Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Thanksgiving

3/25/2018

Sea Monsters

Filed under: — stan @ 5:29 pm

This past week, I saw an article on KCET about unusual and interesting parks in the L.A. area. In particular, I saw the pictures of the sea monsters at Whittier Narrows. These look a lot like the ones at Vincent Lugo Park in San Gabriel, which we’ve been to see before. So I thought it might be interesting to go and visit both sets of sea monsters on our Sunday ride this week.

We started off heading down to San Gabriel by way of Alhambra. The sea-monster playground is all the way at the back of Vincent Lugo Park there. We climbed a bit on the sculptures and took some photos there. Then we headed east to get to Whittier Narrows. We’ve been by there hundreds of times, but never actually gone into the park. I’d looked at the aerial views in Google maps to see where a couple of the sea monsters were, so we started by heading for the first one. When we got there, there was a map showing the locations of the others. We ended up riding all the way around Legg Lake to see all of them. It was actually a very nice park.

Our snack stop was at Merengue in Monrovia. We took the San Gabriel River bike trail all the way from Whittier Narrows up to Duarte, and then streets to Monrovia. We had some snacks and drinks there, and then headed home.

42 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

3/18/2018

Amelia Earhart

Filed under: — stan @ 4:58 pm

This past week, I saw an article in the L.A. Times about how they believe that, after 80 years missing, Amelia Earhart has been found. So we had a theme for this week’s ride.

The first stop was at Valhalla Cemetery in North Hollywood. This is the home of the Portal of the Folded Wings, which is a shrine to aviation. We’ve been to visit it before, although not for almost two years. I knew that there is a cenotaph for Amelia Earhart there, so that was our first sightseeing stop.

After the Portal, we headed back into North Hollywood to the park at Magnolia and Tujunga. That is the location of the Amelia Earhart library, as well as a statue of her on the corner.

Our third sightseeing stop was Amelia Earhart’s former house in Toluca Lake. From what I’d read, the house looks just about the same as it did in 1937. After that, we went to our snack stop. Because it was right there on Riverside Dr, we decided to try out Sweet Salt. This is a small cafe opened by a former “Top Chef” contestant, and it was quite good. So I think it will be added to our list of regular places to visit.

49 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

3/11/2018

The Metro Tour East

Filed under: — stan @ 12:41 pm

It rained all day Saturday, and there were still supposed to be scattered showers on Sunday, so the bike club ride for today was the Metro Rail Tour East. This is a ride to Glendora and back, and the route is designed to always be within two miles of the nearest Metro Rail station. That way, we have a quick bailout option available if it starts raining. We’ve done this ride many times before, so there wasn’t anything to take pictures of.

37 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

3/8/2018

ME72 Tank Wars

Filed under: — stan @ 5:44 pm

Today was the ME72 robot contest at Caltech. I’ve been going to see these things for over 20 years, and it’s always entertaining. The theme this year was “Tank Wars”. Each team had to build three tanks, and the tanks had to fight for control of three bases on the playing field. Each base had two buttons on it, and to take control of a base, one team’s machine had to push the button corresponding to the color of that team. One base was on the ground in the middle of the playing field. One of on a see-saw, and the third one was on top of a platform with ramps leading up to it from both sides. The ground base was worth one point for each second of control. The see-saw was worth 1.375, and the platform base was worth 1.75 points per second. As a result, most of the time, machines from both teams would go up to the platform, and a lot of times they ended up just alternating control of it for the duration of the match. So the point advantage of the platform wasn’t that much of a factor in most matches.

One funny thing was that they had a fire extinguisher handy by the playing field. This was because of the incident two years ago when one of the machines caught fire in the middle of a match.

The first match was won by the Riveters team. They had a clever strategy. In each match, they had one machine go and take control of the see-saw base. Then the machine would drive to the center of the see-saw and balance there, so no other team’s machine could even get on the see-saw. This worked well for them, and in the end, the Riveters were the only undefeated team of the day. And that included the final. Very well-done. They deserve both ears and the tail.


3/4/2018

Biddy Mason Memorial Park

Filed under: — stan @ 2:51 pm

Last week, I saw an article on Atlas Obscura about Biddy Mason. who was born a slave in Mississippi in the early 1800s, and won her freedom after being brought to California. It was really a remarkable story, and it said there is a small park in downtown L.A. that tells her story. From the address, I knew we’d been by there a hundred times, but we’d never noticed it. So that was our destination for today.

The ride was basically to downtown L.A., then home via Echo Park and the Arroyo Seco. We rode down Huntington Drive, and then Mission Rd. There is one stretch along Mission where there are always several cars with Denver boots on them.

When we got downtown, we went looking for the park. It turned out to be in the alley behind the buildings there, which explains why we’d never noticed it before. The panels on the wall told her story. She really did have a remarkable life.

After looking at the park, we noticed that the alley we were in was right behind the Bradbury Building, which is an ornate old building that was J.F. Sebastian’s home in “Blade Runner”, as well as appearing in lots of other movies over the years. We had a look into the lobby there before continuing on our ride.

From downtown, we rode out 7th St to Westlake, and then up into Echo Park and our snack stop at Chango Coffee. As always, there were lots of Echo Park people with their absurdly-well-behaved dogs. I got a sort of artisanal version of an Egg McMuffin there.

On the way home, we took one more short side trip. I’d heard recently that the city of Pasadena had put a plaque in front of the apartment building where President Obama lived when he was a student at Occidental College. So we had to go see it.

39 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

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