Saturday, April 30, 2016

SoCal Weekend Trips Part Two

SoCal Weekend Trips Part Two (Series)

Story and Photos by Jim Foreman

Eager for more travel, the subject of where to visit has hit, for a second round.  Spring has finally joined us in full stride.  Most of Southern California enjoys spring and summer weather all year long, making anytime a great time for moto journeys.

Sometimes those journeys are with riding buddies.  Maybe, it’s riding two-up, just you and your partner.  For a select few, the calling of a solo adventure is what drives one’s passions.  Regardless of one’s preferred travel style, here’s two more great weekend destinations using Los Angeles as a center point.  Since there are so many great destinations, that this topic is being broken up into multiple parts. 

When imagining all the many locations one could reach on a three-day, Friday to Monday weekend, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.  Yes, paralysis from over-analysis is real! Because of this, some arbitrary factors are impressed to make these journeys easy and accessible to most riders.  For some, this list will bring back awesome memories of voyages past.  For others, it will serve as inspiration and realization that the motorcycle is an excellent means to do overnight traveling. 

If you have yet to make an overnight trip on your bike, please read this story that simplifies and explains how to have a great time traversing on your moto.

Since everyone’s riding stamina is a bit different, I decided to cap the daily distance at 400 miles.  For many riders, especially on sportbikes, 400 miles is a long day.  The daily mileage, on average, will be much shorter. 

Another stipulation is that it needs to be three days, in duration.  Often, an extra day may be added, but the trip should be complete, in three days.

Finally, the skill level necessary has to include 95% of riders.  The focus is mostly street riding.  There are numerous dual-sport opportunities in the Southland.  The goal here is to be inclusive.  If you wish to share a dual-sport experience, please do.  It's easy to envision a complete story dedicated to unpaved roads.

Here are two more interesting, exciting and, in some cases, surprising destinations that can make for a memorable weekend that will make all of your friends envious.

Palm Springs, CA

According to the Official Palm Springs Visitors Website, “Palm Springs served as a winter playground for Hollywood stars like Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich, Bob Hope, and Loretta Young. Today's stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Dakota Fanning, Halle Berry and Gwen Stefani continue to seek relaxation just hours away from the Hollywood glitz. European royalty and business tycoons all come to enjoy the endless sunshine and serenity of the desert.”

The Saguaro Palm Springs
Palm Springs serves as an oasis in the desert with spectacular dining and diverse lodging options from the opulent to 50’s kitsch.  Surprisingly walkable along the main strip, in all but the summer months, it’s a great place to base a weekend stay.

Getting there from Los Angeles is super easy.  Most folks would hop on I-10 and head east until the 111 and veer off to Palm Springs.  That’s fine if you’re in a hurry or four-wheeling it. 

There are a few alternatives that make the journey much more diverse.  One option is to head south on Pacific Coast Highway or I-5 until Hwy 74 and take Ortega Hwy over to Elsinore and continue through Hemet. 

After the town of Valle Vista, your journey up the mountain transforms the mundane into the desirable.   CA-74 takes you to the backside of Idyllwild through a marvelous G-1 (Butler Maps Designation) series of twists and turns, to the top.

From the top, known as Mountain Center, continue on 74 until you arrive in Palm Desert.  Your dining and accommodation choices will determine where you go from there. 
Trips from Palm Springs

On Saturday, You have many options.  One could reverse course on the 74 and take it to the 231 (Palms to Pines Highway and enjoy lunch in Idyllwild.  From there, take it to the valley floor for an epic ride.  Reverse it, to get back to your hotel for a fun-filled extravaganza of twists and turns guaranteed to wear down the sides of your tires.

Another option is to head west, a little bit on I-10, toward Mentone and connect with CA-38 up to Big Bear Lake.  The higher elevation will be refreshing, and the roads will keep you sharp and excited.

Big Bear Lake
At Big Bear Lake, head west on the 18 and take the 330 down to the valley floor, again to return to Palm Springs. 

Many details and information of Big Bear and Highway 18 are in this story.

After either of these destinations, you will probably be well-worn with excitement and thrills and want to settle in for an exquisite meal, complete with your favorite adult beverages.

A third option combines fun and relaxation with Joshua Tree National Park.  You’ll need to bring your swim trunks or bikini.  Please, guys, leave your bikini or mankini at home.  With your swim attire packed, make your way to Box Canyon.  Follow it along until you cross Interstate 10 and enter Joshua Tree National Park.  Do make sure your bike’s sound system or Bluetooth helmet speakers have U2’s album ‘The Joshua Tree” cued up and playing quite loud, as you make your trek.  Do stop by the visitors center and pay your park fee or have your National Parks Annual Pass ready.  If you don’t, you’ll pay upon exit and have to make up a stupid story on why you thought it was OK not to pay.

Joshua Tree is a brilliant run.  With many points of interest, it can take a significant portion of the day.  You can find details and learn more from this previous story

Miracle Spa - Desert Hot Springs
Now for the swimwear, off of CA-62, you will have the option of various hot springs that you can affordably get a day-pass to visit.  An hour in the healing mineral waters can make any tense muscles relax and bring you down to a more peaceful state. If you are so inclined, there is even the clothing-optional Living Waters Spa.

Riding CA-62 is it’s own fun back down to the valley and connecting up with Palm Springs again. 

Palm Springs Arial Tramway
The final day, there are still options.  Consider a couple of hours on the Palm Springs Arial Tramway.  This California treasure is well worth the reasonable cost of admission and a remarkable way to experience a different side of the region.  While it may be hot at the base, it’ll be cool, at the top.

Another way to return home, the long way, is to head south and hit Anzo Borrego and then Palomar Mountain going up from Lake Henshaw and down Palomar Mountain Road.  From there find I-15 back to the 91 or 60 and into Los Angeles.

All the options, riding, and exotic destinations make Palm Springs a great weekend for rich and plentiful motorcycling adventures.


You’re probably saying, “Wait a minute.  Ensenada is in Mexico, isn’t it?”  Yes, Ensenada is in Mexico.  Please refer to this story for the information you’ll need to know to ride your bike in Mexico

Mexico is an easy and fascinating destination that is affordable, attractive and exciting.  The recently re-opened Scenic Highway between Tijuana and Ensenada is both breathtaking in beauty, and challenging as a rider. 

Getting to the Mexican Border is simple from Los Angeles.  One can travel east and run south on I-15 or take I-5 south for a cooler coastal route. 

After the border crossing and getting Pesos at the ATM in the Blue SAT building, take the Zona Rio South.

You won't need a Visa or TVIP (Temprary Vehicle Import Permit) if you're staying in Baja and you'll be 72 hours or less.  If staying longer than 72 hours, you should get a Visa, though nobody checks that you have one.  7 day Visas are free.  Remember to return it (which can be a pain) before leaving.  The two things you MUST have before you enter Mexico are a Passport/Passcard and Mexican Auto or Moto Insurance.  There are many reputable brokers, but my preferred source is Mexican Insurance Unless your bike is over 15 years old, the full coverage Ace Platinum is highly recommended.  If it is over 15 years old, you can still get full coverage, but you'll have to call in.  Otherwise, it's liability only.  If you have any problem, both Ace Seguros and Mexican Insurance Store will be there to help you.  Ace will get your claim solved and settled much faster and with much less hassle, than even your home carrier.  

Tijuana has a heavenly place for lunch and is a great place start to your Mexican adventure.

Tacos Kokopelli - Tijuana
Tacos Kokopelli is renown by Mexicans as one of the best places for tacos in Tijuana.   See the valet about parking your bikes on the sidewalk in front of the cafe.  Please remember to tip him 20 or 30 Pesos ($1.25-$1.75USD)  He's remarkably helpful, loves motorcycles, and speaks good English.
From there, it’s an easy run south on the main road to the Scenic Road to Ensenada.

Mex 1D - Scenic Highway from Tijuana to Ensenada
Ensenada is only 65 miles south of the border, but it's lightyears away from the lifestyle, back home.  Motorcycles traveling on the Scenic Highway will need to pay two tolls of $14MX each.  As of April 2016, the US Dollar exchanges for around $17MX.

There are many accommodation choices within EnsenadaAirBnB has several offerings, also.  Ensenada caters extremely well to visitors and has many big-city amenities and options.

While it doesn’t take too long to get into Ensenada, you’ll probably be a little tired as the riding is more intense in Mexico.  It’s best to check into your hotel or AirBnB accommodations and drop off your stuff.   If you’re still up for a little riding, consider a run to La Bufadora.

La Bufadora or, the blowhole, in English, is a naturally occurring rock formation that causes water to shoot up simulating a whale’s blowhole. The action happens when the tide is coming in.  Check a tide chart app or look at the position of the moon to determine the best time to go.  The best viewpoint is a natural overlook from up high.  Going down into the village is fun, but crowded.  One can ride the full way, to the end. 

Natural Overlook above La Bufadora
To get there, head south on the main north/south road and follow the huge signs to La Bufadora.
On Saturday, there are several options for day-long riding.  One is to head east on MX 3 toward San Felipe.  The roadway is excellent and visually pleasing.  Mike’s Sky Ranch is found, along the way, close to the San Felipe end.  Reservations to Mike's Sky Ranch can be made by calling +1 52-664-681-5514.  If staying, Saturday night, in San Felipe, you can enjoy lunch and do a quick and fun run to Gonzaga Bay.  Otherwise, riding back the same way is still fun and visually different, each direction.

Mama Espinoza's in El Rosario
Another option is to head south on Highway 1 to El Rosario and Mama Espinosa’s for lunch.  Then return to Ensenada for another night.  That way you can abandon your luggage at the hotel. Here's a map of the region.  Alternatively, you can travel all the way to Cataviña and stay the night at the Hotel Mision Cataviña.  The road approacing El Rosario and onward to Cataviña is superb and very exciting for motorcyclists.  Again, Butler Maps would rate it G-1.  El Rosario also has two very nice hotels.  Mama Espinosa's is one and Baja Cactus is the other.  If you wish to stay in El Rosario or Cataviña, reservations are highly recommended, due to it's off-road popularity.  Regardless of your accommodations, do make sure you fuel up at El Rosario before heading further south.

Map of the wine region known as Valle de Guadalupe
Sunday, I recommend heading to the wine region of Valle de Guadalupe.   Make a plan to stop there for lunch.  It’s about 30 minutes northeast of Ensenada.  There are several unique dining options to cater to a variety of palates.

Restaurante Mustafa
A local favorite with superb food is Restaurante Mustafa.  Coming from Morocco, Mustafa Ali brings excellent local and Mediterranean cuisine to the wine region.  Prices are for locals, so the value is phenomenal.  Do save some room for their home made Apple Pie.  It will blow your mind!  charming and modern accommodations are also available.  Send a message on the Restaurante Mustafa Facebook Page or call to make reservations.

Encuentro - Valle de Guadalupe
Further up are two additional noteworthy wineries.  The ultra exquisite Encuentro serves up Napa grade dining and overnight accommodations.  The cabanas along the crest of the hill are available for the night.  They range in price from $250US to $350US a night.

La Esperanza Baja Med
La Esperanza Baja Med (L.A. Cetto on the map) is where locals go for an impressive meal and culinary experience.  Master Chef Miguel Angel Guerrero brings his special blend of locally sourced food, excellent wines and delightful ambiance to this world renown destination. Well regarded as a must, to impress one’s partner, La Esperanza BajaMed is the insider's dining option in the region.

Tecate, Baja California
From Valle de Guadelupe, continue north to Tecate, as in the beer!  The twists and turns would earn a G-1 rating from Butler Maps.  Tecate, BC is where Cerveza Tecate originates.  Tecate is a great town and a great place to cross over, back to the US.  Bikes enter where the cars do, but that’s where the similar rules end.  Stay to the left and ride all the way to the front.  5-minute wait! Hooray!

Once stateside, the ride up to Jamul, CA is a bonus treat with some great corners and scenery.

Part Three, in the series, will include destinations to Yosemite National Park and San Luis Obispo.

When you're in Southern California, please visit Irv Seaver BMW in Orange County, CA. Irv Seaver BMW has the largest selection of the latest BMW Motorcycles and one of the most extensive pre-owned motorcycle selections in California.
Master Chef Miguel Angel Guerrero (left) with a plate of octopus
Arial shot of Hotel Mision Cataviña
Museo de Historia

Motel at Mama Espinoza's in El Rosario
Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa
Downtown Ensenada
Mouth watering tacos at Kokopelli
Ensenada Sunset
Riding along Big Bear Lake
Palm Springs at night
Cruise Passengers from Los Angeles in Ensenada

©2016 Jim Foreman All Rights Reserved.

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