Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 7, 8 & 9 Eureka CA and Petrolia CA

Redding to Eureka to Petrolia

Day 7
The ride to Eureka was great. We left Redding around 7:00 because we needed to get an early start so I could stop at 8:30 to call in to a conference call for a project I’m working on. It was decidedly brisk in the morning - around 10 - and became even cooler as we rode through the mountains on the way to the coast. There was light fog in places but as the morning wore on the fog burned off and it was another fantastic California morning. Great roads, thick forests, and sweeping vistas of valleys and mountains - I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record but it was pretty amazing. We arrived into Eureka around 12:00, found a nice hotel and met Kevan at the motorcycle shop around 1:00.

Eureka is a small city/large town on the coast and is definitely down on its luck. There was an undercurrent of despair in the air and lots of boarded up businesses - with the prevailing business venture leaning toward the pawn shop variety. Kind of a cross between Vancouver's downtown east side and Parksville on Vancouver Island. It was good to have a full afternoon off the bikes though. We had a great swim in the hotel pool, caught up on some laundry, drank a few cervesa's and had a wild night on the town - that is until we all turned in 10:30, lest we turn into pumpkins.

Day 8
We picked up my bike at the shop as soon as it opened and then rode the 1 ½ hours into Petrolia and it was VERY cold at first. When we left at 9:00 there was thick fog, light misty rain and it was somewhere around 10 degrees - What the heck?! It was more like Victoria or Nanaimo in February than what we thought we’d find in California but any ride is a good ride so it was all good. It was foggy for the first hour but then things got REALLY interesting. At first the highway hugged the ocean but it then it ran inland for a bit before turning off at Fernwood for Petrolia. At that point it gets pretty amazing (sorry - I know, amazing again) for a while. After the turnoff the road climbs sharply and we spent 40 minutes on one of the craziest, most scenic drives I’ve been on in a very long while. And don’t take my word for it - ask Kevan and Brad. We climbed steep - very steep and very sharp - switchbacks through mountains that ranged from thick wet rain forests to open grassland hills similar to Rock Creek but just with much steeper terrain, and alternated though thick cold blowing fog and bright sunshine. We eventually made our way to the other side and dropped down another very steep and sharp series of switchbacks that dropped us to a wide shoreline of rangeland, small dunes and rocky, craggy shoreline - and a working cattle ranch complete with range cows. It was surreal. Imaging breaking over the dunes at Tofino and being faced with a large herd of cattle - I don’t know why but it felt a little weird. We climbed back up the other side and did the whole thing over again until eventually being spit out in the small (AKA one general store and the Grange Hall) town of Petrolia. Think Cheesaw except with thicker, lusher forest and you’ll have the right idea.

Day 9

We arrived yesterday afternoon to blinding sunshine and a beautiful mountain setting. We got signed in, set up our tents and basically hung out until the presentations started in the evening. For those of you that don’t know, Horizons Unlimited is a website and loose affiliation of adventure motorcycle travelers from around the world and they hold a doz or so rallies each year in different countries. I won’t go into to it too much here but if you’re interested check it out at The emphasis is on travel, not the means and it’s pretty humbling to sit through a slide show presentation of a couples round-the-world trip on a motorcycle when the average age of the traveler is well into their fifties or sixties and often beyond. There were ~ 50 or so attendees from all walks of life and all ages but the demographic definitely leaned to the “grey power” side of things

Saturday was a full day of presentations and tech clinics with the only draw back being that the day started cold and wet - thank you California sea air! - and stayed cool well into the late afternoon. The highlight had to be the hour and half roadside repair tech clinic put on by Kevan. He did an incredible job and the crowd really appreciated it. KUDOS BUFF!

The evenings presenters included a guy from silicon valley that packed it in early to travel the world, a women who rode her motorcycle through China - twice! - and another women traveling the world in a surplus police van with her two dogs. The final keynote speaker (keynote implies something fancy though, so please bear in mind we were all in jeans and the meeting was held in the Grange Hall ) was a guy from Turkey that took a six month leave and traveled the word on his Suzuki Vstrom. All pretty heady stuff for a closet adventurer like myself.

All in all a great day and a great event - well worth the price of admission :-)

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