Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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9/5/2016

Visiting SkySpace

Filed under: — stan @ 4:36 pm

Today’s a holiday, so we went downtown to see the new OUE SkySpace on the 69th and 70th floors of the U.S. Bank building. I’ve climbed the stairs in this building many, many times, but it felt weird to be going there for any other reason. We’d made reservations online, so when we got there, we were able to go right on up. They have three floors dedicated to this, which seemed a bit odd. The entire 54th floor was just sort of a waiting area with photos and artwork to look at while waiting for the elevators up to 70. But fortunately, it wasn’t crowded, so we were able to go right on up.

When we got to 70, we walked around, looking at the view in all directions. That was kind of nice, since when we get to the top of the building at the stair climb, we’re only able to look north and west. Then I walked down to 69 to see Kathleen go down the SkySlide.

I did take a moment to paw forlornly at the door to the staircase.

It was fun having the outdoor observation decks on the east and west sides of the building. And it was novel to be able to look down on all the other tall buildings that I’ve climbed in the past. So I guess this is probably the most fun I’ve had in a tall building that didn’t involve climbing stairs.

9/4/2016

An Airplane-Themed Ride

Filed under: — stan @ 4:32 pm

Today’s bike club ride was the route out to Burbank to see the F-104 Starfighter-on-a-stick that they have displayed in a park. And also, we went by Burbank Airport to see how their new airplane topiary is coming along. It was cool and overcast and perfect for riding.

When I got to the park to meet up with the group, I saw that they had one of the playing fields fenced off, and there was a small group of geese foraging in there. When everyone got there, we headed out straight west across Eagle Rock and Glendale to Burbank. At the park, I read the little plaque that told the story of the F-104. It said it was developed by the Lockheed Skunk Works in the late 1950s, and it was in production until 1979. It also said that it set an altitude record by flying up to 103,395 feet, and a climbing record of 82,020 feet in 286 seconds. To put that in perspective, that works out to be about 195mph straight up.

From there, we headed north to the airport. The new topiary is coming along nicely. We’d been to see the old one before, but the last time we were out there, the former bush had died and they’d replaced it with a new one that wasn’t quite full yet. This time, the wire frame was completely filled out, and the bush needed a little trim. Carla noticed that the topiary plant itself is jasmine this time, and it was flowering. So we had to stop and smell the flowers.

We passed the kiddie ride boneyard again. I still think that would be a perfect setting for a killer-clown horror movie. Then we stopped at Priscilla’s for snacks.

For the trip back, we took the L.A. River bike path. They are apparently widening the bridge where Riverside crosses over the river. It’s kind of a mess now, but it will be nice when it’s done. And at the other end of the path, we rode the new bridge over the river to Figueroa Street, and I stopped to take a picture of the stub of the old bridge. Then we rode up to Ave 43 and got on the Arroyo Seco bike path to South Pasadena. All in all, it was a pleasant ride.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

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

8/20/2016

Gyoza 2016

Filed under: — stan @ 3:54 pm

It’s Nisei Week in Little Tokyo, and that means it’s time for the gyoza eating contest. We’ve been there before, and it’s always simultaneously hilarious and horrifying.

In a departure from the format of previous years, they added a few side contests. One was a short one featuring some of the girls who were in last year’s Nisei Week court, as well as one pitting LAPD officers against LA County firefighters. Those were all entertaining, but were just a warm-up for the main event. Lots of the big names in competitive eating were there, and once the ten minutes began, it was obvious that they’re all professionals. The plates held 25 gyoza each, and empty plates started stacking up in front of the top eaters as their heads bobbed up and down and they did little shimmies and jumps to try and pack the food down as they ate. And of course, in the final seconds, they stuffed their cheeks like chipmunks to try and pack in as many gyoza as possible. I guess that’s the competitive eating version of a sprint to the finish.

In the end, Matt ‘Megatoad’ Stonie was the winner again, and by a convincing margin. He was the only one to go over 300. The full results are here:

http://majorleagueeating.com/news.php?action=detail&sn=970


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

8/13/2016

A Bit of History

Filed under: — stan @ 6:07 pm

Today I took a tour of the Columbia Memorial Space Center in Downey with Atlas Obscura. We got a nice treat when they brought in an engineer who worked at North American Aviation, later Rockwell, from the early days of Apollo all the way through the Space Shuttle program. He had some good stories about the early days there.

Later on, we went upstairs, where there was a long conference table in the room. Remember this scene from “Apollo 13″?

This was the table the actual North American engineers used back in 1970 when they had to figure out how to piece junk together to get Apollo 13 home.


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

8/6/2016

Pangolin

Filed under: — stan @ 9:36 pm

We went to San Diego this weekend to visit my father, and since it’s summer, we also went to the zoo to see the pangolin. The San Diego Zoo is the only place in the western hemisphere to see a pangolin, and they only bring Baba our for 15 minutes a day, and only in summer. I’d taken Lucinda there to see the pangolin last summer, but Kathleen wasn’t able to go that time. So this was her chance to see one of the oddest animals ever.

We got to the zoo a little early, so we walked around and looked at some other animals while we waited for it to be pangolin time. Then we headed over to the children’s zoo. At 1:30 one of the keepers came out with Baba the pangolin. She put him on the little tree and platform they made for him so he could eat. She said that they feed him a slurry of cat food and ground-up insects, all mixed with vanilla-flavored Ensure. Yum. He seemed to like it all right, and it gave us a chance to see his famously-long tongue. After his 15 minutes were up, Baba climbed down off the platform and just started walking back to the building where he lives. This was interesting, since it’s the first time we got to see how he walks on the ground.

After pangolin time, we headed over to the Australia exhibit to see the Tasmanian Devils. As usual, they were all sleeping.

Finally, we walked down the hill to go see the hippos. A few years ago, we got to see a baby hippo there, so we wanted to go back again. And while we were there, we got to see fresh hippo poop. That always makes my day…


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

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