Motorcycle Ride and/or Eating Reports (mostly)

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


October 16 - 18, 2004

The following was written by Las, who rides a Suzuki Savage named "piglet". And has an apartment she calls "the cave". I have a couple of inserted comments.

AVENUE OF THE GIANTS-Highway 101 This is in Northern California

If you're not the Leader and you're not the Sweep then you're just one of the carefree riders running amok between them. That's where I like to ride. Consequently, I'm seldom able to provide ride info with Highway numbers, town names, distance, times or any of the technical stuff but we can always rely on The Don and his extensive expertise for that.

What I do know is that I left the cave bright eyed and bushy tailed on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. with 3,587 miles on the Pig and I arrived back at the cave Monday afternoon around 4:30 p.m. chilly, damp and tired with 4,156 miles. That's 569 miles in two days. We didn't ride on Sunday because we were busy lounging around in a hotel suite, snacking, visiting and watching cable TV while it was raining outside on Phil and Greg who were doggedly trying to make their way home through the pouring rain. This could have been a very romantic stay except that we were required to leave our beloved bikes outside in that rain.

569 miles? Wow. No wonder I was so tired when I got home. What makes a trip so fun that you can do 569 miles without even realizing it? Motorcycles.

The weather for the ride up was just right. Not too hot and not too cold. The weather for the ride home was far less agreeable but far more interesting.


The ride officially began Saturday morning when we converged on the town of Williams. We fueled our bikes and then we anticipated the fun of the ride ahead while fueling our bodies at Carl's Junior.

Then we mounted up and played follow the Leader, Deuce aka Greg, PASSED the 6' garden Gnome (much to our chagrin) to lunch in Garberville and through the Avenue of the Giants. As Greg was leading us through those gorgeous, shady, gentle curves on the Avenue of the Giants I kept seeing his left hand come up and after a bit I realized he was taking pictures as he was riding. A true multitasker that one. He and Phil both snapped some pictures on this trip that I'm sure they will share.

The Redwoods!!!!!!! Wow!!!!!! They just can't be described because they're so much more than what you can see, smell or hear. There's a feel to them. There's no way to convey the total redwood appeal with words. You have to experience standing amongst a forest of trees so tall you have to bend your head back as far as it will go before you lose your balance and fall over in order to see to the top. You have to stand in that quiet sheltered picture postcard perfect cove we found behind The Immortal Tree for yourself. That may be one of the most beautiful places I've ever stood. As much as I hate traveling on four wheels, I may have to trek back up there in the car (called "rain gear" by Greg) because I'm not sure I can wait until next spring to see that place again. It's such an incredible treat for all the senses. I wanted to just lie down on that thickly padded forest floor, look upward through the tallest boughs, listen for a bit and soak it all in but it was toward the end of the day and we had somewhere else we needed to be before dark and/or exhaustion set in.

In addition to the sight seeing and photo op stop at the Immortal Tree we also stopped at a drive through tree and indeed we drove our bikes though that redwood. Some of us went through several times just for kicks. Wheee! I didn't get a chance to see because Tom and I were delayed inside the tree by a couple of international tourists armed with a camera but I hear we got some pictures with Bigfoot. Whether it was THE Bigfoot or just a distant relative, I can't be sure but we've got pictures. Greg also pulled over smack dab in the middle of the forest where we marveled at the forest around us. It's incredible. If the trip was aimed solely at visiting the redwoods we could have spent more time exploring and maybe hiking a bit to see more. If you go, I highly recommend allotting some time for exploration/hiking while you're there.

As Paul has already reported, in his Mid-Ride Report, we arrived at the Comfort Inn in Fortuna around 5:30 p.m. and got checked into our rooms. Don and Tom had a room downstairs conveniently located next to the vending machines, pool, whirlpool and exercise room. They had a handicap room which means the doorway was nice and wide and they had a walk-in shower. And it was a pretty straight shot down the hallway to an exterior door which prompted some discussion regarding the possibility of bringing the bikes inside but somehow that didn't come about. Why does no one take me seriously when I make that suggestion? Greg said there actually is a place he has heard of that has a tiled space inside the front door specifically for motorcycle parking. I'm going there next time so I can bring Piglet in to spend the night with me. Phil, Greg and I had suites upstairs next to each other with the doors open between them so we could wander back and forth at will. The office staff was very accommodating when we asked for little things like towels to dry off our bikes and directions to the nearest store so we could purchase garbage bags and duct tape to utilize in lieu of rain gear which none of us packed. They never once shook their heads or laughed at us. Very nice people.

The Eel River Brewing Company was indeed just down and across the street as Paul and Don have both stated. The food was good but that cute little flirty waitress who hugged the guys good night was even better. And the blonde at the bar with all the exposed skin was the highlight of the evening even warranting unnecessary trips past her to the bathroom for additional viewings.

Eel River Brewing Co is the brown building, upper right.

I have no idea what Don, Greg and Phil did with their evening as Tom and I were floating downstairs in the pool and whirlpool after the soccer team finally cleared out. That's right. Apparently an entire youth soccer team (or perhaps two!) was at the hotel with us which prompts the question: How many happy squealing kids can you cram into one pool? And the much deeper question: What were we thinking going in that pool after the soccer team had been in there all afternoon? Don convinced me that the levels of chlorination were sufficient to counteract any levels of urination that may have been emitted by a bus load of leaky kids and I'm alive at this moment to ponder the validity of his claim so I guess it was ok. I've not yet heard of anyone dying from a swim in a public pool.


As we exited from our Sunday morning breakfast at the Denny's across the field in back of the Inn, we were confronted by rain. It merely sprinkled at first as if to taunt us but soon evolved into a full rainfall driving us back into the hotel. After some grumbling, discussion and head scratching it was decided that Greg was heading back to Yuba City despite the rain and Phil would ride with him. I didn't have any particular reason to be back to Sacto on Sunday and Tom was suddenly feeling very ill so he thought it was best to call in to work on Monday rather than attend and possibly infect the others. The Don didn't have to be anywhere either since he is a retired person so he stayed behind as well to enjoy an additional day of Fortuna hospitality.

Phil phoned us later in the day to let us know they made it as far as the Super 8 in Willits before they were forced to get a room, wring out their clothes, dry off and warm up while their clothes were enjoying a warm tumble in the hotel dryer. They rode in rain the whole way from Fortuna to Willits and even encountered some hail. That is one heck of a long way to ride through the rain without rain gear. I haven't decided whether that is impressive or just plain insane. Either way I'm a bit in awe of them. That's like a superhuman feat. Mere mortals couldn't have done that. There was a break in the weather during the afternoon during which a now dry, warmed up and still driven Deuce hopped back on his Bonneville America and made it home so he could go to work on Monday. Does that boy love his job or what? Phil, having no reason he should do so, was not motivated to leave the warmth and comfort of the motel room that was already paid for so he finished the day in Willits and finished his ride home in better weather on Monday.

Being held hostage at the Comfort Inn by the rain wasn't such a bad experience. While Don kicked back, put his feet up and flipped between baseball, football and whatever, Tom and I were watching Green Acres, Andy Griffith, old monster movies and Horsepower TV on the other television. I don't watch much television and I don't have cable so when I get in front of a television with cable, I can become somewhat mesmerized or perhaps catatonic and sit before it for hours with glazed eyes and a slack jaw. It's an amazing thing.

After we consumed Greg's dinner leftovers from the brew pub, we were forced to venture out in the rain and make the short trek to the little mini market/gas station/Subway Sandwich shop/carwash across the field out back in order to replenish our snackable food stuffs and grab some sandwiches for lunch. Meatball sandwich for Don. Ice cream sandwich (Hey! It's a sandwich!) for me. I don't recall Tom's lunch choice but I'm sure it was equally healthful and nutritious.

The rest of the day was consumed by reading motorcycle magazines, calling Phil, Greg, Paul and other friends, swimming, hot tubbing, a quick ride to town in search of rain gear, dinner at Denny's and visiting in general. Tom took advantage of the rain to go out and wash down his bike. I think we all enjoyed a lovely day off from our respective usual responsibilities.

Every once in while during the day of captivity we would hear our local weather information being broadcast so we would rush out to gather around the television and then yell and/or curse at the weatherperson when they said things we didn't want to hear. I don't know why we kept watching when we knew we weren't going to like what we were about to hear and it was the same thing we had already heard. According to the earliest reports we were going to be rained in until Thursday. It was almost as if we collectively thought that if we watched long enough, the television would at last give us the report we wanted to hear. Maybe we thought we could change the weather by shear will. And laugh at us if you will but our insane dedication seems to have been rewarded because on Monday morning we were given the break we kept screaming for so we could blow that town and get home to clean socks and our own beds.


Don, Tom and I geared up, got on the bikes and hit the road around 8:30 Monday morning. Because the temperatures for the entire day were forecast around 51, 52, 53, there was little reason to wait for the day to warm up since it wasn't going to happen. It wasn't raining when we fired up and got moving but some of the road was wet, there were many icy looking patches to be avoided, a little bit of fog and then RAIN. Well, let me be more technically precise here. I guess what we had to ride through were "showers" which are far less wet and therefore far more desirable than a full blown "rain" such as we avoided the day before. Nonetheless, we got wet. It doesn't matter exactly how much rain makes me wet, if I'm wet, I'm wet and that's all there is to it. My open mesh jacket was wet and because it allowed that cold air to blow through it you could probably view it more as a Joe Rocket Evaporative Cooler. Might be a great accessory item for the warmer summer months but in 51 degree rain IT SUCKS! While my torso and arms were being cooled to a temperature somewhere between 35 and 45 degrees, my wet boots and wet gloves were doing much the same for my fingers and toes. Stopping for gas has never been such a pleasurable experience because it meant the cold air flow would be stopped and I could warm up. I think I spent a good 10 minutes with my body pressed against the hot food case inside the convenience store where they display those day old hot dogs and sawdust burgers. Then there was some more jumping around and stuff to finish warming up my entire body before I climbed back inside the wet stuff and got back on the Pig. Don has a windshield and better gear because he's much smarter than I am. Tom has a windshield, fairing and leather jacket because he's also apparently much smarter than I am. Don and I rode to town on Sunday. At the local Ace Hardware I found some bright yellow fishing waders to keep my legs dry or I certainly could not have done this ride. It would have been too much if my entire body had been wet.

Because we were heading to Sacto and Don was heading to Stockton, he left us at one of the gas stops. From what he emailed to me, it sounds like he enjoyed a very nice and scenic trip on his way home once he was passed the weather.

{Don's report: I got home at 4:00 PM. After splitting off at Laytonville I stopped in Ukiah for lunch at noon. The weather was really nice (sunshine even) so rather than hit the urban traffic at Santa Rosa, I pulled off of Hwy 101 at Geyserville onto Hwy128. I took that to Calistoga. Stopped for gas and took Silverado Trail back to Hwy 128 to the Corners. Drink and restroom stop there at 2:20 PM. From the Corners I took Hwy 121 to Wooden Valley Road to Fairfield and Hwy 12 to I-5 and home. }

There was a good side to the Eskimo run we made that morning. Even in my pre-hypothermic state I could appreciate the beauty of those tree covered hills shrouded in early morning clouds. When you could shake the rain drops off enough to see clearly, there were some incredibly beautiful sites. And it all smelled so good. Further on in the ride there were also some trees that were beginning to change color and a very pretty albeit scared deer trying to clear the road ahead of us in Rumsey. We were able to appreciate her beauty only because both the deer and the riders made it through the encounter in an upright position. That's always a good thing.

Tom and I pulled into Sacramento around 4 or 4:30 p.m.


Despite the lost day, Phil's possible broken finger ("Who needs a clutch anyway." "I'm not going to let broken bones keep me home."), the rain, the absence of proper rain gear and the mind numbing cold, it was still a great way to spend the weekend and I would do it again. Even though the Highway 36 portion was called on account of rain, it was still a great ride.

Tom and I encountered a local who knows 36 and has ridden motorcycles. Tom asked him if he would consider riding 36 in this weather and the local replied that he wouldn't ride 36 even on a sunny day. When asked why, he explained that it's a very rural area and you've got a large number of farmers and locals traveling that road with their big farm trucks. When they take corners, they take corners-the whole corner! Even in a car, it's a dangerous road. We need to remember to expect locals in big trucks in our lane around every corner when we finally get there to ride.

And next time, let's maybe start from a McDonalds. I can't be sure that has anything to do with it but I've never encountered rain on a ride that originated from one of Mickey D's restaurants. {The food is better at Carl's Junior and I HAVE been in RAIN after meeting at a McDonald's; Don}

Boy Ed. Bet you're glad now that you had to miss this ride. Getting all the way home on Sunday was no easy task! Just ask Deuce and Phil about that one. You never would have caught your flight.

What's more fun than an all day motorcycle ride? A two-day or three-day motorcycle ride! When are we going back for the Gnome and Highway 36?

Las on Piglet
650 Suzuki Savage


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