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Day 16: Eureka, CA to Richardson Grove State Park
We got a slow start due to the comfy beds and bad hotel TV. The kids really relish down time in the hotel and it’s hard to drag them away! We eventually got on the road and started pedaling towards the Redwoods.
We took a short lunch break in Ferndale, a quaint town with shops, cute restaurants and Victorian storefronts. Tim had been holding out hope that I’d agree to do the Lost Coast after reading about Todd’s Brompton trip a few years ago. The decision to go to the Lost Coast or not had to be made in Ferndale. I wasn’t feeling that ambitious and we decided to turn left instead of right out-of-town and save the Lost Coast for another trip. Before we left town, we stocked up on chocolate from the artisan chocolate shop, Tim got some dried sausage at the local butcher and we were on our way toward the Redwoods. This section of road was pleasant, off highway riding meandering through country roads and dairy farms. The 9-year-old LOVES cows and really enjoyed seeing so many of them along the way.
The route then follows the Avenue of the Giants, definitely a highlight. On a low traffic day, we had the roads mostly to ourselves. Such an amazing experience to ride through a grove of giant Redwoods! We arrived at Richardson Grove around dinner time, a small pleasant campground right in the heart of the Redwoods. The kids loved the campground, lots of enormous redwood stumps to climb and a small but well done visitors center right in the campground. 9-year-old boy nirvana, he loves the Redwoods!
Miles: 58 miles
Climbing: 5216 ft of climbing
Route: various: Hwy 101, Avenue of the Giants
High: The Redwoods!
Low: Didn’t realize there were no grocery stores after Ferndale so we ate some random, bottom of the pannier food for dinner.
Sleep: Richardson Grove State Park
Day 17: Richardson Grove State Park to Standish Hickey State Park
Tim tuned the bikes in the campground while the kids went to check out the visitor’s center. We also met campground neighbors and fellow bike tourists who arrived late the previous night, three college students riding the coast and towing two surfboards! [more about them later in the trip] Ah, the joys of youth. Fun to hear some of their stories from the trip.
We finally rolled out of the campground in search of lunch in the nearby town. We happened upon the drive through tree, paying the bicycle rate for the privilege of riding through a tree. Kinda cheesy, but the kids thought it was fun!
We ate some burgers from a General Store in Myers Flat. The burgers were really good, but the chef must smoke a lot of the local offerings from Humboldt county because it took him forever to cook four burgers!
Finally on the road after a big lunch, we spent the day pedaling along the Eel River in the heat. The Adventure Cycling route took us on and off the highway all day long. In retrospect, we should have just stayed on the highway the entire way to save time. The minor off highway detours weren’t worth the extra effort and time they took to navigate all of the highway entrances and exits.
We arrived at our destination in Standish Hickey just in time for a late dinner at the Peg House. Maybe we were extra tired and hungry, but this was the best food we’d tasted the entire trip. Bonus that we were greeted by “The Tandem Family” [see below] from Seattle! They were just finishing their dinner and we shared a beer with them while we waited for our food. After dinner we pedaled across the street to the campsite and quickly set up our tent and crashed.
The campground was filled with bike tourists we’d met along the way. When touring and staying in hiker biker sites every night, you get to know the other bike tourists. And as we learned, everyone has a title. We had already met “The Surfboard Dudes”, in Richardson Grove. Other bike tourists we met included: “The Cookbook Couple”, “The Tandem Family”. When we caught up to the group in the Redwoods, people realized there were two tandem families traveling the Coast and we became “The Other Tandem Family”. Though we never met them, we anticipated a meeting with the “Russian Vodka Dudes”. We heard they were lots of fun and generous with their vodka.
Miles: 48 miles
Climbing: 4650 ft of climbing
Route: Hwy 101, and some side roads
High: The Peg House
Low: The on and off Hwy route wasn’t worth the effort
Sleep: Standish Hickey State Park
Day 18: Standish Hickey State Park to MacKerricher State Park including Leggett Pass
We woke up seriously early the next morning (for us) and packed up camp in record time. We’d planned to have coffee and breakfast burritos at the Peg House before tackling the infamous Leggett Pass. We rode out of the campground to cheers from the other bike tourists, they were all surprised that our family was the first to roll out. They all eventually trickled over to the Peg House and most of them left the restaurant/store before we did, so the cheers weren’t really necessary but certainly appreciated!
We’d been hearing and reading about Leggett Pass for a while and were prepared to suffer up the climb. It didn’t end up being as bad as we expected. Shh, don’t tell the kids, Tim and I secretly enjoyed it. After suffering up the long slow hot climb, we enjoyed the especially fun downhill!
We arrived at MacKerricher State Park in the early afternoon. The “Tandem Family” rolled in just after us and we all convened in the way-too-small-excuse for a hiker biker site. It was really just a car spot that the park designated as hiker /biker. A guy was already set up and using a big portion of the site, and we were pretty sure he wasn’t a tourist, it looked like he lived there. There was also one other tent set up in the site. We decided there was no way we could squeeze two more tents and 8 more people into the site and sent Tim to talk to the park ranger. The campground had extra sites, normally reserved for overflow, and let us move in along with our new friends. The “Tandem Family” and “The Other Tandem Family” in one site! We set up camp and still had spare time for playing on the beach before dinner. A first for the trip and super fun for the kids!
Miles: 45.5 miles
Climbing: 6353 ft of climbing
Route: Leggett Pass, Hwy 1
High: Climbing Leggett Pass, that wasn’t so bad
Low: CA State Parks budget cuts are glaringly apparent at MacKerricher State Park. One small hiker/biker spot that is just a car spot they designate for bikes. And dirty bathrooms, yuck, bring your own toilet paper!
Sleep: MacKerricher State Park