Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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.

11/18/2012

Hollywood sightseeing

Filed under: — stan @ 6:55 pm

A couple days ago, I got an email newsletter from Zillow that had a link to an article about mobsters’ houses. The Dearly Departed Tour has a stop at the house in Beverly Hills where Bugsy Siegel was murdered, but apparently, that was not his house. His house was up near the Hollywood Sign. We’ve been by it a hundred times, and I’d never even noticed that there was anything there. So today we set out to go see it. And on the way there, we could also see one of the locations used in the 1956 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers“. There is a scene near the end of the movie where a mob of angry pod people are chasing Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter up a street and then up an outdoor staircase. And that street is Westshire Dr in Beachwood Canyon.

The weather was kind of threatening. The forecast called for a 30% chance of rain, but I figured that was all right, since we’d be riding near several Metro Rail stations, so we had a way to bail out if necessary.

We rode across Eagle Rock and into Hollywood. About that time, it started to rain. But fortunately, it only rained for a few minutes. By the time we turned up Beachwood Dr, it stopped, and that was the last of the rain for the day.

The filming location was just past the Hollywoodland gate on Beachwood Dr. We turned and rode up the hill to the stairway. There are more houses now, and the trees are bigger, but the stairway is the same.

Here’s a little video that shows some of the scenes in the movie that were filmed in Beachwood Canyon. The stairs appear about two minutes in:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSC7_LBwj3Y

After that, we rode back down and up the other side of the canyon. That’s the hill where I always tell people, “you probably won’t see anyone you recognize from TV, but by the time we get to the top, you’ll be seeing stars anyway”. But what do you know. Jeff and GT did see someone they recognized from TV. Cheryl Hines from “Curb Your Enthusiasm. She was outside on her driveway.

We stopped briefly under the Hollywood sign before heading back down Mulholland to see Bugsy Siegel’s house. The house is a bit off the road, and the driveway doesn’t stand out. That’s why we’ve been by there so many times and not noticed it. But it’s right across the street from the spot where all the tourists take pictures of the Hollywood sign. From there, we rode down the hill, past the reservoir, and then up and over the very steep hill to get into Burbank.

We stopped at Priscilla’s for snacks before heading home. Our route back was a new one that we’ve only done once before. We rode across Glendale and took a pedestrian bridge across the 2 freeway to get to Eagle Rock. From there it was the usual route home up the Colorado Hill.

In the end, it turned into a nice day. So it was a pleasant ride.

41 miles.

11/11/2012

Ridin’ on Romney

Filed under: — stan @ 9:20 pm

In honor of the just-passed election, we did a ride this week that we haven’t done in a long while. Just because the route goes on Romney Dr in Pasadena. It’s a bit of a stretch for a joke, but the route has some good hills on it, so it was all right.

We were riding a route that doesn’t go anywhere in particular, so the details aren’t important. But when we got to the first good hill, Michael beat us all to the top, and when we got there, he was doing pushups on the curb.

Soon after that, we came to Romney Dr. It’s a short street, with just a few houses on it. It’s on a hill, so the houses are pretty nice. And yes, one of them had an Obama sign on the front yard. That was the only campaign sign we saw on that street.

Continuing on, we rode up Patrician Way, and while we were doing that, we heard the distinctive drone of WWII airplanes overhead. It’s Veteran’s Day, so it’s not surprising that they’d have some old airplanes out and about.

Just before we rode up the last big hill, I found a little tube of sunscreen on the ground. It was Badger brand, and so for the rest of the ride up the hill, I had this stuck in my head:

http://badgerbadgerbadger.com/

After the last hill, we headed home across Altadena, where we saw a small murder of crows harassing a hawk in the air. I guess they don’t like the competition.

41 miles.

10/28/2012

Down for the Count 2012

Filed under: — stan @ 7:35 pm

It’s the Sunday before Halloween, so that means it’s time for our annual ride out to Culver City to visit Bela Lugosi’s grave. We’ve been doing this ride since 2007.

It was a perfect day for riding. A bit cool at the start, but it warmed up nicely. We rode down Huntington Drive into downtown Los Angeles. That morning, I’d seen that some of my stair climbing friends were running in the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon in downtown. I thought that might be a problem for us, since part of our route was on streets that were closed for the course, and we’d have to cross the course twice. But we figured we’d just deal with it when we got there. And when we got to the first crossing, at 3rd and Spring St, we’d just pulled up and stopped when I saw my friend Veronica running by. There were something like 15,000 people running in this race. What are the odds? Anyway, we were able to walk our bikes across the course there and continue on. We took Main St all the way down to Pico before taking a right to get over to Flower St. That brought us down to West Adams Blvd, where we had to cross the race course again. But by this time, runners were pretty sparse there, so it wasn’t a problem.

We rode out on Adams and later Rodeo Rd to get to Culver City. When we got to the cemetery, we rode up and over the hill to get to The Grotto, where Bela is buried. After that, I took a little side trip to see the Del Rubio Triplets. The last time we’d been there, Elena and Eadie were there, with a blank space between the, waiting for Millie. But Millie died last year, so now they’re together again.

On the way back, we passed Culver City City Hall. That reminded me of the “Get Smart” episode where KAOS wanted to steal the plans for the Anti-Anti-Anti-Missile-Missile. We stopped at Noah’s Bagels on Venice Blvd. While we were there, I had a close look at my bike to see why my front derailleur was not working. And it quickly became obvious that the cable housing had committed suicide in a very messy way. At least it all made sense.

The ride back took us through Hancock Park, Koreatown, and Silver Lake. It’s like a trip around the world, by bike. I have no idea what the vanity license plate “BAD PUN” means. But in any event, it was a fun ride.

54 miles.

10/21/2012

Big Donut!

Filed under: — stan @ 4:14 pm

Today’s bike ride was the route out to La Puente to see the Donut Hole. That’s the donut place with the big drive-through donuts on each end of the building. One of the classic examples of programmatic architecture.

It was cool and cloudy, and sort of drizzling at the park. When I got there, I was the only one, probably because everyone thought it was going to rain. But looking to the south, away from the mountains, I could see clear skies. So I figured I just start out and see if I found anyone else along the way. And sure enough, when I got to the Rio Hondo bike path part of the ride, I found Michael and Allyson. They had gotten to the park late, and were trying to catch the group. But since the entire group consisted of me at that point, that was all right.

We stopped off for a photo-op at In-N-Out University in Baldwin Park. That’s the In-N-Out Burger headquarters building that they built across the freeway from their original location.

Continuing on, we go to the Donut Hole and took some pictures there. I tried to take a bite out of the donut, but it was just too big to fit in my mouth.

The ride back was pretty uneventful. We stopped for snacks at Merengue in Monrovia. Then, on the final ride home, it started to rain in earnest. I was dismayed, but not terribly surprised by this. But fortunately, it only lasted for about 3 blocks. So overall, it was a nice ride.

43 miles.

10/14/2012

Just another Sunday bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 6:25 pm

This weekend was the big move of the space shuttle Endeavour from LAX over to the California Sciencenter in Exposition Park. This was supposed to start on Friday and finish by Saturday evening. We’d all seen on its flyover last month when it was delivered to Los Angeles on the back of a 747. I thought it might be interesting to ride down to the park Sunday morning and just see if we could see it then.

As it turned out, the move took a lot longer than anticipated. On Sunday morning, the word was that it was still not at the park. So when we got to the park, it was still about a mile away. We found some side streets and made our way over to King Blvd and Normandie. At that point, we could see the shuttle, and it was about two blocks away. We set up camp there, and we ended up staying there for something like 45 minutes, watching it travel those two blocks. But in the end, it went right past us, so we got a good look at it.

After spending so much time stopped, we decided to skip our regular snack stop at the bagel shop in Larchmont. Instead, we just headed back into downtown and home the way we came. It was a an entertaining ride.

40 miles.

9/16/2012

E.T. is 30 years old now

Filed under: — stan @ 5:52 pm

I was recently reminded that this summer marks the 30th anniversary of the movie, “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial“. So, in honor of that occasion, and because it’s a ridiculous hill-climbing-fest, we took a ride up to Tujunga to see Elliott’s house from the movie. It’s been hot all week, and promised to still be hot today.

The house itself is at the top of a very steep hill in Tujunga, but just to make it more interesting, we went there by way of La Crescenta, riding all the way up Rosemont to the base of Pine Cone Road, which figured as the backdrop to the story told in John McPhee’s book, The Control of Nature. There is a short excerpt from the book on the USGS web site, telling the story of the night in 1978 when the Genofile’s house at the bottom of Pine Cone Road was buried by a debris flow.

Go read it. I’ll wait.

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There’s a picture of the house the next day at the Crescenta Valley Historical Society.

So after grinding all the way up the long hill on Rosemont, we got to see ‘The Fort’, the Shields Canyon drainage channel, and Pine Cone Road. In the aftermath of the debris flow, they rebuilt the house, and McPhee notes:

From the local chamber of commerce the family later received the Beautification Award for Best Home. Two of the criteria by which houses are selected for this honor are “good maintenance” and “a sense of drama.”

Continuing on, we passed the Green House on Markridge. We’d been up to see that before. Then we headed up into Tujunga, and it was time to climb the hill to Elliott’s house. They filmed a few outdoor scenes there, but the neighborhood where they filmed the kids riding the bikes around was in Northridge. The Tujunga neighborhood is far too steep a hill for kids on BMX bikes.

From there, it was all downhill back to Montrose, where we stopped for snacks and drinks. At that point, a few people decided to cut the route short and head home, since it was pretty hot. The rest of us continued on with the route, which involved a completely gratuitous ride down into Glendale and then back up over the Chevy Chase hill to La Cañada. It was a two or three mile hill that was absolutely unnecessary, but it fit the theme of the day, which was to ride up a lot of hills.

At the top, we stopped for a few minutes, and that’s where we saw a rather fat mouse just standing on the pavement a few feet from us, seemingly unconcerned about anything. That was odd.

After that last big hill, it was all downhill back to Pasadena. It was a nice ride. Jeff said that it totaled something like 3.700 feet of climbing. Good times.

41 miles.

9/9/2012

Top of the World

Filed under: — stan @ 4:35 pm

Today’s bike club ride was another sightseeing trip to Downey. We’ve gone there before to see history from The Carpenters, but this time, we were going to see a bit of the history of the space program there. Our destination was the Columbia Memorial Space Center, which was built at the site of the former North American Aviation, and later Rockwell plant where both the Apollo Command and Service Modules were built, as well as the Space Shuttle.

The trip there was very straightforward. Literally. We just rode down through San Gabriel and got on Rosemead southbound. And then we went straight for something like 10 miles. We had one brief stop to look at he oldest operating McDonald’s at the corner of Lakewood and Florence. We could also see that we were getting close to our destination. The shopping center next to it was “Apollo Center”. Building the space ship to go to the moon had to have been a source of civic pride in Downey.

The space center isn’t open on Sundays, so we didn’t get to go inside. We were mostly there to see the Command Module boilerplate test model outside. We also noticed that they had the nine concrete spheres along the front walkway painted like the nine planets. Hmm. I think Mike Brown would take issue with that.

Leaving the space museum, we rode back through Downey to 3rd St Coffee. We found tables in the shade and had some snacks. We took a short side trip to see the two apartment buildings that the Carpenters bought with the money from their first two hit singles. Then we rode over to pick up the Rio Hondo bike path for the trip home. By then it was pretty hot, but it was still a nice day and a pleasant ride.

42 miles.

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