Time to leave Seattle and to tell the truth I wasn’t sorry. It’s a nice city as cities go but the wild west was waiting. The plan is to head south on the 101 and switch to the 1. These are roads running along the Pacific coast.
But to get to these I had to negotiate the Seattle ring road, no easy task. I wanted to ride the 101 from the beginning so took the 5 to Tacoma, through Olympia to the Olympic Peninsula and the beginning of the 101 just past Shelton. This took the best part of a day. Heavy traffic for most of the way. On the Olympic peninsula the 101 runs around Mount Olympia but doesn’t hug the coast all the way, unfortunately.
Stopped at the camping in the Potlatch State Park. This is on a bay or inlet. Put the tent up, pumped my mattress up, unrolled my sleeping bag and disaster…. it was damp. I had washed it in Seattle and bunged it in the drier and thought that it was dry, packed it away but it was still damp. Hung it out over the bike but night was coming, and the sea air is damp.. so, end of the story was that I had a cold night. This is the disadvantage of a down filled sleeping bag, if it’s wet it won’t insulate.
Next morning packed up and headed down to 101. This was gonna be a short hop, just past Brinnon I saw a beautiful campground called Seal Rock, just below Dosewallips State Park. I pulled in and got a brilliant spot, in the trees and overlooking the sea. First order of the day was to get my sleeping bag dry so put up the tent and headed out to find a laundry.
This was successful, found a RV campground with laundry, they let me use the drier. Then back to the camping a happy man and met up with my neighbor, a really nice person. Her name is Carol and she was driving an old Toyota camper called Milly. She is from the town of Portland in the state of Oregon. Now this was weird ‘cos one of my sisters is called Carol and my other sis has an old farmhouse that she lovingly calls Milly. We went for a swim in the Hood Canal and spent the night chatting by her campfire.
Spent two nights there, it was a really nice camping, very peaceful and just what I needed after Seattle. Went up the road to the Dosewallips State Park camping site to use their showers. Spent some time watching the salmon spawn in the Dosewallips River. This was an amazing sight, there were hundreds of them. All having just completed a journey upstream to lay their eggs and die, their bodies adding food to the river to nourish their offspring.
On to Port Angeles where I turn off the 101 to head inland and up into Olympic National Park to Hurricane ridge. Stayed in the park at Heart O’ Hills Campground, this is a beautiful location in among the trees in an old growth forest. There are two webcams at the visitors center offering spectacular views, check it out yourself https://www.nps.gov/olym/learn/photosmultimedia/hurricane-ridge-webcam.htm , it is snowed over now!
After Hurricane ridge went on the 112 which ran on the coast of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, a narrow body of water separating Olympic Peninsula from Vancouver Island. Joined up again with the 101 and turned off again at Forks to head once more up Mount Olympia National Forest to the HOH Rain Forest, one of the largest temperate rainforests in the United States.
This place has an average rainfall of 140 to 170 inches or 12 to 14 feet (3.65 to 4.26 meters). But the whole continent is in a period of drought, so the poor old rainforest was dry. Stayed on a camping site in the middle of the forest, had a spot by the river.
The trees are covered with a layer of moss and the moss is hanging from the branches, creating an eerie effect. One interesting little story from the native Americans from that region, they believed in K’wati, who was also known as the great changer, and the maker of the world as it is today. The people of the Hoh where clumsy and walked on their hands and fished with their feet, K’wati, the changer taught the Hoh to walk on their feet and fish with their hands. The Hoh embraced this with great enthusiasm and were rewarded with a river full of fish. On the subject of stories, the town of Forks featured in the Twilight books and movies which brought vampire lore to a region that was best known for its logging. At the height of the Twilight days tourism was booming, with people also exploring the Hoh and Olympic National Parks regions.
But it is actually a beautiful region. It was also here that I met up with two bikers, Hans, GS 1200 and Nancy KTM 950. Nancy has the most amazing hair, dreadlocks, down to below her waist. We wandered through the park together and after exchanging addresses, they went off on their way back to California
and I went to the camping site in the middle of this amazing forest, to dream of people walking upside down, rivers full of fish and twilight zones. The next morning as I was leaving, my neighbor came over to me with a bag of fresh veggies, French beans and Romano beans that she had plucked from her garden. A really nice gesture.
Back on the 101 which ran parallel with the Hoh river for a short distance before running parallel with the sea. The Pacific Ocean was an amazing blue color. Stopped of for a bit at Ruby beach. This is really a beautiful little cove. Loads of washed up logs, beach logs are the bones of a rain forest picked clean by the sea. They begin in river valleys, giant conifers like Sitka spruce.
When a day’s downpour adds to glacier melt the stream may rise 6 feet, undermining the bank and toppling the trees into the flood, washing them to river mouth and beach. Some fall from eroding headlands numbered trunks are strays from tug pulled log rafts. Some fine examples of sea stacks are home to a multitude of sea birds including Western gulls, tufted puffins and bald eagles. Ruby Beach gained its name from the ruby like crystals that wash up onto the beach. Yep this beach has got it all.
Then on to Amanda Park on the Quinault Native American Reservation. Had a camping spot on the Quinault lake. This is a nice little area. Saturday was brilliant weather but on Sunday people were leaving, the reason….. rain was predicted and guess what…. It arrived.
It rained from Sunday afternoon nonstop. I was having a problem with my clutch, it was slipping badly. I was adjusting it constantly, but it was shot. I was trying to get to Oregon to buy some new plates. The only place that had internet was the local supermarket cum giftshop cum restaurant. They turned out to be fantastic people.
Spent days there trying to scour some clutch plates in Portland and then having done that trying to book an Airbnb. This was extremely complicated because I had to be sure that I could get the plates before I booked and to make matters worse I had no cell coverage, so everything was being done by the mail. But finally, it all came together and I left Amanda Park on a wet Wednesday morning. My destination was gonna be the town of Astoria on the 101. On the way my clutch started to slip again and I was running out of adjustment so I decided to play safe and take the freeway number 5 and make up as much kilometers as possible. Was afraid the clutch would give up the ghost. The rain just kept coming, the whole state of Washington and Oregon were rained out.
Stopped for the night on an RV park, called Toutle River, no surprise as it was on the Toutle River and wonder of wonders they had a hot tub and a sauna. Treated myself to a nice shower and a nice sauna. Then it was a short hop to Portland.
Crossed the bridge over the Colombia river into the state of Oregon, the city of Portland and a torrential downpour. I took shelter because the road had turned into a river plus I was using Heidenau K60 Scout front and rear tires. These are a hard compound, wear really well and are excellent off road but I wasn’t to sure how they act on tar in the rain. So, I was cautious, also visibility was low and I was on the dreaded ring road.
Finally arrived at my Airbnb soaking wet. My host Diana was tremendous, she gave me a warm welcome, put loads of old towels down to put the luggage on and showed me my room. She lives there with a small child, two cats and two chickens.
The next day it was off to Latus Motors, a Harley Davidson and Triumph dealer. They had ordered the clutch plates for me and they gave me a good deal to fit them. Fitting clutch plates in the pouring rain on the side of a street was not an option for me. That took more than half a day.
Went in the afternoon to Oregon City and the end of the Oregon trail, which happened to be nearby. Spent some time wandering around the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center and the Commemorative Monument at the Turnaround at Seaside. I had touched a lot of the places along the Oregon trail, on my journey across the north-west part of America, this is a period in history that fascinates me.
So, it was only right and proper that I visited the end stop and paid my respects both for they who had died on the trail and they who had survived. For the native Americans who helped the emigrants along the trail and those who died fighting to defend their land, but above all for those who have learned the lessons from history and live together in respect, peace and harmony and for those who share.
Went up to visit the Pittock Mansion, In Portland, which was built in 1914 for the wealthy publisher Henry Pittock, who was born in London and travelled to Oregon with one of the wagon trains in 1885. He went on to become quite a successful business man.
The grounds of the mansion offer a spectacular view of the city of Portland. They are also a haven of peace and quiet.
Saturday went into downtown Portland for the Saturday market and to explore. The Saturday market is a mixture of art, food and new age products. Portland boasts also one of the best street food scenes in the states. There are literally hundreds of food wagons selling food from all over the world.
Now I am a super big fan of street food, so I pigged out. Also met up with Carol again. She lives with her family in Portland. We had exchanged phone numbers, but I didn’t want to impose on them, there are loads of kids running around.
She had seen on my spot tracker, via the link on Facebook and the website, that I was in Portland and immediately texted me with an offer of a bed, but I had already booked my Airbnb. She showed me around downtown Portland and we had coffee in Powell’s bookstore. This claims to be the world’s largest independent book store and they could well be right, it was huge and also very busy.
Sunday was spent working on the blog and Facebook, I had good Wi-Fi. But I also discovered something….. the concert David Gilmour live in Pompeii was being shown on Monday in the Hollywood theater in Portland. I immediately tried to get tickets and good old Carol got two, so Monday was taken care off. I stayed another day in Portland. Carol put me up for that night as I had to leave my Airbnb. This concert, filmed during his two July 2016 concerts in the Amphitheater, was shown worldwide on September 13. I couldn’t get to see it then. So, I was overjoyed to get tickets and to see it. I really love David Gilmour and Pink Floyd.
It was an amazing night, the concert, as was to be expected was sold out, but it was a masterpiece. After the film we went up to the Rose Garden and looked out over night time Portland.
Then on to Astoria to rejoin the 101. Based myself 13 km from Astoria in a town called Warrenton. Astoria, near the mouth of the Colombia river and the Pacific, is a beautiful little town. Took the old tram that runs up and down the Promenade and aimlessly wandered around. I found a really amazing little café run by Bruce O’Brian, a biker and an amazing character.
This little place is called “Rollin Thunder” and is situated in treasure alley on pier 11. It’s decorated with old photos of bikes, an old BMW R 900 parked in the back, a Vespa 150 scooter by the door…… it’s a little treasure trove https://www.facebook.com/RollinThunderBBQ/ I recommend it.
The plan was to head down the 101 Pacific Coast Highway and then head inland, at a place called Reedsport, on the 38 and the 138 to the north entrance of Crater Lake.
Stopped for the night in Beverly Beach State Park, they had a camping site on the beach. The weather changed also, back to rain.
Packed up in the rain, skipped breakfast but got a cup of coffee from the rangers at the info center and headed off. Stopped off at a place in Yachats for a late brunch. The place was called the Green Salmon, an organic little coffee shop.
Then on to Heceta Lighthouse just 20 km south on the 101. A nice wee stop, the lighthouse was built in 1893 on top of a 205 feet (62m) tall headland. The lighthouse, itself, is 56 foot (17m) tall and it’s light can be seen up to 21 nautical miles (39 km, 24 miles) out to sea, making it the strongest light on the Oregon coast. The whole complex is now called Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint. The old assistant lighthouse keeper’s house is now functioning as a Bed and Breakfast. Tours are given free of charge and it is a nice little hike up to the lighthouse itself.
Then on to Reedsport and the start of the highway 38. This is a nice little road winding its way along the Umpqua River through some amazing countryside, running into the 138 which joins up with the Interstate 5 but I left that as soon as possible to get onto the 99 and back onto the 138 and the Umpqua river up to Susan Creek Falls and the camping spot for the night.
Once again rain but it didn’t seem to matter, the scenery was fantastic. Anyway, better a rainy day on the bike in the nature than a sunny day in the office. Then into the Umpqua National Forest through an area called Steamboat always following the Umpqua River. This area is also famous for fishing. Just after Diamond Lake we turn off the 138 to start climbing up to Crater Lake via the North entrance.
Crater Lake is a deep-water lake in a dormant volcano, Mount Mazama. It was formed over 7,700 years ago when a violent eruption caused a collapse of a tall peak in the Cascade Mountain Range.
It’s the deepest lake in the USA and one of the most pristine of lakes. It is fed by rain water and snow melt. The rim ranges in elevation from 7,000 to 8000 feet (2,100 to 2,400 m)
The lake surface itself sits at 6,178 feet (1,883 m). It is a beautiful sight; the waters are a deep blue. Started to ride around the lake on the West Rim, stopping every so often to take photos and to marvel and wonder. It was cold, only plus 6C. I was heading for the only campsite that was open, but it was full.
Headed out from the lake to a place called Fort Klamath and a camping site. Woke up to frost covering the tent, it was minus 2C, but as the morning wore on it got warmer. Then back up to Crater Lake to ride the East Rim. Halfway up the road the weather started to get colder, started to rain which turned to snow. Stopped at the Steel Visitors Center only to be told that the East Rim was closed due partial to snow but more to an accident.
A huge big RV had slipped on ice and turned over, blocking the road completely. Removal was gonna take the best part of the day.Decided to head down to California, snow and ice didn’t appeal to me. So Giddy up and go….. started down the 62 and as Holly counted down the meters my temperature gauge was going up and also my spirits. Joined up for a short spell with the Interstate 5 leaving it at Grants Pass to run down the 199.
Stopped at Cave Junction on a little camping site called Mountain Man RV Park. This was situated along a little river. Owner was an ex BMW biker and gave me a discount. Weather was also improving.
Continuing on the 199 we get to Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park.The park was named for Jedediah Strong Smith, who in the 1820s became the first white man to explore the interior of northern California. The park was established in 1929 with a small parcel donated to Save the Redwoods League by the family of lumberman Frank Stout. The park now contains 7 percent of all the old redwood growths left in the world.
There are few trails or roads, just primeval majesty. Met up with an American biker called Craig, who was riding the new Honda Africa Twin. We had a good chat. In the morning met up with my camping neighbor, who had arrived in the dead of the night and who goes by the name of Ocean. He is bicycling his way down the states and philosophizing. I got a spot on the hiker’s biker’s sites. These are normally only given to hikers and bicyclist and cost a fraction of the price from a normal camping spot. I have been given these on a few occasions. I always bargain if the price is to high. For the normal spots they wanted 35 dollars a night and I don’t like paying that for a tent. They charged me 5 dollars a night for these spots.
These sites where separated from the main campsite and where in a densely forested area full of ancient giant redwoods. It was fantastic, if not a bit scary at night. The trees were talking to each other in the form of groans, creaks and cracks. I was planning on foraging for some firewood to build a campfire but didn’t dare.
Remembered that scene from the Lord Of The Rings when the Ents rose up against Saruman who was forging all sorts of devilry in the fires under his castle. So, didn’t think that these trees would appreciate me burning some of their relatives. The trees where so close together that it was dark, moonlight couldn’t penetrate. Kinda spooky but also really fantastic to be sleeping under these ancient trees.
Spent the next day riding some of the trails in the park to Stout Grove, some gravel. Went out to pebble beach in Crescent City.
Discovered a huge big shiny casino built on reservation land. Native Americans own and exploit these, profits going back to the community. What is really frightening is the number of people that frequent these places, people from all walks of life, all age groups, all ethnic persuasions and all nationalities. So what was I doing there…..? On Tuesdays they have a buffet lunch for 5 dollars, all you can eat and drink. So that was good enough reason. I stuffed myself and took a doggy bag consisting of apple pie and blueberry pie back with me for supper that evening.
Next morning time to move on. Back along the 101 switching to the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway through the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, back onto the 101 that is now also known as the Redwood Highway.
Brief stop at Klamath for the mysterious trees but it was just a big amusement park and souvenir trap.
Stopped in a place called Orick at the Palm Cafe. This was a nice little place with some nice offbeat décor. The food was also good. Turned off into the Big Lagoon County Park that also had a camping site on the lagoon.
This was really a beautiful spot. I wandered off to gather some firewood when I met a lady carting a load of wood that she had just bought. She gave me a couple of pieces, so that night, as there were no grumpy old redwoods in the vicinity, I had a super campfire. I normally carry potatoes and aluminum foil which means I have not only a fire but also baked potatoes, this combined with the sound of the sea makes for those moments when you think yes this is it and it’s all worthwhile.
On to the Avenue of the Giants, in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. This is a road running along the Eel River and through the Humboldt State Park, State Route 254. It’s famous for the coast redwoods that overshadow the road and surround the area.
It offers many different attractions, mostly natural but some man made. The most notable being the Immortal Tree. This is a tree that survived many an attempt to fell it, including a lightning hit that removed the top 45 feet (14m) leaving it at a lofty 250 feet (76m). It also survived a flood and the lumberjacks axe.
Founders’ Grove Natura Trail, a nice little hike through some old growth giant redwoods including the Dyerville Giant that fell down in 1991 and the Founders Tree.
Also, near to Myers Flat is the Shine Drive Thru Tree. This is a privately-owned tree that you can drive through for a fee. I pulled up to it and saw a biker working on his bike a Triumph Tiger 955i. I stopped to chat and it turns out that he owned the tree so he let me in for free, he said Tiger riders must stick together.
This is just a brief description and just a few of the attractions in this area, there are loads more, some beautiful hiking routes, you could easily spend a couple of days here.
This is an amazing road to drive through and well worth the effort. Stopped for the night just passed Richardson Grove State Park at Benbow KOA, an RV and campground, half the price of the state parks. I love staying on the state parks campsites but in this area, they were asking 45 dollars a night. These are basic sites, no Wi-Fi and the barest of facilities. I refuse to pay these prices.
Then back onto the 101 for a short ride to CA 1 or State Route 1 (SR1). This is the start of the more well-known Pacific coast highway, it is the longest state route in California with a total length of 655.8 miles (1,055.4 km) Stretching from Leggett (101) to Dana Point in Orange County where it joins up with the Interstate 5.
It hugs the Pacific coast for the most part and is classed as one of the best scenic drives in America. Stopped off in Fort Bragg to try to buy a pair of ROK straps. I had broken one of mine. Ended up at a really nice little shop called Street Track and Trail. Owned and run by a genuine biker family. After a good chat, he didn’t have any straps, I asked if I could adjust my chain and use one of their bike lifts. Carly just asked me to roll Tiggy Moon Dust into the workshop and he proceeded to adjust the chain for me and wouldn’t take any money for it. You can check them out at https://www.facebook.com/Street-Track-and-Trail-1498843123777209/ .
Then further down the coast. It is simply fantastic. Kept stopping to make photos. Stopped in Point Arena at another bike shop called “The Zen House Motorcycle Shop”. Just had to go in and wasn’t disappointed. This man specialized in restoring classic motorcycles and he had some really pristine samples outside. Triumph, Moto Guzzi, Cagiva, Ducati to name just a few. Check his website out: http://www.thezenhouse.net/ . I ended up buying a nice Beanie with the Zen House logo on it. By the way none of these shops sold ROK straps.
Carried on down the coast and it was time to look for a camping site. Pulled into the first one that I came across.
It was called Anchor Bay. Was directed to a grassy area and told that I could pitch my tent for 10 dollars a night. This was a special price for bicycle riders and motorcyclists. That was a really good deal, ‘cos they had excellent Wi-Fi and I could charge my laptop. This camping site is a small, privately owned and run by a cooperation of owners. There are 40 owned sites where people live all year round. They all take turns in doing the daily chores and twice a year they all get together to do major repair work on the site.
They are a super friendly bunch of people. For more info check out their website http://www.abcamp.com/ The little town of Gualala up on the headland had a Saturday farmers market going on so bought some decent bread.
The local organic supermarket had live music.
Sunday two bikers pulled in Danny, Kawasaki KLR 650 and Marco, Kawasaki Versys. Had a good chat with them.
Used my time there to walk on the beach, watch the sunsets, pretend to work on the blog and to mail order some ROK straps and a full set of brake pads. Whilst I was staying there a lot of wild fires broke out destroying parts of California. The worst hit being an area around Santa Rosa.
The smoke was once again covering the landscapes and were all in the area where I had to go through. This was the driest season recorded and the worst outbreaks of fire for years. I felt that there was no escaping the fires, they were following me for months, starting in BC Canada.
Thank you for reading this and following. For a photo album of this and other segments of my journey go to my open travel blog on Facebook Ride Live Explore. It’s an open page and you don’t need an account to view it. Next segment will be Lake Tahoe Yosemite and Death Valley. Until then Adios Amigos…. Gotta start learning Spanish ?