Day 10 - Upper Lake to Hendy Woods State Park

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April 24, 2002 ( ~ 58 miles)

We awoke on Day 10 in Upper Lake, feeling very happy with ourselves to not be in the Mendocino Forest anymore, and to be heading for easier riding horizons.

The women who registered us at the Motel 8 had told us that the diner across the street was great, so we went over there for breakfast. It was actually the most substandard food we had on the trip, not including the pizza from the night before. We were shocked that this otherwise OK seeming town had such bad food. What do you do if you live in a place where you can't even get a decent pizza or omelet? Does everyone just cook at home?

Highway 20 follows some rivers around mountains to the Ukiah area. Giving the car drivers one last chance, I had asked the proprietor of the motel if it was mountainous going over to Ukiah. She said no, and we actually had a good and accurate discussion of the road gradations for our whole day's ride. Turns out that her son-in-law is a bicyclist and he had no doubt bored her with descriptions of every road in the area. So I guess it does pay to ask sometimes.

We were so glad to be out of the hands of the forest service road builders. Even though there was a lot of traffic and not much shoulder to the road, it was fast and relatively flat.

The one hill on the road was the site of major construction and only one lane of traffic could go at a time. So we waited and then went with the batch of cars heading our direction, but they quickly passed us and went over the hill when we were just getting started on it. We were worried because we didn't know if the people on the other side knew we were coming. We thought they might let the cars start driving the opposite direction and that we would be squished. But I guess they had walkie-talkies and as we came over the hill we saw a long line of cars waiting for our slow selves.

When we got to the junction of the 20 and 101, we missed our turnoff, and I insisted that we ride on the 101 instead of backtracking for a half a mile. That worked out fine, as it is always OK to ride on freeways unless the sign on the onramp specifically says "no bicycles." Ryan didn't like it though.

When we got to Ukiah we found Schats Courthouse Bakery & Cafe, which we checked out for personal and professional reasons. We must have stayed there for 2 hours sampling products. We liked their space and they were very service-oriented. Everything looked good and varied and their basic bread was plain but OK. We felt like they scrimped a little on their sweets though, like they used oil instead of butter or something, depriving them of buttery richness that truly fatty foods should always have. Bottom line, our bakery is smaller but the product is way better.

There was another bakery on the outskirts of town that we would have like to check out, but we were too full.

Then we went over some hills to the Anderson Valley via the 253. Now this is the kind of road that I had hoped that every mountain we went over in the Mendocino Forest would be like. It simply went up for a while, and then down and that was it. None of this incessant up and down, up and down. And the grade wasn't too steep and there were lots of wildflowers.

We stopped for groceries in Boonville in the lovely Anderson Valley. Ryan had hurt his ankle somewhere in the Mendocino Forest, probably from all that vertical bike walking. I got him an ace bandage. Also, our sunburns were getting bad, so I wanted to get more sunscreen, but they were all really expensive. The cheapest one was a kid's product that was dyed green, but that was supposed to not be green when you actually put it on. A green-tinted Ryan made a lot of fun of me for this purchase.

We then went to the Hendy Redwoods campground, which, like the campground in Calistoga, is a super nature-y spot of land in an otherwise developed area. There was a ranger leaving as we rode in, and he revealed the secrets of the hike and bike campsites to us. OK, previously we were unable to figure out this phenomenon. Hiker-biker sites are only a dollar per person as opposed to the $12 to $14 fee for most regular campgrounds. But if other hiker-bikers show up you are expected to share the site and you can only stay 2 nights, otherwise homeless people would use the state's resources and that would be outrageous.

We were the only people there besides the campground hosts, so we got a lot of attention from them. Ryan built a campfire, which wasn't totally frivolous because there were mosquitoes and it kept them away. We had plenty of time to eat and organize our stuff and take showers. When I went to brush my teeth in the bathroom, there was the biggest mosquito I had ever seen on the wall. By the time I was done brushing my teeth, a spider had dragged it to the corner and was eating it. I think earlier in the trip I would have freaked out, but by then I was hardened to this kind of proximity to nature. As we went to sleep I was feeling like we had finally begun to become champion campers.