Stan’s Obligatory Blog


Five Wrights

Filed under: — stan @ 5:42 pm

Today’s bike ride was one that John White had suggested. A meandering route to see five different houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. One was in Pasadena, and the rest were in the Hollywood and Los Feliz areas. It was a perfect day for riding.

We started out from Victory Park and headed west. Near the Rose Bowl, we took our first detour to see La Miniatura.

Continuing on, we went south through Eagle Rock, across the L.A. River and into Silver Lake. Our second stop was the Ennis House, high up the hill just below Griffith Park.

Next, we turned around and headed back down the steep hill we’d just climbed, and all the way down to Hollywood Blvd and Barnsdall Park. This is the site of the Hollyhock House.

From there, we went west into Hollywood, and turned north up the hill behind the Chinese Theater. After another steep climb, we came to the Freeman House. This one is very near the house we went to see in 2006 on another architecture tour.

There was only one more house to see, and it was on Hollywood Blvd, but on the far western end, where it winds its way up into the hills above the Sunset Strip. We rode just a short distance on Sunset Blvd before turning and heading up the steep hill to get to the Storer House.

At this point, we’d seen all five houses, and it was time to climb up and over the hills to get to our snack stop at the little gelato place on Tujunga Ave in Studio City. We rode Hollywood Blvd all the way to its end near the top of Sunset Plaza. Along the way, we saw an abandoned couch. Couches don’t usually end up out in the street in neighborhoods like that, but there it was. At the top, I got my picture taken with an ostrich statue in front of a house that had a whole collection of animal sculptures. We continued on, down into Laurel Canyon and up to Mulholland Drive. We stopped for water at the Fryman Canyon overlook and then headed down the other side into the Valley.

We had gelato in Studio City, and then headed for home. We stopped briefly at Velo Studio in Burbank to see some of Keira’s artwork on display there. Then we headed home through Glendale, where I got a flat.

It was a fun little ride.

51 miles.


Topiary Tour – Go West

Filed under: — stan @ 9:08 pm

About a year ago, I had the idea of putting together a theme ride to see examples of topiary, since I’d seen a number of them here in Pasadena and as far east as Glendora. We did this tour back in March. Then we discovered a new piece in Glendale, and I started to think about making a second Topiary Tour. And after some pointers from friends, one tip from Google, and an accidental discovery, I had enough examples to put together a second Tour. So today was the day.

We headed out across Eagle Rock and Glendale and into Burbank. Then we turned west and headed to the south entrance to Burbank Airport, where there is a topiary airplane. It was a pretty good example of topiary.

Leaving the airport, we headed south to our next stop. But along the way, I spotted a sort of cartoon lizard in a car peeking over a fence. So we stopped for a look and found a boneyard of carnival rides. That was very deeply weird, and really pretty entertaining.

Continuing south, we got to our second stop. A Shell gas station in Burbank with a topiary sea serpent and two winged horses. They looked a bit like My Little Pony with wings. The serpent was a bit sparse, but the others were pretty good.

Our next stop was a topiary Bugs Bunny in Toluca Lake. Then we stopped for snack at Priscilla’s. That left only one more topiary stop, which was the dolphins that we’d found in March. I had to get a souvenir picture riding the dolphin.

After that, we headed home, but on the way back through La Cañada, Don spotted one more in front of a house on Berkshire Drive. That made for a nice end to our Topiary Tour.

46 miles.


Lawn decoration gone mad

Filed under: — stan @ 3:10 pm

Last December, when we rode to see the Never Open Store, we stopped to see the House of Davids. I recently read about another house near there that had some similar over-the-top lawn ornamentation. So a theme was born.

Today’s ride was to Hollywood and Hancock Park in Los Angeles to see these two houses, as well as Snow White’s wishing well on Larchmont Blvd.

The route out was pretty straightforward. We saw the L.A. River Ride crossing over Fletcher Dr when we crossed the river. Then we rode into Silver Lake. The first house was on the east end of Hollywood on Virgil Ave. And yes, the decorations were pretty over-the-top. Then we continued on south to go to Hancock Park and the House of Davids. Then it was just a short distance back to Larchmont. It appears that Adrianna Caselotti’s house has changed hands, and the new owners took down the picture of Snow White on the wishing well.

We stopped for bagels at Noah’s in Larchmont. Then we headed north through Hollywood and then back home by way of Eagle Rock.

It was a nice ride.

40 miles.


A hot spring in Los Angeles

Filed under: — stan @ 7:53 pm

Today’s bike ride was a trip out to Encino to Los Encinos State Historic Park. Some years ago, I was contacted by one of the volcanologists at the USGS Volcano Hazards Program for help setting up a web site. Her research involved the chemistry of water in natural hot springs as a clue to what is going on below the ground. She sent me a list of all the known hot springs in California, and I noticed that one of them was in L.A. I looked up the coordinates and found that it was at Los Encinos Park in Encino. Of course, my first thought was that this would make for a good sightseeing bike ride. The spring itself is not very hot. The water temperature is about 79 degrees Fahrenheit and the water flows down into a small lake where there were ducks and geese. The water is all fenced off, so we weren’t able to feel it.

It was a perfect day for riding. We headed straight west, across Glendale and into the San Fernando Valley. We took Moorpark St most of the way, although we had to do a short stretch on Ventura Blvd. When we got to the park, Kathleen was there. She lives nearby so she came over to meet up with us. That was a nice treat. We looked around the park a bit before heading out for the trip home.

We rode up into the Sepulveda Dam recreation area and took the bike path there up to the Metro Orange Line. When they built the busway, they built a bike path parallel to it, so we took that all the way to the end of the line in North Hollywood. We had a snack stop at Panera Bread there, and then we continued on. They built a bike path down Chandler Blvd all the way into Burbank, so we took that. Then we turned south to get to the L.A. River. That was where we saw “Chuck Norris Rules” and the awesomely ridiculous limousine.

We rode the L.A. River bike path down to Fletcher, and then took Eagle Rock Blvd north. That was where Sage got a flat. One of the guys helped change the tube, but when he pumped the tire up, it blew out. Turned out there was big cut in the tire. So we had to put a tire boot in it before changing the tube again. But then we made it home just fine.

58 miles.


The Glendora Bougainvillea

Filed under: — stan @ 5:07 pm

Last March, when we did the Topiary Tour, we stopped to see the Glendora Bougainvillea. At the time it didn’t look like much, so we wanted to go back and see it in bloom. Since it’s now May, we figured this was the time to do it.

It was a bit chilly, but a nice day for riding. We headed out straight east to Glendora. And when we got there, the bougainvillea was blooming, but not in a really impressive way. It’s big, but it just didn’t have all that many flowers on it. We figured that maybe that had something to do with it being nearly 110 years old. Anyway, we took a few pictures. And there was one vine growing up through one of the bougainvilleas that had some unusual and pretty flowers on it.

Our snack stop was at Classic Coffee in Glendora. After that, we headed south and came home by way of Cypress St through Covina. That was where we saw some front-lawn topiary. They looked a bit like Scottish Terriers, but we weren’t quite sure. Then, a bit farther down the road, I saw a new hot-rod mailbox. That’s the first one I’ve found since last summer.

Coming back through Santa Fe Dam, we were happy to see that the bike path had been repaved. And the cacti were flowering, too.

It was a nice ride.

42 miles.


After the flood

Filed under: — stan @ 2:45 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a trip up to Tujunga to see if the house on Eby Canyon Road had been washed away last winter. We’d been up to see it last November, so we were curious to see if the deflection wall they were building worked. The house sits in a canyon right below the merging of two higher canyons, so when it rains, the wash there must turn into a raging torrent. It was a perfect day for riding.

We headed out across Eagle Rock, Glendale, and Burbank. I stopped to take a picture at Thirst Quencher Liquor. It’s not as funny as Hammered Liquor, but I thought it was amusing.

We rode through Shadow Hills. There were some steep bits, but it wasn’t too bad. Then we came out on Sunland Blvd and headed west to the mouth of Big Tujunga Canyon. The road into the neighborhood where the house is was under water. But it was only about 4-5 inches deep, so we just rode through it. Then up the hill on the other side and down into the canyon. And the house was still standing. The wash looked like it had been severely scoured by rushing water, and the culvert under the driveway was plugged. It also looked like the driveway had been buried by sand but they had had it plowed clear. So it looks like the wall worked.

Coming back across the wash, we rode through the water again, and then across Tujunga to get back to Montrose and our snack stop at Goldstein’s Bagels. It was a nice day to sit outside in the sun. Then we rode home by way of the trail over Devils Gate Dam and back into Pasadena.

It was a very nice ride.

47 miles.


Great moments in speling

Filed under: — stan @ 3:45 pm

This past week, I saw an item in the news about Julia Louis-Dreyfus getting a star on Hollywood Blvd. And how they misspelled her name. So of course I thought that this should be a quick sightseeing trip. It was cool and overcast. A “May Gray” sort of L.A. day.

We rode over to Hollywood and found the star. They’d said that they were going to have it remade, but none of us thought they’d get it done so fast. But it had been replaced by a corrected star. Oh well.

After the sightseeing stop, we headed up the hill by a new route. This went up some steep little streets and brought us out by Wolf’s Lair Castle. From there, we rode up to the Hollywood sign. Along the way, we had to stop for a photo opportunity at the house with the garage door painted with books. Then we headed down the hill, past Lake Hollywood, and up the other side to come down into Burbank.

We stopped for snacks at Priscilla’s in Toluca Lake. And then we headed home by way of the Linda Vista hill in Glendale. It was still kind of cold, so we actually appreciated the warmth of climbing a hill.

It was a nice ride.

40 miles.


Touring Downey

Filed under: — stan @ 1:12 pm

Today’s bike ride was a tour of Downey to visit several local sights. We’ve done this ride before, but it’s been over two years, so it was time again.

The first stop was the oldest operating McDonalds, where they had a small topiary hedge in the shape of the old-style McDonald’s logo. Then we moved on to see the two apartment buildings that Karen and Richard Carpenter bought with their earnings from their first two hit songs. Then we went to see their family home, which had been in danger of being demolished a couple years ago, but it was still there. And the final stop was at Dennis the Menace park, which, strangely, was not open at 10:00 on a Sunday morning. So nobody was in there, aside from a bunch of homeless people.

The highlight of our morning easily had to be the guy walking his pet raccoon. A raccoon on a leash is something we’ve never seen before, and the raccoon was very cute. We also saw Herbie in a driveway in Downey.

It was a fun little ride.

40 miles.


Three American sex symbols

Filed under: — stan @ 5:45 pm

Today was the last Sunday of the month, and time for our monthly ‘longer ride’. This is to allow us a chance to do some sightseeing that’s beyond our usual 40-45 mile range. And today’s ride was a trip out to the Pierce Brothers cemetery in Westwood to pay respects to three American sex symbols:

  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Bettie Page
  • Farrah Fawcett

Between the three of them, they covered the decades from the ’50s all the way through the ’80s.

It was a perfect spring day for riding. We headed out across Eagle Rock and then down, over the L.A. River, and into Hollywood. That’s where we saw Tinkerbell and some super-hero that I don’t recognize. Riding down Hollywood Boulevard is always an amusing and surreal experience.

Continuing on, we took in a small part of the Sunset Strip, and then crossed into Beverly Hills. We saw the Menendez murder house and the Witch’s House. The Witch’s House was recently renovated and has a nice shark mailbox out front now.

Leaving Beverly Hills, we passed Century City, where Silvio had another of his fancy carbon-fiber spokes break. This happened last month, too. And again, the wheel went so far out of true that it was hitting the frame, rendering the bike unrideable. So he had to call home for help while we continued on our way.

When we got to Westwood, we spent some time browsing around the cemetery. Marilyn’s crypt is easiest to find, since it’s well-marked and always has fresh flowers. Bettie Page is buried in the grass nearby, and she also had some fresh flowers. Farrah is on the other side in the small section with vertical headstones. It’s almost all very-famous people buried in that section.

We looked around a bit more to see who else we could find. We liked the stone for Jeff Morris, although I had to look him up to remember who he was. I also made a point of showing Carla the spot where Frank Zappa is buried, since he has no marker.

Leaving the cemetery, we stopped briefly at the little park in Holmby Hills before heading up Benedict Canyon. We regrouped at the top before going down the other side on Coldwater Canyon into the Valley. Our snack stop was at the little gelato place in Studio City where we’d stopped the day we went to see Michael Jackson’s house.

From there, we headed straight home across Toluca Lake and Glendale. It was a very nice ride.

60 miles.


Fern Dell for spring

Filed under: — stan @ 7:26 pm

Today’s bike ride was the route out to Griffith Park to stop at The Trails in Fern Dell. It was a perfect spring day for riding.

We rode out by the direct route, straight down the Colorado hill into Eagle Rock, and then down Eagle Rock Blvd, across the L.A. River and then up Vermont into Griffith Park. When we got to the observatory, we took a few minutes to look at the view. And then my phone started barking. It was Carla calling. She’d been a few minutes late to the park, and she’d been chasing us ever since. So John and I rode back down the hill to find her. Then we regrouped and headed down to the The Trails. The sign outside exhorted us to “STOP Eating Animals”. But they’re made of meat. And oh so tasty.

After our snack, which contained no tasty meat, by the way, we headed back up and over the hill to the Valley side of the park. John took a small shortcut along the way. Sure it was a dirt road, but it was a little bit shorter.

Coming down the other side of the hill, I got some ‘action shots’ on one of the turns. Then we rode down around Travel Town and got on the L.A. River bike path. They’ve been building an extension on this, and we saw some of it a couple weeks ago, so we decided to try it out. The new bike path is quite nice, and it goes all the way down to where the freeways cross the river, just above the Metro Gold Line yards. We got off and took Riverside across to Figueroa St. That was where we found a bunch of lottery ticket dispensers. It looked like someone had robbed a convenience store and stolen a bunch of lottery tickets. Doesn’t seem like a Solid Career Move, but it was still slightly amusing.

We came back by way of Highland Park and South Pasadena. We passed Chicken Boy, and also a car with a bumper sticker that proudly proclaimed, “I Park Like An Idiot”. I guess we all have a special skill.

It was a fun little ride.

45 miles.

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