Thursday, August 30, 2012

West Coast Adventure - Day 16

I can feel "home" getting closer. Certainly not in terms of distance, more in terms of the longing to be there. Now that I've been on the road for over 2 weeks, I'm beginning to recognize a small voice in the back of my head that is saying, "soon." I'm hoping that I've timed things correctly, that two more days down the coast won't push me past the point of wishing I was already on my way back. It's one of those things that's hard to gauge.

The drive down to Eureka, CA, from Coos Bay, OR, is another beautiful piece of highway. You'd think I'd be sick of all the beauty by now...but I'm not. :) I did take a couple of trips away from US-101 today. Short diversions from the highway, not that they highway is bad, but the diversions are good. I started my day heading away from the highway and taking a couple of twisty turny local/logging roads towards the coast and then back towards the highway. If you like riding in straight lines, these kinds of roads aren't for you. Most of the time you can't see more than 25 to 100 yards of road out in front of you. It's not fast riding...but it's not slow riding either. I managed to scrape my highway pegs a couple times.
Cape Arago Hwy, Seven Devils Rd & Beaver Hill Rd back to US-101
The view from Seven Devils Road
It was also nice to start my day away from the normal traffic. It's not horrible on 101 up here during the week, but there are still other cars to deal with, some of whom do not have the time or patience to deal with those who want to do the speed limit while gawking at the sights. In my travels down the coast, I have come across more than a couple cars driving slow enough to be considered impeding traffic. Most people who want to sight see pull off in the provided turn-outs to let those who wish to get moving do so. Likewise, I've only come across a few drivers who felt it was necessary to tailgate while waiting for someone to use a turnout. You find turds at both end of the spectrum, fortunately there haven't been too many of them floating in the pool this week. :)

I took the opportunity to divert away from the coast again just north of Gold Beach. A twisty drive up into the mountains was another great exercise in road management. I'm sure there are tons of opportunities to ride roads like these along this route, I'm glad I took two of them today. This second one took me over two one lane bridges. The first was just a short little span over a small creek. The second was a much longer span, nearly 100 feet high over the river; I had to take it to get to the road on the other side that would take me back to 101.
Great place to practice putting your bike through a few curves
My last "diversion" was the Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. It's not so much a diversion as an opportunity to get up close and personal with these coastal giants. The redwoods are awesome. I remember my first experience ever driving in them, it was at night. Sara and I had flown into San Francisco on a Friday evening and had made hotel reservations up in Eureka for the night. I had not realize that Eureka was a good 4+ hour drive from San Francisco. Our flight hadn't gotten in until 9:00PM. We were traveling up US-101 and all of a sudden my headlights crossed a huge tree trunk right next to the road as we rounded a curve. When I say huge, I mean it was probably 8 to 10 feet in diameter. When I say next to the road, I don't mean it was 10 to 12 feet off the the side of the highway, I mean the little white line on the side of the road curved a little back toward the center to make room for the base of the tree. It was super eerie seeing something that big and only being about to see about 10 to 12 feet of it that was in my headlights. I remember that it got really dark as we continued into the forest. It was so dark, we eventually pulled over, just to make sure the world hadn't ended. Upon getting out of the car we looked straight up and could see a small ribbon of stars and moonlight far up in the sky, between the tree tops. Seeing these trees in the daylight is just awesome.

Coastal fog drifting through the tree tops as I wait at a construction stop
Port Orford

Cape Sebastion State Park

State #8 on the trip
One of the things that has been interesting to see on this trip is the coastal fog. It can hang over parts of the highway for the whole day. The temperature on the coast has been about 60 degrees most of the last 2 days and the colder air has caused a lot of fog to drift in off the water. It's been sunny, and, as long as you're just walking about, a t-shirt is OK; however, as soon as I get moving down the road, I've been glad to have my sweatshirt on and warm gloves to wear.

It's hard to believe that I'll be in San Francisco on Saturday. As much as home may be starting to call, it hardly seems like its that close to having to turn eastward and eat up the highway to get back there. Classes at Spring Arbor University are starting this week. I'm going to be sitting in on ART167 so that I have some idea of what I'm doing when it comes time to judge artwork in a few short months for The Cole Color Award and the Sara J Cole Memorial Portrait Award in the spring. I'm trying to get back so that I don't miss more than a class or two.
Day 16, another 240 miles or so
3,900+ and counting
Tomorrow is another day and another road. :)

Addendum @ 9:13PM Pacific

I had two GREAT meals today. I stopped for a late lunch in Brookings, Oregon, at about 2:00PM and Yelp showed me a little pub just down the street from where I was getting gas. Although parking is a bit of a challenge, if you're ever in Brookings and want a place to eat, I can heartily recommend The Vista Pub. Small and simple menu, nothing extravagant, but they are obviously good at what they've chosen to do. I liked it so much I wrote a review.

The second meal was my dinner at the the Brick and Fire Bistro in Eureka, California. Another great find on Yelp. I only got to eat there because I was dinning alone. The place is small and it was packed. They take reservations, so if you're going to go, it would probably be a good idea to make one, especially if you're not alone and want a table. I have a feeling their menu changes pretty regularly, but again, it's a simple menu with only a few options and they probably do them all well. The bartender brought me some bread when I sat down. A couple of pieces of a blueberry Parmesan bread and a couple pieces of an herbal poppy seed with oil and balsamic on the side. I had an appetizer of stuffed figs and apricots. They were stuffed with goat cheese and nuts, then wrapped in pancetta before being roasted in the brick oven which is where anything that required baking was cooked. For my entry, I went with one of their pizza. The whole meal just exploded with flavor.

I've been on the road for 16 days now and, with the exceptions of the meals I've eaten with family, these have been the best two places I've been to...without equal and without question. I've been staying away from fast food and chains as much as possible, but the food at the small town cafes I've been eating at has been good at best and "bland" at worst. So, a great day of riding was topped off with a great day of eating, too. :)

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Chad Cole