Bandon South Jetty County Park, CA, Cabrillo Highway, Cape Blanco OR, Coastal Redwood, Ferndale CA, Fort Bragg, Honeydew CA, Horsfall Beach, Howland Hill Road, Hughes House OR, Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park, Leggett CA, McCullough Memorial Bridge, Mill Creek Campground, North Bend OR, Oregon Pacific Company, Pacific Coast Highway, Petrolia CA, Sequoia sempervirens, Smith River, Surf and Sand Lodge Fort Bragg
Canada 2015. Days 22 & 23 (Aug 20 & 21, 2015). The coasts of Southern Oregon and Northern California share important features. The coastline is a mixed of sea cliffs and long beaches. In Oregon, the beaches are frequently inhabited by sea stacks—steep columns of rock that look like giant sentinels guarding the coast. A different kind of giant inhabits the humid woods near the coast, the amazing redwood Sequoia sempervirens. In our ride down the Oregon and California shoreline we met both giants up close. We left the Eel Creek Campground after breakfast (we had kettle corn again but with white sugar this time) and rode south on US-101. We visited the area of Horsfall Beach on the dunes sandwiched between Coos Bay and the Pacific and then crossed the beautiful McCullough Memorial Bridge onto North Bend, OR. In North Bend we stop at a hardware store—the Oregon Pacific Company—that we had discovered a few years back in our trip with Lucas and Lucía. We browsed the tools and gadgets for a while and then continued south. We took a break at the cute little town of Bandon, OR, and visited the log-infested beach at Bandon South Jetty County Park. We were surprised to see people fishing on boats at the mouth of the Coquille River. It was cold and you could barely see the end of the jetties because of the fog. South of Bandon we took a detour to the Cape Blanco lighthouse and the beautiful Hughes House (built in 1898). The Hughes were immigrants from Ireland who settled very close to Cape Blanco circa 1860. They purchased a thousand acres of land and established a cattle farm. The State of Oregon purchased the house from the Hughes descendants in 1971. It was very windy at Cape Blanco and the clouds were following us south so we did not spend much time there. We stop briefly at Port Orford (the westernmost city in the contiguous United States) and took a picture of the interesting Battle Rock. We stop several times to enjoy the scenery (i.e. rest our hurting butts) until we finally crossed the Oregon-California border. After getting gas in Smith River, CA, we took CA-197 towards the Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park. We were planning to take Howland Hill Road, a narrow road that crosses the heart of the park among amazing redwood groves. Unfortunately the road was closed because there was a fire nearby (not sure where) so we took US-199 instead and rode among the giants. The feeling of riding a motorcycle around these towers that are 80 to 100 meters tall is just incredible. Photographing the giants with insufficient light was not easy but we tried. We spent an hour walking in some of the groves that are accessible from US-199 and then rode to the beautiful Mill Creek Campground where we had reserved a site to spend the night. There are plenty of relatively young redwoods in the campground and also many dead stumps of huge trees that were logged in the 1920’s. There are also beautiful red alders and maples among the redwoods. After setting up the tent, we walked through the campground and made dinner.
On day 23 we rode south to Fort Bragg, CA. There was fog along the shore, which added a bit of mystery to the ride. US-101 crosses patches of redwoods here and there. With fog the giant trees looked even more fantastic! In Eureka, CA, we stop at an office of the AAA (automobile club) to get some maps of California. South of Eureka we left the freeway to visit the cute town of Ferndale, CA, which has many well-preserved Victorian houses. From there we took a curvy, narrow, and bumpy road to Petrolia, CA. The road rolls up and down hills through an alpine forest. Near Capetown (an old stagecoach stop) the road goes though an open area of grasslands—with expansive views of the mountains around—and then runs along the coastline. The shore felt very remote, far far way from everything. Not very many people seem to leave the freeway and venture in this direction. Except for three people kite surfing and a couple taking pictures, most of the traffic seemed to be local. The feeling of isolation was awesome. From Petrolia we continued onto Honeydew, CA, where we stop for Gatorade and ice cream. There was a lot of smoke in the air from fires nearby. We continued onto Briceland on another curvy, slow mountain road with patches of gravel. From there we took the Briceland-Thorn Rd. towards the freeway. I was riding first warning Adrián about problems (e.g. rough patches) on the road. At a given point on a curve Adrián tried to avoid a bump, lost control of the bike, and ended up in the ditch. All I heard was something like “Shit. I fell. I am OK. I am OK”. A woman on a pickup truck who saw the fall stop immediately. She was walking towards Adrian as I was coming back on my bike. She told us that a similar thing happened to her recently on her dirt bike back home in North Carolina. With the help of a guy who stop, we picked up the KLR and Adrián rode it out of the sandy ditch. The bike had minor scratches and Adrián was fine. We talked for a while about what happened and then got the bike into the ditch again to take a picture. I was so relieved to see that Adrián was OK. We continued riding and joined US-101 at Garberville, CA. The freeway becomes a two-way road at several points when it goes through redwood groves. Near Leggett, we took CA-1 (aka the Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH, or the Cabrillo Highway), which would take us down all the way to Los Angeles. PCH is an amazing road. From the interception with US-101 near Leggett, PCH goes down to the Pacific curving back and forth like a never-ending snake through gorgeous redwood forests. We had to stop to get warmer clothing because it got very cold as we were coming down towards the ocean. By the time we reached the Pacific the sun was still high above the horizon behind a pink veil of fog and smoke. At Fort Bragg we got a room at the Surf and Sand Lodge, which was expensive and with a non-functional internet connection. They claim to have a very good system but it does not work. But at least the room had a Jacuzzi so Adrián took a long laundry/bath. For dinner we went to Point Noyo Restaurant and Bar. I forgot what we ate but it was good.