Seattle to San Francisco
Bicycle Tour

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.

thumbnail 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.

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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 else. 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.

thumbnail 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 camp site.

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 thumbnail 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'."

thumbnail 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,

Prehsitoric Gardens
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 question it.

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 was EXCITED.

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 were synchronous.

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.

thumbnail I showered, bought firewood, and strolled the beach just before and during sunset. When I returned I started the fire and invited our thumbnail 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.

thumbnail 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 IT."

"Ok, so the first time I see a bear in the wild I'm going to chase IT away."
"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 leave."

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.

thumbnail 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 gypsies.

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 my log.

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