Wine and cheese bike tour (day 4)

by Matt Schiff

There’s something about drinking beer in the evening that added to our laziness that afternoon, and by the time we pedaled towards our target campsite, none of us was interested in climbing a big hill and camping in some damp, dark, redwood forest. The options we faced were what looked like a Caltrans dumping yard near the river, or some private property camping on the other side of the highway. Neither place was perfect but both seemed slightly exciting due to the illegal nature of our camp. We went with the lesser infraction, the Caltrans yard, which sounds pretty bad, but picture it as more of a rarely used road, ending in a few piles of woodchips, and pipe, and with plenty of flat ground to camp on.

The meal preparations began in an unusual manner and rather than deciding on one thing to cook, the consensus was to cook everything we had because plenty of people were starving. Of the ingredients, bread and butter were plentiful, and Victor has some snacks he’d been saving, bringing out an unopened package of hard salami. We began browning the bread and butter, Andrew taking charge on this grilled cheese with toppings creation. How many ways can you add ingredients to toasted buttered bread? We had our grilled cheese, grilled salami and cheese, and grilled peanut butter and jelly. The tub of butter was slowly getting used. Goal accomplished.

Cooking grilled cheese sandwiches

Cooking grilled cheese sandwiches

By the end of the third day of riding, appetites were getting larger and while the snacks of chocolate covered almonds, dry fruit, and trail mix, combined with the half dozen grilled sandwiches would have satisfied an individual eating in the civilized confines of their home, we weren’t going to be finished until our abdomens swelled and we’d reduced our food weight a little more. The second course was the traditional pasta meal.

By the time we finished eating it was dark, but the dew had not yet wetted the ground. We lay out on our backs, the best position for digesting the barrel of food stuck in our midsections, and had a quality star gazing session. Natalie knew many of the constellations from her sailing experience and we followed the dots in the sky as they formed dippers and wait belts and swords and dragons. There were easily a dozen satellites cruising across the sky, watching us, watching us watching them, and reporting our camping violation to The Man. There is something so simple in star gazing, despite all of the unknowns of galaxies and universes, that tends to calm your life after a few minutes. Worries melt away – not that we had any – and what is important can suddenly be summed up in a sentence. We lay in silence until the cold, damp air, settled upon us, and we quickly readied for bed. Lights out and time for bed. Was it early? Was it late? Who cares? It was dark We slept.

Our Caltrans campsite

Our Caltrans campsite

Victor woke up still full, very full.

Victor woke up still full, very full.

After the tremendous hit the grilled cheese was the night before, the rest of the bread, cheese, salami, and even some PB&J was used for another morning feast. My stomach was still stretched, craving a hot drink more than another meal. I had some oatmeal and loved it.

More breakfast!

More breakfast!

Time to go, but first the obligatory group photo, which includes the “canon photoshoot”, a 10 pictures in 10 seconds, pose as you like, remind you of the mall picture booth, sort of activity. It was fun. I looked at the photos. Was I the only crazy one in each picture (ruining it perhaps)? Oh well.

the group of six from arcata (Ray, Matt, Natalie, Victor, Alyssum, Andrew)

the group of six from arcata (Ray, Matt, Natalie, Victor, Alyssum, Andrew)

It was the last day of riding and perhaps a good thing because we all seemed pretty tired. We traveled through possibly the most scenic part of the trip, Mountain House Rd, connecting 128 to Hopland. The decent was great, the climb moderate, the grasses green, and signs of spring all around. I stopped a few times when I saw wildflowers I was curious about. Did I know the family or genus? Had I actually retained and was able to put to use the plant taxonomy class I’d just labored through? It certainly helped to peak by curiosity.

I couldn't have imagined a better road travelling into Hopland

I couldn't have imagined a better road travelling into Hopland

The hazy sun continued to shine, reminding me to lather up the skin and avoid a burn. While getting to enjoy sun can be a good thing, there can be too much of a good thing, especially for our pasty white skin. It is important to remember sunscreen even as we all long for darker skin and a bronze tan. Going from white to tan should be a slow process. Speed it up, and you’ll look like a lobster. But enough tips and warnings, you’ll just put on some sunscreen and be fine, right? Not so fast. In a world of bigger, baddest, and better, sunscreens nowadays may advertise spf 80+, but does that mean anything? Can we trust their claims? Unassumingly, Natty-Mae became the test subject for one of these new, off the hook, mega sunscreens. Simply put, she got burned and we don’t know why. Was there an allergic reaction? Were there actually PABA’s in a PABA free sunscreen? We will never know, but must come to the conclusion that a spf 80+ sunscreen should not feel clean, dry, or light. If it doesn’t stay white and feel like a thick layer of cream cheese slathered across your face, it probably isn’t doing its job.

Pictured here is the top of the line 100+ spf, ultra sheer (as in more sheerness than you ever imagined), lightweight and clean (where did my sunscreen go it’s so lightweight), with helioplex (common ingredient #1 + common ingredient #2 = proprietary name), and best of all this is the #1 sunscreen that dermatologists, people who make money from people with skin conditions, would recommend.

Pictured here is the top of the line 100+ spf, ultra sheer (as in more sheerness than you ever imagined), lightweight and clean (where did my sunscreen go it’s so lightweight), with helioplex (common ingredient #1 + common ingredient #2 = proprietary name), and best of all this is the #1 sunscreen that dermatologists, people who make money from people with skin conditions, would recommend.

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Here is the #1 recommended sunscreen from Schiffmonk’s laboratories (and #1 pediatrician recommended). If there isn’t a picture of the dog pulling down someone’s pants on the bottle, I don’t want it!

Fear is not a factor for us, nor will be dry, cracked, burnt lips

Fear is not a factor for us, nor will be dry, cracked, burnt lips

Returning from that small tangent, the rest of the journey can be described as lazy day sort of riding, where the temperatures are just right, and moving at 10 mph seems fast enough. We found our way back to Ukiah on memorized directions, and rolled into Jen and Eric’s place as they were outside, playing with bikes no less.

One more photoshoot, some good-byes, and we’re on our way back to Arcata.

Thanks for the good times, the memories, and the company!

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