Field Guide Bike Tour-Day 16/Elk Prairie to Eureka and Accident Gallery screening

June 25th, 2010 by

Elk Prairie campground was wet. Wet, wet, wet. A fizzy drizzle fell all night long and straight through the morning. All of our items were soaking and we had not been able to eat since yesterday so we were quiet and moody as the day began. In the same vein as Humbug Mountain Campground, Elk Prairie was named quite literally. The campground faces a large, grassy prairie which is home to a few herds of grazing elk. The morning mist covers the tall grasses and through it you can see bulky shapes and graceful mantles of antlers moving slowly. Elk Prairie was also one of the first points in our tour where we started to meet other bikers who were also headed to San Francisco. Everyone was still fresh in their tours and eager to talk to each other about the conditions and upcoming points of interest. Nick and I felt like old, road-weathered souls but were happy to meet new friends. Starvation forced us out of the campgrounds soon enough and we headed out to Orick to try and find breakfast.

Classic diner breakfast in Orick

In Orick, we were treated to a wonderful old-fashioned diner counter with good, greasy breakfast food. The waitress took particular note of our dejected, tired attitudes and after we had finished eating announced that breakfast was on the house.

“Poor dears! Peddling your little selves all the way across this darn country!”

The breakfast and unexpected kindness cheered us heartily. We would eventually come to realize this sort of generosity was common to the cycling tourist. People all along the coast were interested in hearing our story, following our blog and spreading the word about our film. Folks wanted to feed us, offer us shelter, tools, and just generally take care of us and make sure that we were safe. It would come to be a resounding theme of our adventure.

Heading out of Orick, there were a lot of wonderful things to look at on the upcoming route but we were both experiencing some problems with our back wheels rubbing and, fearing they were out of true, wanted to get to Arcata and a bicycle repair shop as soon as possible. We also had a screening this evening in Eureka and were nervous about making it on time. So we skipped Patrick’s Point and the other scenic routes and made quick time to Arcata. The 101 on the way in to town became a major highway and that, combined with busy traffic and the now hot weather, became a source of some stress. Once in town, we visited Revolution Cycles, a heavenly-little-slice-of-Portland-style bike shop that made us miss home even more. The gentleman there were very understanding of our time frame and got us repaired and on the road in no time, even cutting us a sweet deal on labor.

Recommended cycle repair in Arcata

Dinosaurs continue to be a theme

We couldn't screen in Arcata because they had a very important event that night.

After that it was back on the 101 to Eureka, which continued to be a gross, busy highway. We found humor in the 50 mile per hour suggested speed signs followed by the ‘Share the Road’ bicycle signs. It seemed strange to us, since Arcata and Eureka are sister cities, not to have a more friendly bicycle path connecting the two. The joke ended in a terrific punchline as the 101, upon entering Eureka, ended abruptly in a Target parking lot. No kidding. When the initial shock was over, we found the city to be pleasantly more lived in than the tourist-oriented berths we had passed through. The gallery we were screening in was located in Old Town, which bore all the charm of a place with considerable history that had been neglected a bit and has yet to experience the awkward changes of gentrification.

The road ends where?!!

Why, Target, of course! Where else would it end?

Accident Gallery was another wonderful surprise on the day. We had no idea what the screening space would be like and we were so excited to find it a great place full of kindred friends. Phyllis runs the space with the help of her family, one of whom is a delightful soul named Zaila. Zaila and I took the time, post-screening, to become fast friends. It turns out I’m not such an oddity, as I had once supposed, for Zaila seemed to understand my fantasy world completely and had her own which complimented it. While the adults had smart conversations about art and junk, Zaila and I spent most of our time rolling on the floor in fits of hysterical laughter.

The Gallery had an impressive bar selection.

Burrito break

California is much different from Oregon in a few important ways...

The screening turned out to be one of our favorites of the whole tour. We knew no one in Eureka and were unsure if anyone would come but soon enough the chairs filled up with people who had read about us in the local papers or had been summoned by Phyllis’ e-mails. The group gathered seemed to know us, many had been following the tour on the blog, and had a lot of thoughtful questions about the film and the process we went through to make it. The gallery was equipped with an impressively stocked beer and wine bar and our screening turned into a social gathering of sorts as people stuck around to chat and have drinks with us.

Can you spy a motorcycle helmet amongst our new friends?

Zaila lost her front teeth in a bike accident. TOUGH!

Phyllis had been generous enough to offer us the lending of her gallery to sleep in for the night. After a wet night of camping, Nick and I were ecstatic to set up our sleeping bags in the homey space. We were given permission to have free run of the well-stocked bar and were horrified to discover we were to tired to take advantage of such an offer. We woke in the morning, feeling immensely refreshed and made breakfast burritos in the gallery’s small kitchen with farm eggs, rice and beans that Phyllis had left us. Phyllis and Zaila came to say goodbye and we found we could have lingered there for awhile. Eureka, thank you so much for your graciousness, generosity and thoughtful viewing of our film. We’d love to come back and visit again. And if any of you are passing through Portland, please look us up so we can repay the favor.

Breakfast courtesy of Phyllis. YUM!

Playing/saying goodbye