to think about it too because the strength of the winds cut my speed in half. 15mph. Curse you gusty winds!!!!By the time I got near San Francisco I thought I was going to pass out. It's weird how life can be. After two draining days of wind, sun, dehydration, and exhaustion I wasn't sure how much farther I could go. Further north the weather switched to being misty and wet. A nice change from the sun burning my face off but now I was cold and wet. Eventually I came upon a glorious youth hostel lighthouse!
$20 got me a hot shower and a much needed good night sleep in a room of three other travelers. I woke up to an odd looking old man packing up his ultra light bags; I guessed he was a bicycler. I complimented him on his setup and he told me, "In the jungle of 'Nam I learned real quick the difference between what I needed and what I wanted". We had a brief discussion about survival and the destructive way of man. Then almost side by side we parted ways. I went north to survival school and he went south and onto biking across Europe or something. He told me that my north route would lead through an extremely treacherous part of the road called "Devils Ridge". He told me that he takes a bus to pass through it, as do most bikers, and I should go around since that stretch of road kills people every now and then. Unfortunately I didn't have time so I was forced to go ahead. When I got to that part of the road I found a steep ass hill, a sheer cliff, speeding tractor trailer trucks, and certain death for a mistimed moped crossing waiting for me. I pulled off on the side of the road and pondered my existence and if it WAS about to end what did it all mean? I went for it. I ran pushing the moped uphill as fast as I could, my legs burned immediately cause this shit was steep and long. Finally I rounded the first bend, with no traffic! I rounded the second and hopped on and rode until I could pull over and feel brave. Bitchin!
Besides getting lost a couple times it was smooth sailing to SF. I came upon the golden gate bridge during rush hour, so cars were flying by. I knew that the local moped gang (The Creatures of the Loin) cross this thing and they offered to accompany me over upon emailing them about it. There wasn't time for me to get in touch so I decided to push my ass over it. I pedaled a little and took in the scenery of crappy tourists and their kids. Some people took pictures of me while some probably thought I was a some kinda weirdo-terrorist. I crossed over and was on my way.
(Bigfoot country I; Willow Creek)
I rode as fast as I could (33mph) cursing all the motorcycles flying by waving at me while making great time to their destinations. My sweet ride wasn't the fastest but it wasn't the slowest either. I sure did feel sorry for the bicyclers who always looked like they were having the worst day of their life. Not stopping for crap got me past Sonoma and Mendocino counties to my resting place of Arcata that night. I snuck into a campground and pitched my moped lean-to, reflecting upon some of the highlights so far. Some of this stuff wasn't epic in an earth shattering way but it was enough to affect me. There's something cool and terrifically gay about the way dark clouds are outlined by the sun peeking through the soft edges. Seeing a bird diving down into a stream to catch a fish, or having a deer run 10 ft. in front of you, hearing it's hoofs slipping on the pavement as you contemplate jumping on and catching a ride. Or how about seeing a deer run across the road and jump not over a fence, but instead, in between an eight inch gap in it's wires. When you're up at dawn and dusk traveling back roads you're bound to see some gentle magic.
My sixth day of mopeding would be my last for awhile because wilderness school was about to start. This would also be the day I was looking forward to the most because I would be going through classic bigfoot country. I started out before the sun came up and driving up the 101 to the 299 weaving my crappy ass up some light mountain heights to the town of Willow Creek. There's a bigfoot museum where just a couple years before I attended a two day symposium. Jane Goodall was a scheduled guest speaker but had to cancel at the last minute probably to save her credibility. It sucks cause I had a big crush on her at the time. I didn't care that she was in her sixties but then I found out she was married so I kind of blew it off. I respect matrimony dog, well, sorta. In between speakers I got to meet local bigfooter “Bobo” who took me under his wing and showed me the towns by driving 80mph around winding mountain roads to get to a punk show.
I still found the time to stare off into the surrounding mountains and daydream some real shitty stuff. I remember a great one where I stumbled upon a bear fighting a bigfoot. Eventually the bear starts to win and I come to the rescue, scare the bear off and heal the squatch. We go on to share wilderness living skills and play pranks on humans. These detailed fantasies would go so far as to have me ruining their life by weakening their diet with cooked food.
photo by Coco Chapelle
In Willow Creek it was a beautiful day to have breakfast at the only stop in town. I forget its name, but just imagine a log cabin setting with old time saws that old time white dudes used to hack everything up with. On the walls were more mounted animals than you could shake a stick at. So yeah, it was the perfect place to eat some pancakes. Waiting for my order I looked around and saw a fairly large bigfoot poster that had a list of the sightings in the area. It included the most famous, that happened a few miles up the road at Bluff Creek. The blurry Bigfoot footage known as the Patterson/Gimlin film. Patterson, while on his deathbed, claimed it was real. The only other person that was supposedly there was Bob Gimlin, who to this day claims it was real. This crap has been talked about to death whether it's authentic or not and it's still hard to say. The series of footprint casts and pictures taken from the scene show a midtarsal break which I find interesting. A tracker named Bob Titmus checked the film site a few days later and left convinced it was a real creature because of toe movement in the tracks, pressure ridges and other lifelike clues! The only other reason I think it could be real is because Bob Gimlin says so and he's badass! He still breaks horses at almost 80 years old!
You know what would be even more interesting to see? Footage that wasn't blurry and far away. To my knowledge such footage doesn't exist. So does that mean bigfoot doesn't exist? Maybe, but one look at the vast Pacific Northwest wilderness especially in the place where I was standing, suggests there's plenty of room for some mysterious bastards to roam.
While paying my bill I threw out the "B" word to see what would happen. Well sure enough the waitress said that over the years of serving food to the locals she had heard all kinds of stories. She told me people she respected have had first hand sightings. Firemen, cops, and several hunters all had "encounters". Nothing gets me more excited then a good dose of circumstantial evidence! Now I was ready to hit the mean streets of Willow creek. I stopped for a photo in front of the famous wood carving of a bigfoot made by Jim McClarin in the town center and then headed off to get some gas.
At the gas station a rugged old biker man/dude pulled up and inquired about my ride. He introduced himself as Kelso, a motorcycle messenger for the Willow Creek area. He complimented my balls on riding this far on a 2-stroke 50cc bike then gave some advice.
He said "you're young and idealistic, you think you're invincible and you can take on the world. I used to be the same way. But I'll tell you one thing. The road will kill you! If you don't get off that bike soon, it'll catch up with you when you least expect it and TAKE YOU OUT…."
I told him it almost has and I know how easy it could happen. Now that I'm in logging truck territory and in the middle of nowhere I was almost expecting it. Kelso was a good man and I tried to reassure him I would heed his advice. But for now, I had a lot of miles to cover.
He wished me luck and said, "Hell, the most important thing is that you live your dreams brother".
"Live your dreams" was written on the other side of my moped where he couldn't have seen it! My crappy brain was psyched! I hopped on my hog and tore off into the unknown at flying high at 33mph.
(Bigfoot Country II; Happy Camp)
I was making good time for once so I slowed it down. I was after all cruising on "the Bigfoot scenic highway" as its called. This would turn out to be one of the best cruises on my trip. Luckily, I loved every second. It would have been weird to hate it. I could of pulled off almost anywhere to camp if I had the time. Every turn was an epic view! Riding a little past the town of Hoopa, I took a bath in a rushing stream. The water was so awesome I had to drink some. There aren't many people who would recommend doing this. I guess I feel that I don't want to live in a world where you can't take a sip from beautiful mountain streams occasionally. But in this day and age if I keep it up I could live in a world where I'll have beautiful streams of diarrhea in my pants! Back on the 96 the weather was perfect and cars were all but nonexistent! I was tempted to stop at Bluff creek but figured I wouldn't have time for much exploring so I kept on. Finally I arrived at the town of Happy Camp ready to get some lunch. I stopped at Java Bob's bigfoot Deli because a bigfoot Deli sounded like the bomb to me! I ordered up a turkey sandwich and read the bigfoot posters on the walls as well as postcards, T-shirts, stickers and a few articles on the subject. One of which described an in town sighting that happened about two weeks before. I asked the store owner, Bob, about it and he told me not only was there a sighting, but a bigfoot "hunter" had tracked one up into a cave planning to tranquilize it, take some blood samples, then release it back. I found that a little hard to swallow unlike the turkey sandwich which was quite good (that was a good one). He suggested I return after wilderness school to be interviewed for the local e-newspaper, the Happy Camp Times. I agreed and was on my way again with my head spinning. Wow, is a Bigfoot really going to be captured? Swedish television crews had already been there covering this soon to be hot story! We all know those Swedish television reporters are always ahead of the game. I wanted to stay and be a part of this historic event but had already planned and paid for Headwaters school so off I went to find my own Bigfoot!.......................at the Happy Camp post office.