Start – Sutherlin, OR – 11:00am
End – Fort Bragg, CA – 9:05pm
(Ed. Note: This is, by far, the longest entry. Settle in, grab a drink. It’s a good one. Promise.)
Another late start and long day, due mostly to a change in plans from last night. The morning was spent loading Lillypad’s bike onto a U-Haul and getting her and Stitches, who rode in the truck with her today, squared away. Then the three guys were off.
A short start to an otherwise high-mileage day took us, surprisingly enough, to a casino. We blew around an hour and a half and at least $60 bucks there (I came out ahead, no one else did) (Ed. Note: I never come out ahead when gambling. This was a treat. So now, lifetime, I’m only, like, $1,000 in the hole. But most of it’s money Papa Rocket has lent to me when our rides end at a casino.). Seven Feathers ain’t no Vegas, that’s for sure. Glad Papa Rocket foots the gambling bill.
After that we headed coastward for a while, rolling through some nice high-speed sweepers on our way out of Oregon. I noticed that the three northwestern-most states don’t have the jarring differences that the other states on this trip have had. Lots of tall, green, trees. More on that later. We reached Kalifornia with little drama or difficulty.
Kalifornia did announce itself to us in one major way. As soon as we crossed the state line it said, “Welcome back! You will now have the worst maintained roads of the entire trip!” Uneven grades, potholes, and tar snakes litter the roadway and hide road demons, which pull on your tires. DOT, can you hear me? Are you out there?
Upon entering the Golden State we rode along the aptly named Redwood Highway. It is a narrow two-laner carving a path through dense trees. It also followed the aforementioned Rapids Rule, so it was a pretty sweet ride. More smooth, easy sweepers. Too many cagers though. Too Good was seeing red and muttering death threats at every stop. Damn trailers, using our road. We hates them. Seriouslys. (Ed. Note: And really, who doesn’t hate being stuck behind a trailer? But it’s worse for us, I think. We can smell all those cows they are hauling. Chickens. Fruit. Whatever. And they are even slower than normal cars! Bah!)
The highway led out to the California coast. There is nothing like the North Coast. It’s an intense and rocky stretch, not at all warm and friendly like its southern counterpart. But it makes for nice riding. (Ed. Note: Coastal riding is good. Always.)
For 30 miles or so we had been seeing signs for the Trees of Mystery and my curiosity was piqued, to say the least. (Ed. Note: You have to understand, in my helmet I was booming in a deep and menacing voice, “THE TREES OF MYSTERY!!!!” I wasn’t the only one either. Every gas stop from here on out had Too Good and I shouting it at each other. TREES OF MYSTERY! Now you say it, but like it was a bad horror movie preview. “Coming this fall…THE TREES OF MYSTERY!” Fun, yeah?) I had to know: what was so mysterious about these trees? Why do they require large, colorful billboards polluting the pristine forest? I must find out these answers. So we stopped at the Trees of Mystery parking lot. There we talked to a giant Paul Bunyan and giggled at the anatomical accuracy of his blue ox, Babe. (Ed. Note: Really, we talked to a hugemongus statue. We pulled up and I heard something so I said something along the lines of, “Did Paul Bunyan just talk to those people?” and he started my out of my chaps by replying, “Of course I talked to those people! Nice motorcycles.” Ahhhhh. It even waved at small children!) That was enough weirdness for me and we journeyed on. Guess that’s why it’s a mystery, no one can get over the talking Paul Bunyan to notice the trees.
(Ed. Note: This next part, and a part at the end of this entry, I’ve been looking forward to telling since I started typing this out.) Just past the next gas stop we decided to check out a reportedly near-by drive-through tree. Cool! I’ve never driven through a tree before! Not a ½ mile down the road something shiny bounced past Too Good’s bike, barely missing it, and then skipped past me, *bing!*. What the…? I quickly pulled over to investigate. It was (Ed. Note: wait for it…) a floorboard. Specifically, the right passenger floorboard from Papa Rocket’s spaceship. Again, the only American-made bike in the group breaks. And where is Javier? No where. Too Good and I laughed until we got tears. And then we laughed some more. (Ed. Note: You have to understand, he’d been bragging about this bike for nearly a year before he bought it. It got checked out everywhere we stopped. And it is a great bike, so solid and well-made, it really is. But you’ve gotta close your eyes and imagine riding down the road and seeing something shiny bounce past you with a metallic *ping* and realizing it’s from the most expensive bike in the group.”Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to fix that.” That was his excuse. You know when you laugh so hard that at the end you make a, “hoooooo” noise? Yeah.) It was an easy fix but good for about 50 miles of chuckles. We flew in formation behind Papa Rocket after that, hands lowered as if ready to catch the next piece of falling motorcycle. Papa Rocket was not amused. Hehe. (Ed. Note: It was one of those things that are so funny, you stop laughing about it for a few minutes then it leaps back into the front of your mind and you crack up all over again.)
We stopped for gas and snacks in Eureka. Shock, we had the munchies in Humbolt county! Yeah, us and every resident. Hey Too Good, you smell that? (Ed. Note: And we saw a chick smocking while she filled her car with gas. I…I…I…*sigh*)
We have been through some amazing stuff on this trip and seen both natural and man-made objects that have blown our minds. I really thought my awe-meter was blown out (Ed. Note: And my thesaurus). Washington, Oregon, and northern California are home to incredible forests that are breathtaking in their size and scope but after so many days of being right in the middle of it they begin looking like just so many trees. Big whoop. I was done being stunned.
Then we crested a rise and dove down among the giant redwoods of California and my jaw dropped to my gas tank. These massive and ancient trees are so large at the base four grown men would not be able to reach around them. They tower above us, taller than any building in most every town we’ve stopped in or ridden through. The Avenue of Giants renewed my sense of awe at nature. After seeing the Grand Canyon, the rock formations at Zion, and the cascading waterfalls and rushing rapids of the Salmon River, these behemoths still made me gawk like a four-year old. And I’ve been here twice before, but in a car. Never appreciated them, their sheer size and majesty. On a motorcycle, though, you do not passively observe the environment from behind glass, as if it were a display in a museum. You are a part of it, in it, among it freely. (Ed. Note: I still wish we had gotten off the highway and ridding the actual Avenue of the Giants, but we were getting on dark soon, and there was one more adventure left for us today, and it would be better done in the light. Next time.)
We rolled over dozens of bridges today too. Most of them extending over what used to be, I assume, flowing rivers. Now those rivers are mere streams and trickles. I hope this is the result of the season and not something else. It would have been cool to ride over them while water flowed bank to bank.
We finished today with the greatest 40 mile run that any of us had ever ridden. Ever. We turned off the freeway to Fort Bragg, CA, and passed a sign that said, “Narrow Winding Road Next 40 Miles.” Oh hell yes. What followed can only be described as orgasmic in its intensity. It was the most rigorous twisties I’ve ever ridden. It made me use all my skill as a rider, challenged me, and I totally got in its face. I’ve never had a rush like that. None of us has every ridden as well as we did today. We sparked the crap out of our floorboards. We bent the bikes over and came in hot and scrubbed off just enough speed to spark through again. The bikes were twisting through these corners, hot and tight, surrounded by trees, not a car on the road. It grew dark as we tore it up. (Ed. Note: At this point I’ve honestly reached a huge moment of If You’ve Never Done It, Nothing Will Explain It. There are no words for this road. The American Motorcyclist Association named it one of the Top Five roads in the country. If you don’t ride, if you’ve never been in the twisties, fear cowering in the back of your mind, confidence and aggression surging through your body, at one with the machine, you will never understand this road, no matter what I say. It was amazing. Period.) There was a stop light in the middle, just when I was starting to believe that sign really meant 40 miles of narrow winding roads, and Papa Rocket stopped, screaming, “I love this road! I love this bike! I love this road and this bike!” We were shaking, pumped full of adrenaline and jacked on power.
When we finished we had to find a turn-out and when we did we bounded from our saddles, shouting and embracing and jumping. We were shaking, high as we had ever been, one with our machines, like conquering heroes. We walked to the edge of the cliffs and looked down at the ocean crashing upon the rocks and bubbled about what we had done. It was the Perfect Ride. No cages, no problems. Zen. The feeling cannot be adequately expressed. Greatest twisties of our lives. (Ed. Note: So far. There are still four other roads on that list.)
Best stretch of road on the entire 4,000 mile trip. Incredible.
I get to see my friends tomorrow at Too Good’s. Yay! And Stitches is going to a doctor , she’s not feeling any better. Another long day. We’re almost done. I don’t wanna be done.
399 miles today
3,509 miles total