Seattle to San Francisco
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
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.
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.
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,
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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?"
"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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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."
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
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
"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."
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 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,....
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.
Bicycle Travel Stories
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