Monday, July 6, 2015

My 10 Favorite Cities - Part 3

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On our Road Pickle Motorcycle Bohemia, we've seen plenty of places, plenty of road and plenty of other riders along the way.
As motorcycle riders who have ridden across the country for the last 2 years, we are often asked what has been our favorite place to visit. I find a great amount of difficulty in answering that question, because I can't think on any individual city that is my absolute favorite. I've found that every city has it's own appeal and personality, so I end up rambling on an on listing numerous places for numerous reasons. As a result, I have decided to share a list of my favorite cities.

This is my third and final installment of this list, and they are listed in no particular order.

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Seattle:
Oh the traffic sucks in Seattle. In fact, I would rate it as the worst traffic in all of the cities I've visited. But let's put that aside for a moment, because that is the only thing about Seattle that I don't love! Well, that and the cold weather, but I always visit in the summer.

The food in Seattle is divine, with choices from fresh and inventive seafood to some of the best Asian food I've ever had. The coffee shops and pubs have distinct personalities, many are like walking into a friend's home where you put up your feet, enjoy a beverage, and feel welcome. The diversity of the cultures is refreshing. It seems everyone, I mean EVERYONE is welcome here. Whatever you're seeking, you can find it in Seattle.

Except ugliness. The landscapes and views are so beautiful, they make one take a step back just to soak it all in. The smiles on everyone's faces seems to represent just how far from Manhattan one really is (Manhattan, where no one smiles). Their is a warmth and character to the city and the locals embrace and reflect it.
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While in Seattle we visited the graves of Brandon and Bruce Lee, then over into Renton to visit the grave of Jimi Hendrix. There are hundreds of lipstick prints on Jimi's marble face, so I gave him a Smooch from Sash. 
We found great craft beers, remarkable architecture, great steaks, interesting landmarks, and an abundance of innovation. Seattle loves it's small businesses and as a city, does it can to support them and keep them in business. Big Box stores and chain restaurants are scarce and the small business owners are King. This creates diversity and uniqueness, fostering creativity and that welcoming attitude.

The motorcycling outside of Seattle is exciting and beautiful as well. A rider can spend a few days of riding mountains or go out to the coastline and never be bored, nor far from the city. With an endless array of small restaurants to get everything from fried alligator to radish chutney, Seattle has it all.

So slap on your slouchy beanie, flannel shirt and grab your cup of coffee and roam the imaginative streets of Seattle!

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Parking my motorcycle at Squatters in Salt Lake

Salt Lake City:
Surprised? Well, I was too. When I was a kid my father and step-mother lived about an hour from Salt Lake and they rarely went into the city. Most people think of Salt Lake City and think of the Mormons, the strict religion and the laws on alcohol. The truth is, you'll find some stricter alcohol laws across the country in more places than you can imagine! I find Salt Lake City to be more middle-of-the-road overall as far as alcohol laws as well as diversity.

Salt Lake City offers unbelievable riding in the area. The Alpine Loopwas my favorite and most challenging ride I've ever taken. It had sentimental value to me as well, because I rode this same road on the back of my Dad's Harley as a 13-year-old girl. But even local riders hail it as "better than the Dragon!" Not only will you find the Alpine Loop a great ride, but hundreds of other mountain roads await riders, all within an hour of Salt Lake City.

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Riding the Alpine Loop in Utah
We found delicious food in a number of downtown restaurants, interesting architecture, and historic sites and craft breweries with distinctive beer. The breweries serve food and mixed drinks as well, so we were pleased with the variety of choices.

One thing I have encountered on each visit to Salt Lake eateries are tourists. People come from all over the country, mostly on business, and flock to the bars at night. We met some of the most interesting people downtown, all of whom were from out of town. It seems funny to recommend a city for it's visitors, but it's truly a part of the city's makeup.

The city itself is beautiful and invites one to simply stroll about the downtown. I did not visit the Mormon Temple, but I'm told there are parts to visit for non-Mormons and that the history is interesting. There's a massive Farmer's Market in the downtown park on Saturdays with every food and vendor booth you can imagine, as well as live music all day. I had one of the best massages of my life, right there in an open booth on a massage chair. We met a parrot, bought some fresh honey, ate a torta and enjoyed punk music together.

The mentality of Salt Lake City seems to have evolved far beyond the white short sleeved shirts and black ties that I remember from the 1980's, into a more progressive and open place. I know I felt welcome in this beautiful, diverse city and for me, diversity is very appealing.

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As in most large cities, San Diego is constantly growing. The East Village is just off in the distance, a part of Downtown.
San Diego:
Even though I've traveled around the country for 2 1/2 years, I still find San Diego to be my all-time favorite city, and for good reason. It's not just because it is home to me, I can assure you. San Diego has everything I want, every time of year.

The weather is absolutely perfect. I read recently that San Diego ranked high on some list of Most Humid Cities, which makes no sense to anyone who has actually been there. Perhaps the inland areas can be a bit hot, but not humid. San Diego's average temperature is 71 F degrees, with crisp mornings, bright, sunny days, breezy late afternoons and cool evenings. The temperatures vary less than 20 degrees most days and the average rainfall is less than 3 inches a year. With weather like this, most people spend most of their time outside in San Diego.

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Within the city there are a multitude of neighborhoods; Downtown, East Village, Gaslamp, Old Town, Bankers Hill, Hillcrest, Little Italy, Marina, South Park, University Heights, North Park and Normal Heights, and many more. Gaslamp, Hillcrest and Little Italy are known for their vibrant nightlife, whereas Normal Heights, North Park, University Heights and South Park all have an after dark scene that is tamer and perhaps a bit more comfortable. Among them all are great restaurants, small and large, all cooking up a variety of fare such as Abyssinia Ethiopian, Russian-Georgian, Thai Fusion, Mediterranean Kabobs, and of course, the best Mexican food this side of the border.

Tacos, tacos, tacos! I love tacos! And San Diego has a variety to please every taco lover. Puerco, lengua, cabeza, chorizo, camarrones, pollo and carne asada, oh I could go on and on. From the overflowing crispy beef and cheese tacos of Dos Brasas on San Diego Avenue (my personal favorite, nationwide) to the fresh adobada street tacos of Tacos El Gordo in Chula Vista, something amazing can be found for the brave of heart and stomach. If you're not adventurous, or if you're really hung up on the appearance of a restaurant, then Taco Adventures are not for you, for you will miss the best food at the expense of your neurosis.

Beyond that, the craft beer scene has as many offerings as the taco scene, if not more. Breweries abound on nearly every block, with tasting rooms and full-on pubs such as Knotty Barrel in East Village. Most of these gastropubs offer food as great as their beer selection. So with a few dollars in hand, one should never be hungry nor thirsty in San Diego.
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San Diego is blessed with many freeways for the traffic to move around quickly, but there are plenty of options for transportation. If you stay Downtown, you can walk everywhere you want to go, get an Uber or Lyft, or take the trolley.
In the center of the city is Balboa Park, which is far larger than the famed Central Park in Manhattan. Balboa Park is home to 15 major museums, several performing arts venues, lovely gardens and many other cultural and recreational attractions, including the San Diego Zoo. With a variety of cultural institutions laid out among its 1,200 beautiful and lushly planted acres, Balboa Park is the nation’s largest urban cultural park. Inside Balboa Park is the Japanese Friendship Garden where Steve and I were married and a place we still love to visit every time we are in the area.

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Our wedding in the Japanese Friendship Garden, Balboa Park, San Diego
We have made a practice of staying in San Diego for the winter after traveling all summer, mostly because the weather is ideal and because we enjoy the city. For me, it is still like home, but I'm not ready to settle here for the long haul, not quite yet. If I ever settle, I imagine San Diego would be the place, for it has stolen my heart. I love the sound of the cars and trucks in the streets, the noise of the drunks at 2 am staggering home, the homeless crazies muttering to themselves on the sidewalks, the nervous tourists in their perfectly white sneakers and bermuda shorts, holding their teenager's hands as they cross the busy intersections and the locals who saunter up the streets wearing designer clothing and shitty looks on their faces. I love the independent coffee shops, the tequila bars, the roar of the baseball field, the clattering of the trolley, and the horns of the ships in the harbor.


If you haven't gone to Point Loma to the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery to stroll among the dead servicemen, then down the road to the Cabrillo Lighthouse and stood looking at the sparkling city in the late afternoon, then you haven't really seen San Diego. Do it just once, and it will steal your heart, as it has mine.

You can also read Part 1 and Part 2 of the list "My 10 Favorite Cities". Please, share your favorite cities with me so I can add them to my list of Places To Go.

My book Rude Biker Chick: Lessons From My Daddy is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Give me your feedback on it once you've read it! I look forward to hearing from you.

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2 comments:

  1. I enjoy Seattle for the food. When we were there a few months ago we felt like we ate our way through the vegan restaurant options.

    Nice wedding picture. It is lovely.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Trobairitz! I love Seattle, obviously. The food there is phenomenal!
      I think most people would assume that Portland and Seattle are very much alike, but they are not, at least in my opinion.
      Thank you for the compliment. Our wedding photographer is the best! But the venue is so beautiful, between him and the place, the photos all cam out so lovely.
      I was told that the ceremony was even more beautiful. I enjoyed it!! ;)

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About Sash


People call me "Sash" because I'm a former beauty queen in my old home town. My father used to ride in an MC which got me interested in the culture. After my last divorce I said "goodbye" to Susie Homemaker and became the rude biker chick I always felt inside. (Read more...)