August 4, 2005

Start: Fort Bragg, California
End: Crescent City, California
Miles traveled: 224 miles
Route taken: Highway 1 until it merged with Highway 101, exit at Crescent City

        About 20 miles north of Fort Bragg is a turnout next to Juan Creek. It is the last chance to see the ocean for a while and I wanted to take one last look. The road turns and goes into the forest of redwoods, pines and sequoias.

        I took Libertad off Highway 1 and she wasn’t very pleased since we had just started riding. We parked at the dirt turnout and I was the only person there.

        Sitting on the cliff’s edge I stared at the blue sea, crashing into the rocks below and for the first time actually listened to the water.

        It was amazing to me that all the walks I have ever taken on the beach at home I have never really heard the water. I thought I had listened, but really hadn’t. The ocean apparently was a backdrop for me, an extra in a movie of distraction. My walks on the beach with someone was used to romance them or listen to what they were talking about. My strolls alone were spent in thought.

        This was different. There was no other matter taking up space in my head. I was free to just enjoy the rhythm of the Pacific and the symphony that it made.

        It is a hard sound to describe, really. There is the crashing sound, but in addition there is almost a guttural growl the water makes as it pulls back from the shore. Like an old man wheezing with arthritic knees, getting up from a recliner. A bass tone of feigned misery. Then the tone crescendos as the water regains its strength and slams back to land.

        I thought I was alone, but out on the water a seal popped his head up and was looking back at me. I didn’t think he could see me because I was fairly far away, perched up about 100 feet on the cliff.


        He would duck into the water then emerge again, looking at me before going back under again. He appeared to be searching for fish, but was more interested, at least temporarily, in staring at me.

        When I moved to the left or right, so would he. Then he went the other direction and I followed him. It was amusing more to me than him. He dove back into the water and I didn’t see him again.

        The last 40 miles on Highway 1 before it merges with Highway 101 turn away from the water and head inland. The road is twisty and has steep inclines and declines. The weather is warmer, the fog gone, but the shade from the enormous trees keeps you cool.

        I reached Leggatt, California and stopped at my first true tourist attraction.

        The drive-thru tree is the town’s enticement and several paid the $5 to satisfy their curiosity.


        The Chandelier Tree is 315 feet tall and 21 feet in diameter. The bottom was cut out to allow cars to drive through it. How they keep a tree alive when they have cut a big hole in it I am not sure, but somehow this approximately 2,400-year-old tree has survived.

        Highway 101 is a lot more open and receptive to speeding, which made Libertad quite happy. Where I never went over 50 mph on Highway 1, I never went under 65 the rest of the way to Crescent City.

        That was just fine with Libertad. She likes to ride fast and is comfortable right around 75 mph. I put synthetic oil in her before I left and it seems to have made a difference. The bike runs a lot cleaner and has a little more punch.

        I have spent more time in California than I thought I would, but I don’t regret it. I had never really seen the coast above San Francisco and it is magnificent.

        Tomorrow I hope to reach Salem, Oregon. It is going to be hot, but if I start early enough I should get there. I am meeting a woman who I want to write about. She claims she can predict earthquakes and tsunamis by the type of migraine headache she gets.