Alrighty folks. Here we are. The home stretch. RickRick, nvoelsch & I have seen all kinds of things, ridden all kinds of roads & brushed with disaster a time or two. Now it's time to wrap all this up & let you go about your merry way, hopefully planning you're
trip to Northern California. Because really, it's totally worth it. This is the most fun I've had on two wheels in my entire life. I'll not forget this trip for a very long time & I hope to go down there again soon. So let's do it. Here's the story of the final day of our trip.
I woke up on Day 7 surprisingly refreshed. It was the earliest I had gotten up & moving around the entire trip. Unfortunately I woke up with a little depression. This is how traveling has been for me since I was a young child. I always take a few days to relax & disconnect from the stresses of work & real life, finally hitting my stride with my trip on the second or third day. This goes for visiting family out of state, camping out in the wilderness & extended motorcycle trips. On the last few days of any trip I start thinking about work & real life again. It's an unfavorable personality trait I picked up from my father. I just couldn't help thinking over the past few days how great it would've been to have two weeks to be away from it all & enjoy the open, twisty road. Quickly I realize what I'm doing to myself & push those thoughts out of my mind. I know the plans we've made for today & I can't wait to see these roads that the locals have recommended to us. They're roads that none of us had even considered. None of us knew the conditions & only had what the locals had said to go on. Today was a great day for an adventure.
Shortly after I wake up & start moving around, I hear RickRick groaning. So as perky as I can, I say to him, "Goooooooood morning, Rick! It's a beautiful day & we've got some exciting roads ahead of us! How'd you sleep?!" To which he grumbles, "Not well at all. Around midnight I woke up on the ground. I guess I have a hole in my air mattress. I slept on the ground all night." I'm a bit of an asshole, so I couldn't help chuckling a little bit. Hearing this makes me really glad that I've not tried to make tent camping too comfortable. It's things like this that can really ruin a trip. I was just happy for him that it didn't happen until the last night. I'd really have felt badly for him if this had happened during the first few nights of the trip. That's enough to ruin the rest of the ride for someone. Fortunately he could see the humor in it as well & didn't get too pissed about my chuckling. I think he may have even laughed at himself a bit.
We both roll out of our tents, shower & start packing up. It's funny how in the beginning of the trip, I was constantly packing things up & then having to unstrap everything just to put something in the saddle bags that I had forgotten. Sometimes it happened two or three times during one packing event. By the 7th day I had it down like a science. It didn't take long to get everything strapped to the bike & ready to go. The best part was, by 8:45 we were packed & ready to go. This would be our earliest start all week. And it didn't take nvoelsch shuffling us along.
We decide to ride up to Coffee Creek Willy's to say goodbye. Yeah, we knew it would take some time, but we didn't care. He's a good guy & he has a lot of knowledge of the area. Of course, he asks if we've taken his road recommendation that he had given us the first night we stayed. We told him that we hadn't, but that's why we were here. There are two roads that we want to check out based on recommendations from locals. He asks about the other one & agrees that we should check it out. About 10 minutes later, we were on our way, heading back north on CA 3 for some of the tightest twisties that we had ridden on the entire trip. We get to do them again, this time with some knowledge of the road.
The ride over Scott Mountain was just as fun this time as the first time. This time there was no traffic. I don't think we came across a single car going the same direction we were. Being that it was Tuesday, we weren't surprised. On the other side, I start looking for Coffee Creek Willy's recommendation, Cecilville-Callahan Road. It connects CA 3 with CA 96 at Salmon River. He's really talked up this road, the twists & turns, and the spectacular views. We can't wait to see it. Finally I see the sign pointing toward Cecilville, CA & we hang a left. The first part was awesome. Wide lanes, centerline & littered with sweepers & tight turns alike. I didn't get any video of this stretch of the road because I was quickly running out of space on the GoPro & wanted to save it for anything more interesting that we may come across. Don't get me wrong, the road was great, but it didn't really stand out. Somewhere up the hill, the two lane road narrows & the centerline disappears. Shortly after that we roll up on Cecilville. I'm really surprised that this place had a name & a dot on the map. It was clear to us that these people didn't want to be found. I think the best way I can describe it is that it was like rolling up on the small village in the beginning of the movie Deliverance
. I kept looking around, wondering if I'd see anyone, hoping I wouldn't. My fear is that if we stopped, we'd end up in this situation.
Seriously, had I not already known that the movie was set & filmed in Northern Georgia, someone could've told me it had been Cecilville & I would've believed them. It seemed very anti-government, anti-establishment, & very remote. Fortunately we didn't see a soul & continued on. Quite a few miles past Cecilville, we stopped to take in the scenery. It was really beautiful around here. The road followed along a shallow canyon, with awesome views of the Salmon River. The pictures really don't do it any justice.
Having rested & sufficiently taken in the sights, we moved on, hoping WE weren't found by the residents of Cecilville. Coffee Creek Willy was right. Even despite our opinions of Cecilville & running across an apparently long abandoned minivan at an intersection for a side road, this was a beautiful road. It wasn't the high speed kind of road that we've been sticking to all week, but it had something different to offer.
At some point down the road, we get stopped by a flagger with a USFS Wildland Fire crew. He explains that we should take it easy as there were fire trucks on this one lane road. Sure enough, not long after we talk to him, we ride through an area that had recently burned. This was an experience I didn't think I'd ever have. The best part is, this road had turned into a glorified goat trail. We called each other up on the intercom & agreed that it was like all of the videos of riding narrow roads along the mountains of South America. The road was wet, the surface was in dismal condition & in places, the side of the road was crumbling into the canyon below us. I did my best to push thoughts of horrible scenarios out of my mind.
Finally we reach the bottom & stop to take a break.
All in all, I'm really glad we had taken Coffee Creek Willy's recommendation. If you have a chance to take Cecilville-Callahan/Salmon River Road, do it. It's a side of California that I didn't know existed.
From there, we hit CA 96 & headed north, back toward Happy Camp. The second local road recommendation we were to take today was given to us by the guy in the grocery store in Happy Camp on Day 3. He had suggested that we take Grayback Road/NF-48 north out of Happy Camp. It would intersect with CA 199 & we could take that up to Grant's Pants, OR (the locals call it Grants Pass) & hit I-5 for a bit to make up some time. Now...I haven't mentioned this yet, but today was the first day on our trip that we had encountered rain. So far it was manageable. We were getting wet, but with the heated grips & dry stretches every once in a while, we weren't getting soaked. Grayback Road/NF-48 was a different story. We start climbing the hill & in no time, we end up in the clouds. What started out as a slight drizzle quickly turned into what felt like a downpour. Beyond that, we were quickly climbing in elevation, so the weather was getting MUCH colder. Because we hadn't been getting soaked & it hadn't been all that cold, we never stopped to don our rain gear. We were both still in our summer gear, perforated leathers, vented leather gloves & vented sport boots. I was soaked, it was colder than a witch's tit in a brass bra & water was starting to run down the inside of my face shield. I could barely see the road & I was miserable. This was by far the worst part of the trip. I even got to the point where I noticed that the mile markers were counting down so I kept an eye on them, knowing that soon we'd be off this God damned mountain. Finally, we drop down out of the clouds & the downpour turns back into drizzle which ultimately goes away around the time we hit CA 199. Alright, I'm not having fun anymore. Let's high tail it back home.
Having been cold, wet & miserable on the mountain, we decide to stop in Cave Junction, OR for a quick stop for provisions. As we're outside snacking & taking in some fluids, we notice the sign in front of the building beside us.
I don't even want to know what they put in the food there. Cave Junction is a really weird place. It's time to go. We mount our motorcycles & head due north on CA 199 for Grant's Pants. Finally we arrive there & take I-5 north, trying to make up some time & get home before it gets too late. We had wanted to take the exit for Curtain, OR & finish the trip on Territorial Highway, but decided to stay on I-5 because we both needed fuel to make it the rest of the way & there really isn't any fuel near Curtain. After a quick stop for fuel & to rest, we continue on our way. That's when we found this awesome, secret road.
Ok, it's not secret to everyone, but I don't like advertising it a whole lot. Consider it something like my favorite fishing hole. It was fitting that we finish our trip on my favorite road. Finally, we were back to our home stomping grounds. After intersecting with Territorial Highway, we head north into Eugene & split ways on Beltline Highway. RickRick going to visit nvoelsch & me heading home. It's been one hell of a trip. A trip that I won't ever forget. It's been my greatest adventure to date & I can't wait to do it again.
I hope you've enjoyed my story. It was fun telling it & getting to relive one of the best weeks of my life. If I wasn't addicted to motorcycle adventures after my Rally in the Gorge trip
, it had certainly sunk in with this one. I clocked 2,057 miles again, just a month after having ridden 2,061 miles.
Day 7 Route: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/3421333