The never ending debate of “best BBQ”

Who’s to say where you can find the best piece of slow cooked meat in the continental US?  We’ve been all over this beautiful plot of land and have had the fortune to eat as much food as we could stuff in our faces.  Sometimes great and sometimes OK, at best, but always served by a smiling face that’s been proud of their wares.  The real trick is to try to give patronage to the small mom-and-pop joints and feel the spirit of eating with a family.  That’s the whole point, isn’t it? If you have a “home made meal” somewhere in the middle of nowhere America, you’re essentially having a family meal prepared by a fellow human, enjoyed in the company of others. 

So, back to the original question: best BBQ, and who has it?

It’s hard to find a place, if not by the help of Food Network pop stars, that’s got the whole thing figured out.  You might find the best ribs in one place and the best brisket in the next.  This isn’t a bad thing.  It’s a chance to continuously search and have a food-venture on your motorcycle.  What better pay off than to wonder just how you’re going to zip that Alpinestars jacket, right after that final scoop of banana pudding?

We found one and it’s named Botto BBQ (2204 NW Roosevelt, Portland, OR 97210 – Phone number (503) 354-7748).  It’s a food cart, hidden between a Crossfit gym and a paint department store.  There’s no other food place in the street.  The location makes no sense until you understand that Darren, the owner, also does catering so this is just kind of a start-up.  A block and a half away is the country’s number one Ducati dealership. Another block, the other way, is a building full of Amazon employees.  Let’s not forget the Crossfit gym where, after the hectic WOD, people might want some juicy ribs.  Or fatty brisket.  Or home made hot dogs.  Or. Or. Or…  Order anything.  You won’t be disappointed.  It’s that good.

 

Perfectly seasoned ribs that fall off of the bone.  Bring your appetite!

Perfectly seasoned ribs that fall off of the bone.  Bring your appetite!

The unity of two wheels

Politics are heavy and thick in the air, here in the beautiful United States, and no matter which direction you divert your attention, there’s something about Bernie, Hillary, or Trump.  Facebook has been turned up to 11 with talks of candidates, beliefs, and social issues and that’s fine; we as a society need to talk about these things and come up with a better plan for our collective futures. 

That said, we want to see a different side of you.  The side of you that’s waiting for the weekend to arrive so you can go out to adventure and get dirty.  The side of you that can hear the voice of your motorcycle, beckoning you to gear up, saddle up, and rev it up into the sunset.  Let’s feed the quiet side of this frenzy by talking about where are you planning on going, this weekend and the upcoming ones.

There are no limits, so post a photo of your favorite motorcycle with what you plan on doing very soon! We’ve seen plans of track days, day trips, Iron Butt rides, poker runs, and just about every thing else, so add to the fun and let’s look forward to the weekend together because we are not made to simply work, pay bills and die. 
 

Let’s live and let’s live well!

Heading into the sunset, west-bound on I-90 in South Dakota, to Sturgis for the Black Hills Bike Rally.

Heading into the sunset, west-bound on I-90 in South Dakota, to Sturgis for the Black Hills Bike Rally.

Portland to Astoria – Day Trip!

From Northwest Portland to Astoria, the way we think is most fun and rewarding.

From Northwest Portland to Astoria, the way we think is most fun and rewarding.

Location: Portland, OR > Astoria, OR

Roads Used: 30 > Scappoose Vernonia HWY > 47 > 202

Total Distance: 99.1 Miles (160 Kilometers)

Food: Fish and Chips

 

This is a common route for local Portlanders but we still meet motorcyclists who reside in the greater Portland, OR, area that haven’t discovered it, so here it is:

 

There are times that a quick getaway isn’t quite enough but your work/life schedule doesn’t allow the luxury of packing it up and going away for days, either, so what better way to unwind than a healthy dose of day tripping? For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept, day trips are those rides that you can finish in one full day, 6-10 hours of relaxation, exploration, or just mindless wandering. 

 

The Portland to Astoria and back ride is a prime example of a proper day trip.  There are many roads that are fit for this but we tend to enjoy the ones without clutter of cars, trucks and trailers.   First things first, to get this ride started, get out of Portland.  Find your way to Highway 30, which heads northwest out of the city through a colorful array of industrial buildings, train depots full of locomotives, and the lovely St. John Bridge.  Once past the big green bridge, you’ll notice that the scenery starts turning green and the road opens up a bit.  There are a handful of gas stations on the way to your first destination, Scappoose, OR, which is roughly 20 miles north of Portland.

 

At Scappoose, we would suggest fueling up as there won’t be another gas station for about 78 miles.  The road and scenery changes, altogether, once you enter the Scappoose/Vernonia Highway. Train tracks and dual lane highways give way to trees, curves and two lane heavenly side roads that are resplendent with every shade of green as far as the eyes can see.  Traffic is typically non-existent on this road and so is cell phone reception (at least if you’re on the T-Mobile coverage) so keep your wits about you as the curves and corners increase in quantity and quality.  Scappoose Vernonia HWY dead-ends at Rte 47.  For this ride’s sake, take a right turn and head north towards Astoria.  You’ll barely notice as the road changes designations from 47 to 202.  You could keep on Route 47, if you like, and enjoy some of the most curvaceous tarmac, this side of the Mississippi, which will take you all the way back to Highway 30 at Clatskanie, OR.  If you do this, turn left at 30 and enjoy a leisurely ride to Astoria.  We suggest staying on 202 for a more scenic ride along the Nehalem river with a pretty big chance to see some wild elk along the grassy flatlands that come into view, once in a while, through the otherwise never ending canopy of trees. 

 

As you delve deeper into Route 202, you’ll notice the curves getting tighter, with suggested speeds of 25MPH.  Take your time and get to know the road and, if you’re in a group, keep the pace at a safe distance and don’t rush each other.  This road is too beautiful to rush through, at least the first few times you traverse through it.  Just as you wonder to yourself if there’s any more curves, the road opens up to the beautiful Youngs River which feeds into Youngs Bay at the south side of Astoria, at the very peak of North West Oregon where land meets the mighty Columbia River as it pours into the Pacific Ocean.  Follow 202 towards 101, as the signs will suggest, and into Astoria.  You’ll be treated to one of the most PNW-ish sights, which is the beautiful town of Astoria with its coastal style homes, perched on the hills with their views of the Columbia River, the amazing Highway 101 bridge that connects Oregon to Washington State.  You’ve made it and are likely ready for a bite to eat and the Pacific Northwest is well known for its incredibly fresh sea food. 

 

Astoria is well known for the cult classic movie, The Goonies, but loved by some as home to the very well-known roadside Fish and Chips restaurant, Bowpicker (1634 Duane St, Astoria, OR 97103 503-791-2942).  While there are plenty of other choices in town, equally as tempting, we suggest parking your motorcycle next to the makeshift food cart, which spent its previous life as a boat in the waters of PNW.  The fish is perfectly seasoned and fried to a golden-brown delicious, accompanied by perfectly salted chips and will not disappoint.  Take a walk around town, towards the Columbia River, and check out all of the neat shops which are shockingly un-touristy, run and filled by the locals who very clearly love their beautiful town.  Say hi to the seals that fill the air with their barks!

 

There are a few options for coming back to Portland, from Astoria.  One is to retrace your ride into town but we’ve been told that after a few hours in town, enjoying the wares and foods, hopping on Highway 30, south, is the simplest and easiest route home.  We’ll let you be the judge on how to end your ride.  We like the curves, so we might take HWY 30 down to Clatskanie to hop on Route 47, south, towards Scappoose/Vernonia HWY, back towards Portland through the first half of the ride that got adventure started in the first place.

 

Let us know how you liked this ride and any other suggestions which might enhance it for everyone else.

Found By Braap – Rodney Rouse

The braaaap found me at the best time in my life. Far removed from the swampy concrete jungle of the past decade. In a new place without friends or family and reeking of outsider in a new area that was a few parts insular and a large part American dream of kids-house-church.  The area was perfectly poised to awake anyone’s sense of adventure. It was beautiful, raw, packed full of dramatic exaggerations that your eyes refused to believe and I seethed with the desire to explore every inch of it.

 

The excitement found in exploring this place was unparalleled by any earlier life experiences. One day there were snowy back roads climbing through quite, contemplative mountains. Next there’s swooping downhill mountain biking with the brisk winter wind chill reminding you that yeah, you’re alive, and this is pretty fucking great. It was an awakening, a second wind found just in time, providing energy and purpose long missing. I wanted to punch Florida in the face, travel back in time, and punch myself in the face for staying so long. I bought a motorcycle instead.

 

My girlfriend calls it the green hornet. She says it’s cute. I like to think of my 2015 KLR 650 as the ultimate vehicle to survive the apocalypse, provide never-ending opportunities for adventure, and bullet-proof enough for me to beat the hell out of it on every Oregon back road I can find. I tell her that it’s cute now, but she will need to revaluate when our robot overlords rise and we use the KLR to escape to Canada.  Everyone knows Robots want nothing to do with Canada, too much love and hockey and bacon. 

 

So now I braaaap with you, my friends.

Burning gas

I’ve broken down and leased an EV (Electric Vehicle).  I had promised myself that this would never happen – that the sound of an internal combustion motor was going to be a mainstay in my life.  I wanted to always feel the torque build up as I wait for just the right time to shift into the next gear and ride the power wave of that fossil fuel burning mega machine and hear it crackle and pop as I decelerate and downshift in anticipation of the next sharp curve.  And then I realized something: In order to keep the fuel burning mega-hot-rods and motorcycles alive, we’ve got to find a way to make our daily commuting a cleaner effort. 

So I signed the dotted line and found myself in the driver’s seat of a bright blue, with angry blacked out “look at me, I’m sporty!” headlights and wheels, Fiat 500e.  Not a single head is left unturned when yours truly listens to heavy metal and quietly slips through the streets of peaceful Portland, OR.  I average 85 miles to the charge and my house electric bill has skyrocketed a mere $2.00 per month with the nightly charging of the Celeste Blu (not a misspell, that’s the advertised color name) not-rod, Buzz Light Beard.

Driving the quietest car on the road has somehow given me an excuse to ride perhaps the loudest motorcycle on the same public roadway with the ever-ready answer to whomever may stop me to lambast the bass boom-boom exhaust note of my fire-breathing Ducati.  I have an eco-friendly car, damn it, and I can “braap” all I want to! Plus, what’s a 5 gallon gas-tank when it gives you nearly 200 miles of joy through a myriad of curves, apexes, and blind corners? 

So, with pride, do I find myself plugging Buzz Light Beard into the garage for another day of quiet, clean, commuting with hopes that the energy required to make the electricity to run the little blue not-rod is less damaging than what fumes a turbo-charged high horsepower car may be doing to our little blue planet. 

Paradise in the Pacific North West? Go on…

I have always been a firm believer of “perception is reality”.  Through years of movies and post cards, I’ve come to expect paradise to be somewhere full of palm trees, blue waters and rum infused drinks and I think many of you would agree with me about this. 

Recently, my wife and I made a huge move and packed up the house and the dogs and drove across the country from Florida (paradise?) to Portland, OR.  Cloudy days combined with slower than average drivers, clogging the streets and highways, made me recognize why people go down south for their vacation in the sun.  And then the clouds rolled away along with the moving truck and we got settled into this new life of ours in the Pacific North West.  I wanted to say “this isn’t so bad, after all.” but found myself with the perception of “this is actually pretty perfect.

I know the locals don’t want too many people to believe this sort of talk about their beloved PNW but this land is likely some of the most beautiful and dramatic that I’ve ever ridden or driven through.  Never mind Portland’s never ending offerings of food and drinks, because that is unparalleled by most cities in the US, but the natural offerings of this corner of the country are far beyond what I’ve seen in one geographical place, any other place that I’ve been:  Wine country? Fine.  Mountains with curvy roads? Fine.  Hiking? Fine. High deserts with endless starry nights? Fine. Water features? Fine.  Your options are never ending. 

My perception of this State has turned into that of paradise.  Sure, there aren’t that many palm trees, but that mountain air will clear your lungs out and get your thought-wheels spinning about how you can better enjoy this Earth and, ultimately, protect it for your own selfish consumerism.

So, I’m going to start exploring this place and write about it, mostly so I don’t forget where I’ve been.