Cycling the West Coast: Happy Naps and Paninis! [Day 25]

Luke Guilford | CycleCycle
Mendocino from above. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford
Mendocino from above. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

Day 25

This morning evolved at a relaxing pace, leaving camp and heading just a few miles down the road to Mendocino. We looped through the Mendocino Headlands State Park to absorb the beautiful views of the rocky coastline and wide open meadow.

Much of my time looking out on the coast has been spent tracking different birds leaving their nests and diving out toward the sea. The rocks off the coast were loaded with common murres with dark backs and white bellies. It was hard not to be reminded of little penguins watching these birds waddle around and dive off the rocks. After doing some further research, I learned that these birds can dive over 200 feet into the ocean in search of food.

Mendocino Headlands. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford
Mendocino Headlands. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

After some thorough bird watching, we explored the town of Mendocino. We found some breakfast and coffee and eventually hopped back on the bikes, heading south toward the town of Elk.

The entire route to Elk had no shortage of hills to climb, but each climb led to an incredible ocean view. Navarro Point was a really cool spot because the Navarro River spills into the Pacific Ocean.

Heading south, we came across the town of Elk, where an art show was going on. We stopped for some lunch at a small deli, and they were making fresh paninis that were delicious. Afterward, I took a little nap in the sun near the ocean, and that revived my soul. It was a short day of around 33 miles, so we passed through Elk.

Just another bike picture. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford
Just another bike picture. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

Today was fairly uneventful, in a good way. Today was full of peace, sun, and a highway with nonstop views of some of the most beautiful coastlines I have ever seen. I didn’t really want the day to end, but we eventually rolled into Manchester to try and find a spot to camp.

Right at our turn-off for the campsite was a small ranch my father had found, and all the cattle had made their way over to the fence to see what was happening. I felt like I was presenting to a crowd, their eyes were glued to us, it was so funny. I’m from the Midwest, so I’ve had my fair share of encounters with cattle, but this was odd for them to be so glued to us. I hope they’ll be around in the morning; these dudes crack me up.

You never know the friends you'll make along the way. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford
You never know the friends you’ll make along the way. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

The other day in Fort Bragg, the bike shop owner said that Manchester State Park would be closed. With this news, we decided to stop by the KOA in Manchester, but like most KOAs, they’re a little hectic and overpriced, so we thought it would be worth a shot to see if the state park was open. We didn’t see any tents or cars, but I saw an RV resembling the camp host. We swung by, and sure enough, they were open for camping.

The camp host welcomed us and gave us a history lesson about the area, mostly about the HAW-1, the first submarine telephone cable laid between Hawaii and the mainland United States. The cable, or the two cables, was laid in 1957 and stretched 2,625 miles from Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii, to Point Arena, California, just south of the campground. The HAW-1 cable provided the first direct operator dialing between Hawaii and the mainland and was retired in 1989 after 32 years of service, eventually replaced with fiber optic cable technology.

Tomorrow’s plan is to make it into Salt Point State Park, about 40 miles south of our campsite, tonight. If the road is anything like it was today, then I am mega-stoked to hit the road!

Stats from today:

  • 33 miles biked
  • 2,000 vertical feet climbed
  • Two paninis eaten
  • One empty campsite
Day 25
Route for the day!

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