Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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11/30/2014

Rail transit – Old and new

Filed under: — stan @ 1:59 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a trip to Silver Lake to see the Corralitas Red Car Property, which is a little strip of vacant land where the old Pacific Electric Glendale Line used to run. The line was shut down in the mid ’50s, and the Glendale Freeway was built on part of the old right-of-way, but there is a little piece of it running from next to the freeway over to Fletcher Dr that has been sitting empty for decades.

We rode down there across Glendale, and then back down the L.A. River bike path. Then we took a short side trip off Riverside Dr to get to the old right-of-way. At that point, Carla turned off, since she didn’t want to ride up the steep hill, and she also thought it looked like it was about to rain. The rest of us rode up India St to where the old India St stop was. Here’s a photo from 1952 that shows a train passing right by where we were standing.

Leaving there, we headed south on Riverside. The plan was to go up through Elysian Park to go to Chango Coffee in Echo Park. At that point, Michael turned off. He had to go to work. The rest of us turned up Stadium Way. And then it started to rain. We stopped for a moment to consider what to do next. Robert and Pat wanted to just head home by the shortest route. I looked at the map, and I decided that my shortest route home was about 1 1/2 miles away at the Lincoln/Cypress Metro station. So I headed that way.

On the way there, I got a message from Michael. It said, “Got screwed on Fig” and had a picture of his tire with a screw head sticking out of it. I rode across the river, and there he was, standing on the sidewalk fixing the tire. The screw was so long that it went through both sides of the tube, and the point broke off in there. And then green tire-sealing goop leaked out all over it. Yick. But he managed to get the tire back together, and he continued on to work. I went around the corner and found the Metro station. They had a handicap ramp there, so I was able to ride all the way up to the platform. Then I took the train home. I got off at Allen, and I saw what looked like wet-bike-tire tracks going in to the elevator. I found out later that Carla had been on the train just a few minutes ahead of me, so those were her tracks. At that point, it was still raining lightly, and I rode the two miles home from the station. So yick. We got rained out. But at least the modern Metro Rail system allows us to have a bail-out plan for times like these.

25 miles.

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.

11/16/2014

In-N-Out Museum

Filed under: — stan @ 2:34 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a trip to Huntington Park to see the world headquarters of In-N-Out Burger, as well as the site of the original In-N-Out. We’ve been to see it before, back when I read that the original location was being demolished. At the time, they didn’t say what was going to happen with the site, but today, we found out that they built an exact replica of the original In-N-Out Burger on the site. So we can see what it looked like when they first opened in 1948.

It was a nice day for riding. We headed out from the park, first with a little jog to the west to pass by the Pasadena In-N-Out, which has the distinction of being the oldest In-N-Out Burger location still operating. Then we headed south and east, going through a bit of West Covina to get to Huntington Park, and the location of the original In-N-Out. The replica is pretty small. I guess that when they first opened, they had no idea just how much business they’d be doing. But the little booth-style building looks a lot like the one in Pasadena, although it looks like the Pasadena one has added more building behind the booth, I guess to be able to sling more burgers.

Our snack stop was at Panera in West Covina. Inside, I saw that they’d installed little touch-screen kiosks to order from. The sign said that if I ordered there, I’d get a free cookie with my order. So I used the little screen to order, and then I took the table locator back outside. And when I got my order, I got a cookie! So that was nice.

The route home went through Santa Fe Dam and up the bike path. Then back across Monrovia. That was where I saw the three women out walking three llamas on leashes. These were the first llamas I’ve seen since we went to see Lorenzo the Llama, back in 2009. And I certainly didn’t know that llamas could be walked like big dogs. But there they were, and one of them was even lying down and rolling in the dirt like a big dog. So that was a novel thing to see on a Sunday morning.

46 miles.

10/26/2014

Down for the Count – 2014 Edition

Filed under: — stan @ 3:46 pm

It’s the Sunday before Halloween, and time for our annual “Down for the Count” ride, where we ride out to Culver City to visit Bela Lugosi’s grave. Weather was perfect for riding.

We started out heading into downtown L.A. We passed the site of the former state office building that was condemned and torn down after the 1971 San Fernando Earthquake. We visited this site a while back, when I read that they were finally going to tear down the foundation and put a park in its place.

A few blocks south of there, we ran across the route of the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon. They have it every year on this weekend, but for some reason, we never can remember about it when we’re planning this ride. This time, we didn’t see anyone we knew running by, unlike in 2012.

I got a flat on West Adams. It turned out to be from a small thorn that got stuck in my tire. That was the first flat I’ve had on the new bike. I fixed it, and we soldiered on. We saw the train at the Farmdale station when we passed there. I was paying attention to it this time, since I needed to get back early, and I was planning on bailing out and taking the train home to save some time.

When we got to the cemetery, we went straight to the Grotto, where Bela Lugosi is buried. As always, someone had stopped by and decorated for Halloween.

On the way back, I only rode as far as the Culver City Metro station. Then I got on the train and rode that back to Pasadena. This saved about an hour or so compared to riding home from there, and I still got in about 34 miles of riding.

10/19/2014

The Golden Spike on the Gold Line

Filed under: — stan @ 2:58 pm

This past week, I read an article about how they had finished all the track for the Metro Gold Line extension to Azusa, and they were going to be holding a ceremony on Saturday to mark the installation of the final track clip. I guess they use spring clips instead of spikes now, since the crossties are concrete instead of wood. Anyway, It’s been a few months since we did this tour last, so I thought it would make for a nice ride to go see how it’s coming along, and to see the ‘Golden Spike‘, as it were. It’s been a few months since we did this ride the last time.

The only change I made to the route this time was a slight detour to see the maintenance yard and shops under construction in Monrovia. On the way there, we saw the Arcadia station, which looks pretty close to being done, and the Monrovia station, which has made major progress since last June. The Duarte station looks pretty much the same, since it was quite far along last time we were there.

In Azusa, we saw the final track clip. It wasn’t golden, but orange. So that way it stood out. The downtown Azusa station is coming along nicely, and the last station on the line, out near Citrus College and the Glendora border has made good progress since last time.

We stopped for snacks at the Corner Bakery in Glendora, and then on the way back, we stopped to see the Irwindale station. The platforms are built now, so there was a lot of progress since last time. All in all, it’s coming along quite nicely.

45 miles.

10/5/2014

CicLAvia 2014

Filed under: — stan @ 8:00 pm

Today was the latest CicLAvia, and we went to ride it. We haven’t been to one of these since April of last year, but I’d noticed that the route this time went through the 2nd St tunnel downtown, and I thought that riding through that would be a hoot.

We rode through Temple City and Rosemead before heading into East L.A. It was basically the same route we took to the first CicLAvia, back in 2010. Once we got past East L.A. College, we could see the CicLAvia route on our left. We turned and rode one short block to Cesar Chavez Ave and got on.

There was a guy riding an old-fashioned high-wheeler bike, which was kind of novel. I stopped to look at the mariachis at Mariachi Square. And then we turned south to 4th St, which took us over the L.A. River and into downtown. I stopped for a photo on the 4th St bridge, since it was a place where I could see every downtown skyscraper I’ve ever climbed all at once.

Passing through downtown, we arrived at the 2nd St tunnel. This tunnel is used in lots of car commercials and movies filmed in downtown. And while we were riding through it, I noticed that the street had been striped with a bike lane. It was done with a buffer zone and plastic pylons, so it might not be all that bad to ride through, even on a normal day.

When we came out of the tunnel, it was just a short ride up Glendale Blvd to the end of the CicLAvia route. At that point, we took off across Echo Park to our snack stop at Chango Coffee

I’ve recently gotten a new bike, the first since 2004. It’s a bit odd to by riding a bike that’s shiny and new and not covered with dirt. And I was even (accidentally) color-coordinated with it today. That was weird.

Anyway, it was a nice ride.

42 miles.

9/21/2014

Big and small and smaller houses

Filed under: — stan @ 2:17 pm

Today’s bike ride was another architecture tour. This week, I’d seen an item on Curbed L.A. about “big and small house”, which was a 900-square-foot house designed by Anonymous Architects. It’s on top of a hill in Glassell Park in northeast Los Angeles. In making up a route to go there, I saw that we could then continue on and go see what used to be the smallest house in Los Angeles. It was sold, torn down, and rebuilt since we last saw it, and so it’s a wee bit larger than it used to be, but it’s still pretty seriously tiny.

We started out riding out through Eagle Rock and Glendale, and then down into Glassell Park. Then we turned and headed up a fairly steep hill to go see the big and small house. It was a hard climb, but the house is in a very nice setting, perched on the edge of the hill.

From there, we rode down the other side of the hill to Figueroa St, and then turned south, crossing the L.A. River to get to Riverside Dr. Then we stopped in at the former smallest-house-in-L.A. The house that used to be on that lot was about 300 square feet. The new house doesn’t look much larger, but it’s two stories, so it’s got to be a bit more.

Continuing up the L.A. River bike path, John got a flat, so we stopped at the Frog Spot to fix it. Then we continued on up the river to the end of the path, where we turned off into Glendale and went to Paradise Bakery. They still have the best chocolate eclairs anywhere.

Coming home, we went back across Glendale, traveling up and over the hill on Chevy Chase and Linda Vista to come out by the Rose Bowl. It was a nice ride.

42 miles.

9/14/2014

A ride to Hollywood

Filed under: — stan @ 1:12 pm

This past week, I’d read about Mel Brooks getting his hand prints in concrete in front of the Chinese Theater in Hollywood. The article said he’d worn a prosthetic finger, just so his hand prints would have eleven fingers. I thought this would be worth a bike ride to go see, so off we went.

It was a nice day, but promising to get very hot later on. We rode over to Hollywood and joined the throngs of tourists in front of the Chinese Theater. But the guard there told us that the actual piece of concrete that Mel Brooks was on was tucked away in a back room to cure for about eight weeks before it would be hard enough to be put out on the walkway in front of the theater. So I guess we have to come back later.

Leaving Hollywood, we rode up Outpost Dr, which is a very steep hill that goes up to Mulholland Dr. From there, we rode down Mulholland, stopping at the overlook above the Hollywood Bowl. There is a drinking fountain there, so we were able to refill our bottles. We also stopped for a look at the vineyard planted on Mt Lee, just to the left of the Hollywood sign. It’s pretty obvious, so I still can’t quite understand why we never noticed it before. Then we continued down into Cahuenga Pass and over the hill into Burbank.

We stopped for snacks in the shade at Priscilla’s, and then we headed for home. It was getting very hot by then, so we decided to alter the route and not go home by way of the big hill in Glendale. Instead, we headed down the L.A. River bike path, and home by way of York Blvd into South Pasadena. By the time we got there, we were all kind of suffering in the heat, so we stopped off at my office at Caltech for a few minutes to cool off and get some ice water. That perked us up enough to make it the last few miles home.

43 miles.

8/31/2014

Lafayette Square

Filed under: — stan @ 1:52 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a trip to see the mansions in Lafayette Square. We’ve been to see them before, but it was a nice day, and it would probably be cooler heading west.

The ride out was pretty straightforward, aside from my getting a flat on the way into downtown L.A. It turned out that I’d picked up a little thorn in my tire. But at least it wasn’t a mystery.

We had to take a little detour in downtown, since Spring St was closed between Grand Park and City Hall for some sort of music festival. So we took Grand Ave, passing by the Wells Fargo building that we practice stairs in lately.

On Flower St, there were some small plywood boxes, all labeled “DANGER”. It looked a bit like it should have said “Tasmanian Devil” underneath, but we really have no idea what the big deal was with them.

At Lafayette Square, we took a quick turn through the neighborhood. Then we continued on to Larchmont and our stop at Noah’s Bagels. After that, we headed back, across Hancock Park and Koreatown. That was where Steve got a flat. Since this was his first time riding with our group, I took a picture for the Flat Tire Gallery.

Overall, it was a pretty pleasant ride.

44 miles.

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.

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