California Cruise 2004 – Day 1: Cruising the Pacific Coast

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Saturday, June 19

  • Seattle, WA to Waldport, OR
    • 333 miles
    • Scott & Trev
  • Los Angeles, CA to Sunset State Beach, CA
    • 336 miles
    • Paul, Jeff, Eric & Joe

What does it mean when you wake up the day you are to depart on a motorcycle trip with Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” playing in your head?

  • Take it as a very good omen.
  • Realize that you’re on vacation.
  • Put “Machine Head” in the 6 CD changer in the trunk of your Goldwing.
  • All of the above.

Trev and Scott start their ride by having a hearty breakfast at Huckleberry Square in Burien, Washington accompanied by friends and family. (Thanks Stephanie, Inga, Vince & Erika!) Vince looks rather wistful as we rev up the bikes in the parking lot. We can tell he’s hearing the call of the open road. We pledge to knock a few back in his honor.

We pick up the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway in Washington State only to find that someone disregarded the scenic designation and neglected to protect the trees along this road. We ride along one clearcut after the next and it looks like a gang of Orcs have been very busy chopping wood for Isengard. Once we reach the Columbia River, the Byway returns to a state of scenic beauty.

The Astoria Bridge spans the mighty Columbia River and crosses the state line between Washington and Oregon. Only two years ago, we stood at the headwaters of the Columbia up in British Columbia during a ride and now, here we are at the mouth. Hey, wouldn’t following the river from start to finish be a fun ride? (So many rides, so little time.) Anyway, it’s a calm day so the ride across this very long bridge is uneventful.

At some point, we start noticing the unique signage along the way indicating the Tsunami Evacuation Routes. Is this for real? It must because we see sign after sign pointing to high ground. One sign even shows a dude running uphill for his life! How does one get a good night’s sleep around here? Do they keep life preservers and rubber rafts handy at all time? (Of course, we Seattlelites are just as nuts since we live and play near active volcanoes.) It’s not like we’re riding along the beach either. We’re inland a bit and if a tidal wave was big enough to sweep through these little coastal towns and force an evacuation to high ground, the danger and damage would be considerable. We wonder how the locals know when to evacuate and how much advance notice they get. Well, no matter. If we see people doing the out-of-town-boogie in a big hurry, we’ll get on the gas and blast out of here.

Meanwhile, as Trev and Scott head south, our ODMC brothers are heading North up the California coast and they discover a beach covered with Elephants Seals, lazily basking in the Sun.

No seals are spotted by us along the Oregon coast but it’s not like we are looking for them either. We are too busy enjoying the good roads and the scenery. The Oregon coast is a wonderful ride with a perfect blend of twisty roads past coastal towns and farms, through forested hills and along a spectacular coastline.

As every state campground we pass at the end of the day is full, we opt for a KOA in Waldport, Oregon. Being right alongside Hwy 101, there is no delightful evening walk on the beach in store but we do appreciate the hot showers. After setting up camp, we cross the bridge into Waldport and find dinner at a tavern in the midst of mobs of drunken people on hand to celebrate Beachcomer Days. It looks like they’ve been partying all day as there are lots of people wobbling around while dancing to the live reggae band. We are propositioned by a couple of inebriated women who can barely see straight but we manage to escape unscathed and return to the safety of our quiet campsite.

We purchase a bundle of firewood for a ritual releasing of some carbon into the atmosphere to do our part for the global warming effort. But by the time we go to light the fire, we realize we have absolutely no kindling. There isn’t so much as a twig lying around and the campstore is closed so we can’t nab a free KOA campground directory. Scott searches the cavernous trunk on his Goldwing and ends up donating a few pages from the Owner’s Manual for his new CD changer. Mission accomplished.

Far to the South, our riding buddies are setting up camp as well. Tomorrow, we meet at Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon.

Day Two: Rendezvous at Crater Lake

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