Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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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.

2/7/2015

I always was curious how they did this…

Filed under: — stan @ 6:26 pm

On Saturday morning I went for a short bike ride with Carla. We headed east, with a plan of seeing how the yard and shops they are building on the Metro Gold Line in Monrovia were coming along. We rode out there, and we saw a crew at work putting up the overhead wires, as well as a single test train parked on the track. That was novel, since it’s the first train we’ve seen on that part of the line.

Continuing on, we passed the Azusa Rockery. Apparently, it’s an exhibit of the sorts of things they mine there in the quarry in Azusa. From there, we rode to see the downtown Azusa station that is under construction. We were going to see if we could find the ‘golden spike’ again. While we were there, a truck came by on the tracks, and they stopped just a short distance from us. The guys got out and started unloaded some serious equipment. We asked them what they were doing, and they said they were going to weld the rails together. So we figured we’d settle in and watch, since I’d always been curious to see how this is done.

They first took some wrenches and unbolted the spot where the rails were bolted together. Then they took out a big power saw and cut a little bit off the end of one rail to make about a 1/2 or 3/4 inch gap between the ends of the two rails. Then they got out what looked like some ceramic molds that they clamped around the rail joint, filling in the gaps with sand. Once all that was in place, they lit a torch and stuck it down into the space inside the mold they’d constructed around the rail joint.

While the torch was making flames come out of the top of the mold, they brought out a box of thermite. At that point, I knew we were going to see some fireworks.

After the torch had been heating the joint for a few minutes, they took it out, and then they placed a little white can that looked kind of like a big thermos on top of the mold. Then they lit it on fire. Bright yellow flames came out the top, and soon, glowing-orange molten steel was pouring out the bottom. It flowed into the mold around the rail joint and filled it up until a small amount of molten steel came out the top of the mold. I guess that was the indication that it had filled the gap between the rails.

They let the joint cool for a few minutes, and then they broke the mold off of it with sledgehammers. The metal inside was solidified, but still glowing orange. They cleaned it up a bit with a sledgehammer and a wedge. Then they got out a grinder machine that cleaned up the weld. All told, it was a pretty good pyrotechnic show.

30 miles


1/25/2015

Googie

Filed under: — stan @ 7:17 pm

Today’s bike club ride was another architecture tour. This time to see the old Johnie’s Broiler in Downey, which was a classic example of 1950s Googie architecture. It had fallen on hard times some years ago, and was partially demolished in 2007. I went to see it then, so I wanted to go back and see how it looks now that they’ve fixed it up.

The route it very straightforward. Straight down Rosemead Blvd all the way to Downey. We stopped off at the oldest operating McDonald’s there, and some of us had the old-style fried apple pies. Our snack stop was at 3rd St Coffee in Downey. And after that, we continued on down to Firestone Blvd and the former Johnie’s, which is now Bob’s Big Boy Broiler. It looks a lot better than the last time I saw it. And there’s a little plaque in the wall by the front door, telling the story about how it was saved from demolition and restored.

The route home took us up the Rio Hondo bike path, and then straight north on Walnut Grove, back to Pasadena.

42 miles.

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.

1/4/2015

Checking in on the Metro Gold Line

Filed under: — stan @ 1:49 pm

This Sunday’s bike club ride is yet another installment of checking out the progress that Metro is making on building the Gold Line extension to Azusa. We first did this tour almost a year ago, when construction was under way, but not all that far along yet. And we’ve been looking in on it every few months since then. Since the completion of the track last October, work has shifted to finishing up the stations and putting up the overhead wires.

In Monrovia, we saw that the station looks almost complete, and they’ve made a lot of progress on the maintenance yard. The downtown station in Azusa looks more complete, and the station at the end by Citrus College is even starting to look like a station. Even the Irwindale station is making visible progress. When we first did this ride, it was just bare dirt and piles of rails and ties waiting to be assembled into track. Now, they’re starting to run test trains along the tracks to check clearances and such.

Maybe by next winter, we’ll be able to have a Metro Tour East ride that we can do on days when it might rain, since the train will be available as a bail-out option all the way out to Glendora.

43 miles.

12/28/2014

The Crapi Apartments

Filed under: — stan @ 2:53 pm

A few months ago, I saw an article about housing in Los Angeles that was illustrated with a picture of the “Crapi Apartments“. Like many people, I figured the picture was a photoshop gag, but Debbie from my office said that it’s a real building, and right across the street from where she lives in West L.A. So I knew we’d have to take a ride out there to see it. As a bonus, she also said that the Chee Zee Apartments are right around the corner. And then last week, I found out about the Hobbit House in Culver City, and we had a trifecta of oddness to go see. So today was the day.

It was kind of chilly starting out. And it’s 14 miles of steady downhill to get to downtown Los Angeles, so the first hour or so of the ride was pretty cold. But it got better, and by the time we were cruising on West Adams, it was pretty pleasant. When we got to Culver City, we turned north and took Venice Blvd west to Motor Ave. Then we headed north into the Palms section of L.A. The Crapi Apartments are on Overland Ave, just off Woodbine. So we had quick photo-ops at the Crapi and Chee Zee Apartments. Then we headed back to Venice, and turned east to head for home. The Hobbit House was about 100 feet off Venice on Dunn Ave.

We stopped at Noah’s Bagels for snacks. Then we continued on home by way of Venice Blvd and 4th St. We ended up on Benton Way in Silver Lake, and then crossed the L.A. River and headed up to Eagle Rock. We took York Blvd across to South Pasadena. There was some sort of old-car-meetup going on, and there were several restored old cars out on the road. By then, it had turned into a very nice and sunny day. Perfect for riding.

53 miles.

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