Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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.

9/2/2012

Another celebrity grave tour

Filed under: — stan @ 5:39 pm

This Sunday’s bike club ride was yet another celebrity grave tour. Back in February, we’d taken a ride to East L.A. to visit the grave of Lincoln Perry, who, as “Stepin Fetchit“, was the first black movie star. So today we were going to North Hollywood to see Willie Best and Mantan Moreland, who were the other two earliest black movie stars. And as an extra bonus, we got to visit Aneta Corsaut, who was on “The Andy Griffith Show”, but who I always remember as Steve McQueen’s girlfriend in “The Blob“.

On the way out, we found some more topiary in Burbank at Alameda and Victory. I’ll have to add them to the Topiary Tour West route for the future. We also stopped off at the house in Burbank with the giant desert tortoises in the yard. They were very active today. I was glad the camera has a ‘fast action’ mode on it.

When we got to the cemetery, we found Willie Best on the way in. His stone is new, since he was unmarked for many years until Scott Michaels and the Findadeath.com crew arranged to get a stone made for him. He is buried close by to Oliver Hardy. Mantan Moreland and Aneta Corsaut are close together in the far back of the cemetery.

After the cemetery stop, we rode down to Riverside Drive to stop at Priscilla’s Coffee. On the way we saw a sign-painter-fail. The painter had made the sign say, “ABLAMOS ESPAÑOL”, so the had to just paste on the “H” in front of it.

The route back went down the L.A. River bike path, and then home by way of South Pasadena. It was a pleasant ride.

46 miles.

8/26/2012

I hate it when this happens…

Filed under: — stan @ 10:02 pm

Tuesday is the day I have to submit my cookies and recipes for the L.A. County Fair. So, in honor of the occasion, I wanted to take the bike group for a ride out to and around the fairgrounds in Pomona. I made up batches of both cookie recipes to bring along to share.

In the morning, I was faced with the essential problem that a road bike is just not a good cargo vehicle. But I managed to figure out a way, using a small cardboard box, a rubber band, and some masking tape. I figured that as long as I didn’t hit any big bumps, it would be fine.

The ride out was pretty uneventful. Until we got to Covina. I noticed that my back wheel was way out of true, to the point that it was rubbing on the frame. So I stopped and got out my spoke wrench to true it back up. But when I looked at it, I saw that one of the spokes had pulled right out of the rim, and there was no fixing that with just a spoke wrench. So I fiddled with the spokes around the bad one to get the wheel straight enough to ride, and then I got ready to head home.

The plan had been to break out the cookies at our snack stop. But I wasn’t going to make it that far. So we found a Starbucks a couple blocks from where we were and we had a cookie-tasting. I’m pretty happy with how those recipes turned out.

After the impromptu stop, the group continued on the route. And John and I headed back to Pasadena, taking care not to put too much stress on the wounded wheel.

I hate it when things break like this. And this has happened before, and not that long ago.

38 miles.

8/19/2012

Remembering the Blacklist

Filed under: — stan @ 12:44 pm

This Sunday’s bike club ride was another art excursion. This time, we rode to the garden in front of the Fisher Art Museum at USC to see Blacklist. This is an art installation about the Hollywood Blacklist from the days of the House Un-American Activities Committee in the late 1940s and early ’50s.

It’s been hot all week, so I thought that going down into Los Angeles might be a bit cooler than Pasadena. So we rode down Huntington Drive and into downtown L.A. From there, we followed alongside the new Metro Expo line down to USC, where we pulled in to the garden in front of the museum. We spent a little time there, walking around and reading all the quotes carved into the stones. On one hand, it’s hard to believe that such things happened in the United States. But on the other hand, a lot of the things they were saying back then are the same things we hear today, only with the word “communism” replaced by “terrorism”.

After taking in the art, we rode out a bit on West Adams, and then north to Larchmont, where we stopped for bagels at Noah’s. Then it was home by way of Silver Lake. The ride back to Pasadena trends uphill, and the temperature went up right along with the elevation. But it was still a fun ride.

44 miles.

8/5/2012

Stonehurst

Filed under: — stan @ 2:19 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a sightseeing trip to the Stonehurst Cottages in the northeast San Fernando Valley. Since we went to see the Watts Towers last week, it seemed appropriate to go see yet another local oddity that was built by one man with a vision and a lot of time on his hands.

We’ve done this ride before, and it’s a fairly pleasant one, with just a few hills.

The prop company in Sun Valley still had the pair of giant hands outside their building. I found another hot-rod mailbox for my collection. We toured around the cottages, and marveled some more about the single-minded determination of Dan Montelongo for building them. And of course, we saw the beer-keg mailbox.

Our snack stop was at Goldstein’s Bagels in La Cañada. It was a pleasant ride.

45 miles.

7/29/2012

The Watts Towers

Filed under: — stan @ 2:41 pm

This Sunday’s bike club ride was a sightseeing trip to Watts to see the Watts Towers. I’ve always been fascinated by strange things that are the product of someone’s strange obsession. And since the towers were built by Simon Rodia out of junk he found over a period of more than 30 years.

The route was basically straight south to Whittier Narrows, where we got on the southern portion of the Rio Hondo bike path. That took us down through Pico Rivera and Downey to the Los Angeles river. Then we got off on Imperial Highway and rode across Lynwood. We crossed Alameda Blvd, and I took a moment to look down into the trench to see the railroad tracks that they built to carry the freight that is shipped into the port of Los Angeles.

When we crossed into Watts, we saw “111st St”. I presume that is pronounced, “eleventy-first street”.

Then we got to the towers. There is a small park around them, and there are plaques that tell the story. There are docent-led tours there, and Carla said that they are interesting. Someday I’ll have to go see that.

I rode down to the end of the block to see the Blue Line tracks there. I rode the train to Long Beach once, and I didn’t know that the tracks go right by the towers.

On the way home through Montebello, we saw some emus and llamas by the side of the bike path. That was odd. The sign said “Montebello Barnyard Zoo“.

It was a nice ride, with some cultural interest, and almost no hills at all.

49 miles.

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