We returned to 8th Street and collected our steed: an Electra Glide in pinstriped burgundy, bristling with chrome and technology. I climbed into the armchair on the back, Howard swung the huge beast out into traffic, and a few minutes later we were flying south down the freeway.
Riding pillion was a very weird experience, less like being on a bike than like being in a car with the windows down. We left the 280 for Highway 1, and suddenly the Pacific was glittering away on the right and we were starring in our very own road movie. Howard played with the cruise control and the radio, while I watched the yellow line down the middle of the road flash past, or gazed out to sea.
Lunch was at San Mateo Airfield: café walls lined with aviation memorabilia, and a friendly server who said "Roger!" when I ordered my corned beef hash with scrambled eggs and "Prepare for takeoff!" when he brought it. He was a mine of information about both the airfield, used for bombers in WW2, and the local area, so when he recommended Pigeon Point Lighthouse as a nice spot we made it the next stop.
This was a good call. The sky was deep, deep blue, and the views were spectacular. We saw none of the advertised whales, but did make out half a dozen harbor seals, lolling about on a rock. (You have to go further south for elephant seals, alas.)
We headed back inland up the 84 towards La Honda, through farming country and at one point presumably past Ken Kesey's residence, although I didn't spot it. The road gets twisty as it runs through the forest around Redwood City. Howard ploughed through the curves, steering the huge bike smoothly and managing not to scrape any low-hanging parts, while I felt slightly carsick.
At the intersection of 84 and 35 is Alice's Restaurant, a biker haunt I was keen to visit for several reasons. We had a drink and got our photo taken by a nice guy on a V-Strom who said he'd been to Europe and his local roads were better, but we didn't linger too long, as it was getting dusky and chilly.
This part of Highway 35 is called 'Skyline Boulevard', so I had high hopes for the views, but the height and girth of the trees prevented any amazing panoramas (we tried stopping at 'Vista Point', where you can just about see a bit of view if you stand on one of the picnic tables). As the road descended to the freeway, though, we were suddenly given a sighting of the lake far below.
Manhandling a Harley in the stop-start San Francisco rush hour was hellish, but this was nothing compared with the gradients, corners and hill starts of the city, all while following the onboard sat-nav. At last we were parked without incident. It had been a fun day, but we decided we maybe didn't want to do a Big American Road Trip after all...at least, not on that bike.
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