November 21, 2015
I still can’t believe how well we’ve been sleeping. When we first started camping, it always took a day or so to settle in and get a really good night sleep. Trying to get used to the sounds and the thoughts that can creep into ones mind in the middle of the night beyond the safe keeping of the usual four walls of home. It can be quite eye opening to say the least.
Over the last few days our natural clocks have kicked in and set themselves to a punctual 7:30am rise and 10:30pm hard fall, no alarm required to wake and no time in front of TV required prior to sleep. I’m certain our 4-6 hours on the bikes everyday have aided in ensuring a deep sleep but it’s how quickly the body can reschedule and adapt to it’s surroundings that is truly amazing. We stir when the birds do, and as soon as the light disappears, the quiet of the night is greeted by a flurry of big yawns.
Camping has become my favorite way to end a long day on the road, especially by motorcycle, you are just so exposed. Sleeping in the open air is just another way to stay tapped into the beautiful world we are exploring. By day we watch as the ground, the sky, the air and all the living creatures we share this vast planet with seem to open up to us – or perhaps we open up to it – and in doing so we understand just for a moment how to appreciate what is right under our noses everyday. By night the land continues to embraces us and grant us the time to reflect on all we’ve seen and learned on our journey.
For me, what it all comes down to is: I feel privileged. Everyday and especially today.
After a remarkable night sleep beneath the Redwoods of Jedediah State Park we were all packed up and ready to go by 9:30am. It was difficult to say goodbye to a place like this. Feeling such grandness all around you, but we had a very exciting day ahead of us. We were informed that what lay ahead would dwarf what we had just experienced. The road was called The Avenue of the Giants and it was a fitting name.
We figured, we should get going as early as possible with a stop about an hour or so south for breakfast in Eugene, CA, the town just before the Giants. The prospect of some fresh coffee and time to really wake up before we hit the popular roadway was just what the doc ordered.
Only 20 minutes into the ride we were faced with our first unexpected challenge of the day. High elevation fog that had us hard on the brakes with our hazard-lights on and riding low, slow speed gears into 15 – 25 mph turns. We’re now aware that this is a NorCal norm. I was watching as Issa would disappear just 10 feet ahead of me. This was a bit troubling. The turns were tight and blind. You feel alone and vulnerable very quickly. Thank goodness for our helmet intercoms. As usual, when in situations like this, there was Issa, guiding and talking me through. After another 90 minutes of impaired vision and thick unexpected fog we finally reached Eugene, CA and we were just so thankful. The weather by this point left us cold enough to flip on the heated grips and add our cold weather liners in as well. The wind off the water was intense and there was no sun to be seen. We almost missed the Denny’s sign – but caught it just as we were exiting town. We were starving. Once again we couldn’t have been more thankful. During our breakfast / coffee extravaganza that morning we talked about what a shame it would be to do the 31 mile long Avenue of the Giants in more of what we just went through, but we knew either way we had to go.
It was like magic, the sky completely opened up a few miles from the Giants. We couldn’t count a cloud in sight. The exit read Old Highway 101 and was marked clearly with Auto turnouts – basically the best places to pullover for photos. What we knew about some of the trees on this road at this point, were that they are the tallest and most massive trees standing on earth and in some spots were 1800 years old.
The best way I can describe the feeling that comes over you as you enter the forest and watch as their high branches close out the sky over you is just pure magic. Take all of your favorite mystical childhood fantasy-type stories and movies and bring them to life. For me, The Never Ending Story, Dark Crystal, The Princess Bride and todays Narnia, The Hobbit and Where the Wild Things Are come to mind. It is that overwhelming feeling of being granted passage rather than assuming the right. Its humbling and so very special. Again, a true privilege. There’s a sense of spirit so ancient that even if you were half their size you would still kneel down before them. In an instant it was as if they knew everything and that we knew nothing at all. This was for sure my favorite moment of our journey thus far.
Today was a reminder that we are constantly being tested and rewarded, pushed and pulled, challenged and triumphant.
I was reveling. Basking in the glory of the afternoon. So happy to have the sun shining, warmth on my back and gorgeous roads to ride. We began to climb again. 55 to 65 mph roads. Up through the hills of Northern CA on Highway 1. We quickly found ourselves faced with 20, 15, 10 mph switchbacks. One after another, up and down in and out. The rider in front of us suddenly running wide into the on coming traffic lane into the next turn. Typically this is where most riders would say, Awesome!!! Agreed this would be a two-wheel dream and normally I would probably be feeling close to the same, but with the sun directly ahead, shining through the trees and throwing extremely harsh glares of light and shadows into my visor and the turns ahead, I became nothing short of terrified. Memories of hanging on to my brother Mike, in the pelting hail as he doubled me frantically home on his little BMX. The longest 5 blocks ever. Here’s to you brother. He peddled as fast as his little feet could take him and had us home safe for dinner. I digress. Sure my white knuckle death grip already applied at the first handful of turns wasn’t helping. Every turn had me hoping it was going to end soon. And 22 miles later it did and I was just thankful to still have the rubber side down.
At the end of it, we were spit out onto a cliff over looking a deep blue, sunlit pacific sea. Tears in my eyes and heart pounding, I wondered how this day turned so quickly. Either way, it was done. With a pile of confidence left on the road behind me we headed on towards our destination of Fort Bragg, home of the Glass Beach, where I would spend the night in my head searching for my mojo. A light dinner and some wine with Issa that evening would help to vent the ups and downs of the day. Retiring to The Atrium B&B’s candle-lit, burgundy and black room would help bring the day to a close as well as my tired eyes.