Friday, August 28, 2009

Redwoods National Park

And again I failed. Or more accuratly, I got lazy. I'm in Kingman, Arizona now, and ended up just getting a hotel last night. It was inexpensive, clean and nice, and has free wi-fi. Truth be told, I'll stay just about anywhere as long as they have free internet. As long as I had some down time, I figure I'll keep working on the backlog of photos.


After a night spent at the coolest campground ever (see my entry a few posts ago about Sparkplug's Motorcycle Campground), I headed south on 199 out of Oregon and into California. The weather was warm, the air was clear, and the road was kinda twisty. It was great motorcycle weather.

(sorry for the video being so shakey, this road was a lot of downhill and I needed the right hand for throttle control, so I had to hold the camera with my left hand)

Eventually, the 199 merged into the 101, which I took south, into the Redwoods National Park.

Just . . . wow.

This place really screws with your sense of perspective and reality. And for that matter, how well you can judge distance. You see things that are cool, but aren't totally abnormal. For example, you see this little hole in a tree, and you think "Oh that would be such a good home for a cute little squirril or something!"

And then you walk up to it, and you realize that no . . . it would be a good home for a Tsaven.

I would absoutly live in this. Without a second thought. And I easily could, too. The sheltered area was at least 7 feet wide at the base, easily enough for a cot, and went deep enough into the tree to easily shelter things from the elements. As long as I had an internet signal, I could be perfectly happy in there.

I took a little forest road deeper into the hills. It was a slow, 10mph gravel/rock/dirt road, which was okay, as it's twisting through the trees was just brilliant.

Perspective is a funny thing. You look around this place, see things that . . . they don't strike you as out of the ordinary, until you take a few (or many, many many) steps back, and see someone else standing next to the tree to really see how huge they are.

Can you spot the Tsaven?

Looking up just makes the problem of perspective worse. These trees are so tall that their tops seemingly vanish off into infinity.

These trees, Coastal Redwoods currently hold the record for the tallest living trees currently on earth; many of them are over 300 feet tall, and the current tallest know is a staggering 379 feet tall.

Think about that for a second. Three hundred and seventy-nine feet tall.

For reference, consider the following:

From the ground, to the top of the support structure (not the orange fuel tank, but the actual grey superstructure) is . . . 349 feet.

If you were to place the Coast Redwood next to this launch platform, it would tower over it by another thirty feet.

Walking in this forest is absolutly breathtaking.

Being there makes you, and everything you hold dear, seem so very small, pitiful, and insignificant. Some of these trees are over TWO THOUSAND years old. Again, take a second to wrap your mind around that. Thing about what was going on in this world when some of these trees first took root. Think about just how old these trees are, and your veiw of the world starts to break down.

These trees have seen more then you or I or anyone we know could ever see. These trees were here long, long before us, and will be here long, long, long after us. Think about the things you worry about and think about. And then put them in the timeline of these tree's life. Politics, movies, music, what's on TV, religions, governments, countries, empires . . . all of it, everything absolutly pales on this timeline. People will go on with their lives, and their problems, bickering about this and that, worrying about the circulation of little bits of green paper and killing each other for all sorts of reasons, mostly because they all believe in different imaginary beings, and these trees will just stand there. And watch.

Note the guy at the base of the tree in the white tee-shirt for an idea of scale.

Not all of these trees get to that age; the most common cause of death for them is actually falling (or, recently, being cut down :( ). Their root structures are expansive, but for one reason or another, sometimes they just don't hold on, and down the trees go, to rot and provide food and clearing space for new trees to sprout in it's place.

And . . . I mentioned how big they are, right?

I left the Redwoods National Park, heading down the 101, which moved over to skirt the coast for a while.

As much as people have told me about how the weather in California is always fantastic, this coastal weather was proving them very wrong. Sure, 20 miles inland it was nice, but here along the coast was drizzly, overcast, and cold. I actually kept my rain gear on for most of the rest of the day just to stay warm. This jacket I'm wearing now is all mesh, the air goes right through it. Which is perfect when it's 80f (or, recently, 120f), but not so nice when it's 60f. So I keep the rain gear on as a windbreaker.

I made it as far south as Rio Dell this day, and was having a hell of a hard time finding someplace to camp. Eventually I took Rt 36 ~20 miles inland (wow, that's a damn decent road), and picked at random a mountain road on the GPS. It was in a very jagged and steep area, and even with lots of NO TRESSPASSING signs blocking every little path I saw, I eventually found a clearing on the side and set up the tent at almost 12:30am. I freakin' hate trying to stealth camp in the dark.

(taken the next morning, obviously)

While I knew that I'd done a lot of uphill riding on my way out here, it was dark and I didn't have much idea of exactly how high up I'd come. Until I got back to the main road, at least.

So while it was beautiful, warm and sunny where I was then . . . I knew it wasn't going to last. That was the direction I needed to head, down into the vally.

I headed back east on 36, and attempted to use my GPS to get my to Rt 211, which on the map looked like a lot of fun. And of course, my trusty, reliable TomTom decided that some farmers gravel driveway was in fact, a main road. >: ( 45 minutes of detouring later, and I find that 211 is indeed a spectacularly twisted road, and as a benifit, it headed up the hills by the ocean, getting me out of the clouds again (at least for a short while)

This was a VERY, VERY, VERY twisty road, with some very technical riding. Seemingly endless switchbacks so tight that the pegs would scrape at 10mph, going up and down the mountains, speckled with the occasional decreasing-radius turn just to keep you on your toes.

It would have been a lot of fun . . . if the pavment hadn't been so awful. I've ridden on city streets in Chicago that were smoother then this road was. And the weird part was that it didn't LOOK that rough. Sure, there were some patches here or there, but nothing that really set off warning bells in your head. Until you went over them, and your teeth got shaken loose.

For a while, the road dropped back into the clouds, and ran along the coast.

(Looking back the way I came)

A good sign that I'm on the path to good riding is the presance of many other bikers. Most of them seemed to be on Dual-sports or Motards or bikes with a lot of suspension travel, though. They knew about this surface in advance, I guess.

At some parts along the coast, the clouds did back off for a bit, allowing in some welcome sunlight. But the wind off the ocean was still quite cold, so I kept the rain gear on all day.

After a while, the road turned back inland, into the forests. Sure, more really rough roads, but trees! Yay trees!

Wow, I thought I was hardcore. This guy is loony!

(The sign on the back behind the gas tank and cooler said "PASS ME". He was doing maybe 30mph up hills)

I took the suggestions of many other riders to get off the 101 and head down the 1, right along the coast. This was a suggestion I took, and was rewarded with stunning views! Of white.

When the fog did clear away, it was very pretty. But still bloody cold.

Sometimes the clouds would linger off shore for a few miles, but then would come right back ashore to rob me of the scenery.

Sometimes there would be clouds just over the coastline, and you could see only a mile out to sea that there was clear sky.

While on this road, I figured out why real estate prices in California have tanked so badly! It's because of people like this.

Seriously. Who the fuck thinks this looks good? "I've got a great idea, honey! Lets trim all our trees to look like UFOs!"

This chowderhead is probably dragging down propery values in the whole town, just because anyone who lives there might have to look at his shitty landscaping.

I burned miles for the rest of the day, and made it down to Oakland (just East of San Francisco), where I'd made arrangements to crash for the night with Zenadia from SA. He was a true goon biker; a garage full of nice, if slightly disassembled motorcycles, transmission parts in his living room, shock absorbers in his kitchen, and books on sport-bike suspension tuneing as the reading material in the bathroom.

Here he is posing with his totally pimp fly ride, yo.

Heading south from San Fran, I . . . okay, I failed. I had told my friend that I'd meet her in Monterey in the early afternoon, and due to my failing, didn't make it there until 6:30, when she had to be back on base by 7 :(

Along the way, I did see this, which I'm told is, yes, the real Alice's Resteraunt.

And later on, this. Which just struck me as . . . well, weird. French fried artichokes? Seriously?

I did make it down to Monterey to see my friend, who we'll call Siren. Due to my compleate lack of being able to keep track of time, we got to hang out for maybe fifteen minutes before she had to go. Girl, I'm really, really sorry that I failed so hard at getting down there :( Hopefully I'll see you again when you next visit back to your hometown?

Okay people, that's a long enough update for now. I'll keep trying to fill in the blanks when I can when I have time, but I can't promise much for the next few days. I'm going to spend the next day or two farting around the Grand Canyon, and then up to Reno to meet up with my gear-hauler for Burning Man on the 31st.

I need to get back on the road now, so peas out.

1 comment:

  1. That can not be the real Alice's Restaurant. the real one is in Stockbridge Massachusets. Sorry, but I huge Guthrie fan :)