24 March 2008

Up the Left Coast

Now that I was in Malibu, I looked forward to taking the coast highway up to Seattle. I'd been on most of the route before either on a bike or in a car, but this would be the first end-to-end attempt. No big deal, although it could be pretty nasty if it got foggy/rainy in some of the twisty sections.

First, I had a hell of a time getting the GPS to cooperate--it just did not want to go up the coast! Finally, by plotting waypoints at every possible location, I convinced it to do it my way, and I set off up the coast.

The first hundred miles or so (?) is pretty boring--freeway. When you finally get to the part where the highway follows the coast, it's definitely a relief. This is definitely a great ride, although I can't say I like it as much as the highway north of San Francisco. Again, the wildflowers where in bloom:
And of course, the views are spectacular:
Had an incredibly expensive lunch of fish & chips at Lucia, but the view from the patio where I ate was amazing:
I would tell you the name of the place in Lucia, but as far as I could tell, it was the only building in the town, so it shouldn't be hard to find...

I had planned to stop in Carmel, but thought it was right on the highway, so apparently rode right by it...anyway, at some point the GPS point me away from the coast to San Jose to begin the approach to Oakland. After running the gauntlet of LA rush hour traffic yesterday, I was about to do the same in the Bay Area today! Not fun!

Made it to my aunt & uncle's place for a nice dinner and a place to spend the night, then off again at 0700, to see how far I could get up the coast--I hoped to get further than Eureka CA, where I had stayed last time, and which is kind of a pit. Just before leaving Oakland:

This is probably my favorite stretch of road anywhere--much greener than the southern part, the road is often closer to the water, and lots of cool little towns to drive through. My favorite town is Mendocino, where I always stop for a coffee and a snack, but Elk also looks really cool. Some day I'll have to spend more time there, rather than just zipping through. Here are a few pictures:
The end of Highway 1 in Leggett:
In the redwoods:

This was a long day of riding. I arrived in Eureka around five or so, but still had plenty of light, and good weather, so I decided to keep going as far as I could before it got dark. This is when the best riding of the day began, as the sun approached the horizon, and long shadows fell in the redwoods. The road north from Eureka is a bit schizophrenic--sometimes four-lane speedway, sometimes narrowing down to a twisty two lane road threading the giant redwoods. Crescent City, Klamath, then the Oregon border! I was making good progress. It was getting dark by the time I crossed into Oregon, and just as I pulled into a motel in Brookings OR it started to pour rain, and rained all night. The motel had covered parking right in front of my room, and a diner right across the street--what a great find!

The next morning, the rain had stopped, but it looked like it could start again at any time. I had a long way to go today--from Brookings up the coast to Aberdeen, then east to Olympia, then north to Seattle to end the trip. About 530 miles, mostly on two-lane highways.

The coastal highway up from Brookings is very nice--beautiful vistas of big surf crashing on rocky shorelines. The weather was kind of dodgy, with intermittent showers, but overall not too bad. Rode through Coos Bay, Yachats, Canon Beach, Astoria, then into Washington. Here's a shot from Yachats:

As I crossed the bridge in Astoria into Washington, the theme from Twin Peaks come on the mp3 player--pretty cool! Started raining a bit once I was in Washington, but not too bad. When I got to Aberdeen, I had to call the Leader (the Organizer's main guy for the trip) to give him a heads up about my ETA, and to get a drink. I pulled into a convenient McDonalds which looked very familiar somehow...after I parked the bike it hit me that I had been to the same McDonalds for the same reason (a quick drink) back in September on that tour. Might not sound that weird, but I never go to McDonalds, so it was kind of strange for me.

Again it was rush hour (third major metro area in three days!), and traffic started getting heavy around Olympia. Got pretty heavy as I approached Seattle, and the GPS was up to its usual tricks, trying to get me off the highway as soon as possible--but I ignored it for a while, until it looked like traffic on the freeway was getting really heavy, and it made sense to get off at Martin Luther something or other. After riding for a long way through the city, I finally arrived at the Leader's house, where I would be staying for the next couple of nights.

Dropped off the bike at South Sound BMW, and asked them to do the 6k mile service before loading the bike in the container. Flew home on Easter Sunday.

Total miles from Ocean City MD to Seattle: 4,861.

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