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West Coast Day 4: Lost Coast and the South all along the California Sea

Today was one of the most magical roads I've ever ridden, traveling across the Lost Cost through Capetown to Petrolia, and then back through the fog, most of the way down Route 1, all the way back to Santa Rosa. 

I woke up in Fortuna, California, in a little truckstop motel, not really ready to go back yet, even though I had only a day left (and the next morning) to get the Hyper back down to San Francisco.  Yesterday had unquestionably been the best day of riding I've ever had in my life, and my knees and IT bands were aching.

I had heard about this mysterious place called "The Lost Coast" from the Bay Area DOC President, and decided I would make my way as far into unpopulated coastal wonderland as I could.  It wasn't quite as cold as Crescent City yesterday, but there was a drizzle in the air, and I thought about getting out my rain gear. Almost immediately out of Fortuna, I rode through a quaint Victorian town, that looked like it could have housed the set for E.T., or some other nostalgic 80's movie.  
Ferndale was shrouded in fog, though the GPS took me by this quizzical sign, pointing the way towards this secret area, that was sort of hidden in mystery itself.  
I took off sharply up a dilapidated road, which was washed out in many places, suddenly and unexpectedly turning a two lane road into a one-lane venture.  Rapid switchbacks obscured sudden potholes, and the dripping mist hanging around my head up to the trees,  complicating not only my visibility, but also the traction on my tires should anyone come careening around the next blind corner.The most spectacular thing was that the foliage had drastically changed again.  Perpetual fog had given rise to a landscape of evergreens and other trees covered in what looked like Spanish moss, and everything was covered in bizarre growths of lichens hidden by other undergrowth.  The resulting ambiance was this sort trippy wonderland, a scene from some psilocybin induced 70's animation come to life behind my motorcycle. 


The road didn't actually get too bad till I got to the top of the mountain, where I again nearly ran out of gas, but there were literally no houses along the way, and seldom a car traversing through this mystical ascent.  The most bizarre thing was the feeling that there were vast expanses just behind the foggy trees, and untold depths of space beyond.  I had to turn around back to Ferndale to get gas, but made it back to what I thought was the summit, then all of a sudden the sun came out, revealing I was on giant rolling hills of scrub-brush.
 One second I was in the clouds, with ten-foot visibility, and the next moment the sun would pierce through and a vast range of hills would plummet away before my eyes.  The landscape was like nothing I had seen yet in California, and honestly reminded me much more of Scotland or Wales than the US of A.
 Cows roamed these hills without fences, but not cars.  Potholes could be a foot or two deep, and sometimes the road just became rocky gravel.  I hope the mystery of why no one lives along this enchanted route remains, as somethings are better left unknown (to me and to the world)
Suddenly, in a little valley below, I saw the crest of waves breaking from beneath the cloud-cover.

I pulled off to take a quick shot of the bike in the clearing fog.  The camera did not nearly justify what a spectacle this was.
 
I was pushing for a town called Capetown, whose name suggested it resided by the sea,  though as I arrived, there were only a handful of houses.  I tried to get over to the ocean on some back roads, but wound up at someone's house, and nearly mauled by a dog, so I pushed on, deeper into the Lost Coast, towards a town called Petrolia. The roads got worse, and suddenly the fog was so thick I felt like i could feel it pressing up against my helmet. I was riding along straight for about three or four minutes before I realized I was driving a few feet away from the ocean. 
Mile after mile along the sea, with dunes and clouds fading in and out of view, licked by random buts of sunlight.  


Then, as quickly as I had found the place, the road abruptly left the sea, ascended up a steep hill, and sunlight blanketed the land, without a trace of the fog, rain and mystery I had experienced the few hours before. 
I found myself in Petrolia, designated by a little rock pile spelling out the name, amongst a few buildings that rural people would call a town. 
I wasn't ready to go home yet though.  And even though it was around lunchtime, and I had half of California still to ride, I turned down a promisingly named "Lighthouse Road," that I hoped would get me out to the sunlit coast. 
  The road quickly turned to gravel though, and then got very rough, though I pushed on, determined for nearly half an hour. 
 The few houses dissipated, and I found myself on a dirt road traversed by heavy machinery and little else.
 The road finally came to a halt with signs for an estuary, with a locked gate protecting an access route, and I quickly hopped off and ran up the path, determined to find the sea.
 There had been earth-movers and machinery here recently, but nothing now, and I found that the path ran along side a little river.
that I hoped would deposit itself out into the sea.  I had abandoned the bike, which probably wasn't the best idea, but I was determined to reach the sea, which would signify the penultimate moment outward, and from which I would inevitably return home. 
I turned back towards Honeydew, and from there took  
 Mattole Road up into the mountains through Humboldt Redwoods National Park back towards 101. 
 The roads were amazing and the scenery dazzling, but I couldn't shake the feeling I was finally leaving.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park, and Mattole Road were amazing.
Mattole Road snaked up the mountain, then turned into tiny little creekside route through redwoods before I hit 101, and Avenue of the Giants. (Snaking along Bull Creek Road below:)

 Avenue of the Giants southbound, as I had missed a bit on the way up,  and had a terrible little late lunch at this tourist trapp in Weott.
Back on the bike, and back on the road, I needed to push it for the rest of the day to make it down to Southern California. My cousin Jake had generously offered to put me up for the night, rather than spending a hundred bucks on a hotel room, but I needed to seriously ride to get there before he went to bed.
I rode those amazing twisties above Leggett on 101, and stopped at a scenic overlook around Westport, where I pulled the bike right up to the bluff to get a good shot.  Unfortunately, I did NOT estimate what a lean angle I was on, or how short my legs were, and as I backed the bike down the hill, I lost it to the right in slow motion like an amateur. 

I was mortified, especially as a fellow standing outside a Winnebago watched the whole thing transpire, but I picked the bike up, and there didn't seem to be anything wrong with the bike worse than some dirt on the bag and pegs, as well as the already-damaged frame slider on that side.
I didn't trust my adreniline-fueled state to assess damage, but it turned out that I dropped the bike so slowly there was barely a scuff.  I was beginning to love this Hyper, although personally I felt like an idiot.  
I got back on the road, and the clouds returned, this time for good, and rode on through the gray day.  The gloomy clouds kind of mirrored my mood
 
I stopped at a place called Seaside Beach, where the
rocks formed a rather stoic arrangement in front of the fog, 
poetically jutting out of the sea. 

I snapped a quick vid. 
The day waxed sun and gray, and I stopped behind a cyclist on the same spot I had come down, to snap a shot of the twisty pavement plunging down the hill. 
The sun started to hang a bit low in the sky, which began to clear a bit more, and I stopped off to take a few photos as the skies cleared... 
but mostly pushed on.  
Once I got down to Fort Ross, I began to hit these incredible roads I had not gotten the chance to ride on the way up. 

There was unfortunately a little bit of traffic, but there was one point around what must have been Russian Gulch, where you could see miles of road hundreds of feet below you laid out like a wet piece of spaghetti. 
 There was another terrifically beautiful sunset, before I had planned on dinner in Bodega Bay, where I stopped around Jenner to take a last few pics of the sunset.
There's something so beautiful here, that doesn't exist on the East Coast. 

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