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Motorcycle Trip – June 24, 2002

Monday – Gualala to San Jose

Chris and I awoke about 7:30, showered, then headed upstairs to be sociable. Sus and Harmony aren’t really coffee drinkers, but when Chris asked for coffee, they were willing to provide it. Unfortunately, they were out of regular coffee, so Chris made decaf. I made a cup of tea, choosing cinnamon tea from the vast assortment of flavors Harmony offered. Sus headed off to work at the Gualala Arts Center as Chris and I ate our breakfast.

When we were done, we packed up all our things, loaded up the bike, and followed Harmony up the driveway. This time, it wasn’t because we couldn’t find the house; it was because she was going to join us at the Arts Center, where Sus would give us the grand tour. Harmony was in her car, and we followed on our bike. As we got to the end of the driveway, there was a construction barricade off to the right, with a hand printed sign that said “Wait for pilot truck.” The road in front of their house was in the process of a resurfacing job, but no machinery was in sight, and both lanes looked clear. Harmony got out of her car and asked if we thought that was for us. I didn’t think it was, and said so. I figured the crew had set out the barricades for use later in the day. We looked as far down the road as we could see, then turned right and headed on.

At the next driveway, Harmony slowed down and pointed to her right. There was another barricade with a hand-printed sign in that one, too. Maybe the sign was for us. About three tenths of a mile down the road, we saw the pilot truck approaching, with four or five cars behind it. Both lanes were still open and clear, but Harmony stopped and asked the driver of the pilot truck if there we would have any problems. He said “No,” and we kept going. We waved as we passed the construction workers and the flagman a short ways down the road.

The Gualala Arts Center is in a new building that is only three miles or so from Harmony and Sus’s house. We followed Harmony there, then spent about an hour looking around the place. It has exhibition space, a large auditorium/meeting room, several class rooms, a library, a kitchen (where Sus had made coffee for us!), and lots more. The building is so new that parts are not finished yet. There is an outdoor amphitheater that is under construction. There are also ceramics and photography rooms nearing completion in the basement. It’s a very neat place!

After our tour, we rode the short distance back to Hwy 1 and headed south once again. Our last day was off to a bit of a late start at 10:30. We rode through fog next to the Pacific Ocean, enjoying the almost surreal look the world took on in that soft- focus environment. 

The park is right on the coast, and the foggy view of the rocky shoreline was wonderful. We walked under tall eucalyptus trees draped with Spanish moss. Eventually, we made out the outline of the fort through the fog. We found our way in and started finding the answers to the questions posed on the cache page. We would not be allowed to claim the find unless we had those answers.

Bike at Ft. Ross

Our first stop was Fort Ross, originally a Russian colony from the early 19th century. It is now a state historic site, and the location of a virtual geocache. We paid the $2 park fee and found a spot for the bike in the nearly empty parking lot.

The primary reason for stopping at Fort Ross had been the virtual cache. However, as we have so often found when geocaching, the hunt had led us to a wonderful, interesting place. We found our answers quickly, then spent over an hour walking through the buildings inside the fort, soaking up the history. We finally made our way to the visitor’s center for one last answer. We spent a little additional time there, and Chris bought some note cards. It wasn’t until after noon that we finally got back on the bike and pointed it south.

Forty minutes later, we were getting chilled by the fog and needed to stop. We pulled off onto an overlook where we once again marveled at the beauty of the Pacific coast in the fog. While we were there, another car pulled in and a man and two women got out to admire the same view we were looking at. One of the women asked where we were from and we told her. She had just moved to the San Francisco area from Tucson, Arizona, and the couple with her was visiting from there. As we suited up to get back on the road, the threesome got back in their car and made it out onto the road just ahead of us.

The folks from Arizona were in no hurry. Neither were we, really, but we did want to go faster than twenty-five miles per hour in a fifty-five zone. They passed a turn out. They sped up to thirty-five miles per hour. At the next one, I flashed my lights. They passed it. I began flashing my lights a couple times every thirty seconds or so. They passed another turnout. There was nowhere to pass. I beeped my horn. They passed another turnout. Finally, we got to a turnout that was a tenth of a mile long. I beeped and flashed my lights. Nothing. I considered passing in the turnout, but figured they would choose that moment to pull over. I held down my horn for about five seconds, and then started motioning for them to pull over with my left hand. They finally pulled into the turnout just before it ended. We had gone less than 2 miles in five minutes. I passed them, waved (with all five fingers), and we didn’t ever see them again. Maybe they thought I was just flashing and honking to be friendly.

Ten minutes later (with an average speed twenty miles per hour higher), we missed a turn where Hwy 1 goes south, but appears to continue on east. We realized it almost at once, and turned around in a handy driveway. We were soon back on course.

We stopped for lunch at 1:45 in Point Reyes Station. We had the misfortune of choosing a restaurant that was also hosting a wedding reception. Because of the crowd at the reception, the service was slow. The seats were comfortable, though, and the food was quite good. Only a little more than an hour later, we were back on our way. We wound our way through the tight curves of Hwy 1 through Stinson Beach, past Mount Tamalpais and into Mill Valley (home of the B. J. Hunnicutt character on M*A*S*H). There we stopped and filled the gas tank, got a candy bar, and steadied ourselves for the rest of the ride home.

We needed to steady ourselves. In Mill Valley, we got on Hwy 101 again. We were immediately blasted by gusts of wind that threatened to blow the bike off course. I geared down, gripped the bike with my legs, hoped Chris was holding on, and tried to keep the bike out of heavy traffic. The wind didn’t actually blow us out of our lane, but it came close a couple of times. I was really dreading the Golden Gate Bridge, where the lanes were narrow, and the wind would likely be stronger.

We approached the north end of the bridge just before 4:00. I noted that, because there was a flashing sign that said carpools didn’t have to pay the toll between 4:00 and 7:00. Surely a motorcycle carrying two would count as a carpool. The wind on the bridge was high, but not gusty. Once I settled the bike into its line, I had no problem keeping it there. When we got to the toll booths, the attendant waved us through. We were a carpool.

The trip through San Francisco held no surprises. We got back on Hwy 1 on the south side of the Golden Gate Bridge and stayed on it through the city. Hwy 1 through San Francisco is also known as 19th Avenue. It is six lanes wide, and moves, on average, well below its posted thirty-five mile- per-hour speed limit. We were lucky. It took us less than twenty minutes to get from the bridge to Interstate 280. From there, it was a straight shot home, and we pulled into our driveway right at 5:00.

Departure: 10:30am
Arrival: 5:00pm
Distance: 179 miles

Trip Stats:
Total Distance: 891 miles
Average gas mileage: 39mpg

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