Dec 17

Broken Tent Poles and Clever Raccoons

Dirt road along Half Moon Bay

Day Two on the road saw me chug through 100 km to arrive in Santa Cruz where I camped at New Brighton State Beach.  Not the most exceptional day on the road, but the first 10 km out of Half Moon Bay made it worth it.  Not only was the conservation coastal area memorable, but I finally had the opportunity to test out the bike off-road.  Tony is a mountain bike, and while he may pretend to be respectable, what he really likes is dirty, filthy, muddy, single tracks far away from pavement of any kind.  It was good to see his more playful side.

I woke up the next day in New Brighton SB just as the sun popped up above the horizon.  I was feeling well rested, but I rolled over anyways so I could indulge in the lingering remnants of my night’s dream.  As I dozed, I had no idea how quickly this lovely morning would change.



What was that noise?!  It took a while for it to compute, but when I turned my head to look up, my suspicion was confirmed.  My tent pole had snapped.  Damn.  How did that happen?  This called for coffee.

The scene of the crime.






I got dressed and carefully crawled out of my tent – which was looking like it had had one drink too many the night before – and walked over to the raccoon box to get the coffee out.  Raccoon boxes are wooden cupboards that are designed to keep your food safe from raccoons – pesky and often aggressive little critters that will do anything to steal your food.  So, imagine my confusion when I opened my raccoon box to find that a raccoon had eaten all my food.  What? How? Where?!  It was like a Houdini magic trick; my food had disappeared and been replaced by ravaged food wrappings.

The culprit: MR. Raccoon

After 10 minutes of thumping solid wood in random places, I worked out how the critter had done it.  Turns out a bottom floorboard was missing which, combined with the bottom corner of the door being a little too lenient, meant that a crafty bugger that was all fur and brains could just squeeze in.  I had to give the little guy credit, he had earned his meal, and considering it had included over 3 pounds of rice, he was probably feeling pretty happy with himself.  I was not happy with California State Parks though, and left it to them to clean up the mess with a note say “THIS BOX WILL NOT WORK” – just in case they weren’t as intuitive as Mr. Raccoon.

Of all my food, only two items survived:  my jumbo-size jar of peanut butter, and (mercifully) the coffee.  Breakfast was lacking that morning.


Coffee in hand, I went about looking at my broken tent pole.  Normally, tents come with a short metal tube section that can slip over a snap and serve as a easy and temporary fix.  My tent did not come with one of these.  Fortunately, I am a self-professed ‘man-scout’ and  in times of need I am able to draw upon my inner MacGiver.  I consulted my little bag of tricks which is full of useful items like zip-ties and safety pins; things you will probably never use but they can be incredibly handy is the oddest of circumstances.  In the end after consulting my arsenal, I decided against the Q-tips and the 3mm accessory cord and opted instead to use the fluorescent pink duct tape and ordinary sewing thread.


It took some time, but I got it fixed.  For good measure, I polished off my work with a bit of electrical tape, and stood back to look at the result.  Bear Grylls would have been proud (though maybe also a little disappointed as I hadn’t manage find drink my own piss or sleep in a dead camel in the process.)

After all this misadventure it was going on 11PM, and I still need to buy some food, so I packed up my stuff lickety-split and pointed the bike for Monterey, 70 km away.

After. It's been tested. It works.

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