Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: February 2013


Ohio car drivers. Need I say more?

I guess looking for vehicular trouble has been ingrained in the minds and hearts of native Ohioans since the advent of the horseless carriage.

My views of Ohio drivers haven't changed much despite now living in the northern part of the state. I openly admit to making fun of Ohioans and the incompetent way most of them operate their cars. I've been here long enough to see the unnecessary absurdity and danger to others that many a driver makes on the road here on a daily basis. And I don't mean little things like flashing the left turn signal when turning right. I mean things like cut offs, speeding, and driving on the wrong side of the road. Frankly, if it wasn't for my motorcycle experience, I probably would've been toast by now with many of the close calls I've had in the three and a half years I've lived here.


Food Review: Menchie's Frozen Yogurt (Willoughby, OH)

After a workout and a yoga session a few weeks ago, I went to hang out with my co-worker at Menchies in Willoughby. Never tried this place, and apparently they're all over California too. In terms of frozen yogurt bars, I admit to never walking into a Pinkberry (a similar store) back at home because the lines were always out the door, but now I understand why people like places like this so much. Fortunately nobody wanted to stand in line for frozen yogurt in late January up here.

When you walk into the place, you're immediately greeted by a worker and all of your yogurt choices against the wall in self-serve machines. It's simple to start your yogurt journey, just grab a cup (with a waffle cone or a brownie at no extra charge) and have at it.

Here are some of the featured flavors at this location. They do get rotated on a regular basis, and there is always your basic chocolates and vanillas, but some of these are quite unique.

After choosing the yogurts, go for the toppings.

My little combination was a sampler of several types of yogurts, some hot fudge, and a few fresh fruit pieces. You can pile as little or as much as you want in your cup because of their loose pricing structure: they charge you by the ounce. (It's 45 cents an ounce at this location.) So, if you came in with pocket change, take it easy on the cup.

Menchie's also has a series of mascots that grace multiple types of merchandise ranging from buttons to shirts, hats, and even Christmas tree ornaments. It's very cute, and with the atmosphere being very open and casual, it's great to take a friend or a date. And those funny mascots they even greet you on the way to the bathroom. It's also a great place for kids to hang out (there's a chalkboard/activity center in the corner of the store).

I definitely recommend this healthier alternative to regular ice cream. For more information about this self-serve yogurt chain, visit their website at

Menchie's Frozen Yogurt on Urbanspoon


CCW Class and Basic Gun Training with 4YourDefense (Mt. Sterling, OH)

This is what I did with Matt and our guns this weekend. We got to know them a little better.

I have never shot my pistol in 20 degrees with a 10MPH wind, but it was definitely an experience to be out there being tested for basic marksmanship and proper gun handling in the freezing cold.
As part of the path to obtaining a CCW (carry concealed weapon) license in the state of Ohio, we took the required 12-hour training course with 4YourDefense, a CCW license certification course run by the husband of one of Matt's co-workers. Aside from bringing other coworkers along to enjoy the day with us, it's also the least expensive place to take the class in Central Ohio. With the thoroughness of the material, the comprehensive course, and the experience of both of the instructors who taught both the classroom and range portions of the day, it was well worth the time and the drive from Columbus to Mt. Sterling, about 30-40 minutes south of the city.

The class itself went through several modules. At the beginning, we went through the basics including understanding the parts of a gun, how a bullet is fired, basic gun grip, and firing techniques. We then went to the outdoor range to put those lessons into practice and to pass the qualification portion of the course which involved shooting at a target approximately 7ft. away (the average distance of an assailant in a conceal carry situation) while demonstrating the safe way to handle a gun. After the range exercises, we returned to the classroom to discuss the reality of making the conscious decision to carry a firearm every day and the scenarios when a gun would have to come into play. It was a very eye-opening course that really made me more aware of what I need to do as a citizen to decrease my chances of being victimized in a crime.

The choice to obtain a CCW license is not a light one. It is a heavy responsibility to carry a weapon at all times for personal defense. It is also one with a bit of a stigma with even the thought of carrying a weapon in a public area. Unfortunately, my home state (California) does not have a very favorable image of guns because of the amount of crimes that are committed with them (and the innocent people who are victimized because of their inability to use them). I wonder how long it will take until someone realizes that "Gun Free Zone," as safe as it may sound in theory, is a euphemism for "I'm vulnerable, please attack now."

So that leads me to my take on firearms. Agree or disagree if you'd like. And really, I don't need to hear the debate about "guns are bad, they kill people, ban them, etc." I'm not big on political arguments and this is simply my opinion. Save yourself the time and don't try to sway me the other way, because I'm not going to waste energy to change your mind.
There are many people out there who refuse to take responsibility for their own actions. I know this because I've lived a good portion of my life with people who stuck to their choices although they were very destructive. The downright unwillingness to admit a mistake is a hubris that comes from an excessive amount of pride and the need to make oneself look better than others. But for me, the definition of a great person is one who can temper that high regard for oneself with the understanding that it does not make one a lesser (wo)man by needing to reassess and adjust their ways if the occasion arises.
With that being said, it is, and always has been, an easy cop-out to blame the objects used in a catastrophic event rather than the carelessness of the operators who utilize them. As a motorcyclist, I hear this argument all too well, when I get the non-motorcyclists who tell me that I'm on a "donorcycle" or a "suicide machine." The motorcycle itself is not what kills you; the onus is on the operators of the vehicle to do everything in their power to operate the unit as safely as they can while avoiding the obstacles in front of them. If we used this rationale on every tool we use in society, be it a gun, a car, a hammer, or a pencil, we would be not just be fearful of the tools, but of the things we can potentially achieve by utilizing them in a humanity-building manner.
It boils down to common sense. If it is absolutely obvious that a dangerous person has access to a dangerous object, there must be guidelines in place to make sure that the aforementioned person does not obtain the object! Unfortunately, there aren't the right policies or enough enforcement in place to block the DANGEROUS people.
For the rest of us who simply choose to live our lives in safety, the 2nd Amendment of United States Constitution affords the right "of the people to keep and bear arms" and defend ourselves from tyranny, both foreign and domestic. It's not the foreign tyranny I'm not afraid of (that's what our military is for); it's the domestic tyranny, the people within our own society who choose, by whatever influences they have, to inflict harm on their fellow man. And that is why I chose to learn how to defend myself, using the same tools used by those who work to uphold our laws. If you fall into the group of people who believe that you have the right to live your life confidently, then taking a CCW class is for you.

So after 12 hours of classroom, range shooting, and a written test, this was a certificate I was happy to earn at the end of the day. Even if you're not planning to conceal carry a firearm anytime soon, a little education about one of the most important tools in our society can go a long way. If you're in Ohio, check out the guys of 4YourDefense at They're a great resource for any information regarding obtaining the CCW license in this state.


Avoid the mistakes my "parents" made: Go to your kid's wedding. It's more than worth it.

I found this video after following a link off a Twitter feed and quite inspired it, one reason being that I'm a videographer who has done several weddings. But aside from that, I was intrigued by the backstory of this moment captured on film. The bride's father was obviously missing from this moment as he had passed away just weeks before the wedding of pancreatic cancer. In response to this, her brother recorded a rendition of their father's favorite song, "Butterfly Kisses" by Eric Carlisle, while she danced with several of the important male family members in her life, including her new father-in-law. I have to admit, it did bring a tear to my eye watching this beautiful moment unfold in gorgeous, cinematic videography (awesome camera and editing job by Michael LaFrance).

I myself have a bit of a common tie with bride in this video; we both have parents who did not attend the wedding.


Food Review: Burger Nuts (Willoughby, OH)

**UPDATE: Burger Nuts at this location is closed. I do not know the current state of the actual business, but this store isn't around anymore.**

Burger King made the phrase "Have it your way" a trademark slogan for many years. Burger Nuts in Willoughby takes it very literally with a menu filled with thousands of potential combinations.


Quick Stops: Grandpa's Cheesebarn (Ashland, OH)

When I'm not on the motorcycle, I'm scouting for new places to stop when I'm back on the bike again.

Since I started working up in NE Ohio about six months ago, the 160-mile drive up and down the very uneventful I-71 became a very droning chore through the night. I would usually leave after work on a Friday to head down to Columbus, spend the weekend with Matt, and then make my way back up to Cleveland either late Sunday night or early Monday morning, rolling straight into work after a quick breakfast and an iced coffee.

A few weeks ago, I made the rare decision to leave for Columbus on Saturday morning to swing by Goschinski's Fin, Feather and Fur Outfitters in Ashland, exactly halfway between my origin and destination, to pick up a new holster for my Glock 27 (yes, that's my other hobby out here). But that wasn't my only reason for stopping off of US-250. Right next to the store is a place called Grandpa's Cheesebarn, a tourist attraction that had me curious for a while but one I couldn't see without making this exception in my regular travel schedule.

The building may look small, but it's stuffed to the gills with food, gifts, novelties, ice cream, cookies, and other nom noms.
When I entered the store, I was immediately greeted at the cafe counter and a menu with goodies ranging from fresh-baked cookies to ice cream and even paninis. I resisted all temptations and continued perusing the store, checking out the many tables full of edible goodies. Jams, chocolates, dried fruits, trail mixes, and other snacks had sample cups on display, urging me to dip a pretzel stick or mini spoon and take a taste of everything. You could hang around for a good hour just staring and sampling the treats. I really would like to know how people can work at this store without gaining at least three pounds a day from all food in this place. And that was just the first floor.


Cleveland IMS and the WCM: Part 2

Continuing on with the new motorcycle tour from the Cleveland International Motorcycle Show, I ride a sped-up Ferris wheel. So here's the view from up there. Whee!

After that, it was a quick scoot over to Triumph for a few of their newer bikes. I have to say, they all look nice in blue.

2013 Triumph Tiger Explorer: I have a feeling that an adventure bike might be in my future, especially after playing around with the Explorer's smaller cousin, the Tiger 800. This bike is a potential contender. I would like to ride this back-to-back with a Yamaha Super Tenere to see where they both stand.

This display unit is loaded with several options including auxiliary driving lights, engine case guards, and a skid plate. 
Closeup of the front cockpit. No frills but a nice, straight handlebar for attaching those extra accessories.
With headlights like these, there is no excuse why someone couldn't see you on the road. Extra points for the aluminum protective housings on the auxiliary lights.
The other piece of eye candy parked next to the Tiger Explorer was the all-new 2013 Triumph Trophy SE. Although the name is a familiar one to many a Triumph fan, this new take on a sport touring bike is definitely a head-turner. With the large, wind-deflecting fairing, spacious saddlebags, electronic cruise control, and audio system, and a 1215cc triple-cylinder engine, this bike sprints ahead of the competition as a formidable alternative to the BMW R1200RT. I'd like to test ride this, but I might make Eleanor jealous!

And lastly, here is me and Cris doing some research on the proper seating position of a carousel horse. Who says that you can't fun on "official" business? This isn't the first time we've done strange things...remember that time in St. Louis?


Cleveland IMS and the WCM: Part 1

Last weekend, I had the rare opportunity to join the inaugural organizing committee of the Women's Coalition of Motorcyclists. This coalition is made up of several women representing multiple female and co-ed motorcycling clubs and organizations. Along with my Women On Wheels® president, Cris Baldwin, we spent most of the weekend assembling the framework for what we hope to be a unifying group that will promote women and motorcycling in all aspects of the sport. I hope to share a bit more about this organization in a future blog post as we solidify the structure of this long-term project.

With that being said, one of our assignments was to head to the International Motorcycle Show at the I-X Center in Cleveland to scout possible leads and sponsors for our cause. After perusing the floor and realizing that majority of the booths were mostly the typical "leather and spikes" stands that you'd see at any floor, I turned my attention to the motorcycles. So here are some of the interesting finds that will make their way to the dealership floor, if they haven't already.

2013 BMW C650 GT: BMW's first foray into the maxi-scooter category still possesses many of the amenities of its larger tourers. Engine is designed by Kymco in a surprising partnership. Also available in a C600 version.