Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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8/17/2017

Visiting Mt St Helens

Filed under: — stan @ 8:51 pm

Our first destination on our trip was to go see Mt St Helens. As it turned out, we got there early enough on Wednesday afternoon to be able to go to the south side of the mountain and do a little sightseeing there. We went and saw Lava Canyon, the path of a big lahar from the 1980 eruption, and also the entrance to Ape Cave, which is a long lava tube cave. We didn’t have flashlights, so were weren’t able to go explore inside.

Lava Canyon was very pretty. It’s a steep canyon, so there were lots of waterfalls. We walked down one side of the canyon, and the crossed over on a suspension footbridge. Just like on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland. Except the bridge at Disneyland isn’t 100 feet above the water, and it doesn’t have a broken board right at the start to inspire confidence. This bridge kind of gave me the willies. But we made it across just fine.

The next day, we took the road up the Toutle River valley to the main Visitor Center, and to Johnston Ridge. Along the way, we saw the Bigfoot statue that was made out of cemented-together ash from the 1980 eruption. We also stopped at the Weyerhauser visitor center, where we found out that the trees they are farming there are all genetically modified to grow straighter, taller, and faster than regular trees.

At Johnston Ridge, we took in the view of the crater. We saw the trunks of trees that were blown over by the blast of the 1980 eruption. I zoomed in on the lava dome inside the crater, but I wasn’t able to see any steam coming off of it. The docents said that steam is sometimes visible when the temperature is right. We also saw a small group of elk down in the valley. One of the docents had a small telescope so we could see them, but my 300mm zoom lens just couldn’t quite bring them close enough.

After taking in the view of the crater, we went back down the road to the Hummocks. There is a trail through this little bit of terrain so that we can see the little hills and valleys that were created by the front end of the big landslide that began the 1980 eruption. The trail was a bit over two miles, and it went up and down and around, with signs along the way explaining how the terrain there was basically created in an instant.

On the way back, we stopped for a moment to again marvel at the GMO-forest. The trees are all so identical that looking at them made us feel like our eyes were going blurry, even when they were perfectly focused. It was impressive in a weird way.

Route map of the Hummocks Trail

8/13/2017

Pan Pacific Park

Filed under: — stan @ 2:05 pm

Today’s bike ride was a visit to Pan Pacific Park in Los Angeles. This was the site of the Pan Pacific Auditorium, which burned down in a spectacular fashion in 1989. After the fire, the burned-out hulks of the streamline-moderne entrance stood in the park for several years, before being torn down. Now, there is a new recreation center there, and its design echos the entryways of the old structure.

Our snack stop was at a new place. Just by chance, I found reviews in Yelp about Jessica Cafe inside of Park La Brea. We asked the guard at the gate, and she told us how to find it. They had pretty good food, and a nice outdoor area to sit. So it was nice.

46 miles.

Route map and elevation profile


8/6/2017

Hog Heaven

Filed under: — stan @ 2:18 pm

Today’s bike ride was a return visit to the Farmer John slaughterhouse in Vernon to see the big hog mural painted on the building. This is an odd bit of street art that is listed in many tourist guides. We went to see this last year, but it’s been long enough to go back for another look.

Our route was the usual way downtown by way of Huntington Drive and Mission Road. Then we took Santa Fe St down through the Arts District all the way to Vernon. We stopped for a few minutes to look at the mural, which is still impressive and a bit disturbing at the same time. Then we headed back into downtown. We went up Olive St, which took us past the apartment building with the oil oozing up in the basement, which was one of our first theme-rides, back in 2006.

We took Bonnie Brae from Westlake all the way up to Echo Park and our snack stop at Chango Coffee. Then we rode over the hill to the L.A. River and the bike path, which brought us down to Figueroa St. All told, it was a nice ride.

44 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

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

7/16/2017

Bubble soccer with the Derby Dolls

Filed under: — stan @ 1:04 pm

It’s been a while since we’ve been to see the Derby Dolls, but I’m still on their mailing list. So when I saw that they were doing a fundraiser this Sunday where they would be playing Bubble Soccer, I thought this would be a fun thing to go see on the bike club ride.

The park where they were playing is not really very far away, so we took a roundabout route to get there, going down to Atwater Village, over the L.A. River, and then up the river bike path and making a big loop through Studio City and North Hollywood. We stopped for drinks at Groundwork Coffee at the old Pacific Electric depot in North Hollywood. Then we rode back across Burbank and into Glendale to the park where they were doing the bubble soccer.

When we got there, there were two matches in progress, although the proceedings bore only a passing resemblance to soccer as we know it. But there was lots of running around and colliding and general hilarity. Besides, roller derby players are no strangers to colliding with each other. When the matches finished, one of the Dolls asked if I wanted to try on one of the bubbles to see what it was like. She helped me in to it, and then promptly body-slammed me so that I went rolling across the grass. And yes, it was pretty hilarious.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

7/9/2017

Lawnchair Larry

Filed under: — stan @ 1:59 pm

Last Sunday was the 35th anniversary of the flight of “Lawnchair Larry“. So today’s bike ride was to pay him a visit at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.

It was promising to be hot today, so I’d worked out a route that was about as flat as it could be. We rode out by the basic route across Eagle Rock and Glendale. Then we crossed the river to Griffith Park and headed out to Forest Lawn.

The listing in Findagrave.com said he’s in the “Columbarium of Valor”, which I wasn’t sure of the location. When we got there, there was nobody in the little information booth at the entrance, so took a chance and headed up to the top, where the Court of Valor is, with the idea that it might be nearby. But when we got there, there was nothing like that there. So we rode back to the entrance and I went into the main office to ask. The people there were very nice, and they gave me a map and detailed instructions to find the place. It turned out to be in the same general structure as where Carrie Fisher is buried.

Leaving Forest Lawn, we headed over to Priscilla’s. The original plan was to go to the gelato place in Studio City, but it was getting hot enough that we wanted to head back sooner. We had some cold drinks at Priscilla’s, and we even got some extra ice to put in our water bottles. Then we headed back by way of the L.A. River bike path. We had a couple of new riders along today, and one was suffering in the heat, so we stopped at Spoke to get some ice water. After that, we continued a bit more, but they wanted to bail out. I was still pretty sore from climbing Mt Baldy yesterday, so we all bailed out and rode Metro home from the Lincoln/Cypress station.

35 miles, including the two miles home from the Allen Metro station.

Route map and elevation profile

7/2/2017

“Instagrammed to death”

Filed under: — stan @ 4:01 pm

This week, I ran across an article in the LA Weekly, “10 L.A. Spots That Have Been Instagrammed to Death”. We’ve been to see a lot of them before, but there were two on the list that I’d never seen before. So that was today’s ride.

The route for today was very similar to the one we used for the “Where the streets have no name” ride in May. I just trimmed a few miles off the first part of it, since we were going to be adding a few extra to go out to West Hollywood.

When we were heading in to Hollywood on Hollywood Blvd, I saw a storefront that proclaimed that it was in “EaHo”, or East Hollywood, just as places in West Hollywood refer to it as “WeHo”. I thought that was funny. Back in the ’80s when I lived in Hollywood, the east end was just known as “Scary Hollywood”. Times change.

There was an odd bit in the middle where it looked like there had been a mudslide. There was brown mud all over Hollywood Blvd. That was very strange.

At Highland, we took a side trip up onto the sidewalk to go find Donald Trump’s star on the Walk of Fame. We saw some tourists taking selfies of them making rude gestures at it. But it didn’t look like it had been defaced recently.

The first Instagram stop was the “Made in LA” mural on the wall at Cisco Home at the corner of Melrose and Laurel. And true to form, there was a mother and daughter taking pictures there. They said they were from Denmark, so they definitely counted as tourists.

Heading a few blocks west on Melrose, we got to the #pinkwall at Paul Smith. And sure enough, there were more tourists taking pictures there. And there was even a crew putting on a fresh coat of pink paint to freshen it up. And across the street there was a wall painted to promote “Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party”. I had no idea that that was even A Thing.

Our snack stop was in Larchmonth Village. Noah’s Bagels, or Mr Holmes Bakeshop, which opened recently, and we visited a few weeks ago. From there, we headed for home, by was of downtown L.A. That was an opportunity to make one more Instagram stop at Bottega Louie to get a picture of some of the famed macarons. I also stopped for a picture of Dearden’s, which I recently read is closing after over 100 years in business.

Overall, it was a pretty nice ride, and we got to see some things we’d never been to see before.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

6/25/2017

The Whittier Greenway Trail

Filed under: — stan @ 1:30 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a visit to the Whittier Greenway Trail. This is the former railroad through Whittier that has been converted to a bike and pedestrian trail. We’ve been there before, but it’s a nice place to visit.

We took the direct route south to get to Whittier Narrows to pick up the San Gabriel River bike path. Then we made our way around to Workman Mill Road. Along the way, we got a nice view of Rose Hills “That ain’t no hard hill to climb” Cemetery. And we even got to see a fast-moving freight train go by at the crossing there.

We got on the Greenway Trail and rode most, but not all of it this time. On the bridge that takes us over the big five-way intersection, we got a nice view of a classic Googie-tyle car wash. We took it as far as Greenleaf Ave, where we turned off to go to Mimo’s Cafe for snacks. After that, we got back on the Greenway Trail for a bit, after passing by the antique street lights with the swastikas on them. Then we picked up the San Gabriel River bike trail for the ride back up to Whittier Narrows.

At the top end of the Rio Hondo trail, our usual route was blocked because the basin was flooded. That was odd. There’s usually water there, but normally, it doesn’t rise up high enough to drown the bike trail unless it’s just rained. So I don’t know what happened there.

By the end, it was getting pretty hot, so the last few miles were a bit of a trial. Fortunately, we had a route home through Arcadia that had a lot of trees for shade. So it was still a nice ride.

46 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

6/18/2017

The Other F-104

Filed under: — stan @ 1:20 pm

We’ve been to see the F-104-on-a-stick in the park in Burbank several times. So today’s ride was a visit to the California Science Center in Exposition Park to see the F-104 that they have mounted on the side of the Aerospace Hall. The F-104 is actual proof of the old engineer’s adage, “you can make a brick fly if you put a big enough engine on it.”

We rode our regular route into downtown L.A., pausing briefly at 2nd St to see if we could see how Metro is coming along with the construction of the Regional Connector. Then we continued south through downtown. I didn’t get to race the Expo Line train down Flower St today.

When we got to the museum, we stopped to have a look at the DC-8 they have on display out front. Then we took a look at the F-104, as well as the FA-18 and the Space Shuttle fuel tank.

Our snack stop was at a new place this time. We usually go to Noah’s Bagels in Larchmont, but the last time we were there, we noticed that a new bakery had opened up next door. So today we were going to try it. I got a donut, filled with chocolate that had a slight infusion of Earl Grey flavor. It sounds odd, but it was very good.

Nobody today was in the mood for our regular route home through Silver Lake, so we decided to go back by way of downtown again, and then up the Arroyo Seco. At the end of that, I bailed out and took the Metro the last few miles, since I needed to get back a little early, since we’re going to San Diego to see my father this afternoon.

39 miles, plus two more coming home from the Metro station.

Route map and elevation profile

6/11/2017

Spoke

Filed under: — stan @ 2:22 pm

Spoke Bicycle Cafe in Frogtown has been busy lately. They recently opened a new kitchen and expanded their menu. When we’ve been there before, it was a pretty minimalist operation. But now they have regular food, a wider selection of drinks, and even indoor bathrooms. So today’s ride was a visit to Spoke to see all the new parts that have recently opened.

We rode out our usual route across Eagle Rock and Glendale. When we got to Burbank, we saw a train nosing its way across Victory Blvd. The tracks only go a short distance beyond there, since that route has been converted into the Chandler Bikeway. But the fact that the crossing signals at Victory are still there I guess implied that trains still sometimes go there. And today was the first time we’ve ever seen one there. From the map, it looks like the little bit of track remaining there is part of a wye off the main line in Burbank.

After looking at the train, we continiuued on the Chandler Bikeway over to Pass Ave. Then south to Riverside to make a loop back to pick up the L.A. River bike path down to Frogtown. We stopped in at Spoke and had some snacks. I had some artisanal hipster-style bacon, just because it was there.

Coming home, we went up Figueroa St to Ave 43, and then the Arroyo Seco bike path to South Pasadena.

42 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

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