Early Monday morning I was once again slightly surprised by the weather. I forgot how much elevation changes how cold it can get I woke up in the early morning hours a bit chilly. With nothing else to do I curled up in my sleeping bag and managed to get back to sleep. In the weeks before leaving I had been checking the weather with a frequency bordering on mania, but there is no weather station near that campground. I had thought that the nearest town would do, I was mistaken. Let’s just say that it got a bit colder than I expected that night. When I got out of my tent in the morning I was not too surprised to find my motorcycle covered with frost. I thought that packing a tent covered in dew was cold, it’s nothing compared to how cold my hands got as I packed a frost covered tent. My hands nearly froze as I fiddled with packing up my bike. I was not on the road quite as early as I would have liked since it took longer to get my self packed with the cold.
Despite the sun being fully up it was still very cold and soon after getting going my fingertips and toes were going numb making me glad for a chance to stop at the crossroads of 139 and 299. While I needed to stop to warm up, it also looked like I might have to go the wrong way for gas. I sat happily in the sun warming up as I considered my delema. I was looking at a sign reading 20 miles to the nearest town, but in the wrong direction, and in the right direction there would be another town in 88 miles. Eighty-eight miles was about 15 miles beyond what I thought I had left for range on my bike. I might be able to do it, but it would be pushing close to the farthest I’ve ever ridden on a tank of gas. I did not have cell service and consequently no detailed map of the area. I just had to decide whether it was worth going 40 minutes out of my way to be safe with gas. There could be a smaller town not listed on the sign, or that I’d been getting good gas mileage and I could make the next 88 miles. I decided that fortune favors the brave and continued on my way hoping that I wouldn’t run out of gas before I had a chance to refuel.
I’ll save you much suspense, there was a gas station about 30 miles down the road. With much relief I filled my bike.
I enjoyed my ride on Highway 299, it has some good sections and even the boring straight parts were often pretty. There is a part of 299 a little while before it gets to Redding, California where the road winds through a Canyon and there were all these lovely bright purple flowering shrubs. The combination of these flowers in contrast with the grey and brown of the rocky canyon walls and the green of the trees was really beautiful. I wish there was room on the shoulder to stop safely, so I could have taken a picture. The scenery was amazing in the early morning light.
I stopped for a late breakfast/early lunch in Redding. I tried not to stop for too long since there were many miles left to go and was soon back on the road. First for a quick jaunt down 5 for a few miles before leaving it for Highway 36.
Highway 36… there are not enough superlatives to describe how amazing I found this road. The entire time riding it felt a bit surreal and dream like. I had to stop a couple of times just to take it all in. I’m not sure if 36 really is as good as I think it is, I might think this only because of lack of great roads the day before. What I do know is this, the early afternoon that I spent riding the 120 miles that it takes to get from 5 to 101 was some of the greatest time I’ve spent on a motorcycle. Highway 36 has a little of everything in curves and twists, along with breathtaking scenery highlighting all that Northern California has to offer. It was the highlight of my trip. I reached 101 feeling very alive and ready to tackle the last few hundred miles down to home. (More…)
Highway 101 south of the Redwoods is not an especially beautiful highway, but it sure beats many of the others that I rode over the course of my trip. I was glad to have it to finish the trip with. I didn’t stop for anything except gas in the last 250, or so miles down toward San Francisco and home. I simply focused on making the best time I could without drawing any unwanted attention to myself.
The feeling I had getting home was fantastic, I was tired, but feeling extremely satisfied with the trip. Just over 2000 miles and I arrived home just in time for a late dinner with my lovely wife. My only regret, was that I didn’t get to keep going the next day… well after a good nights sleep in my own bed.
I was almost home yesterday evening, but I had to stop and get this picture.