Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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11/26/2017

Glen Haven

Filed under: — stan @ 3:00 pm

This past week, we were watching the 1954 movie, “White Christmas” again. This stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney. All are big-name stars. Yet there were four major characters in the story, the fourth played by Vera Ellen. Since she had a large role in this movie with big stars, I was wondering why I didn’t know who she was. So I went looking. Turns out she was a dancer, and worked in a lot of movies with big-name stars in the 1950s, but she stopped making movies in 1958, and she died of cancer in 1981. And at the end of the trail, I read that she was buried in Glen Haven Memorial Park in Sylmar. I looked it up, and looked at the relatively short list of famous people buried there. And when I saw Jeffery Hunter on the list, I immediately knew we had a new bike ride in our future.

We headed out our usual route across Eagle Rock and Glendale, and then took Glenoaks all the way up to Hanson Dam. Along the way, we saw the van advertising the Hot Topless Maids, including a sign that they are hiring. Good to know. When we got to Osborne, we took that across the dam and then started up Kagel Canyon.

When I mapped out this ride, I knew we had to go up Kagel Canyon a bit, but I really didn’t pay attention to how far we had to go. It turned out to be about three and a half miles, all uphill. Yikes. And about two and half miles in, Carla got a flat. But we finally made it up there, and there was this little cemetery with a commanding view of the San Fernando Valley. We found Jeffery Hunter first. I had to explain to everyone his significance in the geek world. He played Captain Pike in the first “Star Trek” pilot episode, “The Cage“. So even though he was only ever in one episode, he still has a place in the “Star Trek” universe.

Then we went to find Vera Ellen. I’d made a map by hand showing her approximate location, but we had trouble finding her. In the end, John looked up the lat/lon coordinates, and then we walked around with my little Magellan GPS until we’d matched them up. And then she was right there.

Now it was time to head back down. That was a nice, long descent. The sort I would have loved in my racing days. Then we got on Foothill Blvd for the ride home.

Along the way, we met up with another bike rider who lives in the area. He told us that the coffee shop that I’d found in Yelp was closed. He recommended the Back Door Bakery, so we went there. And it was quite good. While we were there, I saw a flyer on the bulletin board for a holiday party that was going to feature the Randy Van Horne Singers. We all know them, even if we don’t know that we know them. Here’s a hint:

Van Horne, Randy Van Horne
He’s piece of music history
He sang ’bout the Flintstones
In the song that we know from TV

Then we continued on up the hill through Tujunga until we passed Stan’s Liquor near the top, and then headed downhill into La Crescenta. From there, it was going to be mostly downhill all the way home.

In the end, the route turned out to be somewhat longer than I’d expected. Mostly because I didn’t measure how far up Kagel Canyon we had to go.

50 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

11/19/2017

The Word on the Street

Filed under: — stan @ 3:39 pm

This past week, I saw a small item in the L.A. Times about an artist who has been making funny fake street signs, which are currently installed at various parks around Glendale. He has a Facebook page for the project, and I was able to contact him there, and to get a map showing where the different signs are installed. So that was our ride for today.

We rode out across Pasadena and Eagle Rock, and then into Glendale. The first one we saw was the “START” sign in Maple Park. Heading off to the next sign, we passed Mission Wine and Spirits. Funny thing is, back in 2006, that same store was called Hammered Liquor Store.

Continuing on, we came to the “BREATHE” sign at Glendale Central Park. Then we rode a little side trip to Pacific Park, and the heart-shaped “ONE WAY” sign. After that, we headed up almost to Burbank to see “RELAX” at Griffith Manor Park. We liked the placement of that one. Seeing the mountains behind it did give it a peaceful air. At least now that those mountains aren’t on fire any more…

We stopped for snacks at Paradise Bakery in Glendale. Then we started on the return leg of the trip. We took a short side trip to see the “Peace Signs” at Casa Adobe de San Rafael. Then we started up the long hill into La Crescenta. We stopped at the skate park to see the ‘SHRED” sign installed there.

Finally, we stopped off at Montrose Community Park to see “Infinte Clearance”. That one turned out to be the hardest to find, largely because that park was much larger than all the others we’d visited.

This was a very entertaining street art project. We liked seeing it, and it kind of reminded me of the time when Richard Ankrom made and installed a freeway sign as an art project in downtown Los Angeles. In the end, it was a fun ride, but as sometimes happens when I make up a completely new route to see something, this one came up a little short. But that’s all right once in a while.

35 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

11/12/2017

The Voice of God

Filed under: — stan @ 1:26 pm

I generally scan the obituary pages of the L.A. Times every day. And some years ago, I ran across an item about Don LaFontaine, the voice actor who was known as “The Voice of God”. We’ve all heard him a thousand times in movie trailers… “In a world…”

This past week, I found out that he’d been buried at Hollywood Forever. We haven’t been there to visit in a while, so that was our destination for today. The last time we went there was last January, when we went to see the monument to Toto from “The Wizard of Oz”.

We went through downtown L.A., stopping briefly to look in the hole where they are building the Regional Connector. We just heard yesterday that the project is going to be delayed by a year, due to some old sewer lines that need replacing around where the tunnel runs. Then we headed out on 7th St, through Koreatown and Hancock Park to end up by Paramount Studios in Hollywood. Then we turned into the cemetery and went looking for Don LaFontaine. He was in a section that I’m not too familiar with, and in the end, I had to look up the GPS coordinates on findagrave.com, and then I walked around with my little Magellan GPS to find the exact location.

Leaving the cemetery, we headed east across Hollywood to the Franklin Hills area. We crossed the Shakespeare Bridge and rode down to the L.A. River. Our snack stop was at Spoke in Frogtown. I had a ‘breakfast bun’, which was sort of like an artisanal version of an Egg McMuffin. It was good.

41 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

11/5/2017

Metro Tour East

Filed under: — stan @ 2:19 pm

There was a chance of rain in the forecast today, so we did the Metro Rail Tour East. This is the ride to Glendora and back where the route is never more than two miles from the nearest Metro Rail station. That way, we have a bailout option if it starts to rain.

On the way out, I saw something I’d wondered about for some time. A couple years ago, we’d gone to see the dedication and open house at the Metro Gold Line Operations Campus in Monrovia. That day, they had one of the new train cars on display there. It was number 1003, and since then, Carla and I have been looking for it on the Gold Line. We never did see it, but one time when we were riding in West L.A., we saw it on the Expo Line. Since those two rail lines do not currently connect with each other, we were wondering how they got it there. And today, we got the answer. There was a train car sitting up on top of a long truck trailer, ready to be moved. Another mystery of the universe, solved.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. We had snacks at Classic Coffee in Glendora. And it never did rain on us. But it’s always good to have a plan to escape when that might happen.

37 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

10/29/2017

Down for the Count – 2017

Filed under: — stan @ 3:09 pm

It’s the Sunday before Halloween, and time for our annual Halloween-theme ride to Culver City to visit Bela Lugosi’s grave. We’ve been doing this since 2007. It’s a slightly longer ride than we usually do, but it’s a relatively flat route.

We too our regular route, which involved going downtown, where the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon was going on. We saw Wonder Woman there, along with hundreds of other runners in costumes. Then we headed south to USC, and then out on the Metro Expo Line bike lanes to Culver City. There, we got on the Ballona Creek bike path and rode that to Overland Ave, where we turned off to go to the back entrance to Holy Cross cemetery.

People generally show up to decorate Bela Lugosi’s grave for Halloween, but this year we apparently special. The tinsel garland, spiders, and a little lawn light were more than we’ve ever seen there before.

We stopped for snacks at La Dijonaise in the old Helms Bakery complex. Then we headed back by way of Venice Blvd, and then 7th St back into downtown. In the end, I cut the route short slightly by taking Metro back from South Pasadena. This was largely to save some time at the end, since the full round-trip is about 56 miles.

50 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

10/22/2017

The Chili Bowl

Filed under: — stan @ 2:07 pm

Back in the ’80s, I found a book called California Crazy about the odd architecture found around L.A. The few remaining weird buildings have formed the basis for many of my bike club routes. And today was yet another. Back in the 1930s, there was a chain of restaurants called Chili Bowl. These were in bowl-shaped buildings, and there are only a few remaining. None of them are still Chili Bowl restaurants, but the buildings remain. And today’s ride was to go see one of them still standing in Glendale.

Glendale isn’t very far away, so I made up a route based on the route we used to go see the Derby Dolls bubble soccer back in July. We made a big loop from almost downtown L.A., up through Griffith Park, NoHo, and Burbank. We stopped in the shade at the Groundworks Coffee in the old Pacific Electric depot in NoHo before heading back into Glendale and seeing the former Chili Bowl. In the end, the route turned out to be a bit longer than I’d thought, but it was a nice day, so that was all right.

46 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

10/15/2017

Donut Man

Filed under: — stan @ 2:35 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a trip to Glendora to visit Donut Man. The group went there another time, but that was a weekend when I was out of town, so I wanted to go back so I could try it.

We fought a headwind all the way out there. But that made us feel like the donuts were more easily justified. And they were pretty good.

On the way back, we saw some nuns crossing the road, right near the Nun Crossing sign. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen actual nuns outside there.

37 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

10/1/2017

The Whittier Narrows Earthquake

Filed under: — stan @ 2:33 pm

Today is the 30th anniversary of the Whittier Narrows Earthquake. This was felt all over Los Angeles, and it caused some significant damage in nearby towns. So today’s bike club ride was to visit a few locations associated with the earthquake.

The first stop was at the San Gabriel Civic Auditorium. This building was damaged and later repaired. You can see a photo of the damage here:

http://scedc.caltech.edu/significant/whittier1987.html

We could see that the upper portion had been patched up, and there were still some cracks in the lower part of the building.

The next stop was the epicenter, which was just a few blocks southeast of the big intersection of Walnut Grove and Garvey in Rosemead. Not really much to see there, but that’s the place.

Next we rode to the Whittier Greenway Trail, where we saw a display of bricks and columns that were salvaged from a few historic buildings that were damaged enough that they had to be torn down. Then from there, we rode into downtown Whittier, and our snack stop at Mimo’s Cafe.

The last stop of the tour was at the Whittier Museum, which is hosting an exhibit about the earthquake. The building pictured on the banner outside was just a few blocks away.

Here are some more pictures from that day:

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Whittier-Narrows-Earthquake-Puente-Hills-Fault-California-Seismology-Photos-Images-448452433.html

45 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

9/24/2017

East Valley Lines

Filed under: — stan @ 2:56 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a visit to Travel Town in Griffith Park to see the East Valley Lines model railroad. I found out that one of my friends from the office is a member, and he was going to be running trains there today.

We took our regular route out, across Eagle Rock and Glendale, with a stop at Paradise Bakery for a chocolate eclair. Then we rode a loop out and back through Burbank before heading over to Travel Town. When we got there, Claude let us into the room with the layout. We were able to stash our bikes in the club workshop area. Then we got a good close look at the layout, which is of course under construction. We were there for about a half-hour watching the trains.

The route back took us down the L.A. River, with a quick stop at Spoke to get some ice water. Then back up the Arroyo Seco bike path to get back to Pasadena.

43 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

8/17/2017

Visiting Mt St Helens

Filed under: — stan @ 8:51 pm

Our first destination on our trip was to go see Mt St Helens. As it turned out, we got there early enough on Wednesday afternoon to be able to go to the south side of the mountain and do a little sightseeing there. We went and saw Lava Canyon, the path of a big lahar from the 1980 eruption, and also the entrance to Ape Cave, which is a long lava tube cave. We didn’t have flashlights, so were weren’t able to go explore inside.

Lava Canyon was very pretty. It’s a steep canyon, so there were lots of waterfalls. We walked down one side of the canyon, and the crossed over on a suspension footbridge. Just like on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland. Except the bridge at Disneyland isn’t 100 feet above the water, and it doesn’t have a broken board right at the start to inspire confidence. This bridge kind of gave me the willies. But we made it across just fine.

The next day, we took the road up the Toutle River valley to the main Visitor Center, and to Johnston Ridge. Along the way, we saw the Bigfoot statue that was made out of cemented-together ash from the 1980 eruption. We also stopped at the Weyerhauser visitor center, where we found out that the trees they are farming there are all genetically modified to grow straighter, taller, and faster than regular trees.

At Johnston Ridge, we took in the view of the crater. We saw the trunks of trees that were blown over by the blast of the 1980 eruption. I zoomed in on the lava dome inside the crater, but I wasn’t able to see any steam coming off of it. The docents said that steam is sometimes visible when the temperature is right. We also saw a small group of elk down in the valley. One of the docents had a small telescope so we could see them, but my 300mm zoom lens just couldn’t quite bring them close enough.

After taking in the view of the crater, we went back down the road to the Hummocks. There is a trail through this little bit of terrain so that we can see the little hills and valleys that were created by the front end of the big landslide that began the 1980 eruption. The trail was a bit over two miles, and it went up and down and around, with signs along the way explaining how the terrain there was basically created in an instant.

On the way back, we stopped for a moment to again marvel at the GMO-forest. The trees are all so identical that looking at them made us feel like our eyes were going blurry, even when they were perfectly focused. It was impressive in a weird way.

Route map of the Hummocks Trail

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