Hop Li and Riding the Local Mountains

Eating dim sum and then heading off to the local mountains for a quick ride is a great way to spend the day, especially if you can get away midweek, as I recently did.

What is “dim sum,” you might ask? Well, dim sum is a selection of various Chinese dishes that are sold in small steamer pots that are brought directly to your table. There is an incredible selection of seafood, pork, and veggie items, and all of them are very tasty!

One of my favorite places to go for dim sum is “Hop Li,” which is located on Baldwin Ave just south of Huntington Drive in Arcadia. Hop Li is a very traditional place-the servers don’t speak English, so you do a lot of pointing and smiling, but no worries, it’s all good. My favorites include the har gau, a rice paper wrapped shrimp or scallop, and the pork dumplings, cha sui bau. Absolutely delectable! 

Excellent Dim Sum in Arcadia
Excellent Dim Sum in Arcadia

 

Har Gau and Chun Fun, with hoisin sauce, Chinese mustard and tea
Har Gau and Chun Fun, with hoisin sauce, Chinese mustard and tea

One of my favorite local rides is to ride the CA 39/Azusa Canyon to Glendora Mountain Road loop.  This loop takes about an hour or so, and features great canyon riding.  So, stuffed with dim sum, I hoisted myself onto our R12RT and headed east out of Arcadia to the 210 fwy and the Azusa ave. offramp. From here I headed straight north on Azusa (CA 39) into the canyon.

A View up Azusa Canyon
A View up Azusa Canyon

During midweek, Azusa Canyon makes a great ride. Abundant twisties and great views abound. There is virtually no traffic and little law enforcement, but be careful as recent rains wash rocks and mud onto the road occasionally.

After cruising up the canyon you can cross the bridge to the East Fork and follow it through a couple of small river communities and onto Glendora Ridge Road. GRR is extremely twisty with very steep drop-offs. Use extreme caution, as going off the road here would have catastrophic consequences!

Twisties Galore!
Twisties Galore!

Eventually GRR intersects with Glendora Mountain Road, which you can head east toward Mt. Baldy, 12 miles away, or you can drop west, eventually exiting the mountains in Glendora. As it was getting late, I chose to ride towards Glendora and home.

Again, more superb riding, but I was saddened by the recent damage done by the “Morris Fire.” Our drought has left the mountains explosively dry and it seems the fires are getting worse every year…

A View of Azusa Canyon and Fire Damage
A View of Azusa Canyon and Fire Damage

30 minutes after turning onto Glendora Mountain Road, I was rolling out of the mountains and nearing my house. Great Chinese food and incredible mountain roads. What could be better on a Wednesday afternoon?

 

A Windy Weekend on the So Cal Coast

If you plan on coming up to Ventura to spend a couple of days meandering the book stores, second-hand clothing places, and the incredible beaches, you should plan on staying at the Bellamagiore Inn. Located on California and Main, the Bellamagiore has old world charm, first class service and very nice rooms. In addition, a great breakfast comes with the price of the room.

Our favorite is the salmon bagel sandwich. Fresh salmon, cream cheese, onions, capers, and a fresh, crunchy bagel is a great way to start the morning.

For lunch, we suggest Taqueria Vallarta on west Main Street. It’s a hole in the wall, but the “Caldo de Res,” a Mexican vegetable and beef soup was wonderful, as were the lengua tacos. Taqueria Vallarta is inexpensive, and the food is terrific. Give them a try next time you are poking around Main Street in Ventura!

Delicious Soup!
Delicious Soup!

After a nice overnight stay we cruised up thru Santa Barbara and over CA 154 to Solvang, a touristy, yet fun replica of a Danish village. Excellent bakeries, and LOTS of restaurants. Give Paula’s Pancakes a try, or continue west to Buelton, CA and Ellen’s for incredible Danish pancakes! Superb…

The food was excellent, and so was the cruising! Due to the threat of rain, which never materialized, we took our “other” open air machine, our 2006 Nissan 350Z.

Our Nissan 350Z
Our Nissan 350Z

Regardless of the ride, the roads are wonderful. Take CA 154 north from Santa Barbara and visit Cold Springs Tavern before you head down past Lake Cachuma. Windy roads, little traffic, and beautiful blue skies make this short ride a great motocycle destination.

Cold Springs Tavern
Cold Springs Tavern

Maybe we’ll see you at the Bellamagiore next time!

 

Twisties and Treats in the Local So Cal Mountains

In the 1940s it must have been one tough drive to get to the Mountain Top Cafe near Wrightwood, California!  Of course, the coffee was a nickel and you could get a hamburger for a quarter.  Now, times have changed.  The prices are a bit higher, the service, views, and food are all still excellent, and a shiny, powerful BMW motorcycle whisks me here in style, comfort, and speed!    Last weekend I found myself riding around the mountains a few miles behind my house and I happened upon the Mile High.  Typically, I was hungry, so in I went for breakfast….

And, I am glad I did!  First, the Mountain High is a cozy small place with an inviting fireplace at one end of the building.  Almost immediately Robin took my order-the usual eggs, hash browns and bacon.  My usual benchmark for a great egg breakfast is the cook’s ability to cook the eggs the way I like them, which is over medium.  The eggs were perfect, as were the bacon strips and the crunchy, delicious hash browns!  On a scale of 1-10, I’d rate the breakfast a solid 9 because of the hospitality, quality of food, and preparation.  The Mountain Top Cafe is easy to find:  from Interstate 15 go west on CA 138 toward Wrightwood.  You’ll see the Cafe at the top of a hill at the intersection of CA 138 and CA 2. I highly recommend you stop here and have a bite if you are out sight-seeing, visiting Wrightwood, or maybe going skiing.  Enjoy!

The Mountain Top Cafe, Home of Great Cooking!
The Mountain Top Cafe, Home of Great Cooking!

After filling my tank, I fired up the Beemer and headed up CA 138 in search of some good twisties.  A short ride out of Wrightwood I found Los Angeles Co Rd N4, which provided 16 miles of twisties down to the desert floor.  It was particularly beautiful, especially with the fall colors:

Outside of Wrightwood, a Golden Road
The roads around the local mountains are terrific!  Here are few pictures of my wanderings along with a bit of commentary.  Enjoy!
BMW pencilGettting ready to head into the mountains…the RT is an awesome touring machine…understated, powerful, and comfortable, it is the ideal choice for devouring miles!
Curve into ValyermoHeading down from Los Angeles County N4 there are many high desert roads to choose from….this one swoops down thru some delicious twisties into the tiny town of Valyermo.
There are some pretty cool things to do in Valyermo…for example, you can go to Crystallaire Soaring Center and take a sailplane ride, or even go up to the Abbey to check out the bookstore and the art center.  Very fun!
Only in So Cal can you surf in the morning and ski in the afternoon!  I stopped in at Mtn High Ski Resort to check out opening day.  There were many happy skiers and snow boarders enjoying 55 degree skies and lots of fresh, man made snow!
skiing
I think the diversity of the Angeles Nat’l Forest is unbelievable…the views, the roads, and the restaurants in the area are  all very satisfying!  Here are a few more pix highlighting my day ride through the Angeles mountains…
Unfortunately, the recent fires have left many acres scarred.  Over the hills the fires reached incredible temperatures, turning the ground cover into burnt twigs and ashes.
burnedgulley
On a lighter note, you never can tell what you’ll see when you ride your motorcycle through the local mountains.  These “TeleTubbies” were trying to gain the attention of passing motorists on CA 18 in order to raise money for their church and an upcoming field trip.  They were energetic, fun, and very serious about their mission.  I hope they were successful!
Teletubbies
And that, fellow riders, was my day in the Angeles Mountains.  The Mountain High Cafe was great, the roads were incredible, and as always, the people I met were unforgettable.  See you on the road!
 

A Great Sandwich in LA

The rain didn’t show up in LA as promised (so what else is new?) so we cruised downtown to eat breakfast, or lunch, at Phillipe’s, home of the famous French-dipped sandwich. The Flame actually had a bowl of barley soup, and I ordered the double French-dipped beef sandwich. We finished our meal with a couple of glasses of lemonade and a slice of homemade apple pie.

We pulled into the parking lot at about 9:30 a.m. and already the wait line to order was 25 minutes. Phillipe’s is a very popular spot with a a very diverse crowd; business people, cops, bicyclists who brought their bikes into the restaurant, and tourists all were clamoring for breakfast Phillipe’s style!
We’d come back again. The soup was excellent and hearty, the sandwich was generous and especially delicious with the house mustard, a very sweet-hot horseradish and mustard concoction. Wonderful!