Human Interest

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Parked along the flowing stream of Beaver Creek, in the farthest part of Beaver Creek Campground, sits Ara Gureghian with his prized possession and main method of travel — an 11-year-old BMW R1100 GS.

By Nate Hansen
Larson Newspapers

Parked along the flowing stream of Beaver Creek, in the farthest part of Beaver Creek Campground, sits Ara Gureghian with his prized possession and main method of travel — an 11-year-old BMW R1100 GS.

Only feet away lying in the shade of a cottonwood tree is Spirit, Gureghian?s best friend and pit bull terrier.

Both are tired from the previous day?s trip to Jerome, but they are preparing for a leisurely ride to Flagstaff. Soon, they?ll be on to another locale.

Moments earlier, Gureghian, 59, finished logging the day?s events into his Web site. Years before, he was able to place entries onto a daily blog, but now the bandwidth doesn?t support the pictures and stories.

No different than this article, there?s a lot to tell.

Gureghian is in his 20th consecutive year of motorcycling around North America during his annual six-month vacation. Needless to say, he doesn?t approach people saying he?s a motorcyclist.

Gureghian?s a chef, he says.

Despite learning to ride a motorcycle at age 10 — an old age to begin, he suggests — he insists his skills lie in the kitchen, not on two wheels.

More than two decades ago, Gureghian ran his own restaurant in Forestville, Calif., a small town getaway in Sonoma County.

In addition, he ran a wholesale bakery called ?Ara?s Cakes.?

Unfortunately, the restaurant and bakery hours took their toll on Gureghian, so he sought out a new venture.

?I was working 30 hours a day,? he laughs. ?I wouldn?t recommend being a chef to anyone.?

Either Gureghian couldn?t escape cooking or vice versa, because for the past 19 years, he says he worked as a personal chef to high-end clientele in Naples, Fla. It provided the luxury of relaxation, coincidentally providing substantial pay for the luxury of relaxing.

Six months ago, Gureghian started his motorcycle journey again, only this time it was permanent. He is retiring early, he says.

Gureghian doesn?t have a specific route he?s taking. He says he doesn?t really know where he?s heading.

?I?ll visit the Grand Canyon, Zion, Death Valley ? I?ll head north through Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, maybe Alaska,? he adds. ?I?ve been everywhere, but not in-depth. I plan on taking my time and revisiting everything again, only different things. There?s no rush.?

What Gureghian does know is that he?ll use his time on the road to complete his cookbook titled, Micro-Cooking.

The concept is to take state-of-the-art kitchen expertise to a two-foot by two-foot cooking space.

According to Gureghian, the right pan, utensils and ingredients can make some delicious dishes. Once he finds 30 perfect meals, he?ll publish his book.

Despite spending half the year driving his BMW complete with Spirit seated in the sidecar, Gureghian?s tales of soufflés precede any sights he has seen.

Stuffed tortellini, grilled chicken, sautéed tomatoes, Dijon mustard, not to mention his favorite seafood dish of scallops and shrimp are appetizers before Joshua Tree National Park?s main course.

If plans go accordingly, he says BMW?s annual rally in Wisconsin will invite him to speak about cooking on the road.

One of the nation?s largest food conventions in Chicago is anticipating a special booth for him as well, he says.

Gureghian introduces his ?beemer? and nearly 150 pounds of gear — not including the dog.

Thin layers of dust cover the motorcycle, making it difficult to read various stickers advertising motorcycle groups, travel clubs and personal statements.

The BMW is decked out with two PIAA lights mounted on the sidecar and four Hella lights in front of the bike. He says the bike?s generated 740 watts is more than adequate to keep them shining bright during dark trips.

Above Gureghian?s handlebars rests a global positioning system to guide himself on unmapped forest service roads if need be and a radar detector sits inconspicuously behind the windshield.

?I don?t go fast, but I like to know where they are,? he jokes.

Bags hanging from the tank of the motorcycle hold camping fuel containers and clothing while rear and side compartments carry space blankets, water, food, tools, a first-aid kit and a wench.

For extra measure, he used to carry a satellite phone, but now he carries a satellite dish — perfect for his necessary Internet connections.

Regardless of the amenities, Gureghian says being on the road can be a lonely life. Other than Spirit?s nuzzling wet nose and wagging tail, he isn?t shown much affection on the road.

?Heck, I lived on a sailboat for 28 years, [isolation] is tough on relationships,? he shrugs. ?But, with the network of chefs, motorcyclists and dog owners, I don?t need to camp if I don?t want to ? I could always stay at somebody?s home.?

Gureghian shakes off the thought of loneliness.

?Get yourself a motorcycle, some gear, a MSR stove and go. I?m going to say that it?s not an easy life, but it?s easier than living in an apartment. To live in an apartment is a caged life.?

As far as having a ?home,? Gureghian responds comically.

?I have an address — Florida,? he chuckles.


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