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Day 31: Westport to Manchester State Beach Park


Day 31: Westport to Manchester State Beach Park

Miles: 49

What I rode by: amazing coffee in Mendocino

Today’s ride was a bit hilly. California coastline hills are different than Oregon hills. They are more frequent, shorter, and steeper. They add up over the day. We had a lot of little hills today, a notable one just after the town of Elk (where we had great pea soup). It was also where Laura caught up to us. She decided to drive down the coast to take pictures on her way home. When Kristen and I are on the road, whoever is in back tells the person in front a car is coming by saying “car back”. Just after Elk, Kristen said “car back” but this car didn’t pass us. It was just hanging back there. How curious. As it got closer, I caught a glimpse of the license plate and immediately knew it was Laura! How exciting to see her on the road.

At the campground, the family next to us gave us some cucumbers and carrots from their garden, and some wine from the winery where the dad worked.

California coastline

Day 30: Rest day in Westport


Day 30: Rest day in Westport

We spent the day hanging out at the beach house with Laura and her parents, who were very welcoming and great hosts. Her dad smoked some salmon, which was delicious. By the way, since it’s been so long since we’ve ridden in a car, car rides feel totally out of control and way too fast! Laura did show us her favorite “bump in the road” where she told us to lift our feet just as she sped over the top. Wheeeeeeeeeee!

Our rest day beach house

We're smoking our own salmon as soon as we get home! We got the secret recipe from Jim.

Day 29: Standish-Hickey State Park to Westport, CA


Day 29: Standish-Hickey State Park to Westport, CA

Miles: 36

What I rode by: the Leggett Hill

Today we tackled the notorious Leggett Hill! I actually enjoyed it. It didn’t seem that bad. Plus, we left early to avoid the heat. Our goal was to be over the top before 10AM, which was easy because our new bunch of cyclist friends get up at the crack of dawn and are on the road by 7:30AM. Two of our new friends from Australia (the “Aussies”, even though two are originally from Ireland and one is from the US) were wondering if we had seen Aussie #3 on our way up. We hadn’t and it turned out that Patrick missed the turn for Hwy 1 and continued on Hwy 101 for a while before realizing what he had done.

The descent was very chilly, cold even, and took us back down to sea level along the water. After that, we headed to my friend Laura’s parent’s beach house near Westport and hung out in the hot tub while we waited for her to arrive.

Day 28: Redway to Standish-Hickey State Park


Day 28: Redway to Standish-Hickey State Park (near Leggett)

Miles: 28

What I rode by: blackberries, mint, Eel River watershed

Today was a lovely day. It was a short day because we wanted to camp just before Leggett (so we could tackle the famous Leggett Hill early in the morning). By the way, the summit of the Leggett Hill is the high point of the entire Pacific Coast Bike Route. Anyway, we lollygagged through the day through more redwoods.

One of the side roads that took us off Hwy 101 was filled with blackberry bushes and we ate a lot of blackberries. This was also the location of one of the most fragrant pee breaks of our whole trip. Kristen was peeing on the side of the road and commented that it smelled “nice”. She was peeing in a bed of mint! The only other fragrant place was, get ready for this, the outhouse at the hiker-biker campsite in Devil’s Lake State Park, OR. A maintenance worked came by early in the morning to clean it out and left it smelling like cinnamon.

We camped at Standish-Hickey State Park where we ran into about 20 other touring cyclists! They all started at different places and at different times but had all synced up over the previous couple of days. The park was also across the street of one of the best burger spots in California (the Peg House) and we went for a burger with about 10 other cyclists. It was fun and quite different being around such a crowd. Throughout Washington, we were usually the only touring cyclists at a campground. Throughout Oregon, we would be with one or two other groups but would only have short conversations with them. We all mostly kept to ourselves. Now, we were in a very welcoming group of people who knew each other a little bit. They even planned out dessert for the night: one group bought chocolate, one bought marshmallows, and a third bought graham crackers.

Wild blackberries!

Minty fresh!

I know it's blurry, but this is only half of them.

Day 27: Fortuna to Redway, CA


Day 27: Fortuna to Redway, CA

Miles: 50

What I rode by: Scotia, Avenue of the Giants, Eel River

Our first stop of the day was in Scotia for a late morning snack. Scotia is a logging town that is about as long as the two-mile lumber yard and mill. It was originally a company town (i.e., owned by the lumber company) and may still be that way. I saw signs for a “free Scotia” for an upcoming election, so that may be changing.

We spent most of the day riding on the Avenue of the Giants. This is a smaller road that parallels Hwy 101 and takes you through some magnificent redwood groves (about 30 miles of them). There is a lot of traffic on the road but everyone drives quite slow because they are all looking at the trees.

We camped near the town of Redway in what I thought was just your average RV Park, it certainly looked that way. When checking in, the guy rattled off a list of amenities such as a meeting room, pool, hot tub, laundry, to which I proclaimed, “you have everything here”. He responded, “that’s why it’s a resort”. That also explains the price. For the most part, all we need is a shower and a place to pitch our tent at night. In Washington, we once left a $43/night RV park for a $13/night park down the street.

Scotia lumber yard

If you got our Christmas card a few years ago, we were sitting in this very tree.

We stopped at a farmer's market and bought this loaf of chocolate chip banana bread. Note fancy RV Park and Resort in background.

Day 26: Rest day in Fortuna


Day 26: Rest day in Fortuna

Miles: 6 (by Kristen while I napped)

There’s not much to report about today other than I slept a lot.

Day 25: Patrick’s Point State Park to Fortuna, CA


Day 25: Patrick’s Point State Park to Fortuna, CA

Miles: 55

What I rode by: squirrels, surfers, farmland, police bust in Eureka, Loleta cheese factory

Today was a long day. It started at sunrise with two young squirrels chasing and squawking at each other, up and down the trees surrounding our tent. I’m certain this continued after we left. They were cute but noisy.

Early in the day we had coffee in Trinidad where we saw Sarah and Jasper again, and came across about a dozen local cyclists who admired our recumbent bicycles.

We approached Arcata on a five-mile long bike trail that ran parallel between Hwy 101 and the ocean. This took us past a biker gang, sand dunes, farmland, and even over an old bridge. It was nice to be off the highway and wandering through little places like Smith River. That’s been an interesting aspect of our trip. Our bike maps navigate us through widely diverse parts of the country – sometimes taking us through sparsely populated areas where you have to wonder what the people do for a living because they are so remote, and sometimes through obviously expensive beachfront homes. Two ends of the socio-economic spectrum. Riding through Eureka took us through the low side of that spectrum.

After Eureka, it was 20 long and windy miles to Kristen’s dad’s house in Fortuna.

Pink building in the little town of Smith River

On our route through Eureka

Colorful Eureka

Day 24: Crescent City to Patrick’s Point State Park, CA


Day 24: Crescent City to Patrick’s Point State Park, CA

Miles: 20 + 35

What I rode by: just released prisoners at the bus stop, sunrise, gray whale, elk, redwoods

We left the Orman Guest Ranch early to catch the Route 20 bus over a poor section of Hwy 101 just south of Crescent City. We got off at the first stop in Klamath just in time to catch a spectacular sunrise through the early morning fog covering the coastal mountains. Then, just down the road, we stopped to watch the gray whale that had been hanging out in the Klamath River for the past month. It kept swimming back and forth under the bridge. Every time it would swim under, the crowd of onlookers would run across the road (that’s Hwy 101 by the way, which was a big mess around the bridge). Shortly after that, we saw a herd of elk. It was a big mammal day.

The other highlight of the day was a stretch of road (by Prairie Creek where some of Jurassic Park was filmed) that took us through an old growth redwood forest.

Surreal sunrise in Klamath, CA.

Gray whale in the Klamath River.

Onlookers race across Hwy 101 as the whale swims under the bridge.

Big redwood tree

Looking up.

Day 23: Rest day and laundry in Crescent City


Day 23: Rest day and laundry in Crescent City

Miles: 6, riding around shopping and doing laundry

What I rode by: The morning marine layer

We camped at the Orman Guest Ranch just south of Crescent City. It’s basically the Orman’s farm and they’ve opened it up to campers. They have a dog, cats, chickens, sheep, goats, horses, cows and one bull. It was so peaceful and quiet that we decided to take a rest day. We rode into town to do laundry (where we ran into Sarah and Jasper, the couple from Oregon) and buy groceries.

Later in the day, Keith Orman took us into the pasture with the cows and bull and I got to pet the bull on the forehead. That’s one big animal.

Rest day at camp. We aired and dried everything out.


Sometimes even free range chickens want to be inside.

The bull is bigger than he appears from this angle. Trust me.

Day 22: Brookings, OR to Crescent City, CA!


Day 22: Brookings, OR to Crescent City, CA!

Miles: 35

What I rode by: Oregon-California border

We said goodbye and good luck to the family this morning, and then headed for the California border. It was a relatively flat day. We met some workers at a county beach park just north of Crescent City who had spent the last week cleaning up the park from the tsunami on March 11, 2011. The tsunami did major damage to the harbor in Crescent City. In fact, the man camping next to us (Alex, who has a cute boxer named Tara) was in Crescent City to help rebuild the harbor. He’s in construction and has a difficult time finding work but has recently taken to “following the disasters” for work.

Back in California!