So it's Labor Day, 2003. Three whole days off (and here I really must pause to interject a heartfelt "thank you" to all those working folk who have sacrificed so that I might have this holiday and have made it possible for Becky and I to make this ride...HONOR LABOR!) in the middle of both Becky and my's "busy" summer season...yahoo! I left Becky in charge of the planning. Where we would go, where we would stay, the roads we would travel, gas, food, etc. was in her hands. Her answer to me was, "well then, my plan is that we have NO plans." We would head north up the Oregon Coast...that's it....no more plans. Damn, it's LABOR DAY WEEKEND and we're not going to get any reservations...it's MADNESS! I find my center, focus and calm down. Me, I'm a "planning" kinda guy and must admit that this whole "no plans" thing freaked me out just a bit. I put on a brave front but was frankly still a bit worried.
Ok, our proposed "possibly yes/possibly no" route...
Day 1 started with us on the road at about 7:30 a.m. on an overcast day here in Eureka, on the northern coast of California. We travelled all of the 20 miles up to Trinidad before we had to stop for breakfast at one of our favorite eating spots, The Eatery. Who could blame us...they make their own sausage and it really can't be beat!
Well now, Miss "No Plans Is Good Plans" how do you feel about seriously dense FOG and can't see 50 feet in front of you and who really didn't feel it was necessary to clean the bugs off your visor before we left home? Reality is UGLY and you really should prepare for the worse! We stopped at a roadside rest to clear visors inside and out and get a grip. Go too fast and you end up being surprised by stuff on the slippery road and not being able to stop, go too slow and you invite having some fool in a cage going to fast plowing into the back of you...things are grim.
Ok, so it's not all that grim all that long. Pretty soon it's just patchy fog and gray skies (hell, it's Labor Day after all not the dead of winter). We take the scenic alternative up 101 and stop to ogle the elk herds alongside the road...cool.
Pressing on to the north we pass the famous in story and song "Trees of Mystery" a landmark that virtually every motorcyclist who has had to travel this section of 101 has had to stop and marvel at (not to mention have their picture taken, er, "underneath" Babe the Giant Blue Ox)!
Finally, about 20 miles or so north of the Oregon border we loose the clouds and break into glorious sunshine. The promise of the day is fulfilled! The "PERECT MOTORCYCLE DAY" has arrived. We stop for lunch in Gold Beach. Perfect...seek out this place (first road on the south side of the bridge) if you're hungry and in the vicinity.
...Becky was worried about her "helmet hair" and elected to put a napkin over her head instead. Is it any wonder I love this woman so?
Sure we lost the fog but now it's been replaced by howling, northerly winds...and here I'm talking about STRONG winds...Becky, who at this juncture is behind me comments that I seem to have this permanent 45 degree lean to my bike...it's seriously intense.
Next stop (and these are now becoming even more frequent...after all we made only 200 miles this day) was in Port Orford where Becky frantically motioned me to pull over. Thinking that she was having a breakdown with her bike I discovered actually that she had spotted "Stan Dishong's Automobile (of which there were 3) and Motorcycle (of which there is a bunch!) Museum." Seems Stan was a "Legend Racer" back in the 60's and 70's and raced flat track and speedway in the Sacramento Valley. He's there to answer questions and tell stories. Quite a character. Stan's totally hard of hearing and you must shout all your conversation to him at least twice...very fun and highly recommended.
We arrived in Bandon, Oregon about 4:00 and found a room at the Harbor View Motel with no problem (sigh). Turns out we had a GREAT view of the town (although a bit more than I would have hoped to pay) and totally within walking distance to the old town section of Bandon (I find it hard to get back on the bike to go anywhere after checking into the motel at night).
Our room is directly above Becky's right shoulder with the open sliding door. Becky has now permanently commandeered my "oh-so-cool" beret to cover her helmet hair.
Our bikes from our landing.
Our room with view.
...more view from room.
The next day we got up early and headed out Highway 42S towards Coquille and hopefully to some breakfast...alas this was not to be no place open to eat early Sunday mornings in Coquille. 42S in my opinion (and Becky's it turns out) was the best motorcycle road we travelled. There is nothing to compare with motorcycling early in the morning over 2 lane, semi-twisty, rural roads that are in great shape with virtually no traffic. We didn't travel especially fast but travelled in more of a zen state...curves, smells, light, sound of the engine...hell, you know what I mean ;-)
At the sun broke through Beck made me stop (almost killing me with a quick turn onto gravel) to get a shot of Denmark, OR sign.
Eventually we did get breakfast in Myrtle Point (a much more thriving town that Coquille although they seem of similar size, etc. on the maps) and continued on on Hwy 42 till it hooked up with Interstate 5. The "super slab" was something new to Becky and she handled it with her usual aplomb. No big deal. High speeds (ACK, what's with those surprising 45 mph corners on the INTERSTATE???), making time...missed an exit (with much eye rolling from Becky) because I just HAD to pass this Harley that was taunting me by speeding up as I approached...bagged 'em...heh! Circled back to the "7 Feathers Casino."
This place was recommended by a co-worker of mine as an amazing, "must see" sorta place. He was right...this sucker is huge and simply hemorrhages money. I swore that if I ever came out ahead while gambling here (I fear I'm not much of a gambler) that I would quit and we would ride off into the sunset (actually mid-day) and go away winners. I put a dollar into a poker slot, won a dollar-twenty-five, cashed out, Becky took my picture collecting my winnings (and got busted for taking the photo...LOL) and we walked away.
We continued on Interstate 5 down to Grants Pass (we were favorably impressed...nice town, clean, public/cow art and 2 excellent motorcycle shops) where we stopped at the local Subway to pick up a couple of sandwiches to eat on the road later...we made it as far as the local, waterfront park where Labor Day festivities were going in full swing. Nice crowd, temperatures were in the high 80's, bands were setting up, boats were racing on the river...who among you can blame us? Had to stop, pulled over the bikes, parked, ate our sandwiches and lazed in the sunshine.
Back on the road and onto Highway 199 and the famous Smith River canyon...always a favorite of mine. Today the temps were in the 90's (a wee bit hot for my taste) and the traffic was a far too intense. Having looked at the back of this huge fricken' RV pulling an SUV for far too long we pulled over and took a break.
Back on the road we hooked up with Hwy 101 and headed south towards home. The temps were dropping dramatically now and we were starting to hit some fog...time to put the liners back in our jackets and plug in the electric vests. As we pulled over in Crescent City we noticed literally hundreds of kites flying darting in and out of the fog along the beach. We couldn't resist this surreal scene. We rode on over and were totally delighted by the annual Labor Day, Crescent City Kite Festival.
...back on our ponies and time to ride. We're both quite tired now but the end is in sight, it's been a long day. To us the only sensible answer seems to be to ride very fast and to ride very hard back safely to our home deep behind the Redwood Curtain....and so we did :-)
Total trip: a tad bit over 500 miles
Trip Rating: Excellent
Best Mileage In A Day: A little over 300 miles
Best Food: I think (and Becky may disagree with me here) was lunch at the Indian Creek Cafe in Gold Beach. Tired: Very
Comments: What's with Oregon? The roads are in far better shape and much better engineered than our California roads but they put a 55 mph speed limit EVERYWHERE and then radar the crap out of them...it's truly sick....but oh-so-much fun.
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