WELCOMING COFFEE BAY
The thick tropical vegetation dotted with palm trees, a one kilometer beach with a gentle hill to climb at the end, was just the setting we all needed after a day of rain and wind. The Ocean View Hotel lives up to its name and being the only real inn on the beach, made it that much special.
The hotel itself seems to carry you back to the days of out of the way quaint respites where the entire restaurant and housekeeping staff greets you and all share in carrying your luggage to your room.
Rumbling of the motorbikes engines through the threshold to the dirt parking area silenced one by one and the riders quickly retired to their rooms to remove the wet riding gear in exchange for comfort clothing to meet at the bar to review the day’s events.
Here we stay for two nights allowing us time to stroll along the clean hard pack sand, climb rocks jetting out towards crashing surf, and taking the low risk challenge to hike up the for a further view of the “Wild Coastline”. This downshift from 140 KPH to a slow walk was just what I needed to restore my mind and body. The hotel was the only restaurant within miles so we indulged into the buffet of local fish and chicken. The South African wine made everything taste that much better. A big surprise was the pineapple upside down cake…my all time favorite. Soon it was time to retire to rooms to prepare for another 450 km day.
STARTING AND STOPPING
I caught a beautiful sunrise while getting ready for another morning buffet breakfast. toted our bags to the support van, got a briefing on the day’s ride, geared up, mounted up and….whoaaaaa. As I backed my bike up to get a position in the line up, Darryl looked at me strangely. I’m sensitive to those type of looks and sensed something was wrong. He sauntered towards me focusing on my bike and announced “You av a flat”. I rotated my head focusing on my rear tire and sure enough the tire was very low…not flat but not really ride able. This meant I had to switch bikes because the BMW 800 GS has tubes requiring breaking down the wheel that takes too much time.
I was getting used to this new alternate bike and discovered it handled better than the old one and had about the same amount of throttle power so I was pretty content flying through the countryside usually staying within eyeshot of the rest of the group.
The group got a little ahead because I was stopped a few times by “robots”, South African term for stop lights, leaving me and Chuck a short distance behind the main group as we exited from a small town. I began to accelerate when up ahead a traffic policeman stood in the middle of the road waving a miniaturized stop sign signaling me to pull over to the left. Chuck rode by but pulled over a bit further down the road. I didn’t think I was speeding, but none the less, I was told to present my operators license, vehicle registration, and passport. Fortunately I had all my papers in order. The questioning began…was I part of the group earlier that blew by him? “maybe”…where did I come from, “America…no no Pretoria..no?...Coffee Bay”….where am I going?....ah,ah,…”It starts with an “A”…The officer began naming locations…none sounded right until he said Alfred. “Yes I believe that’s it…Port Alfred!” He smiled, gave me back my papers, I shook his hand, fired up the bike and joined Chuck up the road. I’m certain the traffic cop didn’t believe the bloody Yank hadn’t any idea where he was going. Now I was free to motor on to my destination of “Port Alfred”
|The dunes at Port Alfred|
Up ahead the multiple flashing lights on the left side of the road signaled us we have caught up with group. Usually the delay was a couple minutes but this time some were curious why the wait was longer. I shared my story then we all moved on through the winding roadways, over the Port Alfred Bridge, up a step hill, a quick right into a small alleyway into the back of the quaint Links Coastal Inn. Once everyone dismounted, two welcoming women gave out our room assignments. Grabbing our bags from Julian, we retired to our room or should I say rooms. We each had our own room with a common area living room and kitchen dividing us. This was a very nice surprise. We quickly got settled and took a couple kilometer hike down to the beach where we were told large sand dunes lined the ocean edge. It reminded me of our Cape Hatteras. The long shadows of the late afternoon made a dramatic settling to snap some photos but dinner time was arriving soon. This meal was not to be missed because the hotel restaurant was known for it’s cuisine and tonight the chef prepared an African meat called Kudo. This animal is similar to our American deer. After a quick shower removing 450 KM of road dirt and a couple of drinks up in the crows nest like pub over looking the town, we wound our way down the stairs to the dining room for the feast. The Kudo was very rich, flavorful and filling. The dinner along with the days ride, left everyone feeling like they couldn’t get to the bed quick enough.
The day wrap up was a flat plus a traffic pull over verses nice room, great dinner (and breakfast), and beautiful beach...I'm still having a great time.