Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Halloween

10/27/2013

Another Halloween ride

Filed under: — stan @ 6:41 pm

Today’s bike club ride was supposed to be out to Glendora for a tour of Rubel’s Castle, but that fell through at the last minute and will have to be rescheduled. So in the meantime, we did yet another Halloween-themed ride. Today’s destination was Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood to visit Vampira.

It was foggy in the morning. Riding into downtown, my glasses were fogging up, and it was pretty hard to see for a time. Fortunately, it started to lift by the time we got downtown. We saw the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon in progress, and we also saw the Wilshire-Figueroa building sticking up into the fog. I’m on track to climb that building 100 times by the time we’re done with the last race of the year there.

We rode out to Larchmont for bagels at Noah’s. There was some sort of street fair being set up there. The camels were an odd touch.

After the stop, we headed up into Hollywood and Hollywood Forever. We found Vampira over on the east end, just across the street from the pond and from DeeDee Ramone. We also stopped to see Johnny Ramone, and I noticed lipstick on his guitar this time.

The ride back was our usual route through Eagle Rock and Highland Park. By the time we got back to Pasadena, it was a pretty nice day. So overall, it was a fun ride.

42 miles.

10/20/2013

Down for the Count 2013

Filed under: — stan @ 3:39 pm

It’s almost Halloween. And that means it’s time for the 2013 edition of Down for the Count, where we ride our bikes to Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City to pay respects to Bela Lugosi. This is the seventh annual Halloween ride to see The Count.

It was a perfect day for riding. There was a slight fog in the air downtown, so we got to see the shafts of sunlight reflecting off the big Ritz-Carlton hotel by L.A. Live. We also got to see the newly-repainted ’slightly different shade of green bike lane’ down Spring Street. I guess that was the compromise for the movie people, since they’d all complained about the old shade of green. Something about it looking funny when they filmed the street and tried to make it look like New York or something.

When we got to the cemetery, we took a few minutes with The Count. His grave is always decorated a bit for Halloween. We also saw that someone had stopped by to leave flowers for Rita Hayworth.

On the way back, we saw what has to be the smallest Culver City Bus I’ve ever seen. And we got to see the progress on the bridge they’re building for the extension of the Expo Line to Santa Monica. Then we rode home across the city and through Silver Lake. It was a pleasant ride.

52 miles.

10/14/2013

More government shutdown fun

Filed under: — stan @ 12:04 pm

I’ve been out of a job for the last two weeks due to the shutdown of the federal government, but today I got to enjoy a rare treat because of it. Turns out that the road up to Chantry Flat is closed to cars because of the shutdown, and so it’s become a 4-mile hike and bike trail for the last two weeks. So this morning, I went out to ride it.

I’ve ridden up this road many times before, but it’s rare to get to do it with no cars. And it was a perfect day for riding, so it was a winner all around.

16 miles.

10/13/2013

The Right Stuff

Filed under: — stan @ 5:38 pm

I’d read this week that Scott Carpenter had died. He was one of the original seven Mercury astronauts, and the second American to orbit the Earth. So in honor of this, this Sunday’s ride was out to the mobile home park in West Covina where the streets are named for the original astronauts. We’d gone there once before, back in 2009.

The route was the old ‘Bagelry’ route, just reversed. We rode out on Gladstone St, which is a long, straight, slightly uphill street. All the way to San Dimas. Then we stopped for bagels. Then, on the way back, we stopped in at Mobile Land.

The rest of the way home was down Cypress St, which is just like Gladstone, but going west, it’s slightly downhill. So that was nice. Then we came home by way of Santa Fe Dam and through Arcadia. It was a pleasant ride.

45 miles.

10/6/2013

What ever happened to Moby Dick?

Filed under: — stan @ 4:58 pm

The Los Angeles Public Library has been having a month-long series of events to encourage people to revisit Herman Melville’s classic novel, Moby Dick. On Thursday night, Kathleen and I went downtown to one of the ALOUD events, Moby Dick: How Scientists Came to Love the Whale. In the introduction to that talk, they talked about how all the branches of the library were doing whale-themed events all month, and they mentioned that the Hollywood branch had held an Origami Whale Fold a Thon to make 162 little paper whales for the 162nd anniversary of the publication of Moby Dick. And the whales were on display in the front window the library. So that was our destination for today.

The ride to Hollywood is pretty straightforward, and we do it a lot. So there wasn’t much remarkable about it. The only thing that was difficult is that the library is on Ivar St, which is where they hold the Hollywood Farmer’s Market on Sunday mornings. So we had to wade through the crowds to see the whales.

After that, we headed north, and we noticed that Bela Lugosi’s star is right at the corner of Hollywood and Ivar. It’s October now, and almost time for our annual “Down for the Count” ride out to Culver City to visit Bela Lugosi’s grave.

We rode up to the Lake Hollywood dam, and then around the lake and over the hill to get to Burbank, where we stopped for snacks at Priscilla’s. Then we headed home by the usual direct route across Glendale and Eagle Rock. Overall, it was a pleasant ride.

40 miles.

9/29/2013

Dead Man’s Curve

Filed under: — stan @ 4:32 pm

About a week ago, I saw an article and photo set where a photographer had climbed down into Fryman Canyon, below Mulholland Drive, and photographed the rusting hulks of cars that had crashed there and never recovered. The article made it sound like these are not visible from up on the road, but I wanted to go see anyway.

It was a nice day for rriding. We headed out by the usual route through Eagle Rock to get to Hollywood. We rode almost the full length of Hollywood Blvd, and then headed up Nichols Canyon. This is a nice, quiet little canyon road with very little traffic. That took us up to Mulholland, where we headed west. We passed Wonderland Center, which was the subject of another sightseeing ride some years ago. Then we got to the Fryman Canyon Overlook. Looking over at the terrain below the infamous curve in the road, I could see how things could go bad there. We couldn’t see anything down below on that side, so we headed on over to the actual spot in the road to have a closer look. On the west side of the curve, there was very dense brush growing just down the hillside from the road. And I could see how that could easily hide all manner of things. I supposed maybe some day I’ll have to put on my hiking shoes and go down into the canyon for a look.

Our stop was at the gelato place in Studio City. They have apparently gotten on the ‘gluten-free’ bandwagon. Sheesh. And on the way home, we saw what was apparently a despondent plush stuffed monkey who hung himself from a truck bumper. Well, at least that’s more tasteful than the ‘truck nuts‘ that we thankfully don’t see much here in L.A.

50 miles.

9/22/2013

The Glendora Bougainvillea

Filed under: — stan @ 4:02 pm

Today’s bike club ride was the route out to Glendora to see the Glendora Bougainvillea. The weather is nice, so we can ride inland now without it being too hot, so this seemed like a good choice for today’s ride.

The bougainvillea had more flowers on it than we’ve seen the other times we’ve gone to see it. That was nice. We also saw a big new development of townhouses right by where the Metro Gold Line light rail station is going to be in 2018 or so. And on the way home, we got to see some of the progress in building the initial Gold Line extension to Azusa.

It was a perfect day for riding.

40 miles.

9/15/2013

This Old House

Filed under: — stan @ 2:00 pm

This week, I saw an article on Curbed LA about some very old houses for sale in the Los Angeles area. And it turned out that a few of them were not far from here, so that was the theme for this Sunday’s bike club ride. I made a route to go by and see three of the old houses.

The route was basically a big loop around the San Gabriel Valley. We started out heading up to Altadena, where we saw the first house. This one didn’t have a name. The article said it was built in 1891, which made it the newest of the three we were going to see. After that, we continued on up into La Cañada, where we rode up St Katherine Drive to the top of the big hill. We didn’t really need to ride up and over that hill. It was purely gratuitous. But it did give us a chance to see the half-built house at the top that has been sitting half-built for several years. This time, it looks like it has some new wood, so maybe somebody’s going to finish building it.

Heading back down the hill, we rode down Orange Grove to the mansion district below Colorado. That was where we saw the Hood-Cox House, which was the oldest of the three, having been built in 1886. It had a little plaque about it on one of the trees in the front yard.

After that, we rode down into South Pasadena, where we stopped for snacks at Union Bakery. Then we headed east, out to Monrovia. This was also purely gratuitous. It was just extra distance to make the route come out to 40 miles. At one point, we ran into a closed bit of road due to construction on the Metro Gold Line extension in Monrovia. But we found a little temporary sidewalk that they’d built for pedestrians to get around the closure, and that was good enough for us to ride through.

On the way home, we went through Sierra Madre. We went all the way up to Grandview Ave, since we were going to see the 1888 Pinney House, which was just off of Grandview. After riding up that hill, I remember why we go up there so rarely. Nobody wants to climb that hill at the end of a ride. But we did it today, just so we could stop and see the ornate house.

From there, it was all downhill to get home. Which was good. It was pretty hot, and we’d ridden up several large hills. But it was interesting to see the old houses. There aren’t many buildings that old around here. So it was a nice ride.

40 miles.

9/8/2013

The Neutra Tour

Filed under: — stan @ 3:15 pm

I recently got a new app called “Field Trip” on my phone. It keeps track of where I go, and it pops up notices of interesting things to see and do in the area. So yesterday, it popped up a notice about a piece of art on the wall outside the Los Angeles County Hall of Records in downtown Los Angeles. The piece is called “Topographical Map”, and it is a stylized depiction of Los Angeles County. In the process of reading about this, I found out that the Hall of Records is one of only a very few office buildings designed by Richard Neutra. For some time, I’ve wanted to go see the houses on Neutra Place in Silver Lake, so putting these two together to make a tour seemed like a perfect combination.

We rode into downtown by the usual route, down Huntington Drive. On the bridge over the L.A. River, we had to stop for a Metrolink train. That’s the first time we’ve ever seen a train going by on that particular crossing, which always seemed odd, since it’s right near Union Station.

When we got to downtown, we went to the Hall of Records. “Topographical Map” depicts the geology and geography of Los Angeles County, complete with channels carrying water to represent the Los Angeles Aqueduct and the California Aqueduct. We also took a few minutes to look at the Hall itself. It was built in 1961, and bears all the hallmarks of the modernist style of architecture that Neutra was known for.

Continuing through downtown, we passed Grand Park and “Exxopolis“, across from City Hall. We rode down almost to USC before heading west on Adams.

We made a loop, coming up in Hancock Park for snacks at Noah’s Bagels in Larchmont Village. From there, we headed back east to Silver Lake and Benton Way. A short detour off Silver Lake Blvd brought us to Neutra Place. There were several Neutra houses on that short street.

The final part of the ride was our usual route home by way of Eagle Rock. We were all glad that the heat wave from last week had ended, and it turned out to be a very nice day for riding.

41 miles.

9/1/2013

A ride to Downey

Filed under: — stan @ 12:57 pm

Today’s bike club ride was the route to Downey and the Columbia Memorial Space Center. It sits on a piece of land that used to be part of the old North American Aviation plant where they built the Command and Service Modules for the Apollo Program, as well as the second stage of the Saturn V moon rocket. Then, in the late ’70s, it was where the Space Shuttle was designed. Downey’s connection with the Apollo moon program can still be seen in things like the little strip mall called “Apollo Center”.

We stopped for drinks and snacks at 3rd Street Coffee in Downey. After that, we rode over to the Rio Hondo bike path for the ride home. The day got pretty hot, but not to the point of being unbearable.

41 miles.

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