Back roads and small towns

Day one: 200 miles of back roads and small towns

Memorial Day marks a long weekend for most of us in the states. With so many people hitting the road heading for the beaches, we decided to set our sights inland.

It was time to dust off the big bike and go see the countryside.

John had discovered a road during his work travels and wanted to share it with me. During the Thomas Fire and Flood, South Highway 101 was closed and he had to get creative to find a route to Los Angeles.

That’s how he discovered the Calf Canyon Highway.

Saturday morning, after putting away our farmer’s market bounty, we packed our overnight bags and took off to explore. Heading over the Santa Ynez Mountains on Highway 154 our first stop would be lunch in Los Alamos.

If you are ever traveling on Highway 101 a great place to stop for lunch is Bob’s Well Bread Bakery. Los Alamos is a tiny little town off the highway with some of the best restaurants along the Central Coast.

Small towns and back roads

After lunch we headed north on 135 towards Guadalupe. Not only was the air thick with marine layer, but the winds were strong and annoying. I keep a scarf tucked in the back, for just this occasion.

The fields surrounding Guadalupe are filled with strawberry and lettuce plants and even on Saturday, we could see workers bent over picking crops. The wind was also kicking up the dust from a farmer tilling a field.

John rolled the throttle open and got us to Arroyo Grande so we could catch Highway 227 to San Luis Obispo. Passing through Edna we were both surprised to see a shiny big helicopter at a small farm.

Made me wonder who lives there and why.

Making our way through SLO we finally took the turn off towards Santa Margarita. Calf Canyon Highway is also Hwy 58 and Santa Margarita is the first and only town for miles.

Small towns and back roads Small towns and back roads

We stopped to gas up and then headed into the rolling golden hills of inland California. Here in California it’s green during the winters, if we are lucky, but this winter’s rain wasn’t enough to change the landscape.

The gold hills were big and dotted with giant Live Oak, and we saw the occasional cattle or sheep searching for any bit of grass that could be found. I wondered why anyone would try to farm anything that required water.

As the hills got smaller we eventually plateaued on an area that was flat and expansive. Seeing a sign that said “California Solar Farm”, I nodded to myself and thought that makes perfect sense.

Back roads and small towns
solar fields behind me

Back roads and small towns

We were heading towards McKittrick and we pretty much had the road to ourselves.

The scenery changed so many times on that stretch of highway. We went from rolling hills dotted with live oak, to flat land and scrub oaks to desolate “farm” land to oil country and finally started to see splashes of color here and there on the hills.

Is this really farm country? don't come any closer lady! stops along the way sights along the way

May in California

Taking a turn south on Highway 33 we headed to Taft to spend the night.

We rode past field after field filled with ‘nodding donkeys’ bowing over and over to the black gold beneath the surface. Taft is in the heart of petroleum country.

Nodding donkeys of Taft

Nodding donkeys Nodding donkeys

Oil country

John found a little inn that had good reviews and we paid the $60 for a night’s stay. The place was clean and nothing fancy but it would do. The couple that ran the hotel was very friendly and gave us recommendations for dinner and breakfast.

Taft Hotel

Taft hotel

It was great to get my riding gear off and stretch my legs on our walk to dinner.

Small towns and back roads

The sunset was beautiful, and the stadium lights of several ball fields started to light up as we walked back to our little hotel. This was a quiet little town that felt as though its glory days were long over. Petroleum and Natural Gas are what keeps people there now.

Small towns and back roads

…to be continued – Day two

Reader Comments

  1. Cindy Scurry

    Love the details! I was following along with googlemaps. Since I’m planning my PCH trip in Sept/Oct I’m very interested in this area and have been studying the map! We may have to do lunch (or breakfast) at Los Alamos!

    I love a good adventure! Thanks for sharing!

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