San Francisco was one of the few cities I wanted to visit on this trip as I am mainly travelling between national and state parks and keeping to the more rural areas. I was here once before a long time ago and wanted to revisit some old haunts and reacquaint myself with the city.
San Francisco Waterfront
The first mistake I made was not checking that my accommodation offered free parking. I was paying $26 per night for hostel accommodation and ended up having to pay a further $12 per day to park the bike. Still, parking seemed to be extra everywhere in the city centre and if I had stayed further out I would have had to ride the bike in each day and pay for parking and probably bridge tolls (There are tolls on the Bay and Golden Gate bridges).
Alcatraz From Coit Tower
The first evening was spent wandering around Pier 39 and Fishermans Wharf. I didnít remember seals relaxing on the floating jetties at Pier 39 on my first trip to San Francisco.
Seals At Pier 39
I had arranged to have a bike mirror that I had on back order forwarded to me in San Francisco. I had hoped to get it before leaving Montana but naturally it arrived there shortly after I left. On going to the post office I had asked for it to be sent to I was told they didnít deal with mail collection (General Delivery) and was redirected to a post office round the corner. When I got there I was told that I needed to go to the first post office! Visiting both post offices became a daily ritual.
The most crooked street in the USA, a block of Lombard Street is on one of the steeper hills at 27%. I wondered how the residents felt as hoards of tourists wind passed their doors. The garages under some of the houses looked particularly challenging to get in and out of.
The Most Crooked Street In The USA, Lombard Street
Coit Tower on the top of Telegraph Hill offers stunning views of the bay and city as well as displaying an interesting set of left wing murals inside.
Reaching the Pacific coast at San Francisco completes the crossing of the USA from coast to coast and it only took 13 months! Iím aiming for the slowest motorcycle trip on record.
Garmin And I Agree That We Can't Go Any Further West!
While heading for the Italian, North Beach area of San Francisco I was walking through the up market area of Nob Hill and stumbled across an anti Barack Obama demonstration outside the Fairmont Hotel. Barack Obama was hosting a fund raising event there for Senator Barbara Boxer. I would like to point out to the FBI that I was not taking part in the demonstration but accidentally found myself in their midst.
Anti Barack Obama Demonstration As Witnessed By Non Participating Tourist
Riding out to Lincoln Park, Haight district and The Castro district there were two holocaust memorials, the Pink Triangle Memorial for the Gays sent to the Nazi concentration camps at The Castro and the San Francisco Holocaust Memorial in Lincoln Park. The Gays had it tough as the ones that survived the concentration camps were liberated and re-arrested by the allies as gayness was illegal in those days.
The Pink Triangle Holocaust Memorial, The Castro
The Haight district was home for many of the hippy generation stars. Janis Joplin had five houses there in succession. Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Grateful Dead and Graham Nash all lived in the Haight as did Sid Vicious. The Psychopath Charles Manson had a house there, Patty Hearst hid from the FBI there and most shockingly, Rudolph Nureyev and Dame Margot Fontaine were busted for smoking pot there. From an earlier time Wyatt Earp, Gunman, Lawman, Journalist and fight referee lived there.
Lincoln Park Holocaust Memorial
The Palace Of The Legion Of Honour building in Lincoln Park is impressive and has one of the original Rodinís The Thinker statues is in the courtyard. I though there was only one original and that it was in Paris but it turns out that there are about 20 scattered around the world that are classed as originals.
Rodin's The Thinker
Palace Of The Legion Of Honour In Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park has a footpath along the cliff top to Landís End which gives some of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge on the city side of the bridge. It was a nice place to escape the big city for a while.
Golden Gate Bridge From Lincoln Park
I left San Francisco without collecting my mirror that was being delivered to the Post Office (General Delivery). I eventually established that all General Delivery to San Francisco ends up at the same post office (101 Hyde St.) for collection. I will be back in San Francisco next week for a day and will check one last time then. If I ever need to have anything posted to me in future I will choose a smaller town where the post is less likely to go astray.
San Francisco Pyramid Building
I had to move around a bit to get accommodation over the Memorial Day Weekend as everywhere I tried was fully booked for at least part of the long weekend. As this is my second Memorial Day Weekend on this trip I'm almost in agreement with the Department Of Homeland Security that I have been in the USA too long! The first destination was Montara Lighthouse 25 miles south of San Francisco.
Golden Gate Bridge Sunset
It was raining quite heavily most of the morning I was due to leave San Francisco but it had fortunately stopped by the time the bike was loaded and I was ready to set off.
San Francisco Street
I arrived at Montara Lighthouse at lunchtime unloaded my bag then went in search of groceries. Returning to Montara I turned off the main highway to post a card at the Post Office and picked up a rear wheel puncture. Luckily there was a filling station nearby and I walked the bike to it so that I could make use of the filling station compressor.
My Temporary Home, Montara Lighthouse
I have to remove all the luggage to put the bike on the centre stand. I was then able to inspect the wheel and found an 1.5 inch screw buried till it was flush with the tyre. I have changed tyres and tubes before, sometimes without any problems and on other occasions I have sweated for hours. This time around I got the tube out without any major dramas but found a ĺ inch slit in the outer side of the tube and a number of smaller punctures on the inside as the screw had gone straight through both sides of the tube. I wasnít carrying spare tubes, only a puncture repair outfit and was doubtful that a patch would seal the slit. I put the largest patch I had over the slit and two smaller patches over the inside holes and put a bit of air into the tube. The tube inflated but I didnít have much confidence in the patches holding. There wasnít any other options to get mobile again that day so I installed the tube, refitted the wheel and reloaded the bike by which time as I half expected the tyre was flat again. I put my helmet on, re-inflated the tyre and rode the ĺ mile or so to Montara Lighthouse on the hard shoulder arriving with only a little air left in the tyre.
Picturesque Place To Change A Tube
It took a good part of the following day to get two buses in each direction to the nearest bike shop in Daly City, buy a tube and get back to the bike. The tube was fitted without any problem but it took ages to blow up with the small hand pump I carry.
Montara Lighthouse comprises of a number of Victorian buildings sitting on top of cliffs overlooking a secluded cove beach. There is a cliff top walk to a marine reserve with seals basking on the rocks. It is possible, but only just as I found out, to walk to the nearest town, Half Moon Bay along the cliff tops. As it was Memorial Day Weekend when I was there Half Moon Bay was hosting a free music concert. A Santana tribute band were just starting their session as I arrived so I sat on one of the straw bale seats listening to the music and admiring the ocean view. Santana music seemed appropriate as Carlos Santana lived in San Francisco.
Californian Coast, Santana Music, It Could Almost Be The Summer Of Love!
From Montara I headed north up the coast spending a night at Marin Headlands on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge was busy with traffic and pedestrians as it was Memorial Day when I rode across. Marin Headlands used to be a military base but the buildings have now been leased to non profit organisations.
I saw my first otter in the lagoon at Marin Headlands on the way to Point Bonita lighthouse which has great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city of San Francisco.
Golden Gate Bridge From Point Bonita, Marin Headlands
Point Reyes is a peninsular just north of San Francisco, it covers a large area of green hills and valleys inland as well as coastal cliffs and beaches.
San Francisco Shrouded In Mist From Muir Beach
Point Reyes was the epicentre of the 1906 earthquake which killed an estimated 5000 people and destroyed most of San Francisco. This earthquake was estimated at 7.8. Since then there has been a 6.9 earthquake in 1989 and a 6.0 in 2004. Most of the 1906 damage was caused by a huge fire started by the earthquake.
Fence Moved 16ft In 45 Seconds During the 1906 Earthquake
A section of the San Andreas fault that was the epicentre of the 1906 earthquake is marked out by a line of blue posts. A reconstruction shows where, in 45 seconds a 16 foot gap appeared in a fence during the earthquake. Feeling lucky I straddled the fault line with a foot planted firmly on the Pacific tectonic plate and the other on the North American plate, amazingly the earth missed the opportunity of my foolishness and failed to move.
Looking Down On The Mist At Point Reyes Lighthouse
There was a fair bit of fog and light rain interspersed with some brighter weather which is typical for the area. The coastal fog created interesting views as it drifted in and out especially from heights where it was possible to look down on the clouds, a bit like being in an aeroplane. It could be damp and foggy on the coast and on higher ground up on the hills but warm and sunny in the valleys a mile or so away.
Point Reyes Lighthouse
I returned to San Francisco for the day from Point Reyes to see if my bike mirror had turned up at the post office. It hadnít. After having a look round the DeYoung museum in Golden Gate Park I decided to see if the BMW dealer had the mirror in stock. I thought it unlikely as I had the one being posted to me in San Francisco on backorder for three months in Montana, however I was able to pick one up and the bike now has two mirrors again. Having bought this mirror no doubt the one currently lost in the San Francisco postal system will turn up leaving me with a spare to get rid of.
Tomales Elk Reserve in the north of Point Reyes was a wonderful place to walk in early June with fields full of Spring flowers. As I got closer to Tomales Point the footpath was overgrown with head high flowering shrubs. There was plenty of elk but the fog prevented me from seeing the ocean views.
Flowers On Tamales Point Trail
Drake Estero (Estuary) is named after Sir Francis Drake or Captain Drake as he was known then as Elizabeth I didnít knight him until 1581. He is credited with being the first European to have sighted and mapped Point Reyes. His ship, the Golden Hinde was beached here to carry out repairs whilst making the first English circumnavigation of the world in 1579. The whole circumnavigation, the main purpose of which was piratical took three years which looks likely to be quicker than mine and IĎm not stopping to plunder any gold enroute. Unfortunately he had sailed straight by the as yet Ďundiscoveredí San Francisco Bay leaving it to be Ďdiscoveredí by the Spaniard Jose Ortega many years later in 1769. I suspect the Oholone Native Americans had actually discovered it centuries earlier.
Returning from Drake Estero a bobcat was walking up the footpath towards me, when it caught sight of me it darted into the bushes and a second later a deer, startled by the bobcat leapt out of the bushes, cleared the footpath and disappeared on the opposite side of the footpath. A short while later I saw a snake sunning itself on the footpath.
Snake Blocking My Progress
The day I planned to leave Point Reyes was foggy so I stayed an extra day as I hoped to see the coastal scenery whilst riding north up highway one. The following day was clear at Point Reyes but it was foggy again once I left the peninsular. Between Point Reyes and Mendocino apart from a couple of brief hazy glimpses through the fog the only indication that I was on the coast was the pretty blue colour on the left side of my GPS screen.
I spent a couple of damp, foggy nights camping amongst large Redwood trees at Mendocino which is a nice small town with a number of arts and crafts shops and studios. It also has a number of new age hippies who seemed to be living on the beach and making a bit of cash selling homemade jewellery.
Camping Amongst The Redwoods
The weather finally cleared when I rode up to Petrolia where I missed last years Horizons Unlimited meeting as I had to change direction to meet the owner of the Montana cabin I stayed in over the winter. I will miss this years meeting at Petrolia as I have been invited to leave the country by the Department of Homeland Security. The road I took to Petrolia was narrow with tight turns and potholes with the occasional short section of dirt road thrown in for good measure. I had planned a route on a section of dirt road but it was closed when I got to it however the Ďpavedí road was challenging enough for me.
River At Petrolia, California
My final stop in California was in a Giant Redwoods State Park camping again surrounded by enormous trees. I rode through the park on a rough, potholed dirt road made up of wet, greasy, slippery clay. I kept the speed low as quick direction changes around potholes and flooded sections got the tyres sliding and, not having health insurance I canít afford to fall off.
Bike Alongside A Giant Redwood
The impressive thing about the Giant Redwoods is that there are forests full of enormous trees rather than isolated large trees scattered through the forest. It must make a forester weep. All that prime lumber with a preservation order on it.
Another wet day with periods of heavy rain and gusts of strong wind saw me leaving California and enter Oregon along highway 101 with a wet tent strapped to the bike.
Gold Beach Oregon In The Rain
Fortunately I was heading for a friend of a friends house in Bandon. Oleh and Tina have a super cool 1952 school bus converted into a mobile home that is used for guest accommodation.
My Temporary Home, A 1952 Converted School Bus Called Maxine
Oleh is a writer and artist who had designed the Seamanís Memorial in Bandon Harbour. An annual service is held at the memorial then the participants go out to sea in a boat in remembrance of those lost at sea.
Oleh And His Sailors Memorial
Sunny weather was finally forecast for the next leg of the journey. Although it failed to materialise it was the best day on the Pacific since leaving San Francisco. It was cool and damp at times but it was the first day where I had clear views of the coastline.
I passed a large area of sand dunes with dune buggies flying in all directions. It looked as though the public had vehicle access to the dunes and you could just turn up, unload your buggy and go.
Oregon Sand Dunes
Highway 101, Oregon
Oleh had arranged for me to stay with friends of his, Ray and Terese further up the Oregon coast. They live in a house full of character right on the beach. We did a tour of the small town after a barbecue dinner and witnessed a good sunset, my the first in a while.
The weather was finally hot with clear blue sky and ocean when I left for Astoria and Washington State.
Blue Sky And Blue Ocean, Netart, Oregon Coast
Therese took me to the old Cape Meares Lighthouse which unfortunately had the windows and prism shot out by a couple of vandals. Being the USA the vandals have access to high velocity rifles which makes me thankful that the British vandals are still in their spray paint phase.
Me In The Cape Meares Sunshine
It was nice to finally see the views I have been missing riding up the coast in the fog. In season, migrating whales can be seen from Cape Meares cliffs.
Cape Meares, Oregon
Lewis and Clark are the American explorers who lead the Corp Of Discovery expedition commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson. They made a remarkable journey (1804 - 1806) from the Ohio river to the Pacific at what is now Astoria travelling overland and by canoe. Whilst not taking anything away from Lewis and Clarkís achievements it amused me that a Native American criticised the credit given to Lewis and Clark for discovering the route through the Bitterroot Mountains when a Native American guide, a Shoshone called íOld Tobyí showed them the pass they had been using for hundreds of years.
Fort Clatsop just outside Astoria is where Lewis and Clark spent the winter following a two year trip to discover a trade route to the Pacific from the east before returning triumphant back to civilisation.
Astoria Tower sits on a hill overlooking the town and offers great views over the Columbia River to Washington State.
166 Steps Later, Columbia River From The Top Of Astoria Tower With Washington State In The Distance
Crossing the bridge over the Columbia river from Oregon to Washington State I headed to Cape Disappointment State Park to camp for the night.
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse
Cape Disappointment was named by an English fur trader, John Meares in 1788 when he was looking for the mouth of the Columbia river and failed to find it. He would have realised how close he was if only Garmin (or was it the US military?) had invented the GPS a bit earlier.
Benson Beach, Cape Disappointment
Lewis and Clark, the American explorers who were first to cross the continent in a 4000 mile canoe, horse and foot journey got their first glimpse of the Pacific at Wiakiki Beach on Cape Disappointment in 1805.
Waikiki Beach Where Lewis And Clark First Saw The Pacific
The tent was wet when I packed up from Cape Disappointment. I had intended to take a couple of loops on quiet small roads off Hwy 101 but as it was raining I headed straight for Olympic National Park. The weather improved later as I travelled north to Quinault where it was sunny and I was able to dry the tent by draping it over the bike in the visitor centre car park. I had lunch by Lake Quinault and explored the village while the tent was drying.
The Lake Quinault Lodge built in 1926 represented how the other half live to me. The grounds were nice and free to walk round though.
Quinault Lodge Gardens
Once everything was packed away on the bike I took a dirt road along the south side of the Quinault river, over a bridge and back along the north side of the river.
Crossing The Quinault River With Snow Capped Mountain On The Horizon
I didnít do as much exploring in Olympic National Park as I would have liked but they donít call it temperate rain forest for nothing. Temperate rain forests are rare and only found in Washington State, New Zealand and Southern Chile.
Washington State Beach
Crescent Lake, Olympic National Park
I Rode to Port Angeles without making any of the planned detours as it was cold, grey and overcast with some drizzle. Instead of staying in Port Angeles I opted to get the ferry straight to Victoria on Vancouver Island. Arriving at the port I found that a ferry was leaving in 15 minutes. There were no US customs or immigration to deal with so I had plenty of time to get aboard. A couple of miles offshore and the sun appeared.
Canada Bound, A Country With Proper Money With The Queen's Face On It
Last summer I had some fruit confiscated by US Customs as I crossed from Canada into the USA. As I hadnít planned on crossing the border when I did I was carrying more fruit so spent the ninety minute ferry crossing eating as much of it as I could. Obviously on entering Canada the only things I was asked about were guns and ammunition and I didnĎt have any of those.
Port Angeles From The Ferry Leaving The USA
Next HU Events
- Germany: May 29-June 1
- Greece: June 5-8
- Bulgaria Mini: June 13-14
- HUBB UK: June 19-22
- Montenegro: June 26-29
- NEW! Canada Maritimes: July 4-6
- USA Colorado: July 11-13
- Ireland: July 18-20
- Canada West: Aug 21-24
- USA North Carolina: Sept. 4-7
- France Mini: Sep 5-7
- Canada Ontario: Sept. 11-14
- NEW! UK - Haggs Bank: Sept. 19-21
- USA California: Sept. 25-28
- Aus Queensland: Oct 3-6
- Aus Perth: Oct 10-12
- Aus VIC: Oct 24-26
- NEW! Aus NSW: Oct 31-Nov 2
- NEW! South Africa: Nov 13-16
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