I really wanted to just do one long post and tell the whole story of the trip to Portland, but It got very long and so I’m doing it by day. Hopefully I will post one a day for the next few days so you won’t have to wait long for the whole thing.
I had been planning this trip for months. Working on packing lists, my route, fuel stops and lots of other details so it was with great expectations that I got up early Thursday morning.
I left the house just as the sun was rising (about 6:30), which was awesome, because being stuck in traffic in San Francisco would be a terrible way to start any journey. Certainly not one I’ve been looking forward to for so long. I breezed through the city and just a half hour later I stopped for breakfast at Tam Junction.
With the City behind me I could relax and no longer had to rush. I knew that since it was a Thursday I wouldn’t be seeing much traffic for the rest of the day. This first day of the trip also ended up having the least amount of miles to ride (only 350ish) allowing me to just enjoy the freedom that a good motorcycle ride allows you to have.
The cold and fog that greeted me as I headed out to Highway One via the lovely Panoramic Highway was not what I wanted to see. Despite this I tried to put steady miles down since my plan was originally to not stop until Fort Bragg. The weather (and a smaller than ideal bladder) made this impossible. I ended up stopping several times to warm up and eventually switched to dry gloves after realizing that my thick winter gloves are not as waterproof as they once were.
The California coast heading north is lovely, and if you can manage to get out there on a weekday you can really enjoy the twisty curves of Highway One as you ride your way north. There is a section of the highway between Jenner and Fort Ross that is just amazing, lovely twisty road and (if not blanked in with fog) views of the ocean that just can take your breath away.
Even with all my unplanned stops I managed to get to Fort Bragg on schedule, so I had plenty of time for lunch. Sitting there relaxing I ended up chatting for a bit with a guy who noticed my bike parked outside, he regaled me with stories of what sounded like an adventurous youth spent on a Triumph. It’s fun how often just riding a motorcycle introduces you to people who would otherwise be strangers.(More…) It was good to have a break, but the day was only half done and I charged north once again.
I was soon at one of my favorite sections of Highway One. The part just as it leaves the coast and heads inland toward the little town of Leggett and Highway 101. It’s about fifteen miles of some of the most glorious twisty road that I’ve ever ridden. The temperature climbed and as it did my spirits did as well. I was finally comfortable instead of freezing as I had been all morning along the coast. Whenever I ride this part of Highway One I wish it could go on forever, glorious curves running throughlovely forested hills.
The fifteen miles of bliss were over too soon. Warm weather plus all of the quick riding and I was warm enough to actually need to peel of some of my layers, which is part of the “fun” when touring on a motorcycle (no heater or AC).
I rode up Highway 101 for a bit before cutting off onto the Avenue of the Giants. While this old section of 101 isn’t as amazing in curves compared to what I just rode earlier, the feeling you get riding through the Redwoods is amazing. It’s nearly impossible to not feel like you’re on a speeder bike, anyone who grew up as fan of the “Return of the Jedi” will love it. Returning to Highway 101, after all this glorious road, seemed a bit drab. I put my head down and made good time as I sprinted north to Patrick’s Point State Park where I would be camping for the night. The highway cut back out to the coast, I was annoyed that the fog was back and I felt the cold bite again, but soon enough I was at the campground checking in. It was relatively early, about five o’clock, and I had plenty of time to set up my tent before the sun went down. My timing wasn’t completely perfect however, and I wasn’t in time to get firewood at the campground, I had to get some in the nearby town. I asked the very helpful Park Ranger where to get food and she recommended a local burger place. I headed into town for wood, dinner, and a bottle of wine. All of which with exception of the wood (which ended up being too green to get started with my limited materials) ended up being fantastic.
Even with a failed campfire, the night was relaxing and a great end to a great day. As I went to sleep I found myself thinking I couldn’t imagine a better day on a motorcycle. Luckily the trip would prove me wrong.