Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: 2016


Quick Bites: The Great Room (Redondo Beach, CA)

On a rare Wednesday off, my favorite taco spot on the corner had a line out the door and a lack of parking and seating room to match. So instead of waiting in that line only to end up eating my tacos standing up, I decided to get adventurous, head down the street, and check out the newly opened and locally owned The Great Room (2810 Artesia Blvd., Redondo Beach, CA 90278), just walking distance from the South Bay Galleria.

Walking into the restaurant, I was very pleasantly surprised by the open space and welcoming atmosphere of the building. The staff was very friendly, greeted me promptly, and were more than happy to share their recommendations on the menu to this first-timer.

Other perks? There are several big screen TVs in the restaurant, strategically placed near groups of sofas and chairs or within easy view of a booth or table. Also, their wi-fi access is super fast and easy to connect to, making this a great place to sit down and work on your computer (which is actually what I'm doing right now).

This looks like I just stepped into someone's house. I'm good with that!
This is a breakfast (until 11AM), lunch, and dinner kind of place. The menu varies from pizzas to burgers to salads and pastas. The menu has a little something for everyone. For today, I decided to try the pesto shrimp cream spaghetti. For a $10 dish, there's a whole lot of tasty food here. The shrimp was very tender and the cream sauce was quite light and blended well with the spaghetti. It actually reminded me of a similar dish from Noodles and Company without the chain restaurant feel.

Yes, that is freshly shredded parmesan cheese on top of that. My only request would've been a small piece of garlic bread to scoop up the remainder of that very delicious pesto cream sauce!
For drink selections, their coffee is powered by Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf so you know you're getting good brew (my iced coffee is to spec). The Great Room also offers other bottled drinks, iced/hot teas, and several selections of wine and beer on tap.

For a nominal fee, there is access to a "toddler room" and a "game room" to pass the time or to get the kids out of your hair while you sit down with your friends and enjoy that very needed coffee. If you really want a private space for you and up to 40 people, there's a rentable party room with a projector. On the other hand, the common areas are a great meeting spot for friends who want a semi-private corner space to chill, a motorcycle group planning session, a first date that's inexpensive and great for conversation, or your casual business lunch that just needs a table and good food to nosh on.

I want to come back here to try breakfast (they have a burrito!) and a few more of their lunch/dinner selections, such as their burgers and pizza.

From my first impressions, The Great Room definitely lives up to its name in both vibe and in comfort food. For more information about this up and coming local delight, please visit

The Great Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Quick Bites: Hash House A Go Go (San Diego, CA)

On my last trip to San Diego a few months ago, I ended my culinary journey there on a high note (after a bit of a long wait) at Hash House a Go Go (3628 Fifth Ave., San Diego, CA 92103). When I arrived there with my boyfriend, Evan, the parking was a bit of a challenge and the line at the restaurant was out the door. Faced with about an hour wait, we perused several stores a few blocks away until I received a text message on my phone that our table was ready.

When we got there and put in our orders, we were not ready for the food experience we were about to embark on...

I ordered Andy's Sage Fried Chicken & Bacon Waffle Tower, a visual masterpiece of fried chicken waffles drizzled in a maple syrup reduction & fried leeks. This dish was full of flavor, all the way down to the sprig of sage stabbed right into the middle of the presentation. If you want the perfect blend of salty and sweet goodness and maple syrup everywhere, this dish is an absolute stomach-stuffing delight.

Evan's entree was the House Smoked Fresh Salmon hash with cream cheese and scallions served with home fries and a giant biscuit. Once again, the presentation was just icing on the cake as every bite was delectable and the individual ingredients very easy to tell apart.

This place definitely deserves a revisit and a couple more entrees to try. Hash House A Go Go has several locations in multiple states, but it all started here at this location in San Diego, CA. For more information about this restaurant, visit

Hash House a Go Go Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Ride Review: 2016/2017 Honda Africa Twin DCT

Thanks to test rides at the International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach this year, I had the opportunity to hop on a 2016 Honda Africa Twin DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission). The unit itself is very no-frills and ready to "farkle." What is pictured below is a model with several of the optional accessories offered by Honda, such as a taller, non-adjustable rally windshield, built in engine guards, skid plate, hard cases, and a pannier.


Quick Bites: Bossa Nova Brazilian Cuisine (Hollywood, CA)

This year, I'm fortunate to have a significant other who definitely put some thought into how we were going to celebrate my birthday. How much thought? He had been thinking about this for more than six months. To my surprise, he brought me to Bossa Nova Brazilian Cuisine in Los Angeles/Hollywood (7181 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90046) right before we enjoyed a Melissa Polinar concert just down the street.

After a very delectable appetizer of Fresh Mozzarella Bruschetta (no pics available because it disappeared quite fast), I ordered their fresh from the grill pub steak (made from 21 day aged prime Omaha steak). My steak was served with salsa, yucca flour, brown rice, mashed potatoes, and fried plantains.

The pub steak was very tender and juicy, cooked perfectly at my preference, medium rare. The mashed potatoes were creamy and didn't need any gravy. The fried plantains were sweet and smooth. However, I think the biggest thing that had me sold on this place was the side of yucca flour included with my dish. Somehow, the mix of that on the meat and the brown rice just brought out a pleasant meshing of flavors that was unforgettably unique. This wasn't just a steak plate. It had personality with Brazilian undertones. This place has been added to my list of favorite, "special" restaurants.

Huge tip: come hungry, because the portions are huge and filling. I've heard from friends who have been to this restaurant that their pizzas are very tasty, too. That may be an option if I end up back in this area on a super late night run.

Bossa Nova Brazilian Cuisine has three locations in Los Angeles. For more information, please visit

Bossa Nova Brazilian Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


The long-standing scars of narcissistic behavior: a retrospect.

Every now and then, I'll come across a couple rough weeks, from a mental aspect. And these moments usually come when I'm gifted with lots of positive energy from good things that have happened in my life.

Sounds weird, doesn't it? You'd think that when positive moments happen around you, then everything around you feels good, inspiring, and empowering. But for someone who has been mentally abused and raised by narcissistic individuals who made sure you regretted all the good that you did, it's hard to accept that, you too can enjoy happy things. A lot of that comes from years of "gaslighting," lack of emotional support, and negative reinforcement among other toxic behaviors associated with narcissism.

[Note: If you need the definition of a narcissistic individual, click here. Please note that narcissism is not an actual condition, but many traits of this behavior lend itself to even more problematic issues.]


Initial Planning: Iron Butt California BunBurner 1500 Gold

This is a quick writeup on an idea that I've been brewing since I came back home to California two years ago.

In July 2011, I attempted an "extreme" Iron Butt BunBurner Gold 1500 (riding 1500 miles in a 24-hour period) from Columbus, OH to Rock Springs, WY en route to the Women On Wheels® International Ride-In™that took place in San Jose, CA that year. This was partially motivated by the lack of vacation time that I had (a.k.a. I had none, basically show up or don't get paid so I had to get the distance done quickly) and that I had successfully completed two Iron Butt Saddle Sore 1000 rides (riding 1000 miles in a 24-hour period) and wanted to see if I could pull off an even longer ride.

Unfortunately, I was unable to complete "Gold" part of the BunBurner due to a major closure on I-29 and 50 MPH cross-winds raging through Western Nebraska. However, with the distance I was able to cover in the initial attempt, I was still able to add 450 more miles to complete a SaddleSore 2000 with a standard BunBurner 1500 certification, continuing from Nebraska to Elko, NV in less than 44 hours.

Now that I am back in California, a state known for temperate weather for most of the year, I want to attempt the ride again during a comfortable time of the year and complete it within the state itself. Now that I'm back here, I've been able to give Eleanor the maintenance and care that she's needed after near five years in the Midwest, and I think she and I will be able to complete the ride with minimal issues. Of course, this is assuming that motorcycle, road, and weather conditions remain in my favor.

But that's the thing about these kinds of long endurance rides. There are so many variables within them that all you can really do is be prepared for anything that can be thrown at you. The map below is the proposed map of the ride from start to finish. It's a giant loop with the exception of sections of I-5 that are basically traveling up and down.

At the moment, this is in planning stages, but I hope to get some more prep work into this throughout the course of the year.

For more information about the Iron Butt Association, visit


Quick Bites: Anthony's Fish Grotto (La Mesa, CA)

Back in May, I was given a videography assignment that sent me to San Diego to film a high school championship lacrosse game. This was my first foray into San Diego in over ten years, and the last time I was there, I hung out in the dorms of UCSD and didn't get the chance to go out and explore town. (Okay, that was technically La Jolla so it really didn't count.) Now with a lot more latitude and an adventure companion, it was time to try some local cuisine!

Thanks to a quick Facebook shoutout to friends asking for suggestions, I received quite a few different restaurants to choose from. We made the decision to go for seafood and this place was actually mentioned twice from two different friends!

Anthony's Fish Grotto (9530 Murray Dr., La Mesa, CA 91942) is one of two locations in San Diego, the other one in the Downtown area. From start to finish, this restaurant did not disappoint.

For starters, our server brought in freshly baked dinner rolls and a sundried tomato whipped butter spread. This combination just melted together in your mouth. I probably could've stuffed my face with just this, but there was a few more surprises up ahead. Now I want to deconstruct this butter spread and recreate it at home.

The appetizer was freshly fried calamari with house marinara and tartar sauce for dipping. The calamari was tender and not chewy, and the breading was light, flavorful, and crispy. Both dipping sauces were light and didn't clump onto the calamari.

And now for the main courses. The first plate was a shrimp scampi sautéed in garlic butter, tomato, basil, and sherry sauce served on a bed of penne pasta tossed with parmesan cheese and butter. The shrimp was tender and melted off the fork (I'm going to use the word melt a lot in this review). The penne was cooked al dente, and the entire plate didn't last very long.

My dish was their trademark squid steak, sautéed in Italian breadcrumbs. I've had squid steaks that were too chewy or drenched in excessive amounts of oil, but this rendition was light, easy to cut, and yes, MELTED in your mouth. I requested a side of their garlic mashed potatoes and a rice pilaf (not pictured). The carrots were thrown in by mistake, but very well cooked and tender.

We were stuffed after this taste adventure so there was no dessert to be had this time. I have a feeling that this won't be the last time that we'll be visiting this place. Maybe we'll try the one in Downtown San Diego for a change.

The La Mesa location is right off Interstate 8, shares a parking lot with a Best Western Plus hotel, and is ideal for banquets and events. As for dining in San Diego, this place has definitely made the short list. Perhaps a gathering would be in order here? Who knows.

For more information about Anthony's Fish Grotto, visit

Anthony's Fish Grotto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Quick Bites: The House of Seafood (Carson, CA)

I don't normally stop in Carson for lunch, but there have been so many new restaurants as of late opening up in newly-remodeled shopping centers that never-before-seen ones have piqued my curiosity. The House of Seafood happened to be one of them, and it was a pleasant place to eat in lieu of the Swedish meatballs served at that one furniture store I picked up housewares from. One of the challenges about finding this place is that it's pretty far from a major road, and unless you were driving past it or trying to enter the South Bay Pavilion across the street, it is easy to miss. With that being said, this is what I thought about the food.


Tales on the Courier Shift: Large Packages (and those that lack one)

On this episode of "Tales on the Courier Shift," I get to see the worst side of customer service, as in the side that's lacking. I get it, service jobs are hard and have their share of difficulties. However, that gives nobody free license to act like complete a-holes to their peers, regardless if they're not working for the same company. We're all trying to make a living here so spending additional energy to make someone else's day a bit more difficult is a bit counter-productive and downright cruel.

What makes this incident particularly more evil was that I was being targeted specifically for the vehicle I was operating. I received the brunt end of the rage of the night manager of C&O Cucina (3016 Washington Blvd., Marina del Rey, CA 90292) because of an unfounded fear that I was going to destroy the very food that I was being paid to deliver. Obviously, my role there was not to sabotage a delivery, but there he was, giving me a hard time in front of other delivery drivers.


Tales on the Courier Shift: Demon Barbers and Dates with my Aerostitch

In this episode of "Tales on the Courier Shift," I have to throw in a couple side notes. In regards to the "logistics" mentioned below, I had an arrangement with a roommate to where he could borrow my car to drive to work. With that being said, there was a slight miscommunication one particular weekend and I had to make other plans aside from hockey. At the least, I was able to bring in a little cash for the inconvenience.

I had firemen on the brain because it was another one of those "forever alone" Valentine's Day weekends. A guy I was dating at the time had dumped me the week prior in the an awkward fashion (right after a nice lunch together of all-you-can-eat Brazilian pizza...thanks a lot). So to feel a little better, I went on an impromptu photo shoot at an IKEA and then proceeded to watch Fifty Shades of Grey (alone) on opening weekend. Note to self, that's the last time I'd ever date anyone, break up, and then date again. You had your chance, dude.

Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd.  His skin was pale and his eye was odd. And he lives in Marina del Rey. Okay, I made the last part up. But it was cool to find this street and take a photo of it.

One perk of picking up food from various restaurants is that I get to preview places that I would consider revisiting on my own time. In the case of Wirin Thai (2308 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA 90291), a small hole-in-the-wall kind of place on the corner of Lincoln/Venice, it was my post-shift dinner treat. I shared the food with my trusty Aerostitch Roadcrafter jacket, a companion that has laid itself on the line several times and lived to tell the tale. The Thai tea was pretty good, too.


Tales on the Courier Shift: Closing of a Chapter

By the middle of January 2015, the initial rush of courier deliveries that I had with Postmates was past its peak and was on a sharp decline. The holidays were hard, not just because I lost three weeks worth of work due to a sudden death in the family, but also because delivery assignments were far and in between.

In addition, I was transitioning work to a new delivery service, and I will have to say, there were quite a few rough spots during the early shifts that tested my mental fortitude. By the way, I am forever boycotting Poulet Du Jour in Hermosa Beach (233 Pacific Coast Hwy, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254) due to their mistreatment and disrespect of me when I just came in to pick up food for delivery. This restaurant may claim to have some of the best rotisserie chicken in the South Bay, but I don't pay money to get verbally abused.


Tales on the Courier Shift: Outside deliveries warrant a dessert.

In this episode of Tales on the Courier Shift taking place between 1/31-2/1/15, I received a request from an outside courier company to deliver mail correspondence to residents in the San Gabriel Valley. It was so impromptu that I was at the courier hub within two hours of the call and out on the road for the next ten hours after that. This one was particularly grueling because I was just thrown a list, the letters to distribute, and left to my own wits and mapping skills. Fortunately I had the combination of a standalone GPS, my smartphone, and my Sena SMH10 Bluetooth Headset to get me through the night.


Nostalgic Bites: Lomeli's Italian Restaurant (Gardena, CA)

This particular food review is a bit special for me as it answers a question nearly 28 years in the making.

So a little background story here. For the first four years of my life, I lived in Gardena, CA, a suburb south of Los Angeles for the out-of-towners. Occasionally, I would be treated to pizza for dinner from a place called Lomeli's Italian Restaurant (2223 West Redondo Beach Boulevard, Gardena, CA 90247). My parents never told me where the pizza came from (they figured I was too little to care), but fortunately I learned to read at a very young age and was able to remember the restaurant's name from reading the receipts and the pizza boxes. However, that wasn't the only thing that ingrained that name into the deep recesses of my childhood memories; it was the distinct taste of the cheese and the homemade sauce together when I would eat my pizza slices. There was no other place that I would find in my motorcycle adventures and pizza trips to other shops across the country that would replicate that particular flavor.


Tales on the Courier Shift: Close Calls Amid the Boredom

In this episode, I have a couple rough days on courier duty. From January 29-30, 2015, workflow was slow and I was left to pass the time waiting for the next delivery request to come along. In addition, I had a near head-on collision from a vehicle who decided to use my direct path of travel as a dangerous passing lane. Needless to say, the burrito and free horchata at the end of the night was well deserved. As fun as it was to be a courier, it did have its workplace hazards, not to mention that I was sitting duck as an independent contractor with minimum health insurance. But bills had to be paid while I kept trying to find something more stable for work. 


Quick Bites: Big Mama's & Papa's Pizza (Los Angeles, CA)

It's been a while since I've done a quick food review, and I hope to share more experiences here on Two-Wheeled Tourist over the course of this year.

Late last month, I had the opportunity to venture into a part of Los Angeles that I usually just passed through en route to somewhere else. That night's dinner, just east of Hollywood, was the famous giant slices of Big Mama's & Papa's Pizza, a popular restaurant in Los Angeles County. There aren't any of these restaurants where I live in the South Bay region of LA County so this was the first time I've ever heard of them.

If you're just there by yourself and don't want to order one of their massive 36" pizzas to feed an army, this restaurant's trademark is a thin-crust pizza that's served in a huge way. What I mean by huge is that individual slices are the size equivalent of three standard slices. The amount of food one gets in a big slice was pretty much a full meal in itself.

All pizzas are made to order, and you can customize them to your liking with a wide variety of toppings and sauces. This slice is pesto sauce-based with chicken, onions, and red peppers on top. What I really liked about this pizza was that the pesto had just enough flavor to complement, but not overpower, the other ingredients on the slice. The crust was also flavorful and had a nice crunch to it.

Here's a shrimp and spinach slice with their normal red sauce. That is a generous amount of shrimp considering the size of the serving.

Big Mama's & Papa's Pizza has multiple locations across Los Angeles County. The pizzas in this post were enjoyed at the Vermont location (814 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90029), across the street from Los Angeles City College. For more information about their menu selections, visit

Big Mama's & Papa's Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Tales on the Courier Shift: Tipping is Not a City in China.

On this episode, highlighting bits from early 2015, some action didn't even require me to clock in for work! For full disclosure, I was actually on a date with someone at Venice Grind on Venice Blvd. when this incident happened. The part that sucked was that I still received a ticket after all was said and done. When I did deliveries, I had to make sure that I budgeted for at least once parking citation a month. Fortunately, I never exceeded my violation average in any given month.


Tales on the Courier Shift: Delivery #500 and Trapped With Rich People

It's another installment of tales on the courier shift! In this episode, I acquire cookies and ice cream. I'm also so liked by my customers that I just couldn't leave. And those stereotypical movie images of multiple exotic cars parked on the lot in front of a giant mansion? Yes, that's real.

These assignments were completed at the end of 2014 as I worked through the holiday season that year. It was a good diversion and very needed since I was still dealing with the loss of a dear friend who had suddenly passed away in early December that also resulted in a three-week hiatus in all freelance work. It was good to get the wind therapy.


Tales on the Courier Shift: Some guys are from Mars, but there are women who understand you.

I had to pull from the archives for this collection of posts.

Two months after I came home to Southern California for my last job in the motorcycle industry as an assistant parts manager, I was laid off in April 2014 along with a service tech, service writer, and the janitor. That sudden turn of events forced me to scramble for a source of income, and after a bit of research I came across an up-and-coming on-demand courier service based out of Santa Monica looking for motorcycle riders for work. So Eleanor and I headed out there and became a part of the original fleet for Postmates Los Angeles. I even wrote an article about my courier work that ended up in Women On Wheels® magazine in early 2015. I worked for Postmates until February 2015 when I switched over to another delivery company and was there until about January 2016. The last company in my delivery life (so far) had me relegated to my car for the most part, but there are some interesting tales from that.


Riding to the Death Valley National Park "Superbloom" (2/29-3/1/16)

Hello there, it's the Two-Wheeled Tourist back from a super-long hiatus thanks to life. But I'm back and here with a fun trip that I've been able to pull off amid job layoffs, changes to my personal world, and a super-erratic work schedule. Oh it's been a journey on that end.

With that being said, I needed a long-earned vacation, even if it was going to be short and sweet. And then one day, I was online reading about the media-dubbed "superbloom" occurring at Death Valley National Park, located in the southeastern part of California.

[On a side note, I had traveled with a motorcycle group to Death Valley in 2007 with my previous motorcycle, the Suzuki SV650. Eleanor's ride with me marked her first foray into the park.]

So I had a couple days in which I could push regular duties aside, thanks to a job contract ending and a lull in the workload at my other office. So I set off on Leap Day Monday to ride to the park and stare at the flowers. Thinking this was going to be easy, I decided to follow the Google Maps recommended route, the fastest one, that involved entering from the northern entrance via Panamint Springs. Of course, knowing my history with long solo rides, this was going to be the start of a comedy of errors. Just a small spoiler alert here, most of this story wouldn't have happened if I had taken the grey route highlighted on the map.

But before I get to the comedic part, I did make a quick stop at the Musical Road in Lancaster to play the William Tell Overture at 50MPH since the first part of my ride was straight up CA-14 that connected from I-5.

Eleanor is a Yamaha. Yamaha makes pianos. That makes Eleanor a piano. Yes, a moving piano.
I made it to my first gas stop on CA-178 a little before 9AM, about 180 miles from where I started in Lawndale. Now, gas stations get pretty sparse once you're out near US 395. For the smaller-displacement motorcycles, I'd recommend carrying a fuel can to insure that one doesn't get stranded. My bike's gas tank was stretched a little, and 6.6 gallons is a lot of fuel to burn through on two wheels. I filled up at the Shell in Trona (82264 Trona Rd, Trona, CA 93562) amid the desolate boonies, and I have to say, that particular Shell station does serve up a mean breakfast burrito.