Cook's Station to Wilton - The woman who sat on the toilet too long (and other odd American tales) - CycleBlaze

July 19, 2014

Cook's Station to Wilton

God blesses Plymouth's social club
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OH WHAT a glorious morning! Oh what a glorious day! And everything's been going my way, too, because our road this morning was downhill for the first two hours.

I'm grateful here for Karen's local knowledge. The Western Express goes off who knows where from Cook's Station and gets tangled in busy roads around Placerville. But take the first right after where we survived our night by the roadside, and without intervention by bears, and you have just one small rise before whirling helter-skelter through trees and down into the plain below.

On the way, the rushing vegetation changes, from resilient trees of the high country to the higher and more relaxed growth of the middle reaches and then the everyday bushes and trees and sweet fields of the plain. On the way, birds sing and fly from branch to branch, reminding how little I'd seen that on the way from Kansas. And society changes, too, from glorious houses of those who can afford them, timber or mock timber, set back from the road behind closed gates to - and the transition happens instantly - smaller houses, pre-fabricated and delivered by truck, with old cars in the drive and refrigerators and washing machines left out on the verge with a price tag attached.

Birds sing and the grass is green and life is good
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We stopped in Plymouth, a linear village with a hippie feel to it, encouraged by a bare-footed man sitting on a bench, chatting to an older man with a Rip van Winkel beard and a feather in his hat.

"This is the Plymouth social club," said Barry, the older man with the beard. "Some time o' the day, everyone'll come by and sit an' chat a while."

I asked how long it had taken to grow his beard.

"Wahl," he said stroking it fondly as you would a cat, "I just stopped shaving way back and this is what happened." It was, I thought, a practised response, not the first time he'd given it.

"And the feather in the hat?"

Well, I'd never have guessed it so it was worth putting up a sign
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He dipped his head towards me, so I could see it better.

"Lot o' folks round here got one o' those," he said, as though that explained everything.

I don't know how long he'd been sitting there, breezing with Rick, the barefooted man who owned the hotel across the road but saw no point opening it before 11 o'clock. It obviously wasn't the first time.

They were on a low boardwalk beneath a banner that read "God bless America."

"Used to be the ice cream shop, but that's been closed a whiles now," Barry said. "An' this thing..." - he turned to a rust-brown stove on his left and banged it with his palm, so that it made a violent, echoing protest - "...they say they used this back in the day for melting gold. Belongs to the people next door."

He opened the small door in the front and fiddled with things that pulled and pushed and gave the impression that he had no more idea how it worked than I did. Happy in his ignorance, he went back to relaxing in his chair and challenging time to make him get out of it.

Barry explains the stove, while remembering not to trap his beard when he closes it
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Karen rode on to Sacramento to meet her brother this afternoon and I have stopped at the Laguna del Sol campground south of the city, in Wilton, a place I disliked the moment I got here. I've paid for two nights, so that Karen can pop home to Vacaville, but I already know I'll be leaving at dawn. I wanted somewhere to relax but this isn't it.

Drama in the hills
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And still more drama in the hills
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Today's ride: 119 km (74 miles)
Total: 5,986 km (3,717 miles)

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