PCH – Days 8 and 9

Pacific Coast

We left the Burlington Campground knowing that we only had to ride about 30 miles today to get to the Richardson Grove State Park, so we were in no rush. It was nice to continue on Avenue of the Giants. It’s so tranquil riding under the redwood canopy; there’s only a hint of wind, the sun beams through in small pockets, there’s little traffic, and the road is smooth. This is the same tranquil feeling I have when riding at night, except I can see my surroundings.

Eventually though we had to return to Highway 101 to continue south. Returning to Highway 101 after riding on Avenue of the Giants is like falling through a hole in the ice on a frozen lake. Every movement you now decide to make will determine if you survive. Should I take the lane to avoid riding next to the guardrail that’s preventing me from rolling off a cliff, or should I hug the guardrail to avoid being pancaked by whatever rumbling vehicle is about to pass me around a blind corner? It’s often a roll of the dice. And while odds are that everything while be just fine, the feeling of impending doom is hard to ignore. So when possible, we took surface streets to avoid as much 101 riding as possible.

We arrived at Richardson Grove State Park mid-afternoon. It was hot and the air had a feint smell of smoke from forest fires blazing further north. There was little to do but nap and eat. Since the original trip plan was to put in big miles every day, we didn’t bring any frivolous things like a deck of cards, which would have come in handy. I spent a good amount of time under my tarp editing photos and writing about our previous day’s ride. I didn’t want to hop in my bug-proof bivy sack because it was too hot, so I tried to make peace with the increasing amount of mosquitos. One thing about mosquitos is they don’t do peace. They have one goal in mind, and like zombies, they won’t stop until they’re killed. Although I got a few of the little fiends, they just kept coming, so it was time to retreat by going for a walk in the park.

Our Final Day

The following day we rode from Richardson Grove State Park to Leggett. It was another short ride with a mixture of riding on Highway 101 and on surface streets. We decided to end the ride by riding through the Drive-Thru Tree. Some dude back in the early 20th Century decided to carve a tunnel through a redwood tree to attract tourists. It’s really a bizarre concept that someone would pay to drive their car through a tree, but people do, and we did too. Even more entertaining was watching people drive through the tree and then posing for photos with their car inside the tree. One preteen girl rode on the hood as her dad drove and her mom snapped away from outside the tree. Another time a group of maybe 15 Spaniards with rented Harleys held up the line of cars behind them to each pose inside the tree astride their hog. For some reason at some point a driver decided to go through the tree in the opposite direction, looping around the tree and then coming through it against the one-way road. Once that guy did it about four other drivers followed suit, like lemmings, until order was restored when someone drove through in the proper direction. We watched stuff like this happen for about three hours while waiting for Peter’s dad to pick us up. It was amusing and it made the waiting game less tiresome. When Peter’s dad Chuck arrived, the three of us posed inside the tree: three men, two bikes, and one car. We then zoomed away back to the Bay Area.

This is where we finished our trip: inside a 2400-year-old redwood tree.