What a whirlwind trip of craziness and borderline schizophrenia! We took on many different personas this time around.
For those of you who have never been on a motorcycle road trip, the key is to pack light. That key is especially important when you have two people traveling on the same motorcycle. Two people who will spend part of the trip camping. My Rooster is a diligent loader and we both traveled light. We had clothing in the T-bag, bathroom items in the upper roll bag, a tent and an air mattress snugged up under the T bag and two sleeping bags bungied to the saddle bags. It was a tight fit all around, but I was happy for the bonus arm rests (sleeping bags).
Six of us embarked on this adventure.
Off we headed to the first stop, Centrailia…. a mere hour from home. We met up there with Kimmy and Jaime, and the Bastards, Rat Bastard and Little Bastard. The excitement was palpable.
Riding all day, down I-5, onto the 199, then the 101, until finally, at 9 pm, we ushered our road weary selves into our hotel rooms. A quick Mexican dinner at the restaurant next door, several (meaning many), and into bed. The train rolled on at 9 am.
Thursday, after a delicious breakfast and our first encounter with our new friends, Steve and Clint, who roared past us, like we were some kind of Captain Kangaroo train, we headed down 101 in fog and a light mist. What kind of California was this?
After passing Steve and Clint once, and after they passed us again three more times (how does that happen?), we arrived unscathed into the hippy dippy town of Garberville in the early afternoon, 12 miles from the Redwood Run Rally. 2 beers and 2 shots are the tradition on the way to the rally. We met a few other new friends (Gator), then nicely buzzed, we rolled on in.
The Redwood Rally is an annual run officially sponsored by the Kiwani’s. For those of you in the know, it’s the Northern California Spring Opener (same exact thing), BUT, it is unofficially sponsored by the Hell’s Angels. How exciting right?
The Hell’s Angels are just as normal as you or me. Do not ever be scared of any MC people. We are all nice people. Even the Hell’s Angels. Without their colors and group, you wouldn’t know the difference between them and any other group, but here of course is where it ends. This is their rally. This is their home away from home and they are in charge.
After checking in, we waited in a large group of other bikers and their rides, outside of the main gates. Word whispered around that some of the Hell’s Angels had yet to arrive to take their positions. Each section of campground, each section of vendors and even the river (the Eel River for those of you geography buffs), had a Hell’s Angel camp. They kept an eye on the whole place. Kiwani’s. That’s who benefits, benefitted, you get my drift. It’s the Hell’s Angel’s Spring Opener.
Once they let us in, it was a slow race to find a campsite. We rode down the steep narrow hills with hundreds of others, each breaking off to an exciting looking area. I sat at the back of the bike, holding both of our helmets and jackets. It was suddenly very hot. I am not ashamed to say I changed from my sweatshirt and jacket into a tanktop in front of everybody. Do it, nobody cares. Our group ended up camping above the stage and below the vendors, ideal we thought. We were surrounded by other bikers of no allegiance from Olympia, and from Salem. At least we were among brethren. Although, looking back, they were/are all brethren. People are scared of bikers. Don’t be. We are just like you. We just bring motorcycles to the camping trip. We drink beer (well I don’t), but we also drink wine and appreciate fine food, and beautiful scenery. Some of us even like art and the theater.
Unpacking was pretty easy. Put up the tents, blow up the mattresses, roll out the bags. My rooster and I had foregone pillows, for the sake of space, but had pillow cases, in which we intended on stuffing sweatshirts and clothing. Pretty smart idea huh? Hooray for my oh so creative guy.
We came in on the “Early Bird”, technically a day before the rally was to begin. The whole point of the “Early Bird” was to get a good campsite and be treated to a free BBQ. Check out the BBQ. LOL
If you have never taken a trip through the California Redwoods, you are missing out. It’s so wondrous. The trees are humongous. Many of them are 40 feet around at the bottom, you can’t even see the tops up close. Pictures do it no justice.
During the four days and three nights of camping we rode to fun places, like the famous black beach of California, the lost Cove and Confusion Hill, we visited the “One Tree House”, and the 4000 year old Grandfather Tree. We ate steaks prepared by firemen, drank too much, us ladies showed our boobs for beads (it’s a biker rally and New Orleans thing), we swam in the River and watched some great bands. We made new friends and got to see old friends from far away.
The Hell’s Angels members were many, and from all over California. There was even one original member from the Sonny Barger days, and he was very revered. As the hosts, they won every event, from the biker games to the wet t shirt contest. There was even an uphill wheelie contest. Each time someone took a turn, I expected them to end up on their heads. So did the firemen standing by. I knew they were there for something other than making steak dinners and hearty breakfasts. (No one landed on their heads.
Sleeping on the ground though, at the age of 40 something, is a little too much to bear for three nights.
On the final night, when we laid down on the barely still inflated air mattress, the sound of a snore-a-thon drifted all around. Sunday morning was pack up and go day, and it couldn’t come soon enough. For all of us there was the thrill of another days riding, especially since we were off to San Francisco, and even more excited (especially to me, a real bed and pillows)! On the way to Frisco, we swung through the Chandelier Tree and visited Glass Beach, both of which I highly recommend.
Traffic in San Francisco leaves much to be desired. In fact, in and around San Francisco…… sheesh. I would show you a photo, but you know what stopped cars all in a row look like.
The Golden Gate Bridge though….. it’s a sight to behold. This photo was taken from a boat on the water underneath.
People in San Francisco are crazy drivers. They drive close to each other and very fast. We abandoned the motorcycles at the hotel as soon as we arrived. We walked and taxied our way around town for two nights and one packed day. We even took the City Bus (a less than stellar idea).
We ate at a famous sourdough bakery, went on a San Francisco Bay boat tour (under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz), we visited Girhardelli Square and had delicious ice cream sundaes. We spent time at tourist and local bars and rode the famous trolley (I didn’t have a chance to find a store beforehand to get some Rice a Roni-, damn). We went to the Hard Rock Cafe. We saw Harbor Seals and very fat seagulls. We saw quite a few startling examples of the drug addled homeless problem that San Francisco is so quiet about (in my world). It was an excellent visit.
Then something scary happened. We were at the Harley store, getting ready to head out of town. I was standing on the sidewalk, hanging around the bike, when up the street marched not one, but six police officers. As they passed me, I saw that they were all wearing Homeland Security vests. They were not ordinary police officers at all. They were serious. They were studying the faces and items of everyone around. I did not take their photo.
This was just two days after the Orlando gay club shooting. And here we were in San Francisco, home of the gayest gay pride.
As they passed, a man of middle eastern descent, selling tours on the sidewalk a mere ten feet from me, started shaking his head and muttering…… “It’s too late, you’re too late, there’s no use, you’re too late.”
I tell you what. I was so very happy to get out of that town. As you know, there were no incidents on Fisherman’s Wharf that day (reported by media), but all the same. I was happy that Homeland Security was on hand to protect and serve, and I was very afraid that they were there for a reason (and we were caught smack dab in the center of it). Never fear, we jetted off over the Bay Bridge and just as fast as it started, it was over for us.
On the road again…….. 400 miles north to Ashland, Oregon. Isn’t it pretty? It was only for one night. Ashland has a Shakespeare Festival every year that runs from March into the Summer. It’s a gorgeous hippy place, full of interesting people and buildings. Please visit.
We stayed in a very luxurious hotel room at the Best Western Bard’s Inn. It was expensive, but hey, there wasn’t any Homeland Security marching around scaring me.
Yesterday we rode the final 450 miles home and arrived magically before the rain. I couldn’t have asked for a better vacation.
We are happy to be home. We are a little less happy to get back to work, and we’re exhausted from the fun.
I know, I know. Where’s the moral?
You only live once, have fun, see everything, go on vacation as much as you can. The End.