Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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5/10/2015

The Pink Motel

Filed under: — stan @ 9:57 pm

Last week, I was looking up some movie locations online, looking for things we could go see on the Sunday bike club ride. And I ran across an article on the L.A. Conservancy’s web site about the Pink Motel. It dates back to the late 1940s, and is used in movies and TV when they want to have a 1950s setting. It also has a small coffee shop that is set up for carhop service, and also looks like it just fell out of 1955. They say that the motel is still operating, but the restaurant is only rented out for filming. And the fish-shaped swimming pool is empty.

The Pink Motel is in Sun Valley, which is largely industrial. There is a large landfill, lots of junkyards, and a power plant there. The route we took there was basically the same one that we used a couple years ago when we rode out to see the Stonehurst Cottages.

The motel is on San Fernando Road, just off of Sheldon St. San Fernando is terrible to ride on, but we only had to go about a hundred yards or so on it. And then, there it was, in all its pink glory. We looked around a bit at the different parts of the property. The pool is huge. And it’s empty. Supposedly, people skateboard in it, but we didn’t see any evidence of that. Still, it would be impressive to be there at night and see the neon lit up, although I’d guess that maybe they only turn it all on if they’re filming something there.

A train came by when we were getting ready to leave. It was going very slowly, so we had to wait a bit for it to pass. Then we headed back up Sheldon St. We passed the movie prop house there. They still have the pair of giant hands outside. There wasn’t as much other weird stuff outside this time, though.

Continuing on into the hills there, we saw people riding horses. It’s a strange area. It feels very rural, even though it’s part of the city of Los Angeles. This was where we came to see Lorenzo the Llama, back in 2009.

We rode back up the hill into Tujunga, and then down the long downhill to Montrose. We stopped for bagels at Goldstein’s in La Cañada. And from there, it was all downhill back to Pasadena.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation: http://1134.ddns.net/routemap.php?xmlfile=pinkmotel

4/26/2015

Riding to the 24th Century

Filed under: — stan @ 2:06 pm

If you know any cyclists, you’ve probably heard them talk about doing a “Century” ride, which is to ride 100 miles in a day. But we went one better today. We rode our bikes all the way to the 24th Century. Specifically, to go see the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, which was used as the location for Starfleet Academy in several episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. Kathleen and I went there once on a tour with the Obscura Society, but the only other time we tried riding bikes there, we got rained out in North Hollywood and had to take Metro Rail home.

Today was a good day for riding. The rain from yesterday had blown away, and it was clear, although a bit windy. We headed out, pretty much directly west, across Eagle Rock. And that was where John got a flat. Then we continued on across Glendale and Burbank into the San Fernando Valley. We took Moorpark St a long way before turning north to meet up with the Metro Orange Line bike path, which took us the rest of the way to Van Nuys. We rode in and had a look at the sewage plant administration building. I showed everyone a screenshot of it from “Star Trek”. Fortunately, the wind was out of the north, so the Japanese Garden didn’t live up to the “fragrance” part of its name.

Coming back, we saw that they were having some sort of Mini Picnic in the park next to the sewage plant. Then we got back on the Orange Line bike path and took it all the way back to North Hollywood. We stopped for snacks at Panera there. Then we continued on the Chandler bikeway into Burbank. That was where Jay got a flat. After fixing that, we headed back into Glendale on the Glendale Narrows Riverwalk, which was where we met the miniature horse.

The final part of the ride was the climb back up the Colorado Hill into Pasadena. That never gets old. Or easier. Still, it was a nice ride. And we finally made it all the way to the 24th Century.

55 miles.

Route map and elevation profile


4/19/2015

Gay’s Lion Farm

Filed under: — stan @ 2:54 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a tour in search of a bit of SoCal history. In this case, Gay’s Lion Farm, which existed in El Monte from 1925 to 1942, and at its peak had 200 lions living on five acres where the San Bernardino Freeway exists now.

The actual location of the lion farm isn’t all that far from Pasadena, so I had to make up a kind of roundabout route to get there and back, just to keep to our basic framework of the ride being about 40-45 miles. So we started out riding all the way out to Duarte before turning around and heading back west to Monrovia and then south. But we finally made it to the intersection of Peck Road and Valley Boulevard, and there, right on the freeway embankment, there was a lion statue. There was a small plaque that said that it marked the site of the lion farm. We looked around a bit and took some pictures before moving on. Just a few blocks on the other side of the freeway was El Monte High School, and it has a large statue of a lion in front of it. One article I read said that the statue was of a lion named Jackie, who was the MGM lion in the 1930s and ’40s.

Continuing south, we ended up on the Rio Hondo bike path, and when that let us out on San Gabriel Blvd, we headed north. We ended up in San Gabriel, where we stopped off at the San Gabriel Cemetery to visit Charles Gay’s grave. While we were there, we also saw the statue and memorial for General George S. Patton, who grew up in San Gabriel.

Our snack stop was at Peet’s Coffee in Pasadena. That’s almost at the end of the ride, so we don’t stop there often, but it just worked out that that was the best place we knew along this route.

42 miles.

Route map: http://1134.ddns.net/routemap.php?xmlfile=gayslionfarm

4/12/2015

The Tortoises of Burbank

Filed under: — stan @ 2:28 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a route to Burbank to go see the big desert tortoises that live in the front yard of a house there. We’ve stopped in to see them many times before, but this time we made a point to bring some food for them.

The ride out there was pleasant enough. We took the northern route through La Cañada, coming down Verdugo Rd into Glendale. Then we rode over into Burbank and headed down Chandler. When we got to the tortoise house, they were all just basking in the sun in the yard, and they weren’t moving. Nicholas pulled out some romaine lettuce and stuck it through the fence. One of the tortoises came over and started eating. I had brought an apple, and I tossed it into the yard. After a few minutes, one of the other tortoises noticed it and came over to start eating it. We had some more cut-up apples with us, and we fed them to the tortoises. They seemed to like the apples a lot. They had some other lettuce in the yard already, but they ignored that for as long as the apples held out. But once the apples were gone, they went back to the lettuce. They made pretty loud munching sounds, so I shot a little video of it, just so you can hear the crunch:

After that, we continued on the Chandler bike path out to North Hollywood. We stopped for snacks at Panera, and then headed back the way we came. We turned down Keystone to get to Riverside, passing by the “Chuck Norris Rules” wall. Then we came back by the direct route across Glendale and Eagle Rock, with the always-popular Colorado hill back into Pasadena. It was a nice ride.

44 miles.

4/5/2015

The New George Harrison Tree

Filed under: — stan @ 1:42 pm

A week or so ago, I saw an item in the Los Angeles Times about how they had planted a new tree in Griffith Park in memory of George Harrison. The former tree had died last year after being infested with beetles, which of course made the news around the world. We’d gone to see the stump of the old tree, so I thought we should go see the new tree today. Also, I’d read recently that the city is doing an experiment with allowing car traffic on Mt Hollywood Drive for the first time since 1989 in an effort to relieve congestion brought on by the crush of cars bringing people to the park to see the Hollywood sign. So I wanted to take a ride up there so we could see just how bad it was, and decide for ourselves just what we thought of it.

The day was cool and overcast. It was actually quite pleasant for riding. We headed out by our usual route across Eagle Rock. We had a relatively big group today, and we even picked up a couple new riders on the road who joined us for a part of the ride. We went up into Griffith Park to the observatory, where we saw the new tree.

Leaving the observatory, we went down to Mt Hollywood Drive. We were expecting the gate to be open. GT had been riding up there during the week, and he told us about the traffic on the road then. But the gate was closed, and there were no cars. There were cones and signs directing traffic everywhere, but for some reason, they did not open the gates today. So we rode up to the spot they had designated for people to park to see the sign. And while we were there, we looked back for the first time ever, and we saw that that spot actually has a nice view of the observatory and downtown L.A. We’d never looked back from there before.

Continuing on, we got to the top of the hill, where we regrouped before heading down the other side. Along the road there, we saw movie trailers parked on the road, and then, just around the bend, we saw two wrecked cars. Apparently, they had been filming something that involved those cars, and I guess they weren’t done with them yet. The one that was completely upside-down had a hose connected to it. I presume that this was to pump fuel into it so that it could explode in a fireball, like cars always do in movies.

At the bottom of the hill, we rode into Burbank for our snack stop at Priscilla’s. Then we headed back by way of the L.A. River bike path. Since the Riverside Drive bridge isn’t quite finished yet, we tried an experiment and rode back up Fletcher, but then cut across on a small street we’d never ridden on before to get to Cypress and Figueroa. Then we took Figueroa back up through Highland Park, cutting over on Ave 57 to get to South Pasadena. It turned out to be a pretty good way to go, so we’ll probably do it again in the future.

47 miles.

Here’s the route map and elevation profile: http://1134.ddns.net/routemap.php?xmlfile=georgeharrison

3/15/2015

Update on the NoHo Barrel

Filed under: — stan @ 1:17 pm

Today’s bike club ride was another trip to North Hollywood to check out the barrel-shaped restaurant. We’d gone to see this in January when it was being renovated, but I’d read recently that it was finished and open for business. So it was time to go see it again.

There’s a spot on Riverside Drive where businesses park their trucks as advertising while they’re not being used. There’s the “Hot Topless Maids” van, and today there was also a junk-hauling truck. And thanks to reality TV, apparently now “Extreme Hoarding” is a thing.

When we got to NoHo, the barrel was all out in the open and nicely refinished. We were able to peek in the windows and see the inside, and it really looked pretty good.

After looking at the barrel, we continued on up Vineland Ave to Chandler, where we stopped for snacks at the Panera across the street from the Metro Red Line station. That was where we’d caught the train home three weeks ago when the ride was rained out.

Heading back on the Chandler bikeway, we came across a big group of people running around in circles carrying medicine balls. I guess that’s one of those fitness boot camp things. I think riding the bike is just more fun. And we get to cover a lot of ground. And today, I finally got my photo-op riding the shaggy dog sculpture in Burbank. That makes for a companion to the time I got to ride the rattlesnake sculpture in Rattlesnake Park or when Lucinda was a little kid and like to ride the little fox sculptures in the park downtown.

On the way back on Riverside Drive, we saw that apparently Rene Magritte has a hamburger stand now. It must be, because the sign clearly says “Not a Burger Stand”.

44 miles.

Here’s the route map and elevation profile.

3/8/2015

Another ride to Glendora

Filed under: — stan @ 12:50 pm

This Sunday’s bike club ride was our old route to Glendora. The main reason I wanted to do this was so we could stop in at the Gold Line station under construction in downtown Azusa and see the spot where Carla and I got to watch them thermite-welding the rails together last month. I was curious to see what the weld looks like now that it’s cooled and finished.

Right away, Michael got a flat before we’d even gone one mile. So we stopped and fixed that. A little while later, when we got on the San Gabriel River bike trail. There, I ran over something and I got a flat, too. After fixing that, we headed into Azusa and rode to the train station. We found the weld, nicely finished, and with writing on the side of the rail, recording who did it and when it was done. Rooting around in the ballast around there, we found some small chunks of slag from the ceramic mold and casting sand they used to make the form around the weld. We also found some chunks of what was essentially cast iron, from the excess molten metal that came out the sides of the mold during the welding process.

Continuing on, we rode into Glendora, where we stopped for coffee and snacks at Classic Coffee. Then we headed back by way of Cypress Ave, passing the Huy Fong Foods hot sauce factory in Irwindale, before riding over Santa Fe Dam to get back to the bike trail. And at that point, Michael got yet another flat. After fixing that, we figured it was probably best to just head home by the most direct route possible.

2/21/2015

More odd things I see when I’m riding my bike

Filed under: — stan @ 1:00 pm

I went out for a little ride today. Mostly because I needed to stop by my office and water the plants, but also just because it was a nice day. So after leaving the office, I kept riding. When I was near the Rose Bowl, I saw signs for “Air and Style”. I had no idea what that was, but when I was crossing the bridge that’s just up the hill from the Bowl, I looked over and immediately stopped. I saw a giant ski-jump ramp, covered in what I guess is shaved-ice fake snow, and guys on snowboards going down it and flying through the air. This was sufficiently bizarre that I had to alter course and go down the hill to see it better. I watched for a bit, just marveling at how big the thing was, and how the guys going down it seemed to treat it like it was nothing special. So there’s always something weird going on around here. I like that.

2/15/2015

Studio City for Gelato

Filed under: — stan @ 3:31 pm

This week’s bike club ride was a trip out to Studio City to get gelato at Gelato Bar and Espresso Caffe. It’s a destination, and it was a nice warm day, so it seemed like a good place to go.

On the way there, Jeff wanted to take a little side trip to try riding up Eldred St. This is a short dead-end street that ends in one of the steepest hills in Los Angeles. In the end, his Garmin said the grade averaged 23%, but that the final pitch to the top hit 44%. And the fact that it’s broken and rough concrete just made it even harder.

The rest of the ride was pretty straightforward. It was a nice fast trip up the L.A. River bike path, and then a straight shot out across Toluca Lake to Studio City. The trip back was flat across Glendale, and then a trip up and over Linda Vista and Lida St to get back to Pasadena.

44 miles.

2/8/2015

Lyman Village

Filed under: — stan @ 3:30 pm

Last Thursday night, we went on a bar crawl with the Obscura Society, and when we were walking through Hollywood, they took us down Lyman Place to see the apartment buildings there. And when I saw them, I said, “I know where we’re going this Sunday!

The basic plan was to ride to Hollywood, see Lyman Place, and then go up and over the hill through Griffith Park and then home by way of South Pasadena. We got there pretty fast, and we took a turn up and down the block to see all the buildings. Then we headed up Hillhurst to the park. The climb up the hill to the observatory was a joy, as always. At the top, we stopped for a few minutes to look at the view. I also had a look at the scale model of the solar system they have built into the sidewalk in front of the observatory. They re-did the whole observatory building a few years ago, but I guess they didn’t redo the sidewalks in front. Their solar system still includes Pluton as a planet, even though it was removed from that post in 2006.

After that little rest at the observatory, we rode up and over Mt. Hollywood and came down into the Valley side of the park. We had our snack stop at Priscilla’s. Then we took the L.A. River bike path back to Fletcher, and then back up Eagle Rock Blvd to York, and back home across South Pasadena.

44 miles.

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