Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Thanksgiving

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.

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.

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