Stan’s Obligatory Blog

7/28/2013

Oil, Part Two – Edward Doheny and the City Oil Field

Filed under: — stan @ 5:34 pm

Last month, we did a bike tour of the oil fields of Los Angeles. Today’s ride is the second part of our tour of the history of oil in L.A. Today, we visited sites related to Edward Doheny and the Los Angeles City Oil Field.

The route took us downtown to start. We rode through downtown and then headed west on Adams. Then we turned into the Mt. Saint Mary’s Doheny Campus, which is the site of Doheny’s mansion. The guard at the gate didn’t want to let us ride onto the campus to see it. A college campus where bicycles are not allowed? Really? I think that’s absurd. We duly noted his warning, and rode in anyway. The mansion was quite impressive. Apparently, this tract of land used to be a gated community with lots of mansions, but over time, Doheny bought the whole thing, and in the end, he willed it to the college.

The campus is also the site of another oil drilling island, this one the easternmost of the Las Cienegas’ oil field. It had a high wall around it, so it wasn’t obvious, aside from the mechanical sounds and slight oil smell coming from it.

Heading west, we rode to Hancock Park and our snack stop at Noah’s Bagels in Larchmont Village. We saw the puppy we’d met last month there again. He’d grown considerably. After that, we started for home.

We rode east, back toward downtown Los Angeles. Then we headed up to our second stop, which is the last producing oil well in the L.A. City Oil Field. It’s one block east of Alvarado St, in a little fenced-off lot. Word is it produces something like 3.5 barrels of oil a day.

Continuing north into Echo Park, we arrived at the Echo Park Pool. The parking lot there was the site of Edward Doheny’s original well on the City Oil Field. This was the first well dug that produced significant oil from that field, and it set off an oil rush that lasted for many years.

From there, we headed north, passing through Angelino Heights and all the old Victorian mansions there. Then we rode past Dodger Stadium. They had just opened the gates for a game that afternoon. But the traffic wasn’t too bad. We rode through Elysian Park and then home by way of Figueroa St.

It was a nice ride, with some interesting sights.

48 miles.

7/26/2013

More in metal fatigue

Filed under: — stan @ 7:14 am

Here’s the latest installment in my ongoing series, “I’ve never seen one of these break before!”

Yesterday, when I was riding in to work, I noticed that my bike seat felt weird. Like the seatpost was loose. So when I got to the office, I had a look, and I saw that one of the saddle rails had broken. At which point I said, “I’ve never seen one of these break before!”

So when I got home, I replaced the saddle with a spare one I had lying around. So everything is good.

Part one of the series is here: http://www.1134.org/blog/2007/12/30/ive-never-seen-one-of-these-break-before/

Part two is here: http://www.1134.org/blog/2009/03/01/ive-never-seen-one-of-these-break-either/

And part three here: http://www.1134.org/blog/2009/06/15/metal-fatigue-strikes-again/

7/14/2013

The Chandelier Tree

Filed under: — stan @ 2:36 pm

Last week, I ran across a story about a tree in Silver Lake that is decorated with vintage chandeliers. So of course, I thought we should go see it. I looked up where it is, and it’s just a block off our regular route into Hollywood. So with a little modification, our Fern Dell route would take us there. It was a nice day for riding. And as an extra bonus, on the way back, we would go down the L.A. River bike path, and maybe get to see where flaming gasoline poured into the river from the tanker truck crash on the Glendale Freeway last night.

The ride down to Silver Lake went by pretty fast. We got there and turned up the side street off Rowena Ave, and there was the tree. It would be nice to see it at night some time. I brought along some quarters to put in the parking meter out front to contribute to the electric bill for lighting the tree.

After seeing the tree, we rode up into Griffith Park. We went by the Greek Theater and up to the observatory. And after a few minutes rest up there, we went down the hill to Fern Dell. When we got to The Trails cafe, there was a long line. This is a nice place, but they’re not particularly fast in their service, and with that long of a line, we thought it might take a very long time. So we turned around and rode back up over the hill to Toluca Lake and Priscilla’s.

After snacks, we headed back, down the L.A. River bike path. Just past Fletcher, the path was cordoned off, and there was a police car there to keep people from going on the section of the path where it goes under the freeway. I presume that was because that was the portion of the freeway that was potentially damaged by the fire last night. So we took the detour, which went by Rattlesnake Park. That was good for a photo-op on the rattlesnake. Then we got back on the path below the area where the fire was, and we continued on our way.

We rode back by way of Highland Park. It was a pleasant ride.

51 miles.

7/7/2013

Turnbull Canyon

Filed under: — stan @ 5:20 pm

Today’s bike club ride was the old Turnbull Canyon route. No particular sightseeing along the way this time. It was a nice day for riding, and on the way up the canyon, we met up with a big group from Long Beach. I guess that the ride to Whittier from Long Beach is pretty comparable to the ride from Pasadena. On the way back, we stopped off at Merengue in Monrovia for snacks.

48 miles.

6/30/2013

Oil!

Filed under: — stan @ 5:12 pm

This week, I heard that there is talk of fracking in the Inglewood oil field here in Los Angeles. I used to go through that oil field every day on my way to and from work back in my Hughes Aircraft days in the late ’80s. That got me to remember how I’d done a bike tour a few years ago to see some of the disguised oil wells that are scattered around Los Angeles. And just to add to that, my friend at work made up a map of all the oil drilling spots that he knew of in L.A., overlaid with all of the earthquakes in the basin for the last 30 years. It was interesting to see how there were some obvious clusters of small earthquakes around some of the oil fields. We’re having a heat wave this weekend, and heading west towards the coast meant it would be somewhat less hot for us. So I thought it was time to take the bike club on an oil field tour.

That is, of course, different from “a three-hour tour”. That’s a different 1960s TV show. This one is about the guy who struck oil and got rich. The funny thing is, Jed Clampett struck oil and got rich, so he moved to Beverly Hills, which sits on top of large oil field. Go figure.

Back in the 1960s, Standard Oil put out a brochure for homeowners in the west Los Angeles area to explain how they could be living on top of an active oil field. And through the magic of the Internet, we can read it today: http://www.scribd.com/doc/16684123/beverly-hills-oil-field-chevron-brochure

We started off by riding to downtown Los Angeles. Passing City Hall, we saw the preparations for Mayor Garcetti’s inauguration later in the day. Our first stop was the St. James Oil Company’s drilling yard just south of downtown. This is the only drilling island for the downtown oil field. We had visited this place once before, on the Tour de Oozing Oil in 2006.

We continued south out of downtown, and then headed west on Adams Blvd. Along the way, we passed a wall that we all thought looked like another oil island. I looked it up when I got home, and it was indeed one. It was the Adams and Gramercy drilling island, which is one of four on the Las Cienegas Oil Field, which goes roughly from about USC to somewhere west of Crenshaw. There are three other islands that work this field, so I see another oil field tour in our future.

The second official stop was the Pico and Genessee drilling island. This is the easternmost drilling site that taps the Beverly Hills Oil Field. The building looks like it could be a county administration building, complete with a big glass lobby in front, but it’s enclosed by a locked fence.

Continuing west, we came to the Cardiff well site at Pico and Doheny. This is a two-part site, with one building having a tall tower to enclose the drilling rig, and then a second building across the street that looks like a 1960s-style bank, where the storage tanks and so forth are kept.

It was about this time that I was talking to the group. We were talking about oil, thinking about oil, smelling oil. And I said, “this whole ride is about oil, so whose chain is squeaking?!?”

Our next sightseeing stop was the drilling center next to the Beverly Center. This one taps the Salt Lake Oil Field and the smaller San Vicente Oil Field. It’s so unobtrusive that most people who go to that mall don’t even notice that it’s there.

Heading east again, we passed Fairfax Ave and the exploding Ross Dress For Less store. Then we rode up the back side of The Grove to see one more drilling site that was recently shut down. That concluded our oil field tour, and we headed east to Hancock Park and bagels at Noah’s in Larchmont.

The trip home was pretty uneventful. Both John and GT got flats. By this time, it was pretty hot. and the last part of the ride began to resemble the Retreat from Moscow, but hot instead of cold. In Eagle Rock, Stewart took a detour on the sidewalk just to ride through some sprinklers. Still, we made it home all right. And it was a fun time.

52 miles.

6/16/2013

Playgrounds Again

Filed under: — stan @ 4:34 pm

Being a member of AAA, I get their monthly “Westways” magazine, and a recent issue had a little feature about unusual playgrounds in the Los Angele area. So that got me thinking that it was time to do the Playgrounds bike ride again. And today was the day.

It was a perfect day for riding. Cool and overcast at the start, with the clouds burning off and having some nice sunshine by the time we finished.

We rode down to San Gabriel to see La Laguna de San Gabriel at Vincent Lugo Park. We’d been there recently on our way to East Los Angeles to see the giant tamale. Then we headed east across the San Gabriel Valley, out to West Covina to see the F-86 Sabre jet at Puente Park. The article said that it’s a real airplane under there, and that it’s just been filled and coated with concrete. I was knocking on it, and I suppose there might be an actual airplane under there, but for all practical purposes, it feels like a solid cast-concrete model of a airplane.

Our snack stop was at Panera in West Covina. After that, we headed home. In Arcadia, I found yet another house where the mailbox was decorated as a miniature of the house. I like seeing those.

It was a nice ride.

43 miles.

6/9/2013

Glendora – Times Change

Filed under: — stan @ 5:20 pm

Today’s bike club ride was our old route out to Glendora. There’s not much to see along the way, but I did notice one thing different. The house of the number-one railfan is for sale. That’s kind of sad. So here’s what the house used to look like:

37 miles.

6/2/2013

The Grade-F Streets of Los Angeles

Filed under: — stan @ 1:46 pm

A few weeks ago, there was an article in the L.A. Times about how many of the streets of Los Angeles are in really bad shape. In particular, they mentioned Rimpau Blvd in Hancock Park. I had a look at the interactive web map showing all the streets in the city and their grades, and I saw that part of Rimpau was repaved last year, and graded “A”, and then the section just a few blocks away was graded “F”. So I thought this might make for an amusing sightseeing trip.

The route out was our usual route through downtown Los Angeles, and then out on West Adams. We took a short side trip to Lafayette Square to look at the old mansions. Then we headed up into Hancock Park.

The grade “A” section of Rimpau was indeed very nice. Smooth pavement, no cracks. Then, when we crossed 3rd St, I saw the original builder’s stamp in the street’s concrete. The street had not been repaved since being built in the mid-1920s. And it showed. There were big cracks, holes, ruts, and it was rough. So that’s what a grade of “F” looks like.

After looking at the failed street. we headed up to Larchmont and Noah’s Bagels. We sat outside and had some snacks. Then we headed home. Along the way, we saw a police car kiddie ride, a car with a pink moustache, people getting ready to go kayaking in the L.A. River, and a sign on the hillside above Glassell Park that said “GLASSELLLAND”.

It was a nice ride.

44 miles.

5/26/2013

Claremont

Filed under: — stan @ 2:11 pm

It’s the last Sunday of the month, and we’re still not having our usual summer heat. So for the ’slightly longer than usual’ ride for this month, we rode to Claremont. If it were hot, going inland like this would be very unpleasant, but today was just perfect.

The ride out there is pretty straightforward. Almost no hills, and not a lot of sightseeing along the way. But we did pass the L.A. County Fairgrounds. I’ve started development on a new set of recipes to enter in the baking contest at this year’s fair.

When we got there, we went to Le Pain Quotidient. We sat outside on the patio, near the fountains and sculptures.

All told, it was a pleasant, and pretty uneventful ride.

57 miles.

5/19/2013

Monsters

Filed under: — stan @ 6:05 pm

Last week, there was an article in the L.A. Times about how Chris Brown had painted cartoon monsters on the wall in front of his house, and how his neighbors were upset about that. And of course, my first thought was that we should go on a ride there to see them. So that’s what we did today.

His house is almost at the end of a cul-de-sac in the Hollywood Hills, just below Lake Hollywood. So I recycled the ‘Atomic Age Houses‘ route for most of the ride, and we headed out.

We rode the normal way across Eagle Rock to get to Hollywood. And then we turned off Franklin and headed up the hill. The streets there are typical Hollywood Hills streets. Narrow, winding, and steep. But then we came around the last bend, and just after the ‘ROAD ENDS 600 FT’ sign, we saw the monsters. There were several painted on the wall in front of the house, and more on the house itself on the upper levels. I really don’t get what the neighbors are complaining about. After all, they say that the monsters scare their kids. But how many of them also have DVDs of “Monsters, Inc” for their kids to watch?

After looking at the monsters, we had to backtrack down the hill a bit before we turned and headed up the main hill to the top, near the Hollywood sign. We passed Wolf’s Lair Castle, and then rode down the hill, past the dog park, and then up the big, steep hill behind the reservoir. And after all that, it was time for snacks at Priscilla’s.

The last part of the ride was a direct route home, across Glendale and Eagle Rock. It was a nice ride.

40 miles.

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