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In Search of a Taco - long


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Nogales Taco Run



hat do you get when you combine a rider’s “iron butt” mentality, a motorcycle that demands to be ridden huge miles, and perfect weather? The answer is a fast spin to the Arizona/Mexico border for that perfect taco!


I knew I wanted to get at least one ride in over the Holidays that involved big miles, so I took out the maps. Where to go? North was out of the question. Jennifer and I had just returned from a five-day moto tour of the Santa Cruz area, and we were only now drying out. A quick check of www.weather.com told me the best riding would be in the south, with highs being in the sixties all throughout southern Arizona.


A quick check of the RT, and I was off. Heading out of the driveway I was happy to going out on the road. The plan was idiotically simple: ride to Nogales Arizona, find some great Mexican food, and head back. I’d never been there, so why not Nogales? I estimated that with a 0800 departure I could be back in my own bed by 0200 the next morning.


Slipping out of the greater LA area at the crack of eight was relatively painless since little traffic heads east in the morning. Maintaining a steady 80 mph I quickly eased past San Bernardino and headed toward the great desert.


With the sun now in full burst in the low winter sky, the desert seemed alive with color! The reds, browns, greens, and yellows of the mountains danced in the distance, while I sped along under a warm blue sky. To me, it seemed doubtful that riding could get much better.



s the RT seemed to purr in contentment, I dialed the Throttlemeister in at about 85 mph, which allowed me to keep pace with the steady truck traffic that flows eastward. I marveled at the sheer numbers of trucks, and guessed about how many tons of goods must move on this freeway daily. I passed a truck that had emblazoned on its side: “Without trucks, America stops.” I wouldn’t doubt this statement. I also wondered why so many truckers waved to me. Maybe we all share the same wandering sprit of the road, or, more likely, my top case was open and flapping?


Chiriaco Pass crosses mountains to the east of Indio. At the summit, the view looking back toward Mt. San Jacinto was incredible. Unlimited ceiling and visibility, as the Weather Guy put it earlier in the morning. Slowing down a bit at the summit I passed the General Patton WW2 Museum. Sounds corny and way touristy, but it is actually a very interesting stop. The restaurant next door serves cold lemonade as well, which you can enjoy sitting outside in the garden.


On the eastern side of Chiriaco I happened upon a full-fledged California Highway Patrol feeding frenzy. My Valentine One chirped continually nearly all the way to Blythe. Other, more electronically challenged cagers weren’t so lucky. Lots of speeding tickets were being handed out today!


I motored across the Colorado river, making a mental note to set my mental clock ahead one hour. Time for gas, too. Hoping gasoline would be cheaper in Arizona, I was surprised to pay $1.99 for premium. The RT gulped a near full tank, and off we went.


I’ve always enjoyed the feeling of the bike as I swing through the twisty freeway on ramps, briskly accelerating to speed, hitting every shift point perfectly. Sure, the freeway is only slab, but there is a certain satisfaction and reverie induced by the constant speed and motion of the bike. Feeling like I am an extension of the machine, again we are moved quickly through the steady flow of trucks and vacation-weary, home-bound tourists.



hat is this? Out of the corner of my eye, I notice the briefest flash of red and blue. Instinctively snapping off the throttle, I see an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper coming up behind me very quickly. He pulls around me to the left, red lights and siren screaming, as he vanishes to the front. Not more than fifteen seconds later, I see a huge cloud of dust, and then brake lights. Fearing the worst, I slow, keeping a very sharp eye on the traffic behind me.


Carnage enfolds in front of me. Here is a brand new Lincoln Navigator lying on its side. The SUV has no windows, and is pulverized on all four sides, top and bottom. Strewn for two hundred yards across the highway are Christmas presents, clothes, ice chests, and other artifacts from a family that will no longer be the same. Bystanders, each wearing a stare of shock, wave me by. Downshifting to second I pick my way gingerly through the wreckage. . I take care to motor through the wreckage of this family’s life, hoping to not further disturb things any more than they have been. Passing the vehicle I note the Trooper kneeling next to a woman who seems to be half-thrown from the Navigator. Silently praying that she’d be all right, I resume my own voyage…


Does the sight of a horrifying accident slow motorists down? Apparently not on this section of Arizona interstate. Once again, we are dialed in at 85 mph or better in order to maintain lane control amidst the semis and vacationers. The deserts continue to enfold in a spectacular panorama of colors accented by the recent rains. We speed on toward “Los Angeles in the desert.”


Thirty miles from downtown Phoenix, the tail lights once again come on, this time for traffic and road construction. I used to live in Phoenix. Where did all these roads come from? What about the people? I rode steadily past one housing development after another, with no end seeming in sight. I didn’t even recognize the city I lived in so many years ago. I was happy to be back on open road at the eastern edge of Tempe and Chandler and hoped that my speeds would improve. While I wasn’t riding this as a race, I had calculated arrival in Nogales for 1700 hrs.



ucson, another 80 miles down the road is also suffering growth pains. Road construction hampered my speed until I was able to turn south on Interstate 19. I was pleasantly surprised to note the road was climbing. Gone was the desert, to be replaced by pines and grasses. The valley leading into Santa Cruz County was very beautiful. I thought about “Lonesome Dove,” and what it would have been like to live here over a hundred years ago.


Soon I was braking for Nogales. I-19 dumps you off on the main street nearly in front of the International Border station. Not knowing where to eat, I motored over to a couple of Border Patrol/Immigration Officers, hoping to get some information.



Me: Do you guys know any good places to eat?

He: Nice bike.

Me: Thanks. Are there any good restaurants in town?

He: I didn’t know BMW made motorcycles!

Me: They do. I’d really like to get some fresh Mexican food. Any ideas?

He: Not really. I never eat here…

His partner: You might try “Los Tacos.” I hear it’s good. How fast does your bike go?

Me: Fast enough that I carry this Radar Locator!


After wishing them a safe evening, I motored carefully over to Los Tacos. For those of you who don’t have my grasp of Spanish, “Los Tacos” means “the tacos.”


It was great. Clean and well-lit inside, the food was authentic and plentiful. I ate, and then mindful of the clock, got back on the bike and found a gas station for a receipt. What if I needed to prove to my mother that I did this ride?


What could I say about the trip back? It was dark and fast. The big silver boxer never missed a beat. My PIAA 910s turned the night into day, allowing me to fly home. It was a spectacular ride punctuated only by three gas stops and one unscheduled turn off just to view the stars.



little sore, but exhilarated, I pulled into my driveway at 0158. It was the perfect long distance day! Wondering already what my next long ride will be, I remembered hearing about this great little hamburger place in northwestern Nevada!


Steve in So Cal


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What a wonderful trip! I felt like I was riding right behind you. I could feel your exhilaration and could almost smell the food! I'm only sorry I wasn't there in person.



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Steve that was GREAT! I'm still laughing at the transcription of the border officer conversation. Los Tacos. laugh.gif


Thanks for a great ride tale. Just what I needed after what has been a very tough week in my world.

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<I'm still laughing at the transcription of the border officer conversation.>


When I first started up the conversation and I mentioned I was looking for a good restaurant, he looked at me and asked what kind of food I was looking for. I found this hilarious...perhaps you'd have to see the neighborhood to realize you'd have to REALLY search for Armenian...


Hope this week is better, Tony!



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