Leaving Carpinteria I drove a few miles up US-101 and exited off to take a back road around and over the mountains, coming in to the towns of Solvang and Buellton from the East. The road climbed up and above Santa Barbara and the coast, and I'm betting pre-dates the lowland route that US-101 takes. There is no real reason for this road to exist from a commerce perspective, but from a road trip on motorcycle perspective, it's a great way to get there, and provides wonderful views of the coast along with great sweeping curves that are just too much fun on the motorcycle.
Dropping down into the Santa Ynez valley and still more vineyards and orchards and wineries, I decided to stop for a bite in Santa Ynez after swinging by the local Indian Casino to say hi to my buddy Louis who's a dealer there. This valley is the setting for much of the movie "Sideways", which is one of my favorite little sleeper movies, about a couple of guys on a weekend of wine tasting and vineyard tours, so its fun to ride past places I recognize from the movie.
Wine is very "in" and trendy these days -- the explosion of the wine industry in Washington and Oregon is ample proof, and this area reminds me a lot of the Willamette valley in Oregon with its string of wineries with cute names, weathered barn tasting rooms, and miles of vineyards along CA-246 which runs West across the Santa Ynez Valley towards Lompoc and Vandenberg Air Force Base, my home for the night. Lompoc is another old coastal town with a somewhat depressed and dying old downtown, and a lot of newer "big box" stores on the outskirts of town. My buddy Louis lives here and we'll be meeting up on Thursday to drive in his car further up the coast. I'll leave my bike at his place for a few days, and be back here on Saturday for a night before heading over the coastal mountains and into the Central Valley and Bakersfield.