The amazing thing about the West Coast is that it is still mostly wild, open, and astoundingly beautiful country, where you can drive for miles and miles and have the scenery all to yourself.
From Hwy-1 south of Mendocino, Hwy-128 cuts diagonally across to US-101 through the lovely Anderson Valley, home to numerous fine wineries (including Husch, Navarro, and Kendall-Jackson) and the Anderson Valley Advertiser, one of California’s most outspoken local newspapers. Anderson Valley also has its own regional dialect, called “Boontling,” combining English, Scots-Irish, Spanish, and Native American words into a lighthearted lingo created, some say, simply to befuddle outsiders—or “shark the bright-lighters,” in the local lingo.
To find out more, stop in the valley’s tiny main town, Boonville, at the All That Good Stuff gift shop and ad hoc information center. Fans of local food and wine will want to cross the highway to the Boonville Hotel (14050 Hwy-128, 707/895-2210, $125 and up), which has a wonderful restaurant (dinner only, alas) and wine bar. The historic building has upstairs rooms filled with art and furniture made by local craftspeople. Beer fans can make a pilgrimage east of town (toward Ukiah) to the partially solar-powered home of the Anderson Valley Brewing Company (17700 Hwy-253, 707/895-2337), where you can sample some of the world’s best beers, including the legendary Boont Amber Ale.