Woo hoo! A New Motorcycle!

Well, new to us, at least!  Jennifer and I bought a 2002 R1150 GSA from a very good friend a couple of months ago and we are really enjoying it!  I don’t normally name my motorcycles, but if I did, “Bikeopotamus” would be it!  The big black GSA is a tall, heavy motorcycle that can take us pretty much anywhere we want to go!

We’ve done a few modifications to make Bikeopotamus a more comfortable sport touring machine…We recently rode to Ojai and had Bill Mayer Saddles make us a new seat.  We’ll post some pix soon!  We also slipped on some Shinko dual sport tires.  So far they are great on the upaved   Southern California roads we have around here, and they seem pretty durable as well.  We’ve ridden the bike about 6,000 miles since we purchased the first week of April, and so far the tires are doing great!  A Cee Bailey’s windscreen rounds out the comfort accessories…at speed, the CB wraps the wind around my head rather than buffeting it all around.   Thanks, Steve Clavin of Cee Bailey’s.  You rock!  Finally a “Versa” LED brake light modification  from www.aerostich.com will hopefully keep some driver from riding over the top of us from behind.  Those eight LED lights are really bright!

Here is a pic, taken up in the local San Gabriel mountains…

BMW GSA in the Mountains

See you on the road, and ride safely!

Steve and J


A 400 mile Odyssey for Ribs and Musings Along the Way

Is 400 miles to far to ride for some great BBQ?  How about to visit your family AND eat great BBQ?  I had read that the best BBQ in Arizona could be had not more than 20 miles from my son’s place, so the answer to both these questions is an unqualified “NO!”  So, I hopped on the R12RT and set a course east on Interstate 10 for the little city of Maricopa AZ. 

The ride was pretty uneventful as riding the “slab” can be, but the never-ending desert scenery was pretty, and made prettier by the recent rains.  And, I took a well deserved break in Quartzite, AZ for lunch, which broke the ride up a bit.  Quartzite is an amazing place.  In the summer it’s hot and deserted.  In the winter months, everyone from the northern climes moves here, so the desert floor is speckled with RV parks.  In town they hold a swap meet that has all kinds of stuff no one buys. Or at least I hope no one buys.  How about a giant plastic chicken?  Or a rug with a giant beer can stitched on it?  What about a cow skull?  I wonder how the shoppers can cram their new found treasures into their RVs?  I imagine the conversations when the ‘snowbirds’ migrate north again:  “That’s a big plastic chicken, doncha know?”  “You betcha, eh?”

Quartzite Rooster 

After a bemused visit to the vendors, I stopped at “Sweet Darlene’s” restaurant.  Built in a big steel shed, this restaurant probably sat 300 people at a time!  It was huge, with waittresses scurrying around, customers visiting each other, and loads of food being delivered.  Darlene hit all the right notes for a successful place:  very inexpensive, good food, easy parking, and fast turn over.  I sat next to Ron, an 80+ year old man who told me about his life in the special forces, his work at JPL, and finally as he warmed up, all his conspiracy theories about energy, 911, and President Obama.  I was pleasantly entranced by his conversation as I finished off a plate of $2.39 bacon, eggs, and hash browns.  I really liked Ron.  Here he is:

Despite being constantly amazed by how much adventure one can find simply by stopping and talking to people, I was on a mission. 

So, 400 tire-squaring miles later, I downshifted into my son’s driveway where I was met by my hungry son, James, his lovely wife, Chanin, and their baby, Gavin.  Or, as I like to refer to him as “El Jefe.”  Of course I had forgotten the time zone change, so I didn’ t immediately notice the glazed look of hunger in there eyes. 

We hopped into their car and took off for Gilbert, AZ, a rapidly growing suburb of Phoenix.  Gilbert is trying to hold onto it’s old west individuality, so the down town area is quaint, but I couldn’t help remembering the Gilbert of 30 years ago! 

All those thoughts were pushed aside, because downtown Gilbert is the home of “Joe’s Real BBQ.”  And real it is.  The meats are laboriously slow cooked over pecan wood fires which leaves the meat red, juicy, hot, and loaded with a smoky finish that is delightful! 

Well, apparently everyone else in Arizona also thinks it’s delightful.  We pulled up and were greeted by a forty-minute wait that spilled out into the street…surprisingly the line moved fairly quickly.  The menu here is pretty bssic:  ribs, chicken, pulled pork, and bbq’d beef are the mainstays.  I suppose you could order a salad, but hey, what are you, a communist or something?  I will say they have a huge selection of soft drinks including homemade rootbeer that is pretty good.  You pick what you want off a selection board, then move to a serving counter where a courteous yet business- like young person gives you the meat and side dishes you orderd.  Fortunately, there are lots of tables, and we got to our table with stomach’s rumbling.

Chanin ordered the giant baked potato with pulled pork while James and I orded the pork ribs.  Gavin ate Cheerios and anything else we put with his little one year old grasp!  Well, we made short work of our meals.  The ribs were great.  Nearly fall-off-the-bone tender with just the right amount of charring, they were pretty much irresistable.  The baked potato was gigantic, and the side dishes such as macaroni and cheese, corn, and corn bread were pretty good, though the mac ‘n cheese could have used a nice baked finish…

Joe's Ribs are Delicious!

An hour later we waddled out, and my wallet for the three of us was only lighter by about $38.  Not bad for the best BBQ I’ve tasted in Arizona!

By the way, here is the contact information for Joe’s should you decide to go down there and sample it yourself:

Joe’s Real BBQ

Until next time, enjoy the road, and the adventure!


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.