A Monologue with the Æther

A Bicycle Odyssey

Day Seventy-two: Saturday 8 September 1990

Burney, CA to Red Bluff, CA

I leave my lodging in Burney, California continuing east towards the valley. Along the winding mountain road, I stop at a rest area which happens to have a topological map of the region I am in and I realize that if I continue on my path I will spend a lot of time slogging through the hills.

I spend a while staring at my California map. There are no direct major routes except Interstate 5 to Red Bluff, California, my intended destination. There is however an indication of a minor county roads that move me in the direction. I essentially go off map attempting to dead reckon my way south and west to Red Bluff.

I spend a lot of time and energy attempting to find my way south via county roads. Roads so poorly marked, I am never actually certain of my location. I burn a lot of daylight. In the early evening, I cross paths with I-5. I ride under the freeway, continuing west toward the opposite side of the Sacramento Valley about one half of a mile, before I decide to through caution to the wind and chance riding down I-5 to Red Bluff.

What is the worst that could happen? I turn around, merging on to I-5, heading south. About one mile south of where I enter I-5, I pass an inspection station manned by the California Highway Patrol. I ride around it on the shoulder fastidiously ignoring the CHP officers. Once, I am out of sight of the station and unimpeded by the police; I congratulate myself on successfully sneaking by on the interstate.

I arrive at Red Bluff as twilight is falling. As I exit the interstate, I see the sign which declares that self-propelled vehicles, bicycles, et cetera must exit I-5 at this point. So evidently I spent a lot time unnecessarily avoiding I-5.

As I ride into Red Bluff, I look for a pay phone. I have relatives whom I have never met, living here. As the darkness falls, I spot a phone at the corner of Main St and Elm St. I call my relatives to whom not only have I not met but also never spoken. My aunt Shirley answers; I introduce myself as Clarice’s grandson. Shirley and family are aware of my journey and have been notified that I might call on them. Shirley asks my location; I answer “Main and Elm”. She’s surprised but tells me how to reach her home.