Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The lost coast....

The lost coast.

We've talked about it, dreamed about it, fantasized about it, and today was the day.  Would it be all we remember?  It was almost surreal, driving down the long road to Ferndale; I didn't remember it being so long.  Driving through Ferndale was a delight... A tiny city hall, a large butcher shop, and a huge hotel, and many Victorian buildings in between. No time for pictures, we were on a quest, and this year, we knew what we were looking for. 
This is the sign that marks our way. No road sign, and even google maps can't get us to the lost coast.  But here is the obscure path.

The road was as terrible as we remembered, but another year of riding and a G650GS as my companion, I tackled it with confidence and ease.  I didn't worry about picking the smoothest line at 10 mph, as I had started on my Ninja...  This year was swift and solid.  I can't say smooth, the road does not permit that.  Built on a fault line, the road is a hodgepodge of asphalt repairs, cracks, sunken edges, and gravel patches.  The BMW loved it.

We got to a road, and Nathan said "Do you want to see where it goes?"  I said sure, and realized how much I've changed in the past year.  A year ago, I would have told Nathan to check it out first, and come back and let me know if I could do it, or I would have hopped on the back of his bike. But I have new confidence in my ability to get myself both into and out of challenging situations.  So off we went.  Up a farm road, that eventually led us to a field full of cows.

They glared at us accusingly, moaning and swaying, some meandering toward our bikes looking both curious and menacing.  I catch up to Nathan and whisper "Did you see the Private Property sign?"  He did not.  It was rather small, but as menacing as the cows were, I was more worried about an angry rancher chasing us down. We turned around and left the cows in peace, to quickly forget the invasion of our two wheeled beasts.
Back on Wildcat Road, we continued our ride. Up, down, right, left. There was a white truck that waved us by, only to catch up to us as we snapped photos of the scenery. We couldn't help but stop; the farmland around the lost coast is breathtaking.




And then, a long stretch of gravel uphill. As I stood up to stabilize myself, I saw the coast. Every bit as pristine and remote as I remembered.


We journyed down, and this year, I followed Nathan to the gravel pull off rather than staying on pavement. We didn't stop for pictures there, because we were hoping if we kept going, we could ride on the actual beach.  We looked, but no dice. So we stopped, and climbed down to the black sand beach, enjoying the small tide pools, the smell of the ocean, and the sound of the crashing waves.



Our tummies began to rumble, and we decided it was time to venture on to The Yellow Rose, our oasis from last year.


We met some awesome folks with an adorable baby, who told us that the town was having a Cabaret tonight, and we should come! More on that later. They also told us about A.W.Way campground, which was a gem. More on that later too.

A funny moment came when I caught a glimpse of this.... "Nathan, hold still."  *snap picture* *burst out laughing*


We finished our lunch, and knew we wanted to spend the night nearby. Our two options were Mattole State Park on the beach (which we knew had limited space) or A.W.Way Campground. We decided to check out A.W.Way first. A beautiful, peaceful little spot, there were plenty of open sites, so we decided to go up to the beach campground and see what it was like.   

To get there, you have to travel 3 miles of a dirt road, with a small water crossing. (Water crossing makes it sound like more than it was...  It was a runoff area, I think, where they had laid some larger rocks to avoid mud.)  So far, all of my off roading has gone off without a hitch. But this was a genuine obstacle. (All you dual sport riders with experience are dying laughing about now. But I let things like this overwhelm me at times.) So I stopped and looked. Ok. It's just water and rocks. And if I get going before I hit it, I won't even feel the rocks move. And there are no bad lines. (This is my eternal trouble; searching for the best line when momentum makes that issue dissappear.) So I clicked it into gear, stood up, and rode over it like it wasn't there. Nathan fist bumped the air for me, and we went on.

We arrived at the beach, and realized that every one of the 300 people who live in this town must be parked here. No worries, we can park in the weeds. We also found out every campsite was full, which helped us decide where we were camping that night. We set off, opting out of the 3.5 mile hike to the light house, in favor of running barefoot through warm sand on Mattole Beach.

We started to get hungry again, and decided it was time to go back to A.W.Way and set up camp. I crossed back over our little water crossing without hesitation, wondering why that looked so challenging an hour ago. And when we picked our spot at A.W.Away, I hopped back on my bike and took grassy fields and dirt paths as much as I could back to the registration area. 

We discovered a new hobby here. Lizarding.

 Highly regarded as the best of vacationing hobbies, we laid down in the sun and napped for an hour. Then it was time for dinner prep. I want to plug backpackers country Pad Thai. The chili Mac from mountain house was amazing too, but I'm craving more pad thai as I write this. And it was enough for two people. 

While we were waiting, we went down to sit by the river, who's babbling would be our companion while we slept. We enjoyed the warmth, and reflected on how windy and cold, though amazing, beach camping would have been. Nathan skipped rocks in the river, and I counted skips.

The timer rings, dinner is done.  Now it's time to try to figure out this cabaret! We took off down the road, and find all the cars parked across the street from the school at the community center. We didn't know they were serving dinner, but we bought drinks and dessert (it was for the children. Gotta eat lots of dessert for the children.) There's a really cool program called Lost Coast Camp that serves primarily inner city youth, and the cabaret was part of a series of fundraisers that raise money for scholarships for this awesome program. We enjoyed listening to the local band, the kids, the choir who gets together just to experience the joy of making music together, a musical tribute to a local tragedy, a story, string tricks, an auction, and Londee, playing her ukulele singing a musical tribute to marijuana. Evidently, we were in the marijuana capital of California, but we are pretty oblivious to such things when there are motorcycles and scenery and interesting people to talk to. 


When we left, it was dark. There are no streetlights in Petrolia. And the roads are, as previously described, bumpy and curvy. And you never know when you might come upon a helmetless lightless dirt biker in the road, or a cow, or deer, or chicken. But the trusty bikes saw us safely back to our campsite, where we settled in for a lovely sleep..


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