27.2 mi / 9.77 mph / 2233 ft. climbing
Home: Bodega Dunes Campground hiker/biker campsite
Ever since we started at the northern terminus of California Highway 1, the road surface has been tremendous. Shoulders are rare (which hasn’t been a problem in most areas with their low traffic volumes), but the surface has been so smooth and freshly-paved that I fear we’re getting spoiled. But today’s ride was by far the most-engineered (i.e., expensive) section of Highway 1, as the route soared high above the ocean, searching for, and frequently, constructing, a place with enough stability on the steep hillside to allow the road to remain there for more than a season.
This had two effects. The first, was that we had to do a ton of climbing. We clocked 1160 feet in the first ten miles, for a climbing-per-mile value of 116. While the full-day value ended at “only” 82, that was still the highest of the trip. For comparison, that’s exactly twice the highest day’s figure of Rett’s first bike tour (on which no other day exceeded 23 feet-per-mile!). Before this trip, her previous high was 62, and we’ve tied or exceeded that number every day for the last 7 days of riding.
The second effect was that the ocean views were once again incredible, but also freshly incredible. Looking down on a flock of seagulls flying way below us makes all that climbing worth it (well, maybe). Seeing all the twists and layers of the road below you, and then bombing down it, was pretty awesome too.
That downhill brought us back to sea-level, and the mouth of the Russian River, where I spotted some ripples in the water. I kept watching to see what might have caused them, and then shouted “Rett! Stop! Seals!!” A whole harbor of seals were up on a sandbar at the river mouth, rolling, polling, and otherwise locomoting their blubbery selves forwards across the sand for the 5-second bursts they could muster on their limited appendages.
Seeing any animal gives Rett joy, but so far none as much as these seals. Every time one would wriggle its body across the beach, she would burst out laughing in delight. It was the most joy that she’s felt since she learned five months ago that her mom was sick. So thank you, you silly seals, for both bringing her that joy, and also for bringing me the joy to watch her watch you.
By the time we stopped for lunch high above the broad, sandy, surf-pounded Wright’s Beach, the sun had come out. Out in a way we had not seen for perhaps the whole trip. Not a little bit of clearing between some clouds, not filtered through fog, not an orange ball sinking below the cloud layer at the end of the day. But full, open, blasting, midday sun. It was so welcome and as always, really lifted our mood.
The rest of the way along the Sonoma County public beaches would have been memorable either way, but in the sun, we were back to the world-class views. Also, it’s November!
And it meant that Rett was surprised when our destination campground appeared, rather than asking “are we there yet?” as we push through the last miles that never seem to end even on short days.
The hiker/biker site was sandy but workable, and the forest of giant eucalyptus trees behind it glowed so warmly in the late-afternoon sun that we had to take a walk down the path to explore. I took an ill-advised short-cut into Bodega Bay for groceries, and it was Mexican for dinner!