In June of 2008 our time riding with Novos came to a close in the town of Lee Vining just outside of Yosemite National Park. While Kenny, Greg and I checked in to a hotel, Novos peeled off heading towards his home in SoCal. He was going back to real life and we continued on in our California riding fantasy world.
In the morning under a clear blue sky, three headed north on route 395 with a view of Mono Lake sparkling to the east. We were heading towards the Sonora Pass.
About 20 miles out of town we saw signs for Bodie Historic Park. I had previously seen photos of the park from Novos. It looked really interesting. So, I pulled off and asked the guys if they wanted to check it out. I don’t know why I even asked. It should have been one of those given moments. Who knows when I’d ever pass that way again? It’s best to just go take a peek rather than wonder what it might have been like for the rest of your life. On we went in to Bodie.
Bodie is frozen in time. By the time that the State of California took over the town in 1962, it had been abandoned and ravaged by fire. The remaining 200 or so structures in the town are all that is left as a result of a major blaze that occurred in the 1930s.
It was fascinating to stroll through the dirt roadways, peering in to the old buildings. The only inhabitants that remain in this old mining town are the swallows that make mud nests in the eaves.
On our trip to California in June of 2008, one of our pit stops was to the famous motorcycle hangout The Rock Store. Apparently in the course of a weekend you never know who might turn up there from celebrities like Jay Leno and Arnold Schwarzenegger to the average guy just out for a cruise on his Ducati Desmosedici.
While some of the locals would rather be stabbed to death by a spoon than hang out there (ahem, Novos) it was great to see it with my own eyes. It is a great people watching spot; a slice of motorcyclists life from far away.
Inside the visitors center sat the usual rack of local tourist pamphlets. I do tend to poke through them when I’m standing around. Most often they seem to hawk places to buy handcrafted pottery, ugly local artisan jewelry or an outlet mall. But, sometimes…sometimes you find a diamond. This was my lucky day. I found a pamphlet that included scenic drives. Low and behold, it made special mention of “good motorcycle roads.”
You Never Know What you’re Gonna Get
The little map directed us towards route 36. With no other plan in place anyway, what did we have to lose by trying the route? From Redding we followed Platina Rd. out through Ono and on to 36. As we moved further away from the city each mile that went by gave us something new. There were sections of road with turns marked at 10mph that ran along the face of the mountains. Further along the road opened up into fast paced sweepers. As the elevation began to climb and things became greener, the road re-tightened again. Nearly 150 miles of twists and turns came with little to no traffic at all. We rolled the dice and came up winners. [Map Link]
We stayed with route 36 back to 101 and into Eureka. We stopped to have a look around town and grabbed a bite to eat at the Opera Alley Bistro. With hours of daylight still left on the clock we headed south from Eureka towards Ferndale and the Lost Coast. But not before relishing what we’d just ridden. You really never know what you’re going to find in the course of a day. Sometimes you’ve just got to take a chance.
While out west, we stumbled upon a stretch of road called the King Range National Conservation Area also known as ‘The Lost Coast’. Before leaving for California, I had never even heard of it. I discovered the Lost Coast, reading a small local paper during our trip.
The Lost Coast.
That name conjured up all sorts of romantic visions of what it would be like there. My mind immediately went to Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr kissing in the surf in the movie From Here to Eternity. I imagined myself as her but on the Lost Coast. The warm rays of the golden setting sun glistening on the sand. The sound of the ocean waves. Romantic, indeed.
Alas, it is more of a hiker’s paradise apparently. Instead of a sexy romp in the sand, it is probably more often a day filled with blisters, backpacks and trail mix. Maybe your sexytime uses those props, so your mileage on this fantasy may vary.
Coming south from Eureka, the 3 of us wheeled into the Victorian village of Ferndale. Ferndale is the perfect town for strolling. We walked the streets, looking in windows and trying to soak up all of Ferndale’s charms.
Following route 211 west through Ferndale brought us to Mattole Road. As I made the left onto the road I had the distinct feeling of wondering if I was going the right way. The climb up the roadway became very steep at points and the road condition wasn’t anything to write home about. There was not another soul on the road. Still, we pressed on. Looking back now, I am so glad that we did. It was one of the most memorable views of my life.
As we crested over a hill, it felt like it took a moment or two for my brain to catch up with my eyes. I realized that I was looking at the horizon. The ocean touched the sky as the Earth gently curved.
No people. No Cars. It was just us, the water and the waves. Riding along next to the ocean for miles was in short, heavenly.
Sequoia National Park in June of 2008 was the first time that I’d ever laid eyes on what it really means to see a big tree. They’re so huge that it’s quite difficult to capture them in pictures because you can’t actually get the whole tree into the frame and then on top of that you don’t have much to compare to size-wise if you do.