Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Eureka/Arcata to Phillipsville, California November 1

80 miles in 7:17... Pam headed back to Willits where the RV is camping, and I am now on my own for a couple of days. I dug out the panniers (saddlebags that go over the back wheel), and packed for two nights and days on my own, even though I was figuring on one night going solo. After packing for all potential conditions, including every temperature from 38 to 78 degrees, rain or sun, extra shoes,  I had bags that weighed 25 lbs more than I am used to carrying. The guys who are touring totally unsupported have rigs that sometimes add 60-70 lbs, even though most are 40-50. When I rode from Pennsylvania to North Carolina a few years ago, my stuff weighed about 40 lbs. but I was younger then. I've never been this old before, so I was wondering how I was going to hold up. It didn't take much longer than 15 miles before my right knee got a funny feeling in it. I was also coming off eight days without riding very much. By the end of the day, my fresh legs and lack of affordable sleeping arrangements got me through 80 miles, but my knees were definitely affected by the extra weight I was carrying. But I at least I felt like I was really touring, because sometimes I see those guys loaded down, and I feel like I'm cheating with my big RV, support from Pam, and my luxurious touring style.

The day started off with pea soup fog, which is exactly the way we left it nine days ago. It was 42 degrees, but I steeled my mind for this while I was enjoying 80 degree weather in the San Juaquin Valley and the national parks. Autumn weather is here to stay, so I'm ready. I rode about six miles from the motel, and saw Pam, who had stopped at the KOA and got the mail. I followed the Pacific Coast  Bicycle Route signs through Eureka, which took me along the boardwalk where Pam and I had visited, and along some fish and crab fisheries, as well as a huge lumber industry, which I hadn't seen before. I hardly saw it this time, because of the fog. One thing I did see was the less fortunate population sleeping under cardboard and wandering aimlessly through the fog. This area is depressing, and so far, the wanderers throughout the entire northwest have been a revelation to me.               
After about twenty miles of relatively flat riding along water,  I turned inland and began to climb, slowly but surely, and it didn't take long for the cool fog to disappear and blue skies to break through. I stopped to peel off my outer layers, as the day started to turn pretty warm. When I was in the sun, the temps were at or near 70. When I was in the shade, like on the Avenue of the Giants, it was mid fifties.
US 101 was once again rolling non stop, with long gradual ups and downs, and the scenery was pretty  similar to what I have been seeing for quite a while......, pine trees. That's when I remembered my Adventure Cycling maps, and I broke them out to see what they could do about getting me off 101. From then on, I spent very little time there. The ACA maps have a tendency to add mileage, for the sake of scenery, roads through small towns, and avoiding major climbs. I have ridden on ACA routes all over the country, but never got maps, because I wanted to do this on my own. They do have their advantages, however. There are many roads that run through this area that you would never know about without the maps. I got off the main roads and passed through all the small towns, and beautiful flat farm country, that 101 doesn't see as it takes the shortest route from place to place. These smaller, less traveled roads, had less traffic,  no tourist or passer through traffic, and basically followed the Eel River all day long. The surface of the local roads are not of the quality of the biggest highways and the hills are often short and STEEP, instead of long and gradual. Also, stopping to check maps all the time was different than just going by a mental plan made the night before, like I have been doing for over 10,000 miles. But, it's California, and the population centers are coming, and I thought I could use the help.  I also began using the GPS on my Garmin, because it tells me the name of every crossing road as I travel, which means I don't have to worry about missing signs, which has happened to me in the past. So, I've moved into the twenty first century, even though I still don't use all the features on the Garmin GPS, because I'd rather just ride than stare at a computer. I'd still rather ask locals for directions than sail through the trip mistake free the geeky way.
I passed through the towns of Ferndale, Fernbridge, Del Rio, Scotia, as I talked to the cows, and looked for fish in the river, instead of watching my mirror for crazy drivers.   At the 51 mile mark, I finally came to the famous Avenue of the Giants, and Humbolt Redwoods State Park. The next 30 miles would be spent riding through redwood groves, but not non stop. I was surprised to see homes and even small towns mixed in along the route, which is California 254, with a few short jaunts on 101. I think the Avenue was actually old 101, but I'm just guessing about that. I was never far from 101, as I could often hear some traffic, but that was all that broke the peace and tranquility of the whole Avenue.  There was almost no traffic for the first 20 miles, where there are fewer towns. It was darker and cooler due to the thick forest, but it was not too bad. It was just a nice day, at this point. I have taken a lot of pictures of big trees, so I didn't take too many more, but this park is the largest collection of old growth coastal redwoods left in the world, so there were hundreds, if not thousands of sequoia trees, not to mention all the other types of very large trees. They are not as beautiful and impressive as the Giant Sequoias over by Yosemite, but they were a great backdrop for a beautiful ride. Rt. 254 was flatter and easier to ride than 101, which was an added benefit. I only took one short side trip, to see the Founder Tree, the only named tree I heard about. When I got to the parking lot area, I found that the tree was accessible by a half mile trail, and that it had fallen in 1991. I decided not to leave my bike and walk it, but I took a picture of the plaque which tells of the tree registering on the Richter Scale ten miles away when it fell. It was the tallest tree in the world when it fell.
I ran into one other biker, heading the opposite direction. He had a little cart behind his bike, and was loaded down pretty well. He told me he was in the town of Garberville, and left his bike to use the restroom. He said a group of homeless people stole one of his bags with several items and his money in it. He told me to watch the homeless in this area. He, however, didn't ask me for money like I expected. He just asked me for a soda, which I didn't have to give him. Something didn't quite sell me on his tale of woe, however. Maybe it was the alcohol of which he reeked that didn't add up for a bicyclist touring the country. 
I reached my original stopping point of Meyers Flat, at about 4:30, and found that the only motel was very high end, if you know what I mean. I decided it was too high end for my needs, and decided I could ride another 15 or 20 to Garberville, if I had to, to a Best Western Motel. I got to Maranda first, and found its inn to be too rich for my blood, so I really started pounding it to make Garberville, home of the homeless thieves, before it was to dark. Fortunately, I didn't have to go quite that far. With light still in the sky, I came to Phillipsville, and the Maronda Motor Lodge. There was someone out front, so I pulled in and the owners gave me an 80 dollar room for 60 bucks. It was an older place, and they had to scramble to clean the room, find linens, and wash towels. The folks were real friendly though, and my options were getting lean. The room turned out to be quite nice in the long run, for a room with no heat, and two very small 25 watt bulbs for light. I really liked the flannel sheets and six pillows they gave me though. I got a shower, and walked down the road 50 yards to the Mexican restaurant and tavern, which was the only show in town. I had a beer and two fish tacos with rice and refried beans, and watched the locals getting smashed while celebrating a lady's 60th birthday. My Mexican waiter, who was drinking Coronas, told me California Mexican food was not nearly as spicy as the TexMex that tore Pam and I up in Texas, and he was right. It was pretty good. Then it was into the flannel sheets, some TV and texting to Pam, and it was a good nights sleep.

Mike and his bear (California animal) posing at the Dept of Transportation

Starting off in the morning fog

The cemeteries around here are all above ground


White bird and some scenery

Steam engine and train engine

Lumber yard

Eel River

Ear of corn wood carving on Avenue of Giants

Wood carving

Tree in the middle of nowhere loaded with ripe apples

Yeah, Mike is good at following directions

Passing over HWY 101

Mike's hotel - Maronda Motor Lodge

His hotel room

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