Great Food in the California Oilfields

The roads are straight, it’s hot and dry, and the smell of oil sometimes hangs in the air…The area around Maricopa/Taft and points north on CA 33 pulses with oil drilling activity.  The wells look somehow like giant dinosaurs dipping their beaks to the ground in a rhythmic pattern, while miles of glistening silver tubing carry the precious black gold to points unknown.

Yet, in my opinion, there is beauty here as well.  The hills in the distance wave and roll for miles on end, and the ribbon of asphalt that runs thru is largely unpopulated by heavy traffic.  It’s a great area to ride, and made even more so, by some tremendous places to eat…

In this blog entry I want to introduce you to the McKittrick Hotel, located near the intersection of CA 33 and 58.  Yep, you guessed it…it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere!

No Longer a Hotel but a Great Place to Eat

Now a cafe, the portions are generous and the prices are reasonable.  The McKittrick is also known for its signature dish, their famous ribeye steak.  People drive from as far as Fresno and Bakersfield to sample this tasty meat!

Second Best Steak in the World!

The trick is, you need to be here on Thursday at 11:00 a.m. to make sure you can bite into one of these…Otherwise, gamble on the hope the McKittrick doesn’t run out, which it may.  For me, I was lucky.  I sauntered in around noon on a Saturday and asked, “Do you have any of those lunch sized rib eyes?”  Fortunately, the answer was yes, so I dove into salad, rolls, a coke, and about 12 oz of incredibly juicy, delicious steak.  Wow.

In an hour I managed to eat most of it, and staggered outside in a total meat coma.  After a brisk walk around “town,” I was able to mount the bike and continue on…

More later,



Good Eats in San Pedro

Are you hungry?  If so, you owe it to yourself to check out “The Gaffey Street Diner” in downtown San Pedro…the Diner is easy to find.  Just take the San Pedro fwy from downtown LA to it’s end at Gaffey Street.  Turn left onto Gaffey, go about two hundred yards, and the diner is on the right side of the street.  A couple of caveats…parking can be a bit problematic, especially on weekend mornings, when it seems that everyone is San Pedro is having breakfast here!  My advice is to ride your motorcyle for hassle-free parking.

 Gaffey Street Diner has a full assortment of the usual breakfast fare as well as specials you might not see at the typical diner.  Whatever you order, the portions are huge, the service is friendly, and the food is delicious!  ‘And, if you are not in the mood for breakfast, or one of their killer sandwiches, Gaffey Street is now serving dinner.  J and I are going to have to come  back after five in the evening, and give them a try-if dinner is as scrumptious as breakfast and lunch we can’t lose!

Today, J and I decided on lunch.  She ordered a veggie burger, which was a boca burger garnished with all the fresh trimmings, plus a large portion of Gaffey Street’s seasoned fries.  For me, it was a bbq ham sandwich…

BBQ Ham Sandwich

Gaffey Street Diner is not the cheapest breakfast eatery around, but I think you will be satisfied with your dining experience here! 

See you on the road, and ride safely!

Steve and J


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?


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!
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.
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!
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!

“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!