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!
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!

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