“Whoa Nellie Deli”

Happy Summer days, everyone!  If you find yourself cruising along the backbone of California’s high sierra, the “Whoa Nelli Deli” in Lee Vining is aVERY worthy spot!  Located inside the Mobil station, the WND offers gourmet dishes such as seared ahi salads, incredible half-pound hamburgers, and delectable mango-garnished fish tacos.

W ho would expect find to find juicy steaks, fish tacos to die for, and a great glass of wine in a gas station??  Certainly not me!

The food is awesome, and so is the view.  It’s great to find a picnic table outside the Deli and gaze out over Mono Lake and the great Eastern Sierra.  We sat  and drank a creme root beer while the storm clouds crested the summit and blew over the lake.  Very nice!

WND is easy to find….go to the intersection of US 395 and CA 120 (Tioga Pass), go west(towards Yosemite) about 4oo hundred yards and you’ll see it!

 

A Tale of Two Breakfasts, and some Great Roads!

“….it was the best of times; it was the worst of times…” Well, actually with apologies to to Charles Dickens, the ride last weekend was the best of times. I was in search of a little mental refreshment, so Jennifer said, “Why don’t you go for a long ride?” Well, I didn’t need much more encouragement than that, so by 6:00 a.m. on Saturday I was gassed up and rolling for points north and west.

My goals were simple: One, I wanted to check out two of my favorite breakfast places and publish them on my blog, and two, I wanted to ride some long miles in places were there is little traffic! For any motorcyclist who lives in the LA environs, that is a worthy goal!

The BMW R1200RT is a master at eating up huge miles at high speeds. And so the adventure began as I shook off the damp, chilly, coastal air for the warmth of the deserts. I sped north on Interstate 5 past the sprawling suburbs on my way to CA 166 in the Central Valley.

I never get tired of the vista as I make my way north past Frazier Park; suddenly the mountains fall away, and the Great Valley, breadbasket to the world, spreads out in patchwork lushness in front of my spinning wheels! What a panorama!

CA 166 between Interstate 5 and CA 33 is a 22-mile razor-straight run right into Maricopa. It was hard to keep the bike near the 55 mph legal speed limit, as I sped past countless vineyards and new orange groves. I loved seeing the new groves. Could it be the dying petroleum industry around Maricopa has discovered agriculture? If so, perhaps it could mean new life for this tiny town, which is, by all accounts is nearly dead, starved by a lack of oil production.

Miles through the Oil Country

I downshift quickly past the big Shell station and turn right onto CA 33. The street is dusty and hot, with deserted buildings stretching past the tiny police department offices. I slow down, because amongst the decay exists a bright spot, known as “Tina’s Café.”

Tina’s is an awesome little place, full of local atmosphere. The walls are covered with displays of all sorts, from dolls to pictures. It is the kind of place the touristy corporate restaurants try to emulate and fall short, for so many reasons… Getting off the bike and stretching, I say hello to the old men eyeing me from the benches in front of the café. They smile and ask some questions about the RT: “What kind of bike is that?” “Looks fast, to me!” and the most common question, “I didn’t know BMW made motorcycles!”and on we go for a few minutes of delightful conversation.

Excusing myself, I go inside. Tina recognizes me because I’ve been here before. As usual she sings softly to herself, and laughs easily.

I am a breakfast eater. In fact, after a good breakfast, I can usually go the rest of the day without another full meal. Tina delivers on the great breakfast! The eggs are cooked perfectly to my liking, the bacon is thick and juicy, and the hash browns are extra-crispy, just as I like them. It’s probably a good thing Tina’s Café is a three hour ride from my house, or I’d probably have to rent some space at the cardiologist’s office!

One of the Best in the West!

Tina and I share some conversation and I tell her I must come back for dinner. She laughs and says I am missing out! After saying goodbye, I waddle out and throw a reluctant leg over the saddle, eager for a great ride.

CA 33 stretches out before me for seemingly endless miles. The oil rigs look like dinosaurs as their enormous beaks seek their food deep under the earth. The riding is wonderful! The road goes on and on, as I smile under my helmet, grateful for high speed, good food, and the thrill of the adventure ahead! I cannot help but think of my cousin Lonnie, who was a wildcatter up here on the oil rigs. He died way too young, the victim of an aggressive skin cancer…but I am sure he was watching and smiling as I sped through the places he lived his life!

Downshift and begin slowing about five miles out of Coalinga and avoid a California Good Drivers’ Certificate. Coalinga is a quintessential Central Valley town; a small town atmosphere, mom and pop stores, and agriculture is king. I stop for gas at the Chevron which has a great little deli which is worthy of its own write up. Not this time, as I’m eager to blast west on CA 198.

CA 198 is a tremendous moto-road. It races, dips, and twists through the coastal mountains to US 101. Local riders must have an absolute blast up here; pay attention; there are a few technical spots at the beginning, but for the most part it’s a delightful romp through the mountains.

Eager for more adventure I point the big BMW south to Jolon Rd which eventually takes me into Fort Hunter-Liggett. Since FHL is an active army base, make sure you have your DL, proof of insurance and current registration. If you have these documents you can ride Naciemento-Fergusson to CA 1.

A Tranquil Setting on the Base

To describe Naciemento-Fergusson wreaks havoc on this writer’s puny literary skills. The road defies description in that it is a singularly beautiful hour’s jaunt to the ocean. Tall, rugged mountains, huge redwoods, narrow switchbacks, majestic oaks, soaring hawks, and coastal fog clinging desperately to the rugged, golden-brown hillsides-it’s all there for you. Summer Coastal Fog along Big SurThere is nearly zero traffic here, butcareful on the many blind curves. There are no guardrails, and the ocean is a long way down! Make sure your bike is in great condition and is full of fuel too!

Once you empty off of NF Road, you have the choice to ride north toward Big Sur, or south toward Ragged Point and Hearst Castle. I flipped on my left blinker and headed south to lodging in San Luis Obispo…even though the ruggedness of the Big Sur slowly recedes in my mirrors there are many, many miles of incredible coastal beauty to still see. Check out the elephant seals, visit Hearst Castle, and go to the scenic little town of Morro Bay if time permits.

By 5:30 p.m. I was feeling good but tired. I pulled into the Motel 6 South in San Luis Obispo for a quiet night. I slept like a rock all night, no doubt dreaming about the roads I’d ridden and the food I’d eaten!

Naciemento Fergusson Road

Not much of a ride tale for Sunday since I just planned on riding south on US 101 to home. However, breakfast at Zaki’s was a treat. Zaki’s is located on Los Osos Rd at US 101, right next to the Am Pm Mini Mart. Well worth checking out!

“Zaki’s Golden Waffle” has been in business for about a year, and their reputation for serving awesome, hearty breakfasts is beginning to spread! While the building’s exterior lacks a certain curb appeal, it hides the tasty treasures one finds inside!

Zak, the owner is a great guy who truly loves his customers and good food! He greets every customer with a smile and a handshake. Zak is legit, and when you walk in you know you are a friend!

The food is tremendous. I suggest you go straight to the waffle, egg, and bacon combo. Fantastic! The waffle reminds me the ones my mom made; crispy and golden on the outside, and light doughy on the inside. Zakis is one of the few breakfast places around that cooks my eggs exactly as I like them, which is over medium. The yolks are slightly runny but the whites are firm and nicely seasoned. Ditto for the bacon. Not burned, but crispy . This great meal will set you back about 11 bucks if you leave a generous tip; and it is so big you can easily share it with a friend and still leave full!

Zak, the owner of Zaki's Golden Waffle

And, to top off the package, the coffee is hot, the cup is always full and the waitstaff follows Zak’s lead by being cheerful and very attentive in a down-home way!  Here’s a pic of Zak…say hi to hm when you stop in..

When in San Luis Obispo, “Zaki’s Golden Waffle” is a must-stop breakfast place. If you are disappointed in your meal, you can buy me lunch!

Thanks for coming along, and see you on the road.

Steve

 

Fantastic Food in Fillmore!

One of our favorite “mini” trips is to ride the Filmore-Ojai-beach route.  From Glendora we do our short hop onto the I-5 to CA 126 and head westbound.   CA 126 is a pretty nice little ride; not much traffic as we scoot through seemingly endless miles of avocado and orange groves.  It’s a great destination by itself if you are looking to buy fresh produce; there are several great stands along the way.  We favor “Cornejo’s,” which is nearest to Filmore.  Today, we were looking for a good lunch and a ride to the beach, and we did it on four wheels rather than two… J

 

img_nissan

We found the great food at “Yanni’s” right in the middle of town.  Yanni’s features Greek, American, and Mexican food in a very clean, cheerful atmosphere; you order at the counter from a person who actually smiles at you and then you find a seat.  From here on out, they serve you, which is nice.

The food was great!  J had a vegetarian gyro which was loaded with fresh, hot, olives, tomatoes, zucchini, onions, and a few other yummy veggies.  J reported it was one of the best hot veggie sandwiches she’d ever eaten!  For me, I tried the pastrami sandwich, double-dipped.  The pastrami was very lean with a smoky after taste which was quite good.  If you enjoy “The Hat” for pastrami, you’ll like Yanni’s, though this pastrami is trimmed much closer.  To me, the smokiness of the meat combined with a healthy dollop of honey mustard did the trick!

Yanni’s rates another visit.  The breakfast plates looked awesome, particularly the 7 oz rib eye and egg combo for $7.50, as did the Greek combo plates.  We’ll be back!

Yanni's Interior

Anyway, Yanni’s is a worthy stop if you find yourself in Filmore.  It is a welcome break from the fast food places that line CA 126 through the center of town.

We continued up CA 126 to CA 150 and headed toward Ojai.  Very beautiful scenery as the road dips and twists through canyons and past scenic vistas of the Ojai valley.  Exercise caution as road construction is going on at the last set of curves before descending down into Ojai Valley.  Lots of sand in the apexes…  From here, we cruised through Meiners Oaks, a sleepy little village next to Ojai, and then out to Lake Casitas.

This is great riding country, but show some restraint with the right wrist.  This section of road is pretty heavily patrolled by the Ventura Co Sheriff and CHP.  We saw several dejected riders receiving performance awards…ouch!  Besides, what’s the rush?  The scenery is gorgeous, hawks wheel through the sky, and the lake views are crystalline.

Lake Casitas is a beautiful spot with camping, boating and fishing
Lake Casitas is a beautiful spot with camping, boating and fishing

CA 150 finally spills out onto the coast at Carpinteria.  J and I parked and walked around town for a bit.  It was fun being a tourist, just stretching the legs and checking out the beach scene.  Carpinteria bills itself as having the “world’s safest beach.”  I don’t know if that’s true, but it is a great beach to play on…especially if you have small children.  The beach is very flat with no drop offs, and the surf is negligible-very easy to launch a kayak as well!

And that was it!  From here we simply jumped on US 101 and ran straight east, back to Glendora and home.  An hour later we were pulling into our driveway, with big smiles, and happy to share this adventure with you!

 

Details:

Yanni’s Restaurant

736 W Ventura

Filmore CA

805 524-1501

 

 

 

A Quick Blast thru the San Gabriels

One of the best things about living in Glendora CA is being five minutes away from some incredible motorcycle riding.  So, after taking care of some household chores, I fired up the R1200RT and headed north into the foothills for some semi-spirited canyon carving!  First, up Mt. Baldy Ave (you access this north of the city of Claremont-take Indian Hill, Padua or Mountain to get here) up into the mountains.  Surprisingly, there wasn’t much traffic for a Memorial Saturday.  Hey, fine with me as the RT lit up the canyons…

Mt Baldy road climbs steadily into the mountains.  The smog gives way to clean, pine-scented air, and the temps drop a bit.  Just north of Baldy Village the road becomes a one way affair past the “Movie Slopes” made famous as a movie location in the 1930’s.  Check out the little café here…prices are reasonable and the burgers are pretty good.  Didn’t stop to eat this time, so you’ll have to trust me on this.. 🙂  Continuing north the road narrows.  Downshift and ease carefully into about seven or eight serious hairpin turns before the road ends at the chair lift.  I stopped for a couple of minutes to take in the fresh clean air and then headed back down to the village and the beginning of Glendora Mountain Road (GMR).

Great little snack bar in a locally historic location. Check out the burgers
Great little snack bar in a locally historic location. Check out the burgers

Before you jump onto GMR, The Mt Baldy Lodge is a great place for a glass of iced tea!  And, if you are looking for a weekend getaway, the Lodge also rents very quaint rooms.  J and I checked them out, and they are nice-fireplaces, front porches, etc.  Cost is around $90 and up depending on what you want…  Anyway, back to the ride!

And that was about it!  Total miles was about 40, but there were about 9 zillion curves in those 40 miles…well, perhaps I exaggerate a bit, but if you are in So Cal and looking for a  great moto road, GMR has it all!

A quaint spot...dinner, dancing and little cabins in the back. Very cozy
A quaint spot…dinner, dancing and little cabins in the back. Very cozy

GMR is a fantastic moto-road!  I sort of hate to “out” it here, but those who know GMR are faithful visitors every weekend.  And, what’s not to love?  Super twisty, great views, and very clean, most of the time, it’s not a fast road, but really fun to ride…

Happy Riding!GMR is Empty Today

Glendora Mtn Road, in the shadow of the San Gabriels
Glendora Mtn Road, in the shadow of the San Gabriels

Enjoy it before it gets too warm up in the canyons!

See you on the road…

Steve

 

Riding to Torrey…

"I'm ready to go!"
"I'm ready to go!"

Twice a year, in the fall an the spring, a group of friends, most of us belonging to www.bmwsporttouring.com, ride to Torrey Utah for great roads, fellowship, and fun.  I was really excited to attend the May bash because my lovely wife, Jennifer said she’d come along.  J is an accomplished pillion, having ridden probably 60,000 miles with me on the  back of our various BMW motorcycles.

So, last Friday we saddled up for the long ride to Mesquite, Nv for our first night.  Maybe it’s the recession, but the traffic out of the LA area and 0nto the 15 NB wasn’t too bad.  And so it went…we blasted up the I-15, only nearly getting killed by errant drivers twice.  Not bad for the hordes of caffeinated cagers who roar north in search of the pot of gold known as Las Vegas.  We pulled into Mesquite around nine p.m. and stayed at the Falcon Ridge Hotel.  Note:  Garmin says the address of this very nice place is on Mesquite Way.  Not so, grasshoppers…it’s up on the western cliffs, clearly visible from the freeway!

You’d think J would be tired, but not the case…”Honey, let’s go eat ice cream.  I think I spotted a Baskin Robbins down the street.” I replied, “Yep, I saw one-it’s about a mile down the road.”  So, after riding 298 miles in 90+ degrees heat, we walked to BR.  The ice cream was delicious.  What more can I say?

The next morning we knew the ride would be hot…so up at 5:30 a.m. and downstairs for the hotel’s breakfast.  Not bad!  The waffles were very good and the fruit was fresh.  We passed on the eggs-not too attractive to either J or me.

We were on the road by 7:00 a.m. and hurtling toward Utah 12 and riding nirvana. Finally off the freeway we climbed up into the mountains.  Believe it when I say the snow was refreshing after riding through the blast furnace we call the southern deserts!

J does the Happy Dance, glad to be out of the heat!
J does the Happy Dance, glad to be out of the heat!

Utah 12 is a remarkable road as it dips and twists ever higher into the mountains…. Gradually the hot desert gives way to pines, grassy meadows  and phenomenal views in the distant Wasatch.   Traffic is light and we dance through the twisties; it’s a testament to engineering that the RT feels so light and nimble in this environment!And so it continues, all the way down to Utah 89.   By now my co-pilot is hungry, and she’s ready to stop.  We pull into Hatch, Utah at the Adobe Cafe.  What a great little eatery!   J and I shared a shared a fresh veggie sandwich on a hoagie roll and an order of the best french fries we’ve ever tasted. I spoke to the chef, who told me his secret:   the fries are dipped in beer before frying!Well, as great as the fries were, the “Laredo Tornado” was the coup de grace…a big bowl of very rich ice cream garnished with whipped cream, caramel and crystalized cinnamon sugar surrounded by fried rolls stuffed with apple and cinnamon.  One bite, and I knew I’d entered heaven on earth…phenomenal.  J helped me eat it, but I’ll take credit for pounding most of it down.  The Adobe Cafe is a place you need to try while cruising through Hatch Utah! Just remember to slow down, or you might miss it.  Back on the road, hunger satisfied, we rode through the fabulous red rock of Bryce Canyon and into Escalante.  Magnificent views that last forever practically force you off the bike for pix and visiting with the many foreign visitors who share the turnouts with you.  Of course, the Germans are very vocal about our choice of motorcycles!  A group of elderly Germans poured out of their motorhome and waxed eloquently about the virtues of BMW, and they all invited us to visit them if we ever get to Germany.  Is there any other way to travel than by motorcycle?  I doubt it

Near Bryce Canyon

Did you ever overdose on incredible roads and scenery?  So it was for J and I by the time we finally turned onto Utah 24 and Torrey.  We pulled into Torrey, yanked the gear off and had some dinner at the “CW” deli and country store.  After pastrami sandwiches and some veggie dishes we were ready to enjoy our friends and relax.

Torrey is a wonderful place to visit.  Many thanks to Al for checking out my headset, and the boys and girls who joined us at dinner for some tall tales and laughs!  The pictures of the “Clamato Kid” will have to wait for another story.  I’m sure “The Kid” is grateful for that…We cannot wait for September and our next Torrey visit!

The next morning we fired up the RT and blew out of town with Brian, Carl, and Jerry.  They are much faster riders than us and soon we were riding alone, savoring the incredible red rock, blue skies and fantastic greenery of the land around us…And about the rest of the ride home on Sunday, you might ask?  It was HOT, over 114 in Baker.  Still J and I powered through, kickstand down around 6 p.m., after a nearly 10 hour ride.   It was a long, hot, ride home, but when I think about being able to see old friends, and make some new ones, it was worth it!

See you on the next adventure!

J and I Near Escalante
J and I Near Escalante