Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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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.

1/1/2015

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.

11/23/2014

Update on the backyard boat

Filed under: — stan @ 1:15 pm

I’m still kind of tired and a little sore from yesterday’s hike up Cucamonga Peak, so today’s bike club ride is a relatively flat one, riding out to Sun Valley to get an update on the backyard boat.

It was kind of windy when we got out to The Valley. They were running Burbank Airport backwards, taking off to the north instead of the south, so that meant we had a headwind for the last part of the trip up Tujunga Blvd to Sun Valley. And when we got there, we were all a bit sad to see that the boat was still in the back yard. When we visited in May, Mr Griffith said that he thought it would be finished and launched by September of this year. But here it is November, and the boat is still on the rack in the back yard.

Heading back south into Burbank, we came to the weird five-way intersection on Whitnall. This is always a problem, since the detectors there never could pick up bikes, and there is no crosswalk, so there’s no button to push for a walk signal. But the city has installed a button for bikes to change the light. So that was nice.

Our snack stop was at Priscilla’s. And from there, we headed back across Glendale, and then up and over the Chevy Chase and Linda Vista hill to come out by the Rose Bowl. All in all, it was a nice ride.

46 miles.

11/22/2014

Cucamonga Peak

Filed under: — stan @ 10:38 pm

Last month, when we climbed Mt Baldy, Karina had mentioned that she thought that the hike up Cucamonga Peak was actually a bit harder than the Baldy hike. Given how hard Baldy is, I was a bit skeptical. Still, I’d always wanted to try Cucamonga Peak, since it’s one of the highest mountains in the front part of the San Gabriels.

We started up the trail at 9:23 in the morning. It was promising to be a nice day, although we thought that there might be a bit of snow up high, since it had rained a tiny bit a couple nights ago. Starting out up Ice House Canyon, we passed by several cabins, and several more ruins of former cabins. Judging by the size of the boulders in the canyon that had pretty obviously fallen from high up, it was not surprising to see that some of the cabins had been destroyed. As we got a little higher up the canyon, we could see that there was a thin layer of snow on the south wall of the canyon. The north wall was in sunlight, and the snow there had melted. There were just some small patches in the shade of trees or rocks.

At that point, the trail got steep, and we went up a series of big switchbacks to climb up out of the canyon. And then we came out in Ice house Saddle. At that point, there were trails going off in different directions to climb various nearby peaks. It was here that I realized how cold it really was, and I put on my sweatshirt and sweatpants.

The trail to Cucamonga Peak goes around the side of Bighorn Peak, and the first part of the trail is across the north side of the mountain. There was quite a bit of snow there. The side of the mountain there is very steep, and the trail is just a narrow path carved into the steep slope. With snow on it, it was really kind of scary. I got out both my poles to use for balance and stability.

As we came around to the saddle between Bighorn Peak and Cucamonga Peak, the snow went away, although the trail was still crossing some intimidatingly-steep slopes. When we got to the saddle, we stopped and had lunch. From the sounds we were hearing, it sounded like the wind was blowing pretty hard higher up, so we figured that it was probably better to stop in the relatively-sheltered saddle for lunch. While we were there, another group of three hikers passed us. We had passed them on the way up Ice House Canyon, so I said we should make it our goal to catch them before the summit.

Leaving the saddle, the trail started up some more steep switchbacks, including a couple of crossings across a big scree slope that kind of gave me the willies. Fortunately, it was on the west side of the peak, so there was no snow there. There was more snow farther up the trail, but the north-facing slopes there had a fair number of big trees on them, so it didn’t feel so exposed. We caught up with the other group just a short distance below the summit.

At the top, I made a point to climb up and stand on top of the highest rock, just, you know, because. We had a look at the view down into Cajon Pass, where we’d been on the office field trip last week. I was particularly impressed by how steep and rugged the south face of Etiwanda Peak was. After a few minutes, the other group came up to the summit, and we got them to take our souvenir picture with the view. I also gave them some of my water, since I wasn’t going to use all that I’d brought along.

When we started back down, we made much better time than on the way up. It first, I thought we’d make it back before sundown, but we really missed that extra hour of sunlight that we had for Baldy last month. And sunset came when we were still about a mile from the end. At that point, i was glad that I’d thought to put a flashlight in my pack. It wasn’t a particularly bright one, but it helped. And we made it back to the end. On the way home, we wondered what had become of the group we’d seen at the top, since we didn’t see them at all on the way down, so they must have come down much later than us. Anyway, it was a fun hike, and yes, I agree now that it’s harder than Mt Baldy. I also think that a hike this long was perhaps a bit over-ambitious for this time of year. We really didn’t like walking that last mile in the dark. Still, it was a good time.

10/11/2014

A lot of Nowhere

Filed under: — stan @ 6:49 pm

Last year, I finally got to do the hike to “The Bridge to Nowhere”. And today I got to do it again. The main difference this time is that it was a Saturday, rather than a Friday, and there was no government shutdown in effect. Last year when we did this, the place was deserted. We saw just a handful of people on the trail. But today, when we got to the trailhead, we had to park about a quarter-mile back down the road, since the little parking lot was completely full.

I’d gone up there with my hiking friend Kathy, and we were going to meet up with my stair-climbing friend Crystal and her boyfriend Barry. When I saw all the cars there, I thought it was going to be hard to find them. But when we parked, it turned out they were in the car right in front of us. That was convenient.

We started out down the trail. The first time, I didn’t really know what to expect, so it was easier this time. I knew the basic pattern for following and finding the trail, and we made good time. It only took us a little over two hours to make it to the Bridge. When we got there, the bungee-jumping people were out in force. It was a far cry from the deserted bridge I remember from last year. We crossed, and then followed the trail down into the gorge below the bridge so we could watch the bungee jumpers. Here’s a sample:

We had lunch down there in the gorge, and then we headed back. The hike back went pretty fast. It was a perfect day, and all around, it was a fun time.

9/20/2014

Mt Lukens

Filed under: — stan @ 3:20 pm

Mt Lukens is the highest point within the city limits of Los Angeles, and as such, it’s home to a lot of communications equipment for the Department of Water and Power, and other things like that. Since the seismic network uses some of the DWP network, we have a microwave link up there from the Seismo Lab. So I was curious to see it. I read a post on a hiking blog about climbing this mountain, and it sounded like a fun hike.

Karina is training for the New York Marathon, so she was busy going running, so Kathy and I did the hike. We started out from Deukmejian Wilderness Park in Glendale. The trail started out up the wash in the park, but quickly turned right and went up a steep ridge. The first couple miles were very steep, and pretty soon we were above the clouds. It was kind of gray and overcast down below, but it was a perfect day up on the mountain.

At the top of the ridge, the trail turned into a fire road for a bit along the top of the ridge before we met up with the Mt Lukens road. From there, it was an easy mile or so up the road to the top. At the top, we spent a few minutes looking at the view. To the south, it was just clouds, with some other mountains poking up through them, and to the north it was clear.

Going down, we took the Rim of the Valley trail, which came down a different ridge a bit west of the ridge we’d hiked up. The only really tricky part of the trip down was finding the turnoff, since the main trail goes down to Haines Canyon, and we needed to take the cutoff trail to get back to Deukmejian Park. The saving grace of the southern California mountains is that there are basically no trees, so it’s easy to see the different trails and where they go. So we turned off and headed down toward the park.

At one point, the trail went down into a canyon where there was actually a small stream. It was just a trickle, but it was actual running water. And there were big trees growing at the bottom of the canyon. From there, we had to climb up and out to get over the next ridge, and then we could see where we’d started. The last part of the route was an easy walk back down Dunsmore Canyon to where we started. In the end, it was nearly 10 miles in all, but it was a nice day, so it was a good time.

Here’s the route map: http://www.1134.org/routemap.php?xmlfile=mtlukenshike

8/24/2014

A bit of aerospace history in Burbank

Filed under: — stan @ 12:41 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a trip to Burbank to see a bit of aerospace history. The site of the former Loughead -er- Lockheed plant, next to Burbank Airport, and also to see the F-104 on display in George Izay Park in Burbank. The F-104 was one of many innovative airplanes that came out of the Lockheed Skunk Works.

We rode out across Eagle Rock and Glendale to get to Burbank. I stopped for a quick photo-op with a topiary along Victory Blvd. And then we took a left on Olive Ave to get to the park, and the photo-op with the F-104-on-a-stick. Everything is more fun if it’s on a stick, I think. From there, we headed north, and we took a short side trip to see the big desert tortoises again. They were pretty active today, and we even saw some of them sparring. Apparently, they do that by drawing their head back into their shell, and then ramming the front of the shell into another tortoise. It made an odd clacking sound. We don’t know why they do that, but it probably has something to do with mating.

From there, we continued on to Burbank Airport. The old topiary has been replaced with a new one. We’ve been to see it before, but the last time we saw it, it was looking pretty bad. So they’ve replaced it with a new one. And we took a moment to look around. All the parking areas at the airport, as well as the Fry’s across the railroad tracks, and the lots on the other side of Hollywood Way all used to be the Lockheed plant. And it’s all gone now. All that’s left is the credit union. And I’ll put in a plug for them here. I’ve been banking there for almost seven years now, and it’s great. Great service, great rates, and I recommend them highly.

We stopped to peek in a the kiddy-ride boneyard on Clybourn Ave. We all thought it would be the perfect setting for the climactic scene of a mad-killer-clown horror movie. Then we headed down to Priscilla’s for snacks.

On the way home, we went through Highland Park. That was where we saw the house with the Transformers in the front yard. That was odd, but a good photo-op. All together, it was a fun ride, with lots of odd sights.

45 miles.

7/27/2014

The George Harrison Stump

Filed under: — stan @ 1:50 pm

This week, there was an item all over the news about how the George Harrison Memorial Tree in Griffith Park had been killed by an infestation of beetles. So of course we had to go see this.

It was an overcast day, which was nice, since that meant it probably wouldn’t get too hot. We rode out by our standard route to get to Hollywood and Griffith Park. Then we rode up the hill to the observatory. Once we got there, we took a short rest, and then I started looking for the stump of the tree. It was at the far end of the parking lot, right by the start of the short trail up to the top of Mt Hollywood. In all the times we’ve been up there, I’d never noticed it before. But it was in a separate planter, with a plaque on a rock marking it. So it’s kind of sad, but also kind of funny.

Continuing on, we rode up Mt Hollywood Dr. We passed the spot where the sightseeing shuttle bus brings people for a sideways view of the Hollywood sign. Then, we rode down the other side, into Burbank. We stopped for snacks at Priscilla’s, and then we headed home by way of the L.A. River bike path, and then up Figueroa St. In Highland Park, it actually started raining a bit. That was odd, considering the season, but it wasn’t enough to require us implementing our exit strategy. So overall, it was a nice ride.

47 miles.

7/6/2014

Glendora Mountain for the 4th of July

Filed under: — stan @ 1:21 pm

It’s become traditional that they close Glendora Mountain Road for the 4th of July weekend. I guess that’s to keep people from driving up there and setting the mountain on fire with fireworks. But in any event, it makes for a nice place for bike riding on that weekend. So we were going to take advantage of it.

We rode out the Glendora and headed up the road. At the gate, we just lifted our bikes over and started up the hill. The ‘hill’ in this case is about 8-9 miles of about a 5% grade. Not terrible, but enough that we gain a lot of elevation by the time we reach the top. It was pretty hot today, and for the first time in a long time, I ran out of water. Fortunately, Pat knew where there was a park with a drinking fountain at the bottom of the hill. So we all stopped there and refilled our bottles before heading home.

It was a nice ride, and we weren’t the only ones taking advantage of it. We met one guy on the road who had ridden his bike from Huntington Beach just to ride the mountain while the road was closed.

55 miles.

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