Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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7/30/2017

“La La Land”

Filed under: — stan @ 5:55 pm
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Today’s bike club ride was the “La La Land“-themed ride I’ve been putting together for a while. We rode around Pasadena, Hollywood, and Burbank to go by several of the locations where scenes from “La La Land” were shot. Some of them only appear for a few seconds, while a few were the locations for relatively long scenes. The pictures from the ride are here, and where it’s relevant, there is a screenshot of the location as it appeared in the movie.

The first stop was the Rialto Theater in South Pasadena. This was where Sebastian and Mia went to see “Rebel Without a Cause”. The theater has been closed for about ten years now, but there is still talk of renovating it.

Next, we rode down through Silver Lake to find our way into Hollywood. The stop was at the “You Are the Star” mural painted on the side of a building at the corner of Hollywood and Wilcox. This was shot as the exterior of the restaurant where Mia first saw Sebastian playing the piano.

One novel thing about this route was that we went down a lot of streets we ride on fairly regularly, but in the opposite direction. So this time, we headed east on Hollywood Boulevard to get to Griffith Park. We turned up Western Ave, and then into the park at Fern Dell. That appeared briefly in the movie as part of the montage of Mia and Sebastian’s first dates. We were going to stop at The Trails Cafe in the park, but the line was too long.

Continuing on up the hill, we ride up to the Observatory. This was where Mia and Sebastian went after the movie at the Rialto. The place was packed today.

The next stop was just over the other side of Mt Hollywood Dr. We rode up to the top, and then started down the other side, stopping at Cathy’s Corner. This was the scene of the song-and-dance “A Lovely Night”. This scene is a bit over four minutes long, and was done as a single long shot. And it was filmed right at sunset to get the nice lighting. I read that they were able to get two takes during a single sunset. No word on how many days they were up there doing their two takes before they got the one they wanted.

Heading on down the hill, we rode into Burbank, stopping briefly to see the Smoke House restaurant. That was used as the interior of the restaurant where Sebastian was grudgingly playing Christmas songs.

We stopped at Priscilla’s in Burbank to get drinks and snacks. Then we headed for home, straight across Glendale and Eagle Rock, and then up the Colorado hill. At the top, we rode across the Colorado Bridge, which also appeared briefly in Mia and Sebastian’s first dates montage.

48 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

5/14/2017

Where the Streets Have No Name

Filed under: — stan @ 2:01 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a visit to see a little piece of rock history. In 1987, U2 made a video for their song, “Where the Streets Have No Name” where they played a small show on the roof of a building in downtown Los Angeles:

beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/music/u2s-where-the-streets-have-no-name-30-yearslater/article34932271/

Today’s bike ride was a trip to downtown L.A. to see the building and the corner where they did this.

We rode down through South Pasadena and Highland Park to get to the L.A. River and the new bridge there. We stopped for a minute to look at the “Faces of Elysian Valley” art installation in the traffic circle just before the bridge. Then we headed up the river trail to Fletcher, where we got off and headed into Hollywood. We had take a short detour between Bronson and Gower where there was something happening and Hollywood Boulevard was blocked off with fire trucks and police cars.

We rode across Hollywood, and I was slightly surprised to find that not only did U2 not have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but they don’t have a presence at the Rock Walk at Guitar Center on Sunset.

Our snack stop was at Noah’s Bagels in Larchmont. Then we headed back into downtown L.A. via 7th St. When we got to Main, we stopped and looked at the building. It was a liquor store back in 1987, and it’s a Mexican restaurant now, but the building looks essentially the same now as it did then.

From there, we headed back up Main St, stopping to take a photo of the Car Freshener painted on the side of a building at 3rd St. As they say, “[you'll] find one in every car…“. We also saw the signpost pointing to all of the sister cities that Los Angeles has around the world. Just in case you were wondering.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

2/11/2017

The Santa Susana Field Laboratory

Filed under: — stan @ 2:22 pm

Some months ago, I ran across some information about Boeing giving tours of the old Rocketdyne Santa Susana Field Laboratory. This is the bit of rugged terrain in the hills west of Chatworth that I’ve seen lots of times from the window of an airplane on its way to landing at Burbank. But I didn’t know that they offered tours. So this was a chance to see some aerospace history, as well as an infamous bit of nuclear power history.

Rocketdyne built the engines for nearly all U.S. ballistic missiles, from the earliest ones with engine designs based on the German V-2 rockets, all they way through the Saturn V and on to the Space Shuttle. And most of them were tested on the stands at Santa Susana. They tested engines all the way up to the J-2, which powered the second and third stages of the Saturn V. The F-1 engines for the Saturn V first stage were tested out in the desert at Edwards Air Force Base.

Not all of the test stands are still there, but the small one where they tested the engines for the Atlas missile, and the large one where they tested the J-2 were still there. At the first stand, we got a short talk by a Rocketdyne retiree who was there in the 1950s, and worked on the Atlas project. He told us about how they did the tests, and how they calculated everything on slide rules.

A lot of what goes on at the site now is related to cleanup from the old days. Apparently they used a lot of trichloroethylene to clean the rocket engines between test firings, and a fair amount of it got spilled on the ground. They told us that studies have shown that most of it soaked into the sandstone underneath the site. That’s good in that it kept it from going into the groundwater. But it’s bad in that it makes the solvent essentially impossible to clean up. So there’s that…

The other big piece of sightseeing was the site of the Sodium Reactor Experiment. That’s an infamous bit of nuclear history in that the reactor suffered a partial meltdown in 1959. For something that’s just over the hill from the San Fernando Valley suburbs, that’s a pretty terrifying idea. There’s basically nothing left of it on the site any more. Just a flat plain where the building housing the reactor used to be. In any event, it was interesting to see the site, and it’s appropriate in that I’m signed up to take a tour of the Nevada Test Site when we go to Las Vegas at the end of this month.

So all around, it was an interesting morning.


1/21/2017

Can you spot the theme here?

Filed under: — stan @ 2:08 pm

As I tell everyone, we’re really quite appalled by what’s happening in our country now. So we joined up with a few hundred thousand of our best friends and went to downtown L.A. to yell about it.

1/15/2017

“And your little dog, too!”

Filed under: — stan @ 3:12 pm

I recently read that there was a memorial monument at Hollywood Forever in memory of the dog who played Toto in “The Wizard of Oz”. So of course I figured it would have to be a sightseeing destination for the Sunday bike ride.

We started out heading into downtown L.A., and then out of downtown on 7th St. Along the way, we got to see how construction of the Regional Connector was coming along. The plan was to get to Larchmont Village for bagels at Noah’s, and then to go the short distance to the cemetery. When we got there, we asked the guy at the information booth, and he gave us directions to where the monument was. On our way there, we passed yet another pyramid crypt. I’d read some years ago that there were only three of these in Los Angeles County, and this one makes four. And we’ve been to see all of them now.

The bronze statue of Toto is life-sized, and I’m surprised I’d not seen it before, since it’s basically right across from the monument to Johnny Ramone. And while we were there, I stopped off to look at Dee Dee Ramone’s grave, which was covered with a larger-than-usual number of lipstick kisses.

For our route home, we began by taking the advice offered by Bette Davis, and we took Fountain. Then we crossed the L.A. River and headed up Eagle Rock Blvd, and then home across Highland Park and South Pasadena. It was a pleasant ride.

39 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

1/8/2017

The Peephole Cinema

Filed under: — stan @ 3:59 pm

A few weeks ago, we went to an event at the Museum of Broken Relationships in Hollywood. Part of the event was a brief presentation by the Atlas Obscura people about a few odd things they know about in Los Angeles. One of the slides showed a person peering into a little hole in a wall in an alley behind a building. They said it was a miniature cinema that is continuously showing a few short films made by local artists. And GPS coordinates for it were in the footer of the email reminder about the event. So that night, I looked up where it was, and it turned out to be in an alley in Chinatown. So I figured that was going to be a bike ride one day. And today was the day.

We started out across Eagle Rock and Glendale, and then down the L.A. River bike path to Elysian Park. We rode up and over the hill to get to Echo Park and Chango Coffee. And after the stop there, we went back over the hill to get to Chinatown. Then we went in to Chung King Way to get to the little alleyway where we saw the small sign for the Peephole Cinema. We took turns standing up on the little step stool to be able to peer into the hole. It’s an odd little art project.

The route home took us back by way of Huntington Drive. This is usually our route to go into downtown, but this time we were riding the other direction, which felt a little odd.

36 miles.

Route map and elevation profile


12/1/2016

More on the earthquake tour

Filed under: — stan @ 10:01 pm

I found out this past week that one of the people on the earthquake tour is a writer for the Los Angeles Times travel section. And she wrote a short article about our tour, and about how Atlas Obscura does tours of all sorts of odd things.

http://www.latimes.com/travel/deals/la-tr-southern-california-atlas-obscura-tours-20161129-story.html

11/20/2016

Mt Washington and Doo Dah

Filed under: — stan @ 1:52 pm

Today’s bike club ride was our old Mt Washington route, but cut a little bit short to end up at the Doo Dah Parade route right about when the parade was scheduled to start. I went to see the parade on my own in 2012, and the Sunday Ride went to see it in 2008.

It was cool and overcast, and it even rained on us for a few minutes just as we were starting out. We headed up into Altadena and then to La Cañada. Then we had about seven miles downhill through Glendale all the way to Eagle Rock Blvd in Cypress Park. We made a loop around, and then headed up Mt. Washington. That was where we saw the garage sale with the “Fuck Trump” painting, and also the DeLorean with the “STAYNLS” vanity plate.

After going over the hill, we headed back home, ending up at the Doo Dah parade on Colorado Blvd. We watched the parade for a while before it started to rain. At that point, we bailed out and headed home.

32 miles.

Route map and elevation profile


11/19/2016

Earthquake Tour with Atlas Obscura

Filed under: — stan @ 8:55 pm

Last year, I helped put on the San Andreas Scavenger Hunt with Atlas Obscura. It was pretty popular, and people have been asking when we’d do it again, so today was the day.

We met up at the Seismo Lab at Caltech for a quick tour. I brought everyone in to the first floor exhibit, where our geologist guide Kate explained the peel from Pallet Creek and told a bit of the history of trenching studies and how they tell us about the history of earthquakes at a site. Kate was a good guide for this, since she does trenches as part of her research at the USGS.

Next, we went upstairs to the Media Room, largely so everyone could see the room where the TV people go after an earthquake. Jen is the new staff seismologist at Caltech, and she spoke for a bit about how the displays work and how they are used after an earthquake.

Then we all got on the bus for our first stop at the McDonald’s in San Fernando. This is the small fault scarp from the 1971 earthquake that they just sort of smoothed over and planted grass on. Kate brought along a poster that showed a map of surface ruptures from the 1971 earthquake.

Our next stop was the overlook off the 14 freeway in Palmdale. That was a long ride from San Fernando. But it also meant we got to pass by Vasquez Rocks. I made sure to point out the famous spot where Captain Kirk faced off with the Gorn in the original series episode, “Arena”. When we got to the overlook, Kate explained what we were looking at and how we could see the trace of the fault stretching off into the distance. Then we got back on the bus for the short ride to Avenue S, where we walked up the hill to look at the famous road cut where the 14 freeway goes through a small hill that was pushed up by motion on the San Andreas.

Our lunch stop was at Charlie Brown Farms, which is a weird little place in Littlerock. And after that, we went to our photo-op stop at the signs marking the fault line on Pallet Creek Road. We took a group photo, and make sure to point out that from that side, we could see the trace of the fault going off into the distance in both directions.

Then we went just a short distance down the road to the Pallet Creek site. This was where Kerry Sieh did his original trenching studies back in the ’70s and established a timeline of past earthquakes going back several hundred years. Kate does trench studies, so she was able to point out lots of details in the face where the fault trace was exposed.

The next stop was a road cut near Big Pine. One side of the cut is a hill of sandy fault gouge. I showed everyone how you can dig out seemingly-solid chunks of rock from the sand and crush them in your hands. That’s always a hit.

After a short stop in Wrightwood, we headed down the other side of the mountains. Then we turned off to go to the last stop of the tour at Lost Lake. As we got to the railroad crossing, there was a train slowly making its way up the mountain. And then it stopped. We sat there for a few minutes, and then a very long train came by, going down the mountain. We figured that the stopped train might be waiting for the downhill train to pass, so we waited it out. When the downhill train finished passing, the stopped train still sat there. And then another downhill train came by. We waited again until it had passed. Then the uphill train started moving again and finally cleared the crossing. And we finally made it to Lost Lake. Sadly, the drought has taken its toll, and the lake was no more. The bottom was soft mud, which shows that there is still a bit of water there, but not much. Also, there had been a fire there recently, and the parking lot gate was closed. This presented a problem for turning the bus around. We ended up having to back up about 1/4 mile to a turnout to get the bus turned around.

By the time we got moving again for the trip home, it was dark. And the traffic on the 210 freeway was very heavy. So we ended up getting back to Caltech about 1 1/2 hours later than planned. But it still seemed like everyone liked the tour.


11/6/2016

Wrigley Field

Filed under: — stan @ 2:21 pm

In honor of the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, the Sunday morning bike ride did what is our first, and probably only baseball-themed ride ever today. The destination was Gilbert Lindsay Park, which was the former site of the original Wrigley Field. The stadium was there from 1925 until 1969, and for many years was home to a the Los Angeles Angels, who were a farm team for the Cubs.

We started out with our standard route into downtown Los Angeles. This time we didn’t make good enough time to be at tracks where Main St crosses the L.A. River in time to see the Metrolink 261 train to Lancaster that crosses Main St at about 8:51.

Coming in to downtown, we saw that Spring St in front of City Hall was closed off to traffic. We’ve seen this before when there were events going on on there, so we figured it was something like that, and like we usually do, we just rode down the sidewalk across the street. Playing tourist, I pulled out my camera, but one of the guards said something about “you can’t take pictures of the set”. That was when we realized it was all a set for filming something. The fake news trucks for fictitious L.A. TV stations were another giveaway.

Continuing south, we saw that the clouds were very low today. So the tops of the Bunker Hill skyscrapers were in the clouds. We rode Main St all the way down through downtown. When we got south of the 10 freeway, we saw the L.A. Sports Museum. I never knew there was such a place. And across the street from it was another aspect of L.A. life. A BMW with a broken-out window. And then behind that was an art installation in the form of a giant chair. It was all a bit surreal.

At 41st St, we came to the park. The far corner of the park is where the former stadium was, so I went and took a picture of the building that occupies the site now.

After leaving the park, we came back up into downtown, passing by the steel origami horse and the apartment building on Olive St that we visited back in 2006 on the Tour de Oozing Oil. Then we turned left on 7th St and rode that out to Westlake, and then Bonnie Brae up to Echo Park and our snack stop at Chango Coffee.

The route back was our regular route up the Arroyo Seco. It was a nice ride.

40 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

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