Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 29, 2014 - Eureka - where's my bike!

Eureka was a nice stop.  There are some great sand beaches nearby, and it is right next to the redwood forest.  We were able to ride our bikes from the Woodley Island Marina, over a bridge, and get into Eureka's "old town".  It was full of small shops and restaurants and bars.  Unfortunately it is also filled with homeless people.  They are everywhere you look.  On almost every street corner.  Sleeping on benches and in alleys.  Pushing shopping carts with all of their belongings inside or wearing large backpacks stuffed with everything they own.  Some had bikes and many had skateboards.  A large percentage of them had dogs, and smoked cigarettes.  Where they get the money to feed their dogs, and their cigarette habit I don't know.

We had one unfortunate encounter with a street person.  Well, I (Steve) did.  We rented a car on Friday and were over in town on our bikes.  It was getting near the time the car was to be ready so Kathy called and the car was ready, but they had nobody to come pick us up from the marina.  Instead of us all riding back to the marina to await their coming to get us we decided that I would ride over to the rental car place just 4 blocks away and the Kathy and the kids would ride back to the marina.  I rode to the Enterprise Rentals and leaned my bike against their front window, next to the door.  The building is about 100' back from the street and fenced on three sides.  There were several employees cleaning cars and a few customers renting cars.  I waited my turn standing in the doorway enjoying the sunny day.  I finally went inside and filled out paperwork.  I turned my back on my bike for maybe 90 seconds.  As I finished initialing the last field in the rental agreement I turned around after hearing a noise.  Much to my horror a guy was rapidly riding off on my bike out the parking lot past several employees.  I ran outside to the road and he was turning the corner at the next intersection, my bike helmet still dangling from the handlebars.  My bike had been stolen!  The thief had walked up to the building from the street, even poking his head in the doorway to see if anybody was watching, and then grabbed the bike, jumped on, and rode away.   He was a block away in less then 30 seconds.  My back was turned for 90 seconds, the bike just 5 feet away from me on the other side of an 8' tall glass window.  The thief was within perhaps 8 feet of me when he came through the doorway.  He was VERY bold and determined.  We have been extremely careful about locking our bikes and bringing our helmets with us when we go inside shops or to eat a meal.  But, at the car rental facility I never felt like the bike would even be considered as a target for theft.  Days later I am still shocked at this bold crime.  We will never leave a bike unlocked again, even if just 5 feet way.

The police were called and I gave them a description of my bike.  Unfortunately I don't have the frames serial number.  An employee gave a very good description of the thief.  They looked at the security video and the image of the thief was very poor and probably useless.  The officer said that theft is big problem here.  I doubt I'll ever see the bike again.  I think I know how these people are paying for dog food and cigarettes.  It was a unique bike and was perfect for this trip.  It was a Hummer brand folding mountain bike.  They are pretty rare.  It had front shocks and a front disc brake.  It had good quality components and was in very good condition.  My friend Jamie found us this bike and an identical one on Craig's list two months before we left.  We bought both bikes and Cindy is using the other.  Even though this bike is perfect for our trip, I don't care too much about the bike as we are considering our 4 bikes as temporary/disposable vehicles.  We are sure that the salt air and riding on sandy/salty beaches will ruin these bikes before the end of our tip.  The real bummer of this theft is that we really rely on the bikes for getting around when we are in port.   They allow us to explore each town quickly, easily, cheaply, and together.  They provide exercise and a quick method to get to a grocery store to re-provision (sometimes grocery stores are miles from the harbor).   Having just 3 bikes is going to really change the rest of our trip.  What to do?

Cindy's Hummer.  My stolen bike was identical to this.  Aluminum frame.
Great components.  Front disc brake.  front shocks.  Folding frame. It was fun.

Well, Craigs List is going strong in Eureka and we have a car for a few days.  This is a perfect opportunity to search for a new bike.  I scoured Craigs List and found a decent looking Diamondback aluminum mountain bike cheap.  We went and looked at it Saturday after provisioning at Costco and spending time in the Redwoods.  The bike was in good shape and the price was right.  So we bought it.  The bike needs some fine tuning; the brakes squeal badly and the front derailleur is not adjusted correctly and doesn't shift well.  Other than that it is going to be great.  I can have this bike all tuned up in a few hours.

Yesterday after spending a good part of the day at Clam Beach playing in the sand and surf, I bought a new helmet at Target.  We also bought a lock to replace the lock that was on my bike when it was stolen.  All of the stolen items have been replaced; problem resolved.

The replacement bike.  It will certainly do.  But, it's not he nice ride the Hummer was.
It's the difference between a $700 bike (Hummer) and a $350 bike (the Diamondback).
Don't get me wrong, the Diamondback is a decent bike and it will definitely meet our needs.

So, we are back in business and can again ride our bikes together to explore future towns.  We also learned a valuable (but sad) lesson.  Don't ever leave your valuables unattended.  Not even for 90 seconds.  This is a lesson our kids have never learned growing up in La Conner where crime is all but non-existent.  People don't lock their cars or bikes.  Houses remain unlocked even when nobody is home.  Garage doors can be open all day and night with nothing disappearing.  Our police blotter in the newspaper back home is filled with dogs barking, speeding cars, false alarms in security systems, but never any theft or crime.  Our previous home in a quiet neighborhood in Snohomish was also like this.  We never had any theft or crime worries.  I grew up on Mercer Island where theft and crime was also non-existent.  I have lived a sheltered life, perhaps that's why I like living in Shelter Bay so much?  :-)

Ironically, Eureka means "I found it".  Unfortunately it is where "I lost it".

So, as we push further south, I am finally learning about the real world and it's day to day problems.  So are our kids.  This is a trip of learning in so many ways.  Some of the lessons are unexpected and unplanned, which makes them even more meaningful.


  1. Sorry to hear about your bike. Those life lessons ... Glad to see you have taken it in stride.

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