Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The wind was back in force today, and gale force, at that. We didn't notice it as much in the morning; the redwoods must have shielded us from it, or else it just didn't get raging until later. It was the defining factor of the day after that, however. The other gem of the day was a bonehead move on my part - we had breakfast in a cafe in Myers Flat and chatted with another biking couple, and as we were leaving, I managed to forget my Camelbak. Didn't notice it until 9 miles later, by which point Pat thought it would kill him to add 18 miles to a 53-mile day (such a wimp) so he vetoed going back to Myers Flat to retrieve it. The thought didn't appeal to me much either, actually, so we'll try to find another one tomorrow in Eureka. But really, today was about redwoods, the Eel River, and at the end of the day, the Humboldt Bay.
We had breakfast, as I mentioned, at a cafe in Myers Flat where we saw a couple who had spent the night at the same campsite, although we hadn't seen them. They were traveling south so they had just done the route we had planned for today. We asked them about a "scenic" detour that Adventure Cycling recommended which seemed to take an unusually long way around what would have been a straight shot down 101. They said it was very scenic, a bit hilly at the beginning but then flat for the rest of the way, rough road, but not much traffic (unlike 101, which has pretty heavy traffic and is very noisy). We had 20 miles of continuing down the Avenue of the Giants to think it over, so we went along, enjoying the gorgeous redwood forests and the beautiful Eel River which was still meandering along beside us. We passed through a number of very little towns - Redcrest being the most touristy, the others being barely noticeable from the road. Just before Stafford, the Avenue ended and we went on 101 for a short bit, getting off at Scotia, a historic lumbering town. All we saw of Scotia, though, was a large logging facility half-hidden from the road. From there, we turned into Rio Dell and stopped for lunch to make our decision about which way to go. Pat was leaning towards staying on 101 all the way to Eureka, but I thought that would be boring and the traffic would be hard on our nerves. With some trepidation, Pat went along with my wishes and we headed onto the scenic route. It turned out that our fellow bikers had it exactly right except for the "bit hilly" part. From our direction, the two hills we went over were substantial. We had to get off and walk near the top of the second one - it was 12-15% grade for a good half a mile! It was about at that point, too, that the wind really got wound up. After coming down from that peak, the rest of the detour was very flat as they had said, but the wind was practically blowing us off the road. The area was very scenic, however; there were several dairy farms along the valley there - cows right up next to the road, some goats, too, and meadows and pastures rolling down from the forested hills all around. At least some of the farms were organic, maybe all but we only saw the organic designation of some of them. We ended up not being sorry we went that way, but it was looking pretty bad at first.
The detour ended at Fernbridge, another small town whose main business seemed to be the Humboldt Creamery that we passed at the end of the bridge coming into town. The bridge went over the Eel River, and that was the last we would see of it. We stopped in a cafe in Fernbridge and had the most amazing chocolate cake to recover from battling the wind for the last 20 miles. There were only 12 more miles to go to Eureka and they were all on 101. We only had one brief hill to go over, getting onto 101 and from there it was fairly flat, on a smooth surface, wide shoulder, with pretty nice scenery. The only drawbacks were the noisy traffic, the scary exit ramps, and the wind. About 6 miles or so from Fernbridge, we went over Salmon Creek which empties into Humboldt Bay, and shortly afterwards, we saw our first glimpse of the Bay itself. It's a huge bay formed by 2 narrow peninsulas with a small opening onto the Pacific. So we're back on the ocean, although we won't be seeing it until after we leave Eureka and the next town, Arcata, which sits on the adjacent Arcata Bay.
We ended the day at 53 miles in 5-3/4 hours of bike time, a decent average considering all the wind and hills! Tomorrow is a much-needed rest day. We'll have only one more stop in California after Eureka, though, and then we'll be in Oregon!