“On Guard” in California?

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

It is my Friend “Louise” who send me this Poem. It is also she who commented on my such desire to remain on Highway 50, “turn around, ride it again” she said. I should have listened as deep down I knew she was right. Still is… I do know however once we reach “that beach”, things will change.


Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand, what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know how desolate the landscape can be between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken  will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you, how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice catches the thread of all sorrows and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore, only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where like a shadow or a friend.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~

(Words From Under the Words: Selected Poems)

Highway 89  

Sunday morning. It is Father’s Day. I wish a bit, only for a moment, I could escape from myself. Could someone tell me it is only a bad dream? It is not. I can feel and I have felt and I know that I am more fortunate than most to have had those few moments with Lance. We are on the road hugging the black top, the arms are gripped on the handlebar, not on his own arms and man’s now body, a miracle it was. I miss you so much, every waken moments. Hurting has become a sense so familiar with.

Pyramid Lake  
Pyramid Lake  
Pyramid Lake Pyramid Lake
Pyramid Lake  

We left Reno. I feel as a stranger this morning. Passing through this town after two wonderful days with my Friends Patrick and Melissa I am back amidst the urban maze. It is only for a few minutes, I thought, as we are heading toward Lake Tahoe to avoid the highway. It will be a reflective day. The same it was with a previous ride to “Lake Pyramid”. No ending traffic, a war zone seemingly taking place on the roads leading to it. Beautiful geologically, but so unfortunate, “trashy” and “seedy”, just cannot find other words for it. Uncomfortable on the soul.

Lake Tahoe  
Lake Tahoe  

Too much was flying through the mind today. Emotions of all substances mixed in with the incredible roads to Lake Tahoe and on beyond, 89 and 36 westbound. The emotions captured the upper hand. The beauty of the landscape passed me without it’s due credit. It seems as these past riding days have been as such and as much as I understand it, it is not of our ordinary balance.

Lake Tahoe  
Lake Tahoe  
Lake Tahoe  

I was avoiding today free camping at high altitude. Free was between 5000 and 9000 feet where the cold is still in the mid and low thirties. I should have stopped, my common sense did not kick in. I have a Big Agnes system with a zero degree bag and pad that can also be elevated with a cot. I have a catalytic heater for this four season Hilleberg tent. I passed my chance and now end up in a State Park south of Red Bluff at the welcoming cost of $25! They did give me $2 off for being… old! Welcome to California as I am told most are now of an identical fare. Maybe not the one on the Lost Coast near Petrolia, and maybe not the one past Platina on 36 we will try tomorrow night. And here I thought we would relax for a couple days.

Highway 89  
Highway 89  
Highway 89 Highway 89
Highway 89  

I am starting to feel as my enduring premonitions coming to California on a tight budget might become reality. This happened a couple years ago when I promised myself to avoid this route. I also listened to some concerning news from a bicyclist I met in Middlegate who had over $2000 worth of gear stolen. The cops went on to relate it as a common occurrence from drug addicts preying on the campers. This happened near by the beach we are going as long hikes are usual throughout the days and evenings.

Highway 89 Highway 89
Highway 89  

One of my kind sponsors, "On Guard", has supplied me with many locks I carry with the hope it will deter such happening. They are bullet proof, I myself have done much research on them, it is yet a sad state of affairs considering we never had such incident happen while on the road. Maybe their logo alone will keep the predators away. The locks are a peace of mind. They have been when we return within a few hours leaving it all behind, specially when Spirit has also vacated his chair. One has to do what is needed. Plan B without concerns or measures taken is often not an attractive solution when and if suddenly all vanishes with no warning. We had this problem three years ago when in Paradise setting on Mt Rainier the Ranger came by one day to let me know they had just taken down a meth lab two miles away, on National Forest land…

On Guard  
On Guard On Guard
On Guard On Guard

Like a California Friend wrote to me this morning, no name needed, “Sorry about the high California prices but I hope you’re enjoying the trip regardless. It is a beautiful State overall if you can overlook the meth-heads, high prices, and politics.” I just found out the beach we are going to is $8 a night, doable for us, amazing how obsessed I have been wanting to reach that space. I guess I will find out “why?” once we arrive and spend a few days before heading north to Oregon.


Be well, it is your choice after all, believe it or not!

Ara & Spirit

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4 Responses to ““On Guard” in California?”

  1. Michael and Louise Says:

    Hello Ara, Last week the water was out at that campground near Petrolia FYI I don’t think BLM will get it going very soon maybe worth a call. We did not see a ranger in three days.

  2. The Box Canyon Blogger Says:

    Traveling highway 50 across Nevada is like stepping back in time… 1950, ironically. To turn around and backtrack a road just taken is difficult for wanders and wayfarers, they need new landscapes to fuel their souls. But if you can bring yourself to try it, you will discover that about-facing a familiar trail presents new landscapes, the perspective is different east to west that west to east. The weather will be different, too, recasting the vast, vast foreground and distant mountains into a new experience, and the evening light will be over your shoulder instead of in your face.
    I like “turn around, ride it again.”

  3. frann Says:

    Your just south of some pretty country! Are you going up 101 to the redwoods? I love the drive along the klamath river along the Oregon border. Have fun your in some great country.

  4. frann Says:

    Me again..I have a brother-in-law that lives in Ft. Bragg if you head that way he can hook you up with free camping.

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