Week II

Another heat wave came through during the second week. I struggle in heat over 85, and I don’t think the pups are thrilled with it either. Rather than sap my limited physical resources I took extra rest days when the temperatures peaked. I am still waiting and looking for the cooler misty weather that the Olympic Peninsula is famous. Several fires started in Olympic NP; by the end of the day, my face was smudgy from the smoke. Olympic is beautiful, even when it’s toasty warm.

Outside of the park was another story. I was blown away by how much of the surrounding land had been clear cut and was in the various stages of regrowth. Areas with regrowth didn’t have the diversity of plant life; there was an absence of undergrowth, mosses, and ferns. As I cycled through I could feel when I was in old growth versus clearcut and regrowth areas. The temperature would drop significantly in the old growth forests as if someone had opened the door to a walk-in freezer. Regrowth clear cuts, even if the trees had grown significantly, the temperatures would soar, as if someone opened up a giant industrial dryer door.

Day 8,  August 20:

Rest day, took a second rest day to wait out heat wave, forecasted to break tomorrow, dip into 60’s.

Weather:   High 90’s

Highlight:  Sol Duc Hot Springs in Olympic National Park, followed by swimming in a beautiful crystal clear glacier-fed stream.  Magical.

Campground: Klahowya USFS Campground.

Sol Duc River, Olympic National Park
Sol Duc River, further upstream

Day 9, August 21:

DAY 9 PCBR 21 August copy

Klahowya to Hoh Rainforest Campground, Olympic NP

Miles:  35.5   Elevation: 3,031′

Weather:  50’s-60’s with misting and light rain.

Highlight:  the cool weather and the Hall of Mosses walk at Hoh Rainforest in Olympic NP.

Campground:  The Taj Mahal of campgrounds.  Our site was beautiful with a little meadow, little drop down to the picnic table in mossy ferny woods, then another drop down to area to pitch the tent.  A trail lead to the river, a milky glacier fed stream, and continued on along the bank.  In the morning two does and a fawn walked by our site.  One doe jumped up onto a downed tree to get a better look at the dogs.

Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park
Hall of Mosses trail, Olympic NP

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Hoh River with its milky glacier water.
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Walking the girls along the Hoh River.
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I’m taken by the lush, mossy, ferny-ness of Olympic NP.

Day 10, August 22:

DAY 10 PCBR 22 AUGUST copy

Hoh Rainforest to South Beach Campground, Olympic NP

Miles:  25

Elevation:  2,363′

Weather:  cool 60’s

Highlight:  moody weather and dinner on the deck at the Lodge overlooking the beach.  Half a mile north of the campground.

Campground:  open area, reminded me a little bit of the California beach campgrounds.  The Swiss couple Tess and Ben pitched their tent next to mine.  Huge trees washed up onto the beach, round pebble beach, rugged rough surf.  A treat for my canine companions.

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Swiss Ben and Tess, cycling from Anchorage to Ushuaia.
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South Beach campground, Olympic National Park. Here’s a close up of Tess and Ben’s setup.
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Bodhi tasting the weather, she opted to continue napping. My Georgia peach prefers warmer temps.
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South Beach, Olympic National Park.

 

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Dory enjoying a little off-leash time.
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Moody day on South Beach, Olympic National Park. View from the park concessioner’s lodge.

Day 11, August 23:

DAY 11 PCBR 23 August copy

South Beach to Willaby Creek USFS Campground,  Quinault Lake.

Miles:  30

Elevation:  2,846′

Weather:  50’s-60’s

Highlights:   Taking the dogs swimming in Quinault Lake, meeting Hellen & Norman from Montreal cycling to Ushuaia, Argentina, and waking up to Loon’s calling.

Campground:  Site 1 the first night.  Pretty little campground, but this site had the tent pad right next to the neighbor’s picnic table.  LOUD incessantly chatty types who didn’t go to bed until 1:30am.  Hellen and Norman from Montreal pitched their tent with us, the campground was full when they arrived at dusk.  Hellen introduced me to the idea of earplugs.

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Hellen and Norman from Montreal, they’re traveling from Calgary to Ushuaia. They shared the site with us last night.
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Impressive how compact all their gear ends up being once packed up. I’ll post a video clip later.

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Taking off!  You can follow Hellen and Norman’s tour to Ushuaia Argentina: Norman’s http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/rikimiki  and  Hellen’s http://www.tandemetcie.com
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Sisterly sunset affection.

Day 12, August 24:

Rest day

Highlight:  Swimming in Quinault, Loons calling, and breakfasting with Hellen & Norman.

Campground:  moved to site 12.  On the lake, great swimming, much quieter.

Smoke from the Olympic National Park fires make colorful sunsets.
The little beach off of our campsite.

Day 13, August 25:

DAY 13 PCBR 25 August copy

Lake Quinault to Hoquiam River RV Park.

Miles:  47  Elevation:  4,300  **Forgot to resume app and added miles and elevation missed via Google maps.

Weather:  high 90’s

Highlight:   Humptulip US F&W fish hatchery.

Campground:  A necessity, not a destination CG by any means.  Meh

Rainbow Trout at the fishery.
Rest stop. Bodhi showing why, even when her harness is hooked in to the trailer, we can’t ride with the door open. Madam likes to surf, balancing one leg on the trailer hitch.
One of the many, many, clearcuts I cycled past. It feels like you’re cycling through an oven where there aren’t any trees. You can feel the heat radiating from the exposed earth.
Siesta. Taking a break in a spot of shade. Bodhi showing off her napping super powers.
The cool breeze coming of the water was deliciously refreshing.

Day 14, August 26:

DAY 14 PCBR 26 AUGUST copy

Hoquiam to Kenanna RV Park

Miles:  33

Elevation:  1762’

Weather:  high 90’s

Highlight:  cool bridge, drawbridge, with wooden planks for cyclist/pedastrian walkway.

Campground:  Long but beautiful walk to the beach in tall grasses.  Waking to coyotes!

This girl can nap. She fell into a deep sleep within seconds of getting into the tent.

Cool old bridge with a wooden pedestrian/cyclist path. I don’t know what it is about bridges, but I love cycling over them.

Day 14, August  27:

Rest Day from heat.

Highlight:  wifi access,  House of Donuts in Westport.

Campground:  KenAnna RV Park no coyotes this morning 🙁

The walk to the beach was through tall grasses and wild flowers.
The walk to the beach was through tall grasses and wild flowers.

Woohoo!

Woohoo!

Despite being the eve of the start, I slept like the dead. Though Capilano RV Park is practically in the heart Vancouver, BC, it was quiet. It’s not the sort of campground people make raging campfires, drinking and howling into the wee hours. They’re out touring Vancouver, kayaking, hiking, cycling, all day, and come back to the campground to sleep. There was everything from small tents like mine, Roadtreks like Janet’s, to big million dollar RVs. Campers and RVs of every age, shape, style, and size, packed in intimately like sardines.

We rolled in after two long hard days on the road; learning the hard way that the cities in western Oregon and Washington have been discovered and exceed the limits of I-5. Washington on I-5 was devastatingly slow and congested, with bumper to bumper crawls around the larger communities. We arrived at the border crossing bleary eyed but ecstatic. A lot has changed since I lived in the Seattle area in 2003. Whippersnappers.

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Oy, the traffic was brutal.

 

We barely backed into our site before sundown. I fed the girls, pitched the tent, took them for their evening stroll, and crawled into my sleeping bag. I didn’t have it in me to prep and pack in the dark; I was done for the day. Despite getting up at dawn, I wasn’t ready to roll until 10:00 am. Prepped our wattle bottles, my concoction of electrolytes, and, water, neat, for the girls. I loaded the panniers with snacks, lunch, warm clothes, rain gear, spare parts for the bike and trailer, a DSLR camera, my iPhone, a waterproof Sony point and shoot, laptop, leashes, water bowl, dog bed, camp chair, sunscreen, etc.

We took our “First Day” photos, and I pushed off. Joy. Pure joy as I pedaled out of the campground and over the bridge towards West Vancouver’s ferry terminal. I chose the scenic route that hugged the coastline, though it offered very few views of the bay. Very quickly I was grateful that I wasn’t carrying camping gear and food; it was a rolling landscape with quite a few steep graded climbs, with rewarding descents. Bodhi and Dory were ecstatic and chirped, squeaked, and woofed the entire ride.

It was amazing to see how many cyclists were out on the road; I easily saw a 100, if not more in just nine miles. Those riding in the same direction zoomed past me effortlessly. The road shoulder bore evidence of their regular presence, pieces of bike inadvertently shed along the way. If I didn’t need the momentum going up and down, I would have stocked up on escaped, intact flashers and water bottles.

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Love the Canadian mailboxes.  Canadian friend Caprice told me they wrap the mailboxes to easily remove and replace wrapping when tagged/graffiti’d.  Clever & colorful.

Aussies made their presence known by cheerfully calling out “good on ya’s!” At the top of one hill, trying to decipher the signs for the ferry, two young women stopped and asked me where I was heading. “Mexico!” I happily chirped. They looked at each other, then uncomfortably looked at me, then at each other. Finally one broke the news, “you do know you’re going north?” I told them I was taking the ferry, which was north, they looked visibly relieved and pushed off after wishing me well.

Once I had the ferry ticket in hand, we rewarded the girls with a swim in the bay, while we waited to board. I was given a one-time passcode to the cyclist and dog owners’ gate. We ruffians were the first to board; it was a hoot to ride into the belly and the length of the ferry. Grabbed a few essentials and the girls and I went to the open deck on the bow where we met up with Janet.

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It was a breathtaking trip with views of the various mountain ranges off in the distance. The sky was a deep sapphire blue, brilliantly sunny, and the sea perfectly calm, a rare event I was told. One other brave soul lasted outside with us. Dory took a shine to him and waited until he fell asleep before sneaking up and bathing him in kisses. Fortunately, he was open to her affections; inviting her to snuggle up and join him.

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Once docked, we rolled off to complete the last leg. It was a perfect way to start the trip, a short day with the novelty of a ferry to break it up. It was uncomfortably warm for the ride; BC was in the throes of a heat wave. Of course. I seem to be a magnet for heatwaves when I tour. Despite watching the weather for months, longingly; coveting the temps in the 60’s and 70’s. When I arrived, the temps jumped into the high 90’s. It would be a murderously hot first week.

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Regardless, it was a thrill to be on the road, a novelty to be on Vancouver Island, and despite the heat, I felt a deep cellular joy as I pedaled through my first day, with the girls’ chirps and yips as my soundtrack.

Sonora Desert National Monument & Maricopa, Arizona.

I am delaying my posts now due to an incident; a man I didn’t know used my blog to locate me. At the ripe age of 50 I didn’t think that this would be an issue, but oddly it is. For that reason, I’ve delayed my posts by a month for safety reasons. The encounter was benign but unsettling.

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With temperatures reaching low 100’s in October, when I took this photo, I needed to be creative.  In Calexico, I bought an umbrella and jerry-rigged it with some duct tape.  To protect the girls from the heat I started getting up at 4 a.m. to get to the day’s destination before the heat of the day reached its zenith.  The temperatures have been unseasonably high, by as much as 20 degrees.

 

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Janet and I met up and after I had crossed into Arizona, we dismantled the trailer and gear and piled it up into her snazzy RoadTrek to get to the hotel.  I also had several adjustments and repairs that needed to be done.  It took some driving around and visiting different bikes shops before I found the right parts and mechanic.  Janet is not only kind, but patient.

 

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I knew California was a big state but didn’t really get just HOW big until I cycled across it.  It felt like that Monty Python in Search of the Holy Grail scene when the knight is storming the castle but never gets any closer.  I was downright giddy when I crossed into Arizona.  My first 50-mile day.

 

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A regional delicacy?

 

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I passed a few canals along this section, I was surprised how just the sight of water elevated my spirit.

 

IMG_5693Cycling in the Sonoran Desert was magical.  The mountains on the horizon and the variety of cacti was a feast for the eyes.

 

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It was unbelievably hot cycling on I-10 through the sand dunes.  No shade to be found, I envied Bodhi and Dory’s umbrella.  Some of the sand dunes were tall enough that I could feel the heat waves radiating off of them.

 

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Bodhi loves exploring and nesting in little nooks and crannies.  She found herself a cozy nook in Janet’s RoadTrek.

 

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I pity the cow that has to graze in this country.  Slim pickings.

 

IMG_5620A surprisingly successful combination, there was a sign on the window saying they’d moved to a bigger location.

 

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A gas station had this facility for pets, it had cooling mist that I envied.  Great service to prevent pets dying in cars.

 

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My inner child was giddy with the motel’s space theme.

 

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Janet dropped me off at the motel, I was sad to part company but no doubt our gypsy paths will cross again.  Dory was crushed, she was quite smitten with Janet and her luxurious Mercedes RoadTrek.

 

IMG_5649My favorite campaign sign, a giant mustache!

 

More highlights pedaling through the Sonoran Desert:

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First sign of saguaro cactus.

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It’s hard to imagine it raining here.  If I hadn’t worked in the Painted Desert at Petrified Forest for a season I wouldn’t have believed it possible.

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Gloriously flat smooth paved roads.

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I refilled the water bottles at a remote school that seemed to appear out of nowhere.

 

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Felt absolutely decadent staying at a hotel casino.  Gambling baffles me so I stayed clear, but I did appreciate the beautiful room and pool for less than I’ve paid to stay in a Motel 6.

 

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This was a tough day.  Even though I got out early the heat was draining and there wasn’t a shoulder to ride on.  Met with the most aggressive and vocal drivers on the route to date.  Fortunately encountering hostile drivers has been rare, there were more today then the entire trip combined.

 

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A memorial for Sally, who made the olympic team, but didn’t have the opportunity to realize her dream.  While out training on her bicycle she was struck and killed by a motorist.  Poignant and sobering.

 

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Bodhi being creative in her quest for shade.  Lucky gal.

 

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Dory enjoying a solid nap.

 

Short Day with a twist

 

I was planning on a short day to give my knee a rest, but the Universe had something else in mind. The State of California closed Onofre State Campground early and didn’t post the closure on the campground website. When I rolled up to the entry kiosk, I received the news without enthusiasm.

20+ miles to the next campground, turning my short day into my longest day. The kiosk gal was great though and turned it around for me. She insisted on replacing my water with cold water for the extra miles ahead. I rallied, and it became a challenge instead of a disappointment.

I had just enough daylight left to pull it off.

I left Doheny Campground at 6:30 a.m. but had lingered at Starbucks thinking I had a short day. The sisters and I were interviewed by Road Warriors 360 for a YouTube channel, the creator, Jeff is an interesting, quirky guy. When he asked me “why” I was touring, my mind swirled with dozens of reasons, but I couldn’t put the why into words.

Hours and a lifetime later, I rolled into Carlsbad Campground just as the sun was setting, knee throbbing, but brimming with a sense of accomplishment. I had hauled 160 lbs of dog and gear 40 miles despite being in questionable shape.

Fed the gals, set up the tent, showered, skipped dinner and crawled into the tent. It took some decompressing via Facebook to finally rally to puff up the Thermarest. The sisters fell asleep the moment they curled up. I don’t think anyone moved until sunrise.

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Sigh. No notice of the early closure on the campground website.
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Dory making a rare front appearance. Normally she lounges like a princess. Through Camp Pendleton she was up front sniffing and wagging alongside Bodhi. Bodhi is usually wagging and nose to the wind, only taking short naps.
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In my defense I wasn’t pedaling in order to take a quick snap shot, I was going at least 7 mph. 😉 Camp Pendleton wasn’t the most scenic ride.
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A woman training a seeing-eye dog pegged the sisters and the bike as a good training opportunity and did several passes. Each time I held my breath hoping Dory’s simple brain wouldn’t fritz. Dory made me proud.
An inhabited section of today’s ride.

 

 

 

 

Photos from the Venice to Dana Point leg

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Road Warrior 360 visiting with Bodhi
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Dory getting some loving from another traveler.
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Doheny State Beach Campground
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Dory having a moment at the Huntington Dog Beach
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Pure joy
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Dory having several moments at Huntington Dog Beach
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Bodhi and Mandy, fellow Smithie. We had a mini reunion after a 27 year gap.
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Bodhi wishing she had one more cushion. She still managed to enjoy Mandy’s backyard.
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Mandy and Jake. Poor Jake was a bit shaken by Bodhi’s Jack Russell Terrier nature expressing itself.
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Canine companions waiting to be discovered.
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Lunch break.
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Amazing ride, about 12 miles of beach bike path between Venice and San Pedro.
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Alice, a wise old soul in a little girl’s body.
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Alice and mummy Sandra. Spent an hour with them at Starbucks in Venice. It’s been an unexpected perk meeting random interesting people.
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The Sisters catching a breeze in Venice.
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Hard to believe this is the touring route.
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Google maps has a bike option. Check it out, it lead me through funky alleys while I was visiting Venice.
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Strike a pose.
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Where’s Forrest? Hanging out in Forrest’s Treehouse in Venice pit stop. I met Forrest in Uruguay four, five years ago. Fun to see his USA emanation.
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The Treehouse’s tree.
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Soaking it in.
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Jake the Sphinx.
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Mandy with Jake

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McGrath Campground, Oxnard, CA

McGrath was a trippy campground. It was officially closed but sort of open to hiker/cyclists, if you knew they had that caveat and if you happened to stumble on someone near the gate. I arrived to find the gate locked and impassable. In frustration, I called the campground and got a VM and left a frustrated VM. Then, like magic, the host appeared and let me in as he was leaving.

The campground was empty save two campground host couples. One couple was packing up; it was their last day.

It was ghost townish and looked abandoned and way past the expiration date. Eerie to see a campground so naked and empty. That said it was super fun too, no leash law for the girls. They had free reign and were beside themselves with joy with their new found freedom. They set to exploring instantly, never straying too far from camp. They visited the hosts and their dogs first and fanned out from there.

After I had put up the tent, we walked to the beach. A longer hotter walk than I anticipated with evil little star shaped seeds that bit into flesh and paw. The surf was crazy rough, rough enough to throw fist size rocks at one’s ankles. Yes, fist size and larger. It seemed a sadistic surf, luring one in and then blasting sensitive ankles with large stones. I tried to tough it out, but the waves and their stones were relentless. I splashed myself down from head to toe to at least cool down and get a feel of the ocean.
Even Bodhi, who loves the water, wanted nothing to do with it. They ran through the tail edge of the surf to freshen up, but there was no swimming.

We made a disappointed retreat to the campground.

Beautiful little mini wetland alongside the campground. There was ducks shoulder to shoulder, an aquatic duck version of Jones Beach. There was barely any space on the surface. When they spied the girls they took off with a lot of squawking and quacking, forming a thick cloud of duck chaos. There seemed to be a variety of ducks in the mix.

A little reluctant to admit this—but I set the picnic table on fire trying out the MSR Whisperlite International stove for the first time. I would roll my eyes at any camper who was foolish enough to take equipment on a trip without testing it beforehand. And there I was, so unfamiliar with the stove I lit up the picnic table.

It wasn’t engulfed in flames, but there was a healthy patch of flame about the surface area of an adult hand. My brain is challenged by things like diagrams and instructions. Clearly it wasn’t very present for the initial lighting of the stove. I came to realize I had the stove upside down, so when I primed it, I was, in reality, priming the picnic table. Oops. Is this how picnic tables end up with those burn hollows?

When the table lit up, I tossed the entire stove onto the sand. I blew furiously at the table while frantically fanning with my hands. Flames out, back to the stove, still burning on the sand. Picked it up, it flared up, and I instantly had a vision of myself without eyebrows and eyelashes. (This happened once while lighting a stove in NYC.) Mercifully it went out.

People with brain damage should probably stick to stoves they are familiar with, lesson learned.

Painstakingly went through the directions, googled a video on YouTube. Success. It makes a big difference having the stove right side up. Who knew?

Beautiful cool night serenaded by strange piercing birdsong throughout the night. Despite off-tune birds, I slept well.

The morning was beautiful; the lighting was moody from the mist that was still lingering from last night.

 

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Setting up camp at McGrath Campground, Oxnard

 

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Love these funky coastal trees.
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Ghost campground
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Little wetland area alongside the campground.
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Starting to play around again with B&W.
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Anyone know if this fall color or year round? Not familiar with local flora.
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Girls were in heaven, off leash with dunes, water and an empty campground to explore.
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Mist came rolling in like a white wall around 4pm.

 

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Bodhi’s quest for the highest and softest perch has been realized