Day 4 – Point Arena to Crescent City

Day 4 – Point Arena to Crescent City

2019/05 - LAX to SEA
6 May 2019 in California, Some Infidelity

Today dawned a little earlier than expected. A night of weird dreams had me up a little earlier than my alarm required. Actually, I attempted complex time zone calculation at several times in the night, but I finally figured out when I was close, and chose to get up. A cup of coffee, a bath and trying to sort out my technology gremlins (yes, all at the same time) and I was mostly ready to start the day.

It was as heartbreaking a view to wake up to the next morning.

Today’s inn also did a continental breakfast, which I had intended to be a bagel and yoghurt. The breakfast room attendant apparently decided I also wanted a waffle, because that also showed up in front of me. Not wanting to appear rude—one doesn’t look a gift waffle in the mouth—it got consumed, also.

Today’s riding promised to be epic and enjoyable. I’ve done this stretch of highway before several times, and it never gets old. First we had about an hour to Fort Bragg, and our first fuel stop of the day. The road continued in the pattern of what we enjoyed last evening. Fast sweeping turns, and the odd hairpin just for amusement’s sake, meant that it was fun from the get go.

After filling up in Fort Bragg, we did an assessment of coffee options north of us. Spoiler alert: there weren’t any. I sort of knew that, but you can always hop that things have changed. I’ve had a complex relationship with Fort Bragg. Which is a nice way of saying it is one of the few places on earth I cannot stand being in, for no particularly rational reason. To me, it feels like a place with a dark past putting a nice veneer on itself for those passing through. Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer will understand when I mean, when I say that I’m pretty sure it’s built on a hellmouth.

Nonetheless, if I wanted coffee, it was going to be here. And we found an awesome cafe. With motorcycle parking just outside. And people were friendly. And waved to us. And a crazy dude with way to many rings engaged us in conversation as we packed up to leave, blessed us repeatedly, and wished us a good ride. A lads in an SUV made a point of waving. A pedestrian crossing the highway complimented us (well, me, really) on our bikes. So does Fort Bragg need a re-think? Or is this just ample illustration that it’s trying too hard?

Fort Bragg was kind enough to put precisely two motorcycle parking spots outside of our coffee shop.

Today’s second breakfasts. Bacon frittata.

We didn’t stick around long enough to find out. Ahead was one of the most spectacular roads that I know of in the world. It’s about 22 miles of sinewy, complex, technical roadway that wraps through the redwood forest where Highway 1 ends and US 101 takes over in Leggett. The entrance is unassuming. And then you come across a caution sign warning of curves for the next 22 miles. This is catnip for motorcyclists. Time to get to work.

I took me a couple of miles to settle down. A couple of miles earlier, Breton had decided he wanted to pull over and take a picture. He claims he tried to let me know. I allow for the fact that I might have been otherwise engaged. Nonetheless, after a particularly circuitous bit of hairpin through a precipitous drop in elevation, my rear view mirrors revealed…. no Breton. He’s usually pretty much on my tail, so that was unusual. Slowing down didn’t help matters. Pulling over and waiting didn’t change things either.

Fearing the worst, I did a u-turn and backtracked, doing a mental inventory of what I had for first aid and figuring out what I would need to tell 911 to get them out here. And then, as I raced back southwards through the last hairpin, there emerged Breton, gleefully giving me a wave as I sailed by. Right, then. U-turn number two, and off to catch up once again.

The redwoods were once again spectacular. My reconnecting with the road and the bike yesterday paid dividends as we wound from corner to corner, banking and leaning and scrabbling forward for the next turn. The road was gloriously empty; we ran into exactly one vehicle (an RV, of course) who dutifully pulled into the next pull-out so that we could pass. Apart from that, it was miles of glorious roadway, taken as fast as we dreamed and dared. Mostly that was in first or second gear, the engine digging in and driving around the turns. Every once in a while, you might get to third, but by then you were passing 40 miles/hour, and that simply wasn’t sustainable for any great length of time.

As is always the case, the road ended far sooner than we would have liked. This was, to my recollection, the last of the really technical riding we would do. From here, we’d follow US 101 all the way into Washington State. In fact, every hotel we would stay in from here out was directly on the highway. Directions were easy; just keep going as you are, until you are ready to stop for the night.

Using ALL the tire. Well, all but the last quarter inch.

We stopped for lunch in Gerberville, which was a welcome break. It was sunny and hot there, so we weren’t ready for the cold and mist as we continued north from there. By the time we got to Trinidad and our final coffee stop of the day, it was downright chilly. The road since lunch had been two lanes all the way, and while there were some fast sweepers through hills and canyons, overall the ride was pretty straightforward. We were ready for a break.

Lunch. An epic grilled tuna melt.

Hydration is important. Also, new flavor: lemon and mint.

We assumed that the last hour into Crescent City would be more of the same. We were deeply wrong in that. Shortly after we left, the road dropped from two lanes to one, and we found ourselves gliding from one epic curve to another. Most of these could be taken at full-on highway speeds, which made them no less exciting. What’s pretty wonderful once you get into the swing of tiding is that the road will tell you exactly how fast you can go. The essential rules are that you need to be able to stop in the space you can see to be clear; as that space gets longer, you can speed up, and as the space shrinks, you need to slow down. Master that, and you can ride as fast as is safe, even if you’ve never ridden the road before.

The road continued on like this for another hour. In fact, it only straightened out about two miles south of Crscent City and our stop for the evening. This was the hotel I was least sure about; I had booked a two bedroom suite, for the princely sum of $99. We were about to find out just what that actually bought us. The answer was: practical, functional and straightforward accommodation. It’s clean, someone in the last tow or three stays has smoked in the room, but apart from that it’s serviceable.

The beach at Crescent City.

And a helpful sign, in case you forget where you are.

Dinner was an excursion to the pier, to the North Coast Grill. It’s the highest rated restaurant in the area (spoiler alert: our hotel is also the highest rated property in the area). What we got was in essence a surf shack. A licensed surf shack, mind you. With really good food. We had a great meal, and enjoyed some spectacular people watching. Well, right up until the point that the place emptied out at 8:00pm. Some people dine. Others eat. Others simply consume. We were surrounded by many of those.

The North Beach Grill. A highly rated surf shack with great grub.

Dinner. All the dinner, all at once. Dig in.

Wine doesn’t normally fizz. Unless it comes out of a tap.

We left the restaurant well fed and sated, headed back to the hotel to enjoy a nightcap, and planned for a very early night. Tomorrow is another day, and an opportunity to do it all again.

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