On a warm summer morning, my wife and I departed on a four-day trip that would take us on some of the finest motorcycle roads in Northern California, most notably State Route 36 with its 140 miles of continuous twists and turns. Riding north from Sonoma County on U.S. Route 101 to its junction with State Route 128, we followed the highway westward as it winds its way through the Anderson Valley, the coastal mountains, and finally follows the Navarro River to the coast. Route 128 is a motorcyclist’s delight with many miles of tight corners and fast sweeping turns.
In the heart of the Anderson Valley is the town of Boonville, a place once so geographically isolated that it developed its own language, known as “Boontling.” There you can enjoy “bahl gorms” (good food) and a “horn of zeese” (cup of coffee). Farther along Route 128 is the town of Navarro (population 67), a great place to stop, take a break and drink a good cup of coffee among the redwoods. There is an interesting larger-than-life carving of a guitar player in front of the store.
From Navarro to the coast, the road follows the Navarro River and winds its way through thick groves of redwoods. The air among the redwoods is cool with the sweet smell of forest. Route 128 ends at the junction with State Route 1, also known here as the Shoreline Highway. Following Route 1 north we passed the picturesque town of Mendocino, perched high on the cliffs above the ocean. It is a great place to eat, visit the unique shops and soak up the local culture.
Farther up the road, Route 1 turns inland. In this area temperatures can vary widely. Our trip computer registered 59 degrees on the coast and 95 inland, areas separated by only a few miles. Arriving at the town of Leggett we took a short side trip to the Chandelier Tree. This giant redwood has had a hole cut through it large enough to allow a car to drive through. The trip through the tree is well worth the $3 (cars have to pay $5!). Read more...