Breakfast was provided gratis as part of my motel stay. Once I was fed and suited up, I headed south on Highway 101 through Bandon, Port Orford, Gold Beach and Brookings before crossing the border into California. Traffic was light for the coast highway — it can be notoriously slow. I fueled up in Crescent City, then continued south until I crossed the Klamath River where I cut off and headed up into the trees and hills overlooking the coast. There were numerous people stopped along the Klamath River, looking down at the water. I didn’t know what was up until I returned from my trip and asked around. Apparently a mother and calf whale had come up the river and lingered for several days, causing folks to check it out.
The road was blocked before I could enter the Prairie Creek Redwoods park area so I backtracked and continued south on 101 to Arcata. My destination for the next two nights was the home of my friend, Mark. He and I met the previous year in Weaverville, California and had traveled together, along with his wife, Janice, to Steens Mountain in September of last year. Following Mark’s directions, I left 101 and headed up a narrow, bumpy paved road to the tiny community of Kneeland where I promptly got lost. Dick, my GPS, thought Kneeland was about two miles past the post office (the closest thing to a ‘downtown’), so I had to backtrack. To make matters more challenging, the entire area was socked in with low-lying clouds (Kneeland sits at about 2,100 feet elevation) and visibility was near zero at times. After a bit of riding very slowly and using my intuition, I found the tiny Kneeland post office and used Mark’s directions to find his house.
After I got settled, Mark suggested we hop on his two Kawasaki ZZRs and go for a short ride up the road. He rode his ZZR1200 and I rode his 2003 ZZR600. I had never been on a sport bike before so I as apprehensive about its speed and handling. At first it felt very difficult to turn, seemingly wanting to snap back to vertical. Once I got used to how it handled, I realized it needed more body English to initiate and hold a turn than does my much taller V-Strom. The acceleration of that little bike was intoxicating, however. It was quick yet smooth and controllable. I never needed to get into third gear and quickly learned how to tackle the narrow, tight corners of that remote country road.
We headed a few miles up the road and stopped at a turn-around in front of the tiny Kneeland air strip. Several cows blocked the road and we had to patiently and cautiously wait for them to move (there were bulls among them). At the top we stopped and chatted for several minutes. The scenery reminded me of the Scottish Highlands.
We headed back down to the house and parked the bikes in the garage for the night. We had a long loop ride scheduled for the next day and needed our rest.