DAY 4 - Redwood National Forest to Ashland, Oregon Ah, to awake after a night of gunfire. The sun rose quickly over the valley we settled into, finally revealing all those shells we missed so stupidly the night before, and we got up rather groggily. Time for some coffee! We had a bunch of stuff strewn around as we kind of passed out the night before so it was time for cleanup and preparing ourselves to finally leave California. Oh yeah! Stu's looking excited as ever! Time to pack up the bikes. I remember this feeling like such a chore -- funnily enough just days later this was such routine that it was easy as a snap. Sadly, we had a bit too much fun with my axe the night before and I'd lost my axe blade sheath, which made it a bit risky to tie down (I was afraid it'd vibrate around and start cutting up my backpack...) But, we finally did get it all packed and promptly, a mysterious van rolled up. We were a bit weary of strangers out here, particularly in this obvious gun range, so we were a bit reserved in approaching this new stranger. It was a nice enough fellow, I believe named Manuel (? Stu, you can back me up here, with pics too) who had been kind of living on there road recently. Being just as frustrated with high campground fees he went out looking for a free camping place and sure enough, like us, stumbled upon this here We shared some coffee, he shared some of his Yerba Mate with us and tips and tricks for living and traveling in South America, said our traveler-heyoo-woohoo-yahoo goodbyes and... off to the canyons we were! The ride from Redwood National Forest to the Oregon border was superb. Really nice riding, gorgeous weather, great sweepers. I was getting more comfortable riding the loaded up bike, too. Oregon!!! We put our little sticker on the sign, victorious in tackling our first state and rode up through the beautiful high-ish country, through Cave Junction (beautiful!) and then stopping Grants Pass for some gas. It was blisteringly hot and Grants Pass was... well, dreary after all this beautiful nature. We rode a little back. In fact, we merged on I-5 to meet up with Stu's lady friend in historical Ashland and spend the night, to ride up to Crater Lake right after. It was a short day, mileage wise, so around late lunchtime we arrived in Ashland. We met Stu's friend and had a drink, and when she went off to her job a little later we dove right into a hearty lunch at the local brewery (Standing Stone). Great burger! Stuart was permanently maimed by the brewery door and had to live with a malformed head from now on (thanks iPhone panorama feature) Our table guests were a bunch of mountain bikers we ran into in front of the brewery. They'd been on the road for a few days, and really burned quite a few calories. We talked a bit about our plans for the ride north ahead and had a good time chatting. We moved our bikes to a neighborhood further out of the way of the downtown area to keep our bags safe and and met up again with Stu's friend and her good girlfriend, who also lived and worked in Ashland. We walked about town, had a bunch of drinks, saw the sights of the town and grew a great lethargic feeling thanks to the day drinking. So, time for food. I created a tradition of sorts here, that I would maintain during the whole ride: wing reviews! Ashland's 'The Black Sheep': 3.5/5 stars -- really quite good, a bit pricey. Back after dinner, retrieving some gear from the bike and moving them yet again to our place for the night -- Stu's friend's place. Free lodging yet again! At this point we had a great time and the booze is slightly muddying my memory. I do recall getting mighty tired so we picked up some cold brew coffee... ... went to some kind of pub where I drank a beer and a half and sucked at pool - fun people though! and we danced with the girls, one of which truly loved using my Roof moto helmet as a prop. You go girl. Daft Punk like vibes, the beats of the music echoing into an increasingly muddy memory of the night. It was warm. We smoked a last cigarette, in a warm glow of intense living, and went back to their place where we all sort of melted down into a puddle, at an incredibly late hour. Or maybe I should call it early.