Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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5/24/2015

Eleven

Filed under: — stan @ 5:51 pm

Last September, I saw an article that Mel Brooks had put his hand prints in concrete for the Chinese Theater in Hollywood. We took a ride out there to see, but when we got there, they said that the concrete blocks are kept inside for a few months to harden properly before they are put outside. So this week, I’d emailed the manager of the Chinese Theater, and he said that Mel Brooks was now out on the Forecourt of the Stars. So this Sunday’s ride was another visit to Hollywood.

We rode out by our usual route across Eagle Rock, across the L.A. River, and then through Silver Lake into Hollywood. When we got there, I saw that the dinosaur on the roof of the Ripley’s Odditorium was dressed up for summer tourist season. Then we got to the Chinese Theater and had a look around. I noticed for the first time that the block with the “Harry Potter” series cast had their wand-prints in the concrete. Then I found Mel Brooks. His block is toward the back on the east end. I tried out the six-fingered hand print for size.

Leaving the Chinese Theater, we headed up Outpost Dr. About halfway up, we saw some skid marks, a broken wall, and the bumper of a car. But the license plate was not attached to it. I guess whoever it belonged to had enough presence of mind to take the plate before running away.

At the top of the hill, we paused for a few minutes before heading down Mulholland Dr into Cahuenga Pass. We stopped for a few minutes at the Hollywood Bowl overlook. I thought it was funny that the little coin-operated telescope at the overlook had an ad on it to try and recruit more people for the coin-operated telescope business. It’s not like coin-operated telescopes are Amway or anything… Then we rode down the hill into Burbank, and our snack stop at Priscilla’s.

Heading home, we rode back across Glendale, and then up Chevy Chase and Linda Vista, coming down the other side by the Rose Bowl. It was a nice ride.

39 miles.

Route map and elevation information

5/23/2015

Train of Thought

Filed under: — stan @ 1:57 pm

Today was the dedication and open house at the new Gold Line Operations Campus in Monrovia. So Carla and I took a short bike ride out there to go see it. We figured it’s our one chance to get to see inside and close-up.

It’s not all that far away, so we rode a little extra on the way there, and we arrived just about when the politicians were starting their speeches. While they were talking, we walked around and looked at things. They had one of the new-style trains parked there, sticking out of the train wash building. It had a nice little steel platform on top of the coupler on the front of the train, so I wanted to get my picture taken sitting on it. I figure that I’ll probably never get another chance to sit there on the train again.

After the outdoor speeches, the herded everyone into the shop building for more speeches. They had a couple of trains parked inside for us to see, and we got to see the maintenance area where they had catwalks to get on top of the trains, and the tracks were elevated to get underneath.

After all that, we headed back, stopping in the parking lot on the way out to look at the Messerschmitt KR200 someone had driven there. That was one weird little car.

This was a short ride, but interesting sights to see.

21 miles.

5/17/2015

Urban Light

Filed under: — stan @ 4:53 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see the “Urban Light” installation in front of the main building. We’ve been out there before, but it seemed appropriate to go there again this week, since I’d heard earlier in the week that Chris Burden had died. So I dug out the route from last year when we rode out there to see the construction site for the new Purple Line subway station. And as it turned out, we had a special bonus today. The final stage of the Tour of California was starting downtown, right about when we would be passing through there. So we planned on stopping to see a bit of the race before heading out to LACMA.

We rode downtown by our usual route. The bad thing is that they have been doing construction where we pick up Mission Road off of Huntington Drive. We need to find a different way through there now, since they’ve made our old route impossible. So that was annoying. I think I may be feeling a letter coming on about it.

On the final bit into downtown, we saw a Metrolink train going by. This is the first time we’ve ever had to stop for a train at that particular crossing, so that was novel. Then we finished riding into downtown, and we set up at the corner of Main and Temple to watch the race go by. After that, we moved to Main and 1st to watch them go by again. That was a good corner to watch, since it was at the bottom of a small hill, so the pack was going very fast as it went by. Then we moved up to Olive and 1st, which was an even better place to watch from, since the course went both ways down Olive, so we got to see them go by twice on each lap. We watched them go by for each of the next three laps, and then they took off for Pasadena and the finish at the Rose Bowl. And we continued on our way.

It’s always kind of novel to see a bike race now. Watching the peleton go flying by, it’s hard to believe that I used to do that. And riding in a pack was just another day for me. Now I think it looks terrifying, and I can’t believe I used to go that fast. But fortunately, I have photographic evidence.

Using 9th St and later 4th St, we rode all the way out to Hancock Park and LACMA. We had to walk through the museum courtyard, but then, when we got to Wilshire Blvd, there were the streetlights. We read the little plaque in front of the installation and just sort of admired the arrangement of the lights. And on the way back, we stopped to look at “Levitated Mass”, otherwise known as the Big Rock. As I said, anything can be art, as long as the artist can convince other people to agree with him that it’s art.

Coming back, we stopped for bagels at Noah’s in Larchmont Village. Then we took our usual route home through Silver Lake, and then up to York Blvd and home through South Pasadena. It was a nice ride.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation profile.

5/10/2015

The Pink Motel

Filed under: — stan @ 9:57 pm

Last week, I was looking up some movie locations online, looking for things we could go see on the Sunday bike club ride. And I ran across an article on the L.A. Conservancy’s web site about the Pink Motel. It dates back to the late 1940s, and is used in movies and TV when they want to have a 1950s setting. It also has a small coffee shop that is set up for carhop service, and also looks like it just fell out of 1955. They say that the motel is still operating, but the restaurant is only rented out for filming. And the fish-shaped swimming pool is empty.

The Pink Motel is in Sun Valley, which is largely industrial. There is a large landfill, lots of junkyards, and a power plant there. The route we took there was basically the same one that we used a couple years ago when we rode out to see the Stonehurst Cottages.

The motel is on San Fernando Road, just off of Sheldon St. San Fernando is terrible to ride on, but we only had to go about a hundred yards or so on it. And then, there it was, in all its pink glory. We looked around a bit at the different parts of the property. The pool is huge. And it’s empty. Supposedly, people skateboard in it, but we didn’t see any evidence of that. Still, it would be impressive to be there at night and see the neon lit up, although I’d guess that maybe they only turn it all on if they’re filming something there.

A train came by when we were getting ready to leave. It was going very slowly, so we had to wait a bit for it to pass. Then we headed back up Sheldon St. We passed the movie prop house there. They still have the pair of giant hands outside. There wasn’t as much other weird stuff outside this time, though.

Continuing on into the hills there, we saw people riding horses. It’s a strange area. It feels very rural, even though it’s part of the city of Los Angeles. This was where we came to see Lorenzo the Llama, back in 2009.

We rode back up the hill into Tujunga, and then down the long downhill to Montrose. We stopped for bagels at Goldstein’s in La Cañada. And from there, it was all downhill back to Pasadena.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation: http://1134.ddns.net/routemap.php?xmlfile=pinkmotel

5/9/2015

Hello!

Filed under: — stan @ 5:08 pm

Today, we went to Little Tokyo to visit the Japanese American National Museum to see “Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty“. This was an entire exhibit devoted to the history and everything else about Hello Kitty.

Hello Kitty started in about 1974, and we learned all sorts of things about her. Apparently, she has a blood type, although she does not age. She is five apples tall. And she has been made into and onto all sorts of things over the years. It was really quite amazing to behold. The entire first floor of the exhibit was all official Hello Kitty items from Sanrio. The second floor was more about the influence of Hello Kitty on popular culture, including art by various artists who did Hello Kitty-themed pieces. We even saw Lady Gaga and Katy Perry’s Hello Kitty outfits.

And yes, it was all, in a word, supercute.

At the end of the exhibit, we came out into the JANM exhibit about the wartime Japanese internment camps, which was kind of a depressing and jarring transition. But still, Hello Kitty was very cute, and it was well worth the visit.

4/26/2015

Working for the Mouse

Filed under: — stan @ 5:18 pm

A couple years ago, we went to see “Pulp Shakespeare” in Hollywood at Theater Asylum. Since then, I’ve been on their mailing list, and this week I got something about some small shows they were putting on this weekend. I read the synopsis about “Working for the Mouse“, and it sounded funny, so we got tickets. The basic story is that it’s a one-man show by Trevor Allen recounting the time he spent working at Disneyland as some of the costumed characters.

It was all really funny and entertaining, and if he brings the show back to L.A., we’ll go see it again. Looking on YouTube, I found a few clips he posted of excerpts from the show. Here’s one about his time working as the Mad Hatter, which he said was a step up from being Pluto, since he didn’t have to wear a full head, and he also got to hang out with Alice:

If he ever brings this show anywhere near you, go see it.

Riding to the 24th Century

Filed under: — stan @ 2:06 pm

If you know any cyclists, you’ve probably heard them talk about doing a “Century” ride, which is to ride 100 miles in a day. But we went one better today. We rode our bikes all the way to the 24th Century. Specifically, to go see the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, which was used as the location for Starfleet Academy in several episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. Kathleen and I went there once on a tour with the Obscura Society, but the only other time we tried riding bikes there, we got rained out in North Hollywood and had to take Metro Rail home.

Today was a good day for riding. The rain from yesterday had blown away, and it was clear, although a bit windy. We headed out, pretty much directly west, across Eagle Rock. And that was where John got a flat. Then we continued on across Glendale and Burbank into the San Fernando Valley. We took Moorpark St a long way before turning north to meet up with the Metro Orange Line bike path, which took us the rest of the way to Van Nuys. We rode in and had a look at the sewage plant administration building. I showed everyone a screenshot of it from “Star Trek”. Fortunately, the wind was out of the north, so the Japanese Garden didn’t live up to the “fragrance” part of its name.

Coming back, we saw that they were having some sort of Mini Picnic in the park next to the sewage plant. Then we got back on the Orange Line bike path and took it all the way back to North Hollywood. We stopped for snacks at Panera there. Then we continued on the Chandler bikeway into Burbank. That was where Jay got a flat. After fixing that, we headed back into Glendale on the Glendale Narrows Riverwalk, which was where we met the miniature horse.

The final part of the ride was the climb back up the Colorado Hill into Pasadena. That never gets old. Or easier. Still, it was a nice ride. And we finally made it all the way to the 24th Century.

55 miles.

Route map and elevation profile


4/25/2015

Another attempt at Strawberry Peak

Filed under: — stan @ 2:26 pm

Today, Karina and I made yet another attempt at climbing Strawberry Peak. The last time we tried, we were stopped by the rock-climbing section on the trail up the ridge to the west of the summit. So this time, we were going up the trail from Red Box, which comes up the ridge on the east of the peak. For this trip, we were joined by Irving and Marie. We all met up at Red Box, and we started up the trail.

It was chilly and cloudy, but otherwise not bad for hiking. The trail description said that most of the climbing was in the last mile, and it didn’t lie. The first part was very easy, but it got kind of steep later on. And when we got higher up on the ridge, we walked up into the clouds.

Irving and Marie turned around after a while. They had plans to go see a movie that afternoon, and they wanted to get back in time. So Karina and I pressed on. It got colder, and it started to sprinkle a bit. We finally came up on top of what looked like the summit. The wind had picked up, so we decided to not look too hard through the clouds to try and see if there was more mountain. We just said, “That’s good enough” and turned around. In the end, though, GPS doesn’t lie. We were a little bit short of the real summit. But it was just too cold to be pleasant.

We tried to keep a brisk pace all the way down, since it was still getting colder. We never did find a sufficiently-sheltered place to stop for lunch, so we didn’t eat until we got back to the car. We had a nice time, but wow, it was cold. And it still means that I’ve still not made it to the actual summit of that mountain since 1986, despite three attempts since then. Sheesh.

The battery in my GPS went dead on the way down, so the map only shows the trip up. But up and back were the same trail, so it’s all right.

Route map and elevation profile

4/19/2015

Gay’s Lion Farm

Filed under: — stan @ 2:54 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a tour in search of a bit of SoCal history. In this case, Gay’s Lion Farm, which existed in El Monte from 1925 to 1942, and at its peak had 200 lions living on five acres where the San Bernardino Freeway exists now.

The actual location of the lion farm isn’t all that far from Pasadena, so I had to make up a kind of roundabout route to get there and back, just to keep to our basic framework of the ride being about 40-45 miles. So we started out riding all the way out to Duarte before turning around and heading back west to Monrovia and then south. But we finally made it to the intersection of Peck Road and Valley Boulevard, and there, right on the freeway embankment, there was a lion statue. There was a small plaque that said that it marked the site of the lion farm. We looked around a bit and took some pictures before moving on. Just a few blocks on the other side of the freeway was El Monte High School, and it has a large statue of a lion in front of it. One article I read said that the statue was of a lion named Jackie, who was the MGM lion in the 1930s and ’40s.

Continuing south, we ended up on the Rio Hondo bike path, and when that let us out on San Gabriel Blvd, we headed north. We ended up in San Gabriel, where we stopped off at the San Gabriel Cemetery to visit Charles Gay’s grave. While we were there, we also saw the statue and memorial for General George S. Patton, who grew up in San Gabriel.

Our snack stop was at Peet’s Coffee in Pasadena. That’s almost at the end of the ride, so we don’t stop there often, but it just worked out that that was the best place we knew along this route.

42 miles.

Route map: http://1134.ddns.net/routemap.php?xmlfile=gayslionfarm

4/18/2015

Baby kangaroo!

Filed under: — stan @ 3:52 pm

A couple weeks ago, I got an email from the Los Angeles Zoo, promoting their new baby animals. In particular, they said that the baby kangaroo was just out of its mom’s pouch, and that they are running a contest to name the new ‘roo. So I thought it would be fun to go see the animals, since it’s been years since we’ve been to the L.A. Zoo. We tried to go last week, but it was totally full and we couldn’t get in. So today we arranged to get up early and get there right when they open at 10.

When we got inside, we headed straight to the Australia exhibit. The baby kangaroo was there, hopping around the enclosure. At one point, the joey crawled back into the pouch, perhaps to nurse a bit. It looked funny with two feet and a tail sticking out of the pouch. In the same place, they had some koalas sitting in the trees, and one of the koalas had a baby with it. We saw baby koalas at the San Diego Zoo a couple years ago, and they’re just astonishingly cute. We also took a turn through the Australia House, which used to be the koala house when it was first built back in the ’80s, but now it’s home to a very sleepy wombat.

At the bighorn sheep exhibit a docent was telling us that they had a five-day-old baby bighorn there, so we stayed there for a bit to watch it trotting around on the fake mountain there.

We got to see the new Rainforest of the Americas exhibit. The high point of that was getting to see feeding time for the giant river otters. Everyone thought they were very cute animals, and they were pretty lively chasing after bits of fish thrown in by the keepers.

Our last stop was the children’s zoo, mostly to see the prairie dogs. I’ve always liked the prairie dog exhibit, complete with clear domes so we can pop up in the middle of the prairie dog town.

It was a fun day, but we don’t have any ideas about what to suggest for the name of the baby kangaroo.

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