Article By: Chris Callen
Photos By: Heather And Chris Callen
Originally Published In The August 2016 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
So last month when we left off we had bunked down for the night at The Trees Motel. The next morning we were up early and ready to go but first we had to make a quick stop by the Paul Bunion statue. This was promising to be an epic day since we were meeting up with Aaron and Ray Ray, two of my brothers that I hadn’t seen in a very long time. Ray got his place on the west coast and started to raise a family in Willits and our travels just never seemed to make it near where he lives. This trip provided a perfect opportunity to spend some time with old friends. Ray and Aaron with their buddy Lewis in tow left Willits around the same time we left the Trees. The idea was to pick a spot in the middle of where we were and Rays home and hook up to check out the Red Woods and then head for the Lost Coast. This is where I should mention that Ray Ray and Aaron, along with anyone who ever spends considerable time riding with them, ride like they’re fighting a battle. They are hands down the most impressive riders I have ever been on the road with. Needless to say they reached the half-way point well before we did, so they waited and hardly made fun of my slow ass at all. But to my credit they weren’t loaded down with a wife, clothes, computer, and camping gear.
We met up in Eureka California and although we had been in awe since we crossed into this great state, nothing could have prepared us for what lay ahead. I had been hearing about the beauty and majesty that this part of the United States has to offer from Ray for quite some time but actually putting my own wheels in the dirt there is another thing entirely. We headed down the 101 through 1,500-year-old trees, entering into Humboldt Red Wood Forest. This is where the big trees are. We spent most of the afternoon stopping at spots and just checking out trees that you couldn’t wrap five people around and touch hands. These mighty giants really make you aware of how small man is. We stayed on the 101 and entered into Mendocino County, eventually dropping into Leggett where we did a small detour to see the Chandler Drive Through Tree. This thing is more famous than Elvis and is located just 180 miles north of the San Francisco Bay area, which was the furthest point north in California I had been before this trip. After taking some quick pics going through the tree and standing with it and we got back on the road. This is where the trip got intense, for a couple reasons… First, this was where we split off from the 101 and hit the actual start of the Pacific Coast Highway. From this point, the 1 is the most incredible ride. It’s insane to think that in just 20 miles you can go from scorching heat to misty Oceanside cool breezes. After a million and one bends and with my brothers riding like champs, we popped out on the southern portion of the Lost Coast. This area is aptly named due to the fact that the area is so remote along the rocky coastline that no real highway system was ever able to be engineered into it, thus insulating the few towns that are along the Lost Coast from the rest of California.
When we got out along the coast the temps had to be 20 degrees cooler. The smell of the crashing Pacific Ocean filled our senses and made us forget about time and location and self….. It’s almost funny to think back now that we all considered ourselves on some sort of philosophic journey of mystics but to the general public we looked quite the opposite. As a matter of fact, it was right around this time that we got held up in a traffic jam at a small bridge that was partially under construction. As we sat there another motorist got stuck in the soft shoulder while trying to pull off for photos. We threw the bikes on kickstands and started to walk back much to the horror of the other drivers. We didn’t pay any attention to the sound of locks clicking and windows being wound up as we went on our way to lend a hand. Quickly Louis jumped in the driver’s seat and we all put a shoulder to the little car and shoved it back onto the road. Cheers erupted from the other cars as they figured out that we were in fact not going to kill the whole family in that stranded vehicle. I turned to Ray Ray and said “yeah, I can see tomorrow’s headline now….Motorcycle gang terrorizes tourists as onlookers fear for their own lives.” We all had a good laugh and got back on the bikes just in time for the traffic to start moving again.
We took a break at a bitchin’ little sandwich shop where everything was homemade, except for the hundreds, maybe thousands of rubber ducks that adorned every available space. There was a chill little wooden porch where we copped a squat and revered in our time together. We were in a small fishing village and traffic was zero. That’s the thing about this part of California man, in some places it’s still nearly untouched. There are remote sections where you literally feel alone in the world. I could see myself spending much more time here and by the time we hit Willits later that day, I found the only other place from where I was born that I could seriously see myself living; but we’re not there yet. After a quick lunch and some good talk it was time for us to hit the road again. From here Ray Ray explained that route 20 over to Willits and eventually back to the 101 was a must do road and brother he was not kidding a bit. We found winding mountain roads that will leave you second-guessing your own abilities in a heartbeat. I was right behind Ray and Aaron was behind me. I shifted through the gears up and down in an attempt to keep my bike, which looked a lot like the Grinch’s Sleigh after he robbed Whoville, from slowing the pack down. My revs were up, they were down, I was laying it into the turns, but that’s when I heard this strange hum from behind me… I looked in my rearview and saw that it was Aaron, who I swear never shifted his bike at all. While I was in total chaos racing around the bends this cat just slid right through the turns, never pushing his motor or himself. With two up and a full pack I was probably riding a little over my head, which I was reminded of on one turn when I slid the bike across the turn on an exhaust bolt. I jerked it hard and stood it back up and made it through the turn but it was a pucker moment that slowed me down a bit. Nearly at the end of route 20 we pulled over and watched part of the afternoon fade away. I listened to stories of crazy riding that Ray and Aaron had back in the day. It was so good to see how happy my brother is in this home he has made for himself.
When we got into Willits a little while later we started to lose some of the riders until it was just Ray Ray hills and there right in the middle of a mini grove of Redwood tress sat his house. We pulled the bikes into the garage and his lovely wife Savanah had dinner on the table for us. After filling our bellies we sat in the hot tub on the back deck of my brother’s home and watched the stars come out. We were treated like rock stars and were given the full VIP. The next morning we saw all that the property has to offer. There is a view that is the kind you only see on postcards. Behind his house they regularly see eagles and deer. The shade and smell of the redwoods feel like a desolate part of the forest, all of this, just outside of Willits. As much as it pained me this was going to be the last day with Ray Ray. We had to get across the Golden Gate before sundown and he had already taken two whole days outta his life to show us around his part of the world. We would spend the morning and part of the afternoon riding together on our way to Francis Ford Copalla’s Vineyard just a little south of Gyserville. Now they say that despite the water problems in California you can tell where the money is because it’s still green. That’s is definitely the case in Wine Country and man we were in it. Again the scene was nothing short of picturesque and everywhere we looked was breath taking. We decided to have lunch at Copolla’s and inside we got to see some of the most incredible movie memorabilia from films like Dracula and Tucker. The one thing that topped them all, of course, was Vito Corleone’s desk from the Godfather. Of course the food was off the hook, we sat around like fat cats and took it all in but before I knew it we were in the parking lot trying to find a way to say good bye. As sad as I was at the idea of not knowing when I would see Ray again, I was so happy that I made the time to see my brother, meet his family and check out the place that he is most proud of in the world. I love you homie, thank you and god bless! Now the sun was not near setting but it was on the downward trend and we wanted to see the Golden Gate before nightfall so we made tracks.