Biker Blog » Pacific Coast Highway

July 30th, 2010

July 1, 2010 through July 13, 2010

            The plan was to take our scooters from border to border. Terry Cash and I had planned to hit the San Diego/Tijuana border in the South and travel all the way up the coast to Port Angeles, Washington/Victoria, Canada. We left Tucson, Arizona at 5:40 a.m. on July 1, 2010. Terry was 40 minutes late but we were on vacation-so no harm, no foul. We made Gila Bend, Arizona with no problems. Our first meal was breakfast at the Space Age Restaurant with the flying saucer top.

            After the brief respite, we turned out wheels back towards the southern interstate. We stopped at Dateland, Arizona for a bathroom break. Since we hardly ever stop there, I got one of their famous date milkshakes. It is very rich, sweet and chunky. Between the two of us, we could not finish it. Just too much good stuff I guess. Then we were off again. The weather reports indicated that the temperature in Yuma was going to be 114. Yeah! So into the inferno we rode. We stopped in Yuma just long enough to fill our gas tanks and stock up on water for the desert crossing. I wet my shirt in a spigot and enjoyed the ride out of Yuma and into the sand dunes outside of town. Terry chose not to involve himself with the wetting of his clothes.

On the way out of Yuma, we crossed the trestle bridge that Billy the Kid and Captain America crossed in the opening credits of “Easy Rider.” All I could think of was, “Yeah, that’s right, we bad.” Anyways, after leaving Yuma, we entered into our second State of the trip, California. Thereafter, we stopped at the international border crossing at Los Algodones, Mexico in order to get a close up picture of the border in case we could not get one at the Tijuana crossing. Every 15 feet was a sign that prohibited parking, but we were on a mission. So we stopped the bikes, jumped off, and hastily snapped a couple of photos before we were could be reprimanded. As an aside, a couple of weeks after we got back from this trip, I was reading a news article and discovered that it is illegal to take pictures of border crossing stations. Whoopsies.

The rest of the way through the desert was like Buster Poindexter’s one hit song, “Hot, Hot, Hot!” Our next stop after the border was Ocotillo Wells, California. We needed to use the bathroom bad. However, just like my trip through here last April, the bathroom was broken. So we found a parked truck and marked our spots. While waiting in the shade, I decided to soak my shirt again. This time Terry didn’t think it was such a bad idea and he followed suit. I’m sure we looked and smelt like a couple of dirty, wet dogs, but it sure made the ride out of the Wells a bit more tolerable.   

            We arrived in San Diego after about eight hours on the road. We found our hotel in La Jolla and checked in. Despite our appearance, the manager of the Holiday Inn Express was as nice as she could be. She even upgraded us to a suite. However, after finding out the suite only had one king size bed for Terry and I to share, we got busted back down to a regular room. The fact that it had two separate beds made it so that no one was complaining. We had a quick lunch and took a nap to energize us for dinner.

            Dinner was going to be at Phil’s Barbecue. One of the best places I have found for beef ribs. We got there about 7:00 p.m. and quickly found out that the line went around two sides of the building. So needless to say we were hungry by the time we got our food. It was great as usual. We called it an early night after that.

            The next morning we drove up the coast until we could find the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) at Dana Point. Soon we were in stop and go traffic in Laguna Beach. Up and down both sides of the street were gorgeous, tanned, real life Barbie dolls jogging, biking and rollerblading. Picture in the middle of all that activity, two old, fat bikers stuck in traffic, leather boots on the asphalt, but grinning from ear to ear as their necks strain in each direction to follow the moving scenery. I got to say Laguna Beach was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

            We stopped for lunch at a Don the Beach Comber. Tiki atmosphere is always a good thing. Before too long, the PCH took us through Long Beach. Only Long Beach isn’t beachy. It’s not even all that pretty. I had no idea what happened to the coast but we were no longer on it. Eventually we ended up in Santa Monica at about 4:00 p.m. on the Friday before the July 4th holiday weekend. Not good. We were again stuck in bumper to bumper traffic and going nowhere. I desperately wanted to try lane splitting which is legal in California. Lane splitting allows a motorcycle to travel in between two lanes of traffic. Unfortunately, having never done this before, I was too chicken to try it now. So stuck we remained. After at least an hour in this traffic jam, it started to thin. Eventually we decided to hit highway 101, where we were able to haul ass. We got to Grover Beach and our hotel as the sun went down and the temperature cooled considerably.

We were near San Luis Obispo and the area where they filmed “Sideways”, one of my favorite movies. We dined that night at an A.J. Spurs in Grover Beach. In the movie, A.J. Spurs is the western themed restaurant where Jack picks up the overweight waitress he later has sex with. We had a male server. The next morning we left in cold weather.

We hit Morro Bay early in the morning and the huge rock in the harbor was covered with fog. Another favorite part of the trip for me was our next destination, Big Sur. We turned away from the coast and climbed up into misty mountains cover with fog and low flying clouds. As we ascended, to our left we can see the green foam of the ocean and the white caps of the waves. Eventually we elevate so high that the clouds obscure our view of the sea. Sporadically, the cloud cover would part and we could see the ocean beaches some 300 feet below. From this height the water was purple and churning with gusto. We stopped too briefly in Carmel by the Sea because we were trying to reach the Harley Davidson dealership in Monterrey before they closed. We found the Harley shop in Cannery Row, Monterrey. We grabbed a couple of shirts and headed back out on the highway until we reached Pacifica. That night we dined on seafood at Nick’s Restaurant. We finished the night off with Mexican Coffee (coffee and tequila).

The next morning, it was a quick ride to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was truly awesome to ride the motorcycle over that iconic piece of Americana. We stopped at the Golden Gate Bridge Park and took a few pictures. Unfortunately the fog obscured our view of Alcatraz. Then we were off through the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Another highly recommended ride. We headed up rolling hill of amber colored grass. Once over the hills, the ever present ocean was there to greet us again. Beautiful. In all the little sea side towns, I saw several signs for “BBQ oyster.” I wanted to try them but we never had a chance. It was slow moving as the sea town brought in loads of people for the July 4th holiday.

We made McKinleyville, California on the evening of July 4, 2010. We saw no fireworks but could hear a few in the distance. Dinner was at Roundtable Pizza. I had never tried this place. Despite the paper plates, this was one of the best meals I had on the whole trip. All meats pizza and salad were delicious. I must have been hungry if I thought the salad was good. The next section of our trip took us through Humboldt County, California. Redwood trees, hippies and the smell of marijuana. We stopped for gas at Legget and the young gas attendant and his friends did not even bother to put out their joint. Back on the freeway before the Sheriff showed up, we stopped in Oregon for a picture of the State line sign. Traveling up the Oregon Coast was beautiful. This time it was large rocks jutting out of the waves- grey and dark but lovely nonetheless. We stopped briefly at the Coos Bay Harley dealership. I expected a lot better looking t-shirts from this store, but was disappointed. However, I did get a laugh in the restroom when I read the sign that said “Those with short bats please stand closer to home plate.”

We finally made Newport and our next hotel around 7:30 p.m. We were told all the restaurants close at 9:00 p.m., so we quickly followed the hotel clerk’s advice and found a local brew pub. The name of the place was called Rouge Brewery. I had heard about Rouge and had even had some of its beer in Tucson. It was a trek through the brewery and upstairs before we reached the bar and dining room. We choose the bar and as soon as we sat down, the bartender, Jennifer, poor us both a sample of their summer ale. It was good but I wanted something darker and stronger, so I settled for a couple of pints of Shakespeare Stout. It was delicious. We had barely finished our food when Jennifer yelled “Last call for alcohol.” I looked out the window and it was still light outside. I asked her what time last call was and she said 9:00 p.m. Sure enough, it was 9 o’clock at night but still a lot of day light left. I had seen my share of last calls in my life but never one where it was still daylight out. Unfortunately (or fortunately) that put an end to my imbibing.

The next morning we stopped at the Oregon State Aquarium in Newport before heading out of town. They had an underwater tunnel that took you through the shark tanks. Too cool. A short hop up the coast and we hit Tillamook, Oregon- Home of the Orange Cheese. I love food so our arrival seemed like a trip into a dairy farm heaven. I had some of the best ice cream ever. Then I bought some beef sticks and fudge to take with us. I loved that all the cashiers looked like they were raised on a dairy farm. They were all very pretty and big boned. We made Seaside, Oregon by noon and checked into the house where we were to meet Terry’s wife, my fiancée and a few of our friends. The plan was to stay with them for a day and a half before heading back on the road to Canada. It took the girls less than thirty minutes to convince us to stay at the house for the rest of the time they were going to be in town. So the plan to ride into Canada was derailed and I was okay with that. It turned out to be a really great trip for Rosa and I. We got reconnected in a way I had not felt in years. In addition, we were surrounded by corn dog vendors, berry cobbler and Tillamook ice cream.    

            After a couple days in Seaside, we took the bikes to Astoria, Oregon and then across the four mile bridge into Washington State. The bay was covered with fog and the bridge looked as if it went half way out into the cove and then disappeared. I thought for sure it would just drop us and our bikes off into the sea. It was so foggy we could not see more than about 20 yards out. The only thing that gave me hope that I wasn’t going for a drop into the ocean was that I keep seeing cars coming towards us from the other side of the road. As it turned out, the bridge did make it to the other side of the peninsula and Washington. We rode into Chinook and Ilwaco before turning around and heading back to Astoria, Oregon. On the way back to Seaside, we stopped at the shipwreck remains of the Peter Iredale at the Fort Stevens State Park.

            Early the next morning we left Seaside for our return home. The weather was cool and there was a continuous mist that showered down on us until we hit Portland. Our plan was to travel about 400 miles each day. That would put us back in Tucson on Tuesday, July 13. However, our first day on an interstate road was something we missed and wanted to take advantage of. So we travelled 638 miles that first day. We finally stopped in Twin Falls, Idaho. We awoke early the next morning after my best night sleep so far. We ended our second day in Flagstaff, Arizona after putting another 742 miles on the bikes. On the morning of July 12, we arrived in Tucson a full day and a half early. Looking down at my odometer, we had travelled 3,534 miles. We also visited six states-Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Utah. Overall, I would have to say this was an excellent way to spend a summer vacation.

Thank you Terry Cash for being willing to put in all those miles, in front of me, behind me, and next to me on your bike. I don’t know a lot of people who would be willing to do something like that. I couldn’t wish for a better biker buddy than you. Thank you also to Carlene Cash for giving up your husband for some of your vacation so that we can put a few more black marks on the maps in our garages. Last but not least, thank you Rosa for giving me the freedom to do what I love. 

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