Day 2 • March 2, 2012 • Manchester to Gualala • 24 miles
An even slower day today. The same magnitude of relentless hills, lots of good distractions along the way, and we knocked off early to get some schoolwork in. Zoe even did some guitar practice. As I was breaking down camp, Zoe had a great time playing with Miley.
Just a few miles down the road in Point Arena we met a girl scout troop selling cookies. We explained we’d been there, done that and they wished us well and gave some great advice on additional merit badges Zoe might be able to snag on this trip – travel, exercise, blogging, and even a customized badge that we design. I see a coast-to-coast cycle trip badge in Zoe’s future.
We wound up camping at the Gualala Point Regional Park. Not only was it open, but it had a hiker/biker site available for $5 a head versus $28 per site everywhere else. It was beautiful, nestled among the trees alongside the Gualala River. There were also some walk-in beach campsites. As we set up camp we were unaware of the evil that was awaiting nightfall.
While seated at the picnic bench fixing our dinner of Caesar Salad and macs and cheese I was startled by a raccoon nicking a bagful of teabags off the seat right next to me. I chased him down and triumphantly returned with the bag to find Zoe standing on top of the picnic table pointing out all of the encroaching raccoons. I repeatedly chased them away, throwing sticks and flashing the camera at them. Meanwhile there was a commotion coming from our neighbors in the site next door where a raccoon had jumped onto their picnic table. The raccoons were on the attack and they were winning. We took our new comrades in arms, Mark and Mo, up on their offer of putting our food in the trunk of their car, but not before a raccoon nicked another bag holding my headphones, sunscreen and some snacks while we were chatting with them at their campsite. It took a little longer for me to get this one back. When we finally got our campsites cleaned up the raccoon threat subsided. Next morning we found that one of the snack bars we had left in the raccoon-proof box at our campsite had little teeth marks in it, about the size of a rat. Or maybe a cute little mouse. Disney cute. But with the mind of David Lynch. As if that weren’t enough, imagine the iconic seen of Disney princess X with cute birds fluttering about and tweeting cheerfully. Now replace the princess with Zoe and the cheerful song birds with screeching Stellars Jays intent on nabbing what little food the previous varmints had left us and you have the scene for our final encounter with wildlife at this site.
Nothing brings people together like the wrath of Disney. After the battle with the raccoons, Mark offered me a beer—a good one, not the swill in the oversized containers for sale in town—and Zoe some soda. The next morning they sent us down the road with a gourmet breakfast of fried eggs, spinach sausage, kale, and cauliflower. Zoe gave them an abbreviated guitar recital before we left. And as we were leaving we found this poem at our campsite. Maybe Zoe can set it to music. Meeting great people like Mo and Mark is why we’re doing this ride—thanks for the hospitality!
As we were leaving, Slash somehow wound up on the roof of the bathroom. Zoe said it had to do with some Olympic gymnastics. Slash is pretty talented but some more practice may be in order.