101 Twists to Bragg about (BC to Baja 5)

It was 3:30 am in Eureka and I was awake! Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well. All night I’d heard noises outside the door; rattling, shouting, grunting, and banging, Eureka zombies doing who knows what? I didn’t feel comfortable in Eureka!

As soon as morning came we were out of there. We packed our bikes, had a quick bite to eat and left. 

We’ve been taking our time riding down south, mostly due to the cold. It’s hard to ride more than 4 hours a day when every part of your body is chilled. But as the weather seemed to be taking a warmer turn, we hoped to lengthen our riding time and get back on track. 

Our route once again wound its way through the Californian Redwoods, a stretch not quite as old as the previous day, but impressive nonetheless. As we twisted through the trees, speckled sunlight filtered through the leaves blinding us, we rode up to an interesting roadside stop in Garberville. The road was lined with redwood carvings and the store actually had cute things in their gift shop, instead of your average ‘California’ tourist paraphernalia. 

We walked around the entire store, picked out a couple of ‘US 101’ stickers for our bikes and helmet (the ‘101’ is the road that runs nearly the entire length of the US west coast), and found a gift for one of our four boys.

Bigfoot statue at a roadside store in northern california
After three weeks on the road this is Neil emerging from his tent each morning.
Honda Rebel 500 motorcycle with view of California coastline
The coastal highway, US 101 has left its mark on Karen’s Honda Rebel 500.

The 101 continued on south but, heeding some local advice we’d received the day before, we turned west toward Fort Bragg to ride one of the finest pieces of twisty mountain road we’ve seen yet.

This road was 15 or so miles of pristine blacktop that twisted and turned, climbed and descended through tree-lined mountains, all vaguely heading west. It had perfectly designed bends and curves, each twist in the road banked in all the right places lending our bikes incredible grip (even on Neil’s knobby MotoZ Tractionators) and inspiring us to lean a little further over with each turn in the road. This was truly a joy, a motorcycle playground. We both loved it so much we almost turned around and rode it two more times. Almost.

This twisty road shot us out on the coast near Westport, a small beachside town a few miles north of Fort Bragg. We didn’t have much time to stop but once we saw its beaches, we made time. We were in awe, the water here was Caribbean aqua-colored, incredible, I was so fixated on it. The beaches along the Pacific Coast are incredible and seemingly endless. We stopped, shook out the cramp from our legs with a beautiful walk along the endless white sand before we resumed our journey.

riding a motorcycle adventure over a twisty mountain pass on the west coast
Loving the 101 twists heading over the mountains to Fort Bragg.
KTM 1090 adventuree R on the dusty highway with the blue pacific ocean behind
Neil's adventure motorcycle is equally adept at chewing up these highway miles.

The weather couldn’t have been nicer. We had finally found our Sun and it was hot! After a couple more hours of riding, we rode up to Fort Bragg’s Glass Beach. Yet another stunning piece of pacific coastline, to have our daily mid-afternoon meeting about where we want to stay, how much more we want to ride today, and what and how we want to eat.

Endless coastlines of all descriptions greet us as we explore stops along this west coast highway.
Karen’s motorcycle adventure is teaching her a lot about riding. Especially which poses look best.

We searched for campsites near us, but they all seemed overly expensive for ‘camping’, about $55 US per night! That’s more than half the cost of staying in a motel with a bed, clean linens, WiFi, and a shower, oh, and we don’t have to pack up a tent in the morning! Priced out of camping we opted for another Travelodge for a few dollars more.

Fort Bragg changed our impression of northern Californian, it was adorable, night-and-day different to Eureka. It felt safe and inviting, so we chose to use our two feet instead of two wheels to explore. 

Fort Bragg has a steam locomotive, the ‘Skunk Train’, that weaves through the redwood forests of the Noyo River Canyon. I guess it wasn’t running today as it sat idle in the old station. 

Fort Bragg’s Skunk Train is a restored and fully working steam locomotive.

We find a quick and easy way to learn more about a town is to hunt out the  ‘locals’ bar, sit at the high tops at the bar itself, and you’ll always find a regular day-drinker who is more than happy to chat your ear off about the town’s ups and downs. 

This time we chose a pub called the Tip Top Lounge. From its name and the logo of top hat and white gloves, one might assume it was a cool Jazz place. We walked in and sat at the bar, it definitely wasn’t a Jazz lounge, but they had exactly what we were looking for, a bar full of decent locals to chat too.

We hung out there for a while and then headed out to find food elsewhere. 

Fort Bragg had its own microbrewery, North Coast Brewing Co., which we’d walked by earlier, and Neil, being a big IPA fan chose there for dinner. 

We found a seat at the bar, ordered two different local IPA’s and ordered their veggie burger to share. We often choose to order just one meal and share it while traveling. Doing this presents more opportunities for us to try more food in different places. If we’re still hungry we just go someplace else and try something new.

Caught in the act of sampling the local micro-brews. Tasty, thirsty work.

The restaurant was lovely, and the football game was on. People really love football in America ‘eh? One woman beside me had an entire Seahawks outfit on, head-to-toe, even her bag matched her clothing!

Our stroll back to the hotel was quiet and uneventful. We really enjoyed Fort Bragg and it has certainly made it onto our list of places to return to. 

Stage 5. Eureka, California (CA) to Fort Bragg, California (CA). Stage total: 164 miles, ride total: 914 miles
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  1. Carol

    Another well written, interesting read. Thanks

  2. Carolyn Blanch

    I love reading about your inspiring ride. Keep them coming.

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