Welp, here we are. After the last blog post we left Starbucks and took over some of their outside tables for a ‘Nearly End of Tour’ Feast, which consisted of bagels, bbq sauce packets, avocado, and carrots, topped off with some mint oreos. A meal fit for kings! By some miraculous stoke of luck, we were also treated to left over slices of pizza and some sour gummy candy courtesy of teenagers-who-don’t-clean-up-after-themselves-and-take-pizza-and-candy-for-granted. You know the type.
The feast, having finished being feasted upon, was concluded, and we set out into the night to try and find a reasonable place to sleep. A school yard was entirely fenced in. A church was to bright with porch lights and a dog barked endlessly at our mere presence. Finally, further off our route than we would have liked, we found the perfect spot. A dark little hallways between two church buildings.
We leaned the bikes against the walls, pulled out our sleeping sacks and retired to the concrete. Though horizontal situated in the dark, sleep did not come. The stench of my shoes kept wafting over to Stink, gagging her nostrils with the tank fumes. My mind cycled through endless thoughts, fueled by the three or more cups of strong caffeine currently sitting in my belly.
But it was a nice place and a dark place and at least we didn’t feel like anyone was going to come by and bug us in the night.
In the morning, we discovered some less than pleasant things about our selected spot: maggots. Tons of maggots. Everywhere.
Coincidentally, one thing that you do not want to wake up and find that you have been rolling about in in the night is maggots. This may have also explained the stinky shoe issue, as stinky shoes + maggots = extra stinky.
Not really sure why exactly there were maggots everywhere, but we made peace with it, packed up, and headed back to the Starbucks for more coffee. (I think since the tour is nearly ending, we’ve been more lax about budget, as in, we haven’t been hitting up the McDonald’s as often. Plus, Starbucks generally has better wifi, and more often outlets for charging. Also their coffee doesn’t taste like hot butt).
At one point when I was outside and eating some munchie mix, a dude named Marty Mitchell came up and started chatting with me about what we were up to. He even offered showers and laundry, but since we had yet to do any miles at all that day, we decided to decline. Mostly I just wanted to mention him here because I like his name.
Anyways, eventually we rolled out, and… ended up at the donut shop across the lot. Stink purchased a variety of delicious looking bits and we hung about for a minute outside. Another fella came up, interested in the scoots, and ended up giving a donation for Watsi.
Eventually eventually eventually we actually left the town and went on out way. I don’t really remember much of what may or may not have occurred that day. I’m fairly sure clowns were not involved though.
Towards the evening, we had finished up our miles for the day, but were riding on in search of a place to sleep. We just kept going and going and going, but, nothing calling out to us. The miles piled on, and we were getting bone tired.
Eventually we began to see signs for ‘The Civil War Revisited’ posted out along the roadside, and after a few short miles more, we found ourselves outside of a sprawling fairgrounds, with the sounds of fife bands floating to our ears. Could it be? Yes, another encounter with reenactment troops, though, we still had the obstacle of finding a way to actually get into the park.
While scouting the perimeter, Stink got a flat tire, which we treated as another one of those which we just pump up and hope to limp a long till we have a good spot to stop and patch it. We navigated nearly the entire fenceline, till we were right about where we started, and found the entrance located there. We rolled in, acting like we were totally supposed to be there and hoping there was no security or ticket booth.
Once in the clear, we located a nice pavilion with electric outlets and a countertop to sit on, and cracked open a can of beans for dinner. We could hear the sounds of the reenactment loudspeaker bellowing through the trees, but were so tired out that we didn’t even walk over.
There was some sort of dance event happening, and we drifted off to sleep with the sounds of do si do-ing in the distance.
In the morning thankfully there were no maggots, and Stink patched her tubes and we rolled off to the next town, Kerman, about 10 miles away.
We found a Wal-Mart / McDonald’s combo deal, and utilized their facilities to the max! I found some only slight expired fancy acacia juice drinks for a dollar, and some technically expired hummus to boot.
We took over a booth at Micky D’s and commenced a lengthy loiter.
After a few hours, we packed up our junk and headed back out to the bikes, which were thankfully still there, patiently awaiting our return.
There wasn’t much happening while we rode that day, just miles and miles of garbage strewn roads, and orange orchards and vineyards lining the road. This is how we know we’re in California.
As we were just about to enter the town of our goal for the day, I got a flat. We scooted a bit further to get away from the dogs that were after us, then pulled over to fix it up.
Turned out I had a hole right at the valve stem, which are nigh impossible to patch. Luckily, I still had a nice new spare tube (I think it was the one from our hero Kendall all the way back in Kentucky… maybe), so I switched them out real quick and we scooted the rest of the way in to town.
Just down the road we found a somewhat sketchy looking grocery store (‘State Food Supermarket’) and went inside. Towards the back of the store there was a produce section, fully stocked, but totally vacant of shoppers. We found some deals on fuji apples (59 cents a pound!) and loaded up.
Then… unfortunately, we found the cookie aisle and I had to get a package of off-brand oreos that I had never seen before, just to try it…. I also got a bag of sketchy looking animal crackers to round things off.
Outside, we sat on our bums, munching cookies and cans of beans, while eyeing a potential sleep church across the street. The off-brand oreos (Festy’s) were actually really good! The animals crackers, on the other hand, tasted like death and metal, and not the music.
We rolled across to scope out the church after dinner, but no luck. It was totally open in the back and even as we were standing there, people were walking through, using it as a short cut.
We ended up scooting back out to the edge of town, checking out first one place then another, just trying to find a dark and unpopulated spot to pass the night.
As we were looking at the back lot of one church, someone came out of the house adjacent and got into a car. As he drove past, we asked if the pastor was around and he said to go knock at that house.
We walked our scoots over, and as we approached the door, another car pulled up and some folks piled out. I told them that we were wanting know if we could throw the tent up there, and one young guy went in and asked the pastor (his dad) for us.
Approval was granted and off we went to build our home, in the small patch of grass snugged between two buildings.
After the pastor finished up the counseling session he was currently in, he came out to greet us and see what were up to, even opening up the church to let us use the bathroom and clean up a bit.
He was proud of church and his sons, you could tell, as he pointed out how the young guy who had gone in and fetched him was ‘an excellent drummer’.
He brought out a couple of folding chairs too, which was a nice gesture. You don’t think about it much, but we basically have been sitting on the ground these past months, so something like a chair isn’t taken for granted.
After they all went back to their house, I promptly pulled up a chair to the hose, and gave my feet a good scrubbing… it had been awhile since our last shower, and my feet are stinky on the best of days.
Since it was such a small patch of grass and the hose was laid out just there, and the fact that they told us to our tent in just that spot, we felt it was safe to assume that there was no sprinkler system.
Never assume there is no sprinkler system.
At two A.M. we are promptly awoken by the sounds of water being blasted from previously well hidden nozzles. We jump out of the tent, directly into the spray, and quickly drag it away, then run back to grab the bikes.
Unfortunately, I had locked mine up, so I had to stand there in the dark and the wet trying to roll in the right combo, all while stuck in a dazed half-awake shock.
But persistence prevails, and I got it out of the line of fire without getting too soaked. We shook the water off our now sodden sleeping bags, and tiredly climbed back into bed.
Annnd, within two minutes , the second set of sprinklers kicked on and a pool of water was quietly making it’s way across the concrete towards our newly relocated tent. Up and out of bed again to drag it further away, then finally, finally, we could get back to sleep.
In the morning, we rolled up the soggy tent, and scooted back to town to once again hit up the State Food Supermarket. It was five after eight when we pulled up, but people were milling about the parking lot. The store hours were posted from 8 till 10, but all the lights were still out inside, not appearing to be ready to open at all.
So, we scooted to the gas station across the road, and got some piping hot coffee instead. Maybe also a bag of bbq potato chips. Don’t judge me.
A gal there nearly mistook me for her ‘white friend who also has a bunch of stuff on her bike’. I think that might be code for homeless.
Anyways, coffee got got, and we sat about sipping and reading on the curb. Stink eventually walked back over to the sketchy-mart for some mexican pastries, which I eyed enviously.
But eventually we did need to get back on the road. That day was more of the same, riding past orchards and vineyards and dogs who maybe don’t want to actually bite you but are fairly good at giving the impression of it as they charge after you.
We didn’t have far to go, just 40 miles or so, because Stink had gotten a hold of her cousin in Tracy, CA and we had been invited to stay with them the next night (and they were only about 80 miles out).
So we moseyed along, and eventually stopped at a McDonald’s for, what else, pies & wifi. We sat there, trying to tune out the children’s television programming that was being broadcast right above our heads.
We got bored and decided to just finish up our riding though, so we headed out. We ended in Newman, and pulled into a park, full of the smells of fine bbq wafting through the air.
I had to patch a slow leak on one of my tubes, and Stink asked perhaps how did I feel about going out for dinner, seeing how this was to be her last night of camping out, and also we like food.
We settled on pizza, and decided to try to scope out a place to sleep before going to dinner. We roamed around the streets, looking at park after filed after school after church after baseball dugout, but to no avail.
Eventually we did find an alleyway behind a church that seemed safe-ish, and so that being settled, we returned to more pressing matters, namely, buying and eating copious amounts of pizza.
On our way to the shop, a lady out walking called out to us so we zipped back around and starting talking with her.
She was all excited to see ladies in bikes, as she rode too, but never could find any gals to ride with. She had us walk over to some street lamps and conducted an impromptu interview, then asked if her and her daughter could join in on Wednesday. Which we then had to explain that we wouldn’t really be around in Wednesday, given that we’re never around anywhere for more than a night… I don’t think she quite understood what we were up to, but she was very excited nonetheless, and eventually we extracted ourselves to go and get our sweet pizzaly reward.
Pizza Plus boasted a ‘giant’ veggie pizza, so we went for that, just having them put the cheese all on one side. We sat at a small table next to the windows and commenced reminiscing about all the silly/strange/scary/super things that was had seen during this adventure. It’s still had to wrap my head around what we’ve been doing for the past six months.
But then the pizza came and all other thought processes slowed to a halt as we made a dwarf out of this giant.
It was good and night timey by the time we squeezed out the doors, perfect for sneaking off to bed. We walked the bikes, enjoying a rare nighttime stroll, and soon were rolling them to our chosen home.
A dog barked (or maybe was already barking) at our arrival, and continued his verbal assault from the other side of the fence as we pulled out our sleeping bags and laid out on the concrete under the full-ish moon.
And the dog kept barking.
I zonked out pretty quickly, probably a pizza induced coma, but around two in the morning I woke to hear the dog’s methodological barking still going strong. It was a three note set, put on endless repeat, “Arf, arf, arf. Arf, arf, arf. Arf, arf, arf,” forever.
We were both really annoyed and just wanted to go back to sleep, but his incessant barking was putting a damper on our beauty rest.
Somehow, I must have drifted back off, as I woke up with the sun a few hours later, and the dog was still barking. At least he’s persistent about his passions…
We rolled to a dinky little gas station and sat out front, sipping coffee, muching munchables, and talking with strangers about cycling and how crazy we were.
After about half an hour, the cash register dude from inside came out and asked us to move from where we were sitting because he didn’t want us to get hit… which may or may not be true, so we just headed out, being done with our coffees and breakfast and all.
We had only the other 40 miles to go that day, so we just did it. There wasn’t much of anywhere to stop anyways, so we cruised all the way into Tracy and immediately hit up the bathroom at a Starbucks.
We had hours to kill before Stink’s cousin, Paige, would be getting out of school, so we loitered it up, even working in an interview with the local paper.
I’m gunna leave off here, and let Stink write about her cousin’s house and, per request, the next day wherein we traveled to Rivendell Bicycle Works, of which Stink is the biggest fan.
I’m so glad you guys got to meet up with Paige!!!