Day 10
June 20th, 2002
Eureka, California

With no camping stuff to roll and pack, loading went easy. I know today will be a great ride.  I will be riding the Pacific Coast Highway, and the Avenue of the Giants, with my friends and brother riders.  Riders who share the passion of riding with me.  We are brothers, not because we ride the same bikes, but because we understand the joy of riding, and the dangers of the road, we accept that risk to do what we love.

We gathered in the parking lot of the Motel 6 and plot strategy.  I leave all that to the boys from the Hotel California, I will only be following.

Don ran into someone he knew from the MSF Instructor course he graduated from, and spent time with him in a local cafe while waiting for us to get ready.  He also polished his bike and had it looking good.  I was embarrassed when my rained on, bug plastered, road sprayed bike, of the last 4,000 miles stood next to it.
​Dennis loads his bike with kidding from Don 
We topped off gas tanks at a Beacon up the street.  The nozzle had one of those covers that interlocked the mechanism.  It took me a few minutes to figure out why the pump was not working.  Must have that cover over the tank, to prevent all those awful gas vapors from destroying the ozone.  I thought about really pissing them off, and spraying some hair spray in the open air.  Perhaps I will sell some REAL stuff out here on the black market to salons wanting to give their patrons the hold only a fluorocarbon can.  That water downed stuff just ain't up to it.

I better not speed and have a CHP guy search my bags and find my can of Right Guard Spray, and haul me off to jail.

You have the Hotel California, NYC, then the rest of the Country.  Always entertaining.  Its what makes living in America, so special.

The weather was cloudy and cool, and I have on medium gloves.

We leave the gas station and make our way south to Humbolt.  The Avenue of the Giants runs parallel to the main road and is easy to find.

Our bikes enter the narrow Avenue.  The road is dark under these enormous trees.  The light shines very little on the forest floor.

The ride through the Redwoods is mind blowing.  The road snakes its way past the huge trees.  I see the bikes in front filter through the few bright spots. 

We stop several times for pictures.  A man with a dog, takes a group shot for us.  He is from Vermont, and out seeing the country.  Good for him.
Posing by Giant Redwoods.  From L- VJ, Richard, Guy, Don,
Dennis.  Great ride on a great day.

I think back to the "old days" when they cut these trees with just bow saws and mules.  Back breaking work.  I don't know how they did it.

I was having trouble seeing in the shadows with the Oakleys and switch to my armber lens glasses.
I have seen so many natural wonders and sights on this trip, it is going to be hard to catalog everything.
After the Avenue of the Giants we go back to 101 South and home in on the coast.  101 south out of Fortuna is 4 lane road, and the 5 STs spread out.  I move to the left lane.  No one is going to pass us so I only keep a casual eye on my mirrors.

We zoom around traffic effortlessly.

Lunch was at a cafe in a place I can't remember (I took poor notes on this day, and lost my receipts).  We revved up our blonde waitress pretty good, and I had soup.  I always remember the important stuff.  Like what the waitress looked like, and what I ate.

In Legget, Highway 1 breaks away from 101, and I know we are not far from the coast.  The road takes us into the trees and hills.

I am glad I left my medium weight gloves on, the coast feels very cool.

Highway 1 turns very challenging as we ride to the ocean.  Our bikes quickly spread out to assume the "sport formation".  The narrow hairpins and switchbacks demand full attention, and the daylight to shadows adds another dimension.  I quickly lose sight of Don and the others, and wave VJ around me.  My loaded bike, cupped front tire, and spongy rear shock has me at a severe handicap.  But I was not going to be able to keep up even if had been on R1.  "Damn, all these boys can RIDE," I think.

Along those lines, brother Don is the best ST rider I've ever seen.  He moves at speed, leaning his bike effortlessly.  No matter how hard he is riding, he is seamless.  Trying to keep him even sight, was too much work for me.  I don't know how he does it.

I pass a few RVs on the double yellow, but not before I am sure.

A few miles from the coast, I have a close call.  I am easing long, only fast enough for a little lean.  The other boys have long gone, and I have no one to follow.  I don't know the road, and the shadows bother me.  I see a longish RV come out of a right hander, when suddenly a white pick up bolts out to pass.  "What the hell?? NOWAY is he gonna make it!"  No where on this road is there a place where he can pull this off.

I ALWAYS evaluate the road, and factor in what the safety margin will be.  I have a system, and it has kept me unscathed all these many miles.  I gave this road a 45.  Meaning, I will only ride it at 45% of "red line".  If you want to read more about my system click here.  It paid off today.  I was only a little shaken.

I feel the ocean near, and I break out of the forest and hills, and then I see it.  The salt air stinging my nose now.  It is foggy but not that bad.  YES.  I love the first few seconds when the Pacific comes into view.  I made it.  My 4,000 mile ride to the coast completed.

The brothers are waiting for me at turnout and we regroup.

Rested up, we ride south down the coast and soon the sun breaks out.  The air is very cool, and all vents on the Roadcrafter are zipped.

This is the first time I've ridden the PCH this far north.  We are a happy content group, motoring down this famous American Highway.  The ocean to my right and mountains to my left, keep my senses busy.  Slower cars pull to the turnouts for us.  

We take a butt break near a store.  I see a wino rummaging through the trash barrels, and Don says-
"damn he's tilting up empty wine bottles for the last few drops"

We go in the store and buy a snack and brother Don comes away with a Budweiser.   He gave it to the wino now sitting on the deck.  It was gone without even stopping for air.  All I saw was the empty bottle beside him. 

Damn, made me feel bad I didn't get him one too, so I gave him my half can of Coke.

"thank you sir"  as I walked back across the street to my bike.

We get held up in construction zone shortly after.  It was a lengthy wait.  We went around the line of cars to the front.  They can't be pissed, only saving them the trouble of ditching to a turnout later on.  We were locked down for 20 minutes or so.

​VJ and I, waiting out a construction zone.
I see Don in front of me riding on the pegs.  Not just stretching, RIDING.  He is slightly leaning forward, and rides that way for the longest.  "What's that joker doin up there?"

I move up to the number 2 spot behind Richard.  We are riding briskly, and Richard is no slouch either.  I follow his lines through the turns for as long as I can, then let him go and back to the rear I go.  "Dang all these boys out here are good."

We stop for gas in Bodega Bay.  Richard tells me "this is where they filmed that scene from the movie "The Birds".  I look around to see if any are going to take revenge on us for the bird Dennis took out back in Oregon.  He smoked  one that day, like none I had seen before.  All I saw was feathers fly everywhere.  He caught him under the headlight.  When I came past a second later, he was still rolling down the highway, smoke rising off  him.

As I was gassing up, a VW bus pulls to the pumps.  The driver is a young lady with dirty blonde hair pulled back.  She has on jeans cuffed at the bottom, and wears those hiking boots tree huggers like to wear.  She has on a sweatshirt and sweater to keep her warm in the cold air.  It can't be more then 55 degrees out here in the gusting, blowing wind.

I went in to pay for my gas and opened the door for the young lady.  She smiles-

"kinda cold huh?"

"yeah, specially on a boy from Alabama"

"oh really?"

"yeah, and look here sweetie, I know you're too young to remember when that VW was new"

"its my boyfriends"  I think to myself, "I bet he grew up watching too many late reruns of Woodstock."

She shows me all around the bus and lets me look inside.   I grab the door, but its locked and I hear-

"just a sec"

"crime such a big problem here in Bodega Bay you have to lock your door while you go in to pay for gas?"

She chuckled and said, "no, just habit"

A short while later we leave the PCH, and go to 101 for the final run into San Francisco.

Traffic is thick, and now Dennis pays me back for putting me in the front on that foggy morning in Oregon.  He leads us through the maze of cars and trucks as we make our way to the Golden Gate.  Good to have guide when riding through a strange city.

Don and VJ veer off and take another route home.  We wave and salute as they disappear in the traffic.
A traffic jam near the bridge brings us to a crawl, but we make it, and take the southbound side overlook. 

This is why I came all this way.  The scene is right out of the movies.  I gaze out at the Golden Gate and the city of San Francisco.  A very scenic city.  The sun is bright and the air windy.  It is always cool and windy here.  We snap pictures and take in the view.  A great moment.
​This was another once in a life time moment.
Four riders come in.  Three Gold Wings and a Harley.  I check their plates, Alabama!  Huntsville to be exact.  We speak at length and I wish them the best. 

We ride across the Golden Gate and make for Redwood City.  Commuter traffic is not as bad as we had feared, and we make it without much trouble.  I followed Dennis and Richard's tail lights all the way.

Dennis and I take the Redwood exit and Richard continues on.  We wave and off he goes.

A few minutes later we turn into Dennis' neighborhood and drop the stands in his driveway.  I rode 316 miles today. It took all day on the roads traveled. 

I covered 4,289 miles since I left home.

I shake Dennis hand and congratulate him on his 5000+ mile tour.  I waited outside while he went to his wife and son.  He was gone 2 weeks, and I did not want to intrude on their moment.

A short while later they come out to get me.  It was really good to see Norma and Tommy again.  I plop my stuff down in the guest room and relax.

I called Debbie to make sure every thing is ready for her to go.  I ask her to bring a few items I will need while in San Francisco.  She says she is good to go, and will see me in the morning.  She has my son lined up for the ride to the airport.

I am at the western terminus of my trip.  I will be in the Bay Area for the next 4 nights, resting up for the trip back east.  I'm spending the night with Dennis tonight and then Debbie and I move to a motel for the next 3 nights.  The Ryan's offered their home to us, but I felt like that was just too much of a intrusion on their kindness.  I did take them up on their offer on Dennis Mazda pick up, saving me the expense of a rental car.  People just don't come any nicer.

Supper was a home cooked meal of roast and rice.  YUM.

I am looking forward to the lay over.

My wife arrives at 1130 am the next day, and upon leaving the airport, we will drive into the city and do the touristy stuff.  If she asks if I flirted with any waitresses on the way out here I will say no, but girls in VW buses are a different matter.

The Ryan's guest bed slept good, just like last year.

Note- all pictures in this story are courtesy of Richard Follen.  Thanks brother.