Redding to Cottonwood, California

11 running days down, 124 to go

Wait, how did I get to Redding? Wasn’t I in Weed last time you checked?

With the current weather conditions, the only way to get from Weed to Redding (Redding is south of Weed) is to go north to Yreka, then go way west, then go south, and come back east into Redding. This would involve approximately a week of being in the middle of nowhere in the mountains not accomplishing anything. So I decided to seek out transportation from Weed to Redding.

The train doesn’t go through Weed, so that’s out. I checked the Greyhound website as soon as I got to Weed, and it looks like I have a couple of options for Saturday, but my trailer is oversized, will cost extra, and may be on a different bus than I am. I called Greyhound, but it is impossible to reach a human. I headed up to the Weed Greyhound station to work out the details, but the station is only open at very specific times of the day. That’s when I decided to go get dinner.

The first bus from Weed to Redding leaves a little after 8 in the morning on Saturday so I get to the station at 7 to see what can be done with the trailer. I am not welcomed like a conquering hero, but I wasn’t charged extra for the trailer, either. It looked like I would be on the 8:something bus to Redding.

When the bus arrived, I headed out with my trailer duly tagged as baggage. Every rider of the bus was on the sidewalk smoking. I guess that’s what you do when you ride the bus. You get out in each town, smoke a cigarette, and then reboard the bus.

The driver opened up the rear baggage compartment, but there was no way the trailer would fit because of the metal boxes attached to the top of the compartment. Maybe it will fit in the front compartment. The driver moved some things around, and we tried to get the trailer into the front compartment. The driver gave up. I kept working out the packing algorithm, and, just before resorting to deflating the tires, I managed to find just the right angle. I impressed the driver.

So I, with my trailer, were off to Redding on the Greyhound bus. They have WiFi, but it’s terrible, and it’s not because of the signal strength. They plaster ads all over websites in such a way that no website will load. Thanks for that. It’s windy, the bus is not exactly aerodynamic, and there is a nervous passenger sitting in the front seat. I know this because I was sitting in the second seat. The driver has warned everyone that, with the wind, the bus may get blown around a bit. Every time there was the least bit of wind, Nervous Passenger would ask, “Are you okay? Is everything okay?” Since there was a fair amount of wind, I heard this a fair number of times. If I were the driver, I would have shot Nervous Passenger. I was a passenger, and I wanted to gag her.

Upon arriving in Redding, the driver was curious if I could get the trailer back out from under the bus. O ye of little faith. I looked up directions from the bus/train depot to the hotel, and off I went. Since I hadn’t eaten in Weed before catching the bus and since it was before 10 in Redding, I decided to grab some breakfast on my way to the hotel since I wouldn’t be able to check in yet. I passed a little diner that had been around for ages so I decided to stop there for some pancakes and coffee. I did what I typically do with my trailer, leave it outside against a window and make sure I get the table right next to that window so I can keep an eye on the trailer. The thought of losing the trailer or any of its contents is not a pleasant one.

At this point, I was a confusing sight. I’m showered, shaved, and deodorized. Since I’m not running today and there was snow in Weed when I left, I’m wearing a long pair of khakis and a polo shirt. I’m walking around a town that has a noticeable homeless issue pushing a trailer filled with stuff. The homeless know I’m not homeless, but I’m confusing to the homed because I’m presenting two very different images. Normally, it’s not an issue because I’m wearing running gear, and there’s an obvious story. Normally, I use it as a way to introduce what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. “Is that yours?” one of the waitresses asks me while pointing at the trailer, with a certain look and sound to her voice. I simply said it is and didn’t provide any more information. The waitresses are all looking at each other, and I’m just eating my pancakes.

When I got to the hotel, heroics were involved in getting my room. I don’t know if I should go into details here so I won’t for now. Maybe I’ll talk about this in a future blog post. I will say the front desk manager became my biggest fan. Every time I passed, if there was someone at the front desk, employee or guest, and the manager was there, the manager told the other people all about what I’m doing.

On Sunday morning, I went for a quick run without the trailer to see how my ankle would hold up. Based on that run, I have cleared myself to run on Monday. I’m supposed to have a doctor clear me? Pfft, I’ve done Google searches and read web pages. OK, just kidding about that last part, but yes, I cleared myself. We’ll see how Monday goes and take it from there.

I went to a Palm Sunday service at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Redding. It was only four miles away and the local buses don’t run on Sunday, so I ended up going on a mostly-beautiful walk. It was a beautiful service, even though it is my least favorite liturgy of the church year. For the curious, I don’t like the combining of Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. Palm Sunday should be Palm Sunday, and the Passion should be Maundy Thursday / Good Friday. I met some very nice people and had some great conversations.

I spent a lot of the weekend trying to line up housing for the upcoming week, but I was completely unsuccessful. Staying in motels is very costly, for me and for others, and it very much limits how far I can run in a day because I have to stop where motels are located. My inability to line up overnight stays is currently my biggest failing. I’m starting to fill in dates well in the future, but I’m not doing well at this for the near term.

Now that I’ve caught you up on my weekend, it’s Monday morning, and it’s time to leave Redding. My running distance would get me to Hooker, but there isn’t a thing there, so it looks like I’ll have to cut things short and stop in Cottonwood if housing doesn’t materialize while I’m running today. We’ll see if something good happens (for the observant, the title of this blog post gives this away).

Today, I run, and it feels so good, but first, one of those “huh” moments…

Great Milkshakes Taco Shop
Great Milkshakes from the Taco Shop

So anyway, today, I run, and it feels so good. I run for a mile, I go through my pre-run dynamic stretches (yes, it’s called pre-run even though I warm up first; it’s a very bad idea to stretch cold muscles), and then I run. My GPS is telling me I’ll be done in 5 hours instead of the 7-9 hours I’ve been hearing depending on how fast I’ve been able to walk. My goal pace for this morning is 12-minute miles, and I’m right on that. If I were racing, that time would be terrible for me, but I’m not in a race. I’m pushing a 50-pound trailer, and I have to be able to do this again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day…. so my goal today is 12-minute miles. I’m sweating! It feels so good to run and sweat. Maybe only other runners will understand how good this feels, but any athlete who has been sidelined for some physical reason should be able to understand how good it feels to finally get back to your sport.

South of Redding
South of Redding
Sacramento River
Sacramento River

I run for ten miles, and then decide to shut it down for the day as far as running goes. This is a good workout for my ankle, and I don’t want to push it beyond what feels okay. I’ll run more tomorrow. I stop in Anderson for a cheap lunch at Burger King where I discover restrooms that require tokens. Apparently, non-customers using the restrooms have been an issue, and this is their way of dealing with it. That, and sales tax bites me again. I have exact change in my hand as I place my order, to then be reminded I have the incorrect exact change. I dealt with sales tax for the first 24 years of my life, but that was a while ago.

I check one last time on housing for tonight. Since I don’t have any, Cottonwood will be my final destination for today. I start walking to Cottonwood.

Pasture trees sky
Between Anderson and Cottonwood

The first motel I check with in Cottonwood is full so I head to the next one. I’m glad the first one was full. The owners of the second one are great. We have a great conversation about what I’m doing, one very crazy guest they had years ago who believed the devil was chasing him, literally; and her dream to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Hopefully, I encouraged that dream a bit. He can’t figure out how I got here without going on I-5. I explain that it required a gravel road to do it.

When he finds out I’ll be heading to Red Bluff in the morning, he tells me he’s lived in this area a long time and that I can’t get from here to Red Bluff without going on I-5. This can’t be good. So I invite him into my room and show him my route. He looks at my route for a bit and says it will work. He didn’t even think about that road. I point out that I assume he never thinks about how to walk to Red Bluff.

I meet an older gentleman in the parking lot as I’m taking everything out of my trailer. He comments on my rickshaw, and I tell him what I’m doing and why. He spent 25 years in the Marine Corp, and he raised 8 kids mainly on his own because his wife died of cancer. He had all kinds of dreams and ideas about what he’d do after he retired. Shortly after retiring, he had his first stroke. Dreams gone. He has a special understanding of my “Because I can” response to “Why are you doing this?” He talks about how badly he wants to go back to who he was before his strokes, how people look at him, and how people treat him. His left arm doesn’t work, and when he was recently trying to get money out of his billfold in a grocery store, the checker asked him if he could hurry up because there were people waiting. The pain as he tells me his story is palpable.

It’s one thing to get impatient with someone using a cart to completely block and aisle while talking on a cell phone, but when you see an older person doing things slowly, just remember that, unless you die first, you will someday be that person.

I hope the motel owners do hike the PCT, and I hope this older gentleman finds peace with the limitations of what he can do. I add their dreams to the rest of the dreams I carry with me.