Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Thanksgiving

11/14/2015

Working Wildlife

Filed under: — stan @ 9:53 pm

Today was a tour of Working Wildlife, which is a ranch in Frazier Park where they train animals for movies and TV. This was yet another Atlas Obscura adventure. As it turned out, it was the same day as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s stair climb, so I had to leave right after climbing the building in order to have the requisite 90 minutes to make it all the way out there. But I made it just in time, and it was a fun time talking to the animals.

At the beginning, we got a little history of the ranch, and got to meet a few of the smaller animals. Our host and guide was Jeff, who is one of the trainers, and the nephew of the owner. The lemur, porcupine, and the binturong got to just walk up and down the table and meet us directly. And after that, it was time to meet some larger animals. We saw a few foxes before heading over to the lions. We saw a couple of mountain lions, and then some African lions. They all seemed to have a good relationship with Jeff, since they all came over to him and wanted to be petted and scratched just like very large cats. I seem to recall he said that the pumas are the largest cats that purr.

The last stop was to see the bears. They also came over to be petted, although, like with the lions, the petting did not involve us, since the bears and lions don’t know us. The only other part of the operation we didn’t see was the wolves. Apparently, they trained the wolves that were used in “True Blood” and other TV shows, but the trainers were working with the animals and didn’t want them to be distracted by visitors. Still, it was all very interesting to see.

Well, I’m still slightly faster than the Average Bear…

Filed under: — stan @ 4:37 pm

Today was the last race of the year. 54 stories from the sidewalk on 6th St up to the rooftop helipad on top of the Wilshire Figureroa building in downtown Los Angeles. That’s 1,245 steps and 706 vertical feet. This is the building that I climbed 101 times in 2013.

I’m not seriously trying to compete at these things any more, but I still wanted to do a semi-respectable time on it. And I figured that to be anything under 11 minutes, since that would represent averaging 5 floors per minute. It’s also an easy pace to keep up with. The staircase in this building is an average of 23 steps per floor, and from 1 up to 6 is exactly 115 steps, even though the first few floors are weird. And then it’s just 23 steps per floor the whole way up. So I planned on checking my watch every five floors to be sure I was maintaining my pace.

The first 10 floors or so were hard, but by then I was warmed up, and it got a little easier. I just counted off the floors in blocks of five, all the way up to 49. From 49 to the roof the stairs get weird again, so I didn’t have any landmarks to measure my pace by. But when I turned the last corner and saw light coming in the door from the roof, I looked at my watch. It said something like 10:47 or so, and I realized I had only ten seconds to do the last 27 steps up to the roof to make it in under my goal time. So I had to run the last three flights, and I came out on top at 10:57. I hadn’t realized it, but Norman Schwartz was there taking pictures, and he got what is probably my most dramatic finsh-line picture ever. And only four people my age or older went faster, so I really can’t complain.

At the top, I rested for a few minutes, took a few pictures, and then I went back down and left. I had a ticket for an Atlas Obscura tour of Working Wildlife in Frazier Park. I knew I had to get going to make it there by 11:00, so I couldn’t stay around and socialize much. Still, I was reasonably pleased with this climb.

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