July 17, 2005 – Sunday – Day 22

48 States or Bust – The USA on Two Wheels
Miles Today: 229 – Total Miles: 5,502 – Average: 250.0
10:30am-xxxpm – 6:30hours – 8 hours
Crescent City, CA to Willets, CA (CA – 22/48)
(-staying at a Best Value Holiday Inn-)

It was a great night’s sleep and by 8:30am I was running over to the local True Value to get an extension cord with outlets. Talk about how technologically inclined some traveling has become! There are so many chargers (computer, 2 phones, a pda, 3 digital cameras, a video camera, flashlights, & tape recorders) that need to have their batteries at least occasionally charged! Most motel rooms don’t have enough outlets!

Morning time is gathering things together and double checking nothing is forgotten. It’s also getting ice from the ice machine to put in the camelback so we have cold water for most of the day. And then, there’s the packing everything on the bike.

It was very warm near the motel, but not more than 15 minutes and a bit toward the coast, the temperature dropped about 20 degrees. We gassed up and the price was high, but by the end of the day we were happy to see $2.70 or so!!

We rode through woods and dales, high and low as the coastal mountains took us. The air moved from hot, hot licking of breaths that seemed from hell on our faces to cold, cold, almost frigid air that had us shuddering.

Highway 101 was through the mountains. The roads were twisty and sometimes tight-turned. Not my favorite type of riding as I don’t feel too confident with all the tight bends on the big bike. It was all green – with glorious trees marching beside the road endlessly and sometimes out to deep ravines or up tall mountain walls.

Just after noon we saw a whole bunch of elk on the side of the road. We stopped and Karen got off to take a few close up photographs. The big antlered buck stopped eating for a bit, gazed in Karen’s direction as if posing (but more likely enamored by her yellow outfit) and then continued blissfully eating despite the crowd of folks watching. I had been wondering if we’d see any of those animals since there was sign after sign warning about them. Then, a little further down the highway on the left was a herd of twenty or so in the big Eel River. There were a bunch of cars parked along the side of the roadway and a gaggle of folks up on the river bank enjoying the view of the big beasts rump-deep in the cooling water. We pulled over and Karen got off the bike to get some shots.

I waited on the bike and then angled it out so we’d be able to leave easier when she was ready. We were on gravel and there was a three-inch lip to get back on the highway. I had angled the front wheel to that lip. Karen came back and got on. I checked the traffic both ways – and watched for the car that was to my immediate left, parked and waiting for me to pull out. I did begin to pull out ever so slowly, but the back tire caught the road lip at the wrong angle and… it was only a matter of milliseconds that we were falling onto the gravel and the 650-pound bike was falling on top of us. That’s called, among other things in motorcycle cycle parlance, “dropping the bike!” It seemed so slow motion – like we were caught in the wake of a huge slow Pacific Ocean wave – and just went with the flow onto sandy beach. Of course, it was gravel and macadam, not soft sand. But what with the crash bars and gear on the bike, and the Aerostitch suits, we were able to scramble up with nothing but our egos extremely damaged, and a good case of embarrassed red faces. The fellow in the car to our left immediately got out to see if we were okay and I enlisted his help in uprighting the bike (which, because of the angle of the ground Karen and I could have never done by ourselves). Another man came over to help, too. It was uprighted, we thanked those around us, and when the traffic cleared we took off.

As we got on the road slowly Karen mentioned, “So that is why we wear these big heavy suits!” And I just smiled in agreement.

Going slower as we’ve been doing the last few days has certainly helped with the gas mileage! Getting 45-50mpg lately in these mountainous areas.

Karen and I celebrated the year anniversary of knowing each other with a wonderful tromping down the Avenue of the Giants. Those redwoods are amazing there and the flora gave the impression that if one could forget the year, it would seem that the scene was from a forest primeval.

Along the Avenue of the Giants is a huge 1000 year-old-tree. It’s dubbed “The Immortal Tree” because it’s survived floods and axes and the like. It was 298 feet tall, but is now 248 feet because it lost its top to lightning. An older gentleman was taking his wife’s photo there and I volunteered to take both of them. He said that they came up from Santa Rosa every few months just to
“keep their perspective on their place in nature.”

At the last gas up of the day, it was blazing hot. The friendly woman gift shop/gas station owner came out with a cheery smile and a bit too much conversation (for my mood, at any rate.) But she offered us to turn on her sprinkler to cool us off and Karen took advantage of the offer – tromping through the cooling drops. I was sorry to have missed a picture of it.

We soon realized that San Francisco, to our great disappointment, wasn’t going to happen this day. For a multitude of reasons, not the least of which that we were tired and that tomorrow we’d get to spend more time with June and her husband, but also so we could grab a cable car in San Fran, we decided to stop short of the goal today.

We found a nice place and settled in. I ran for supper while Karen unpacked gear and after journal writing and checking email we went to sleep relatively earlier than usual.

Author: Joel Perlish

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