Monday, October 18, 2010

A Triple-D Dive

This bike trip was supposed to be a National Park and Triple-D Tour...Triple-D referring to Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives -- Guy Fieri's popular Food Network show. I had my list of Triple-D establishments with me on the trip, hoping to stop at several of the restaurants along the way. As things turned out, I managed to visit only one place on the list and that was for lunch on the next-to-the-last day on the road. Welcome to Cozy Corner in Memphis, TN!

Cozy Corner definitely qualifies as a Dive, as testified to by the decor, including the duct tape patches you will find on most of the booth seats. But it is a long-lived and beloved dive. Located at 745 N Parkway just north of I-40 and half a block east of Thomas St (Rte 51) Cozy Corner has been serving up barbecue to Memphis folks for over 30 years. I recognized photos of Danny DeVito and a host of other movie stars, politicians, and dignitaries tacked on the bulletin boards. People who love barbecue don't come here for the decor, they come for the food. Raymond Robinson began cooking ribs and shoulders at this unassuming location a long time ago. Raymond is no longer with us, but his widow, Desiree, carries on the tradition. It was Desiree who was featured in the Triple-D episode on Memphis barbecue when Guy visited Cozy Corner two years ago, and it was Desiree who greeted us at the entrance when we walked in. Guy always concentrates on a couple of specials of the house at each place he visits on the show. I asked Desiree what dish Guy featured at Cozy Corner because it had been quite awhile since I had seen the show and I couldn't remember the details. As soon as she said Cornish Hen, it all came back to me. They do Cornish Hens the same way they do their ribs and shoulders, using the same dry rub and low-and-slow smoking method. I had to try it, and it was great. Ron ordered the ribs and wings combination, and pronounced it very tasty. My only complaint would be having to try and eat a Cornish Hen using a plastic fork and knife. I quickly gave up on that and just tore it apart and ate with my fingers...the way barbecue is supposed to be eaten. I was too anxious to dive in to the food to think about taking photos before we dug in, so what you see here are pretty much the remnants.

That's Desiree in the white cap and jacket behind the counter and also her picture on the banner.

By the time we finished eating, there were only two other customers in the restaurant...a couple from Tulsa who were on their own Triple-D/barbecue tour. He had his own list of Triple-D establishments, but he said they were at Cozy Corner because of the write-up in the BBQ magazine that you see in his hand. He had missed the Triple-D episode that featured Cozy Corner, but a glowing review in the magazine enticed them to seek it out. They not only ate lunch, but also carried out a large bag of to-go ribs and pulled pork. I'm guessing that is Desiree's grandson standing beside her. I forgot to ask, but it is definitely a family affair.

Since we only managed to eat at one Triple-D establishment on this ride, I'm glad it turned out to be Cozy Corner and that we got to experience a Memphis institution and meet Desiree Robinson.

Trip Pics

Here are some photos from the trip without a whole lot of boring words.

UT 95 north of Glen Canyon.

UT 12 South of Torrey, UT with the aspen trees in full glory.

Bryce Canyon National Park Hoodoos (rock spires).
Inspiration Point in Bryce Canyon.
Jim on a rock on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Ron on a rock on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Jim and David on the rocks on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Jim, Ron, David, and Fehmi in Oak Creek Canyon just east of Sonoma, AZ. We met Fehmi the night before at the Best Western in Flagstaff. Fehmi is from Turkey and was riding from Chicago to LA following Rte 66 all by himself on a rented Harley. He spent Tuesday Oct 5 riding with us through Oak Creek Canyon, Sonoma, Jerome, and Prescott. It rained a lot that day. Here's a link to a video of Fehmi riding through Jerome. Jerome is a historic copper mining town perched on the side of a mountain west of Cottonwood. According to Wikipedia: "Jerome became a notorious "wild west" town, a hotbed of prostitution, gambling, and vice. On 5 February 1903, the New York Sun proclaimed Jerome to be "the wickedest town in the West"."

Along AZ 89 north of Flagstaff.

UT 261 -- The Moki Dugway

I've been back home from our out-west bike trip for over a week now. I didn't get to do nearly as many posts from the road as I had planned to do because of time and internet constraints, so I'm going to try and catch up on a couple of posts that I should have done from the road.

Utah Highway 261 north of Mexican Hat (home of the swinging steak as seen on Alton Brown's Feasting On Asphalt) is probably the most interesting and challenging road we encountered on this least the section known as the Moki (or Mokee, or Moqui) Dugway. The MD is a three-mile stretch of UT 261 that climbs the face of Cedar Mesa. It is unpaved, steep, and narrow, with very sharp hair-pin switchbacks, steep drop-offs and no guardrails.

On our way from Durango, CO to Torrey, UT on this particular day, we had stopped at the San Juan Motel, perched on the north bank of the San Juan River in Mexican Hat, for some liquid refreshment for old-times sake since we had stopped at this same establishment on a previous trip several years ago. On that previous trip, the temp was 106 F and the gas boiled out our tanks onto the pavement while we were inside in the swamp-cooled air. On this day, it was only about 90 F and much more comfortable.

Upon leaving the San Juan, we headed north on UT 163 and took the first left on UT 261 which runs north to UT 95 and Natural Bridges National Monument. We weren't really prepared for what lay ahead....the Moki Dugway. When we saw the sign above, we knew we were in for a challenge, since none of our bikes would be considered off-road worthy. On my AAA Utah state map, the road appeared straight and 100 percent paved. If I had had access to Google Maps, I could have seen the following two representations of that section of 261.

One approaches Cedar Mesa from the south gazing at what appears to be a shear rock wall and wondering "So where does the road go?" As you get closer, you discover the answer is "Up the face of the cliff." To add insult to injury, they have left this section of the highway unpaved and covered in loose gravel. To the state's credit, they have paved a few feet in each of the hairpin switchbacks to make it easier to negotiate those tricky sections.

We pulled over at the bottom of the mesa where the road transitions from asphalt to gravel to psych ourselves up for the ascent and then proceeded the three miles to the top without incident. Once on top, the road is again paved and relatively straight.

Roads like this are what memorable rides are made of. For obvious reasons, I didn't shoot any video while negotiating the Moki Dugway, but here is a link to a You Tube video that someone shot from a truck while driving down the Dugway from the top to the bottom.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Day In The Park

We knocked around Capitol ReefNational Park yesterday. I tried to post about it early this morning, but everything I wrote got sucked down a black cyberspace hole, so I'm trying to reconstruct it now that we have stopped for the night. Capitol Reef has the distinction of being the least visited of the National Parks, but it still has some amazing sights, as do all of the parks I guess, or they wouldn't be National Parks.

I asked a ranger how it got its name and she told me it was for the rock formation thatreminded folks of the US Capitol Building dome and an analogy between the cliffs that act as an impediment to land exploration much as ocean reefs act as an impediment to sea exploration. OK, so that's how it got its name. The park is long and narrow, extending over 100 miles north/south while following and encompassing the so-called Waterpocket Fold, a giant buckle in the Earth's crust that stretches for 100 miles across south-central Utah. Rivers cut deep gorges in the uplifted strata that fold back and forth in a goose neck pattern. We parked at the Goosenecks Overlook parking area (above) and took a short hike to the gorge.

We thought this was probably a petrified dinosaur head.

And this must be his footprint.

That's Ron out there on the edge communing with nature.

This is Capitol Reef's version of Chimney Rock.

And Castle Rock.

If you look very closely you may be able to see the Petroglyphs on the rock face...early American graffiti left there a thousand years ago by the early Indian inhabitants of this place. I think the two-legged creatures look suspiciously like spacemen.

After our day in the park, we rode up to Fish Lake, a large pristine mountain-top lake at 9000 feet. Tomorrow (Saturday) we head south to Bryce Canyon National Park and on to Kanab, UT for the night.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

National Park And Triple-D Tour 2010

OK, I now have something to write about. The National Park/Triple-D motorcycle tour got off to a slow (or maybe I should say fast) start with three straight days of burning miles on I-40 west. We (Pit Stop, Diamond Jim, and me) made nightly stops in Nashville, Fort Smith, and Tucumcari, before exiting the interstate for good on Tuesday and heading towards Durango on back roads through rural New Mexico and Colorado.

I am a fan of Guy Fieri's Food Network show, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and I have my list of Triple-D establishments with me. I had hoped to eat at some of the establishments on my list on the ride west, but the closest we came was lunch at Lucille's Roadhouse on old Route 66 (adjacent to I-40) a little west of Oklahoma City on Monday. While never frequented by Guy Fieri, Lucille's served up some classic American road food in nostalgic Route 66 surroundings.

We were shooting for lunch at Ogilvie's in Taos on Tuesday, but discovered upon arrival that Ogilvie's is now The Gorge Bar and we ate at the Gorge Bar and Grill, presumably named after the Rio Grande Gorge that we rode over as we exited Taos, heading for Durango.

In Durango Tuesday evening, we were looking forward to dinner and music at Scoot'N Blues, but discovered upon arrival that Scoot'N Blues is now The Irish Embassy we ate at the Irish Embassy Pub. Anybody see a pattern here?

After taking care of some minor mechanical problems in Durango Wednesday morning we headed for Torrey, Utah. Handlebar Motorsports in Durango deserves a shout-out for getting us in and out quickly, and fixing the problems on my Venture and Jim's Goldwing for a very reasonable price.

Torrey sits on the western edge of Capitol Reef National Park. We plan on spending three nights here while exploring the surrounding area. Today we rode south down Highway 12 from Torrey to Escalante. This has to be one of the most picturesque roads in the country with major changes in topography every few miles of the 65 mile distance. Here are some samples.

The Aspens are putting on a beautiful show of yellow and gold right now.

You can see the road down below that we rode to get up to the point whee I took this picture.

Ron took a picture of Jim taking a picture of me sitting on a rock.

A very cool rock formation that looks like a giant alien brain.

The Escalante Petrified Forest State Park seemed like a good thing to see. To actually see some petrified wood required a fairly strenuous two-mile hike to the top of a mesa where you can view a couple of dozen pieces of pretty old wood turned to stone. The best use I could think of for old wood turned to stone was a place to rest.

Jim couldn't help trying to unbalance the balancing rock.

I never met a lizard I didn't like.

Tomorrow we check out Capitol Reef.