As I swept around the bend the asphalt, the chunky, disintegrating asphalt gave way to dirt, sand meeting the sea. I eased off the accelerator, exhaled through pursed lips and swept over the threshold. The dirt road was well graded, so I figured, What the hell?
This was plan B, not navigationally, but recreationally. On our drive back from the eclipse, I had promised Philip we would visit Crater Lake, but for every 10 minutes we drove, our ETA gained 10 minutes. It was as if we weren’t moving, and honestly, there was so much traffic that at times we weren’t. By the time we reached the turnoff for the park, an alleged 45 minutes farther, night had fallen, so we kept driving into the night.
In the morning we drove west, headed for Mendocino National Forest and up Round Valley Road. I can’t be certain where the drive went wrong, or even how, but when we reached the Caltrans sawhorse just in front of the landslide, my one thought wasn’t that I’d been foiled, but how I was going to turn my car around.
Doubling back after driving nearly 75 percent of the way across the forest should seem a defeat, but the drive allowed my mind wander, my eyes to absorb the views, my legs to twitch with desire to ride these roads.
With each new vista a question returned like a church refrain: Why has no one ever talked about these roads?
I hear about mountain biking in nearby Jackson State Forest. I hear about mountain biking and multi-surface road riding in the Sierras. But I have never heard anyone talk about the mountains, the roads, the seclusion of Mendocino State Forest. I drove from near sea level (259 ft.) up more than a mile, into territory where hunting season is … any time you’re there.
Now my question is, Where I can get water?
I’ll be back.