This forty-four mile (that's one way) trip took the British brigade of sport tourers down smooth winding mountain roads and through golden desert valleys and gulches. The sky was blue and cloudless. The October foothill grasses were dried golden and moved slightly in the breeze. A few cottonwood stands, live oak, and low-lying pine trees dotted the landscape.
(Photos by Lou Zaninovich, Pat Bailey, Wally Freeman, and myself.)
We shook over cattle grates, passed ineffectual and rusty barbed wire fences, meandered alongside dried up creek beds and by at least two unfortunate skunks who had recently met their fate. A ghostly and abandoned looking Guelph Slaugterhouse stood just off to the left of the road. It looked like it hadn't been used in years - cows relaxed in a corral nearby.
Speaking of cows - free range cattle are the true masters of Caliente Bodfish Road. Brown and black sway-backed cows lolled and sat in turnouts or strolled and munched their way down both sides of the road. They were just thick enough in number to make a driver of a tiny British automobile think twice about taking a turn too aggressively.
The Bakersfield members met up with the Tehachapi contingent at the Caliente Post Office. Caliente - a tiny mountain community formerly known as Allen's Camp - was named in 1875 when the Southern Pacific Railroad established its construction headquarters here. It was a freighting center for mining and cattle operations in the area. (See California State Historic Landmark 757 in the slide show.)
After a quick rest, the club continued up to The Twin Oaks General Store, a charming old ramshackle wooden schoolhouse structure - home of The Caliente Cafe.
The large group of twenty-two sat family style down a long row of pushed-together tables. Robert the head chef wore chef's whites and cooked unseen for the most part in the tidy little kitchen until he caught a chance to visit us after the meal. Our servers Linda and young Josh brought the large group roast beef, French dip sandwiches, hamburgers, fries, sodas, teas, beers--hearty mountain cafe fare done well.
After lunch, smaller groups splintered off, with some heading toward Bodfish thrift stores, others up alternate winding passages in the foothills, and still others heading back to Highway 58 the way we had come.
Start: Saunders Park - Bakersfield, CA 93309
End: Twin Oaks General Store and Caliente Cafe - 15782 Caliente Creek Rd, Caliente, CA 93518
Distance: 43.4 mi (about 1 hour 6 mins)
Wind: W at 7 mph
Depart Saunders Park in Bakersfield
Turn left into the CA-58 E entry ramp - go 23 mi 23 mi - 22 mins
Turn left at Bealville Rd - go 2.0 mi 2.0 mi - 4 mins
Continue on Caliente Bodfish Rd - go 3.2 mi 3.2 mi - 5 mins
Bear right at Caliente Creek Rd - go 12 mi 12 mi - 20 mins
Continue - go 0.3 mi 0.3 mi
Turn right at Caliente Creek Rd - go 0.6 mi 0.6 mi - 1 min
Arrive at Twin Oaks General Store and Caliente Cafe - 15782 Caliente Creek Rd, Caliente, CA 93518
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