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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Brown

Leg Three and Four: A Sonoma Symphony in Vineyards

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

As we descended the hill to reconnect with the awkward onramp, we merged back onto 101 South, bidding a wistful adieu to the Pacific Ocean. The road ahead unfolded like a grand ballroom dress, curving and swaying from side to side. The Royal Enfield Classic 350 reveled in the downhill dance, gracefully weaving through the terrain. Our destination: the enchanting landscapes of Sonoma County, particularly the picturesque Dry Creek.

Every turn on Dry Creek Road was marked by little white arrow signs with elegant black lettering, guiding us to a myriad of wineries. Leaving behind the coastal highway, we entered a two-lane road, where the path meandered and dipped between vineyards and tree-lined lanes. Familiar with Dry Creek General Store from past visits, this time, it was experienced from the unique vantage point of our motorcycles. The classic charm of the old pumps had given way to new walls, a spacious parking area, and a covered gas pump space that lacked the appeal of a seating area. The juxtaposition of the old and new ignited a moment of contemplation. But this is a must stop the store is adorn with relics of yesteryear in around it they have filled in with new items you can buy that feel vintage but we all know they are not but we don't acknowledge it we let the magic take over. Here also among this lost in time stop off the have a deli and make wonderfully priced but delicious bites, fresh caprese salad, along with hot Ruben sandwich is our meal. While I watch over the bikes and our luggage not that there would be an issue, why invite it. My phone notifies me that I just spent $78.14, I thought what did we buy! Heather emerges with an espresso for me, our lunch, and shiny new hydro flask wine metal wine glass adorn with Sonoma General Store laser cut into side of its matte black finish. In all honestly I used it as a reference in writing this blog as I could not quite recall the exact title of the store. The lunch was fantastic, the Sauvignon Blanc served in little mason jar added a memorable and quite a nice little break to our voyage.

As the warm California sun embraced us, we swiftly shed layers at this shady oasis. This leg, a comparatively short 4.5 hours, provided respite from the previous marathon rides of over 7 hours. Our original plan included a rest day for wine tasting in downtown Healdsburg, but unforeseen circumstances led us to Santa Rosa. Despite lacking the charm of Healdsburg, Santa Rosa, bathed in warm sunlight, welcomed us at the newly remodeled Travelodge, an unexpected gem that added a touch of comfort to our journey.

The check-in process took an intriguing turn as the lady at the counter, spotting our Royal Enfields, shared her own tales of riding in India. Her husband, equally fascinated, paid a visit to our room later, turning our night into an impromptu gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts. The evening unfolded quietly with a simple dinner and television, the weariness of the road taking precedence over culinary adventures.

Leg 4: Taco Trucks and Lost Highways

Eager to extend our stay, the weather played spoilsport, promising mid-60s and rain. Opting for a sunny 78-degree day, we embarked on our journey. The following morning, an early start saw us packing the bikes in our accustomed fashion before bidding adieu to our remodeled abode.

This leg unfolded with uncertainty about our final destination. Originally aspiring to head south and savor the Golden Gate Bridge with Pacific and bay views, we encountered the harsh reality of city traffic around downtown San Jose. The northbound route through 12 from Santa Rosa, meandering towards Napa's hills and curves, became an unexpected yet delightful alternative.

However, a hiccup emerged as my GPS unit, a faithful companion, struggled with voltage fluctuations. The planned two-lane road abandoned us this time, akin to a disgruntled toddler turning away. Navigation responsibilities shifted to my wife, but a critical oversight led us onto the dreaded Interstate 780, a challenging place for a loaded two-up bike in a sea of unforgiving drivers.

Navigational missteps led us astray for over an hour, traversing 780 and 520 until we could escape near Tracy, CA. There, we fueled up and calmed our nerves before embarking on a more enjoyable and relaxing route. The journey unfolded on Hwy 132 east, followed by Hwy 33 south.

Hwy 33 stretched across long, flat, straight sections flanked by fields on either side—bare dirt, grass, vineyards, and fruit trees. A reminder of a bygone era, this road meandered south, occasionally veering east to accommodate the layout of each farm.

An intriguing junction unfolded at a crossroads, where an old gas station sat in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields and a taco truck. The scene, frozen in time, captivated us as we speculated about the lunchtime gathering of dusty workers, taking a break from their tasks.

The temptation proved too strong to resist as we encountered another taco truck in a small town strip, complete with a covered dining area. Late lunch ensued, with each of us savoring our chosen delights. Energized by this unexpected pit stop, we continued with only a few hours of daylight remaining, choosing Santa Nella—a quaint town with limited offerings but a Best Western and free RV parking. The paradoxical travel time of 1.5 hours via Hwy 33 versus 1.22 hours via I5 unfolded.

Hwy 33, however, had a surprise in store. The next hour saw us crisscrossing west and east over the interstate on freshly laid black asphalt adorned with bright yellow lines. The warm air enveloped us as the Royal Enfield Classic 350 effortlessly navigated the corners. A deserted highway became our private playground, with only the overpass offering glimpses of the mundane world below. We floated above the mindless rumble of cars on the interstate, our own trance of travel and bliss, weaving back and forth like the laces of a pair of high-top Chuck Taylors.

As we approached a large freeway interchange with fast-food chains, the Best Western behind the Split Pea Soup restaurant awaited us, adorned in German decor. For a brief moment, we had been lost in our own time, seamlessly weaving through the highways and byways. Yet, all things must end, and we were pulled back into the relentless pace of our world. Parking and settling in, we marveled at the hues of pink and orange painted across the sky as the sun bid farewell, marking the completion of yet another leg of our journey—mostly done our way.

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