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[ST] Four Corners Report, Part 5

>From August 3:

Wow! That last email was really long. Sorry about that, but I finally
had the energy to get you all caught up on my travels.

The challenge is almost met. After my stopover in Portland, I began
heading south for San Ysidro, CA and corner number four. I had a
dilemma, though, about which route to take. I've got plenty of time
left in my 21 day window to take a scenic route down the coast and
still make the deadline. I've got a good friend of mine from college
who lives in Pasadena who I'd like to see, since I'll be in the
neighborhood, but he and his family are leaving for vacation on Friday
or Saturday. If I'm going to see him, I'm going to have to hustle,
meaning get on the interstate. What to do?

My brother-in-law, who I was staying with in Portland, is a very smart
guy. He suggested I take I-5 through Oregon to Grants Pass and then
cut over to Route 101 and take that the rest of the way. I would miss
the Oregon coast, which I was really looking forward to riding, but
I'd still get some pretty scenic riding in farther to the South. A
compromise between an ugly drone on the interstate for 2 days, or a
slightly longer ride that should be more enjoyable. Sounds like a
no-brainer to me. A 3-day run to Pasadena it would be.

The run down I-5 to Grants Pass was what you would expect. It was
totally uneventful. The ride from Grants Pass on was something else
again. I had to get over the mountains to get to the coast, and the
road got twisty, hilly, and very fun to ride. There were plenty of
passing lanes, so I didn't have to spend much time behind the trucks
and campers. Once I got to the 101, one of the first places I went
through was Crescent City, CA. The way the road runs, you don't just
go through the town, you come over a hill and around a bend and there
in front of you is a great big beach and the Pacific ocean. It's
pretty startling as you're coming out of the wooded mountains and just
don't expect to come up on the water that quickly. But there it is.

After Crescent City, the road goes back into the hills. These aren't
just any hills, though. These hills are home to the giant redwood
trees. To call these trees giants is probably understating it just a
little. My eyes just about popped out of my head when I saw them. I
had seen pictures in books and read about how big they are. I bet you
have, too. I had the idea of 'big' in my head, but I wasn't prepared
for them to be BIG. The bark is so deep you could get swallowed up by
it. Their trunks are so large it would have taken at least 6 of me be
able to reach all the way around. Magnificent.

When it wasn't running through the forests, 101 was a 4-lane divided
highway. this gave me a chance to make a little distance and I was
able to get to Fortuna, CA, just south of Eureka. It had been about
475 miles for the day, a really great day on the bike.

Monday's ride from Fortuna, CA to Monterey was really nothing special.
There was more of the twisty rides through the forest in the morning,
but every mile I went brought me closer to San Francisco and the Bay
area's traffic. I did get to ride over the Golden Gate Bridge, which
was fun, but then I "got" to ride through the city. Traffic wasn't TOO
bad, but the wind was. I was getting pushed around every which way as
I tried to negotiate I-280 to the south end of the bay. The wind just
never let up all the way into Monterey. Needless to say, I was pretty
tired, and ready to stop, by the time I got to the hotel.

Tuesday's plan was for me to ride Route 1 from Monterey, through Big
Sur, to San Luis Obispo and then get back on 101 to ride to my college
buddy's house in Pasadena. Riding Big Sur was fantastic! The road is
incredible, as are the views. It took forever to cover the distance
between all the traffic and my constantly stopping to take pictures.
Wow! I'm really glad I decided to do this and not just hightail it
down 101. That was really the last highlight of the day. I could tell
I was getting closer to Los Angeles just from the traffic. It was
heavier, faster, more frantic, than anything I'd seen on the trip. Of
course, that's until I ran into the traffic jams. You can read about
LA's traffic all you want, but until you've been in it, you just don't
know. DC's traffic, while totally aggravating, is small town compared
to LA. I did successfully complete my first attempts at lane
splitting. That's riding the bike between the stopped rows of cars
during a traffic jam, btw, and legal in California.  Compared to the
residents, I was really slow. The real score, though, shows that I
survived and brought the bike home without hitting anything. Many
drivers were very considerate and even moved out of the way if they
could. I couldn't do lane split a lot, but I can see where it would
come in handy and save me from going postal when stuck in traffic.

Wednesday was probably the least satisfying day I have ever spent on a
motorcycle. It was a 150 mile highway run from Pasadena to San Ysidro
and corner #4. The traffic was horrible, the road surface set up an
irritating oscillation in the bike, I just hung on to get the thing
done. I was able to get most of my verification information done
without incident. However, when I rolled my bike up on the sidewalk to
get a picture of it in front of the post office sign, my digital
camera refused to turn on. Ack! I think my heart actually stopped as I
had a vision of not completing the event because I couldn't get the
picture, the key piece of verification info. Thankfully, my heart
started again and I realized I could probably go down the street to
the 7-11 and buy a disposable camera. I did this and riding the bike
back up onto the sidewalk, got the picture I needed. Mission
accomplished, challenge met. Keep your fingers crossed that the
picture actually comes out.

I'm taking today off and getting ready to start the ride home. the
plan is to ride across the Mojave Desert tomorrow and get close to the
Grand Canyon. After that, a Native American ruins in New Mexico, a
ride up the Million Dollar Highway, hang a right on Route 50, and keep
riding until I get to Virginia. Yes, I'll stop to sleep, but I'm ready
to be home and am anxious to get there. I think it'll take me 5 or 6
days, but we'll see if my body and the weather cooperate to let me do
it. The first priority is to arrive home safely and get back to
Margaret, Julia, and Henry in one piece. I'll let you know how it
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