|Gold Beach, Oregon|
First Long-distance Solo Ride
Big Red, my ’92 Honda GoldWing, and I ventured out on our first long-distance solo ride in 1996. I’d made a few plans, plotting a route that would take us up the California and Oregon coasts. Our destination was Port Townsend, Washington, where an elderly, treasured friend lived. After a few days’ stay, we’d head south to Seattle, stop to see friends in Albany, and then ride down the I-5 corridor to Ashland, Oregon, for the Shakespeare Festival, then back to Bakersfield.
Kicking off my journey, I rode out one June morning for an ABATE rally at the Paso de Robles fairgrounds. I would meet up with several of my California Sunblazers friends and other women from around the state for a women’s-only ride. Sixteen of us rode in tandem to Morro Bay, pulling onto a wooden pier and lining up our bikes for a group photo after lunch.
After bidding the group good-bye that afternoon, I set off to spend the first night on the road at a little motel in San Simeon. The introspective evening alone allowed me to concentrate on the adventure to come, reviewing maps and remembering the safety tips I’d heard from fellow riders.
Excitement and the anticipation of a thrilling day riding the coast woke me up early. It was exhilarating to take in the beauty, be responsible for myself, and focus on my route and destination. I navigated my way through Monterey and on to Oakland, arriving at my daughter Asila’s apartment, where I would spend the night. From there, the next day I’d be at the American Youth Hostel in the Redwoods.
Hostel hopping up the Pacific Coast Highway to Bandon and Seaside, Oregon, added both mystery and comfort. Along the way, I had the freedom to experience coastal towns and villages, knowing that I’d have safe, inexpensive lodging for the night. The mystery was in not knowing exactly what the hostel would be like and what other travelers would be there. I delighted in this environment in which fellow travelers shared stories, book recommendations, recipes, and travel tips.
On the fourth day out, I rode into Gold Beach, Oregon, about 11 AM. Hungry for lunch, a welcoming-looking seafood restaurant, The Chowderhead, on the west side of Highway 101, looked promising. I made the left turn into the empty parking lot and found a flat spot for my bike. Upon entering, waitress greeted me and showed me to a table.
I was still reading the menu when the door flew open to reveal a man dressed in motorcycle gear and holding his helmet. He did what motorcyclists do: surveyed the room to locate the owner of the bike he’d spotted in the parking lot. I motioned to him to join me. He was riding a white GoldWing and heading south. This chance meeting with John from South Carolina became a lovely encounter that turned into a friendship. Several years later, when I rode across country, John was away, but I stopped and visited with his wife Millie.
Port Townsend and my friend Brick greeted me on the sixth day. Brick and I were both proud of me. Several days later, after showing me around his boyhood home and Friday Harbor, Brick waved me good-bye from the restaurant where we met his family for breakfast. It would be three days to Ashland, including a stop at Richard and Roberta’s in Albany, two days of Shakespeare, and one long riding day home.
I’d made it through fair weather and rain, back roads, ferry crossings, big cities, two-lane highways, and congested freeways; over 3,000 miles. Big Red had performed beautifully, never causing me a moment’s worry. Being able to find my way and to handle my motorcycle and myself in the world made me proud. It showed me that I had inner strength as well as stamina. It set me up for future solo cross-country rides.
“I am woman; hear me and my motorcycle roar!”
~ xoA ~