Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

Highway 101

I dragged myself out of bed at 5am Friday so that I could catch the 550am sailing from Fauntleroy to Southworth.  It was somewhat overcast, but dry and a tad chilly as I looked around the house one last time before thumbing the starter on the Black Street Bob and trying as quietly as a Harley rider can to get out of the driveway without waking the neighborhood.  The ferry had all of four cars on it as we headed West across Puget Sound. 
I usually like to end a road trip with a ferry ride -- this time I was starting it.  I was feeling very alone this morning -- ti was hard going to sleep last night too.  I'm somewhat apprehensive on this trip for some reason.   I've taken solo road trips before, but this one feels very different.  In the past Tony has been waiting at home, or I've been riding to see someone who's waiting for me to get there.  Not so this time, and while I have a "big" goal -- gather material for the book notion -- there is no "reason" for this trip other than I feel like going.  

After the ferry docked I headed generally Southwest on familiar roads until I got to the town of Montesano, where I picked up US-101 which I was on all day, and will continue on until I cross the Golden Gate bridge in a day or so.   This is all "new" road for me too -- although I did drive it in a car almost 20 years ago, I remember nothing and it's very nice to be out on the open road with no traffic on the bike again, even if it was a little gray and chilly still.  

I crossed over into Oregon on the Astoria bridge -- a 4.1 mile long structure over the mouth of the Columbia River, and then drifted further south along the Oregon coast.  In the town of Tillamook, the empty gas tank and my empty stomach were calling out.  In Oregon the Legislature apparently feels we are all too dumb to be able to pump our own gas so one has to wait for an attendant to come out and fill up your tank for you.  Rediculous as this is, it does give one the opportunity to engage in conversation with a local. I asked where was a good place to get lunch and the young pump jockey told me that the cafe at the "World Famous Tillamook Cheese" factory just up the road was the best place in town.  You may recognize Tillamook as a brand of good cheese in your local grocery store -- it hails from this coastal town.  You can smell the aroma of cheddar cheese for miles around the factory.   Tony has a tremendous dislike -- bordering on extreme phobia -- of cheese, and had he been on this trip I can picture him holding his nose and stopping to retch by the side of the road as we came through town.
I couldn't resist texting Tony as I had lunch:  First I sent him the photo of the factory saying "here's where I'm having lunch!", to which he replied: "Screw you and the cheese block you are sitting on!"  Me:  "LMAO"  Tony: "Laugh it up Fuzzball"  Me:  "Grilled bacon and tomato with three kinds of cheese on sourdough,,mmmm goooood!"  Tony:  "Have fun on your trip since I won't be talking to you any more cheesebreath."  Yes he was just kidding, and I couldn't resist teasing him.  I'm sure next time he goes on a ride and visits the Best Foods Mayonnaise factory I'll get paid back.

The Oregon Coast is really quite pretty, and the ride down was right along the edge of the sea for most of the way.  Unlike Puget Sound, this really is the edge of the ocean and the water dissapears off into the Western horizon.  Most of the time the road is cut out of cliffs and bluffs, and is very curvy and thus quite fun on the bike, but it does limit the speed to 40 mph or so, which makes the going slow, but that's OK -- I don't have any destination or timetable. The wind blows constantly on the coast here, strait off the ocean -- it's reflected in the trees which all have bent up branches from permanent wind, and I noticed I was leaning to the left to compensate for the wind coming from the right most of the day.
You have to wonder about some towns though and their self-proclaimed nicknames.  My favorite is Yakima, Washington -- self described as the "Palm Springs" of Washington.  Yeah, I think of Yakima whenever I'm in Palm Springs and vice versa.  They are just sooooo alike.  High on that list is now Lincoln City, Oregon -- who's motto on the sign as you enter town is "Lincoln City -- A place To Try Something New".  I can see it now, "Honey, lets go to Lincoln City and try something new!"  The mind conjures up all kinds of possiblities doesn't it?  

As the afternoon wore on, my backside got a bit sore -- I've not been on a bike for this long a stretch since last year, and it takes a while to build up stamina for long rides.  I was glad to see that Coos Bay was just a few miles up the road, and I settled into a nice Best Western.  Harley has a nice 20% discount for HOG members who pre-register which makes it even nicer.  I asked the girls who were at the front desk where they would suggest I go to dinner, and they both said "Benetti's".  They were right.  Always trust a local.  This little Italian joint, was without a doubt the best Italian I've had in a long long time.  I had a nice halibut steak done Italian style that was out of this world.  As is usual, he saw I was on the bike and wanted to know about it, and where I was going and how long etc... Something about being on a bike opens doors for people to talk with you, whether it's at a gas staion or a restaurant or just walking on the street.  I honestly think it's envy -- of the freedom of the road, or the artwork that most bikes tend to be, or the rebelious nature bikers seem to project.  Who knows, but it is an inevitable conversation starter, and opens the door for a friendship, even if it is a momentary one.

  • Latest Magazine Column

    For over ten years I've been writing a monthly column in Quick Throttle Magazine -- a regional biker publication. The confluence of the changes…

  • May/June QuickThrottle Column

    With the pandemic shutdown, the loss of revenue, and everyone staying at home, the publisher decided not to put out a May issue and put out a…

  • April QuickThrottle Column

    This whole pandemic thing, in addition to being very trying, has delayed a few things, including the publication of my column. I just got the April…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.