March 23, 2013
Distance: 31.5 miles Climbing: 3372.7 ft
I was finally feeling better when we woke up and ready to eat something substantial. We decided to wander around before hitting the road. We roamed around a commercial area before finding a grocery store and decided to stock up on food in case we wanted to camp. In other grocery stores we had visited there were always English labels on a majority of the food, not in China. We were clueless about what any of the food was and were a little scared of just grabbing things and hoping they tasted good. Eventually, we found items that looked familiar like soda crackers and Oreos. Chandler also got a thick pancake with an omelet on top. The first bite was delicious until we found the center was stuffed with meat, so Chandler finished that alone.
After our breakfast, we packed up the bikes and headed out of town. We spent a few minutes on the highway before turning onto the older, less used highway. This road has been such a treat for us. There is very little honking from the occasional vehicles that do pass and the relative silence does wonders for our moods. We had two big passes to climb which were challenging, but there was a breeze and shade. The hills were preferred to the alternative, a 2.5 km tunnel on the highway.
Chandler and I were both in the mood to camp and save a few bucks, so at the top of the pass we began looking for a spot as we flew down the hill. The road was cut into the side of a very steep ravine, so there were not many flat options. We found two decent places however one had clearly been used as a bathroom by several people and the other was clearly visible from the road. We kept going, hoping to find something soon. At the bottom of the pass, we entered a small town with a large tourist attraction, a national park which included some caves.
The place looked closed but with a few people milling around, we decided to see if the park offered camping. There was a large map of the area but the descriptions of the different areas were in Chinese, so we had no idea what was where. As we were standing around deciding what to do, a policeman got curious and walked up to have a look at us. Chandler asked him if there was camping nearby and made a sleeping motion, pointing to our tent. The officer made a motion to the very center of the parking lot, and we figured that we had been misunderstood. Again, we made sleeping motions and mimed the shape of a tent. The officer looked at us and again pointed to the middle of the parking lot, then he seemed to think for a minute, shook his head and motioned to the corner of the parking lot.
We weren’t sure if the officer understood exactly what we were asking of him and decided to just hang out in the parking lot until it got dark. While we waited, we watched people feeding some large fish in a nearby pond and made dinner on our stove. When the sun was finally setting we began to set up our tent. As I was blowing up our mattresses the officer walked over to us. We were sure he had finally figured out what we were planning and was coming over to tell us to leave, but he just told us to move our tent away from an unsupported slope that was in the slow process of eroding. He didn’t want anything falling on us in the night and he informed us, someone would be there all night if we needed any help. We could not believe our luck. While it wasn’t a Walmart, it certainly would do.