Day 7 – Grants Pass, OR to Fort Bragg, CA
Total Kilometres: 521 (324 Miles)
High/Low Temp: 19 Celcius (80%+ humidity) and as high as 24 Celcius (Mendicino area)
Total Riding Time: 8:30am PST – 5:30pm PST
Got packed and began the day at just before 8:30. 19 degrees and muggy. i asked one of the young pump jockeys at the gas station, “is it always humid like this?”. response – “no sir, every day is different around here.” guess i should have known better than to ask this type of question to what apparently was an existentialist.
mistakenly took a secondary highway route as i couldn’t find any marked highways outside of fort bragg, not even the interstate. ended up on secondary highway 280, which was actually a nice ride winding through several small communities including my personal favorite, the town of “wonder”, preceded by “wilderville”. someone really had some fun coming through here and establishing towns.
the route that leads to highway 199 climbs up and over the coast range which feels almost rainforest like and damp, with farm land and dry areas in each of the lowlands. really odd to go from 19 celcius, to 24, then back down to 14 degrees all within about 20 miles. the misty salty air smells so good and feels really good for my congestion and sinusitis.
highway 199 leads across the border into california and the klamath national forest. very twisty and turny in sections, then opens up to a bit of freeway like conditions then quickly back down to very narrow lanes with no shoulder and the beginnings of the redwood highway.
i knew the redwood forest would be interesting, but had no idea of the scale. i knew they were big, but not how BIG, and i knew there were groves of redwoods but had no idea they stretch most of the way down highway 101.
about 10 miles outside of crescent city, california is the biggest bunch of redwoods. the simpson-reed discovery trail. you literally pull up to the pathway and walk amongst giants. i could have gone to the jedediah national forest with park entry fee and huge lineup (i want to call it the jebediah springfield national forest – the founder of springfield on the simpsons), instead i chose the free walk-in grove off the highway. it’s pretty overwhelming to stand literally among giants that have seen most of modern history.
Sequoiadendron giganteum – there’s no doubt about the ‘giganteum’ part of that name. some of the trees were so large that there was no way to actually get even bits of them within the frame of the viewfinder of the camera. you can here the wind in a dull howl above the tops of the tree hundreds of feet up and the trees are so large they don’t even sway. some of the trees are so old and large, there are actually other trees growing on the sides of them 50 feet up. the surrounding vegetation is so dense that only a few feet into the forest and you can no longer hear traffic on the highway.
crescent city is the first place to see the ocean on this journey. it’s quite scenic, and the ocean breeze feels so nice blowing across the highway.
stopped in eureka for lunch. travel all this way and the best i could do was the subway. i’m sure jared would be proud of me.
i missed the turn for highway 211, and lucky i did, instead i went off highway 101 and road through the ‘avenue of giants’. a remarkable drive of about 50 miles completely lined with the giant redwoods. they actually block out almost all of the light down to the road, with little blazing shards of light occasionally penetrating their dense cover. what a pleasant mistake. very little traffic, except one asshole, who decided that instead of using the interstate, he’d rather do 80 mph in a 35 zone on a scenic route.
back on highway 101 down to leggett which begins the transition from ultra boring highway 101 into the crazy rollercoaster ride of highway 1 and it’s scenery. highway 1 between leggett and rockport is a remarkable ride, 10 mph hair pin corners, and miles of sections of banking corners, blind corners and off camber corners. a riders paradise. the corners were very challenging, but lots of fun. i followed an SUV for a while through one of the downhill sections – all i could smell (and i was about 30 feet behind them) was burning brake pads. this guy was on the breaks all the way down the twisty-turnies for 20 miles. i’m guessing he’ll need to call george foreman and meineke for a brake job!
the road from rockport to fort bragg was equally spectacular, still remarkably turny and fun to ride but the scenery and oceanside was absolutely brilliant.
first impressions of fort bragg remind me of sylvan lake, alberta. drunks, louts and white trash. all i’ve seen are old people on tour busses, fat middle aged men in pickup trucks and wearing bermuda shorts and white shoes, monster trucks towing offroad vehicles, and homies driving pimped out cars driving up and down the highway. not a great first impression.
lastly, it’s funny how much of american culture, history and geography we as canadians digest. i’d say we are fairly literate in the geography of the US, know it has ‘states’ and roughly where they are, and a few major places names here and there. the girl checking me in at the hotel, didn’t know where calgary was (fine, easy mistake), didn’t know we had provinces (thought we were ‘states’) and had to ask the country where calgary, alberta is located – um, canada… ouch! the farther south i get this seems to be more common. unfortunately it confirms the stereotype of the insular american society, which i hoped travelling would dispell. but i’m all for second chances, so i’m continuing on to san francisco tomorrow and begin the journey east towards arizona.
i’m hoping to spend a few more days in the mountains in the east of california, but i’ll have to see what travelling time is like.