So, we were driving. And we drove, and then we drove some more. And the scenery was lovely, what I could see of it when I wasn’t focusing on the road, but curiously devoid of vineyards. In fact, it was devoid of just about anything, except for the occasional cow and signs advertising well-digging services. We were somewhat concerned, but it was a nice day and heck, we had come this far. So we drove on, past towns so tiny they made Two Rock look like a major metropolis*, through increasingly steep terrain that remained resolutely free of any form of wine grapes, into Calaveras County, a place made famous by a fictional bar bet involving frogs.
We were starting to wonder if Weird Guy had in fact been Humorously Malicious Guy, when Murphys showed up on a road sign, just before the sign that noted that Highway 4 was closed at Ebbet’s Pass. So, reassured that this place, whatever it was, did exist, we pressed on, and were rewarded by something we hadn’t seen in a while: a sign for a winery. Which was encouraging, since this was originally intended to be a wine-tasting trip.
The sign pointed us down something called Six Mile Road, to a small winery in an absolutely lovely little valley. The wines themselves were slightly less lovely, inasmuch as they seemed to be trying to kill us with tannins. Also, in the interests of randomness, it turned out that the place was owned by a Hollywood producer who had made, among other things, the TV show “The Young Riders,” which I had an inexplicable fondness for back in high school.
From there, we continued down Six Mile Road (after briefly mistaking it for a driveway), towards a place that had been mentioned to us a couple of times (Ironwood or Ironstone– Ironsomthing, anyway), passing some wild turkeys and a barrel-toasting place and giving my little Mazda its first taste of dirt-road driving on the way. Which is partly why we were so taken aback when we got there and discovered the place was a massive complex with a parking lot like an amusement park. We drove in, saw the busloads of elderly tourists, said almost simultaneously, “I don’t want to stop here,” and drove on.
*This is humorous exaggeration. Nothing could make Two Rock look like a major metropolis.