In Lassen Park, I woke as I did every morning, just before dawn and to the campers most reliable of early morning alarm calls, .. the full bladder. I rolled over and ignored the call of nature, .. the urge would go away. It didn't, it never does, but each morning I convince myself that for some strange reason, ..... today will be different, .. it never is, .... nature always wins in the end.
Lassen had been magnificent and if that was an indication of what the other National Parks have to offer, then I am indeed a very lucky boy. Before then however, I had days to kill and a million acres of wilderness to explore. For the following week, I rode wonderful roads that were paved with beautifully smooth tarmac, scenic roads that were unpaved and sand tracks that appeared nowhere on my map but rose upwards onto mountains that looked far too inviting to miss. I climbed those mountains, I slept in forests, beside lakes and on the beaches of Norther California, always beneath black night skies that framed the most amazing array of stars that I am ever likely to see.
Crossing the Coast Ranges on an unpaved road, I encountered my first bear in daylight hours. It entered the road, bounded along and then vanished back into the forest, .... it was about 20 yards ahead of me, close enough. I was surprised at it's grace, .... the way that it moved so freely, ... it showed little interest in me, ... it had bigger fish to catch in the clear streams below. I woke to deer grazing around my tent, I watched elk feeding in the morning mist of the coastal meadows and I smelt skunk at close quarters for the first, .... and hopefully the last, time.
On many occasions I was beaten by the condition of the tracks, many times I was forced to turn back on myself, many times on these rough tracks I dropped the Tiger, ....... and many times I rode the same piece of tarmac in opposite directions, .... just to see if it was equally inspiring both ways, .... and generally it was. Now that I've had my 'wilderness adventure', I'm returning to Boonville for the annual Fair & Rodeo, .... and a shower, .... and a bed, ...... and maybe a little more of the locally brewed Boontling Beer.