Not far south of Eureka you can detour off the 101 along the stretch of road known as the Avenue of the Giants, a meandering 31-mile drive through towering Redwoods that makes a great alternative to just passing through on the motorway. Even after spending the last few days amongst the Redwood’s up north we still couldn’t stop ourselves from being awed at the size these trees can get to. Pulling over we took a short boardwalk through a small marshland filled with Darlingtonia, pretty but carnivorous bug-eating plants. There are a number of drive-thru trees in the area, however having been so amazed by the Redwoods yesterday, we opted not to support these privately owned ventures that end up cutting the heart out of the trees for people’s entertainment and a quick buck.
Today we wanted to check out Shelter Cove, famed for it’s black sands. Testing Porkchop for the first time up a 10 mile winding road with a steep gradient in parts, we came to a sudden halt as Matt noticed the temperature rising, FAST. After turning the car off it only took another 2 second for that god awful sound of something bursting, steam rising from the hood and fluid instantly gushing out of the bottom of the car.
‘Shit not again’ the looks on our faces portrayed to each other.
The somewhat sultry yet helpful Ranger happened to pass by and rang ‘Sea Pete’ the local mechanic (on a Sunday). He was surprised (and somewhat angry) that we were travelling without phones – isn’t that how we used to do it? Half an hour later Sea Pete rocks up in his truck, diagnosed the issue and with Matt both of them went on the scour for parts. NAPA Auto didn’t have the part required so it was off to the plumbing store to grab a load of bits and pieces to perform some bush mechanics, as we call it in Oz. Using a piece of rubber hose, a stop end secured with an o-ring and a plastic threaded end we managed to plug the top safety release of the radiator and were finally on our way (TIP: You can use a plastic thread into a metal one as it will form it’s own tread and seal). Having forked over the cash for the call out, Sea Pete’s time and great conversation, he was kind enough to take pity on us and discount the bill, only if we were to spend the savings on ourselves in Las Vegas for the wedding.
Hitting the road again it wasn’t long until we encountered another break down, this time not us (thank god). Seeing a big white van on the side of the road with a load of people desperately waving for somebody to stop, we abruptly pulled up to enquire what was the issue. Finding that they were in a band called La Sonora Explosiva Tropical, and having a gig to get to that night, they had a puncture though no tire wrench to replace the flat one. We tried to help only our tire wrench wasn’t deep enough to cover the 2-3 inch tire bolts! Longest ones we’ve ever seen. Trying in vain with the what other tools we had, we decided to drive one of the guys to the next town to acquire help, which we found in the form of Bob at the local gas station. Calling his mate and local mechanic Dave, Bob encouraged him to help advising it would be good karma. Dave drove down and followed us back, where we found the band members left behind had been lucky enough to have some workmen help out (we’re sure it was the girls with the ‘tire wrench’ sign that made them stop) with their truck full of tools and a pneumatic drill. Leaving them to it, we made it to Ukiah, where they happened to be playing that night. Cutting a few laps of town but being unable to find out where (we’d forgotten to ask them for the venue!) we retired to the back bedroom in a Safeway carpark, where we heard the police creep up in the middle of the night, only to announce that we were only asleep in the back and leaving us for a peaceful nights sleep.
With Sarah using the Safeway amenities in the morning, Matt was left to cook the eggs and prepare the granola. Walking out on a perfect sunny morning, Sarah rounds the corner to find two Black and Whites (cop cars) and four policemen creeping up on Porkchop and poor Matt inside none the wiser. Saying a bright and cheery ‘Good morning’ she was soon hands in the air being searched by a gloved officer, whilst Matt was being interrogated in the car whilst munching his breakfast. Having found out that the store had called the police with concerns about a bunch of adolescents smoking weed out the front of the store at 8 o’clock in the morning, and with us having British Columbia plates combined with Matt’s dreadlocks, you can see how the cops put two and two together. Anyway they were soon to realize we weren’t the people they were looking for, and wishing us congratulations on the upcoming wedding they were soon on their way. We were glad to not be in the lock up but on the road to Vino Nirvana – Napa Valley.