Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lunch in Amboy and a Trip to the Cima General Store

Today I took a motorcycle ride through the Mojave National Preserve and made a couple of interesting stops along my journey.

My first stop was at Roy's Cafe in Amboy, CA. Roy's isn't actually in the Mojave National Preserve, but it was a nice place to stop just a few miles before I arrived at the MNP. In addition to the the weather being ideal for motorcycle riding, this weekend also happens to be the weekend when bikers from miles around make their annual pilgrimage (or is it a migration?) to Laughlin, Nevada for the Laughlin River Run. Normally this wouldn't even show up as a blip on my radar, but something special happens in Amboy during the River Run. Since 2005, the owner of Amboy has been Albert Okura, who also happens to own a chain of restaurants called Juan Pollo. Mr. Okura's restaurant ownership is significant because for the last couple of years Juan Pollo tacos have been sold in Amboy during the annual Laughlin River Run. I love those tacos and can't pass up a chance to enjoy a few in Amboy. Route 66 may not be what it once was, but those tacos are a step in the right direction. I sure hope Mr. Okura and Juan Pollo keep sending out the catering trailer to Amboy every year. I'll be there for the tacos.

Even a couple of law enforcement officers stopped in for a snack.

There were several tourists and bikers (several of them speaking French)enjoying a cool drink, a taco, and a beautiful day in the desert.

After enjoying a couple of carne asada tacos and a chicken taco (complete with onions, cilantro, and some great salsa) I headed for the Preserve. Upon arriving in the thriving town of Cima, CA I was surprised to see the Cima General store open for business.
A quick u-turn was in order. I arrived outside the General Store and parked next to a couple of dual-sport motorcycles near the entrance. I was pleased to see a fairly good selection of items in the very clean store, along with a few items reminiscent of the once booming railroad town of Cima.

I bought a can of my favorite energy drink and a very cool souvenir t-shirt, and spent a few minutes talking with Ray, who was manning the store. Ray explained that he and his wife are running the Cima General Store. His mother-in-law, Irene, used to run the store (and was the Postmaster at the US Post Office, formerly located right next door to the General Store), but the store was closed for about a year...until a few months ago when Ray and his wife reopened the store for business. They're currently only open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9 to 5. Ray explained that they both have jobs elsewhere currently, but hope to open the store five days a week this coming summer. Ray went on to tell me that Cima has no water. The water they use comes from a well on a 40 acre plot of land the family owns six miles away. The water is piped in from the well to Cima. Ray explained that his late father-in-law put in the water lines back in the 1950's when the family moved to the area. He must have done a good job, because the water still flows to this day.

I really enjoyed my conversation with Ray. I learned a little about the history of the area, something I always enjoy. Oh, and Ray pointed out one of the unique offerings available at the Cima General Store, saying "We're the only place in the National Preserve that sells beer and wine...that's because we were selling it long before the Preserve was here."

So the next time you visit the Mojave National Preserve, whether for enjoying the desert or just passing through, be sure to stop by the Cima General Store for a cold drink or a snack. It's great to see historical places of the Mojave Desert restored and improved. I'll be stopping in whenever I pass through.

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