I feel like Mario Andretti after the roads we were on today, and I never went over the speed limit. I’ve been known to hustle a car down a back road or two, and even Fritz can outrun some of the so-called boy racers, but not with three thousand pounds of dead weight hanging off of the tailgate.
You probably have seen those yellow advisory signs that suggest the safe cornering speeds so trucks won’t shift their load and fall over. I’ve never seen one before today that had 10 mph signs. On the Pacific Coast Highway (Cal 1), there were at lest a half-dozen curves like that and a matching number of 15 mph. I had the cruise control set for 30, and even that was too fast at times.
The day started off normal when we left Eureka on the 101, which is a freeway sometimes and a two lane road when it’s not. Thirty-five miles out, we got off the freeway to take the Avenue of the Giants, a side road that goes through the groves of large redwood trees in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It’s a twenty-eight mile road that weaves it way through the large trees, and it feels like they didn’t remove any to pave the road.
The monster trees stand at the roads edge, and in a couple of places, the roots lift the pavement. The road’s posted speed limit is 55, but even at 40, it feels like you’re driving down the Le Mans’ Mulsanne Straight at 235 mph (I honestly don’t know what that feels like either). The trees are so close that they pass by as flickers and the dappled light coming in through the crown exaggerates the sensation. It’s a good thing that you have to stop and take pictures every so often.
We traveled another thirty miles to Leggett, then turned onto the Pacific Coast Highway. Leggett is the town where you can drive your car through a living redwood tree. Since The Ritz is too tall to fit through the opening, we didn’t bother trying.
It was this section of the PCH that was demanding. The road climbed up a mountain ridge then descended into a small valley, then up a second ridge before it dumped us on the coast. We watched the mirrors constantly, so we could let traffic by, but we only had to pull over once.
When we reached the ocean, we stopped to take in the view. This stretch of the California coast between where we stopped and north to Eureka is road-less. It’s called The Lost Coast, and if you want to see it, you have to go by sea or foot. While I’m dealing out trivia, it also has the western most point of land in the lower 48 states.
We’re going to rest here for another day and see what kind of trouble we can cause. After that we’ll head down into Northern California wine country, and pick up a couple of samples for our growing collection. After that, we have to avoid San Francisco. If I thought today’s roads were challenging, I certainly don’t want to drag The Ritz down Lombard Street.