Stan’s Obligatory Blog


The scene of the crime

Filed under: — stan @ 5:19 pm

Last week, I saw that TMZ had posted the coroner’s report on Michael Jackson’s death. Right on the first page of the report, it gave the address of the house where he had been living, and like Phineas Flynn, my first thought was, “I know what we’re gonna do today.” I mapped out a route for the Sunday bike club ride.

We rode out by the most direct route possible, through South Pasadena and Highland Park, and the across the L.A. River and into Hollywood. We rode down Hollywood Blvd, which is always a bit of a weird place to be riding a bike. Then we cut south to Fountain Ave, where we saw the house with “STOP In the Name of Love” on the roof. Then we rode down part of the Sunset Strip and on into Beverly Hills. We made a short sightseeing stop at the tree where Lindsay Lohan crashed her car a few years ago. Then we stopped at the park where George Michael was arrested in 1998. Then we turned off Sunset Blvd and up the street to Michael Jackson’s house. The gate was covered in flowers and little printed tributes that people had posted online.

Leaving the scene of the crime, we passed what was one of the coolest mailboxes we’ve ever seen. Then we rode up Benedict Canyon and then down the other side into the Valley. We stopped for a snack at a little coffee shop in Studio City, right across from Vitellos, which is the restaurant where Robert Blake and his wife shared their last meal before she was murdered.

On the way home, we also stopped off at the Barris Kustom showroom to peek in the windows at the Batmobile and other cars on display there.

All in all, it was a fun little sightseeing ride.

56 miles.


Lions and boulders and mud – Oh my!

Filed under: — stan @ 8:07 pm

Today’s bike ride was the somewhat notorious “Mountain Lion Ride“. This is the one that goes way up the hill in La Crescenta, where they have signs warning that lions have been seen in the area. And because of that, we always try to maintain a brisk pace, which is difficult when going up a 20% grade. Also, we wanted to tour the mud and debris flows that had come down Ocean View Blvd in La Cañada yesterday.

It was chilly, but clear and sunny today. So it was pretty good for riding. We headed out, up into Altadena and then across to La Cañada. Then we started up the hills. When we got close to Ocean View Blvd, we started to see a lot of mud on the street, and occasional basketball-sized rocks. A lot of the houses had sandbags and K-rails in front of them. When we got to Ocean View, it was obvious that something had happened there. There was mud all around, even though a lot of it had already been cleaned up. There were trucks and earthmoving equipment heading up the hill, and there was a pile of random debris. Tree trunks and rocks piled up.

We headed down the hill and then took a shortcut across the wash on a pedestrian bridge. That brought us out in La Crescenta, where we started back up the hill. There wasn’t much mud there, but there were a lot of small rocks on the road, and it was still obvious that great quantities of water had been flowing down the streets yesterday. We rode all the way to the top of Pine Glen Road, which we refer to as “Mountain Lion Hill”, since that’s where they have the ‘Beware of lion’ sign. Then we came down Pine Cone Road, which ends at the Genofile house, which was the subject of one of the stories in John McPhee’s The Control of Nature.

From there, we rode west some more, into Tujunga. Then turned south, passing the Hobbit House and making a loop through the flat part of Tujunga. That was where I got a flat.

After fixing the flat, we rode down through Montrose and up Hospital Hill to Goldstein’s Bagels. We sat at a table in the sun, and it was very pleasant. Then we rode back to the park. It was a nice ride, although a bit more climbing than we usually do.

41 miles.


Amir’s Garden

Filed under: — stan @ 11:27 pm

This evening, Kathleen and I met up to go hiking with the Tuesday evening hiking group in Griffith Park. I’ve gone hiking a lot with them over the last two years. And since Griffith Park is about halfway between my house in Pasadena and her house out in the Valley, it seemed like a good weeknight date.

The group meets at the parking lot by the Merry-Go-Round, and it’s usually just us hikers there. But tonight there was some filming going on nearby, and the parking lot was filled with dressing room, prop, and food trucks. And there were a bunch of NYPD police cars parked there. So I guess it was a movie or TV show set in New York. Still not quite as weird as when I saw the New Jersey Transit commuter train at Union Station in downtown L.A.

This evening’s hike was the ‘easy’ one. Rolling hills on a fire road, ending with a short but steep stair climb up to Amir’s Garden. After doing the U.S. Bank Tower last fall, I’m not intimidated by stairs, but most everyone was panting on the way up. At the top we had a short rest and looked at the city lights. Then we headed back down by way of a fire road.

It was a nice evening.


It’s egret time again!

Filed under: — stan @ 8:38 am

It’s winter, and that means it’s time for the egret to make its appearance at the ponds on the Caltech campus. The ponds are stocked with little mosquito fish, and apparently they make a nice fun-size egret snack.


A brief WTF moment…

Filed under: — stan @ 11:59 pm

On my way home from work today, I turned a corner and saw a small pile of snow around a light pole. Since as far as I know it hasn’t snowed around here since 1949, this was a strange sight. The last time I saw something like this was when they were filming a scene involving snow up the street from my house. But there was no sign of any filming, so it’s just a very small mystery.


A bit of Cold War history

Filed under: — stan @ 8:27 pm

Today’s bike ride was a sightseeing trip in to the Hollywood Hills to see the former Lookout Mountain Air Force Station. This was a small film studio run by the military during the Cold War. Since I like to collect Cold War memorabilia, this looked like an interesting piece of history.

It was chilly in the morning, but clear and sunny. There was snow on the mountains. It was the kind of day when they take postcard pictures.

We took the most direct route out there, riding straight down Hollywood Blvd, which is all right early in the morning. I collected a new entry for my collection of amusing signs. There was a crew filming something right in front of the Chinese Theater. Then we turned up Nichols Canyon for the ride up into the hills. That’s where we saw the teepee up on the hillside. That was strange. Coming down into Laurel Canyon, we passed by the former site of Houdini’s house. Then we headed up Lookout Mountain.

The ride up Wonderland Ave was a slog. Only moderately steep, but the hill seemed to go on forever. We passed the site of the 1981 Wonderland Murders, and then I saw a garage door with a fallout shelter sign above it. That was the back entrance to the former studio, which has been converted into a very large house. They had a fence around it, so we couldn’t see too much inside. Just a little peek over and through the fence. It looked like a 1940s-era military building. And it must make a very funky house.

We rode back down Wonderland and then up to Mulholland Dr. On the way, I saw a mailbox that looked like something straight out of We stopped at the Fryman Canyon overlook for water and to take a group picture. Then we headed back down Mulholland Drive. We took a shortcut down Woodrow Wilson Drive at the end, and that’s where we saw the tile house. That was very strange.

Our snack stop was at Priscilla’s. It was still chilly, but we sat in the sun and it was nice. Then we headed home by the most direct route possible, which meant riding up and over a fairly large hill in Glendale. We were all pretty tired from the slog up Wonderland Ave, but we made it. And yes, it was a nice ride.

48 miles.


Rose Parade day

Filed under: — stan @ 10:51 pm

Today was Rose Parade day in Pasadena. In practical terms, that means we’re under virtual house arrest here. It’s difficult to get anywhere, so we just plan on staying home. We got to see a lot of the horse teams from the parade, since they park their trailers in our neighborhood to pack the horses up at the end of the parade. It’s always strange to see horses walking down our little suburban street.

Wells Fargo had a pair of old-style stagecoaches in the parade, and we went to see them. They gave Lucinda a little plush stuffed Wells Fargo Rose Parade horse.

The group with the fairy wings made my day. The girls were cute in their costumes, and the horses were wearing glitter. What’s not to like there?

Their were also groups of high school kids walking around with trash cans, shovels, and brooms to clean up. I hope they’re getting extra credit for doing that.


The Never Open Store

Filed under: — stan @ 4:50 pm

A couple of weeks ago, the Los Angeles Times had an article about the Never Open Store. It’s in Hollywood, just off Melrose Ave, and I immediately thought it would make for an amusing sightseeing bike ride. And as an added attraction, we could go by the House of David to see the Christmas decorations. So today was the day.

It was chilly, but sunny, and basically a nice day for riding. We headed out across Pasadena, passing the preparations for the Rose Parade next week. Then we took a direct route down through Eagle Rock to get to Silver Lake Blvd. We rode across on 1st St and 2nd St to get to Larchmont Village, and then went one block west on 3rd St to the House of David. And it did not disappoint.

Continuing west on 4th St, we turned north on Alta Vista to get up into Hollywood. And then we arrived at the Never Open Store. As we expected, it was closed. We spent a few minutes looking in the windows at the strange things inside, and it was very amusing. Then we headed off to our snack stop at Groundwork Coffee on Sunset Blvd.

By now, it was getting almost warm, and it was perfect for riding. The route back was direct across Hollywood, and then back up through Eagle Rock. We rode through the San Rafael Hills in Pasadena to get back to where we started. When we passed the Rose Parade bleachers again, Jon practiced his ‘parade wave‘.

It was a nice ride.

44 miles.



Filed under: — stan @ 11:16 pm

I had occasion this evening to go to the Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank. This is the original one, built in 1949, and it’s something of a SoCal landmark. And it has great neon signs. So I got some pictures while waiting for my date to arrive. Fortunately, there were a lot of newpaper boxes on the sidewalk, and they made great platforms to balance the camera for steady night shots. So I got pictures of the Bob’s signs, and also the neon hot dog across the street at Papoo’s Hot Dog Show.


Hollywood afternoon

Filed under: — stan @ 10:24 pm

This afternoon, I took Lucinda and her friend Kymber to Hollywood to visit the Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum. We’d been there once before, and she’s been talking about wanting to go back again. It’s a random collection of weird stuff, which is perfect in Hollywood.

We took in the museum and it’s oddities. The girls kind of skipped over the more morbid ones, but overall, they found it amusing. And afterward, we took a walk down Hollywood Blvd, since Lucinda had never seen the footprints in front of the Chinese Theater. Along the way, they got hustled for a picture with one of the characters in front of Hollywood and Highland. And I have no idea who she was supposed to be.

They walked around and saw footprints of a lot of stars they recognized, and lots more they’d never heard of. They were hoping to find Michael Jackson there, but apparently he’s not.

When we left Hollywood Blvd, it was not dark yet, so I took them up to see the Hollywood sign close-up. I’ve taken the bicycle club up there several times, so I know how to get as close as you legally can to it. And I took their picture there.

It was a fun little afternoon.

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