Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Halloween

1/25/2015

Googie

Filed under: — stan @ 7:17 pm

Today’s bike club ride was another architecture tour. This time to see the old Johnie’s Broiler in Downey, which was a classic example of 1950s Googie architecture. It had fallen on hard times some years ago, and was partially demolished in 2007. I went to see it then, so I wanted to go back and see how it looks now that they’ve fixed it up.

The route it very straightforward. Straight down Rosemead Blvd all the way to Downey. We stopped off at the oldest operating McDonald’s there, and some of us had the old-style fried apple pies. Our snack stop was at 3rd St Coffee in Downey. And after that, we continued on down to Firestone Blvd and the former Johnie’s, which is now Bob’s Big Boy Broiler. It looks a lot better than the last time I saw it. And there’s a little plaque in the wall by the front door, telling the story about how it was saved from demolition and restored.

The route home took us up the Rio Hondo bike path, and then straight north on Walnut Grove, back to Pasadena.

42 miles.

1/18/2015

Roll Out the Barrel

Filed under: — stan @ 2:11 pm

Route map

Last week, I saw an article about how the old barrel-shaped restaurant in North Hollywood is being renovated by new owners, and it going to be reopening soon as the Idle Hour. The giant barrel is yet another example of programatic architecture, and as soon as I saw it, I knew we had a bike ride coming up to go see it. Other odd structures we’ve been to see before include the Coca-Cola bottling plant, the giant tamale, and the big donut.

The route was just a slight reworking of our old Toluca Lake route. We rode through South Pasadena, and then down Figureoa through Highland Park. We passed Chicken Boy there. Then we took the L.A. River bike path north, where we saw some Great Egrets wading in the river. At the end of the bike path, we got on Riverside Drive and headed west across Toluca Lake. We stopped at the Barris Kustom shop there to peek in the windows and see the Batmobile and the Munster Koach parked inside.

Then we headed north up Vineland Ave to get to the barrel. There were some guys working on it, so we got to peek inside the fence. They said we couldn’t look inside yet, but that it would be ready and opening in just a few weeks. The new finish on the barrel looks good.

We continued north up to Chandler, where we stopped at Panera, across the street from the Metro Red Line station. I saw there was a notification on my phone from the Field Trip app about the Southern Pacific train depot that Metro is renovating there. I looked, and it was right across the street from us. So that’s going to be yet another thing to go see when they get it finished.

Coming home, we took the Chandler Bikeway from NoHo and across Burbank. Then across Glendale, up Chevy Chase and Linda Vista for our obligatory hill of the day. And then past the Rose Bowl to get home. It was a nice day for riding, and we had a good time.

46 miles.

1/10/2015

The Marine Mammal Care Center

Filed under: — stan @ 2:58 pm

Today’s adventure was yet another tour arranged by the Obscura Society. This time, it was a visit to the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro. This is sort of a companion to our visit to the Marine Mammal Center near San Francisco last summer.

The Marine Mammal Care Center is the place to go for treatment and rehabilitation of rescued seals and sea lions in Los Angeles. It’s a relatively small place, with just a handful of pens with small pools for the animals. There’s also an office/lab/classroom building there, where the director of the center told us about the place, and about the animals they treat. He passed around a sea lion skull for us to look at. Apparently, the takeaway from all this is that sea lions have sharp teeth. That, and that harbor seals may look cute, but they also bite. So don’t get too near them.

After the talk inside, we went outside to see the animals. There were mostly sea lions there. He had said that they get a lot of malnourished and dehydrated animals there, and he described the procedure for tube-feeding sick animals. And when we were outside, we got to see three people wrestling a small sea lion to hold it down for tube-feeding. Afterward, the little pup looked like he’d just endured an alien abduction.

There was another pen that had several sea lions in it. They said that they were all nearly healthy enough to be released back into the ocean. They were being fed, but they were feeling good enough that they were playing with the fish. Which was fine with the very large bird sitting and watching them. Whenever they would toss a fish out of the water, the bird would come down and steal it.

It was an interesting morning. And since were were already in San Pedro, we took a short side trip to see the Korean Friendship Bell in the park down the street. Then we went home by way of Dim Sum in Chinatown. All together, that made a for a fun time.

1/4/2015

Checking in on the Metro Gold Line

Filed under: — stan @ 1:49 pm

This Sunday’s bike club ride is yet another installment of checking out the progress that Metro is making on building the Gold Line extension to Azusa. We first did this tour almost a year ago, when construction was under way, but not all that far along yet. And we’ve been looking in on it every few months since then. Since the completion of the track last October, work has shifted to finishing up the stations and putting up the overhead wires.

In Monrovia, we saw that the station looks almost complete, and they’ve made a lot of progress on the maintenance yard. The downtown station in Azusa looks more complete, and the station at the end by Citrus College is even starting to look like a station. Even the Irwindale station is making visible progress. When we first did this ride, it was just bare dirt and piles of rails and ties waiting to be assembled into track. Now, they’re starting to run test trains along the tracks to check clearances and such.

Maybe by next winter, we’ll be able to have a Metro Tour East ride that we can do on days when it might rain, since the train will be available as a bail-out option all the way out to Glendora.

43 miles.

1/3/2015

Another attempt at Strawberry Peak

Filed under: — stan @ 4:26 pm

The trail up Colby Canyon to Strawberry Peak was the first hike I ever did in the San Gabriels, back in 1983. I’ve been back a couple of times since then, most recently in 2007, when we didn’t make the summit because we had Lucinda with us, and she was only 8 years old at the time. Since then, Colby Canyon was within the burn area of the 2009 Station Fire, and the trail has been closed until just recently. So I wanted to try it again.

The trail up the canyon is fairly steep, but it was easy to follow. It looked as if some maintenance had been done on it recently. The canyon itself looked quite a bit worse for wear. Places that used to be groves of big trees were bare, with just a few blackened stumps. But it was a pleasant hike up to the saddle between Strawberry and Josephine Peak.

The trail from the saddle up to the peak basically follows the top of the ridge, and there are two short sections where it is necessary to scramble up the rocks. This was what I’d always liked about this mountain, since it made it more interesting. Also, it reminded me of when I was a kid and we climbed Mt Washington in New Hampshire by the Huntington Ravine Trail. When we got to the first rock section, I had a look to pick a route, and I started up, with Karina just a bit behind me. We got about 2/3 of the way up the section when she decided that she was not going to do this. She just sat down on a rock and wouldn’t move. There was another group coming up behind us, so I suggested we see how they went up. The leader, Bob, came up to where we were, and the rest of his group looked at the rocks and said they weren’t going to do this, either. At that point, Bob volunteered to help guide Karina back down. He went down ahead of her and guided her feet to the footholds and generally tried to keep her calm. We made it back down off the rocks, and we walked back to the saddle. We had lunch there, and then we headed back down. Even though we didn’t make the summit, it was still a good hike and a pleasant day to be outside.

1/1/2015

New Year’s Day, 2015

Filed under: — stan @ 7:18 pm

Here we go again. We woke up on Thursday morning to bright sunshine and cold air. At least cold by our SoCal standards. It was 32 degrees, and that’s pretty cold for a Rose Parade. Of course, we never actually walk over to see the actual parade. We just go outside at 8:00 to watch the B-2 bomber fly over. Then we go back inside and make breakfast. A little later on, the horses from the parade all walk past our house, so that’s our little Rose Parade.

In the afternoon, we took a walk over to see the floats, since they’re parked right down the street. There was a float for the 442nd Infantry, which was the theme for one of our bike club rides a few years ago. Other than that, it was just a nice afternoon to walk around in the sunshine and look at the flowers. It made for a pleasant day.

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