Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Elk Prairie to Patrick’s Point. People: The Hardys.

Solitude and a photo extravaganza: coastline, plants, wildlife, etc.... Patrick's Point is beautiful.

It was a relatively easy and scenic ride to Patrick's Point which made for an easy cycling day.  I rode with a guy who had cycled to the West Coast from Washington DC for a bit.  It was interesting to see how he optimized his time.  He did not take stops but instead snapped photos with one hand and ate energy bars while cycling.  It made me realize that most people do not spend the time to cycle off-route to find spots with nice views and eat lunch the way I do.

We only rode together for a short stretch as I pulled off the road to check out some surf breaks.  I looked at some beachbreaks that were not quite working and then stopped for a nice lunch (by the ocean :) ).

Food was again a bit of an issue this day.  After Elk Prairie, I stopped in Orick to buy groceries for the next two nights at a store that had only a meager selection of produce.  Note to cyclists - stock up on groceries in Crescent City, not Klamath or Orick!

At the store, I overheard a family buying some charcoal lighter fluid so I asked them if they would be interested to go in together for some.  My fuel bottle still had fuel in it, but it seemed like a good idea to add fuel when available since the bottle is small (11 oz.).  They (the Hardy’s - pictured above) were really nice and just let me fill up my fuel bottle and wouldn’t take any money.  The Hardy’s are from Utah and were on a pretty epic road trip.

Patrick’s Point State Park has a fantastically beautiful coastline.  The rock formations are awesome. 

click for larger-size panoramas:

The plants were also beautiful.  It also struck me how delicate and intricate our local wildflowers are - some times I think it's easy to be enamored with 'exotic' plants raised in greenhouses, but our wildflowers are just amazing.

Click for larger-sized panorama: 

After the big social scene at Elk Prairie, it was really quiet in Patrick's Point - the coast was foggy and overcast and I was the only one at the hiker biker campsite.  

The campsite location was nice in that it was probably only a 60 foot walk down a trail to get to the ocean and far from all the other campsites.  It was a bit weird in that it seemed to have been recently been converted from a picnic area, as there was ironically a big car parking lot in the hiker biker site (with handicapped parking and everything) and micro-litter/debris from picnic-use embedded in the grass (I tried to clean up as much as I could) - but it was quiet and peaceful.  

In any case, I had a nice hike around the rocks and cliffs in the state park the first day.  The tidal swings are quite obviously large here and there are some neat plants and marine life visible below the high tide line.

I cooked dinner and went to sleep fairly early. It was quite wet from the fog/mist/light rain, so in the morning I tried to let my gear dry out a bit.  I was also cleaning off the pine sap that made it on to my super nice down sleeping bag.  As I was packing up to leave, I noticed that my rear tire had low pressure.  I took off the tire to find a staple in the tire.  This was my first flat of the trip - not too bad.

However, it was already late when I noticed the tire.  After finishing that, cleaning up, and getting my gear together, I again realized that it was quite late in the day and that it’d be hard for me to get to the next spot at a decent hour.  Additionally, I was not feeling 100% physically, so I decided to stay another night in Patrick’s Point.

Another foggy/misty/damp night (and again the only one at the hiker biker site) and then another morning spent on the gorgeous coastline - tai chi chuan and meditation on a large cliff jutting out to the ocean followed by checking out some of the other short trails.  My monocular was put to use and I had a great view of a harbor seal haul-out.  I figured out that I if I placed the monocular at the right spot over the camera lense of my phone I could make a low-budget telephoto camera. 

Those vignette photos are not effects - its real-deal vignette from my improvised monocular-cam (guess you can tell I am proud of the set up).  And aren’t the harbor seals cute?

On my way out, I wanted to stop by Agate Beach to check out the agate that washes up on the beach.  Agate is silica that has been heated in the air pockets of volcanic rock (which was lava) and then when the volcanic rock dissolves the agate is left.  It’s a semi-precious stone apparently and I love the story of how it is formed.

So, I was inspired to take up what is possibly the dumbest hobby a bicycle tourist could possibly do: collecting rocks (and I had already had a few from Oregon).  Collecting rocks and then toting them for hundreds of miles on a bicycle is ridiculous - but I limited myself to small rocks.  

I did find agate!  It is very fun to scour for neat rocks and I spent way more time than I planned to on the beach.  A local couple that I met in the morning was out on the beach as well and they gave me three rocks - way nicer than the ones I had found.  That was really generous of them and they insisted that I keep them as they mentioned that they will find more.  Another example of generosity - these examples keep making me want to ensure that I am more generous in my life.

I finally left Patrick’s Point I think around 2pm.  It was my latest departure to-date (unless you count the times when I was too late to even head out), but I was feeling grateful to have had such a beautiful morning.  

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