In New Zealand, but especially now in California, we have met a lot of people curious about our trip (probably mostly about how far we'll make it...) and our blog. And since we promised at least half of them that we'll start writing in English soon, here we are now, writing our first English blog post.
About three weeks ago we arrived in Los Angeles and spent some relaxed days at our Warmshowers host Richard's place, exploring Los Angeles by bicycle and again catching up with Resal, Martin, Noah and this time Agnes as well. We've seen each other more frequently in the last few months than in the years before in Germany, time to change that! After some bike part shopping and maintenance we chose the easy way out of LA and took the commuter train, which took us right into the outskirts of the Mojave desert, one of the windiest places we've been to so far. The omnipresent windmills should have been a warning to us. It took us another three days to get started from there: a bike map that hadn't arrived at the post office as planned, a forgotten something by Laura that forced us to turn back after fighting the strong headwinds for more than an hour, a spontaneous invitation to camp in his backyard by a fellow cyclist and so on.
The next days meant a lot of headwinds and even more climbing, we were heading towards the Sierra. Phone coverage became scarse, shops and towns even more so. But the more remote the places we went, the more curious and communicative the people. We were offered a soda, a chat and a free museum tour by an older couple guarding the local one-room-museum in a tiny village in the Californian backcountry, while we were just riding by the museum on a hot afternoon. One night - after desperately looking for hours for some public land to set up the tent - we were saved by a local farmer who let us camp on his ranch, only to return minutes later with some bottles of energy drinks for us. The generous offer of bacon and eggs the next morning we were too polite to accept – but spent an entire morning regretting our good manners. We even got a lift in a pick-up up a windy hill one day, which saved us at least 3 hours of head winds.
At least a couple of times a day we're approached by strangers who're curious about our trip. That way we meet people from all walks of life and get a small insight into life in the Californian backcountry. We love this aspect of bicycle touring, it's something we missed when cycling in South East Asia. While we were also very exposed to our environment, a deeper understanding of each other was very often prevented by the language barrier.
As we were getting into bear country, we started hanging all our food bags from a tree every night. The first tries were pretty entertaining to everyone around us, but we're slowly getting the hang of it. After a few days cycling the winds seized, but the heat quickly turned out to be our new enemy: temperatures should soon climb up to 48,5°C in the sun. At that point we got off of our bikes, laid under the only tree we could find in the desert and didn't move for 2 hours. Even in Cambodia it hadn't been that hot. Reaching the first gas station after the desert stretch on that day, we bought 3 liters of soda and drank them instantly. It took us 2 days to recover, but now we're back on track and on our way to Sequoia National Park to see General Sherman, the world's largest tree.