Boondocking the Nation: 17 Days, 8300mi, 1 Motel
Russian River > Daniel Smith National Forest
At 6:15, I quietly packed my belongings; a wet sleeping bag and poncho fresh with dew, and set forth into the cool damp morning air. I rode down Rt161 back to CA1 and the sea fog greeted me with a hazy present. Temps fell once out of the Russian River Valley hovering in the mid 40’s all morning. I rode 15 miles then stopped and put on my heated vest and gloves in addition to placing my camera on the USB charger off my 12V socket. Forced to trust my GPS for upcoming turns, I downshifted early for the slow radius curves like a rookie pilot learning IFR flying. I was hungry but had run out of propane fuel in my drainage tube shelter so Oatmeal or Coffee was temporarily out of question.
I was alerted of upcoming seaside towns when “SPEED ZONE” signs materialized out of the dense fog. Fast asleep under warm beds behind drawn shutters, they seemed deserted this early waiting for the fog to clear and Sunday church services to begin. The many inns and expensive campgrounds were full with cars. Energetic surfers donned wet suits at fog obscured scenic vistas beside CA1, their eyes scanning the dark sea counting the lapping waves.
The fog developed a cover of small droplets on my windscreen through which I gazed. When looking away from the screen, the drops were still in my vision and languished much like the feeling of looking at a bright light then looking away. It was time for a rest stop break and a cup of coffee. I roll into a small town and park beside two Harleys out front of Moody’s Organic Coffee Shop. I pay for a medium cup and settle in to the internet café seating space to write the remainder of last evening’s journal.
Casually eavesdropping on local patrons discourse of housework and building permits, I scribble on my pad, check my email and sip my hot coffee. A young couple seated in the outdoor patio are busy surveying my bike and stickers so I wrap up my journal entry and exit the warmth of the café. Silas rides a 2-stroke 250cc dirt bike and has always dreamed of buying an adventure touring bike to ride to Alaska. We discuss the merits of my VStrom vs others and he gives me advice on tracking down a propane canister for my stove. I roll up to Fort Bragg and begrudgingly spend $7.50 for a $4 propane bottle at an Outdoor Store then continue north into the fog.
This location was featured in a popular "Amazing Roads" email. I had to stop and take my own photos :eek1
I snap a few flower photos along the way and before I know it, the fog lightens and the sun is soon shining through in brilliant morning warmth.
Turning away from the coast, temperatures rise 20 degrees as I climb the twisty carless road into the dark Redwood forest.
The technical twists and turns of this section of CA1 are as good as the Tail of the Dragon and I scrape a peg a few times. Within the 15mi till its ends at Hwy 101, I pass two sport bikes tearing up the twisties.
I follow signs for the “drive thru tree” and pay my $3 to drive in and park at the Chandler Tree.
This is the gravel road into the small park.
Now that is an old tree!
While here, I remove my thermal under layers, heated vest and lube my chain.
Taking a rest in a comfy chair:nod
A mile down the road, I stop at The Peg House store/music venue for a sticker. Airing out my sleeping bag in the 80F temps and direct sun, I ask the clerk about route information heading north and he gives me a free map of the Avenue of the Giants, a scenic secondary road through the Redwood Groves.
Never seen one...have you?
The Living Chimney Tree which you can go inside.
The impressive virgin growth Redwoods leave me in awe. I struggle to comprehend their extraordinary scale and age as the road twists among them, reflective markers identifying commonly hit trees on the Ave.
Some sense of scale...wow!
I grab a cup of coffee at the visitor center and savor it over a walk through the quiet canopy shaded grove across the street. The struggling beams of sunlight dance over iridescent green ferns dotting the needle strewn floor.
The hiking trail goes THROUGH this tree :nod
I continue along the Ave for another 15 miles then reluctantly rejoin Hwy 101 for Eureka.
Temperature falls to the lower 60’s as I approach the coast and the Humboldt Bay greets me with a light wind and the dense scent of the salty sea.
I pass through Eureka looking for a North Coast Brewery but fail to find it in passing. Oh well…having eaten little today, I don’t have the stomach for a beer.
Riding takes little energy and I typically snack on fruit and nuts rather than meals weighing my gut and lightening my wallet. Rolling into Arcata, I pass a Honda Superhawk rider pulled over by the CHP, his buddies waiting on the overpass above. I quickly check my speed, 50 in a 55, I’m safe.
The remainder of the ride up 101 is a freeway or fast two lane.
I pass over the Salmon and Kalamath Rivers then take a rest top at Misty Woods when I spy Babe the Blue Ox and a talking Paul Bunyan.
As I remove my helmet, I hear him speaking to the awe-struck children at his feet. “Alright kids, at 4:30 everyday I have to meditate to cleanse my thoughts and body. I will see you all in the morning.” Click. Something tells me that this NorCal hippy voice of the modern Paul Bunyan strikes a fraudulent diversion from his axe wielding, virgin growth slicing persona.
Insert "Blue Balls" joke :brow
I snap a photo then continue north to Elk Valley and say goodbye to the Pacific with a sad wave.
I will see it again, for this I am certain. Passing through Redwood State and National Park, it shifts into the Six Rivers National Forest.
I decide to skip the $10 SparkPlug Motorcycle Campground in favor of a naked bath in the cold East Fork of the Smith River.
A dinner of Rice with Picante sauce, coffee, snickers and a pipe of Cavendish help me to relax in the final light of the day. I write this day’s journal then retire to my hammock only slightly awoken by passing trucks on the nearby road.