(September 16/17 – written by Dave)
First about yesterday. It was our last day crossing paths with Frederik – we think. For those who don’t remember, Frederik is the Italian cyclist we met in Lee Vining. We saw him at least 5 other days. Yesterday was actually planned -the rest more coincidence. We seem to do this on our longer trips – that is, meet someone one day and see them randomly for many days to follow. Frederik is now off to the coast, while we continue down the Sierras, so it’s pretty likely we’ll not cross paths again.
Knowing this Nancy sent Frederik a note to meet up for brekkie yesterday. This was a great idea except it seemed like everything in Three Rivers was closed. We ended up at a servo in Lemon Cove, eating sandwiches made from cold cuts – so much for pancakes. Frederik has his eye on job possibilities (and a girl) in Australia, so you never know we may see him again.
And only because it is so crazy, let me tell a bit of Frederik’s bicycle recovery story – he had his bike stolen in Oakhurst. With the help of locals, he got it back (found in the bushes). That was great but he was still missing all of the things from his bags, including money, passport, GoPro and some very loud Aussie board shorts he picked up in Brisbane. Later in the day when making a second trip to the bike shop in Oakhurst to re-supply and continue his trip, he spots a customer in the shop wearing his very loud Aussie board shorts. The shop owner and Frederik called the police and delayed the guy from leaving the shop until the police arrived. In the guy’s backpack, they found Frederik’s passport, money and mostly everything else that was missing. All’s well that ends well, except for the thief. And it also makes a great argument for travelling with very loud Aussie board shorts!
We split up with Frederik after Lemon Cove – where surprise, they have many lemon trees. We had some back roads to ride to eventually get into the San Joaquin Valley proper. This part of the valley is flat, wide, and full of citrus trees and water cannels. We only had to ride about 15 miles of the flat valley roads and we already know that we like the mountains better (Senior editor’s note – but the flat bit was nice…).
The valley also felt a little like we entered another country. There are lots of Mexican flags and we heard a good deal of Spanish being spoken – boy we need to get working on our Spanish study if we are going to survive Mexico.
We eventually ended up at Hank’s house – Hank is a Warmshowers host here in Porterville. We contacted him a few days ago on short notice and he was more than happy to have us stay here. It’s a good thing we did as the road through the Sierras ahead of us is closed due to fire and we can replan the route from here. Hank actually got a really late request from Roger and Marshal – cyclists that we’d met in Sequoia to stay here as well. Hank said yes to them but by the time they received the message, they’d made other arrangements – they had discovered the closed road situation as well.
Hank is a great host. He left us instructions to get into his house and gave us the run of the place. We did a bunch of maintenance/chores and then had a lovely dinner with Hank when he arrived home. We are taking the day here to replan our route south. Hank has given us some ideas about getting around the fire and we also have to deal with a road-closing sink hole in the San Bernardino Mountains. We’ll try getting into Porterville today as well – just to get a feel for the town.
Really, most the day will be pouring over maps and the web. We like to have a week ahead planned. Several folks have asked “how do we plan”. It’s not too hard. We just look 40-50 miles per day in the direction we want to head, and then look for camping/hotel options. Sometimes there is none and we have to go longer or shorter. And sometimes we know that 50 miles is too far because it’s all uphill. We don’t make any reservations as things like the above noted fire can throw everything off. If we are worried about finding space somewhere, we might call/email the campground or hotel to check availability. Try as we might, we aren’t very good at winging it. My senior editor is way too organized for this and to be fair, I like to have an idea of where we are going as well.
Where to next? Well, we’ll have to see what comes out of the planning session today so stay tuned.