Our plan had been to meet in Santa Rosa and travel up US 101 to Eureka, using the Eureka Inn as a home base from which to explore 299 east to Redding and return on the most glorious state route 36 west from Red Bluff. But the weather gods frowned on this, sliding a hillside across 101 north of Garberville and prompting us to scrub those plans for no plans in particular.
I’d ridden from home in the Sacramento area, stopping in Winters at the Putah Creek Café for breakfast – if you can find a better breakfast sausage anywhere on the planet, please contact “the church” and let us know; we doubt if you can – and pausing at the Monticello Dam to see if the waters of Lake Berryessa had eclipsed the Glory Hole. They hadn’t.
|© 2011 Suisun Valley|
We devised a simple plan to cross the valley floor on state route 12, catch state route 49 at San Andreas and spend the night in Sonora. Phone reservations are made at the Gunn House there.
Not far east of Lodi, route 12 begins a graceful waltz through the foothills. The spring grass is tall. Blue gilia and lupine decorate the berm and I recall that an edible bulb lives at the base of the former.
I know this section of 49 well, having once worked a mining claim near “Mark Twain’s (rebuilt) Cabin,” and later having served in education in both Jamestown and Sonora. At the time I drove an ’83 R65 “airhead” BMW, a bike for which these roads were specifically engineered. 49 sweeps into and out of the canyons of the Mokelumne, Stanislaus Rivers and several smaller creeks. The sun dips below the ridgeline south of Angels Camp. The ride past Columbia into Sonora turns cool.
|(c) Gunn House Hotel|
|Downtown Sonora: circa a while ago. Source: Google Images|
I recently lost track of my old copy of Remi Nadeau's Ghost Towns and Mining Camps. I must locate it.
Adventure Touring Santa Rosa: www.advtouring.com/ Mike’s main business involves offering guided tours of some of the best roads found anywhere. Repeat: Anywhere! But Mike rents maintained, state of the art BMW GSes when they are not being used on a tour. Randy’s bike was flawless.
The Putah Creek Café http://putahcreekcafe.com was recently featured in the Food Network’s Diners, Dives and Drive-ins. Fine small-town atmosphere, offering killer burgers for lunch and, oh, yes, that house-made breakfast sausage.
The Diamondback Grill www.thediamondbackgrill.com/ had just opened up when I relocated from Sonora, but I remembered the ribs. They have moved across Washington Street from their original location and have added greatly to their menu and wine list. This is a must-stop-at eatery.
The Gunn House www.gunnhousehotel.com/ is conveniently located on Washington Street near restaurants, watering holes and shopping. Its ambience takes one back a century and a half. Nice rooms, nice staff, nice price.
Church of the Open Road Press