Friday, June 15, 2012


Summer in the Sacramento Valley is an amalgam of high temperatures, congested freeways and drivers with thorny attitudes.  The best summer goals always involve either a multi-day trip to the high country or to the coast.   

Ahhh!  The high country!
Mid-July affords me an opportunity, as my wife, a third grade teacher, will be engaged in one of a couple of weeks of continuing education.  (Who says teachers take the summer off?)  She’ll be tethered to the house, dogs and outdoor plants.  I won’t.

The question becomes: “With three or four free days, where to next?”  Here are three bucket-list ideas I am weighing: 

The cool, inviting fog of the Mendocino Coast.
Fort Bragg / Mendocino Coast in Depth:  Chances are in about three years, we’ll relocate from the Sacramento area to the Santa Rosa area as we’ve sorta worn out this region’s roads.  I’ve been smitten with the idea of a condo in someplace like Windsor or Healdsburg and a small house in a coastal town like Fort Bragg.  Option I involves spending a couple of nights in Fort Bragg to explore the town itself on foot and the surrounding roads on the bike.  I spent several weekends a summer on the Mendocino Coast as a kid and the cool mornings and verdant hillsides offer a delightful contrast to a parched Sacramento Valley.  Revisiting byways along the Russian River, North Coast and through the redwoods seems like a pleasant way to spend three of four days and chalk it up to the family-oriented responsibility of “researching where we might next live.” 

Another high point along CA 89 - in Lassen Park
California Route 89 from Top to Bottom – or from bottom to top:  A convincing argument could be made that California’s Route 89 is among the most scenic in the state.  Winding from the leeward Nevada side of the Sierra, over a half dozen summits and passes, past glaciated peaks and high meadows, into and out of tiny, historic mining and lumber towns like Markleeville, Truckee, Sierraville, Blairsden, Quincy, Greenville, Chester, and Mount Shasta, through congested recreation areas, along the Truckee, the Feather, the Yuba, through Lassen Volcanic National Park into the Hat Creek Valley – every new turn offers something to capture breath and inspire awe.  I’ve done this entire road in several different sections, but never all of the road in one sitting.   With its delightful inns, resorts, camping and towns echoing yesteryear, making a three-day tour of this high mountain, serpentine strip would invite plenty of exploration and introspection.

On the trail of Peter Lassen's ghost
Journey to the Corner of the State:  California’s northeast corner is not where California’s northeast corner is.  The maps show us one thing.  The original surveys had something lightly different in mind.  North and east of Forth Bidwell, up in remote Modoc County, the road turns from pavement to gravel.  It climbs over a ridge and descends into Oregon.  The ghost of Peter Lassen haunts this region.  Somewhere up that way, just before one crosses into the Beaver State, a jeep road or a trail tees off and heads east toward that moving target.  A short but rugged drive from Cedarville, north and east of the Warners it is a locale I’d like to visit simply so I could say I’d been there.  A couple of buddies have indicated they’d like to come along – albeit in their Fords or their Volvos.  Towns like Likely, Bonanza and Denio await, I’m sure.

Some other coastal sojourn
So the question is: Which of the three?  Or is there some better Sacto-centric tour I should be considering? 


Note:  Readers wishing to comment are invited to do so on any forum to which they see this post posted, or, braving those befuddling idiocy words that filter spam, directly to the comment section of the Church of the Open Road blog.  When the trip is scheduled, the Church will so post inviting anyone who’d like to come along to do so.

This oughta be fun.

© 2012
Church of the Open Road Press


  1. If you choose the Mendocino area in mid-July, you many run into the Girly Riders! If so, please say hello!

    I love the lost coast... so that gets my vote.

  2. Any one of those options would be welcome to me right now. For folks that handle a bit of goat and gravel, it's hard to imagine ever running out of roads to discover in California. I'm still finding new roads on the Central coast all the time.

    I'm guessing you have ridden in the area between Fortuna and Red Bluff but if not, that should be on your list as well. 36, 3, Wildwood Rd, Alderpoint Rd, and many others are well worth a trip.

  3. My vote is always for the north coast. If you head in that direction, make sure to hit a beach called "College Cove" just north of Trinidad. It's a short hike down, but very much worth it.

  4. Fortuna to Red Bluff is fantastic. It is most assuredly a California "must ride," best experienced, I think going from RB to the coast. The Van Duzen River invites not only your pause, but your fantasy. I think.

  5. I like the coast, because the ocean is there.