Seattle to San Francisco
Bicycle Tour

Copyright (C) 1991 by C. Anderson - All Rights Reserved

DAY 13 (Monday July 22)

KOA Campground, Eureka, CA to Humboldt State Park
57.4 miles - 13.8 rolling

By the time I got up (about 7:30) Jim was gone, Pierre was packed, and the New Jersey couple was just leaving. It was a very foggy day and I got rain ready. The KOA is actually closer to Arcata than Eureka. I got to Eureka before 9:00 and took the riding tour of Victorian houses (boring), played with a pocket teller machine and wrote another post card. I was trying to kill time so that I wouldn't get to Scotia while the Lumber Mill tour was closed (10:30 - 1:00).

I should have rode straight on past Loleta and on to Scotia because by the time I left Eureka a slight headwind had kicked up. This is a good reason to always get an early start. There's usually no wind until after ten or eleven o'clock in the morning. I followed the bicycle route mentioned in Kirkendall and Springs's book through Eureka and headed south on highway 101. The first fifteen miles or so were a real grunt, but once I got to the top of Loleta Hill the fog had burned off and it had become a hot, sunny day with the old familiar tailwind back in place. I flew from Loleta to Scotia. At the exit before Scotia I saw another biker on the exit ramp. We hollered salutations to each other and announced our intended destinations for the evening.

Scotia is a corporate town owned by the Pacific Lumber Company. The mill workers live in the town and apart from the city services, like groceries, hair stylists, plumbers, etc. everyone works at the mill. I bought lunch at the grocery store, tried to call my daughter, and bought a newspaper. I saw an article about the bear at Prairie Creek and how it had broken into someone's car to get at their cooler. It's sad because that could bring him a death sentence.

I was sitting there starting to enjoy my lunch in the shade of an old brick building when the fellow I had seen earlier came by and decided to chew my ear off. I finally picked up my newspaper, put it up to my face and began reading while he was talking. It took a few minutes, but he finally got the message. I've got nothing against making contact with other riders, but he was obviously not paying attention to my wishes. He was pounding coffee, instant, straight into his water bottle and he was rambling on about how he'd ridden here, ridden there, camped here, climbed this hill, climbed that hill. Me, me, me. I just didn't like this guy.

After my lunch, and reading that Grego was pretty much out of it. I went to the Visitor Center and got a pass to take the self guided tour of the Pacific Lumber Company's Redwood Mill. This is a most fascinating tour and I highly recommend it to everyone. You may cringe at how fast they can turn a big Redwood (6 foot diameter) into so much lumber, but I think you'll also be awestruck by the size, power and accuracy of the machinery. Once the wood has been cut into lumber size pieces the tour gets rather boring, so take your time watching the hydraulic barker (debarker) and the first giant rotary saw.

thumbnail Shortly after leaving Scotia I was on my way to the Avenue of the Giants. This is a 35 mile route that parallels 101 (or vice versa, I suspect). It's a two lane road bordered by magnificent old Redwood trees. This is the most magnificent stretch of road that I have ever traveled on. Even traveling by bicycle was too fast to take it all in. You have to get off and hike in the groves. I had never heard a Redwood groan before. thumbnail There was a light breeze just barely moving the needle covered branches that were 100 to 200 feet over my head. The groan of a "swaying" Redwood makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. You wonder which one it is. You can't tell. You get the feeling that it might snap off at the base, and even a little reasoning doesn't make you stop wondering. No centuries old Redwood is going to be toppled by a light breeze. But yet, you stand and wonder, which one is it? Should I get ready to jump, duck, or run?

I haven't sufficient ability to describe this road well. You have to travel it yourself. If I had to pick one short section of this trip to do, and nothing else, it would be the Avenue of the Giants. After stopping in a grove, walking amongst the trees and losing my understanding of the world as I knew it, I rode on as far as the Weott General Store. It's only a few hundred feet off the road and just past the entrance to the Marine Garden Club Grove hiker/biker Campsite. As I was coming back down to the main road who should I see but Mr. Ramblemouth. He thought I hadn't seen the hiker/biker turnoff and asked me where I was going. I answered very shortly with "further on," and left him behind.

Ride past the hiker/biker campsite about 1.5 miles to the Humboldt State Park Campground. (Kirkendall and Spring's book says the opposite. They say that the campsite is 1.8 miles SOUTH of the main campground. Trust me, I was just there. They're wrong. It's ~1.5 miles NORTH.) You can register here (or with the honor system at the hiker/biker site), take a shower and then ride back to camp. I saw Norm on his way back from the main campground. He'd already showered and said he'd bought eight hot dogs and buns. I told him I'd share them with him (four hot dogs for dinner?) and described Ramblemouth to him so that we might avoid pitching our tents too close to his.

Ahhh, the ride to the showers was well worth it. I became human again and rode back to camp, down "Redwood Avenue" listening to Mozart; 2nd movement (Romance), Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor (K.466). You may recognize this as the music from the closing credits of "Amadeus."

I stopped at the Weott General Store to buy the evening's supplies and noticed that I was paying roughly twice as much as normal for things. That's just too blatant a rip off. I suggest that you stock up on whatever you want to and can carry while in Scotia. You'll only have to carry it about 20 miles.

Norm had run into Ramblemouth on his way to camp from the showers. He said the guy had stopped him and started rambling on about what was depressing him that day. Norm had to cut him off and end it with, "I really want to get going now. Bye." We didn't see him that night. We'd shaken him. I started the trip rather naively believing that anyone that rode their bicycle a great distance and slept in a tent was OK. Sorry, even jerks can ride bicycles.

thumbnail Norm and I were the only ones from the previous night that camped in this grove. I learned later that Jim and Pierre had blazed through the "Avenue of the Giants" and not camped until they were out of it. What a loss.

I suppose that since we were alone and I was a fellow sinner (beer every night) Norm relaxed some self control and started chain smoking cigarettes. To make him feel more comfortable I got one of my own out and joined him. I do a little smoking myself. Late at night after a few beers, I enjoy a cigarette or two. Norm and I were beginning to adopt a mind set and learn a simple, but valuable thing about life. "Do what you like to do." I suppose that the self satisfaction from pushing your bicycle more than 50 miles every day and living cheaply out of a tent makes this easier to take to heart, but it should always be true.

We didn't buy our firewood that night. There was a plethora of dead and downed wood all around our campsite. I know it's robbing the soil of nutrients and I make a habit of being more conservation minded, but that's what we did. I don't think anyone suffered from this one indiscretion. We ate our hot dogs. I had three, anyway, with Tillamook Cheese on them. After the previous night we decided that we ought to tie up our food (probably unnecessary here). Norm went to bed early and I stayed up for a while watching the fire light up the immense Redwoods as their silhouettes danced in the background.

"I am in one of the best places that I have been in my entire life. I am camped in a grove of great, old Redwood trees protected by the high canopy of their delicate needles. If you've never done this you really must. You can feel the majesty like ancient wisdom. And it's coming from trees."

That's what I wrote in my log that night just before going to sleep. That and, "the frogs just stopped singing in the Redwood Grove (11:04pm)."

DAY 14 (Tuesday July 23)

Marine Garden Club Grove to Standish Hickey State Recreation Area
50.7 miles - 11.6 rolling

Once again Norm got away earlier than I. First we had to untie our food, which hadn't been molested at all. I left the grove and went south stopping at the Visitor's Center at the main campground. I bought a lot of post cards to augment my personal photography.

thumbnail Heading south I rode past grove after grove of monstrous Redwoods. I stopped a couple of times to get closer. The mosquitoes weren't too bad. You just had to keep moving. I stopped in the town of Miranda for lunch and to talk to my daughter. She had sold her old Volkswagen bug and bought a newer one. Things at home were fine except that she felt bad about some major trouble she'd had with summer school and I, with my new found and simplistic way of looking at life, reminded her that there are good days and there are bad days - "every day unto itself."

I sat in the shade under the post office roof to eat my lunch. A young man got out of his van and came across the street asking me all about my trip. Although he said "all of you guys" were admirable, I still found it to be an intrusion, albeit an understandable and tolerable one. That always felt wrong to me, being referred to as a generic group - "you guys." I don't represent all bikers, just myself.

I stopped at the gift shop by the "One Log House" in Phillipsville for my final post cards from the Redwoods. I was leaving the Redwood forest and the day was becoming a scorcher. Like I said, it's amazing how much cooler it is in the Redwoods. The "One Log House" gift shop had air conditioning and it felt very good. A german woman came in and paid her $1.50, or whatever, so that she could see inside the famed "One Log House."

The woman running the store felt obliged to tell me about an alternate route (one that is not in Kirkendall and Spring's book) to get to Garberville. It skirts a large steep hill she said. You don't want to go riding up that in this heat. She suggested that I get off highway 101 before Garberville and ride to the town of Redway and then back to 101. When I got to the exit it seemed that either way I went I was still going to have to climb as high. The alternate just took longer to do it. I opted for the straight ahead approach. Many people that don't ride will give you directions like this and say, "Oh that next hill is too steep, you'll never get up that. Why don't you take this other way." I learned quickly to take non-riders advice with a grain of salt.

It became very hot and windy. As I rode along I came up with a way for designating the difficulty of a day's ride. "The three H's." Hot, headwind, and hills. This day had all three of them. The real significance of the "3 H's" was that on another day when experiencing less than three one should be thankful. Hot and headwind, ok. Hot and hills, ok. All three? Bummer. I began to feel the affects of the heat a number of times. I nearly had a salt depletion headache. In 30 miles I went through both of my water bottles (one large) three times. Plus a cold can of root beer. At the burl stand (Redwood knots) near Reynolds I spotted a small group of cyclists with no gear. I figured they were locals out for a day ride.

One of them, in particular, caught my eye. Especially when she looked at my bike and said to her friends, "look at all that gear. That looks heavy." They left ahead of me. I was experiencing a bit of cyclist's muddleheadedness and was bouncing off the outdoor shelves of burls, listening to the wind chimes and trying to decide what to do next. The wind chimes were the nicest I think I've ever heard ("Grace Note Chimes" from Mariposa). They were large metal tubes, all tuned to some beautiful chord (rooted in C). When the wind played them all at once I stood in the middle and just listened. It was a sort of floating, transcendental experience.

I wanted another look at the woman that had caught my eye (she was quite fit and very pretty in her purple, two piece, terry cloth riding outfit) so I put the hammer down. Maybe I WAS being a little uncivilized, but after being alone on the road and in a tent for most of two weeks one gets a little, shall we say, perked? And like Norm and I were beginning to realize, It's OK to do what you want. After all. I am a gentleman.

There were four more large hills before reaching Standish-Hickey and I hardly noticed the first one as I passed all of her friends and then finally her, alone near the top. She exclaimed, "quite a workout, huh? Where are you going?"
"Standish Hickey."
"Oh? So are we. I'm going to wait here for my friends, but I'll catch up with you."
"Hah," I thought to myself, "we'll see." There's nothing like passing unloaded road bikes while carrying a full load on the back of your MTB. "You can come by our camp later for a cold beer," she added.

I wanted her to catch me, but not right away. I was playing hard to get. Bicycle flirtation. It was a great way to finish a hard day. I did too good of a job, though. She didn't catch me until we got to the entrance to Standish Hickey. I payed for my site and she inquired as to the location of her group site. She was on a sag assisted tour out of Vancouver, B.C. I asked if the invite for the beer was still good and she, less convincingly this time, said "Sure, come on down later." Their campsite was about a quarter of a mile from ours.

Lo and behold. I get to the hiker biker site and there's Norm just starting to unpack. The rangers were trying to cram 4 or 5 tents into a single drive-up site. To make matters worse one of the tents belonged to Mr. Ramblemouth. Feeling my oats and knowing what I wanted, I went back to the ranger shack and politely mentioned that there was a small problem. The ranger guessed it was overcrowding and immediately offered another site for our use. I rode back, showed Norm the site and said. "What do you think?"
"I think you're doing very well, Chuck. This looks great."

We got a great sight, near the showers - nice hot showers. The campground was not really busy, so the sound of other people using the showers was not a problem at all. There's a deli right across the road from Standish-Hickey and before even setting up camp Norm went for some Millers. Then he set up his "Tent Hilton" and we went back together to get food and firewood.

I told Norm about my invitation for a beer and once again he remarked that I was doing quite well. I was bummed because I didn't have any clean clothes. Aggh! As we were settling in we noticed a young woman hike in and start setting her tent up about 50 feet away. I wouldn't have said anything to her, but she didn't have a real great spot. Her tent was sitting at a very visible angle. That can make for a sleepless night. Our area was quite large. "Are you a hiker?" I asked. "Well sort of. I parked my car across the street and walked in." "Good idea. Listen, you're welcome to share our site with us tonight. We'll be having a fire and I assure you that we're quite safe."

She took me up on it and I'm glad she did. There was a much flatter and softer spot for her tent. Besides, she was great company. Her name was Molly and she had lived in Boulder for a couple of years while she was going to school. She worked for Green Peace and she was a vegetarian. All in all a very nice soul. She made mention of her boy friend being off somewhere else and we commenced to share a fine evening. The sag tour's spot was definitely too far away now. Molly's arrival saved me from an uncomfortable, date-like affair.

Norm was quite impressed with my ability for making the world take shape around me and my desires. I'll admit. Life was starting to look pretty simple and good.

Molly offered us some tomato and avocado for our sandwiches and she in turn accepted a little turkey for hers. Norm shared some of his wine with Molly. He drank a bottle of wine (and a couple of Miller's) every night. I hadn't noticed this until Norm and I had been together for several days. He certainly never acted drunk.

Norm and I talked about what we were doing and why. We're both in our forties (I'm JUST 40) and having similar thoughts and feelings. Norm had a great way of explaining his. He's had a government job in Toronto for a long time. He lives in an apartment complex with his kids. Everybody leaves their apartment in the morning to go to work and comes back at night. Norm watches hockey games on TV and drinks beer at night. When the people turn 65 they stop going to work. Finally, one day, an ambulance comes and takes them away and that's it. The End. He had to break that mold. He read "Miles From Nowhere" and was inspired to take a riding trip. He bought a bicycle, trained for three months, then took 3 months leave from work so he could ride from Vancouver to Baja. Everyone at work was greatly excited about and supportive of his decision. I suppose he serves as a surrogate for their dreams.

I won't go into much detail about me, but I'm definitely ready for a new life now. May the second half of my life begin and may it be more vital and fulfilling than the first half. This bicycle tour made me feel more alive than anything I've done in my adult life. I explained an idea I have for bringing the two things I really like together. I love my bicycle and I love good beer - drinking it and brewing it. There's a mountain town near me that's beginning to expand and become somewhat of a commuter town for Boulder. The time is right for a bike shop. Especially catering to summer tourist's needs for guided day and multi-day trips. I also think that a small brew pub could work well in combination. How about "Chuck's Bikes and Brew." Does that sound crazy? Molly didn't think so and Norm said just be sure you have lots of brew on hand in case some Harley motorcycle types get the wrong idea.

Another early night. Unfortunately, the Standish-Hickey hiker/biker site is a little too close to the road and I was awakened once in a while by the sound of trucks coming from afar, passing by, and traveling off again. Still, it was alright. That night I dreamed of myself and a happy woman, both of us riding on my bike.

DAY 15 (Wednesday July 24)

Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area to Russian Gulch State Park (Mendocino)
55 miles - 12.5 mph rolling

Norm left camp first and Molly and I shared the picnic table and breakfast. She packed up her gear said, "take care and good luck with your trip." Then, when she was almost out of sight she turned around and said, "Oh yeah, good luck with Chuck's Bikes and Brew. When I come back to Boulder I hope I'll be able to find you by going there."

I packed up and got away before 8:30. Standish-Hickey is right at the base of legendary Legget Hill. The highest spot on the Pacific Coast The peak is close to 2000 feet. I wanted to get a start up the hill before the other "two H's" caught up with me.

Just after leaving camp highway 1 splits off to the right. It passes by the town of Legget and starts climbing. I suppose it's best to over prepare for Legget Hill. Actually, it wasn't bad. It's long, but it's not very steep. Besides, I'd actually done half the climb on the previous day and, as one the messengers had said while we were all discussing the route days previous, "Don't worry about it. You're in good shape. When's the last time you rode 50 plus miles every day for over two weeks?" I put my bike into a low gear (probably 24 X 23), whistled a happy song, and thought about the possibilities of running my own tour of the coast for money. It seems pretty easy. Rent a vehicle for sag support, call ahead to reserve campsites (or motels for the rich and famous), hire someone to drive the broom wagon, take the money, hand out maps, and ride bike.

About half way up I was overtaken by a fellow on an unburdened road bike. He slowed so we could chat a bit. I asked him if he was on the sag assisted tour and he replied. "I'm the owner of the tour company. I'm working right now." What a great coincidence. We talked for the rest of the climb and he gave me some ideas on marketing. Near the top he split off since his bike was faster. When I got a little ways over the crest I saw someone standing by the side of the road holding a spare tube. It was the same fellow and he was in need of a pump. I was glad to oblige, but I thought to myself, "He's traveling a bit light, isn't he?"

The back side of Legget Hill is wonderful. I had to brake in some of the curves, but other than that it was effortless riding for 10 miles. Three miles later is Rockport Hill. It's a 700 foot, 2 mile climb (6.5%). I passed more unburdened bikes here, too, but no purple terry outfit.

It started getting cooler on the way down Rockport Hill. I descended to the Pacific Coast and fog. Westport made a convenient lunch stop. I rode thirty miles before noon. I was learning how to cover miles in the morning. It's got a lot of advantages. The Westport grocery shop had excellent sandwiches. All I needed was some sliced turkey, though. I already had bread, Tillamook Cheese and chips. I was learning how to exist economically, as well. Norm was here.

The weather had cleared by this time and after a 45 minute lunch stop sitting outside with most of the sag group and Norm I began the life threatening fifteen mile ride south to Ft. Bragg. I'd heard that there was a brewpub there and that was my immediate destination.

Highway 1 is a heavily traveled two lane road with little to no shoulder in most places. There are logging trucks, gravel trucks, and Winnebagos to worry about. The road is hilly as it climbs into and out of little coves along the coast. When you hear a truck coming you'd best hold your line either on the white line or off into the gravel and dirt. The trucks come by very close. I was composing a nasty letter to the Caifornia DOT as I road along. Something about how I was going to boycott all wood and paper products from Northern Caifornia. This part of the ride is scary and it gets to everyone. I wouldn't advise it for everyone. Unfortunately if you want to get south to San Francisco it is the best and only reasonable way to go. Did I mention how beautiful the coast is here? It's stunning. The water is deeeeeep blue and there are many haystack rock formations.

Norm had left Westport before me, but I caught up with him before Ft. Bragg. He had stopped in the shoulder (all 6 inches of it). Unbeknownst to me he'd just had an encounter with a Winnebago that had passed VERY close. So close, in fact that he was afraid to go on. He was gathering his wits. Silly me. I thought I'd be funny and I rolled up behind him and very lightly tapped his rear wheel. God, did I feel like a jerk. He had no idea I was behind him and I scared the Bejeebers out of him. As Steve Martin once said, "comedy is not pretty." This wasn't even comedy. "Sorry Norm." He's a good guy. He was just relieved that it was only me.

I got to Ft. Bragg and found the North Coast Brewpub at the north end of town. It was closed. But then I saw that they opened at 2:00 and it was less than 5 minutes until two. I was greatly relieved.

The North Coast Brewpub had the finest beers that I tasted on this whole trip. Especially nice was the Scrimshaw Pilsner. It's actually a cream ale, but it had such a delicate flavor that even Norm liked it. He got a whole pint. I tried all 5 or six of their ales and had a couple of pints of Scrimshaw. Before leaving I bought 22 oz. bottles of Red Sea Ale and Scrimshaw Pilsner.

Norm and I looked over the tourist rags learning what we could about the area and the bartender told us a story about some trucker being pulled over 150 miles after he'd knowingly run down a cyclist. At least he was convicted of manslaughter, but that obviously didn't improve the victim's experience. "PLEASE. BE REAL CAREFUL," He admonished.

thumbnail I left that place with quite a buzz. I know that sounds stupid, but we only had 8 miles left to our Campsite at Russian Gulch, with a killer tailwind behind us (no pun intended) and a decent shoulder. I wish I'd bought groceries in Ft. Bragg, though, now our only choice was to go a mile further after Russian Gulch into Mendocino. Mendocino reeked of pretensiouness and money. I couldn't stand the place. My groceries were a bit expensive and the grocery clerk was a spoiled rude young girl. Everybody looked rich, beautiful and totally self interested. I could have easily carried my groceries the eight miles from Ft. Bragg.

Before going for groceries we dropped into Russian Gulch. There was a Canadian couple, John and Shelly, on a Canondale tandem and they were just wrapping up a 13 month tour around the world. They were headed north. Figuring I'd already seen the worst that Highway 1 had to offer I thumbnail warned them about the upcoming day and advised them to hit the road as early as possible. They were good people. When Norm and I mentioned we were going for groceries. John asked if we could buy him a six pack, too, eh? He wanted to enjoy camp but had been prepared for a quiet, early evening.

We went to wonderful Mendocino and returned to camp. John and Shelly had both taken showers while we were gone. They said that was one of the "Tent Commandments." If one of them had showered then the other must also. I'd loved to have heard all of the Tent Commandments, but I'm sure that some of them were a little too personal.

I asked John and Shelly for advice on the next day's destination. I had been thinking all along that I wanted a motel room for my last night on the road. I have a friend in Petaluma that I was going to stay with for a couple days and then he'd drive me to the San Francisco airport. I wanted to get as close to Petaluma as I could because I was anticipating hills on the way inland and I wanted my last day to be a short day. Norm, John and Shelly all tried to convince me to ride the 75 or 80 miles I needed to to get to Salt Point State Park. Said Norm, "you don't really want a motel room do you?"

After we all got into our tents I heard a little flatulence coming from John and Shelly's tent, some laughter, and mention of another Tent Commandment. An hour or so later I thought I heard Norm's tent open (zzzippp). Then there was some shouting "Get out of here. Go on. Go on. Get out of here." I thought he'd risen for a late night constitutional and seen some racoons near by. It was more than that. The racoons were WHY he was up. There are food lockers at each camp site for just this sort of thing, but it seems that closing and latching them is not enough. Norm heard them reaching in and dragging his box of Fig Newton's out. That's why he'd risen and why he was "talking to the racoons." In the morning I saw that he'd propped an upended log against the latch to prevent any further violations. The Fig Newtons were history.

DAY 16 (Thursday July 25)

Russian Gulch State Park to Bodega Dunes State Park
102 miles - 14.1mph rolling - 10.5 on the day

I got up in time to see John and Shelly leave. I took my time getting on the road as it was a bit foggy again. Norm was sitting on the picnic table about five feet away from the food locker. He had a gourmet cookie (in the wrapper) sitting on top of it. He was busy writing post cards and didn't notice a robber jay land on the food locker. I heard this loud RAP! RAP! like someone with a small hammer and chisel and looked up to see the jay attacking the wrapper. "Hey Norm, you're about to lose more cookies."

A fond farewell was in the offing. I was ready to leave before Norm because I wanted to cover a lot of ground. It was my last day on the road. Norm and I exchanged addresses. I told him to keep me in mind and to keep me informed as to his progress. Norm and I will never really say goodbye. I still think of him and the middle age exploration that we were both so keen on. We shook hands and I left. "Good Luck, my friend. May the wind always be at your back."

The fog cleared and I began the roller coaster ride, up and down and in and out of the coves. The truck traffic was more threatening this day. A couple I was passing said that a trucker, sitting in his empty truck by the roadside had yelled at them to "GET OFF THE ROAD." John and Shelly said the same had happened to them the day before. They had been called stupid and told to get off the road.

"Tolerance is recognizing the presence of others that have different ideals and needs than you. Compromise is acting on that knowledge." thumbnail thumbnail

I had changed. Back in Boulder I would never give up my piece of the road, but here I was learning to "dump it" into the dirt, gravel, and grass along the edge of the road.

Early in the day I was stopped by road construction. There was a long line of cars and as we were flagged ahead I decided to let the majority of them go by me before I started riding again. I knew that I would have a good stretch of trouble free road. I got about three or four miles down the road before any cars came by me again. Then, after passing highway 128 the commercial traffic thinned some.

While on a flat stretch of road with no other cars in site I noticed a small silver car coming from behind. About 15 seconds behind me the driver began to lean on his horn in one constant blast. As he went by I saw it was an old man with his family in the car. The horn blast continued for another 10 seconds after he passed me. There was no way I was in his way. He just hated my cycling guts. He got a double single finger salute from me followed by a wave, "come on back here you mo**er fu**er! Get out of your fu**ing car!" He didn't respond. Thankfully I didn't stay angry, either. I only stay angry when my outburst is unjustified and I feel foolish and defensive. This guy WAS a... well... you know the words.

I was doing great. The tailwind was present and the coastal waters were as beautiful as ever. I stopped in the little town of Elk for a mid morning snack and to call my friend in Petaluma so that he knew I was on my way.

I rode 52 miles before 1:00 and averaged 15.1 mph. I stopped in Gualala for lunch and then moved on. I knew I was going to be able to ride a full century, my first and only. I was going past Salt Point State Park, all the way to Bodega Dunes State Park. That would leave me with only 20 or 30 miles of riding on my final day. Get a motel? Heavens no. I wanted to enjoy my last night in the sanctity of my tent.

At one point, near Fort Ross, I was descending a hill before reaching a short uphill when I heard a big truck coming up behind me. I heard him jamming into lower gears and preparing for the grade. Racing along as quickly as I could I reached the uphill and "dumped it" into the side of the road, not stopping, just slowing a bit. The trucker gave a short gentle tap on his horn as he passed me and waved. A mile or so later I pulled up to a small store to get a snack.

"Thanks for pulling over like that." I didn't know anyone was talking to me until I saw the truck. "We really appreciate it when you do that for us."
"I'm glad you do and thanks for saying so." Bike touring was really agreeing with me. Part of my function each day was to live with whatever situation came my way. If only I could always be so tolerant and willing to go with the flow.

My last real climb was over a hill between Fort Ross and Jenner. What a magnificent view. About this time I began imagining the ideal supper for myself. Ride an extra mile and a half past the state park into Bodega Bay, find the right tavern, slam a good draft beer, order a big juicy cheeseburger and enjoy a couple more drafts before heading to camp.

I must have been in sync with the powers that be that day. About a half mile after the Bodega Dunes State Park turnoff was "Steve's Bay Bar and Grill." There was a waitress and a cook at the grill behind the bar where you order. First, they had Sierra Nevada Pale on tap. God, that was delicious. Then I ordered a big juicy cheeseburger and a cup of clam chowder. They had "Stan's," a new beer to try, and Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, a barley wine (not for everyone).

While I was there the waitress's roommate came in and he and I started to talk. When I told him where I was staying that night he told me that he worked at that camp ground. It wasn't obvious how one gets to the beach from the camp site, but he explained it to me. "Go back to the ranger shack, take a left and ride about a quarter mile to a parking lot where there's a path to the beach." I thanked him, shared more discussion with him and his roommate, and had another Pale Ale. He left and a short while later his roommate, the waitress, told me that he was profoundly deaf. I hadn't even begun to notice.

The waitress reminded me very much of a wonderful old friend of mine, a waitress and bartender herself, that had moved to Carmel a few years ago. As I was leaving I told her, "I don't mean to be shallow, but as I'll never get to know you any better I felt it ok to say that you remind me of someone that I know and like very much." It seemed like the world was shining on me today and I was basking in it's glow. "You're so sweet," she said. "Thanks for stopping in, and good night." "Whew!"

When I got to camp I was surprised to find Pierre. The french speaking couple from Montreal, that I had met briefly in Neskowin Oregon, were there too. They were nearly done eating and somewhat surprised that I had brought four bottles of beer to camp with me. Lightweights. Pierre said that he had ridden with Jim for a couple of days. As I suspected they had ridden through the Avenue of the Giants without stopping. I didn't say anything, but what a waste. The couple from Montreal had taken a bus in Eureka so they could stay on schedule. Me? I'd ridden a century, and I was pretty pleased with my progress in all things. As the sun set, I took a shower as they wandered off to find the beach. When they returned, unsuccessful in their quest, I was starting a fire.

The campsite at Bodega Dunes is soft sand and acts as a form fitting mattress once you lay down in your tent. I was careful not to get sand in all of my stuff on this, my last night out.

They retired quite early and I sat there quietly staring at the fire and basking in the afterglow of a precious and wonderful day. I stripped my bike down, attached my headlight and headed quietly off to the beach. There was a full moon rising. I found the beach easily. I was able to ride along a short boardwalk right to it. I had a beautiful walk and satisfied one of my idiosyncrasies. I found a rather large and intact kelp resting on the beach, stretched it out and measured it's "stem" at over 30 feet in length. The trees of the ocean. Mother nature was on my side. I returned to camp, drank my last beer, perched the last log on the fire so that it would burn itself out and went blissfully to sleep.

The End

The next day was simple. I was at my friend's house in less than two hours and didn't have to do any serious climbing to get there. Rather the opposite, a good deal of downhill and a moderate tailwind. Coming into Petaluma I was riding into dairy country and I could smell the sweet dairy air. As I rode past a field full of guernseys I thought, "Ahhh,.... dairy air."

I'd ridden 1015 miles in 16 days (the first and last days being half days each). That meant I averaged 63 miles a day. During the two days at my friend's house I felt strange not doing anything. I wish the trip had taken much longer, - like the rest of my life.

I got another bike box at "The Bicycle Factory" (a shop) in Petaluma. They actually took a new, unbuilt bike out of its box so they could give me one that was big enough. It broke my heart to break my trusty steed down for the journey home. It had served me well.

My flight home was uneventful. My daughter was an hour late getting to the airport. I got home in time to shower and then go see Bonnie Raitt at an outdoor concert (Red Rocks) under the still full moon.

I can't wait to tour again. It changed my life. I've never felt more alive. I left seeking a new way to see the world and I found me.

Ride bike!

Bicycle Travel Stories

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