Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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6/9/2018

Spahn Ranch with Atlas Obscura

Filed under: — stan @ 2:05 pm

Today I got to go on yet another Atlas Obscura tour, this time of Spahn Ranch. This was a movie ranch a long time ago, and later was notorious for the Manson Family living there for a time in 1969. And now it’s a county park. A few years ago, I took Lucinda on the Dearly Departed Helter Skelter tour, so this was sort of a companion piece to that.

We walked up the hill to the back of the ranch, where there were a couple of rusted hulks of cars that were stolen and abandoned there in 1969. Apparently, they would steal cars to get the engines, which they used in building dune buggies.

Next, we walked down to the large flat area next to the road. This was where the Spahn house had been. When the land was converted into a park, the county came in and covered that whole area with several feet of new dirt, I suppose to discourage people from hunting for artifacts there. Then we walked down into the creek-bed. There were large trees down there, as well as the famous little cave where Life magazine staged a photo of the Manson Family in 1969. And of course, we all had to get photos sitting in front of the little cave. Overall, there wasn’t a lot here that I hadn’t heard about before, but the whole point was to get to see the places where it happened.

5/26/2018

Earthquake Tour Again

Filed under: — stan @ 7:11 pm

This Saturday was the fourth time I’ve been part of leading the San Andreas Fault tour with Atlas Obscura. The last time I did this was in October of last year, and my partner that time was Morgan from the USGS office. But this time, she was offered a chance to go to a conference in Japan, so Nicholas was my partner for the tour. We also had a special guest along this time. Back in April, Kathleen and I had gone on the Nastie Nellie Oleson Tour with Alison Arngrim in Hollywood. This was tremendously entertaining, and along the way, I told Alison about the earthquake tour. She was interested, but the tour was already sold out. But it turned out that Sandi had held one seat in reserve in case Nicholas or I wanted to bring a guest, so Alison got the guest seat for the tour.

After a quick tour of the Seismo Lab, we headed up to the fault scarp at the McDonald’s in San Fernando. I also went inside to get some iced tea and to use the bathroom. That was where I saw what I can only assume is an unfortunate typo on the soap dispenser.

In Palmdale, we took in the view from the overlook by the freeway, and then climbed up the little hill so we could look down into the famous road cut where the 14 freeway crosses the fault. Then it was time for our lunch stop at Charlie Brown Farms. After that, it was time for Pallett Creek. We knew that the mysterious signs that marked where the fault crosses the road had been recently vandalized after more than a decade of marking the spot. So I’d made a new sign, which we brought along to use for the photo-op, even if it’s not properly planted in the ground. Then we traveled the quarter-mile or so to the actual trench site next to Pallett Creek. It’s not much to see, but it’s a chance to talk about how Kerry Sieh invented the science of paleoseismology there, back in the 1970s.

Heading up into the mountains, we stopped at the road cut near Big Pines to dig in the fault gouge. Then a quick bathroom stop in Wrightwood before heading down the other side of the mountain into Cajon Pass. There, we got to see Lost Lake, a small sag pond on the fault there. I like Lost Lake just because it looks like such an improbable thing. A pond all by itself, surrounded by desert. We also were very lucky this time. To get to the lake, we have to cross four railroad tracks. On the way in, we saw a train that had just finished passing the crossing when we got there. And while we were at Lost Lake, I saw another train come by. But that one finished passing by just as we were leaving. Cajon Pass is one of the toughest stretches of railroad in the U.S., and the trains there tend to be very long, and very slow-moving, so we were lucky to have missed both of them this time.


5/19/2018

Metro – Halfway There!

Filed under: — stan @ 2:02 pm

So Metro says that the construction of the Regional Connector is halfway done. So they had a little party about it. Which wasn’t all that big of a deal, but on the other hand, they were offering quick tours of the construction site in Little Tokyo. We got to go inside the fence and look down into the pit where they are constructing the new light rail station. They also had displays about the other projects under construction around L.A. I also saw that the Japanese museum is having a new exhibit as a follow-on to their Hapa Project exhibit from 2001. Being Hapa, I think this is something I need to go see.


4/15/2018

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Filed under: — stan @ 2:14 pm

Yesterday, I was at the Aon building stair climb. While we were there, there was a crew setting up for shooting a scene for Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” on Wilshire Blvd. They had lots of fake rocks and fake broken chunks of pavement, as well as a couple of fire cars, like the ones we saw in Griffith Park once that turned out to be for an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy”. The setup crew said they were going to be working all day to set the scene, and the actual filming would be done of Sunday morning, so that was our sightseeing destination for today.

We got an early start today, so we made it downtown in time to see the 8:46 Metrolink train to Lancaster go by. If we see that train, that means we made good time getting downtown.

When we got down to Wilshire, it was pretty obvious that this shoot was a Big Deal. There were a lot more prop cars, and hordes of extras in business suits with dirt smeared on their faces milling about. We even saw Chloe Bennet as Daisy Johnson there. Apparently, her super power is the ability to create earthquakes, which Jen and I thought was pretty funny, since that meant her character had the power to make us have to go into work.

After gawking at the shoot for a few minutes, we continued on our way. We made a loop out and back through Hancock Park. Then up Benton Way through Silver Lake and then to the L.A. River bike path. We stopped for snacks at Spoke. Then we headed home by way of the Arroyo Seco bike path.

41 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

3/4/2018

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

1/28/2018

Cookies L.A.

Filed under: — stan @ 4:58 pm

This past week, I saw an item in the L.A. Times about another cannabis store opening up, making it the third one in Los Angeles County. I looked it up, and it turned out to be in Maywood, which is just the other side of Vernon, and about two miles south of the Farmer John hog mural. So that was our destination for today.

We got a late start today. John had just put new tires on his bike, and they were very hard to put on. So he had two pinch flats. I ended up putting two new tubes in the tires, and then we were able to get going. We took our regular route to downtown L.A., down Huntington Drive. Along the way, I realized that it was the 28th, making today the 32nd anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. So we made a short detour to go through Little Tokyo to see the monument to Ellison Onizuka there.

Leaving Little Tokyo, we took Santa Fe Ave south to get to Vernon. We turned off to pass by the Farmer John plant, and then continued on to get to Maywood. When we got to Cookies L.A., we were surprised at how big it was. The one we went to see in West Hollywood a few weeks ago was just a little storefront. But this one was a big industrial building. We didn’t think it would be open yet, but there were a couple of security guards by the door. It turned out that John’s flat tires had slowed us down just enough that the store had just opened. So we had to take a look inside.

The lobby area looks like a fancy doctor’s office waiting area. Apparently, since cannabis is still illegal on the Federal level, the shop has to be a cash-only business, so there was a little ATM in the waiting area. And that was also why there were three guards outside. They had a little booth with a guy who checked our IDs. Then he opened the door so we could go into the actual store. There were a pair of doors, almost like an airlock to get inside. The actual store area looked like a big, fancy department store cosmetics counter. There were probably seven or eight people working there. I talked to one, and she showed me around the counter, explaining what different things they had available. It seemed like a very well-run operation. The guards outside told us that they had only opened last Tuesday, and that they had had lines out the door since then. We managed to not wait in line just because we happened along just when they first opened.

Leaving the pot shop, we headed back across Vernon. We saw the Southland Box Company. I thought there ought to be a whole herd of cats hanging around outside there. We also passed by the six or so houses there. Vernon is famous for being an industrial city with a ridiculously small population of only 113 people.

We rode back into downtown Los Angeles, and then out on 7th St to Bonnie Brae St, which brought us up to Echo Park. Out snack stop was at Chango Coffee there. I got a little artisanal breakfast sandwich there. And of course, there were several absurdly well-behaved dogs there.

At this point, my GPS hiccuped, and for some reason, it took no data on the trip from the coffee shop to Riverside Dr. Then it started up again, and recorded the rest of the ride. The route home took us through Highland Park, and then South Pasadena. It had turned into a very nice day, and it was a nice ride.

46 miles. Would have been maybe one mile more if the GPS hadn’t gone south.

Route map and elevation profile


1/14/2018

West Covina

Filed under: — stan @ 2:55 pm

Today’s bike club ride was yet another visit to a filming location. In this case, it was The Lakes at West Covina, which was the little plaza and fountain that was the setting for the climax of the big “West Covina” musical number from the first episode of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”.

We took a kind-of roundabout route to get there, since the terrain out there is mostly flat. So this ended up being slightly on the long side for a regular Sunday ride. But that was all right.

47 miles.

Route mape and elevation profile

1/7/2018

The Pot Shop

Filed under: — stan @ 2:54 pm

This past week, I read about how the first recreational marijuana shops are set to start opening here in California. In particular, they said that right now, there are just two shops licensed for this in the Los Angeles area. They are both in West Hollywood, so today’s bike ride was to go see one of them.

We started out with our standard route to get to Hollywood. Then after riding across Hollywood, we crossed into WeHo, where we saw the Alternative Herbal Health Services store. It wasn’t open yet, and it looked to be locked up tight. I guess that’s to be expected, since it’s a cash-only business.

We went to Noah’s in Larchmont for some bagels and such, and then back home by way of downtown Los Angeles.

44 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

12/31/2017

Rose Parade Preview

Filed under: — stan @ 1:18 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a ride to Griffith Park, with the plan of making a loop and finishing the ride by riding down the length of the Rose Parade route in Pasadena. It’s New Year’s Eve, and people start camping out on Colorado Blvd early in the morning.

We started out by heading up through La Cañada, so we started out with almost eight miles uphill, followed by another seven or so miles downhill. Then, when we got to Griffith Park, we rode up and over another hill there. Then we headed down the L.A. River bike path to our snack stop at Spoke.

When we got back into Pasadena, we saw that the parade preparations were coming right along. There were people set up along the whole five+ miles of the parade route, even though the parade doesn’t start for something like 20 hours. The way the stores are boarded up, it looks like a hurricane is coming. We rode all the way to the end of the route, which is right around the corner from the park where we start.

40 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

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