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Guernerville, CA

I was going to be spending a week at the Rio Nido Lodge, and the excitement kept me from getting much sleep. I had mapped my route, studied it a dozen times, and triple checked everything. Packing as light as possible, with plenty of emergency gear, I set out for California at around 8:00 AM.

Cruising down the I-10, I realized I had never done a trip like this before. This will be the longest ride I’ll have ever taken, and I’m doing it alone. The drive to the California Checkpoint was uneventful, and I stopped in Quartzite for gas, a quick early lunch, and some coffee. It was already noon when I rolled through Palm Springs. It wasn’t until I was on the I-5 that I realized just how massive California is. The scenery changed from the ever bustling city of Los Angeles, to a dusty, dry, and seemingly endless stretch of road.

One last stop for gas as daylight was fading, and fatigue was setting in. I had been taking my time, not overexerting myself, and being safe the entire way. No reason to change that now. It was only 5:00 PM, I still had a long way to go, and I still wasn’t off of the I-5 yet! Riding up and around San Francisco, through Sacramento and into Santa Rosa, I encountered something that was completely unexpected: fog. The last stretch of the ride, in my opinion, was the most dangerous. The fog was a strong reminder of that. I finally arrived a little after 9:00 PM, feeling accomplished. More than 800 miles in nearly 13 hours, and I was exhausted, hungry, and ready to crawl into bed. After we shared dinner, I got some of the most restful sleep I’ve ever had.

In the morning, we had a simple breakfast at in the lodge, and took off for the Armstrong Redwoods Reserve. I had never been in a forest like this before, and it was awe inspiring. We followed the Russian River down to Goat Rock Beach where signs were clearly posted to stay out of the water, don’t provoke the wildlife, and try not to get yourself killed. There were three Coast Guard officers on duty, watching a pretty girl and a dumb tourist (us) like hawks.

When we left, we took The Pacific Coast Highway back into Santa Rosa. Words would fail to describe how fun and beautiful it was cruising down the coast, past small shops and through little towns. We stopped for lunch at Third Street Aleworks. Rolling back to to the lodge, we decided to grab a drink at the Rio Nido Roadhouse before calling it a night.

The next morning, we shared breakfast and long goodbyes, and I was on the road by 8:00 AM. The long, dusty, flat I-5 hadn’t changed a bit. The sun had already set by the time I crossed the State line, and my sense of time had gotten disrupted by the change in time zone. When I finally made it home, I was too tired to even unload the bike. It could wait until morning, I was going to have a beer and go to bed.

I fell asleep realizing I had just shared an amazing experience with an equally amazing person, and I couldn’t wait to do it again.

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