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West Coast: Weeks 4 & 5

Week 4, which began in California's wine country, now seems like a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away....

After chatting with a winemaker in Sonoma I headed towards the Sacramento Valley. I knew to expect some agriculture, but it was ALL agriculture--with a little fishing, too. I passed by Sutter Buttes, known as "the world's smallest mountain range." I also had a lots of time to meditate along the way.

Most of what I saw were walnut, almond, and olive trees. Passing by the groves and looking down the straight rows of trees was a little hypnotizing. The rows would make straight lines in multiple directions. It's hard to explain, but check out the photos below.

At a glance they look like the same photo, but look again. They are the same two trees up front, but the first photo shows a row running diagonal to the road (see the gray line in front of the trees) while the second photo shows a row running perpendicular to the road (the gray line is straight).

Lots of infrastructure was dedicated to dealing with the flood-prone Sacramento River.

I chatted with a fellow who raises bees and nuts for a living. He let my pal have an audience with royalty (each of those boxes hosts a queen).

From Red Bluff it was a steep, windy climb to Platina, where I enjoyed the kind hospitality of an Orthodox Christian monastery for the night.

Highway 36 became steep, narrow, unmarked, and dangerous. A nice young woman named Amanda gave me a lift in her pickup. We chatted along they way. After camping among the redwoods, I rolled into...EUREKA!

Leaving Eureka I rode along a rural California coast that I hadn't known existed. I chatted with a farmer in Orick who game me an insider's view of the area.

Of course I saw some of the iconic scenes, too.

I was glad that Howland Hill Road was my last immersive experience with the redwoods. My ride along that bumpy dirt path was something I'll always remember. The video below captures some of it, even with my poor camera skills and inaccurate reporting (it's near Crescent City, not Eureka).

I thought that I had reached the apex of the day's beauty while among the giant redwoods. But just a few hundred yards after emerging from the forest I crossed over California's glorious Smith River.

After such a big day I knew I'd need a big dinner and breakfast. You see an abomination. I see hundreds of calories, dozens of miles, and the best I could find at the gas station near the campground.

I was SO MAD when I opened my plastic bag and realized I had accidentally bought a diet soda.

The next day I saw the biggest pinecone on earth, and stopped for a while to visit with the river.

And finally, with just over a month on the road, I crossed into Oregon, state #41! And I found a sign that fit my pal and I pretty well, too.

And last of all, some EXCITING NEWS! I've launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds for the project's final few states. The EXCITING part is that donors will be among the first to get a glimpse into the America I've been discovering. Check it out:

You can visit the Kickstarter page here. As always, thanks for following along!

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