• You won't find any famous outlaws in the Yuma Territorial Prison, but you will learn about the real Old West...

  • San Diego is known for having the best Mexican restaurants in the United States, but you'd be surprised where you'd find it, it's not where you think...

  • Rebeccas Coffee House in South Park, San Diego is one of the most eclectic in the city, offering a unique open-mic poetry night.

New Post


Sunday, February 2, 2014
Yuma, AZ: Yuma Territorial Prison

Yuma, AZ: Yuma Territorial Prison

yuma territorial prison
Yuma Territorial Prison, Yuma, AZ
Much is written about the saga of the Old West.  From Deadwood, SD to Dodge City, KS, to Tombstone, AZ, scores of books, movies, and television shows detail the legends of such likes as Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Buffalo Bill Cody, Wild Bill Hickok, and Calamity Jane.

But you rarely hear about the prisons of the Old West.  It's like once you're locked up in the joint, the history books pretty much pass you by.

Even graveyards get more attention, as Tombstone's Boothill had its own movie.

Today, the Yuma Territorial Prison remains as Yuma's biggest tourist draw.  A popular destination for motorcyclists in Arizona and Southern California, it's the focus of an annual biker rally, "The Yuma Prison Run".

A visit to the prison grounds won't reveal any famous names synonymous with the American West however.  The people locked up here mostly committed less-than-sensational crimes, stuff like embezzlement, adultery, burglary, and even polygamy.  But there were other more daring and grisly crimes, such as Elena Estrada, who blew off half the head of her brother with a shotgun, and Pearl Hart who was sentenced for robbing a stagecoach.

yuma prison
Sash standing in "The Hole"
Otherwise, the Yuma Territorial Prison is a great way to get a feel for the "Real West".  As it turns out, prisoners assembled for the prison band, performed in prison theater, and could grow flowers in the prison garden.  While there were a number of escapees and a riot, most prisoners either served out their term or were pardoned for good behavior.

But it's not to say that the Yuma Territorial Prison is boring.  Just touching the stone walls, iron gates, and seeing the graffiti scribbled on cell walls, gives you that eerie feeling of traveling through history.  To know that you're standing in the same vibe where convicts wasted away in their cells at 115 degree F heat, amid cockroaches, six people to cell, and an open bucket of feces, is hard to put into words.  To realize that you're looking at the same piece of soil where prisoners coughed up their lungs with tuberculosis, is humbling.

You can even walk through the prison cemetery.

The prison's solitary confinement wasn't really solitary.  It was a cave known as "the hole", blasted out of a hillside and the prison would keep stuffing more guys into it without regard to overcrowding.  People were put in there with only their underwear and only dirt and rock to sleep on.

Even women were put into the same "hole" with men, and of course raped, though only one prison baby was born.

If you plan to visit Yuma Territorial Prison, take the time to hang out in downtown.  The city has done a lot of a redevelopment there and you'll find several great restaurants and pubs.

Yuma Territorial Prison
1 Prison Hill Road
Yuma, AZ 85364
(928) 783-4771

yuma territorial prison
The prison had a physician's examination room
yuma territorial prison
Each cell barely had enough room to house six beds
yuma territorial prison
Another shot of "The Hole"
yuma territorial prison
The prison guard tower
yuma territorial prison
In the old days of the prison, female visitors would pose on horses this way
Saturday, January 25, 2014
The Best Mexican Food in San Diego

The Best Mexican Food in San Diego

dos brasas mexican food
When you start from San Diego, the further east you go the worse the Mexican food gets.

That's not to say the tacos and burritos in Tucson or El Paso are bad, it's just that San Diego seems to have a higher concentration of really good Mexican chow.

Dos Brasas, located in the Mission Hills community of San Diego, has become a local favorite of Sash and myself.  There's nothing fancy to it.  It almost looks like a dump from the outside.  But Dos Brasas has never been a favorite of tourists, only the locals.  The locals don't care if a taqueria looks like shit on the outside, because they know all the gold is in the inside.

As it turns out, the best places to find Mexican eats in San Diego are not to be found in higher end full service restaurants.  You won't find authentic South-of-the-border fare in such chains like El Torito, Acapulco, or God forbid, On The Border Grill.

Instead, it's the little taqueria's like Dos Brasas that make all the best grub.

Basically translated into "taco shop", taquerias are where they focus on making authentic Mexican food, just like you get on the other side of the border.

And what is authentic Mexican food?  If you consider that 90% of Mexicans in Mexico are poor, you can't really consider a lean cut of beef as being authentic Mexican.  Only the wealthy European descendants living in Mexico get to eat such fine cuts of meat.  The rest of the Mexicans typically live on the cheaper cuts of pork and chicken.  When it comes to beef, they're getting the tongue, stomach, heart, head, and liver.  Tacos Lingua (tongue tacos) or Tacos Cabeza (head tacos), is authentic Mexican.

But that doesn't mean you have to eat cow brains to get real authentic Mexican food.

Any taqueria in San Diego will serve you up a shredded beef taco that'll still beat the pants off a shredded beef taco in any other Americanized Mexican restaurant.  The way the tortilla is deep fried, the thick helping of meat in the taco, and the simple topping of lettuce and cheese,  you get the full favor of the grease and meat in every bite.

And don't think that real Mexican food is smothered in red sauce and tons of cheese.  They don't really eat that way in Mexico.  It's not to say that kind of food is not good, it's just not authentic Mexican.

But the real secret of a great taqueria is the salsa bar.  There has to be a serve-yourself station of salsas ranging from mild to hot so that you can doctor up that taco the way you like.  There needs to be chopped onions, chopped cilantro, sliced lime, and pickled jalapenos.

It's like you have to go to Memphis for the best BBQ pork ribs or New York City for the best pizza.  You have to visit a taqueria in San Diego to get the best Mexican food.

Dos Brasas Mexican Food
1890 San Diego Ave
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 291-6527

Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Road Pickle: The Small Stories, Part 2

Road Pickle: The Small Stories, Part 2

Continuing from Part 1 of "Road Pickle: The Small Stories", below is a collection of photos from our six month motorcycle road trip across the USA, along with some small and interesting stories that happened along the way...

shorely good cafe cheriton va
In front of Shorely Good Cafe in Cheriton, VA, located on the Eastern Shore.  Sash was so smitten with the country charm of the village and its closeness to the ocean and bay, that she wanted us to buy a house here.  Her idea was to spend the winter months in Cheriton, working on our Internet business, and then rent it out as a vacation home during the warmer months while we motorcycle across the continent.  So, we went into Shorely Good Cafe, along the main strip of Cheriton, ordered up some sandwiches, and she asked them about the winters here, wondering if they got a lot of snow.  "Not really" they answered.  She went on to pick their brains about what it's like living in Cheriton, and was sold on the idea.  Since then, however, we decided against living there.

cape henry lighthouse
Sash taking a rest while climbing to stairs to the top of Cape Henry Lighthouse, in Virginia Beach, VA. It's 191 steps to the top.  This lighthouse is the very first federally funded public works project, built in 1792. It was really hot the day we climbed it, 97 degrees F.  At the top of the lighthouse, it was even hotter due to it being totally encased in glass with no air vents.  As a result, you didn't want to stay very long.  The exercise, however, cost us $5.00 per person.

abbey road pub virginia beach
We had lunch at Abbey Road Pub, in Virginia Beach, VA, a restaurant devoted to The Beatles. While perusing the menu, I told Sash, "They should change the name of their lemon meringue pie to John Lennon Meringue Pie".  She laughed, and then we started coming up with other Beatlesque menu names.  We had so fun with it, that she called for the restaurant manager and told him that she wanted to rename all of their dishes.  He asked for her to write them all down and hand them to him, and that he would consider it.  So, we spent the next hour laughing over names we came up with like, "Lucy in the Sky with Tacos", "The Long and Winding Curly Fries", "I Wanna Hold Your Ham Sandwich", "Get Back to Where Your Appetizer Sampler Belongs", and "Baby You Can Drive My Carrot Cake", among several others.

woman peeing on side of the road
Sash peeing in the bushes along State Route 661 "Clark House Farm Rd" in southern Virginia. We had left Mt. Airy, NC earlier in the afternoon and were en route to Martinsville, VA. She led the way, trying to find a restroom, but couldn't find one, so she pulled over here, taking care to avoid the Poison Oak.  Later on, this photograph was voted by members of the Motorcycle Riders Community on Google+ as its cover image.

another great thrift store memphis
This is at a thrift store in Memphis, TN.  Whenever we stayed at a city for a week, Sash would visit thrift stores and consignment shops to look at clothes and shoes.  She'd buy up stuff and take them back to the hotel room so that she had an assortment of "new" things to wear.  When it was time to leave town, she'd leave other garments and items behind in the hotel room, so that the load on our motorcycles never increased.  And because all of her things cost dirt cheap from shops like these, she didn't care about leaving them behind.

trail of tears arkansas
Sash with a Trail of Tears sign along the US-70 outside of Hazen, AR.  According to her family's history, her great-great grandmother was a Choctaw Indian who walked the Trail of Tears as a child.  During this road trip, Sash hoped to connect with the Trail of Tears as a way of coming full circle.  The Trail of Tears is not just one trail, but a network of several trails.  Sash later learned that her great-great-grandmother happened to walk the same trail that Sash is standing at.

super 8 martinsville va
Super 8 Motel in Martinsville, VA.  We stayed here for two nights.  Super 8 is part of the Wyndham chain of hotels, which we participate in their rewards program.  They also own Days Inn, Travelodge, Howard Johnson, Baymont, among others.  Anytime we stayed in a town for just 1-3 days, we'd typically stay at a Wyndham property and rack up points.  This Super 8 in Martinsville, VA was probably the rattiest Super 8 we had seen.  It was cheap, but had old, creepy, depressing looking rooms.  Later on in the trip, we had accrued enough Wyndham points to stay at some places for free.

cramp buster
Sash used a Cramp Buster on her throttle throughout the the six months of riding.  Her wrists often ached from holding the down throttle.  The Cramp Buster worked OK on long stretches of highway, but when we got into cities where there was a lot of "stop and go", it became a nuisance, and she would yank it off the throttle.  She also tried using a wrist brace and applied various ointments to deaden the pain.  Eventually, we shortened the travel between towns to make it easier on her body.

guy drinking a beer
At Grace O'Malley's Pub in Ruidoso, NM.  I'm a pretty simple guy with simple needs, and besides riding motorcycles and working on my Internet business, I like to drink craft beer.  When Sash and I would pull into a town, she'd often be hungry while I'd often be thirsty.  And since I'm often leading the ride, I pass by dozens of restaurants in search of a bar that "looks" eclectic enough to serve up a good selection of craft beers, all the while Sash is getting irritated over her hunger.  We'd often argue and fight over what's more important, her getting food or my getting beer.

san ysidro post office
Me at the Post Office in San Ysidro, CA, on the day we started our road trip.  San Ysidro is the south-western-most point the United States, and this Post Office is often used as one of the "corners" in the Iron Butt Association's "Four Corners Ride".  Sash and I thought about visiting each of the four corners (San Ysidro, Key West, FL, Madawaska, ME, and Blaine, WA).  But mid-way through the ride we decided it was not doable with all the other people we wanted to meet, places to see, and roads to ride.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
San Diego, CA: Rebecca's Coffee House

San Diego, CA: Rebecca's Coffee House

Rebecca's Coffee House slowly filled with a group of unfamiliar faces, dressed in garb almost costume-like, but seemingly fitting for the eclectic clientele putting in orders for chai tea latte and vegan muffins.

Since Sash and I first visited this place in San Diego's bohemian-like South Park community, it's been her favorite hangout.

Crude paintings of musicians, dimly lit lamps, and earth-tone painted walls surround the unmatched, shabby-chic furnishings.  The place looked like it had been an old mattress store in the 1920's and then hastily covered over with paint and decorations without having first swept the cobwebs.

It seems the perfect venue for a monthly open-mic poetry reading.

Troubled minds and lonely souls often seek refuge in their prose and meter.  Sash began writing poetry in her teens, during some tumultuous years of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.  Later in life, she managed to publish them in a book entitled, "Finding Christ Inside", which despite sounding like a tribute to the late water-walker, is actually about reaching deep inside herself for the last saving grace of innocence.

A man with one arm sits right in front of me in a wheelchair, alone, with folded sheet of paper on his lap.  His problems seems many, while his calm demeanor and polite manner does its best to dissociate from his emotions as he waits his turn to speak.  A group of four men, cackling and giggling like little boys, managed to grab the best seats in the house before anyone else claimed them.  Meanwhile, a staff of workers behind the bar work hastily to complete those orders of chai tea lattes.

south park map
South Park sits along the southeast border of Balboa Park, San Diego's largest, oldest, and famous city park.  But when I grew up in San Diego during the 1970s, I never recalled a community called "South Park".  There was North Park, where I lived, and then there was Golden Hill.  In the 1990s, as blight spread its way through Golden Hill, a section to the north managed to remain quaint, trimmed, and populated by upper-income.  Real estate agents wanting to distance themselves from Golden Hill, coined the name "South Park", and managed to break off the northern chunk from its mother-community.  Residents of South Park seemed to like the change.

Rebecca's Coffee House seems a perfect fit for the community.

It's famed Whistle Stop Bar entertains a clientele of 30-something computer geeks with live mixtures of folk, rock, and ska.  Sombrero Mexican Food on Fern St. has become so legendary, a local alternative-rock band weaved it into a song.  Along the sidewalk of 30th Street, a couple of lovers sat by the window of Mazara Trattoria, illuminated by a candle between them.

It just so happened the Grim Reaper made an appearance at Rebecca's, reciting lines of prose that somehow sounded meant for me.  I had to take a photograph just to make sure it was just a guy in a costume.  It was.

Sash finally takes her stand behind the mic and reads a poem she wrote.  The room grows quiet.  Her voice, amplified through a speaker, still echoes throughout the room.  It's not just the words, but also the delivery, and Sash seems to have both down pat.  The room goes into applause, and she finds herself on an adrenaline rush.

She's followed by a guy dressed in off-white corduroy with a matching fedora, looking almost like Darrin McGavin in an episode of The Night Stalker.  His voice erupts with the loudest volume, and his arms stretch out, making a facial expression of a high school teacher berating a student for being late.  We're all fixed to his delivery, hanging on his every word.

The one-armed guy in a wheelchair makes his way to the microphone.  He speaks of "dark", "grey", "ass licking", "fucking sure", and "dropping kids on their head on a travertine floor", in poems with titles beginning with the word, "Rant".

A slender lady shrouded in a gray cloak, looking lonely and depressed, spoke heartfelt words that even pulled tears from her own eyes.

A skinny old man, dressed in black with a black hat, speaks into the microphone sounding exactly like Ren, the cartoon chihuahua.  His poems reek of Edgar Allen Poe, of similar meter and rhythm, and after the evening concluded he spontaneously erupts with prose as the groups exits.

"I just love poets!", Sash remarks.  "They're all fuckin' crazy!"

Open Mic Poetry takes places at Rebecca's Coffee House every third Tuesday of the month at 7:00pm.

South Park doesn't have any hotels or motels, and I don't even recall seeing a hostel anywhere here either.  Your best bet is to find a vacation rental on Airbnb.com or VRBO.com.

Rebecca's Coffee House
3015 Juniper Street
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 284-3663

rebeccas coffee house
Sash reciting lines of her own poetry at Rebecca's Coffee House
rebeccas coffee house
Even the Grim Reaper made an appearance with some rhymes of his own
rebeccas coffee house
Rebecca's Coffee House is brimming with cookies, muffins, and pastries.  They also serve hot & cold sandwiches and full breakfasts.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Road Pickle: The Small Stories, Part 1

Road Pickle: The Small Stories, Part 1

Along the six months Sash and I spent riding across the USA, there were dozens of minor events and incidents that we hadn't mentioned on this blog. So, we wanted to share them with you through photos and captions.

baymont inn suites indianapolis
Sash thanking the staff at Baymont Inn & Suites in Indianapolis, IN after they let us stay for several hours after we had checked out.  We were expecting a FedEx package to arrive the day before, but it instead was delayed and came the day we checked out.  The staff at Baymont let us set up our laptops in their dining room, bring in lunch from Subway, and use their Wi-Fi while we waited.  The FedEx guy finally showed up around 3:00pm.
sash nude
Sash found various places across the United States where she wanted to be nude, including this spot inside Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.  We didn't realize it, but this spot happened to be where there was an arch rock, and dozens of tourists were out wanting to snap photos of it, some of whom spotted us, but Sash didn't seem to mind and they didn't seem create a stir.
no clothes eureka springs arkansas
We spotted a clothing boutique in downtown Eureka Springs, AR called, "No Clothes". So we decided to come back around 11:00pm at night, and photograph ourselves standing naked under the sign.  There wasn't anyone else around.
first del taco location
On the last day of our road trip, we stopped at Del Taco in Barstow, CA on the corner of 1st and Hutchinson, which is actually the 2nd Del Taco location in history.  Sash used to eat here with her grandmother when she lived in Barstow as a little girl.  FYI, this particular location offers a "Barstow Taco", which is a hard-shelled taco with a single sliced tomato instead of diced.
out of gas on the highway
Sash ran out of gas along the I-15 in Utah, about 2 miles north of Fillmore. She had difficulty adjusting to the V-Star 650's 40 MPG versus the Ninja 500's 60 MPG.  Moreover, this stretch of the I-15 was at 5,200 FT elevation, making for a richer fuel mixture, and she had the throttle cranked all the way because of Utah's famous 80 MPH speed limit.  She called Triple A and they dispatched a guy out to refill her tank, except the gas can he used wasn't designed for motorcycles, and spilled about a half-gallon of gas all over her bike.
traveling massage girl
We were at the Farmers Market in Salt Lake City, when Sash spotted this gal selling chair massages.  She bought a half-hour massage from her and found her rather talented and quite muscular.  So, she invited her to our hotel room for a one-hour, full body massage, leaving her feeling quite relaxed yet sore.
kickstand hole in asphalt
Temperatures in Bloomington, MN got into the 100s while we were there.  The hotel we stayed at had fresh asphalt laid recently, which Sash's kickstand poked a rather ugly hole into.  The hotel asked us to place this plywood board under the kickstand.
waiting out rain under a bridge
When we left Columbus, OH, the weather was forecast for full sunshine with no chance of rain.  We were wearing light gear, prepared for a warm day of riding.  So as we got outside of city limits, we were hit by a rogue rain cloud that dumped an awful lot of water.  Sash decided to pull over under an overpass to wait it out.
woman in hospital bed
Sash in the E/R at Robert J Wood Medical Center in New Brunswick, NJ. She was overcome with intense pain in her lower right back.  We thought it was kidney stones.  It turned out her ovary had "tortioned", or twisted itself around its fallopian tube.  She was there from morning to late evening. The E/R was very busy and it took a long time to get a physician to see her, let alone get CT Scans done and prescriptions written up.  While waiting for the physician to see her, the staff gave her some strong pain killers, but it wasn't enough to help.
monogram foods memphis
Sash posing for a photo in front of Monogram Foods corporate headquarters in Memphis, TN.  Several businesses in Memphis have this same tiger statue on display, except painted and decorated in different ways.  It's the official mascot of the University of Memphis.  According to the folks at Monogram, their statue is a magnet for tourists seeking photos (like us).
motorcycle drive through
In Albuquerue, NM, Sash and I had been out all night brewery hopping, and most of these breweries don't have food.  On our way back to the hotel, she wanted some tacos.  The local Taco Bell was open only for drive-thru however.
the bashful bandit tucson
When we were in Tucson, AZ, Sash had been asking people for the most roughest, toughest, meanest, dirtiest biker bar in town.  Everyone directed us to The Bashful Bandit. We went inside and I had a couple of beers, but their beer selection is pretty much typical of biker bars, only the domestics, and I couldn't handle anymore.
fly on a window
We were in Fort Morgan, CO, after an afternoon of riding in near 100 degree F temperatures. We stopped at a Dairy Queen to cool off with some frozen drinks.  There were flies everywhere inside and outside. This fly was on the outside of the window and didn't seem to mind me photographing it on macro mode.
starvation lake utah
Sash at a roadside rest stop at Starvation Lake, Utah, along the US-40 westbound. When she was a teenager living in Utah with her father, her father would take her to this specific spot to picnic.
deep blue wrist pain
This photo was taken in Chamberlain, SD.  Throughout the trip, Sash was plagued with wrist pain from having to hold the throttle for long periods.  Her friend Betty Owen, MS, who's an expert on holistic and natural remedies, recommended a product called, "Deep Blue", a homeopathic solution for joint pain.  It seemed to help Sash along the way.
homeless denver co
I saw this guy on a street corner in Denver, CO.  What you don't see is that the US Mint is on the other side of the street that I'm on.
jose osheas lakewood co
Highway working out of his smartphone while nursing a margarita at Jose O'Shea's in Lakewood, CO.  It turned out we visited this restaurant numerous evenings because they offered free tacos, wings, and chimichangas for happy hour, and reduced prices on margaritas. It helped cut our dining expenses down.
riding without hands
Since she's known me, I've made a habit of riding without hands.  So, throughout the trip, Sash practiced doing the same.  By the time she got to Iowa (pictured here), along the US-34, she seemed to have mastered it.
riding motorcycle without hands
So along the same stretch of highway as the last photo, I decided to one-up Sash by standing up on the motorcycle while riding without hands.
woman standing on motorcycle
Sash wasn't going to let me best her, so here she is attempting to do the same thing, except she was never able to let go of the handle bars. 
joes crab shack peoria il
Probably the worst food we had along the trip was Joe's Crab Shack in Peoria, IL.  We were hungry by the time we reached Peoria along I-74 westbound, and took an off-ramp into downtown to the first restaurant we saw. Sash had the fish-n-chips, and found the fish to be awful, very fishy tasting, almost tasting spoiled.  I had fried jumbo shrimp over rice, and found the shrimp small and rubbery.
jacuzzi bubble bath
After one of our longest days of riding, from Bedford, PA to Columbus, OH, we relaxed in our in-room Jacuzzi. We had started the day riding in rain all the way from Bedford to Wheeling, WV. Sash became really irritated getting cold and soaked through her gear.  By the time we checked into our hotel in Columbus, all we wanted to do was kick back in the spa.  (That's my thumb sticking out the bubble bath, BTW)
data port
We were at a truck stop just outside of Zanesville, OH, when Sash noticed these "Data Ports" all along the wall.  She couldn't figure how where to plug a cable into.  I explained that these were "Wi-Fi" ports.
penrose restaurant philadelphia
We agreed that when we arrived in Philadelphia, we'd go to both Geno's Steaks and Pat's King of Steaks for what's often described as the best two Philly Cheese Steaks in the world.  But we never made it to those two.  So on the last day in Philadelphia, we scrambled around looking for a place to get cheese steaks.  We stopped at this place instead and each ordered them.  Sash thought they were good, but I know I've had better cheese steaks in California.  
studio 6 east brunswick
This is at Studio 6 in East Brunswick, NJ, where we stayed a week.  Sash and I stayed at a few other Studio 6 locations across the USA.  They're a sister-chain with Motel 6, except Studio 6 are studio apartments, with full size kitchens, and are cleaner and more modern looking than Motel 6.  Prices are low enough you could stay a month for about $900.00 depending on location.  It turned out this location in East Brunswick was the worst we had encountered.  Next door to us was a family of six, who had been living there for several months.  The husband worked construction all day, and had forbidden his wife to ever leave the room, stuck with four kids who shouted and banged toys, including one crying baby that never stopped crying.  The management would never answer the phone, so we couldn't call to complain. We called the police to complain about "child abuse", and they actually arrived, but it didn't seem to stop anything.  So Sash walked into the management office numerous times to complain, and finally they relented and forced the family to move out.
laying down while taking a photo
This is in Washington DC.  What you don't see is the Washington Monument behind Asphalt Annie.  Throughout the trip Sash was looking for creative ways to photograph Annie in provocative ways, requiring her to get into a variety of odd positions, and did it all with her smartphone.
asphalt annie
And here's the photo that Sash took.
taking a photo while riding a motorcycle
Highway taking a photo of Amish riding their buggy in Strasburg, PA.  I kept a long leash on my camera and wore it around my neck all throughout the trip.  When I saw a photo opportunity, I could turn on the camera and snap it right away.  And if I needed to let go of the camera immediately, I could just drop it.  I also rode without gloves on most days so that I could work the buttons on the camera.

Copyright © 2013 Too Much Tina All Rights Reserved