Day 8

Redwood Morning Smoke

Camping on the side of the road off Hwy 1, Newport, California, USA
Camping on the side of the road off Hwy 1, Newport, California, USA

Side of the road, Newport, CA to Fort Goff Campground


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I woke to the sound of the ocean crashing on the rocks. The same sound I fell asleep to. The irritating sound of a car driving past broke my concerntration. I opened my eyes. There was faint sunlight coming through the canvas of the tent. The end of my feet were wet. So was the walls of the tent. I checked the time on my phone. It was 7:00am. I unzipped the tent and found the ground wet. Everything was damp.

It hadn’t rained overnight. It must’ve been the mist or cool air off the ocean. The bike was covered in a layer of dew, including my helmet. The car was still parked nearby. I compressed my sleeping bag, deflated the matress, pillow and rolled up the wet tent. Everything was placed back on the bike. I brushed by teeth and peed towards the direction of the house. I put my gear on started the bike and rolled out. Thank god.

I rode North to the next town. It was cold. Colder than I expected. My hands were freezing after 10-15 minutes. I arrived in Westport. It was a shotty little coastal town. I stopped next to what looked like an abandoned house. There were dogs barking from the sound of my bike in the quite of the morning. I dove into my bags to find my winter gloves and liners. I eventually found them. They made my hands twice the size and I couldn’t feel the handgrips. It was better than having them freeze. I put a jumper on as well. It was far more comfortable.

Highway 1 began to go inland. The road became windy. I rolled the bike from side to side and sped up. The road was smooth and empty. It was fun. I eventually caught up to a delivery truck that was haulin’ along the windy road. He must drive it a lot. I was much faster. He pulled to the right and signalled me to pass. I gave him a wave and continued to enjoy the road. The bike was suprisingly comfortable travelling at speed. For a loaded up dirtbike anyway.

I came to a roadsign that read ‘Avenue of the Giants’. Intrigued by the name, I checked it out on Google. It was a scenic route that ran along the Highway. Why not check it out? I turned right. The road was uneventful until I came to a signed clearing called ‘Governer William D. Stephens Loop Trail’. There was a couple of cars there. I could have breakfast on the big logs at the entrance. I skipped it because I didn’t like my side-of-the-road campsite. I pulled out my gas burner, oats and coffee.

A couple of people came walking out the trail. I didn’t even notice it was there. They eye’d me suspiciously while that chatted. I continued to make my breakfast. It was an old grey beared man and a slightly younger, short haired brunette woman. They were talking about nature or something. They seemed to know each other. They walked towards me. Eventually the woman got in her car and left. The grey bearded man with beer gut stood along puffing alone. I greeted him. “Hello”, I said sipping my coffee. He nervously greeted back. “What is this place?”, I asked? He said it was a little loop walk through the redwoods. The giant trees the man had told me about on the side of the road a few days prior. He comes here every morning for a ‘smoke and a walk’. I suspect he was talking about marajuana and not tobaccoo. He seemed nervous talking to me. He loved the place and said the trees ‘speak’ to you. I wasn’t sure if he was high. He told me there was a great road through Honeydew to Ferndale I should checkout. The road was aparently bad but I should be okay on the motorbike. I said I would do it. He hoped in his truck and left.

I finished breakfast and checked out the trail. The path was clear and smooth. There were no bushes or schrubs like in Australia. I’d never been in the woods before. I continued to walk. An eriee silence decended upon me. I looked up at the giant trees surrounding me. They appeared to touch the sky. There was no wind. I could hear only birds. It was a facinating place. Like where you would imagine fairy’s would live. It was peaceful, almost magical. I understood why the man walked the loop every morning.

I continued towards Honeydew as the older man suggested. I stopped a couple of times to explore some more of the woods. I found the turn-off called ‘Lower Bullcreek Falls Road’. Oh my god. It was like the road going version of the trail from before. The towering redwoods lined the skinny on-car road. The trees came right to the edge. You could crash into them so easily. It was incredible! I’d never seen anything like it before. I had to grab my phone from the Quad Lock and hit record.

The road continued past trailheads and campspots. I had to be careful on the tight blind road from campers driving too quickly along it. The road eventually began to widen and climb as I got my first taste of the wooded mountains of the USA. A thick blue haze spread across the mountains. There were fires nearby. Quite big judging by the smoke. We had fires in Australia too.

The road to Honeydew was complete shit. It was falling apart and was rittled with pot-holes. It was nothing to worry about on the bike but it was hazardous for a typical sedan. I was surprised considering it was marked as a major road on Google maps and the only way into town. It was interesting to see a Tesla going up the other way as I came into Honeydew. It was either a great place to test it or the road wasn’t as bad as I throught 🤔

I rolled down the hill into Honeydew. It was a small town but there were a bunch of cars on the short main street. There was a festival at the church. I saw an old lady was carrying a cake and a small 3-piece band wearing flannel and cowboy hats playing next to some hay bales. There were plenty of smiles. It was only 50 or so people. Probably the entire population of the town. I regret that I didn’t stop.

I needed fuel. The main road did a bend around the church and past a corner store. I spotted a couple of bowsers on the side of the building as I headed towards the exit of town. I did a u-turn and stopped next to them. They looked old. I wondered if they worked. I walked inside the corner store. There was a couple of older lady’s having a chat. “Hey, can grab 10 dollars of fuel?” “Yeah, sure you can, just pump it and let us know how much it is” They were trusting out here. I waltzed back to the bike, unscrewed the fuel cap and lifted the nozzel. I put it into the tank and pulled the trigger. Nothing. Not again. I put it back in the reciever and tried again. Nope. I walked back into the store. “Are you sure it works? How do you do it?”] “You have to turn it on. The leaver’s on the side. Put it back when you’re finished. I went back out, found the lever and the bowser buzzed. The lady stuck her head out the window of the corner store. “Did you get it?” “Yeah, I got it” I pumped the gas and went back inside. A couple of locals were inside cheery. They bantered with the two lady’s behind the counter and took a case of beer. Aparently, they had run out. It really seemed like the little festival at the church was the biggest event the town had ever had. I paid for my fuel. A car pulled up to the bowsers as I got on the bike. Good-luck!

I moved out of Honeydew. The road out on the otherside was better. It offered spectacular farmland views over the coast. It was a pleasent ride to Ferndale.

Ferndale was the perfect small American town. The buildings were all old originals. Freshly painted or restored. Their gardens green and trim. The American flags waved overhead. I could see Walt Kowalski washing his Gran Torino out the front of the house! I had to eat lunch so I found a nearby park. On one side was a baseball pitch and the next to it were some locals playing bocchi or lawn bowls. I dug into my bags and made a cheese sandwich. The lid of the margerine in my bag came loose. Gross. It was hot enough it had turned almost liquid. Thankfully the damage wasn’t too bad. I cleaned out my bag to wipe it off everything. I overhead the locals talking while they played Bocchi.

I can’t remember what they were saying. I know it something racist. It destroyed everything beautiful about the town. They were white. It went something along the lines of. “I just don’t understand why they…”. They being black people. The other players agreed and continued their smear campaign of an entire race. It left a horrible taste in my mouth. The ones who seem the nicest, aren’t nice at all. This little picturesque town was isolated and weird. Don’t let the facades fool you. I grew up in a small town. And with a small town comes small town opinons. I got the hell out of Ferndale.

I bought some weed in Eureka. I noticed I was near the border of California while looking for a campsite. I thought it was only legal in Californa. It would be my only chance to get it. My friends wouldn’t let me live it down if I didn’t try. I found a store in Eureka and plugged it into Google. The store was in a dodgey area hidden around the back of some shops. I think on purpose.

There were plenty of people coming in and out. I walked inside. There was a small foyer. A young, 30 year old greeted me. “Hey! How are you going”, he smiled politely. “Yeah, I’m good. I’m from Australia. I’ve never bought weed before. You’ll have to help me out” “That’s great, it’s nice to have you here. All I need is your ID and signature” I followed the procedure and he led me into the next room. Another man greeted me from behind a glass counter. Weed parafenelia filled it. “Look, I’m new here, I just need the weakest cheapest stuff you’ve got” He opened a book. “You will be looking at this” He flipped to the back. The strain had the lowest THC levels out of them all at 17%. It was 20 USD. He poped it in a brown paper bag for me and I said goodbye. It was that easy.

I headed out of Eureka to Six Rivers National Forest. I rode Highway 96 along the Klamath River. It was spectacular. The scenery was brilliant. I was truly heading away from the coast and into the mountains.

I was riding for a while and realised I would need fuel. A small town called ‘Happy Camp’ was further up. It was anything but happy. As I rode into town it felt dead. Everything was closed. There were some locals sitting in the gutter on the side of the road. They looked glum as they watched me go past. People were usually excited to see tourists. There was no gas station in town. I decided not to ask the glum locals and instead go to the corner store for advice. It felt safer.

The young girl at the counter told me there was self-serve fuel at the edge of town. She was right. I filled up. A young couple in a truck parked with me. They were having some kind of argument. They must’ve been 18 or 19. There was nothing abusive. I stayed out of it. It was something family related. Happy Camp was far from happy.

The campsite was at Fort Goff Campground. I rode by to suss it out. It looked great! There was a drop toiled and park benches. I decided to continue up the road to Seiad Valley Store to see if I could get reception and some snacks. There was a hiker sitting on the bench out front. Inside the store was an elderly lady. I don’t think many people come through this way. There’s no major towns for ages. I bought some chips and went outside. The hiker said something to me. “That’s the way to go”, he pointed to the bike, “You can carry a lot more. If I could do it again, I’d do it like that”. “Are you hiking?”, I asked him. “Yeah, me and a couple of others. I’m trying to calculate how much energy this potato will give me”. He held the potato in one hand and typed on his phone with the other. “You can only carry so much with you, it all counts”, he explained. He looked rough, almost traumatised. He told me some stories of him and his friends going through private property and sleeping in the woods. It sounded dangerous. I was impressed. I said goodbye.

I returned to Fort Goff. I selected my campsite carefully. There was a tent on the other side. It looked like they’d been there for a while. Like it was permanent. There was a cardboard sign out the front with something written on it. I walked up to it to investigate. There was no one there. I called out. “Hello?” There was nothing but wind. The sign read “Recently incarcerated” amoung other things. I don’t remember anything else. I would stay away from whoever lived here. I walked to the other side of the campground and looked around by the river. Perhaps they were fishing. There was no one. I found a pile of poop in the campground on the river side. I looked closely at it. It was big. It looked grassy. It could’ve been a deer, or a bear. I camped away from it.

I don’t know if I saw my campground buddy that night. I did try out the brown paper bag I bought in Eureka. I was impressed by the quality. It came in a nice ziplock bag and the grass was oh so sticky! I’d never seen anything like this before in Australia. It was all just ‘bushweed’.

This was some high quality shit!


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Day 7 - Wet from ocean dew I met the Redwoods at The Avenue of the Giants. I had breaky surrounded by mystical trees and met a bearded man who has a ‘coffee and smoke’ in the woods each morning. He suggested the route through Honeydew. Turns out the map was not to scale and took me up a patchy road to a quaint town of Petrolia where locals celebrated the Farmers Market and complained about their dangerous road in-and-out. I continued to Eureka and picked up a mystery bag while still in California before I sped up the 96. I passed through Happy Camp where people sat in the gutter with sullen faces and met a young man comforting his crying girlfriend at the gas station. I arrived at Beaver Creek by dark.

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