Ah...KOA. Rick & I had decided that the reason they use 'K' to spell camping is the same reason we use a 'K' to spell imitation crab. That's not to say that it was all bad. It was lighting to setup camp, a place to sleep & a place to plug in our gadgets (and one motorcycle). And you can't beat going to sleep to the sounds of nature...you know...the couple two sites down "enjoying" nature. What's better than that? Waking up to the sounds of nature too. Yep, they were at it again in the morning. Wild rabbits, I tell you. With that, we started to move around & start breaking camp.
Having broken camp, we started looking for a place in Eureka to buy an RV->110V adapter in case we needed one on the rest of the trip. nvoelsch had graciously offered to pay for it & let us borrow it, since he had a use for one at home. A quick stop at Harbor Freight produced what we were looking for, so we headed to get breakfast. nvoelsch would be leaving us today & heading north, back to his cabin for a night & then back home. We decide on the Village Pantry, a nice little breakfast place, not unlike Ye Olde Pancake House in Eugene. The food is great, the service is just as good & while we were there, another traveler on a DL650 came in for some food & hot coffee. As you'd expect, we strike up a conversation. Apparently he's on a ride from Southern California up to Salem to see his father. He's taking 2 weeks to get there. He said he was hitting every great motorcycle road in between. While we're talking to him, he tells us about the website that he runs. It's the Candy Butt Association
, a site poking fun at the Iron Butt Association (which he is a member of...along with a bunch of his own members). It's basically a site where people can share stories of long trips that happen over long periods of time, rather than 11,000 miles in 48 hours.
After breakfast, the three of us head outside, say our goodbyes & head in opposite directions. Rick & I heading south while nvoelsch heads north.
Let me give you a little history before I tell you more about why we're headed where we are. The Hungarian & I got married on the 23rd of September last year & had planned on taking a huge honeymoon trip to the Caribbean in the spring. So that we didn't feel like we had the wedding & then went right back to work, we took a practice honeymoon to San Francisco since I had never been. On our way back from San Francisco, we stopped in Napa Valley to visit her favorite winery (more on that later). Having stayed a night in Calistoga, CA, The Hungarian & I looked for a way to get back to I-5 & found CA 29. The really fun section of CA 29, while not all that long, is REALLY fun. Beautiful pavement, lots of passing lanes & lots of tight corners. I almost made The Hungarian sick when we went through in the Civic. Ever since then, I've wanted to ride that road on one of the motorcycles.
Fast forward to the (un)planning phase of the trip, I had told Rick & nvoelsch that CA 29 is one of the roads that I HAD to check off my list while we were down there. The only problem was, the more I talked about how great is, the more I felt like maybe I was playing it up to Rick too much. Fortunately, he was unconcerned with going so far out of our way to hit it & just going along with the flow. You know...he's not at work, he's not at home & he's on two wheels. He really didn't care where
we went. He was just happy to be riding for a week straight.
Fast forward now to today, Day 4. We had decided that now would be a good time to head down to Napa Valley. Besides, CA 1 was one of the roads we wanted to hit & that'd take us closer to my ultimate goal of CA 29. So onward!
We headed down US 101 to the Avenue of the Giants (CA 254). When we get there, we're greeted with one of the more scenic roads on our trip. It really is amazing to ride among these majestic giants. And seeing the cars & motorcycles among them really give you perspective to just how big they are. It's a beautiful ride, that's for sure.
At the end of CA 254, we take a break & shed a few layers. It had been cold & damp on the coast (ya think?) and CA 254 had gotten us out of that & into the warmer, sunnier weather.
The trip down US 101 to CA 1 was uneventful, it's mostly freeway the whole way, but when we got there...we were greeted with one of the twistiest roads we had ridden. Yeah, this one made my heart flutter too.
It was great until we got behind some traffic (and eventual construction...imagine that). We ended up behind a couple of cars that were intent on preventing us from passing them..at all costs. I was glad I had the camera rolling, because I had gotten around one of them & then realized I'd be stupid to try & pass the next one. They're lucky they didn't kill someone. I have no idea why some people drive like this to keep motorcyclists behind them. It just doesn't make sense to me. If I get around you, you won't see me again & everyone is happy. Anyway, take a look. This driver REALLY didn't want me in front of them.
Rick could tell how frustrated I was getting & once we got through the construction section he pulled off & said it was time to take a break. He was right...there was no reason for me to get to upset. Let's pull over, calm down...grab a bite to eat & let traffic get ahead of us a bit. I can't say it enough, Rick. Thank you for being the cooler head & pulling me over. I can't tell you how much I (and most likely The Hungarian as well) appreciate this.
I'm really glad we stopped...it was smooth sailing the rest of the way. Below is a video of the second part of CA 1. Yeah...two VERY long parts (and I cut out quite a bit). This is an awesome road...one not to be passed up. I know y'all aren't watching the entire length of these videos, they're pretty boring to sit through the whole thing. But on this one, when you're ready to turn it off, fast forward to about 5:30. This is what it's like to emerge from the woods & end up on the coast. It was one of my favorite views of the entire trip.
Having rested & taken some pictures, we were on our way. We stopped for fuel in Fort Bragg & decided to head inland so we'd get to Napa Valley before it got too late. This is where (un)planning gets fun. We hadn't decided when we'd head inland & hadn't even looked at possible routes along the way. After a consult with Google Maps on my phone, I decide on CA 128. It runs diagonally southeast across Western California, right into Cloverdale, not very far from our goal of St. Helena (for the winery) and Calistoga (for CA 29). Not far into CA 128 we run into more construction. Seriously, I'm pretty sure there wasn't a road that we were on that DIDN'T have construction closing one lane. Since we were set on not getting frustrated with traffic & taking a cue from Rick's earlier stop, I decided to pull over after getting through the lane closure to take a break. So we take a few pictures & goof off a bit.
Once we get underway again, the road gets really twisty. Part of me wishes I had gotten video, because this road was an AWESOME surprise. This (un)planning strategy REALLY works. It's unfortunate though, we ended up behind a brontosaurus & a line of cars too long to try & pass. I don't fault any of the vehicles in front of us, there wasn't even a place big enough for Rick & I to pull off & wait. It's unfortunate too...that road was money
. Coming down off the hill, we stop again...to let my nerves chill out & to look for a place to camp. I make a number of calls & none of the campgrounds have tent sites with power. Fortunately there's a KOA right there in Cloverdale. Whatever...it's convenient. I'm not afraid of KOAs...even after last night.
We head to the KOA & we're surprised when we see the freeway retreat into the distance in our mirrors (we had to cross under US 101 to get there). There's a KOA out here away from the freeway? No way! Sure enough, we start climbing a hill on a fairly twisty road & we're still 4 miles away. This is a KOA like no other! Finally, we reach the top, get checked in & go find our campsite. I didn't get a picture that night, but here's one I took the next morning.
Our campsite looked out over Napa Valley. It really was
beautiful. There was no one in the site to the north of us & the site to the south was no less than 10 or 15 yards away. This was going to be my best KOA experience ever. After setting up camp, we head to the front office to ask about food in town. The women there recommended Ruth McGowan's Brewpub. So we gather up our maps & head back down to Cloverdale. The weather is so nice, we opt to sit outside so we can spread the maps across the table & discuss tomorrow's route. After dinner we head to the store across the street, grab some adult beverages & head back up the hill. Finally for the first time on the trip, we're able to unpack our camp chairs. We set them up looking out over the valley, enjoy sitting under the stars & appreciate the weather. Once our drinks are done, we head to our tents & turn in. It's been a great day with the first of our many surprise routes.
Day 4 Route: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/3421326
The race track in Napa Valley & another surprise route.