Seattle to San Francisco
Copyright (C) 1991 by C. Anderson - All Rights Reserved
DAY 9 (Thursday July 18)
Sunset Bay State Park to Humbug Mountain
64 miles - 13.6 mph rolling
I heard George and Mary pack up and leave very early. I slept some more.
When I awoke I was being serenaded by Ravens screeching, "this is my
tree. This is my tree. This is my tree." By the time I was up, packed and
ready to ride it was about 10:00. It always seemed to take me about an
hour and a half to get rolling. It's mandatory to sit around camp for a
while before you can really get moving. If you like to drink coffee you
could speed this up. I enjoyed it when there was a newspaper box in the
campground with the morning's paper in it. Then I could catch up on THE
race as I was waking up.
I left at the same time as the San Francisco messenger gang and stopped
at a store in Charleston with them. A couple of them had their first beer
with their morning roll (a jelly, eh?). I had a chocolate donut and left
ahead of them into a new and beautiful day along a very quiet and pretty
side route that lasted ten to fifteen miles. It's on the Oregon Coast
Bike Route Map — Seven Devil's road and West Beaver Hill Rd. I noticed
that one could stay on Seven Devil's road where it turns to gravel, and
return to highway 101 even further south than what is marked on the Oregon Coast Bike Route map. Next time I'll take that route.
This day was revolutionary. I started to become very comfortable with
myself and the ride. Sure, it was the beautiful day and all, but I began
to really get in the groove, so to speak. As I had read in other accounts
of touring, there are good days and there are bad days. If you're in the
middle of a bad day just remember to be patient and a good day will show
up shortly. This was an exquisite day. It was the first day that I took
time for mother nature. I started to really relax and I didn't care where
I ended up at day's end. The day was mine to explore and enjoy - to
become immersed in.
I picked flowers and put them in my handlebar bag.
A rather nice
arrangement, too. I began to ride no handed so I could take pictures of
my odometer and flowers, I hit 500 miles in the morning. I took more
pictures per mile on Seven Devils/West Beaver Hill Roads than anywhere
This new feeling of freedom and independence was for real. It
stayed with me for the rest of the trip and became even stronger. After
nine days I finally began to let the trip take me.
After a beautiful morning, the tailwinds began to pick up again as I
headed into the quaint little coastal town of Bandon. The place seemed a
bit touristy, but there weren't enough people there to make it
uncomfortable. I stopped and had fish'n'chips at a little shack on the
waterfront. Then I went a block into town and bought a new t-shirt
(finally, I had packed one less than I needed and had been putting off
selecting one) and salt water taffy. There was a surprise waiting for me
at the Bavarian Bakery.
Having not seen them for two days, I again ran into Vivian and Jeremy.
They had seen Norm and said that everyone was planning on staying at
Humbug Mt. A small reunion of sorts. The messenger boys were there too.
They had their own style, but they were good people to have along. One of
them had his front derailleur snap off. I believe the chain broke or
something. I reminded him how real [TM] cyclist don't need a front
derailleur. They just move the chain over with their toes. He said he'd
already done that. It was another day or two before he was able to find a
bike shop that could help him out.
We all pigged out in Bandon, which, if it isn't quite obvious, I highly
recommend you do, too. We rode away separately. That afternoon the
prevailing tailwind provided a glorious ride. Every one I talked to
really enjoyed it.
I decided to wash my clothes (I had a new t-shirt to shrink, too) in Port
Orford, just a few miles before Humbug Mountain. As I was riding into
town a local resident riding his bicycle in the opposite direction
shouted, "Welcome to Port Orford!" He was riding into a nasty headwind
that was kicking up dust and stinging bare legs. I had to turn back into
it because I had passed the only laundromat in town. It's right at the
very north end of town on the left. It's called "Duds'n'Suds," but I
don't think that the owner knew the real connotation of that name.
It took about an hour to wash and dry my clothes. Then I went to the
Sentry Market to get dinner and breakfast for Humbug Mountain. I got a
large turkey sandwich, a bag of chips, my usual libations, and breakfast.
Five miles later I was in the hiker/biker camp with Vivian and Jeremy,
Norm, Pierre, and the "messenger boys." Just and Married took a tent site
at Humbug Mountain (Bah!).
The hiker/biker site at Humbug Mt. is just a big clearing at the entrance
to the campground, but there is a lot of space and several individual
sites with their own table and firepit. All in all, it is a very fine
Norm, Pierre, Vivian, Jeremy, and I sat around a picnic bench and shared
a bag of chips. I showed Pierre which beers he ought to try if he was only going to have
one or two. The most common good ales were Blue Heron and Red Tail. After a wonderful shower (very fine showers at Humbug), and a cold dinner, Vivian, Jeremy, and I road the quarter mile to the beach and watched the ancient bald one set into the big blue. The end of a very beautiful and precious day.
Just as it got dark a new fellow pulled in to camp. Jim had ridden 112
miles that day. He was exhausted. He set up his cocoon style tent by
tieing one end to his overturned bicycle and the other to a rock, and
went to sleep. A rather spartan fellow was Jim. He looked to be about 50
years old and all he carried was a small tent, a sleeping bag and a
travel/duffle bag with his clothing - no panniers. He lived in Vancouver
and was originally from New Zealand. He had done some previous bicycle
touring, including the island of Samoa.
Back at the campsite I sat up with the "boys," their fire, some brews and
listened to "rad" stories from the San Francisco messenger squad. They
sound like a wild bunch. A new breed of cowboy. They don't exactly spread
good will through riding etiquette. They ignore one way street signs and
red lights. They've actually gathered a large group of cyclists into the
heart of the city right at evening rush hour just to clog up traffic and
shout the merits of cycling to the angered motorists. They led the
protest after the Iraqi slaughter began, as well.
The only verbatim story I will relate is one germane to anyone that has
toured for some distance. It seems that one of them met a middle aged
texan that was standing next to his pickup truck with his girlfriend. The
texan had spotted the packs on this guy's bike and, as so often happens,
decided to ask him all about his trip. As the conversation came to a
close the texan said, with his customary drawl. "Ah tried riding a
bicycle once. Ah'd ride more, but mah dick fawls asleep."
DAY 10 (Friday July 19)
Humbug Mountain State Park to Harris Beach
51 miles - 13.8 mph rolling
When I got up most everyone was in the process of packing or had already
left. When I let the messengers know that I had a couple of cold beers
for them still sitting on ice they said, "Thanks. You're really stylin'."
I was the last to leave the campsite. There was a newspaper box there
with the morning paper in it, so after packing I had a leisurely
breakfast while reading the news of the day and the results of THE race.
Things were not boding well for Mr. LeMond and there was a new mass
murderer in the news. A cannibal. By the time I left there was no one
there, but me and the blue and grey Robber Jays (like Stellar Jays, if
you're from the mountains). I saw one lying on the ground looking as
though it were dead and I approached to see what had happened. When I got
within a few feet it was startled back to life and flew away. Strange
behavior for a bird.
After leaving Humbug Mountain I was delayed for a few minutes by a
flagman stopping traffic because a semi had lost its rear wheels and come
to rest in an awkward position across the highway. After passing the
Prehistoric Gardens, with its 1950's style Americana,
I breezed into Gold
Beach doing an average of 15.5 mph. The tailwind had picked up early. I
decided that I was going to see the beach that day come hell or
highwater. In Gold Beach I got lunch fixin's so I could head down the
road a way and have lunch on the beach.
When I got to the store in Gold Beach I ran into Vivian and Jeremy doing
the same as I. Their combined budget was $10 a day and they were having
their usual bologna and cream cheese sandwiches for lunch. I asked them
to join me at the beach and we left town together. Just outside of town
there was a turnout with beach access. We pulled in and walked down to
the beach. Unfortunately, the beach picnic had to be aborted because of
the wind. The sand was being blown hard enough to sting and get into
everything (food and scalp). As we were finishing lunch up by the road I
told Vivian and Jeremy that the next time I had a good idea they should
I hit my highest speed on the next stretch of road. There's a good size
hill going over Cape Sebastian and on the way down I hit 50 mph. I could
tell that I was going very fast because of the accompanying adrenaline
rush. There were nasty sidewind gusts as the road turned inland and I had
to feather the brakes a bit. When I got to the bottom I had to stop. I
While attempting to take an automatic picture of myself an Allied Van
Lines rig pulled into the same turnoff and the driver, with his family,
asked if he could help. I said yes and he asked if I'd return the favor.
He had his wife and two daughters with him and when I told him how fast
I'd been going down the previous hill he was genuinely excited and called
to his wife. They were coming back from northern Washington and were
taking the scenic route home. I returned to the highway first and a short
while later, looking in my mirror, I saw him coming. My wave and his honk
I played leapfrog with Vivian and Jeremy as there were great scenic
turnouts that I couldn't help turning into. I arrived at Harris Beach at
5:00. Harris Beach is nearly as good as Cape Lookout in that it has a
number of separate campsites. Vivian and Jeremy showed up and we shared a
campsite, firepit and table. I offered to go into town (it's only a mile
further) and I picked up the evenings supplies for both of us at the
Sentry Market. When I returned I was treated to hot noodles and cheese
for dinner. Well worth the effort, I'd say. Vivian announced that if I
bought firewood she would stay up a bit later than usual.
I showered, bought firewood, and strolled the beach just before and
during sunset. When I returned I started the fire and invited our
neighbor over for a beer and some chit-chat. Earlier in the evening I had
heard his dinner cooking and could tell something fine was happening.
Indeed, he was preparing a very fine pasta dish with sauteed vegetables
and the perfect spices. He was a gourmet cook that happened to enjoy the
round and round as well. He said he had plans to write a book about camp
cooking. We should all pray that he does.
He carried a hand made, miniature guitar with him and I summoned up the
wherewithal to play a few dittys. All In all it was a very nice evening.
Vivian retired and my new friend and I stayed up a while enjoying mother
nature and the sound of the sea. The next day I would be leaving Oregon.
I had been told that the ride might not be as nice in Caifornia. Some of
that was true, but the Redwoods were to provide the most majestic and
compelling scenery of the entire trip.
DAY 11 (Saturday July 20)
Harris Beach OR to Prairie Creek State Park, CA
64.6 miles - 12 mph rolling
I had my usual breakfast and then took off for the Caifornia border. It
was time to say goodbye to Oregon. I had a red apple with me and it
turned out to be the one fruit item quarantined by Caifornia due to the
apple maggot (eeeyuucchh!) So, I ate my apple at the fruit check station
and headed on.
Most people had a copy of the book "Bicycling the Pacific Coast," by Tom
Kirkendall and Vicky Spring, that describes the ride along the entire
Pacific Coast. I don't agree with the exact schedule of their route, but
the book contains excellent detail on alternate routes, the location of
the last grocery store before camp, and such. Oregon supplied an
excellent map, but now, in Caifornia, their book became more necessary.
They describe an alternate route just inside Caifornia. It's a beautiful
stretch of road. Be prepared for the extra climbing that it does. Highway
101 is relatively flat in this area and visible at times from the rolling
alternate. Still, it is a route definitely worth taking. Smith River has
to be one of the quaintest places I've seen. The Easter lily capitol of
the US. As I was leaving Smith River I noticed a large stand of trees on
a fog shrouded hill about a mile away. I didn't realize at the time why
they stood out so magnificently.
After the peaceful ride through the country you end up back on highway
101 and on your way into Crescent City. There is a National Park
information office there that is quite useful. You may have to decide for
yourself, but I got an uneasy feeling in Crescent City, like I wasn't
welcome on my bicycle. It was probably all in my head. See what you
think. After a brief grocery stop at Safeway and lunch at the city park I
headed into one of the major climbs of the ride, the Crescent Hills.
This was the third time that I ended up in my small chain ring. The first
two being at Cape Lookout and Neskowin. It's a long arduous climb with
little to no shoulder, but the backdrop of redwood forest is so awe
inspiring that there's little pain. You feel thankful that you are riding
so slow. Riding through a Redwood forest is a powerful experience.
At the top of the Crescent Hills I put on all of the layers that I had
brought with me. It was a foggy misty day (what do you expect when
entering the sunshine state). Although I wore only a t-shirt on the way
up I had to add my long sleeve shirt, sweatshirt, and rain slicker on the
way down the backside. The Redwood forests are unusually cool since no
sunshine can really penetrate the thick ceiling. I was afraid I might
suffer from hypothermia.
The "Trees of Mystery" provided a nice sunny spot to stop and remove some
layers while I consumed the banana and brownie that I had bought the day
before for my beach picnic fiasco. There's a great indian museum here and
you can talk to a 50 foot Paul Bunyan while you snack.
I rode from the "Trees of Mystery" to Klamath, the last place to get
supplies before Prairie Creek State Park. There's a scenic alternate
route just past Klamath. Norm and Jim told me later that they had ridden
to the beginning of it only to find that it was gravel. Having road bikes
they couldn't continue and had to return to the main route. I chose not
to take it since the Crescent Hills had taken a good share out of me. It
was nearing the end of the day and there were still some long hills to
ride over before the campground at Prairie Creek. Thankfully, all of the
climbing was through majestic Redwood Groves and the last six miles to
Prairie Creek was down hill.
You may want to bring some 400 ISO or even 800 ISO film with you into the
Redwoods (either that or a tripod and a "real" camera). I tried in many
spots to take a picture of my bicycle next to a Redwood, but with no
luck. The lighting was just too dark for my 200 ISO film.
At the ranger shack they gave me a thorough introduction to camping in
bear country. It seems that a particular bear had become quite
comfortable with homo sapiens and was appearing day and night at the
campgrounds, particularly the hiker/biker sight. We were required, by
law, to tie any food or odorous objects up over a high "goal post" that
was at the campsite. By odorous, I mean shampoo, toothpaste, lotion, etc.
The list included any canned food and even beer. I asked the ranger, a
very beautiful young woman (I only mention it because of the stunning
quality of her beauty), if a bear would chase me if I ran from it. She
replied, "if you see the bear we would appreciate it if YOU would chase
"Ok, so the first time I see a bear in the wild I'm going to chase IT
"It's only about a 100 pounder," she said. "It came over to a picnic
table the other day and some guy had to slap it on the head to get it to
She had me sign something that verified I had been told about the bear,
the precautions I needed to take, and what action to take should I
confront him. Bang pots and pans together, make noise, and scare him off.
Already at camp were Norm, Jim, Pierre, and some new folks from New
Jersey that were finishing a cross country trip. Norm, Jim, and myself
set up our tents within one campsite. Jim was especially worried that the
bear might trip over his little "tent." We talked about the merits of
peeing around our campsite and later I noticed Jim doing just that. We
were being manly men.
I was cooking chicken broth and pork when Vivian and Jeremy rolled in.
Vivian exclaimed, "you're cooking!" Norm added, "you get to know people
pretty well out here don't you." I took a nice hot shower and sat around
the fire drinking beer and peeing around the campsite. Jeremy was the
last to tie up his bags and he suggested that the Tri-Flow should go up
too. Good thinking. I gave him my underseat tool bag to put with his
stuff. I retired relatively early. I was really beginning to enjoy the
merits of "early to bed, early to rise." It gives you more time to dawdle
during the day.
DAY 12 (Sunday July 21)
Prairie Creek State Park to the KOA camp in Eureka CA
47 miles - 13.3mph rolling
The evening had been uneventful, so far as we knew. We probably kept such
a clean campsite that the bear didn't smell any easy pickin's. Either
that or Jim's urine smells like that of a big black bear. He and his tent
were still there and in one piece.
Everybody was taking it easy. It was Sunday, the day of rest. Jim, Norm,
Pierre, Vivian, Jeremy, the New Jersey couple, and myself, gathered
together and asked another biker to snap our pictures for us. There he
was with five cameras laying on the ground, picking each one up, figuring
out how it worked, and taking a shot. This was a good group. We never
bothered trying to ride together. That gets too complicated. We enjoyed
seeing each other at camp in the evening. A regular band of vagabond
We left camp slowly, first Jim, then Norm, and then Pierre. Vivian and
Jeremy figured that they were getting ahead of their schedule and decided
to hang around for a while. Better to be in the Redwoods than hanging
around San Francisco waiting for their flight date. Maybe they got to see
the bear. None of the rest of us did. I was disappointed.
With a bit of sadness, I bid Vivian and Jeremy farewell and left camp.
On my way out I stopped at the Visitor Center and took the "Five Minute
Hike." There's a giant old Redwood on the trail that's been hollowed out
by fire. The only part of them that will really burn is the center. They
have no resin in their bark and are nearly fireproof (as well as insect
proof, since they have tannin in their bark - read about it). Anyway, I
stood inside this hollowed out trunk, about 10 to 15 feet in diameter,
looking up I could see daylight 100 feet up or more. It took my breath
away. It was like looking up inside the Sistine Chapel. I could feel the
presence of something very great. When I walked away from the tree I
could see that it was still alive. There were live branches growing 150
feet and higher off the ground. Whew! Whew! WHEW!
I got about two miles down the road from the Park entrance when I
suddenly remembered my tool bag. I turned around and started riding back.
Luckily I reached behind my seat to feel for it. It was already there.
Thank you Jeremy! An excellent thought for a seventeen year old, if you
know what I mean.
I cycled on to Orick and saw Jim and Norm as they were leaving the
information center. They'd had breakfast and suggested I try the place
just across the road. Before I did I went into a shop looking for
postcards. I found Redwood seeds and thought, nah, you can't grow one of
those. I asked the woman behind the counter if they really worked and she
asked me where I was from. When I said Boulder she said that's where
she'd lived for years before moving to Orick to start up this business.
We talked about Boulder, and I told her how great I thought they had
done. She assured me that I could get the seeds to sprout. I haven't
started yet. One of the steps is to keep them in wet sand in the
refrigerator for 30 to 60 days. Germination, I guess.
I stopped at the Visitor Center to see if I could get help locating the
brewpub that's in Arcata. I also asked which of Orick's two restaurants
would be good for breakfast. The man there said he wasn't supposed to
say, but his daughter worked at the one across the street. There I went
and there I ate. Great pancakes and conversation with the cook, the
daughter, and an elderly local woman. They were impressed with my journey
and their impression gave me an added boost, a nice pat on the back.
Leaving Orick there was a bit of wind, fog, and some climbing - a long,
steady 500 foot climb. I passed a State Park Campsite that was no more
than a wide dirt shoulder along the highway with RV after RV parallel
parked along it. I didn't check to see if they had a hiker/biker site.
The Patrick's Point alternate route is well worth taking. Highway 101 is
a busy four lane freeway at this point and the alternate is a welcome
relief. The scenery from the clifftops is marvelous and if you stop near
Patrick's Point you'll hear the seals barking down on the rocks. This is
a fine stretch of road. It ends in the little town of Trinidad, a handy
place to get lunch.
I didn't take any more alternates. The rest of the ride to Arcata was, for
the most part, a flat, noisy grunt. At least there was a strong tailwind.
I took the first exit into Arcata and followed a local bike route into
town. Looking down one of the side streets I saw the Humboldt Brewery. I
rode on to the town square and into the past. Arcata looked like a 60's
flashback. There was a big grassy square where folks were sitting around
in tie dye, chatting, playing guitar, and tossing frisbees.
I rode back to the Humboldt Brewery and since I was so close to my
destination (about 2 miles or so) I sampled all six of their brews. They
had everything from a pale ale to an oatmeal stout. The oatmeal stout had
won a prize at the 1989 American Beer Festival in Denver. While I was
sitting there Pierre showed up and then later, Jim and Norm. I had a
couple more pints of the Red Nectar Ale and some "steak fries." Pierre
liked the ales. Norm didn't. Give him a Miller any day and he's happy.
Jim, on the other hand, appreciated a fine beer. We both bought two 22
oz. bottles of Red Nectar Ale to take to the KOA campground. The
messenger boys showed up at this fine establishment and we had ourselves
a short reunion. That was the last time that I saw them. They were almost
home, and so covering ground pretty fast.
While we were at the brewpub Norm called the KOA and asked what the cost
would be. Fifteen dollars for the first two people and then $4 a piece
for everyone else. Between the four of us that came to $23 or $5.75 each.
Not too bad.
We left en masse and went to the local coop grocery mart. Jim and Norm
were a bit daunted by the unusual selection of "health" food. We ended up
buying slices of spinach lasagna which we were going to heat up in tin
foil over the fire. Then it was off to the KOA.
While registering at the KOA we were told that another couple was already
there. Norm checked, and sure enough, it was the couple from New Jersey.
We added ourselves to their party so that the total cost for six of us
was $31, or about $5.25 a piece. The New Jersey couple had waited outside
after finding out that it would cost $15. Then, since it was the only
thing to do, they bit the bullet and paid the fee. Needless to say they
were happy to see us.
There were 4 individual sights and the six of us crammed our 5 tents
within the confines of one space. This was not necessary, since no one
else showed up and no one ever came to see what space we were using. It
wasn't a problem, though, either. We all got along fine.
There was no firepit, only a charcoal grill. There was a microwave oven,
though. One by one, Norm, Jim, and I took our lasagna in and zapped it.
Jim's was slightly undercooked at 2 minutes. Norm's slightly over at 2:45
and mine was perfect at 2:20. Being last can have its advantages. The
showers were very fine with large stalls. The showers and the microwave
oven almost made it worth the extra price. But not really.
Jim was truly enjoying the Red Ale. I'm glad I turned him on to the
northwest's microbreweries. He said he was supposed to be back at work on
the 24th and he'd have to start covering some serious ground, or call in
to work, or both. We all went to bed early. I caught up on post cards and
Continue with Day 13 - The End
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