Stan’s Obligatory Blog

2/8/2015

Lyman Village

Filed under: — stan @ 3:30 pm

Last Thursday night, we went on a bar crawl with the Obscura Society, and when we were walking through Hollywood, they took us down Lyman Place to see the apartment buildings there. And when I saw them, I said, “I know where we’re going this Sunday!

The basic plan was to ride to Hollywood, see Lyman Place, and then go up and over the hill through Griffith Park and then home by way of South Pasadena. We got there pretty fast, and we took a turn up and down the block to see all the buildings. Then we headed up Hillhurst to the park. The climb up the hill to the observatory was a joy, as always. At the top, we stopped for a few minutes to look at the view. I also had a look at the scale model of the solar system they have built into the sidewalk in front of the observatory. They re-did the whole observatory building a few years ago, but I guess they didn’t redo the sidewalks in front. Their solar system still includes Pluton as a planet, even though it was removed from that post in 2006.

After that little rest at the observatory, we rode up and over Mt. Hollywood and came down into the Valley side of the park. We had our snack stop at Priscilla’s. Then we took the L.A. River bike path back to Fletcher, and then back up Eagle Rock Blvd to York, and back home across South Pasadena.

44 miles.

2/7/2015

I always was curious how they did this…

Filed under: — stan @ 6:26 pm

On Saturday morning I went for a short bike ride with Carla. We headed east, with a plan of seeing how the yard and shops they are building on the Metro Gold Line in Monrovia were coming along. We rode out there, and we saw a crew at work putting up the overhead wires, as well as a single test train parked on the track. That was novel, since it’s the first train we’ve seen on that part of the line.

Continuing on, we passed the Azusa Rockery. Apparently, it’s an exhibit of the sorts of things they mine there in the quarry in Azusa. From there, we rode to see the downtown Azusa station that is under construction. We were going to see if we could find the ‘golden spike’ again. While we were there, a truck came by on the tracks, and they stopped just a short distance from us. The guys got out and started unloaded some serious equipment. We asked them what they were doing, and they said they were going to weld the rails together. So we figured we’d settle in and watch, since I’d always been curious to see how this is done.

They first took some wrenches and unbolted the spot where the rails were bolted together. Then they took out a big power saw and cut a little bit off the end of one rail to make about a 1/2 or 3/4 inch gap between the ends of the two rails. Then they got out what looked like some ceramic molds that they clamped around the rail joint, filling in the gaps with sand. Once all that was in place, they lit a torch and stuck it down into the space inside the mold they’d constructed around the rail joint.

While the torch was making flames come out of the top of the mold, they brought out a box of thermite. At that point, I knew we were going to see some fireworks.

After the torch had been heating the joint for a few minutes, they took it out, and then they placed a little white can that looked kind of like a big thermos on top of the mold. Then they lit it on fire. Bright yellow flames came out the top, and soon, glowing-orange molten steel was pouring out the bottom. It flowed into the mold around the rail joint and filled it up until a small amount of molten steel came out the top of the mold. I guess that was the indication that it had filled the gap between the rails.

They let the joint cool for a few minutes, and then they broke the mold off of it with sledgehammers. The metal inside was solidified, but still glowing orange. They cleaned it up a bit with a sledgehammer and a wedge. Then they got out a grinder machine that cleaned up the weld. All told, it was a pretty good pyrotechnic show.

30 miles


1/25/2015

Googie

Filed under: — stan @ 7:17 pm

Today’s bike club ride was another architecture tour. This time to see the old Johnie’s Broiler in Downey, which was a classic example of 1950s Googie architecture. It had fallen on hard times some years ago, and was partially demolished in 2007. I went to see it then, so I wanted to go back and see how it looks now that they’ve fixed it up.

The route it very straightforward. Straight down Rosemead Blvd all the way to Downey. We stopped off at the oldest operating McDonald’s there, and some of us had the old-style fried apple pies. Our snack stop was at 3rd St Coffee in Downey. And after that, we continued on down to Firestone Blvd and the former Johnie’s, which is now Bob’s Big Boy Broiler. It looks a lot better than the last time I saw it. And there’s a little plaque in the wall by the front door, telling the story about how it was saved from demolition and restored.

The route home took us up the Rio Hondo bike path, and then straight north on Walnut Grove, back to Pasadena.

42 miles.

1/18/2015

Roll Out the Barrel

Filed under: — stan @ 2:11 pm

Route map

Last week, I saw an article about how the old barrel-shaped restaurant in North Hollywood is being renovated by new owners, and it going to be reopening soon as the Idle Hour. The giant barrel is yet another example of programatic architecture, and as soon as I saw it, I knew we had a bike ride coming up to go see it. Other odd structures we’ve been to see before include the Coca-Cola bottling plant, the giant tamale, and the big donut.

The route was just a slight reworking of our old Toluca Lake route. We rode through South Pasadena, and then down Figureoa through Highland Park. We passed Chicken Boy there. Then we took the L.A. River bike path north, where we saw some Great Egrets wading in the river. At the end of the bike path, we got on Riverside Drive and headed west across Toluca Lake. We stopped at the Barris Kustom shop there to peek in the windows and see the Batmobile and the Munster Koach parked inside.

Then we headed north up Vineland Ave to get to the barrel. There were some guys working on it, so we got to peek inside the fence. They said we couldn’t look inside yet, but that it would be ready and opening in just a few weeks. The new finish on the barrel looks good.

We continued north up to Chandler, where we stopped at Panera, across the street from the Metro Red Line station. I saw there was a notification on my phone from the Field Trip app about the Southern Pacific train depot that Metro is renovating there. I looked, and it was right across the street from us. So that’s going to be yet another thing to go see when they get it finished.

Coming home, we took the Chandler Bikeway from NoHo and across Burbank. Then across Glendale, up Chevy Chase and Linda Vista for our obligatory hill of the day. And then past the Rose Bowl to get home. It was a nice day for riding, and we had a good time.

46 miles.

1/4/2015

Checking in on the Metro Gold Line

Filed under: — stan @ 1:49 pm

This Sunday’s bike club ride is yet another installment of checking out the progress that Metro is making on building the Gold Line extension to Azusa. We first did this tour almost a year ago, when construction was under way, but not all that far along yet. And we’ve been looking in on it every few months since then. Since the completion of the track last October, work has shifted to finishing up the stations and putting up the overhead wires.

In Monrovia, we saw that the station looks almost complete, and they’ve made a lot of progress on the maintenance yard. The downtown station in Azusa looks more complete, and the station at the end by Citrus College is even starting to look like a station. Even the Irwindale station is making visible progress. When we first did this ride, it was just bare dirt and piles of rails and ties waiting to be assembled into track. Now, they’re starting to run test trains along the tracks to check clearances and such.

Maybe by next winter, we’ll be able to have a Metro Tour East ride that we can do on days when it might rain, since the train will be available as a bail-out option all the way out to Glendora.

43 miles.

12/28/2014

The Crapi Apartments

Filed under: — stan @ 2:53 pm

A few months ago, I saw an article about housing in Los Angeles that was illustrated with a picture of the “Crapi Apartments“. Like many people, I figured the picture was a photoshop gag, but Debbie from my office said that it’s a real building, and right across the street from where she lives in West L.A. So I knew we’d have to take a ride out there to see it. As a bonus, she also said that the Chee Zee Apartments are right around the corner. And then last week, I found out about the Hobbit House in Culver City, and we had a trifecta of oddness to go see. So today was the day.

It was kind of chilly starting out. And it’s 14 miles of steady downhill to get to downtown Los Angeles, so the first hour or so of the ride was pretty cold. But it got better, and by the time we were cruising on West Adams, it was pretty pleasant. When we got to Culver City, we turned north and took Venice Blvd west to Motor Ave. Then we headed north into the Palms section of L.A. The Crapi Apartments are on Overland Ave, just off Woodbine. So we had quick photo-ops at the Crapi and Chee Zee Apartments. Then we headed back to Venice, and turned east to head for home. The Hobbit House was about 100 feet off Venice on Dunn Ave.

We stopped at Noah’s Bagels for snacks. Then we continued on home by way of Venice Blvd and 4th St. We ended up on Benton Way in Silver Lake, and then crossed the L.A. River and headed up to Eagle Rock. We took York Blvd across to South Pasadena. There was some sort of old-car-meetup going on, and there were several restored old cars out on the road. By then, it had turned into a very nice and sunny day. Perfect for riding.

53 miles.

12/7/2014

Another Neutra Tour

Filed under: — stan @ 2:03 pm

A few weeks ago, the L.A. Times Saturday section had an article about the Kun House in Hollywood. It’s a 1936 Neutra design, being restored to its original look. We’ve been on other architecture tours with Neutra houses, so I was curious to see this one, too. And the clincher for this one was that the house is now owned by Gerry Casale from DEVO.

We rode over to Hollywood by our usual route, coming out on Hollywood Boulevard. We stopped off at the Chinese Theater to see if they’d put Mel Brooks’ handprints out yet, but they had not. So we kept going for another mile or so to just past Nicholls Canyon. We turned and went up one block into the hills, to a cul-de-sac just below the house. We looked up, but it was hard to see. We could only see a little bit of the house. So Jeff and I decided to ride up the hill another block to see it from the street up there. And wow, that was an adventure. According to Jeff’s Garmin thingy, it was a 23% grade:


We made it up the hill, and we got to see the front, and bit of the side of the house. So it was worth the effort.

Coming back down, we rode back across Hollywood and down to Larchmont Village. We stopped at the Noah’s Bagels there, and just in time. A sign on the counter said they were closing for renovation at 2:00 that afternoon.

Leaving Noah’s, we headed east across Hancock Park and Koreatown. Then north through Silver Lake on Benton Way. And finally, home by way of Eagle Rock. Along the way, I was telling Jeff about Nolden St in Eagle Rock, so we took a one-block side trip to go see it. Of course, Jeff had to have a go at riding it. As I guessed, he was able to ride up the hill, but he said it was very hard. I didn’t try this time, since the last time I tried that particular street, I slipped and fell on some wet pavement.

It was a nice ride.

44 miles.

11/30/2014

Rail transit – Old and new

Filed under: — stan @ 1:59 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a trip to Silver Lake to see the Corralitas Red Car Property, which is a little strip of vacant land where the old Pacific Electric Glendale Line used to run. The line was shut down in the mid ’50s, and the Glendale Freeway was built on part of the old right-of-way, but there is a little piece of it running from next to the freeway over to Fletcher Dr that has been sitting empty for decades.

We rode down there across Glendale, and then back down the L.A. River bike path. Then we took a short side trip off Riverside Dr to get to the old right-of-way. At that point, Carla turned off, since she didn’t want to ride up the steep hill, and she also thought it looked like it was about to rain. The rest of us rode up India St to where the old India St stop was. Here’s a photo from 1952 that shows a train passing right by where we were standing.

Leaving there, we headed south on Riverside. The plan was to go up through Elysian Park to go to Chango Coffee in Echo Park. At that point, Michael turned off. He had to go to work. The rest of us turned up Stadium Way. And then it started to rain. We stopped for a moment to consider what to do next. Robert and Pat wanted to just head home by the shortest route. I looked at the map, and I decided that my shortest route home was about 1 1/2 miles away at the Lincoln/Cypress Metro station. So I headed that way.

On the way there, I got a message from Michael. It said, “Got screwed on Fig” and had a picture of his tire with a screw head sticking out of it. I rode across the river, and there he was, standing on the sidewalk fixing the tire. The screw was so long that it went through both sides of the tube, and the point broke off in there. And then green tire-sealing goop leaked out all over it. Yick. But he managed to get the tire back together, and he continued on to work. I went around the corner and found the Metro station. They had a handicap ramp there, so I was able to ride all the way up to the platform. Then I took the train home. I got off at Allen, and I saw what looked like wet-bike-tire tracks going in to the elevator. I found out later that Carla had been on the train just a few minutes ahead of me, so those were her tracks. At that point, it was still raining lightly, and I rode the two miles home from the station. So yick. We got rained out. But at least the modern Metro Rail system allows us to have a bail-out plan for times like these.

25 miles.

11/23/2014

Update on the backyard boat

Filed under: — stan @ 1:15 pm

I’m still kind of tired and a little sore from yesterday’s hike up Cucamonga Peak, so today’s bike club ride is a relatively flat one, riding out to Sun Valley to get an update on the backyard boat.

It was kind of windy when we got out to The Valley. They were running Burbank Airport backwards, taking off to the north instead of the south, so that meant we had a headwind for the last part of the trip up Tujunga Blvd to Sun Valley. And when we got there, we were all a bit sad to see that the boat was still in the back yard. When we visited in May, Mr Griffith said that he thought it would be finished and launched by September of this year. But here it is November, and the boat is still on the rack in the back yard.

Heading back south into Burbank, we came to the weird five-way intersection on Whitnall. This is always a problem, since the detectors there never could pick up bikes, and there is no crosswalk, so there’s no button to push for a walk signal. But the city has installed a button for bikes to change the light. So that was nice.

Our snack stop was at Priscilla’s. And from there, we headed back across Glendale, and then up and over the Chevy Chase and Linda Vista hill to come out by the Rose Bowl. All in all, it was a nice ride.

46 miles.

11/16/2014

In-N-Out Museum

Filed under: — stan @ 2:34 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a trip to Huntington Park to see the world headquarters of In-N-Out Burger, as well as the site of the original In-N-Out. We’ve been to see it before, back when I read that the original location was being demolished. At the time, they didn’t say what was going to happen with the site, but today, we found out that they built an exact replica of the original In-N-Out Burger on the site. So we can see what it looked like when they first opened in 1948.

It was a nice day for riding. We headed out from the park, first with a little jog to the west to pass by the Pasadena In-N-Out, which has the distinction of being the oldest In-N-Out Burger location still operating. Then we headed south and east, going through a bit of West Covina to get to Huntington Park, and the location of the original In-N-Out. The replica is pretty small. I guess that when they first opened, they had no idea just how much business they’d be doing. But the little booth-style building looks a lot like the one in Pasadena, although it looks like the Pasadena one has added more building behind the booth, I guess to be able to sling more burgers.

Our snack stop was at Panera in West Covina. Inside, I saw that they’d installed little touch-screen kiosks to order from. The sign said that if I ordered there, I’d get a free cookie with my order. So I used the little screen to order, and then I took the table locator back outside. And when I got my order, I got a cookie! So that was nice.

The route home went through Santa Fe Dam and up the bike path. Then back across Monrovia. That was where I saw the three women out walking three llamas on leashes. These were the first llamas I’ve seen since we went to see Lorenzo the Llama, back in 2009. And I certainly didn’t know that llamas could be walked like big dogs. But there they were, and one of them was even lying down and rolling in the dirt like a big dog. So that was a novel thing to see on a Sunday morning.

46 miles.

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