Sunday, June 30, 2013

Day 8 Elk Prairie to Eureka KOA 48.5 miles (total miles 329.5)

We awoke to a misty morning in Elk Prairie and were on the way at 9 am after saying goodbye to the elk that were blocking the path to the bathroom and showers this morning.

No big mountains today but lots of little ones as the rolling terrain brought us back to the coast where we had our mid-morning apple snack along side a coastal lagoon.

It was pleasant riding for the most part.  My Adventure Cycling map which is usually reliable took us on a variety of side roads away from busy highway 101 that were much hillier but with nearly no traffic. Some of the views of the ocean were quite spectacular.  This is near the small town of Trinidad where we had lunch.  

Catalina was not particularly happy with the healthy lunch options available at the little vegan cafe we found in Trinidad. Next time she won't be so quick to demand "just stop at the first place we get to. I'm so hungry even my back aches!"
Back on road after Trinidad the map guided us off the highway again to a bike path north of McKinleyville which was supposed to take us along the dunes and coastline through McKinleyville to Arcata.  For the first 5 miles we had a beautiful paved bike path along the dunes until....whoops?  Where did the bike path go?   This looks more like a horse trail or mountain bike trail not something for a tandem and trailer.

Doesn't look like it but this is at least a 10% grade....nothing to do but push the heavy rig up.

A mile later....whew, we got our bike path back!

The map took us through deserted country roads into Arcata where we bought groceries and rode another 4 miles down the road to the Eureka KOA. 

Day 7 Crescent City to Elk Prairie Campground 35 miles (total miles 281)

Today was a tough day in the mountains.   Riding out of Crescent City we hit hour first mountain almost immediately.   It was a good 4-5 miles to the summit at what the signs said were 6% grades so about an hour of solid endless climbing except that over the summit there were to more summits to cross.  I kept hearing Phil Liggett in my ear announcing "and the elastic band is stretching...oh, he's cracked!"  Here we are taking some rest breaks part way up.  

And a view back at Crescent City and Crescent Beach from the road

First Redwood!

The higher we climbed the more we were riding in the shade of giant redwoods so there was that.  Finally after the third summit we descended off the mountain to see the ocean again

The arrived at the tourist trap called Trees of Mystery where we had lunch and found a 60' talking Paul Bunyon.

Leaving Trees of Mystery we had two more mountains to cross until we finally left highway 101 to descend into the Redwoods National Park where we found our campground called Elk Prairie for good reason.  Arriving at the campground the signs all said "campground full" which one would expect on a summer weekend but they had plenty of room in the hiker/biker section at the rear which was nicer than most of the regular spots   We camped among the redwoods out of cell phone range of anything and didn't ride back into coverage until the middle of the next morning when my phone started beeping like crazy with all the stored up texts and emails.  Here are some photos of Elk Prairie Campground in Redwoods National Park.  

Friday, June 28, 2013

Day 6 Harris Beach to Crescent City 31 miles (total miles 246)

Today was an easy day of riding compared to yesterday and compared to the mountains in the redwoods of Northern California yet to come.  We had nice sunny weather as we rode through the town of Brookings Oregon, our last town in Oregon until we reached the California border.  Two college girls were there taking pictures and took ours for us but from too far back so I took another of Catalina.

After crossing into CA the bike route took us off the main highway onto back roads along mostly farm land.  We rode for about 20 miles through rolling terrain until we found the little town of Fort Dick and had lunch at the Fort Dick Market which looks exactly like any small town Texas market. 

Just past Fort Dick we passed Pelican Bay Supermax Prison which is somewhat famous as being the most maximum security prison in the country where all the prisoners are in solitary lockup.  Didn't look like much from the outside.  

After that we rode the final 9 miles into Crescent City.  We had planned to stay at the one campground in town that accommodated bikers....the rest are just gravel and cement RV parking lots.  But after considering the choice of paying $35 for a patch of grass next to a sea of RVs vs another $20 to get a "suite" at the Penny Saver Inn, the cheapest hotel in Crescent City, we went for the room after checking  it out first.  Not bad, they have wifi to make Catalina happy and let me post to the blog as it takes forever to post via 3G on this old iPad.  At least it is clean.  Lots of motorcycles out front so I guess we are with that crowd for a change instead of the RV set we see at the campgrounds.

One advantage to older style motels with outside entrances when you are biking is that you can get a first floor room and wheel the bikes right inside.   It is somewhat more conspicuous to wheel a tandem and trailer into a new style Holiday Inn Express past the front desk and down the hall to the elevator.  I haven't tried that yet!

Since we arrived pretty early....around 3 pm it has been a chance to do laundry at the laundromat a block away.  I think it has been 30 years since I have been inside a coin-op laundry.  Prices have gone up.  It now takes 12 quarters to wash.

Tomorrow we are making an early start as we have two big mountains to climb.  The biggest so far on this trip.   Will be a chance to see if I am riding myself into shape or not.   If we make it over the mountains without dying we will be camping among the big trees tomorrow night in Redwoods National Park a few miles north of the town of Orick.  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Day 5 Humbug Mountain to Harris Beach 52 miles (total miles 215)

Today was our longest and toughest day yet so we got a relatively early start, breaking camp at 8:30 am and had a nice morning ride of 23 miles into the little town of Gold Beach.   We had sun and rolling hills and unlike yesterday we were following the shoreline so we had lots of nice views.  Here we are taking a mid-morning breakfast of fruit and granola bars as all we had for breakfast was coffee and hot chocolate and some morning views of the coastline. 

We had lunch in Gold Beach which is the only town we passed through in our 52 miles of riding today. Most of the terrain was wilderness parks with scattered small farms wherever the terrain flattened enough.   Crossing the Rogue River into Gold Beach was a bit stressful as we had a narrow sidewalk to navigate over a long bridge, but we made it in time for lunch.  Hey! They have wifi!

First thing after lunch we encountered a steep mountain climb over Cape Sebastian.  The road wound straight up for over 3 miles and when you are grinding along at 3-4 mph that amounts to about an hour of chugging up hill with a 50 lb. trailer and 80 lb. girl on the back.  Hop on a stairmaster for an hour after riding 30 miles and you'll get the same effect.   The plunge back down to sea level after cresting the 1000 ft summit was a screamer.  My hands got numb from the constant braking and the disc rotors on the tandem got red hot to the point that the metal is now discolored.  With all that weight in back the bike really wants to go on downhills. 

The last 20 miles or so into Harris Beach State Park were just one up and down after another.  No sooner would we make it down one hill then the next would start.  No really high passes but just constant hills.  And the afternoon fog had rolled in so we couldn't see much.  We could hear the ocean crashing on the rocks below for most of the ride and we passed a dozen scenic viewpoints but all was shrouded in fog.   Yes there is an ocean down there!

Finally in camp, and this is a very nice campground by the way, after a dinner of instant potato soup, cheese, crackers, and baby carrots it is time to crash and read.  On this trip we seem to be climbing into our tents at 9 pm and waking up with the birds at dawn around 5:30 am.  Except for Catalina who usually crawls out around 8 when breakfast is ready.  

Day 4 Bandon to Humbug Mountain State Park 38 miles (total miles 163)

We are finally on the road again after a few days of hiding out from the rain.  We left The Danish Shipbuilders House around 9 am and found the first 30 miles of riding from Bandon to Port Orford to be rather boring rolling countryside as the highway veered inland. 

Skies were overcast and somewhat foggy but we saw no rain finally.   We caught our first glimpse of the Pacific again as we entered the little town of Port Orford where we had lunch at the Crazy Norwegian Cafe which had a 95% positive rating on urban spoon.  Even these little towns have lots of urban spoon ratings for most of the restaurants.  Lots of travelers with iPhones pass through here I guess.

After a satisfying lunch of clam chowder and pie it was back on the bikes for the final 7 miles to our campground on Humbug Mountain.  Here is a view of the Pacific from the Highway between Port Orford and Humbug Mountain.

And here is Humbug Mountain itself shrouded in mist.   

This is our campsite at the base of the mountain.

Tomorrow we have 50 miles to our next campsite at Harris Beach State Park outside of the city of Brookings.   But first we have to climb over Humbug Mountain in the morning.  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Stormy day in Bandon

We decided to spend one more day hiding out from the weather before resuming our bike journey.  But to avoid falling behind schedule we decided to drive from Newport to Bandon where we used to find an interesting old house to rent on the Cocquille River about 3 miles outside Bandon.  There is a small cluster of historic old houses along the river that a woman has been buying up and restoring to make into vacation rentals.   She has four of them.  We are in the 1895 Danish Shipbuilders House.  It is full of antiques and even has an old player piano.  And is much cheaper than the traditional beach rental because we are a few miles from the beach.  Grandma had to return to Salem this morning for an appointment so it is just the 3 of us here. 

It rained a bunch this morning and is now mostly misty and windy outside.  Tomorrow is supposed to be the end of this long storm front off the Pacific and after that the forecast is for nothing but sunny days as we head into California.  Tomorrow morning we will be back on the road rain or shine as we have no more rest days on the schedule.  We will be biking to Humbug Mountain State Park south of Port Orford which is about 40 miles from here.   

Here are some pictures of yesterday's stormy weather at the beach in Bandon where it was blowing more than 40 mph and some pictures of the Danish Shipbuilders House, the Coquille River in front, and the forest behind that I took this morning during a break in the rain.  Note:  I changed the blogger settings to post full size pictures as an experiment.  I think it will still show the smaller picture in the blog but will allow you to click to enlarge.  Let me know if these pictures are harder to load and I'll change the settings back.  I only have an ipad so I don't know now things look on a PC.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Rain rain go away!

Still raining her in Newport but the weather forecasts are slowly getting better.   I think we will hunker down and stay off the road for another day or two until the weather clears and then resume our journey and blogging.  We may take the car down to Bandon and resume our ride from there which would allow us to skip a nasty tunnel between here and Florence and a long bridge with narrow shoulders over Coos Bay.  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Shedding gear and weight

After 3 days of riding over steep mountains the gear and clothing we are not using is coming out of the packs and going back in the car.  We should be dropping a couple of pounds of gear.  Here is the stuff that is staying behind.