Stan’s Obligatory Blog

5/27/2012

Flyaway

Filed under: — stan @ 4:55 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a trip out to the Flyaway bus terminal at Van Nuys Airport to see the giant neon sculpture by Lili Lakich there. She was the founder of the Museum of Neon Art, and she is still involved in the art scene in downtown Los Angeles. Since it’s the last Sunday of the month, it’s time for the ‘longer’ ride, and a trip to Van Nuys fit the bill nicely.

It was a good day for riding. We headed out by the most direct route across Eagle Rock and Glendale, and then took Moorpark across the Valley to Sherman Oaks. Then we turned north and picked up the Metro Orange Line bike path out to Van Nuys. Along the way there, we thought we’d found Waldo. A short ride up Woodley brought us to the airport. And yes, the piece is big. It would have looked more impressive in the dark, but it was still a nice piece.

When we were leaving the airport, I got a message from Carla that she’d gotten a flat when she was leaving home, and she was going to meet up with us along the route back. As it turned out, we found her on the Orange Line bike path on the way back. We stopped at Panera in North Hollywood for snacks.

After that, we headed home by the straightest route possible from Burbank back to Pasadena. It was a pleasant ride.

58 miles.

5/20/2012

The Pasadena Marathon

Filed under: — stan @ 1:20 pm

Today’s bike club ride was one that didn’t really go anywhere in particular, aside from up and down a bunch of hills. But we did have a brief sightseeing stop at the 15-mile mark of the Pasadena Marathon. My stair-climbing friend Veronica was running in it, and based on her previous time of 3:44, I figured she’d be passing the 15-mile mark at about 8:40. Which gave us just enough time to ride up there from our 8:00 start at Victory Park. And she was right on schedule, running by us at 8:40:28 on her way to a new personal best of 3:42:49.

After that, we continued on, riding up through La Crescenta, back down to La Cañada, and then up and over the big hills past Sacred Heart school, and also Patrician Way. It’s all one hill, but we rode up and down it twice by two different routes. Then we rode to South Pasadena for cold drinks at Kaldi’s.

By then, it was pretty hot, and the last part of the ride didn’t include any more big hills. We just rode home at a leisurely pace. It was a pleasant ride.

42 miles.

5/13/2012

Stand and Deliver in Turnbull Canyon

Filed under: — stan @ 4:01 pm

I got a robo-call from Lucinda’s school a few days ago that said that they were doing AP testing this week. That got me to thinking about Jaime Escalante and his calculus class. I remember reading about them in the summer of 1982, when ETS was challenging their scores and made them retake the test to prove that they really did know calculus. This story was the basis for the film, “Stand and Deliver“. So I planned out a ride to visit Mr. Escalante’s grave at Rose Hills in Whittier.

It was chilly this morning, and GT was cold when we were starting out. A little while later, we had to stop when Stewart got a flat.

When we got to Rose Hills, we were able to find the space pretty easily from the location given at findagrave.com. But sadly, Mr. Escalante’s grave is unmarked. It seems odd for someone who had such an effect on the world.

Continuing on, we rode across Whittier and up Turnbull Canyon. After a brief stop at the top, we headed down the other side and turned for home. Our snack stop was at Merengue in Monrovia. By then, it had cleared up and turned into a very nice day. A good day for riding.

51 miles.

5/12/2012

Saturday morning on my bike

Filed under: — stan @ 5:52 pm

I went riding on Saturday morning. Nothing special. Just a loop ride to nowhere in particular. But I did see a couple of funny mailboxes in Arcadia. One was a miniature of the house, and the other was a steam locomotive.

I rode through South Pasadena and saw a Gold Line train passing through. I don’t know what they’re complaining about there. That’s the quietest train I’ve ever not heard. And I’ve got very sensitive hearing.

Going by the Rose Bowl, there were the usual assortment of people running, skating, walking, and so forth. I did see one attractive and pretty heavily-tattooed young woman running there. That always makes my day. And on that note, I took a short side trip on the way home to visit Shannon.

It was a nice little ride.

29 miles.

5/6/2012

Bombers in Burbank by Bike

Filed under: — stan @ 6:45 pm

After going to see the restored WWII bombers yesterday, I thought that this might make for an interesting bike ride destination for Sunday’s ride. I plotted a route, and we were on our way.

We rode along the Chandler bikeway in Burbank for a bit. There was a statue and display about the workers who built the railroad that used to run on the right-of-way where the bike path is now. We also took a short side trip to see the big desert tortoises in the front yard of a house there.

The bombers were parked around on the north side of the airport, so we had to ride all the way around to get to them. We stopped by the main entrance for a photo-op with the topiary jetliner there, and we also passed Jet Stream Liquors on Vanowen across from the airport.

When we got to Atlantic Aviation, we got to see the bombers parked there, but they were not open yet for tours. Still, we did get to see them. After that, we headed south to our snack stop at Priscilla’s. While we were sitting there, we heard a distinctive low-pitched propeller airplane noise overhead. We looked up, and the B-17 was flying right over us. I got out the camera, and few minutes later, the B-24 came by overhead. So we finally did get to see them fly after all.

On the way home, we tried a new route across Glendale and Eagle Rock. It was a nice change. When I got home, I realized that the route was a little bit longer than I’d expected, but that’s all right.

45 miles.

4/29/2012

The cupcake ATM

Filed under: — stan @ 2:25 pm

A few months ago, I read an article about how Sprinkles cupcakes in Beverly Hills had installed a ‘cupcake ATM’ on the front of their store. This is an automated machine that sells a selection of their cupcakes 24 hours a day. The very idea is quite absurd, but it’s also funny. And of course, I immediately looked up where it was so I could plan a bike ride there to see it.

On the way across Hollywood, we stopped to see Carol Burnett’s star in front of the old Pacific Theater. We’d heard the story as part of the Neon Cruise last night, so I wanted to stop and see it.

In West Hollywood, we went past Dicks St, which we’ve been out to see before. Then it was on into Beverly Hills to see the Cupcake ATM. We got there just as the store was opening. There was a line outside waiting to get in. But we were there for the machine, so I went straight for that. It has a touch screen menu that was easy to use, but it really needs an awning over it. It was very hard to see in the sun. It played a little earworm ‘I love Sprinkles’ jingle when it wasn’t being used. I guess that’s its way of being its own carnival barker.

I selected a Dark Chocolate cupcake. I put my credit card in, and the machine started making a lot of mechanical noises for a few seconds before the little cylinder on the front rotated around to reveal a single cupcake in a little box, ready to go. It was packaged quite nicely. I took it out and ate half of it right there. Then I stuffed the box in my pocket. I was curious to see how well it would travel.

You can see it in action on youtube.

We had a quick bathroom break at Will Rogers Park in Beverly Hills before heading up Benedict Canyon. When we got to Mulholland Drive at the top of the hill, I took out my cupcake. The top had separated from the bottom on the ride up. So there are limits to how well it can travel in the little box. But it was still tasty. It was about as good as a bought cupcake can be. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to baked goods in general.

We rode along Mulholland for a while, stopping briefly to look at the mailbox at Fire Station 97. Then we turned off down into Studio City to stop at the gelato place we like there. After that, we headed home by the shortest route. This was a bit longer than our usual ride, and it was getting late. When I got home, I had 59.7 miles, so I went around the block once, just to make it a nice route number with a zero on the end.

60 miles.

4/28/2012

More weirdness by bike

Filed under: — stan @ 8:12 pm

On Saturday morning, I went out for a little ride. I wanted to go see the Doo Dah Parade. It’s only about a mile from my house, but it didn’t start until 11:00. So I rode there by way of Duarte.

In Monrovia, I saw a house that had bushes that were trimmed so they looked like they came out of a Dr Seuss book. A few of them had very flat tops, and I was curious if I could stand my water bottle up on one of them. So I did. I had to put my walled on the bush to spread the load out, but then it made a fine little table.

In Bradbury, I saw a golden mailbox. I suppose it only gets good mail. No bills or jury duty summons ever could sully the golden mailbox. Then, around the corner, I saw the chromed stamped steel mailbox with a hot-rod flames flag. That was a good one, too.

When I got to Duarte, I saw another flat-topped tufted bush, so I stood my water bottle up on it for a picture.

There was a school sign that said “DOLPHINS WILL ROCK THE TEST”. That’s not what The Onion told me.

On the way back through Arcadia, I stopped to look at the tennis-playing light fixtures, and I also saw some peafowl wandering about.

When I got back to Pasadena, it was time for the parade, so I went to see that. Here are the pictures:

http://www.1134.org/gallery/index.php/stan/random/doodah2012

24 miles.

4/22/2012

Fern Dell and the Haunted Picnic Table

Filed under: — stan @ 8:41 pm

Today’s bike club ride was the “Fern Dell and The Trails” ride to Griffith Park. This is the first time we’ve done this one since last summer.

It was cool and overcast when we started out. We had a good-sized group today. The route out took us through Eagle Rock and then down to the L.A. River and Silver Lake. We had to take a small detour there, since there was a sign that said that Glendale Blvd was closed for a short stretch. So we went up Riverside to detour around it. Then we headed up Hillhurst into Griffith Park.

The ride up to Griffith Observatory is always a joy. That is, it’s a joy if you like riding up steep hills. It’s a pretty hard climb, but we got to the top all right, and we rested for a few minutes on the lawn there. Then we headed down Western Canyon Road to Fern Dell and The Trails.

The cafe was as crowded as I’ve ever seen it. There was a line, and about half the tables were full. That was kind of unusual. I also had a laugh at the stuffed crow nailed to the roof of the building. Shades of the Dead Parrot. I also thought it was funny that they made a point of telling us that the plastic utensils are biodegradable, even though they looked and felt like regular plastic. And I was also amused by the choice of sugar, liquid sugar, raw sugar, and honey.

When we left The Trails, we had to ride back up the hill into the park, and this time, we continued on all the way up Mt Hollywood. When we got to the top, my phone was making its ‘barking sea lions’ sound for an incoming message. Carla said that Silvio had gotten a flat on the way up. So I rode back down to find them. When we got his tire fixed, we started up again. Just over the top, John and I stopped to have a look at the ‘Haunted Picnic Table‘. This is a pretty good prank. The guy who made that story up made a very convincing-looking fake L.A. Times web page for the article. The key is that ‘rn’ can look like an ‘m’ in the location bar of your browser. So we stopped for a photo-op with the crushed picnic table before headed down the hill.

At the bottom of the hill, I heard the sea lions barking again. This time, Carla said that Silvio’s tire had blown out back up near the top of the hill. So we turned around and rode back up the hill to find them. About halfway up, we found everyone else coming down. They said that Silvio was throwing in the towel. He was walking down the hill, and had called home for a ride. So the rest of us continued on.

There were some fire engines and an ambulance parked by the river where the bike path starts. I have no idea what they were doing there, but they looked like they were doing something.

We rode down the bike path all the way to the end where Riverside goes over the river and turns into Figueroa. From there, we rode up Figueroa into Highland Park, and then across the arroyo to South Pasadena.

All told, it was a pleasant ride. It was supposed to be about 45 miles, but with all the extra riding up and down Mt Hollywood, when I got home, I had 49.5. So I rode back down the block once just to make it come out to a nice round 50.

50 miles.

4/15/2012

Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh my!

Filed under: — stan @ 8:21 pm

This week’s bike club ride is a theme ride with a kind of silly theme. It’s April 15th, and that’s a day that many people associate with something painful. So I thought it was time that we go and ride up Mountain Lion Hill again. That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done outside of a skyscraper stairwell. But then, I’d been reading this past week about Glen Bearian, the bear that came down out of the mountains to feast on Costco meatballs from suburban freezers in Glendale. I looked it up, and the neighborhood where he was stealing meatballs is not far from the mountain lions on Pine Glen Road. So a theme emerged. I had lions and bears. All I had to do was find a tiger and we would have the holy triumvirate of Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh my!

Tigers are kind of thin on the ground here in southern California, so in the end, I had to settle for a school in Glendale with a tiger mascot painted on the wall by the front door. Close enough. And we were off.

We rode up into La Cañada and down Hospital Hill into Montrose. And then the long uphill grind up Briggs in La Crescenta. That’s a hard hill, and when we got to the top, the fun was just beginning. That was where we got to Pine Glen Road and Mountain Lion Hill. That’s about a 20% grade, and it goes on for a good while. But at the top, we got a very nice view. Then we headed down Pine Cone Road.

The next major turn was on Santa Carlotta in La Crescenta. But it appears that they’ve changed the street signs since the last time we were there. We missed the turn, and when I got to within sight of Foothill Blvd, I knew something was wrong. I turned around and headed back up the hill, and I got all the way to the top without finding it. It turns out the turn was on Orange, and then the name changed a block later. But that meant I was back on the route.

A turn down Boston Ave brought me to the neighborhood where the bear was found. They had a big rolling sign set up to remind anyone to call 911 if they saw a bear.

Our snack stop was supposed to be at the little bakery on Ocean View in Montrose, but it seems to have changed owners, and it’s not open on Sundays any more. So we ended up at the Coffee Bean across the street. We got a table in the sun, so it was pleasant.

After that, we rode down into Glendale to pass by the school on Broadway, just so we could complete the triumvirate of Lions and Tigers and Bears. Then it was home across Eagle Rock and up the Colorado hill back into Pasadena.

It was a slightly shorter ride than usual, but with the hills, it was still good.

36 miles.

4/8/2012

F-104 on a stick!

Filed under: — stan @ 1:17 pm

Today’s bike ride was a trip out to Burbank and North Hollywood. It was a aviation theme, with sightseeing stops at a Lockheed F-104 mounted for display in a park in Burbank, not far from the former Lockheed plant where it was designed and built. And a visit to the Portal of the Folded Wings Shrine to Aviation at Valhalla Cemetery in North Hollywood.

The ride out there was pretty straightforward. When we got to Burbank, we met up with GT, and he told us about a place he knew that was not far from our route. He said there was a house there that looks like something out of a Tim Burton movie, and that the house across the street has giant desert tortoises living in the front yard.

We got to the park on Olive Ave, and had a look at the airplane. The F-104 seems to be the living embodiment of the engineer’s old adage about being able to make a brick fly if you put a big enough engine on it. After that, GT showed us the way to the odd house and the tortoises. I’d expected them to be just snoozing, but they were pretty active, lumbering around the front yard of the house.

From there, we rode up into North Hollywood to see the Shrine to Aviation. This is located appropriately, being in the part of the cemetery that is just off the end of Runway 15 at Burbank Airport. So there are airplane going by overhead all the time.

Here’s a little video taken out the right-side window of a jet taking off from Burbank. The cemetery is the green area that the plane goes over right after the end of the runway, and the shrine is directly below.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bePj5Btick

Our snack stop was at Priscilla’s in Toluca Lake. Then we got on the L.A. River bike path. That morning, we’d heard about there being a spectacular tanker truck crash and fire at on the 134 freeway, and we rode right by there. Part of the freeway was still closed, and it was pretty obvious where the fire had blackened the overhead ramps for the interchange.

Finally, on the way back through Highland Park, we ran across a steel giraffe in a yard there.

It was a nice ride.

47 miles.

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