August 31, 2012

San Diego to Seattle - Day 3

The last 9 miles into Crescent City were the hardest of the day. The ride along the Northern California coast was brutal, with temps around 52 degrees throughout the day. That may not seem bad to anyone simply walking in it, but multiply that times the 70mph wind chill factor, then by 6 hours, and then get back to me.

I had been trembling from the cold for the last hour, at least, so hard that my knees were knocking into Highway. He dropped his left arm down out of compassion to hold my leg to keep is as warm as he could as he strained the throttle up the road. I knew this would pass. I just had to focus on the beauty of the ride, because I knew that would pass too.

A year ago Highway and his friend Brian had ridden this area on a Brewery Tour. When he had told me about the ride he mentioned Ferndale, the historic town of Victorian homes, and I exclaimed that one day I'd like to go there. Ferndale was the last thing on my mind when Highway pulled off the 101 and headed there. He leaned over asking, "Do you want to go through Ferndale?"

"Oh my God! Yes! I would love to!" I shouted. I was so impressed he remembered.

We rolled past cows and ponds and horses and pastures, arriving in the peaceful town under darkened skies. The homes were as incredible as I had imagined, the town so tiny and truly filled with the essence of a long, lost era. Highway asked if I wanted to stay awhile, but knowing Medford was our destination, I declined. We still had so many miles to go.

Once we reentered the 101 headed towards Eureka, I started watching the signs for Crescent City, counting the miles. I had promised in Garberville that I wouldn't ask to stop again until we reached Crescent City, which was still 100 miles from Medford. After Eureka the trembling began, and even my awe with the spectacular redwoods couldn't keep my mind occupied. It's not that I've never been this cold, but not for so long, so relentlessly cold. No complaints came from the passenger seat and I stuck to my commitment to hold out until Crescent City.

9 miles out from certain reprieve of a warm restaurant with food and a restroom, we were stopped by road work. Highway opened his visor and leaned back, "We'll stop in Crescent City. Do you want to find a Starbucks?"

"I need food," I muttered, shivering.

"OK, sure. I know a place," he reassured, patting my leg.

The Apple Peddler was at the far end of town, and like everything else, dinner was over too quickly. I had gobbled my clam chowder, sucked down hot tea, and even nibbled on some red velvet cheesecake before gearing up to leave again. Knowing we still had 100 miles to go, I pulled myself together and climbed back on with a smile.

When the flat, open fields of Oregon appeared, I was disappointed that the majestic redwoods were behind us. I knew they would pass, like the cold, like the day, but it still left me feeling sad. As relieved as I was to be warm, it broke my heart to know the Sequoias were gone. It all goes by us on a motorcycle; the good, the bad, the scenery, the weather, the joy, the pain, the beauty, the life. Enjoy it while it lasts, because even in the darkest moments, a little light shines.

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