Stan’s Obligatory Blog

2/3/2013

Atlas Survives

Filed under: — stan @ 4:40 pm

A few weeks ago, there was a article in the L.A. Times about a company in Montebello that sells backyard survival shelters. They said that they have one on display in front of their building, so I thought this might make for an interesting bit of sightseeing. So I made up a route, and today was the day.

It was a perfect day for riding. The air was cool, the sun was warm, so it was perfect for riding down into the industrial underbelly of L.A., alongside the Santa Ana Freeway in Montebello. We went straight south through San Gabriel, and then took the Rio Hondo bike path south. We passed the petting zoo where they have the llamas. After a few miles, we turned off and rode just a few blocks to come out on Telegraph Road next to the freeway, and there it was. A big steel survival shelter on display in front of the building.

The banner on the building says what they say it will protect you from. But I don’t think it’s really much good against earthquakes. After all, they come without warning, and if you ran outside and crawled into your shelter, the earthquake would be over before you even got inside. As for all the other things, yes, I could see that it could work for them. But EMP is really only a danger to society and its electronic infrastructure. It’s not much of a danger to individual people. But hey, if it helps make somebody feel better.

After looking at the shelter, we headed back up the bike path. We took it all the way up to Arcadia and Peck Park. Then we took Peck Rd up into Monrovia and our snack stop at Merengue. It was a nice day to sit out on the patio. And when we were done, we headed home.

It was a nice ride.

40 miles.

The L.A. Times article is here: http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jan/18/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20130120

They have a picture gallery here: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-selling-shelter-20130117,0,7445794.photogallery

1/20/2013

Tour de Terminator

Filed under: — stan @ 5:09 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a sightseeing trip around Los Angeles to see four locations where scenes from the 1984 film, “The Terminator” were shot. I got the idea for this tour the other day when I found out that the restaurant where Sarah Connor worked in the movie was played by the Carrow’s in South Pasadena, and we’ve been by there a hundred times. So I looked up a few more locations, made a route, and here we are. I made a point of watching the movie again last night, just to be familiar with the locations and how they were shot. And now, almost 30 years later, the film really holds up quite well.

We started out from the park at 8:00. It was kind of chilly, and it didn’t help that the first 15 miles or so of the ride are downhill. We rode down into South Pasadena and stopped at Carrow’s. I leaned my bike up against the tree that Sarah Connor locked her scooter to in the film. It’s grown a bit over the last nearly-thirty-years.

Next, we rode down into downtown Los Angeles. Our first stop was on Hill St. We found the storefront that was turned into the Tech Noir nightclub in the film. The shutters were down, so it didn’t look like much. But even when they’re up, it’s just a jewelry store.

We found the alley off 7th St where Reese materialized after traveling through the time portal. It’s got a gate across it, which I guess is why the alley is so clean now.

Leaving downtown, we rode out to Larchmont to get bagels at Noah’s. By then, it had turned into a very nice day, and we had to wait a bit for a table outside. But we had our snacks and got ready for the ride home.

The route back dipped a bit south so we could get below Wilshire Blvd. This was so we could turn north on La Fayette Park Place. That was the location of the building that played Sarah and Ginger’s apartment. That particular location was only in the movie for a few seconds as an establishing shot showing the Terminator walking into the building.

All the sightseeing done, we cut over one block to Benton Way and headed for home. We rode back across Silver Lake and Eagle Rock, up the Colorado Hill, and home. It was a nice ride.

41 miles.

1/13/2013

Slightly Chilly Today…

Filed under: — stan @ 4:07 pm

Today was cold. Certainly cold by California standards. And chilly by most standards outside of maybe Minnesota. When I got up it was 29F, or about -2C, which is the second-coldest temperature I’ve ever seen since I moved here to California in 1982. And it’s the second-coldest day I’ve gone bike riding on. The coldest was just a few years ago, and it was pretty cold. But it’s Sunday, and the bike club ride is only cancelled if it’s raining. So I got bundled up and headed out.

Kathleen had put a little pan of water outside last night just to see if it would freeze. I checked it, and it wasn’t frozen solid, but it had a crust of ice over it.

Today’s ride was a combination of two cultural landmark tours we’ve done before. One was Rubel’s Castle in Glendora. The second was visiting Sally Rand’s grave. I recently found out that there was a connection between the two, so that’s why we’re heading out there today.

First off, have a look at this. It’s a segment of “Videolog” from 1990 where Huell Howser visits the castle and talks to Michael Rubel:

A bit about the genesis of the castle is in the Wikipedia article:

Though Michael slept in one of the giant citrus refrigerators, the walls of thick cork were not sufficient sound insulation to allow him peace from his mother’s parties. In 1968 Michael fired up his cement mixer and, with a pile of discarded champagne bottles, began building himself a small get-away house in the center of his empty old 1,408,111 gallon concrete reservoir.[4] The high walls of the reservoir provided privacy and a noise barrier while he built his bottle house. Thus began a building spree that lasted twenty years, culminating in what is now called the Rubel Castle.

And the connection with Sally Rand:

Sally Rand, the silent screen actress and fan dancer, famous since the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, never missed Dorothy Rubel’s parties, which were so extravagant that the packing house became known as ‘The Tin Palace.’

So we rode out there and had a look at the castle. It’s really quite imposing from the outside. We looked at it a bit, heard the clock bell ring. Then we headed back down the hill into Glendora, where we stopped for hot drinks at Classic Coffee.

After that, we suited up again and started back. We stopped off at Oakdale Memorial Park. Even though it had been over a year since we were last there, I remembered the area and we found Sally pretty easily. And while we’re at it, here’s a short video of her doing her fan dance:

With that, our day was complete. We rode back by way of Santa Fe Dam and through Monrovia. It was a pleasant ride, aside from the chill.

44 miles.

12/30/2012

Bill ‘n’ Ed’s Excellent Green Houses

Filed under: — stan @ 3:15 pm

The last bike club ride of 2012 was a sightseeing trip out to Studio City to see a couple of green houses. Not like the green house we went to see in La Crescenta, but green houses. Apparently, Bill Nye The Science Guy and Ed Begley Jr live a few doors apart on a street in Studio City, and they’ve had a friendly rivalry to see whose house can have the lowest ‘carbon footprint’. Since the sorts of things to achieve this, like solar water heaters, photovoltaic panels, and low-water-use lawns are visible from outside, I thought this might make for a good sightseeing trip.

We headed out by way to Hollywood. After riding most of the length of Hollywood Blvd, we turned up Nicholls Canyon. That’s where we saw some interesting artworks in front of a couple of the houses. At the top, we turned left on Mulholland.

We took a short side trip up Torreyson Dr to see the Chemosphere house, just because it’s so distinctive. Then we headed down the hill into Studio City. The route got a bit hard to follow at times, since intersections in the hills tend to be somewhat ambiguously-marked. But Jeff had programmed the route into his Garmin, so that told us when we got off course.

After crossing Laurel Canyon Blvd, we got to the street and saw the houses. They were pretty obvious with the front-yard landscaping of native plants and big solar panels on the roofs.

Our snack stop was at the gelato place in Studio City. Carla got a very artfully-done cup of hot chocolate.

The rest of the ride home was pretty uneventful. We took the southern route across Glendale and over the pedestrian bridge across the 2 freeway. On the way back into Pasadena we saw some sort of antique car club on its way to somewhere. That was odd, and the cars were very smelly. Apparently, catalytic converters were not invented yet back then.

It was a pleasant ride, and we managed to avoid the rain.

49 miles.

12/23/2012

It’s a Wonderful Ride – Again

Filed under: — stan @ 9:25 pm

It’s the last Sunday before Christmas, so it’s time for my “It’s a Wonderful Life” theme ride. It was kind of damp and cold this morning, but it’s not supposed to rain until later, so we can still go riding.

We headed out from the park and rode across Eagle Rock into Glendale. Then we went south to get to Forest Lawn. When we got there, we headed up the hill to where Jimmy Stewart is buried. When we got to the top, we were briefly harassed by a security guard there. She seemed to think that we should not be allowed to visit the cemetery on bicycles, and that we should come back in a car. I did mention that CVC section 21200 does explicitly say:

A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a
highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions
applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division

This didn’t make much of an impression.

But fortunately, John is a good diplomat, and he convinced her that we were not there to cause trouble, but we just wanted to pay respects to Jimmy Stewart for Christmas. So that worked out all right.

After that, we rode over to Paradise Bakery. Sadly, they didn’t have any chocolate eclairs today.

Our second and last stop was in La Cañada, which meant riding up the long hill up Verdugo Rd. But once we got to the top, it was downhill to our sightseeing stop, the house that played the Martini family home in Bailey Park. As you can see from the picture today and the picture from the movie, the house really hasn’t changed much at all. And in the third picture, I put George and Mary Bailey on the porch, just because I could.

It was a nice ride.

37 miles.

12/9/2012

Three by Junior

Filed under: — stan @ 7:44 pm

Today’s bike club ride was yet another architecture tour. I’d gotten a link to an article on Zillow about modern-style houses that are for sale, and one of them was a house in Altadena that had been designed by Frank Lloyd Wright Jr. I’d heard of other houses he’d built in the L.A. area, so I looked up where they were, and we had a theme for the ride. We’ve done the “Five Wrights” route before, so this is sort of a companion piece to that.

The route was basically a combination of the old Toluca Lake route and the Mt Hollywood route through Griffith Park. We rode out by way of South Pasadena, then over the L.A. River and into Los Feliz. The first house was the Farrell House on Lowry Rd. We’d been by there before, but never noticed it. So we stopped and had a look. It had some stylistic elements that were reminiscent of the “textile block” houses that Frank Lloyd Wright designed.

The second house was the Sowden House on Franklin Ave. We’ve seen this one before, but never looked at it in any detail. This one looks like a Mayan temple, much like the famous Ennis House.

After that, we rode up into Griffith Park and stopped for snacks at The Trails. We found a table in the sun, and it was quite pleasant. Then we continued on up the hill and down the other side of the park. We rode past Travel Town and then across Glendale.

One the way up the long hill on Verdugo Rd, we passed a group of trees that someone decorates every year. Then we rode up our old favorite, Hospital Hill. At the top, I noticed the sign on the cross street. When you wish upon a hill…

We rode down through La Cañada and into Altadena. The last house was the Dorlan House, and like the others, it’s right by where we’ve ridden by a hundred times, but we’d never noticed it before. It had a nice modern and sleek style to it. And it turned out that when Carla was house-hunting, she’d been to an open house there, so she was able to describe the inside to us.

All in all, it was a good architecture-geek ride.

45 miles.

12/8/2012

Glendora Mountain

Filed under: — stan @ 7:16 pm

Today was a nice day for riding, so I went with Carla and Silvio, and we rode up Glendora Mountain Road. We didn’t go all the way to the top, but we went about 5 1/2 miles up the hill. Enough to get a very nice view. It wasn’t as gloriously clear as the first time I rode up there, but it was warm, and no sign of rain. Unlike another time I was up there.

Along the way, I could see where road crews had patched cracks with tar. And then where they’d written their names with the tar. That was odd.

There were a lot of motorcycles out, since it was a nice day for riding for them, too. So I took some pictures as they went by. When I was a kid, that sort of thing looked like great fun. Now I think it looks terrifying. But still interesting to watch.

When we got to our turnaround point, we stopped to take in the view for a bit. Then we headed back down. We went home basically the same way we’d gone out. It was a pleasant ride.

50 miles.

11/26/2012

Virtual message in a bottle

Filed under: — stan @ 7:07 pm

It’s been a while since something like this has happened. I guess that’s a good thing.

To the ‘gentleman’ driving the minivan, CA license 5NDH915, you’re an asshole.

If you’re so sure I ran a red light, what did you think the two cars in front of me were doing? We all had the green arrow and all made a legal left turn. And if you’re so sure what we all did was wrong, why don’t you go yell at them? So STFU.

11/25/2012

Another celebrity grave tour to Westwood

Filed under: — stan @ 7:30 pm

It’s the last Sunday of the month, and it’s time for the monthly ‘longer’ ride. I’d heard recently that Don Knotts got a new headstone to replace the rather plain one he had before. I also found out that Ray Bradbury was buried at the same cemetery in Westwood. So we had a destination.

Riding to Westwood from Pasadena sounds impossible, but it’s really not bad. We rode across Hollywood, and the traffic isn’t bad at 9:00 on a Sunday morning. The only problem was when we got to the part of Hollywood Blvd that was closed to get ready for the Hollywood Christmas Parade this evening.

We took side streets across West Hollywood, except for a short stretch on Fountain Ave. But that’s all right. After all, “Take Fountain” was the advice Bette Davis has for aspiring actors.

We took some more side streets through the last part of West Hollywood, passing Dicks St, which seemed appropriate. Then we crossed over into Beverly Hills, which is always a nice place to ride.

We had to do a short stretch on Santa Monica Blvd by Century City, but that’s not bad since they rebuilt it and added a bike lane. Then we turned off onto the side streets and made our way to the cemetery.

Don Knotts’ new headstone is quite nice, featuring pictures of many of the characters he played over the years. We went to se the notes and flowers left at Marilyn Monroe’s grave, and we also wandered around for a bit to see who else was there. But we never did find Ray Bradbury.

Leaving the cemetery, we rode up Benedict Canyon. John and I stopped for a photo at the second-most-imposing driveway gate I’ve ever seen. It reminded us a bit of “Young Frankenstein“. While we were there, a guard came out to see what we were doing. That seemed a bit odd, and we were wondering who lives there that they need a full-time guard at the driveway gate. Turns out it’s a woman whose late husband was a developer who apparently made a lot of money building Wal-Marts and other commercial buildings. And they built that very nice house in Benedict Canyon with it.

Going down the other side of the hill into the San Fernando Valley, we rode to Studio City to our favorite gelato place. We had some snacks there before riding home. By then it had turned into a very nice day.

When we got back to Pasadena, we saw the first bleachers going up for the Rose Parade. That means the holidays are getting close.

All told, it was a pleasant ride.

62 miles.

11/23/2012

A somewhat odd ride

Filed under: — stan @ 5:29 pm

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and it’s a nice day. So I went for a little bike ride in the morning. I planned on staying as far as possible away from malls, shopping centers, and any other such places.

I did my regular route out to Duarte. At the apex of the ride, I take a little side trip up the hill toward the mountains and ride along the last row of houses before the wilderness. Then, as I came back down the hill, I was suddenly being pelted by dozens of large flying insects. It was weird. So I stopped and circled back to see what it was, and it was a swarm of bees. I guess it’s a good thing I was going fast, since they just bounced off. Also, back in my bike racing days, they always told me, “zip your jersey collar up all the way so you look like a pro.” And no matter how hot it is, I still do this to this day. And this day, I was particularly glad that my collar wasn’t open, since it probably would have caught some bees if it was.

The swarm was just buzzing around the street and in front of a couple of houses there. I was able to get a picture of some of them, but the cloud of bees was as wide as the street, and as long as the width of the yards there. And, since I’ve been up close and personal with bees before, I could not mistake the distinctive buzzing sound.

While I was stopped to watch the bees, I noticed another house where they made their mailbox into a miniature of the house. I snapped a picture and then left, since the bees were starting to move down the street toward me.

I came home through Sierra Madre. And that was where I noticed my back tire starting to go flat. It took it a long time, and for a while I thought I might even make it home before it went totally flat, but that was not to be. I had to stop and fix it just about a mile from home. The culprit was a tiny flake of glass. Fortunately, since California has had a bottle deposit and empty glass bottles are worth a nickel, there’s a lot less broken glass on the streets. But it still happens once in a while, and today was the day.

Still, it was a pleasant ride, even with the part where I was pelted by bees.

25 miles.

Powered by WordPress