Friday, August 31, 2012

West Coast Adventure - Day 17

The Pacific Coast Highway...when I first left home, this slice of highway was the whole reason for the trip. I've found other reasons as I've left the miles of asphalt behind me...but this one still remained.

It was cold, foggy, damp, and overcast when I left Eureka this morning. It never rained, but there were often times when my face mask had condensation on it and my pant legs were damp. This kind of fog pushes the humidity up to near 100% and it's hard to avoid getting damp, even if it's not raining.

The Humbolt Redwoods State Park was not far down the road. If you've been here before, you know that the Avenue of the Giants is the best way to see the park. It intersects with US-101 about a half dozen times over the full length of the road and gives drivers plenty of opportunities to get out and explore to their hearts content. One upside for me was that this pulled me away from the coast and it warmed up just a bit and the damp fog didn't reach this far inland. I was able to take 2 of my best Photosynth panoramas at the park, if I do say so myself. :)

Tall trees
Yes, I was really there
Black Max looking great in nature
Not sure if someone has been sleeping here or not
If you've never been out here to see the redwoods...put it on your bucket list. If your bucket list only has things like sky diving, bungee jumping, and swimming with sharks on it, this might seem a little boring to you...but these trees really are an awesome spectacle to behold. If you come with your family, pack a cooler, take your time, and thoroughly enjoy the forest and what it has to offer.

When I finally got back on 101, the sun was shining and it had warmed up quite a bit. I was almost wishing I had not switched from my leather gloves to my mittens, fortunately they convert to fingerless gloves on the fly. It wasn't too far and I reached the junction of California 1 and US-101. It was time to head back to the coast.

I'm not sure I've ever ridden 20 tougher miles of road. For one, as soon as I reached the top of the mountains and started down to the coast the temperature began to drop...significantly, at least it felt significant. For another, it's twist and turn and curve and twist and turn and curve and get the idea. It would be very easy to overestimate your riding skills and end up plummeting down the side of the mountain. I believe it's happened more than once on this stretch of road. To top it off, the cool temperatures meant I was back under overcast skies and that damp coastal "fog."
This doesn't do the true nature of the road any justice
I've never been more relieved to come around a curve and see nothing in front of me...aside from the ocean. Not that the shoreline of California 1 is an easy road to ride, but it does offer relief from the twisties that the mountain passage didn't.
California 1 beneath my feet, view to the north
California 1, north end of the shoreline highway, view to the south

The overcast skies were constant. I'm not even sure it was really clouds. I think the cold temperatures and ocean breeze just cause a dense humid fog to pile up along the coast. It's a couple hundred feet thick and just hangs about 100 feet or so off the ground. As long as it hangs there, like a blanket hovering over the landscape, it's really not that bad.  After I stopped in Fort Bragg, the blanket fell and the fog made me think the last 40 miles of my ride were going to be a whole lot like the first 40 in terms of the weather conditions. I was about 15 miles north of Gualala and the fog finally lifted, but the overcast skies stayed.

About 15 miles north of Gualala, California
The weather redeemed itself when I was about 3 miles north of Gualala...the clouds parted and the sun gave me my best look at California's coast.

From the path behind the Surf Motel
More Surf Motel scenery

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for a significant dose of sunshine tomorrow. The PCH is a beautiful highway, no matter what, but a little sunshine doesn't hurt. :)

Sunset from behind the Surf Motel
On a different note...are Labor Day weekend gas prices this high everywhere, or is this just a coastal California thing?

I rode exactly 200 miles today. It doesn't seem like that should take 8 hours, but it does when you're being a tourist and also dealing with a couple hundred 15MPH curves. :)
200 miles of trees and twists
4,145 miles...only a few more to go and then it's time to head home. :(
Tomorrow is another day and another road. :)

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Those Redwoods are amazing!

    And, "Yes, the gas prices went up here for the long weekend too! $1.319/litre, which I believe converts to about $4.99/US Gallon." It's still cheaper where you are!


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