Bike-camping shake-out trip to the Oregon Coast

Recently I took a shake-out overnight ride to an abandoned campground inland from Coos Bay on the central Oregon coast. The purpose was to sort out my bike camping gear and to find an adequate camping spot roughly halfway between my home in Sandy and my favorite riding grounds on the northern California coast.

Here’s the route I took.

I camped at Rooke & Higgens County Park along the Millicoma River, about halfway between Coos Bay and the tiny inland community of Allegany. The park seems to have been abandoned. Weeds were everywhere, many of the picnic tables were overgrown, there was no camp host, and even the privies were filled with spiders.

Needless to say, I had the campground to myself.

Prior to choosing Rooke & Higgens, I rode past Allegany and checked out Nesika County Park. It was nearly full, I couldn’t find the camp host, and the only few spots available were dusty and right along the park road. I wouldn’t have had any solitude considering one of the campers was blaring music out of their vehicle. So, I backtracked to Rooke & Higgens.

The weather was pleasant, with a steady breeze, but that unfortunately didn’t keep the mosquitos off me. I had numerous bites on my legs, hands and forearms.

My gear was another story. I got maybe an hour or two of sleep, and none of it in spurts of more than 10 or 15 minutes at a stretch. I used a Therma-Rest air mattress that requires me to blow it up manually. It’s only 20″ wide and never allowed me to get adequate sleep. I’ve since ordered a Therma-Rest MondoKing 3D from REI, which is 4″ thick and 26″ wide. It’s expensive, at $179.95 but I have a year to try it out and return it if I don’t like it.

Other than the overnight experience, the ride there and back was adequate for a post-Independence Day weekend. That means lots of slow drivers and lots of traffic. At least the weather was good.

I saw something interesting on the trip southbound. While rolling through Florence, I saw a half-naked grey-haired white man walking along highway 101 carrying a large sign that said “Obama is Satan” in handwritten letters. I think he’s out of date by about two years (and is thinking of the wrong POTUS).

Ride Report: Taking the GSX-R750 to Northern California

After returning home from a 2,800 mile ride up through British Columbia to Hyder, Alaska on my V-Strom, I stayed home a full day and two nights to regroup. Then I left Monday morning on my 2012 Suzuki GSX-R750 and headed south. The intent was to work my way to Fortuna on the northern California coast, then spend a day riding the loop inland on highways 299, 3 and 36, then backtrack my way home. It’s a five-day ride.
The ride to Coos Bay was pleasant and I had excellent weather for it. I went south through Estacada, Molalla, and Scio, and confusing Lebanon before heading west on highway 34 to Philomath. I gassed up and ate a snack at McDonalds under wonderful sunny skies.
The stretch of highway 34 from Philomath through Alsea and into Waldport was like butter. There is very little traffic, the pavement is in excellent shape, and the blend of curves is like butter. The Gixxer barely broke a sweat, nor did I.
I stopped along the sea wall in Waldport to give my ass and back a rest. It was foggy and there was the faintest bit of salty mist in the air.
It was much cooler heading down the coast on famous Highway 101 than it would have been if I’d stayed in the Willamette Valley. The temperatures there were forecasted to get into heat-wave territory.
The Gixxer ran great. That bike makes me think a Swiss watchmaker and an Olympic athlete hooked up and had a kid. It’s not comfortable like Lay-Z-Boy, though. By the time I reached Fortuna, my butt hurt and my left knee ached a bit, but depending on how I time my rest breaks, I can almost go the same distance in a day on the GSX-R as I can on the V-Strom.
Almost.

 

Dinner that evening was a Paulaner Oktoberfest beer, salad, and beef rolls at the Blue Heron German restaurant a few blocks away from my motel. Thinly sliced beef roast wrapped around thick-slicked bacon, stone ground mustard, and a pickle in the center, covered with rich gravy. Yummy!

Ride Report: Day 2, Coos Bay, OR to Fortuna, CA

I slept well. The complimentary Best Western breakfast wasn’t too bad, especially compared to many others, with plenty of protein options and surprisingly good coffee.
It misted during the night so I had to wipe the dew off my bike before loading up. While watching a rerun of M.A.S.H. in my motel room last night, I heard Colonel Potter say something profound:
“The only guy I have to beat is the man I am right now.”
The ride continued south on Highway 101 and was pleasant with mostly cool air and occasional fog for dramatic effect. I stopped frequently because I had a short distance to travel and a long time to get there (unlike my previous trip to B.C.) Lunch was at the Subway in Crescent City.
Along the way I detoured through Prairie Creek Redwoods park and took a photo of a large bull elk, still in the velvet, having a lay-down snack in the brush.
Other than some slow drivers and a smattering of construction delays, it was an uneventful ride.
Dinner was piping hot fajitas and organic ale while chatting up the locals at the Eel River Brewery next door to the Super 8 in Fortuna.

 

Quote of the day: “I’m not one-dimensional but sometimes I make a good point.”

Ride Report: Day 4, Fortuna, CA to Coos Bay, OR

Happy Birthday, America! July 4th.
I saw a lot of flags on the side of the road and especially waving in the strong northern wind as I rode through small towns. Other than the wind, however, the ride north was pleasant.
I stopped in Brookings for a photo of the beautiful coast, then continued north. There were many people walking around Port Orford, apparently getting ready for some kind of parade or other celebratory activity that was about to start — I never could determine what, exactly — and then I got stuck behind a string of cars led by two nimrods that thought the speed limit was 35 mph. WTF? It took a long time to get past them.
After checking into the hotel in Coos Bay, I showered and napped. Dinner was at the Shark Bites restaurant a half dozen blocks away in downtown Coos Bay. I ate Dungeness crab cakes with a thai pepper sauce for an appetizer, and halibut tacos for the main course. Both were outstanding. They went wonderfully with an Eola Hills chardonnay.
I had a great conversation with the gal working the bar, a student dietician named Charlotte. We talked about food and discovered a mutual love of the Food Network show, “Chopped.” For my second cocktail of the evening, I challenged her to come up with something original using mint as the main ingredient. She made a drink with mint and lemon juice muddled together, then added cucumber soda, lime juice, and Tanqueray gin, served over ice in a Mason jar. It tasted like a fresh rain in Spring time so I dubbed her creation, “Spring Rain.” Soon everyone wanted one, and the owner, Charlotte’s brother, said it needed to be put on the menu after tasting it. It was a huge hit.

 

Shortly after 10 PM fireworks began exploding in the sky over the Coos River 100 yards outside my hotel room window. I had an excellent view of the whole show. The loud fireworks kept setting off the alarm of a car in the hotel parking lot.

Ride Report: Day 5, Coos Bay, OR to Sandy, OR

I woke to sunshine and relatively calm winds compared to the intense headwind I experienced riding north into Coos Bay the day before. After breakfast, I was loaded and on the road by 7:30 AM.
Traffic on highway 101 was very light so I was able to get sideways on the GSX-R750 in the twisties without too many slow cagers to contend with. Normally 101 is clogged with land barges and various other members of the Anti-Destination League. There is also a strong law enforcement presence, especially in the many small towns, along 101.
I gassed up in Waldport and had a snack, then retraced my steps inland on highway 34. It was a fast run and I had a gal in a Lexus keep up with me. Impressive. I stopped at the McDonalds in Philomath for an early lunch, then crossed I-5 into Lebanon where I got lost, again, trying to find the two lane highway north to Scio.
I ended up on Tennessee road, which zigzagged around, then dumped me onto the freeway in Albany. I tried a secondary road to Scio but it dropped me back onto I-5 yet again. I rode the freeway into southern Salem and took the exit to highway 22 eastbound, then stopped at a busy gas station in Stayton for a break.

 

After involuntarily slabbing it on I-5, I was eager for some curves, so I continued eastward on 22 until I reached Detroit. I gassed up for the last time of the day and got onto NF46 northbound past Breitenbush to Ripplebrook Ranger Station. There I got on highway 224 westbound into Estacada, then home. It was a familiar route and was a great way to end a rather long day in the saddle.