Zen Is Ten: The Zen House, A Decade On The Coast Get To Know The Creators Of An Iconic Motorcycle and ATV Refuge in Pt. Arena
Living fully and authentically in the present moment makes each instant of one’s life a peak experience.” With that simple sentence, writer Rafael Espericueta gives clarity to those of us (myself included) who hear or use the word ‘Zen’ without necessarily fully understanding its meaning. If your immediate thought is to imagine yourself (or a Buddhist monk somewhere in the world) sitting motionless for extended periods of time, the reality is that finding Zen is more than sitting motionless in thought. As Espericueta reminds us, “even cats frequently practice that”. Beyond the calm, many have accepted that Zen can actually include being in motion, particularly if you’re on a Ducati, Triumph, Norton, or other memorable bike. For riders and bike owners who fully embrace Zen or just appreciate the concept, getting centered also includes taking care of your bike. And that’s where The Zen House comes in.
Kelley Litle was born and raised in Springfield, Missouri. David Harris is a Californian. Born in Bakersfield and raised in Arroyo Grande, near San Luis Obispo on the central Coast, Dave was in the process of traveling the world on his bike—affectionately known as Zenzilla. To be fair, at some point the bike was a Honda, but over time Harris had adapted, adjusted, replaced or transformed so many pieces that the bike became, well, let’s just say that this was no longer your grandma’s Honda. Harris’ toured through North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, southeast Asia, India, Nepal, Mexico, and Central America. In the midst of his 24,000 mile journey he ventured through Springfield, and grad-student Kelley was ‘in his way’. Ultimately they moved to San Diego, where Litle made use of her Masters Degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and Harris developed a reputation for his expertise with motorcycles. Dave worked hard enough to help GP Motorcycles become the top Ducati dealer in the country. Perhaps he was becoming a “bike whisperer”, bringing damaged, neglected, or forgotten bikes back to life.
Having visited family on the Mendocino Coast, in 2005 the two concluded that this was a good place to start a business, and transform their lives. That business, The Zen House (opened July 4, 2008), has become an oasis for weekend riders, and a necessity for hard core motorcycle and ATV owners. Along with the parts, service, and accessories, the business—housed in part of a classic mid-twentieth century service station (which still sells gas) is clearly the creation of David and Kelley. Like their decision to live on the coast, they’ve planted roots and created a successful business in downtown Point Arena. It’s a haven that exudes warmth and welcoming, and is exactly what you’d hope to find as you travel the roads, highways, and byways of northern California. Locals and visitors alike, everyone who rides their bike or ATV into The Zen House (or has it towed, shipped, or walks it in) appreciate the opportunity to take advantage of world-class service. And it’s delivered with a small town friendliness.
Naming their business came straight from a connection with the legendary book by Robert Pirsig. Officially, their business—The Zen House: The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance—is a perfect fit on the California Coast. After all, it has become an oasis for weekend riders, and a necessity for hard core motorcycle and ATV owners.
Note: See separate story on page 2 for a look at the events surrounding Zen’s 10th anniversary.