Westport, CA to Fort Bragg, CA

20.4 mi / 10.1 mph / 1389 ft. climbing
Home: Motel 6

Woke up in the Captain’s Quarters around 7:30am and noticed my phone wasn’t on the (satellite) WiFi anymore. My first groggy thought was: wow, they track the guests and disable the WiFi when they’re checking out. Of course, no. Rett solved it a second later when she realized the power was out! So of course the Internet would be out then too.

While it was annoying to pack up in the semi-dark, and a bit chilly in the electric-heated room, those certainly aren’t unfamiliar things to us in the morning. And at least we’re super well-equipped to handle power-free conditions, with all our lights, battery packs, and gas-powered cooking. For example, we couldn’t use the electric coffee maker we’d been using, but I was able to make coffee with our AeroPress, and it was still easier than when camping, since I could use the outdoor-kitchen stove to heat the pot of water rather than setting up our own stove. Apparently it was the Ranch’s way of nudging us out and easing us back into the road/camping life!

First time I’ve ever seen gas as $6/gallon! At the lucky-it’s-there-at-all Westport store, where we also spent $200 for 5 days of food (gas is $4.50 in Fort Bragg).

While the rain wound up by early morning, it stayed foggy for the whole day, which is something we’ve been lucky to not have experienced much on the coast. It was plenty warm though (mid-60s), and while the ocean was tough to see, there was still plenty of beauty on winding, perfectly-smooth, still lightly-traveled Highway 1. Dunes, misty moors, hairpin curves, tunnels of aromatic eucalyptus trees; definitely an evolution of the coast we’d seen before. Our day was planned to be so short that I hadn’t even bothered to check the elevation profile, but the relentless ups-and-downs added up to one of the highest climbing-per-mile rides we’ve done so far.

Our planned destination for days had been MacKerricher State Park, but we learned before we headed out in the morning that it was one of several parks in the area forced to shut down due to flooding from the rains, and now had been unable to reopen because their cistern had lost all its water. Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink!

Our plan was to see if we could talk them into letting us in if we rolled up and looked sad (or more truthfully, if that gave them time to get their systems up and running). Just as we were arriving, we rolled through a massive field of broken glass in the shoulder, and one of them managed to get through my normally glass-impervious tire. While I was changing it, Rett talked to a couple of horseback riders and got an offer to pitch a tent on the horse barn land across the street. And then also got a recommendation for the private campground right there too. After much hemming-and-hawing from suddenly having too many options (continuing another 4 miles to a motel in Fort Bragg was on the table too), we decided to go with the adventure, good-story, and zero cost of the horse-stay. Not least because Rett could hang out with horses.

Rett’s version of heaven, with a doggie and a horsie.

First we explored some of MacKerricher, and there definitely were still some flooding issues. But a pretty cool and unique beach, even in the fog, with an eroding road along it.

Fall colors at MacKerricher beach.
Seeing real whales would have been better, but this exhibit at the state park let us get a little closer.

Back at the horse barn land, I had the tent nearly all set up when the woman who offered us the stay came by with bad news: she’d talked to her boss, and he said that their insurance wouldn’t cover people staying overnight on their land, so we had to move on. Ugh! All the work of setting up and taking down camp, with none of the actual camping! Even worse, we lost the chance to be able to tell the story of being some of those cool magic bike tourers who are just able to luck into places to stay like that. My fault, I should have asked if she had the authority to offer us the stay, but we also don’t want to make kind and generous people think too hard about whether they should pull back on their kindness and generosity for stupid lawsuit-fears.

We probably could have stayed at the private campground, but that would have required some risky authority-jumping too, and at $37, and somehow colder/foggier than the horse barn land a couple blocks away, the $60 motel in Fort Bragg sounded like the boring-but-safest option. It did let us go to Safeway, the first store in eight days with fresh produce, and, uh Taco Bell? But we’re now and nine nights (and counting) without camping. Unlike a lot of bike tourers, we’re lucky that we have the money to make that choice, but we were still hoping to get back to camping soon!

Old haul road (now a bike path) that runs across the beach into Fort Bragg.



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2 responses to “Westport, CA to Fort Bragg, CA”

  1. Kenneth Gregie Avatar
    Kenneth Gregie

    Its so foggy on the Old Haul Road, that’s it’s really hard to see Rett on the bridge!

    1. neil Avatar

      haha, she wasn’t up on the bridge that day, but we ended up back there the next day and made the (totally worthwhile!) effort for me to loop back down to the road and get a picture of her crossing it above. Not only was that sunny, front-lit version a great picture on its own, but when compared with this one, it forms a really concrete example of “what a difference a day(‘s weather) makes”!

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