Saturday – Chico to Eureka
We had breakfast at Brunch House, a restaurant in the same plaza as Gen Kai. I had a hearty breakfast of eggs, sausage, and potatoes, while Chris had an egg and an apple-walnut pancake that was so big it had its own plate. She shared the pancake with me. It was delicious.
We walked back to the hotel, checked out around 9:30, and rode to the post office, where Chris bought postcard stamps and mailed our cards. Then we headed up Hwy 99 to get back on I-5. At 10:30, just before the interstate, we stopped to stretch at a gas station. We finally left the interstate highways behind us when we got to Redding at 11:15. There we stopped to fill our gas tank again, then headed west on Hwy 299. This highway is a very curvy, scenic road through the Whiskeytown- Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area and Trinity National Forest. We were finally on a road that justified being on a bike!
We stopped at Whiskeytown Lake, where we found a “virtual” geocache in an unusual cemetery. What made it unusual? The grave markers ranged from traditional marble, to concrete, to wood, to etched mirrors. The graves themselves were decorated with a wide variety of memorial items: stuffed animals, photographs, beer bottles, wind chimes, and at least one baseball bat. We noticed that a number of the graves were for young people — from almost- teens to early 20’s.
We found the answers to the clues for the virtual cache and walked around the cemetery, touched by the affection and sense of loss conveyed by all of the markers and decorations.
We left Whiskeytown Lake at 1:00. We continued west on Hwy 299, getting into the really twisty part. The road was clean, dry, and in excellent condition. The curves were well-designed, offering no surprises once we got into them. The ride was exhilarating! We didn’t stop again until 1:45, after we had ridden almost 40 miles and arrived in Weaverville. We parked in the old part of town and found the La Grange Café, a nice place where we had lunch. Chris had a big salad with raspberry dressing, and I had a turkey club sandwich.
Rested and full, we headed west again. The road continued to be excellent, providing wonderful views of the Trinity River valley. We passed by forest, river and meadow. However, we were really starting to get hot in our riding gear. The air temperature was in the 80’s, and the sun was strong. About 3:30, we stopped at a rest area about a mile past the tiny town of Hawkins Bar. There we took off our jackets, I took off my overpants, we wet our hair, then soaked our bandanas and tied them around our necks. We quickly cooled off.
While we were at the rest stop, a man and woman rode in on a new Indian motorcycle. These bikes are being manufactured again, but have kept the classic look of a 50’s cruiser bike. However, the seats are narrow, and I wouldn’t want to ride very far or very long on one. The owner of this one had towed it on a trailer behind an RV, and was just out for a quick ride on a great road.
Cooler, we headed west again. The wet bandanas around our necks helped keep us from overheating. Just after 4:00, we crested a hill and were greeted with a spectacular view. We were getting closer to the coast, and we could see a bank of clouds spilling over the next ridgeline, like heavy cream over the edge of a bowl. We stopped at a convenient overlook and took some pictures, then headed onward.
Twenty minutes later, we were entering the cloudbank as we drove over the next ridgeline. Suddenly we didn’t have to worry about overheating! We were riding through fog, sometimes thick, that blocked the hot sunshine. We were also approaching the coast, with its 60-degree weather. After just a few minutes, I had to pull to the side of the road so we could zip shut all of the vents in our riding gear, get rid of the damp bandanas, and close the vents in our helmets. Chris put on a sweater under her jacket, and I turned on the grip heaters on the bike. Quite a change from five miles back.
Warm and cozy, we continued on to the end of Hwy 299. That section of the highway was much straighter, and we made good time. By 5:00, we were turning south on US 101 towards Eureka. Twenty minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot of another Best Western Hotel. As we checked in, the desk clerk told us that our room had a DVD player, and we could select a DVD to watch for free. We picked “K-PAX” from the not-very-extensive list of choices, got directions to the Lost Coast Brewery, and then settled into our room. We showered, put on fresh clothes, then walked the nine blocks to the restaurant.
We both ordered a beer, which tasted terrific after our long ride. Chris ordered a turkey burger and I had a very good roast beef sandwich. We had more beer, and then bought some bottled beer to take with us to Gualala the next day. I also bought a tee shirt with the logo for the Lost Coast Brewery’s “8-Ball Stout”. It would be the perfect shirt to wear when I played in my pool league. After dinner, we walked back to the hotel.
We watched our movie, and, even though we’re fans of Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges, we can’t recommend K-PAX. But it was free. When it was over, we fell right to sleep, quite tired from our second day.
Distance: 238 miles