October 10, 2014
Ukiah to Hopland
After a full day of substitute teaching, I’m finally ready to hit the flat tread to Hopland. The bells ring 4:52 and I am on my way. Leaving sooner would have been nice but I had to get my bike bling aka tibetan prayer flags situated just so. Pushing through the outskirts of Ukiah and smelling rotten pears, I hear the Ukiah High School homecoming parade off in the distance.
A girl in 2nd period clad from head to toe in neon pink comes swooshing into the classroom.
“Oh my gosh. This is my last home coming,” she mournfully exclaimes to her also very pink friend. They embrace. And then more bubbly chatter errupts and she appears to be over it.
School spirit has taken a decidely bright turn since my days.
The road weaves through pear orchards and grape vineyards. The rotten aroma blasts me from every side. I dodge perfectly good walnuts that have dropped from large reaching trees. “What a waste,” I say to no-one in particular. It’s just me, the road, the screaching red-shouldered hawk, the turkey vultures and the yapping pretzel dogs that always run out when I ride by. Good thing there’s a fence because otherwise I’d probably run them over. And please don’t think that I’m a dog hater. I’m a new dog liker. It’s just that I always imagine these little yappers getting caught in my tires.
I roll into Old Hopland and stop at the little convenience store. Heads are turning. Behind the counter the locals chat about whatever local Hoplanders chat about.
“Is there a place I can get water?” I ask. The gentleman behind the counter looks confused.
“Like a jug?” he quizzes.
“No, I have a couple bottles from my bicycle.”
“There’s a sink next to the coffee maker.”
On my way out I thank him profusely. He smiles.
I cruise down the road a ways searching for my home tonight. There’s a For Sale sign up and a vineyard that looks promising. Clad in bright red, with shiny red panniers and a lady bug helmet, I ‘sneak’ into the vineyard. I walk my bike down one of the rows. Looks good to me.
Now I’ve got it all planned. First, boil water for dinner. Let dinner soak while setting up tent. Erect 2 lb. luxury chair. Sit in luxury chair while consuming dinner. Watch sunset. Get nervous about camping spot. Whip head towards Willows that make scary noises in the wind. Put large stick next to tent just in case.