Leave Wednesday, June 24th after work and head to my cabin on the coast in Lakeside. Then down 101 to 1 in California, to San Francisco. Find eateries and camping sites along the way, but arrive in San Jose sometime on Friday. Return trip up 101 the whole way, leave Monday morning from San Jose and arrive back in Eugene on Tuesday. If time allows, find some more covered bridges around the Grants Pass/Medford area.
Day 0: Wednesday, June 24th
Couldn’t wait for the day at work to get over. You’ve all had that unending feeling of anticipation right before an exciting adventure I’m sure! After what seemed like an eternity, the day finally ended and I was a like a lightening bolt for home to get on the bike and get this ride started. Finished final loading and down the road I went.
Arrived at the cabin and watched the movie “The World’s Fastest Indian” starring Sir Anthony Hopkins. Really liked the movie – was pleased with the “David vs. Goliath” concept of a guy trying to accomplish his dreams with tons of obstacles thrown at him. The movie got me in an even better, more optimistic mood for my long weekend!
Day 1: Thursday, June 25th
Got up bright and early and left by 8am. I had recently done the Oregon coast drive down 101 to Crescent City, California, so my thoughts were to cruise on down without any stops and spend the time on the California coast. The weather was nice, the roads were clear of traffic, and I made it to Brookings by about noon. I stopped at the Fred Meyer there for a bottle of water and one of those handy laminated folding maps of northern California. Just in case I got totally lost, of course! It was warm in Brookings and I had considered taking off my heavier jacket for my perforated one, but thankfully decided against it because I saw the fog along the coast to the south. They had the fruit checking station open at the border to California, and I wondered if I was going to be strip searched, but they just waved me through. Probably thought I couldn’t carry much fruit across in my little motorcycle. I briefly stopped in Crescent City for lunch at a Subway, and then continued on.
Next big town was Eureka, California and I didn’t stop. I knew that the “Avenue of the Giants” in the Redwoods was getting close, and I wanted to spend some time there. I had this thought that if I went down the road fast enough, the run would be like me on a speeder bike chasing storm troopers through the forests of Endor. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t hit a tree or get caught by some light-saber-wielding Jedi master. This was a neat area; all the trees were much wider than my bike is long. Impressive! After a brief stop at the visitor center to pick up some campfire reading materials, I was on my way for the stretch between Leggett, CA and Fort Bragg, CA.
I will tell you now that I always need to work on my cornering technique. This stretch of road will either perfect your technique or make you go home crying. I was later told there are 312 corners in 23 miles…. And I’d believe it. The road was clean and no traffic, so I could concentrate on each and every one of them! When highway 1 exits the curves through the coastal mountain range, it dumps right onto the coast with a sharp corner to the south. Thankfully, there was a large pull-out area on the curve, and I took full advantage of it. I had to get off and walk around for a bit after that stretch!
There were three other bikers there that had completed the same stretch moments before myself. When they saw me stretching, cracking my neck and rolling my shoulders, they started yelling stuff like “yeah!” “Uh huh” and “we know what you’re feeling!” We chatted for a few moments, taking in the sight of the coast (really, we were just recuperating), and down the road I continued.
Hwy 1 from that point on was generally curvy, with a few hairpins, but a very enjoyable and comfortable ride. Nice sights too!
When I arrived in Fort Bragg, I stopped at a McDonald’s (I know, but it was out of necessity). When I got in there was a long line, and the clerks behind the counter were all yelling at each other and it generally didn’t have the feel of a well run McDonalds (I’m sure you’ve all had that feeling). I waited for a couple more minutes, and decided I could either pitch my tent in the lobby and get breakfast in the morning, or continue down the road and see if one of the small towns had a restaurant or something.
Note to self at this point in my reflection: Coastal towns along Hwy 1 that are smaller than Fort Bragg SHUT DOWN all services at 7pm. I had a half tank of fuel in Fort Bragg, but all gas stations were closed, all restaurants were closed, and all lodges seemed to be booked until I made it to Gualala, CA just after dark. The bike was on fumes, and there was thankfully one gas station still open. Another fellow was filling up his pickup at the same time as I and he said he was on fumes as well, heading north. I took that as a bad omen and found a campground to stay at for the night.