This morning we left an old and dear friend behind us. We turned our backs on the Pacific Coast Highway and turned inland on Highway 128: ‘Boonville 25 Miles’. It’s a sweetly paved ribbon of road that’s bordered on both sides by giant redwoods. They’re the tallest trees that I’ve ever seen and quite possibly, the oldest too. They look like a ceremonial guard, pencil-straight with dark red tunics and pointed green helmets, proudly standing to attention and welcoming us into California’s Anderson Valley. With the constant twisting of the asphalt beneath our wheels and the sweet heavy scent of the early morning forest, the dappled shade from the giant trees and the total absence of traffic, we’re discovering another valid contender for the world’s best motorcycling road. It’s another road that I never want to end, but sadly, that desire for infinity has little to do with its beauty or suitability for motorcycles.
The road continues to twist but the redwoods gently thin as the bleached golden hills transform into luscious green vineyards: Handley Cellars, Roederer Estate, Husch Winery and Navarro Vineyards, all regimentally green and rustically polished. Between the numerous vineyards, sheep and horses graze in dusty meadows, and in ancient orchards, apples thrive on gnarly trees. Roadside signs, hand painted with lots of love and random apostrophes, announce the sale of fresh organic produce; apples, peaches, pears, figs, olives. This is clearly an abundant valley with good food, fine wines and more importantly, a soon to be united family. In perfect unison, we bank to the left passing a large wooden house and an invisible cloak of marijuana adds substance to the damp morning air. Life seems to be good around here.
Five miles short of Boonville, we slow to 30mph for the small town of Philo. The Post Office, Libby’s Mexican Restaurant and Lemon’s Market line one side of the street and on the other, a small gas station and a random cluster of slightly neglected wooden huts. The huts probably act as cheerless homes for migrant workers, Anderson’s uncounted Mexicans, those who toil in the vineyards in the hope of building a brighter future for their families here in land of opportunity. There are perhaps five or six assorted huts and a couple of small single storey houses on either side of the road, but surely insufficient homes to justify this tiny no-horse town having its own bloody Post Office?
In a flash, the town of Philo is behind us and the road ahead begins to straighten. Beyond the eye catching white picket fence of Goldeneye Winery, we begin our final descent into Boonville. Arm doors and cross-check for landing.