Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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8/21/2016

Glendora and the castle

Filed under: — stan @ 1:06 pm

Today’s ride was the old Glendora route, with a side trip to see Rubel’s Castle, and also the Glendora Bougainvillea.

When we were going through Covina, we passed the original topiary house. This was where I got the idea for the original Topiary Tour. I also saw that the first hot-rod mailbox house is for sale now. I guess times change. I hope the new owners will still keep the mailbox.

When we got to Glendora, we took a short side-trip up the hill to see Rubel’s Castle. Then, on the way back down, we passed by the Glendora Bougainvillea. Then we stopped for snacks and drinks at Classic Coffee.

39 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

8/14/2016

Another Downey Tour

Filed under: — stan @ 2:07 pm

Yesterday, I went on a tour of the Columbia Memorial Space Center with Atlas Obscura. During the talk there, they mentioned that one of the original buildings was still standing, dating back to the days when it was Vultee Aircraft in the 1940s. So today’s bike club ride was the route to Downey to see the oldest operating McDonald’s, and also to see the old Vultee office building.

When I rode to our meeting place in Victory Park, the sprinklers were all running. In these drought days, that looks odd. But the city is using recycled water to keep the playing fields in the park green. And thanks to Atlas Obscura again, I know where ‘recycled water’ comes from…

The route was pretty much straight out and back. We went directly south all the way to Downey, where we stopped briefly at the old McDonald’s so John could get a classic fried apple pie. Then we continued on the mile or so farther to get to the site of the old Vultee/North American/Rockwell plant. I stopped for a moment to take pictures of the building that used to be the main entrance to the Vultee offices. Then we headed back north to downtown Downey and 3rd St Coffee.

The route back went up the Rio Hondo bike path, and we had a nice tailwind, so we were able to go pretty fast. The rest of the route back was just retracing our route out from the morning.

40 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

8/7/2016

LA Current: Prime

Filed under: — stan @ 2:46 pm

Last week, I found an article about Current: LA, which is sponsoring a set of art installations around the city, all intended to have a water theme. So today, we rode to Studio City to see one of them. And to go for gelato, too.

It was a prefect morning for riding. Cool, with the marine layer keeping the sun hidden. We rode out across Eagle Rock and Glendale to Studio City. The entrance to the park was right across the street from Universal Studios, and the actual art installation was all the way at the back of the park. Three fiberglass horses embedded in the ground. “…the horses are empty slates onto which viewers can project meaning.”

As I always say, anything can be art if you say it is and can get other people to agree that it’s art.

Leaving the park, we made a brief stop at the little park with the foundations of Campo de Cahuenga. This is a little piece of history that was unearthed during construction of the Red Line Universal subway station. Then we took some little side streets to make our way over to Tujunga Ave and the gelato place.

The route home went down the L.A. River bike path, and then up the Arroyo Seco path to take us back to Pasadena.

46 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

7/31/2016

Pyramid Scheme

Filed under: — stan @ 3:17 pm

A few years ago, the Sunday bike club group rode the Ciclavia to Venice. On the way back, we passed by the back side of Angelus-Rosedale cemetery, and I noticed a 10-12 foot high pyramid in the cemetery. I was curious, and I found out that there were two pyramids in that cemetery, and only three in the Los Angeles area. We rode down there to see the two pyramids, and today’s ride was to Brand Park in Glendale to see the third one and complete the trilogy.

The pyramid is in the small Brand family cemetery, which is all the way in the back of Brand Park. We had to walk our bikes past a gate, and then we had to walk up a flight of steps at the end of the road to see it. It was about the same size as the other two pyramids, but it did not have a door like the others.

After seeing the pyramid, we went to Paradise Bakery for eclairs. I’ve always said that their eclairs are the best, although they seem to have altered the recipe a bit. The filling was more whipped-cream-like than it used to be, and the eclairs were about 50% larger. But it was still good. Then we headed home by way of La Cañada. In the end, when I got home I realized I’d made a mistake, and the route was not quite as long as I thought it would be. But we got to see the pyramid.

32 miles

Route map and elevation profile

7/24/2016

Dome Day

Filed under: — stan @ 2:51 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a dome-themed ride. First, we went to see the “Domestead” in Glassell Park. This is a three-level house in a geodesic dome built into a hillside. And on the way back, we went to see the ‘Bubble House‘ in Pasadena, which has the distinction of being the only such house still standing in the U.S.

The Domestead is just one street below the “Big and Small House” that we went to see a couple years ago. And they’re both at the top of a pretty steep hill. Not quite as terrifyingly steep as the one we rode up last week in Echo Park, but still pretty steep. You can see it on the elevation profile. It’s the spike at about the 12 mile mark.

After we saw the Domestead, we continued on, picking up the L.A. River bike path. Our snack stop was at Spoke in Frogtown. I saw that they were selling vintage vinyl records for $5 there. Which is about what records cost back in the day. But $5 was a lot to me when I was 14 years old.

The route back was kind of roundabout, which was by design. Along the way, I had a laugh at the laundromat with the sign that read “LAUNDY”. Then we ended up in South Pasadena for the ride up Los Robles to the bubble house.

41 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

7/17/2016

Doheny Library at USC

Filed under: — stan @ 2:09 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a mishmash sightseeing ride.

The first bit of sightseeing was the closed bit of the 210 freeway in Pasadena. This didn’t have a catchy name, like “Carmageddon” did, but seeing a freeway with no cars on it is strange no matter what. There was even a news truck parked on the overpass. But when we looked, it was really only the ramps that feed into the northbound 210 that were closed. It was really pretty anticlimactic.

Continuing on, we headed south into downtown Los Angeles. We took a short detour to go see the old Fire Station 23 on 5th St. This was the location used for all the firehouse interior scenes from the 1984 “Ghostbusters”.

The main bit of sightseeing for the day was Doheny Library at USC. I had recently been to a talk at Caltech where the retiring Vice President of Finance told us a story about the library building. Apparently, when Rice University was starting up, they had their architect design the main administration building, as well as the library. The two buildings were meant to form the ends of the main academic quad on campus. But due to some financial trouble, the library was never built. In the meantime, Edward Doheny gave USC a donation to build a new library. They contacted their architect, who was the same one who had designed the buildings for Rice, and he told them that he had a library already designed and ready to build, so that’s what they did. So in the end, the building that was designed to be a companion to Lovett Hall ended up being built on the USC campus. When I heard this story, I figured it would make a good sightseeing destination, both for the architectural interest, and because Amiee and I are both Rice alumni. And sure enough, it looked a lot like Lovett Hall.

Riding back up Hill and Olive, we went back into downtown, and then turned west. The plan was to try a new route to get to Echo Park and Chango Coffee. I’d looked up a way to get there from Benton Way in Silverlake. And as it turned out, that way involved riding up and over a short, but terrifyingly-steep hill. It’s pretty rare that I have to use may lowest gear, but it came out today.

Once we made it over that hill, we were in Echo Park. But we had one more bit of sightseeing. I’d read an article in Atlas Obscura about Randyland, which is a big art project in front of the artist’s house. And as it turned out, he saw us on the street and came down to tell us about it. That was nice, like the time we got the special tour of the backyard boat in Sun Valley.

Our snack stop was at Chango Coffee. Then we rode around Dodger Stadium to Chinatown, and then back to Pasadena by was of the Arroyo Seco bike path. It was a pretty entertaining ride.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

6/26/2016

Be vewy, vewy quiet…

Filed under: — stan @ 2:31 pm

Today’s bike club ride was yet another celebrity grave tour. In this case, we went to see Arthur Bryan, who created the voice of Elmer Fudd in the Warner Brothers cartoons of yore.

We rode out across Eagle Rock and Glendale to Burbank. We took the short side trip to see the tortoises, but they were gone. One of the neighbors told us that the man’s wife wanted to have a front lawn again, so the big tortoises had to go.

When we got to the cemetery, we rode in and found Mr Bryan. As it turned out, he was fairly close to where Oliver Hardy is buried. After that, we stopped by the Portal of the Folded Wings to see the space shuttle memorial.

Our snack stop was at Priscilla’s, and after that, we headed home by way of Glendale and up and over Linda Vista and Lida St.

43 miles.

6/25/2016

Strawberry Peak At Last

Filed under: — stan @ 5:46 pm

There is a tendency of people in Los Angeles to regard the San Gabriel mountains as being like sort of a painted backdrop to the city. I know that I tended to think of them that way when I first moved here in 1982. But one day, my friend Gordon mentioned going hiking in the mountains, and I realized that these mountains were a real place where we could go and actually get out in actual nature.

My first-ever hike in the San Gabriels was Strawberry Peak via the Colby Canyon trail, which I climbed with Gordon in January, 1983. I liked it a lot. The trail was interesting and entertaining, and the view from the top was pretty amazing. I went back there again by a different trail in the summer of ‘83. In the summer of 1986, I hiked up Colby Canyon to Strawberry Peak with my mother and my cousins Irene and David. And that was the last time I was at the top of the mountain. I made an attempt in the summer of 2007. And I made two attempts with my hiking partner Karina in January and April of 2015. None of those trips made it to the top. But today, I finally made it back up there again.

Today’s trip was with Jen, who is the new Staff Seismologist at Caltech. She came into that position after Kate Hutton retired. I told her about the trail, and she was game to try it. So we headed up into the mountains and hit the trail. The first two miles were pretty easy, just walking up the trail to the saddle between Strawberry Peak and Josephine Peak. We stopped there to sit in the shade for a bit before striking out for the summit. The trail went up the crest of the ridge, and it included two sections of steep rock climbing.

We got to the first rock section and climbed up it. Then we followed the ridge for a while before reaching the second section of rock. The second was much longer and harder than the first. My memory of this trail was that it was interesting and entertaining, but this time, I was just marveling that the climb was about ten times harder than I remembered it being. I think that this is effect of 30 years passing since the last time I did it. We made it to the top, but I was the laggard here. Jen just scrambled up the rocks and left me behind. I was carefully picking my way, and moving very slowly. I think that was largely why in the end, the hike was a bit over six miles, but it took us seven hours.

At the top, we sat down and had lunch while looking at the view. We were up there for about a half-hour before heading back down. And the climb down the rocks was an exercise of carefully picking hand and foot holds. Again, I was the slow one, and I blame old age for my perhaps excessive caution. But we made it down the rocks all right, and made it back to the saddle and the water tank where we got to sit in the shade for a few minutes before heading back down the canyon trail. The last two miles down the canyon went pretty fast. I kept thinking about the bottle of ice water that was in the cooler in the trunk of the car. But when we finally got there, the formerly-iced water was warm. I guess it really was that hot today. Despite that, it was a fun time. And I finally made it up to the top of that damn mountain again, for the first time in 30 years.

Route map and elevation profile

6/19/2016

The Song Remains the Claim

Filed under: — stan @ 2:52 pm

This week, the news here in L.A. has been about the “Stairway to Heaven” trial going on at the Federal courthouse downtown. So today’s bike club ride was a “Stairway”-themed tour to visit the Rock Walk at Guitar Center in Hollywood, and then a visit to the courthouse. We’ve developed a heat wave this weekend, so going west would probably also be slightly less hot than staying local in the SGV.

There were five of us to start out, but Carla and Silvio decided to cut the ride short to get home before it got too hot. So John and Amiee and I continued on. We rode across Hollywood to Guitar Center, where we got to see Jimmy Page’s hand prints in the concrete. Then we headed down into Hancock Park, and then east into downtown L.A. It was mostly downhill all the way there. We considered bailing out after seeing the courthouse, since the Little Tokyo Metro station was right around the corner, but we decided to keep going. We rode home up the Arroyo Seco bike path until we got to the end of it in South Pasadena. At that point, we stopped in the park to sit in the shade for a bit. Then John turned off to head up past the Rose Bowl to go home to Altadena. Amiee said she was going to turn off to go home, too. At that point, I figured that since they were both turning off, then they wouldn’t be there to see me saying ‘uncle’ and taking the train the rest of the way home. So I turned into the South Pasadena Metro station and rode the train back to Pasadena. That cut off about five miles from the route. And when I got home, I saw that it was 107 degrees outside, so in the end, I didn’t feel too bad about having cheated and taken the train.

40 miles. (Including the two miles to get home from the Allen Metro station.)

Route map and elevation profile

6/12/2016

Little Orphan Oil Well

Filed under: — stan @ 5:25 pm

This past week, I saw an article about how two houses in Echo Park were found to have abandoned oil wells leaking natural gas and hydrogen sulfide in their front yards. Since we’ve gone on other rides to see oil-related sights in that area, I thought this might make for an interesting bit of sightseeing.

We started off with the usual 14 miles downhill into downtown Los Angeles. The only thing different this time was that I got flat along the way. And when I was checking the tire to find what had caused the flat, the little flake of glass embedded in it sliced my finger open. So I ended up bleeding all over everything while I fixed the tire. But I finally got it fixed, and we were back on the road.

In downtown, we paused for a moment to look up at the U.S. Bank building and see the glass slide they have installed from the 70th to the 69th floor. This is supposed to be opening in two weeks.

We rode down through downtown to check in on the Allenco Energy drilling island near USC. We’d been to see this a few times before, and it was in the news again this week. Apparently, the city has forced it to shut down until such time as they can enclose it in a fake building to control the smelly gases that leak from the site. It was quiet there, and we didn’t smell anything, so I guess it’s working…

Heading back into downtown, we passed the old apartment building on Olive St that had the oil oozing up in the basement back in 2006. Then we took 7th St out of downtown, and then turned north into Echo Park. We rode through one block where they were filming something, but we didn’t pause long enough to get any idea what. Then we arrived at Firmin St, where the orphaned oil wells are. One was pretty obvious, since it was inside a little chain-link fence enclosure in front of one house. The other one was across the street. The well itself wasn’t that obvious, but there was a posted notice from the state about how they had ordered that the well there had to be plugged and sealed off.

Continuing on, we went to our snack stop at Chango Coffee in Echo Park. Then we headed back past Dodger Stadium. This time, I’d remembered to check to be sure that there was not going to be game today, so the ride through the park there was pleasant. Then we headed back to Pasadena by way of the Arroyo Seco bike path.

39 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

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