Day 16-19: Crossin’ California
After spending a day of soaking up civilization I decided to head out east and lurk around some turk with my dad’s family. Good folks, lotta folks. I was really excited to hang out with them. This family cracks me up and there isn’t ever a dull moment when there are 27 weirdos to eat, drink, and be merry with.
But first, I had to get there. Ya’ heard of Mt. Aukum? Googlemaps hasn’t either. I had a rough memory of how to get there from napping in the back seat when my dad would drive us there. Getting out of Folsom was the hard part. There are a ton of miles of off-street paths that wind through the city and split and “t” and dead end at cul-de-sacs. My map looked something like this, “Get onto the path. Take a left at first t. Right at third t. Get onto Black Sheep Road. Back onto path. Right at second t.” Yeah, I got lost. After going the wrong way three times on one street I finally found somebody with some good advice and got onto the path googlemaps suggested…a muddy path to get onto Latrobe. Boom baby.
I know this is travelogue territory and not transportation analysis
but so far my experience with networks of off-street paths has not been very friendly. I am coming to the opinion that complex networks of off-street paths are not ideal for bicycles without the proper signage. With these paths there aren’t any landmarks that you can use as you do when on a road. Also, wobblin’ pedestrians and snappin’ dogs add a dash of safety concerns to the mix. Now I’m not a die-hard vehicular cyclist, but there is something to be said about building a road that has good bicycle infrastructure that makes the road safe(r) for all road users and improves the cause for bicycles. But, the silence of those off-street paths shore is nice. Rant finished.
Latrobe road certainly rivals 128 for scariness. For the most part there was no shoulder and when there was one oftentimes I shared it with a frozen deer carcass. Trees that might be beautiful in spring were haunting reminders that it was the season when things die and cars are on the road more than ever. Construction and road signs warned road users of hazardous conditions and proclaimed “DEAD” (end). A port-a-potty provided a welcomed sanctuary from the half-frozen terrain. And while chills did shake my balance the land is a budding wine country with huge green-gray boulders breaking up the landscape. Splitting up the cattle ranches and young vineyards were small towns three blocks long. Places like Fiddletown and towns like Placerville.
I passed through Plymouth and had no recollection of doing so with my family in the past and so decided to stop by the City Hall to make sure I was headed in the right direction. There was no wifi for me to use to check my route or find a new one, but there were two sweet ladies behind the counter that spent a half hour trying to use Mapquest to find out where my uncle lived. They had never heard of Aukum even though they were less than 10 miles away from it. Our hunt for my uncle was interrupted a few times by a city-wide effort to recover a lost poogle (poodle and beagle) running around the highway. Sadly, Rufus, was never recovered…alive and whole.
I gave up on the women and their backwards town and stuck to the route I knew. Turns out it was right and I found my way pedaling up my uncle’s gravel road, escorted by two of my cousins on quads. It was another trip to find myself at my uncle’s arriving by bike. It wasn’t quite yet Thanksgiving so I spent the time fixing my bike while my uncle’s fixed a quad and enjoying good food and better conversation with family. As I went to sleep I realized that not only am I about to travel the whole length of California, but from where my head was right then I had almost biked across the state as well. Nothing like a few extra miles.
Thanksgiving morning we found the pool frozen and a crisp, blue sky. Slowly, family started trickling in and the wine bottles uncorked and the beer bottles popped. My uncle brought some IPA homebrew which was delicious. Appetizers disappeared as the family huddled around Oingo Boingo and Bean Bag Toss (I don’t know the games, but I’m sure my family will tell you below). My Uncle Matt and I destroyed at Oingo Boingo until a courageous comeback was thwarted by an unlucky toss and the throne was claimed by Uncle Lou and Taylor.
The most thrilling part of the holiday were the loud noises. Apparently shooting guns has been a part of the turkey tradition in Mt. Aukum, except when my family comes to town. My mother’s discomfort with the bang sticks is enough to cancel the blasts. Well, when Momma’s outta town, the fun gets down. There was a magnum, rifles that sounded like cannons, shotguns, and smaller handguns. The skeet shooter came out and Mike and Nick impressed all with their quick shootin’. I gave one of the smaller handguns a try and completely missed every part of the target with a whole clip.
Afterwards I gave the quads a try on the track my uncle built around his property. They were fun but the whole time I was on the track I was thinking, “Man, this would be killer on a mountain bike.” Last time I brought my cross bike out here and gave it a whirl. I had been into cross less than a month and was a little bullheaded. Well I thought I would take it off one of the jumps only to have the jump completely buck me and cause me to endo on top of my bike. Knocked the wind out of me and bent my handlebars. I’m not allowed to ride bikes on his course anymore.
The dinner was fantastic. It was so great to enjoy so much tasty homemade food that was cooked in a kitchen and baked in an oven instead of prepared in my lap and boiled on my camper stove. After dinner I played two obligatory games of cribbage and broke out even. Then the jammin’ happened. My cousin, Lucas, is one rad saxophone player. We sat down to jam out, I played the drums and he soloed away on his horn. We had a good rock to the jazz standard, Song For My Father, but then when the free form came out it was a little unfair to expect much when playing with an underage whiz kid and a belly full of tryptophan and at least one bottle of wine.
The next morning it was time to say goodbue, but not before stuffing my belly with some homemade cinnamon rolls. Too good! I loaded up Sir Norte and headed back to Folsom, Cee A to await my aunt and uncle to hear how Thanksgiving went with my family. The trip back was much more pleasant. Tailwinds and sunshine with a slight downhill. Two
carloads of Baileys past me and waved goodbye. It was great…until I got to Folsom. As I rode in the bike lane through Folsom I had to pedal annoyed around a real estate sign. I was steamed but let it slide until I came upon another. I looked across the street and saw another sign in the bike lane going the other way. So I pulled a uey and zipped by,grabbing the signs and throwing them into the grass in one swift movement. I was pissed! The bike lane is not an addition of the road so Coldwell Banker can sell some shitty cardboard cutout in a city that is adjacent to
nowhere. Cars passed me as I ripped the abominations from the road and probably cast bikes in a bad light, but I didn’t care. The real issue is the second-class treatment of bicycles by a corporation. Don’t conduct business with Coldwell Banker. Go to Blair Jones, instead. Rant finished.
I had another day soaking in civilization and I think I even watched a Ducks game. Oh yeah I did. That was one hell of a day for college football. Auburn’s comeback. The Ducks dismissal of Arizona and the Boise State crumble. If there wasn’t an epic write-up in Sports Illustrated for that historic day well then what good is the media anyway? Rant finished.