May 23, 2004: Fortuna to Cupertino
French toast, biscuits and gravy, sausages, scrambled eggs, coffee, orange juice....did I miss anything? Needless to say, we all had mighty big breakfasts. Remember how poor Chili Man was jealous of Colleen's and my piercings at dinner on Saturday night? Well, lucky Chili Man! Making the best quote of the morning, Colleen told us, "I've got a present for Chili Man -- lemme just pull down my pants!" Never one to leave us in suspense, she fished around in her jeans pocket and came up with a safety pin for Chili Man! Steve did the piercing honors, and Chili Man handled it quite well.
Re-live the magic with video!
I didn't personally witness it, but apparently Gil's napkin fairy struck again during breakfast.
And then it was time to get back on the road. Goodbyes were said, handshakes and hugs, and promises to ride safe and all the usual stuff. I'm not very good with goodbyes, so, um, sorry if anyone thought I was blowing you off. :(
Bill and I headed south with Robert, Jim, and Steve. I was towards the front for a while, but as on Friday, I was having a hell of a hard time holding 80mph. After a half-hour or so, I dropped back and waved the literbikes ahead of me. Dave (Shizoku) caught up with us for part of the ride, but he ducked off at the Avenue of the Giants while we all stayed on 101.
Steve, Bill, and I pulled over at The Legend of Bigfoot stand at the very northern end of the Cheesy Touristy Tree Shit section: Steve had custody of the Chili Man, and wanted to get some pictures of him with Bigfoot. As you can imagine, I was very disappointed at having to stop and be a big dorky tourist.
We met up with Robert and Jim again at a gas station south of The Legend of Bigfoot. We all rode down 101 together until it intersected with Hwy 1 in Leggett. Steve continued on southbound 101; Robert and Jim headed for the Chandelier Tree; Bill and I aimed west towards Hwy 1. I remembered liking this northernmost section of 1 on my Redding trip, and was looking forward to riding it again after three more years' experience.
Highway 1 north of Fort Bragg is gorgeous. It's forested and twisty, like Highway 9 up in the foothills. At times, I felt like I could have been magically transported back to Saratoga, and I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference. There weren't many cars, and those that were going more slowly generally pulled over into turnouts as soon as they saw me behind them. I'd imagine the locals are used to motorcyclists on roads as beautiful as these.
It was true in 2001, and it's true in 2004. It was twistier than I'd remembered, more slow-speed first-gear turns. I could tell that Saturday's Pavlovian reaction to signage was still fresh in my mind: I stomped on the shift pedal for every yellow diamond. It was fun, though. I wasn't riding quite as well as I had been on Saturday, but there were still enough of those graceful moments -- you know, the kind where you're dancing with the bike -- that I was happy with my lines and leans.
Soon, the forest ended and the coast began. This, of course, is why you ride Highway 1. 1 always makes me ride faster than I should, as if my brain reasons that if I'm bound and determined to ride a motorcycle, I'll probably die a crispy and fiery death; why not make it here, where at least it's pretty and the last views will be nice ones?
We followed the coast from Rockport to Fort Bragg. Bill had told me that I was welcome to pull over anytime for photos, but truthfully, I wanted to press on. I felt some internal pressure to be home around dinnertime; I had work to do, and precious few weekends with Peter before leaving for Alaska. So we rode nonstop into Fort Bragg.
The SVS was thirsty, so we stopped for gas on the north side of town. Afterwards, we left the bikes at the gas station and wandered across the street to the Cowlick ice cream parlour. Both of us were sort of "snacky" hungry, despite our huge Samoa Cookhouse breakfasts, and ice cream seemed like a perfect idea. So we sat in this little parlour, rickety table and twisted-iron-backed chairs and all, eating homemade ice cream from glass dishes....while wearing an Aerostich suit, Kilimanjaro jacket, leather pants, and hauling around helmets.
On the south end of town, we crossed the bridge outside of the Harbor Lite Hotel, where I stayed in 2001. The RV park was still there, on the right, where I'd walked after dinner and watched the sun set. I felt a strange, sudden, wave of that same intensity that I felt then...in that split second, I could see the sunset, the RVs, the fireworks. I actually turned my head and looked for the stoner guy. The bridge is heavily under construction. I wonder if it'll look the same when they're done with it.
Bill and I went our separate ways after Fort Bragg. He continued down the coast; I turned inland at Highway 20 towards 101.
I'd never been on this section of Hwy 20, only the more easterly part between Clear Lake and Hwy 5. I was expecting a boring straight shot through to 101; I was pleasantly surprised. Aside from a few stubborn drivers who were in no hurry whatsoever to use turnouts, it was a wonderful ride. If a word association game with Fort Bragg would result in "intense" and dark colors, Hwy 20 would bring up a dagger-sharp bright green. It was everywhere. The trees! After days of riding in the redwoods amongst reddish brown tree trunks, this was like being submersed in a mossy green pond. Painfully blue skies; painfully green trees. 50mph-ish curvy roads, when the drivers in front of me would allow.
I started getting tired. My lines got pretty poor, and I found myself braking in turns. Time to stop for water, rest, and photos.
I was in Willits all too quickly. The jaunt down 101 from Willits home was entirely uneventful; too much traffic south of Petaluma, though the Golden Gate Bridge wasn't as bad as it could have been on a Sunday evening.
Thanks, everyone, for a great weekend! How long until the 2005 meet...?