As some of you will know, I've actually been back in the UK for over a month, although it doesn't feel like it - visiting family, taking a few days away with Sarah, starting to fix the Tenere, and going back to work haven't left much time to think, let alone catch up on blogging. I'm going to try and put that right over the next week or so, and give a whistle-stop tour through my adventures between leaving San Francisco and flying home to the UK. I will, at some point, write up the full story - even my rough notes are considerably longer than the account I've been posting here - but I'm making no promises on the timescale for that.
I rolled out of San Francisco on the last day of May, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge slightly faster by car than I had by bicycle.
For the next two days I hugged the Pacific coast, camping both nights and having the pleasure of some great company from fellow campers, and a dinner of abalone fresh from the ocean and cooked on an open fire.
After a couple of days on the coast, I moved slightly inland to pass through the Coastal Redwood forests of Northern California, taking in the kitsch...
...and the downright incredible.
Into Oregon, and back onto the coast, although with a very different feel to the Californian shore. Much more forested, and a lot of deserted sandy beaches littered with green-topped sea-stacks. The overall impression is straight out of 'Jurassic Park', leaving you expecting to see a couple of dinosaurs amble around the corner.
I spent a night in Port Orford, the western end of the TAT, trying not to ponder what might have been.
Before taking a tour of a lighthouse, and bumping into a couple on a Goldwing I'd seen a couple of days before at the 'Drive-thru Tree', and who turned out to be Randy and Susan Powell of ride2up.com.
Camping outside Lincoln City, OR, I had a bit of a headache during the evening, which seemed to pass with the aid of some aspirin from the campsite shop and a bit of a nap. It wasn't quite going to give up that easily though.
It returned the next day, but I decided I was going to proceed with my plan of visiting the Tillamook Air Museum anyway. In the end, I spent a whole ten minutes inside before throwing up behind a bush in the car park. It was at this point I gave up, booked into a motel, and went to bed at midday. This didn't prevent having a couple more cycles of headache - vomit - sleep before finally waking up feeling OK(-ish) the next morning.
There was one good outcome though - chatting online to friends back home triggered a memory of why I had the cryptic note "McMinville, OR" in my notebook (written, I think, as a result of a random chat in the common area of the hostel in San Francisco).
McMinville is home to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, which in turn is home to all sorts of things which are extremely exciting from a nerdy engineering point of view. The centrepiece of the museum is the Hughes H4, better known as the 'Spruce Goose' - the only example of the design ever made, and still the largest wingspan aircraft ever to take off, being slightly wider than an Airbus A380.
Oh, and they've also got an SR-71 Blackbird, as you do.
After spending most of a day in the museum, I hit the interstate northwards through Portland rush hour traffic and into Washington, where I spent a final night in a motel somewhere near Tacoma before rolling back into Seattle, checking myself into the HI hostel, and returning the filthy, 4300-mile-older Mazda to Enterprise.