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"Welcome to California" - By Maarten Slenter

Redding, October 5, 2016

680km, a long day to drive. All the way from Portland to Redding, one of the longest days of our trip, and the second day of our tour through the USA. We didn't have any events this day except in Redding, where we were going to spend the night in a gym. We left early and didn't drive all too fast, to ensure the battery pack lasted long enough. There were the occasional "Vote Trump, make America great again" and "Save babies, vote Trump" signs, but other than that, it was a rather boring day. The fact that the only music we had were Christian radio stations more intent on making money than actually playing music didn't help either.

One thing that I found interesting, was when we entered California. There was a police check in the middle of the road, which apparently caused some flash backs for certain team members. Immediately the portable radio sprang to life with people asking confirmation whether everyone passed the check. It was nothing, they didn't even stop us and even if they had, I'm sure we wouldn't have had any problems. Either way, this was about the most exciting thing that happened the entire trip.

That is, until we were about to cross a bridge across the McCloud River. I was driving in a truck behind one of our cars. I had just woken up Remco to take pictures of the bridge (something he wasn't very happy with) when a white pick-up shot past us, going at least 20 miles per hour faster than we were. He wanted to overtake the car in front of us as well, but when crossing the turn, he found out that they were already being overtaken. Realizing he didn't have enough room to brake, he tried to go past them on the right. However, there he found the side of the bridge, which wasn't going to move a lot. This caused him to bounce off of the wall and hit our car. Initially, the people in the car didn't even realize that they were hit by another car, they thought it was just a flat tire again, like what happened in China.

Quickly, we found a place to stop and talk with the driver of the other car. There we found out the man was pretty intoxicated. He said he didn't have any damage to his car, that he just needed to replace his tire and would be good to go again. Apparently he hadn't noticed the fact that some panels were hanging loose from the side of this car. It was definitely not in a state to drive, let alone the guy himself. Of course we had called the police, who arrived a few minutes later.

While the police officer was talking to the man, getting his statement and assessing his condition, I realized something. We were very lucky that it was the car that was hit. If the motorcycle had been hit, this could have very well ended the a very bad way. The speed at which the guy was going, at which the motorcycle would have been going... It was one of those moments that you realize how lucky we sometimes are.

This last week just goes to show that our adventure definitely isn't over yet. Asia always felt like it would be the most dangerous/difficult area to go through, but the USA also has its own challenges (charging as well, apparently. Who could've guessed?). In the end, the drunk driver was taken to jail and no one got hurt, which made it all just a good and memorable experience. To quote the officer's parting words to us: "Welcome to California!"

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