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July 7th, 2012 | California

Golden Gate to Fort Bragg…

The Golden Gate Bridge… Another iconic landmark that I wanted to ride the Big Fella onto and over…

Crossing the Oakland Bay Bridge on the way to downtown San Francisco…. Golden Gate is not the only impressive bridge that links the various boroughs of the city…

It is the most photographed bridges in the world and is the city of San Francisco’s gateway to the Pacific Ocean…

It took four years to build, and was officially opened in May 1937. Over 120 000 vehicles pass over the bridge every day, clogging the six lanes on the structure that spans a gap almost 3 km wide…

I had been across the bridge on a city tour bus in 2004 and remembered how impressive a structure it was… I had plans to add it to the many special places I had ridden the bike to, and wanted a photo from below the bridge with the Big Fella in the foreground…

Sandi had shown me a few photos that she had taken from below Golden Gate and I wanted to have similar shots of my visit to the bridge…

Saturday morning traffic was light on the way into san Francisco, and after crossing the long Oakland Bay Bridge, I worked my way past the high rises of the financial district and on to Lincoln before turning north to find the road that led to Baker Beach.

Although it was warm and sunny, I was bitterly disappointed when I entered the parking area at Baker Beach, and found a long white bank of fog obscuring the bridge…!!

I could only see a small part of the upper structure through the fog, and occasionally, when a thinner bank blew past, I could see some of the huge cables that join the roadway to the two massive pylons…

The view that greeted our arrival at Baker Beach… We was not amused…!!

The view I was hoping to get from Baker Beach…!! (Photo by Sandi Allan….)

Things were not any clearer as e rode across the bridge…!!

Once past the slow-moving traffic on the bridge, I headed north along US 101, riding hard to reach Fort Bragg by as close to 3.00 pm as I had promised… Patricia’s sister MiMi, had introduced me to her good friends Carin and Mark, who have a home in Fort Bragg, and they had very kindly offered to host me on my ride through their home town…

I had seen many stretch limos before, but not a stretch pick-up…!!

Mark had suggested I take the Cloverdale turnoff on US 101, as this was a road I was likely to enjoy on the bike… He was dead right…!!

The road leading to Yorkville and on to Boonville was a popular biker’s run, and I passed many small bands of Harley riders as I tore through the countryside, flipping the Big Fella through the tight, twisting  turns, and flogging him on the long, lazy bends, that wound through well-tended farmland, and later, densely wooded forests…

Hammering through the dappled shadows of a redwood forest on the road between Navarro and Albion on the Pacific coast…

With the mist closing in, we ghosted past Caspar…

Highway 1 now ran along the coast again, crossing a few broad shallow rivers where rafters and kayakers kept themselves well entertained…!! A thick fog had rolled in and totally obscured my view of the coastline…

The sudden drop in temperature caught me off-guard and within minutes it was uncomfortably cold…

Knowing I was only a short distance from Fort Bragg, I switched the heated grips on and grit my teeth as we plunged through the mist…

I had arranged to meet MiMi’s friends down at the harbour in Fort Bragg… The worlds largest Salmon BBQ was taking place there, and people from all over the county would be attending this annual event…

I had never met Carin and Mark, so had no idea what they looked like… I figured that they would be able to spot me far easier than I would them, and arranged to wait at the main entrance to the BBQ….

The bus that Carin and Mark passed me in as I tied to figure out the way to the harbour….

As I sat the bike on the outskirts of town, waiting for the light to change, I wondered where the harbour was… An old vintage bus came trundling down the road towards me, and then turned in front of me and took the road off to my right…

As the bus passed by, I saw people waving frantically at me from inside the bus… I sat staring after the bus as it moved further away from me… I was not really sure if it was me they were waving at, but something told me to follow the bus, and it led me down to the harbour…!!

I parked behind the bus, and watched as people alighted from it and walked towards the entrance… Two couples stepped off the bus and walked directly towards me… Big hugs and handshakes followed, as Carin and Mark introduced themselves to me…

“We were just telling people on the bus about you, when we looked up and there you were, sitting on your bike directly in front of us…!! What a serendipitous moment…!!” she exclaimed…

“Pleased to meet you…!!” I replied… “You forgot to mention the possibility of frostbite when we spoke earlier this morning…!!

Eating Salmon to save the Salmon…!! Carin and Mark pose with me at the worlds largest Salmon BBQ…

The fishing fleet that would soon be out fishing for Salmon, sat silently at anchor behind us… The season would begin in just a few days time, and be a short one, due to the scarcity of the fish that was once plentiful off this coast…

My comment broke the ice and a few minutes later we were standing in line, waiting to have large chunks of Salmon put on our plates…

We found an open picnic table amongst the many that had been pulled together in long rows, and while we ate, a country and western band struck up a tune to keep the large crowd entertained…

I was immediately at ease in the company of my new-found friends… Both Carin and Mark expressed great interest in my journey to date and I was happy to fill them in on the details they did not yet know…

We strolled down to the little harbour to look at the fishing boats tied up there, and then I saddled up and followed the same bus back to the terminus from which Carin an Mark had caught the bus…

I idled alongside them as they walked the short distance to their beautiful home, which was perched on the side of a steep bluff that fell away to the Pacific…

Deer grazed in their garden, wild turkeys scratched around in the dirt in front of their patio, and a host of different birds squabbled around the many bird feeders that hung from the boughs of the large fir trees in their garden…

The stunning views from their open-plan home held be spellbound…!! I stared out over the steel-gray Pacific, imagining the fishing fleets heading out to sea in a few days time… I hoped that they would have a successful season… We had been told that the previous year, the season was only eight days long, and on four of those days, the wind had blown too strongly for the fleet to put out to sea…!!

From the bluff near Carin and Mark’s home, you can see out over the Pacific… There is an energy about this place that I could clearly feel…

While my hosts left to attend a music festival, I stayed behind to reply to emails, and plan the remainder of my ride up the coast…

I knew I needed to make at least two big rides to give myself time to take a short break in Port Angeles to ride into the Olympic National Park before I boarded the ferry to Vancouver Island… It would mean riding for 8 days in a row, but I had long ago learned to pace my rides and was not too concerned by this…

With a firm plan in my head, I fell into a dreamless sleep, and did not feel the earthquake that struck the area at 4.00 am the following morning….!! It’s epi-centre was only a few miles north of Fort Bragg, and measured 4.3 on the Richter scale…

Mark and Carin were woken by a loud bang, and were both surprised that the earthquake had not registered behind the closed door of the spare bedroom…!! They called the highway authorities to see if any of the road along the coast had been closed, and after receiving the all clear, I thanked these two wonderful and thoughtful people whom I hoped to see again on the East Coast one day, and prepared to put in a long day in the saddle…

Carin and Mark outside their cliff-side home in Fort Bragg… I would have loved to spend more time with this very interesting and spiritual couple… In another time and another place, Guys…!!

I thanked Carin and Mark for kindness they had shown me, and received their best wishes for both the last leg of my trip and for that special day in September…

I rode out under an overcast sky, eager to get to at least Coos Bay, 650km to the north, and well into the sate of Oregon…

©GBWT 2012

3 comments to Golden Gate to Fort Bragg…

  • Mark Behr

    Sorry you could not get a pic of your Bike on the Bridge. Maybe another day!

  • Kim

    Just caught up on a lotta stories and I find myself grinning from ear to ear… especially seeing Allan again, reminded me of where it all started and how much has changed over the past couple of years…remember how I use to rip you off about all the weddings and now you are going to have your own one!!!! I sincerely hope that all the mischief that you got up to at all those wedding have a way of finding their back to you, obviously only the good stuff!!!
    Life changes, but good friends and times never get boring… At times I think your head must be ready to explode, with all the old and new memories – you really will be a very interesting Grandad one day – stories that will keep living forever.
    Chat soon and as always
    BIG kisses
    K

  • Bill over to BBC talk about your blog…Toward the end of each month I visit some new blogs it’s a great away of meeting new people and see different parts of the world…Not leaving your computer.
    It been a while sense I was in Bay Area my in-law use to live in Sausalito North of the Bridge. Hope you enjoy your travel…If you want to see some pretty area check out North Idaho and Western Montana…So if you have a chance stop by my blog and the coffee is on.

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