Vancouver to San Francisco Tour 2016 – A Cycle Tour by someone who’s never cycle toured before – Day 18 – Eureka KOA, CA – Burlington Camp Ground, CA

I was looking forward to riding through Eureka. There were apparently a good number of old houses that looked a little like those you may find in The Munsters or The Adams Family. The main one of these was to visit the Carson Mansion, a Victorian house in Old Town.

Scott and Andy had said that it’s now a Gentleman’s Club, so it’s somewhat lost some of it’s class that it may once have had. Still, I was interested in taking a look. Hopping onto the freeway was less problematic than getting off it last night. This time of the day seemed to be slightly more favourable to our ride. Shortly after we arrive in Eureka, we try to navigate our way through the city to find some of these nice Victorian Buildings.

We found some for sure but we couldn’t find Carson Mansion. The further we got into town the more we wanted to leave. The bike trail took us through a ‘less than desirable’ part of town. At one point, a homeless fellow made a handgun shape out of his hand. He pointed it at us and made the sound of a gun shot. This guy clearly had issues for which I am sad for, however at the time, I didn’t care too much for that. All I wanted to do was to peddle a little faster.

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Drought time in California

Shortly after this encounter, the route took us to the industrial part of town, over railway lines both old and new. It got to a point that we thought that maybe we had taken the wrong turn or the signs were out of date. As it happens, the route was right, and we were soon taken back into town and on the 101.

Today was a flat ride. It was never going to be difficult. However I made it more difficult than it needed to be. The further we were to the end, the more I was looking forward to some home comforts – bed, hot meals, no cycling. Not that I wasn’t enjoying myself, but I am well into the longest stretch of camping or ‘on the road’ I’ve ever been, so this is new territory. Like a football match, you need to keep composed for the full 90 minutes, especially when the end is in sight. I was looking more ahead to motels or hostels that I could stay in. What this said to me was that I should probably have a rest day. It was making me a little grouchier and I was aware that it could impact my enjoyment as well as the enjoyment of others. So I did what I could do snap out it.

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This being said, the hills were longer, and the flats became steeper. I felt sorry for Jace. After a few stops we came across a familiar sight. It was a sign for my home town. Although I think there are slightly more people in Alton, Hampshire, than Alton, Humboldt County, CA. This welcomed stop gave me the opportunity to munch on some snacks and procrastinate. I needed to get my shit together as I was just feeling so sluggish. By this point as well I didn’t really have that much to nibble on. Mainly trail mix – which has limited appeal.

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Finally in the woods. I don’t have any trail mix in my teeth at all.

Soon enough we were entering the Avenue of Giants. I had been looking forward to this for a while. It makes so much difference when you are riding through somewhere beautiful such as this, rather than on a freeway. The 101 went over the Eel river a couple of times before entering Humboldt State Park. These bridges were pretty impressive to say the least. The Avenue of Giants road ran pretty much parallel with the 101 but the road was single lane with no shoulder. You felt deep in the forest. This changed everything.

We stopped at the first opportunity whilst in the forest to pack down some more food and take a look at some of these Redwoods. Here we saw Jeremy, the Teacher from Portland. It was a perfect time for photos. Jace went off and found a Carving Tree to add his name on.

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You can really get the sense to how narrow the road was and how close the trees were to the road

We left together for the final stretch of the day’s ride. One thing that we loved was how close the Redwoods were to the road. Many of them had reflective signs on to avoid collisions at night. As we rode past I would stick my hand out and touch them. Here, it was super cosy. It really felt like a road of a bygone era. I could imagine horse drawn carts making their way down here. Lord of the Rings theme tune soon began to pass through my lips.

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Jace is happy to be at camp

We stopped off in Redcrest for a late lunch. Jeremy and Myself had a meal to remember, whilst Jace who wasn’t too hungry went for a walk. This lunch made me far happier. It was good to have some flavour in my meal again. Also something different. Here we met a new rider – Corbin. Corbin was from Washington State and making his was down to San Francisco also. He was the adventurous type, although maybe not the cycling type. He was actually the only person on the ride that I saw not wearing a helmet. His approach was a little gung-ho but hey, it worked for him and he was a nice enough guy. We all rode together from Redcrest into camp.

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The Eel River

We would come across the river Eel now and again, which seemed to be very low. California has been in a state of drought from about 2011 / 2012. This image clearly shows what the river should be like at full flow, but it’s nowhere near this. It’s this kind of image that I was hoping and expecting to see a brown bear walking up the river side. Alas it wasn’t to be.

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Me, Jeremy and Corbin

Camp was amazing. It was directly in the Redwood Forest. All around there were Redwoods of various sizes towering above us. It was incredible. Camp was busy as well. Scott & Andy, Myself & Jace, Corbin, the Canadian girl from Brookings, the Dutch couple, Jeremy, Cameron and a Kiwi couple who were new to us that night. We were in 2 separate camping spots so we ended up hanging out in these 2 separate groups. It was a lot of laughs and talking about the trip so far. One of the funniest was between the Canadian girl and Cameron. After leaving Brookings, OR, someone had advised the Canadian girl to take the bus over the Crescent City Hills because of all the road works. Cameron didn’t get such advice. As it turns out, he saw her with her bike on the front, going over the hill, not knowing who it was!

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Not a bad place to camp

One topic of conversation was tomorrow’s ride. There were 2 options. Option 1 was to go to the campsite just before Leggit, which is 1/2 way up THE hill of the ride, or go over and go to the coast all in one go. Leg 1 would be about 45 miles so it would be a short day. It was pretty conclusive, we would do 2 days ride in one. The reason we had agreed to this was that Leg 1 would take us only 1/2 way up, and the idea of doing a huge climb first thing in the morning wasn’t too appealing. I was somewhat reluctant, but I gave in, mainly because everyone else (Scott & Andy) said they were going to do it. Sigh.

  • You can find the route HERE

Cheers, Scott

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