Recap: Leg 1: Seattle to San Francisco. 1,100 Miles

The first leg of the trip, from Seattle to San Francisco, was mainly riding on the shoulder of US 101 until northern California where we moved to the shoulder (except there rarely was one) of CA 1. Washington and northern Oregon were wet, gray, and overall quite dreary. There is a reason I don’t plan on coming back to Seattle (although it is still the fall-back option). We stayed inside the most in the first ten days, with two Warm Showers Hosts and one AirBnB stay. Although beautiful with stunning cliffs and gorgeous views, northern Oregon was a treacherous place to ride due to a lack of shoulder and a ton of large vehicles. Logging truck drivers tend to be assholes towards us and there are a lot of them. It did not help that we passed through this area around Labor Day when all the big fuck-off RV’s, sometimes towing big fuck-off trucks, were on the road.

Crossing an invisible line in Oregon, we moved into a warmer, sandier, more pleasant area with sand dunes, dune buggies, and just as many RV’s and logging trucks. I guess you can’t win them all. Southern Oregon was somewhat uneventful. The hiker-biker facilities in the state parks continued to relatively close together and very high quality, although not quite as excellent as those in the northern portion of the state. Entering California we immediately noticed a change in the landscape – although similar to southern Oregon this part of California is covered in farmland. I felt like I just entered Pennsylvania, except for that ocean thing. We don’t know what ocean is in PA. The Redwoods were amazing to behold and I loved them despite the cold and fog returning. Luckily, Avenue of the Giants was much more pleasant and I was not too sick to take advantage of our off day. From Ferndale to San Francisco I mostly loved the terrain, especially the rocky coast south of the Avenue of the Giants. We finally rolled into San Francisco on August 26th 2016 – exactly one month from Seattle.

Steve, our AirBnB host form Newport, OR just sent me some photos her took of us leaving town. I figured I would add them here since that was so long ago!

Days: 31
Miles: 1,100
Flats: 2
High Points:

  • Pushing up the hill out of Leggett and bombing down the other side.
  • Cliffside climbs in both Oregon and California
  • Avenue of the Giants. So big!
  • Filling a craving for Indian food after weeks of desire and a long, hot day of riding.
  • Making new friends!
  • Hitting 44.2mph along the coast south of Humbug Mountain in Oregon

Low Points:

  • Relationship struggles
  • Wet and disgusting days in Washington and northern Oregon
  • Crossing the bridge into North Bend, Oregon (asshole driver in a big fuck-off truck)
  • Other bad encounters with big fuck-off trucks, logging trucks, and RVs
  • Meal (camp): Overnight Oats.
    • Not the tastiest meal we had, but definitely the meal with most impact on our day-to-day. No fuel required. Quick mornings. Also, endless possibilities. Need more variety? Try making it with yogurt, coconut cream, alternative milks, or another favorite liquid.
  • Meal (bought): Indian food at Cafe Lotus in Fairfax, CA. Duh.
    • Indian food, a weeks-long craving, after a long and hot day. What more need I say? People crave a lot of things on the road. Many of my friends crave beer, burgers, and sweets. I like all those things, but what I really crave is healthy, flavor-intense foods that make me feel good about myself after eating them, not wonder how my stomach feels about all thhe grease. Also, vegetarian is a huge plus. I am finding I am increasingly interested in eating vegetarian even though sausages on the fire are so damn easy…
  • Riding Day: Climbing out of Leggett on Highway 1 and The Rocky California Coast between Manchester and Stillwater Cove
    • The climb out of Leggett was the biggest climb on the trip and the descent was fantastic, if short. The second, smaller, completely unexpected climb o the other side was a real killer, but I love climbing  Hitting the coast after all the was quite the reward.
    • The ride out of Manchester was beautiful rocky coast with low traffic and wonderfully warm sun. We caught a tailwind most of the day and I had no trouble cruising at 16-18 mph for long stretches. Plus, the mean big trucks were replaced by nicer Beamers and Prii as we passed through a liberal elite coastal haven.
  • Campground: Nehalem Bay (Manzanita) and Burlington Campground (Avenue of the Giants)
    • Nehalem Bay was one of the few parks where the hiker-biker sites were the best in the park. Set well away from the rest of the campground in a small grove of trees amid sandy soil, we enjoyed a quite existence with only the sound of the ocean to lull us to sleep. The free showers were top notch, with very hot water and none of the lab-rat style push buttons found throughout southern Oregon or pay showers in California. On the first night we ventured to the beach for an excellent view of the stars, while the second night we met our Canadian friends Sarah and Amelia (who I refer to simply as “The Canadians.”
    • Burington Campground in itself was nothing special. In fact, half the bathrooms were out of service and I luckily learned to avoid the wobbly port-a-potty before I needed to poop. Amenities aside, we actually camped in the redwood forest. I’ll repeat: We camped in the redwoods. To sleep under sleeping giants…man, I cannot wait to come back here and hike or backpack some more. Hiking is not beautiful in the way I am use to in the Cascades but it is so damn peaceful. The nature walk with Jake was great too, and I learned a lot about Redwoods.
  • City/Town: Ferndale, CA
    • We did not spend any time in Ferndale really, except a short time at the library to poop and get water. So maybe Ferndale is not as cool as I think. But it looked like a lovely little town adorned with well-preserved Victorian homes on a small main street lined with small businesses and people milling about. It’s also the last town before the start of The Lost Coast, which is an alternate route through an extremely remote area with few people and fewer services. Ferndale is just south of Eureka and, as much as as I did not want to be in Eureka, I loved everything from Ferndale south to the Avenue of the Giants, and even further all the way to the outskirts of San Francisco. I’d definitely come back here to visit, maybe with my mom, maybe to ride the Lost Coast.
  • Non-bike activity: Potluck Dinner with Sarah, Amelia, and Pete  and Firepit with Rick, Jess, and Co
    • It was totally chance that we met Sarah and Amelia a few miles before their camp since we were going to stay somewhere else. We added kimchi couscous and a six-pack to the steak, foil veggies, and cake they provided and has a great time chatting late into the night (for cyclists at last). I love new friends!
    • I was not thrilled about spending another $80 for an AirBnB in McKinleyville but it turned out to be such a great time. We joined Rick, Jess, their two sons, two of their son’s friends, two South African AirBnB guests, and a couple of Rick and Jess’ friends for hot dogs, snacks, and a bit of beer around the fire to celebrate the Harvest Moon. Damn, that worked out well.

It’s been a month of riding plus another week of chilling here in San Francisco. I have enjoyed exploring the city and riding around unloaded but I am getting antsy and ready to move on. I look forward to this section of riding solo – it’s less than two weeks and will be a great opportunity to see what solo touring is all about before I commit to a longer, more isolated trip by myself (I expect to meet many other people touring on this section but very few, if any, in the desert). And I am really excited to get down to Long Beach and hang out with Scott. I know he is going to be busy but what I really need right now is some guy time. I keep dreaming about the future where Scott finishes his degree, Danial tires of Seattle, Nick goes to school, and we all move in together for the best bachelor pad ever. Here’s to hoping!

Los Angeles, here I come!


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