Monday, 27 September 2010

Oregon coast

I had been looking forward to riding down the Oregon coast for some time. And it most certainly didn't disappoint. I can, without doubt, state that this was the best 180 miles of coastline I have ever ridden down. Windswept sandy beaches, rocky outcrops and giant stacks and quaint little seaside villages, all seen from a twisty, undulating and well maintained road. Motorbike heaven. And if that wasn't enough, apparently I passed over the worlds smallest harbour and the worlds smallest river. What more could I want – it was even sunny.

Great Oregon road

Now that's a coastline

The only slight disappointment in a glorious day was the stop at the “World's largest sea cave” to view sea lions. First of all the sea lions were all out to sea and not in the cave, and the cave itself wasn't actually as large or impressive as I expected. To get to it I had to descend in an elevator which was novel but that was it. There was a viewing platform (but nothing to view) but you couldn't really walk anywhere. Oh well, at least the road was good. I really liked the Oregon coast and want to live there!

My only complaint about Oregon is the silly rule which says you can't lift your own petrol pump nozzle. Every state in the US seems to have slightly different laws over this and in Oregon the customer cannot lift their own nozzle. The attendant will lift the it for you and hand it to you so you can fill your own tank. They will also take your credit card and swipe it in the pump right next to you. It seems I can't do this either. When I first stopped for petrol in Oregon I lifted the pump and the attendant came over and told me off telling me that we would both be fined $500 if caught doing this. Crazy.

I like this part of the world so much that on the following day I stopped for the day at 1 p.m. But only after a most exhilarating 30 minutes on the Oregon sand dunes. In Everett I'd bought a book called “Great American Motorcycle Tours”, by Gary McKechnie. In it he maps out 25 of the top day rides in the lower 48. Although I won't be seeking them out I will be passing by several of them (I've already done the three, in Montana and Idaho). Obviously he does the Oregon coast (which HE says is the best) and he stops off to go sand buggy racing – so I thought why not? For $25 you get strapped into a buggy and raced around the dunes for 30 minutes. That doesn't sound very exciting but honestly it was. These dunes rise over 300 feet and stretch for about 50 miles north to south. But there was little time to think of that as the driver gunned the engine and the huge tyres bit into the sand sending us on a steep ascent of one of the dunes. It was great fun - and I'm glad, for once, that I wasn't on my bike!

I took the bike apart and then put it back together. Looks slightly different.

300 feet high and 50 miles long.

As I was saying. On Saturday I stopped at 1p.m. I was just looking for a lunch stop and took a turn off from the 101 toward the sea. Two miles down the road I came across THE most magnificent, in all its meanings, beach. Mile after mile of sandy, wild coastline and not a soul in site. Best of all there was even a campsite there and absolutely no-one else around – did I mention this was a SATURDAY. I couldn't believe my luck. I left $12 in the honesty box (honestly), pitched my tent and walked out to the beach. It was just wonderful to be totally on my own on this fantastic beach all afternoon long. I thought there was bound to be someone else at the campground when I got back, but no. Total solitude. I couldn't believe it. Where was everyone? It was the weekend and it was warm and dry? There wasn't a tsunami warning was there??

whole beach to myself

Obviously not. The next morning I rode into California (Having promised the “border patrol” that I didn't have any fruit or veg with me) and on to the massive redwood trees. Well what can I say. You know that the redwoods are huge and impressive so there's no point in me telling you that the trees are huge and impressive. I'm reminded of the words of John Steinbeck (well actually, I just read it in the Lonely Planet). “The redwoods once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always... from them comes silence and awe. The most irreverent of men, in the presence of redwoods, goes under a spell of wonder and respect.” Well said, and I though the Grapes of Wrath was boring.

More redwoods tomorrow and then on to San Francisco. Please don't make me pose in front of the Golden gate bridge for a tourist photo, please....

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