Stan’s Obligatory Blog

2/16/2015

Jones Peak

Filed under: — stan @ 3:53 pm

Since it’s a government holiday, we have the day off, so I went hiking with Karina and Erin from my office. Our destination was Jones Peak, which is just a little mountain in the front range of the San Gabriels, just above Sierra Madre. The trail is not very long, but it is reputed to be much harder than it seems like it should be.

Like the trail up Mount Lukens, this trail didn’t fool around. It was steep from the start. There was just a short walk up into Bailey Canyon before it turned and started switchbacking up the side of the canyon, before coming out at the top of the ridge connecting Jones Peak and the main mass of Mount Wilson. From there, it was just a short, but very steep climb up to the actual top of the mountain. There wasn’t anything much on top, but the view was very nice.

On the way down, we took a look down a little side trail. It went to the ruins of a small cabin. Since it’s in Bailey Canyon, someone had taken the trouble to make a up a plaque proclaiming that the cabin had belonged to George Bailey from “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

A bit farther down the trail, we stopped at a scenic overlook with a couple of benches. One of the benches was very tall, and our feet didn’t reach the ground below it. That was when I noticed the small plaque on the bench saying that it “…meets or exceeds All NBA standards”. Heh. It was a nice hike.

2/15/2015

Studio City for Gelato

Filed under: — stan @ 3:31 pm

This week’s bike club ride was a trip out to Studio City to get gelato at Gelato Bar and Espresso Caffe. It’s a destination, and it was a nice warm day, so it seemed like a good place to go.

On the way there, Jeff wanted to take a little side trip to try riding up Eldred St. This is a short dead-end street that ends in one of the steepest hills in Los Angeles. In the end, his Garmin said the grade averaged 23%, but that the final pitch to the top hit 44%. And the fact that it’s broken and rough concrete just made it even harder.

The rest of the ride was pretty straightforward. It was a nice fast trip up the L.A. River bike path, and then a straight shot out across Toluca Lake to Studio City. The trip back was flat across Glendale, and then a trip up and over Linda Vista and Lida St to get back to Pasadena.

44 miles.

2/8/2015

Lyman Village

Filed under: — stan @ 3:30 pm

Last Thursday night, we went on a bar crawl with the Obscura Society, and when we were walking through Hollywood, they took us down Lyman Place to see the apartment buildings there. And when I saw them, I said, “I know where we’re going this Sunday!

The basic plan was to ride to Hollywood, see Lyman Place, and then go up and over the hill through Griffith Park and then home by way of South Pasadena. We got there pretty fast, and we took a turn up and down the block to see all the buildings. Then we headed up Hillhurst to the park. The climb up the hill to the observatory was a joy, as always. At the top, we stopped for a few minutes to look at the view. I also had a look at the scale model of the solar system they have built into the sidewalk in front of the observatory. They re-did the whole observatory building a few years ago, but I guess they didn’t redo the sidewalks in front. Their solar system still includes Pluton as a planet, even though it was removed from that post in 2006.

After that little rest at the observatory, we rode up and over Mt. Hollywood and came down into the Valley side of the park. We had our snack stop at Priscilla’s. Then we took the L.A. River bike path back to Fletcher, and then back up Eagle Rock Blvd to York, and back home across South Pasadena.

44 miles.

2/7/2015

I always was curious how they did this…

Filed under: — stan @ 6:26 pm

On Saturday morning I went for a short bike ride with Carla. We headed east, with a plan of seeing how the yard and shops they are building on the Metro Gold Line in Monrovia were coming along. We rode out there, and we saw a crew at work putting up the overhead wires, as well as a single test train parked on the track. That was novel, since it’s the first train we’ve seen on that part of the line.

Continuing on, we passed the Azusa Rockery. Apparently, it’s an exhibit of the sorts of things they mine there in the quarry in Azusa. From there, we rode to see the downtown Azusa station that is under construction. We were going to see if we could find the ‘golden spike’ again. While we were there, a truck came by on the tracks, and they stopped just a short distance from us. The guys got out and started unloaded some serious equipment. We asked them what they were doing, and they said they were going to weld the rails together. So we figured we’d settle in and watch, since I’d always been curious to see how this is done.

They first took some wrenches and unbolted the spot where the rails were bolted together. Then they took out a big power saw and cut a little bit off the end of one rail to make about a 1/2 or 3/4 inch gap between the ends of the two rails. Then they got out what looked like some ceramic molds that they clamped around the rail joint, filling in the gaps with sand. Once all that was in place, they lit a torch and stuck it down into the space inside the mold they’d constructed around the rail joint.

While the torch was making flames come out of the top of the mold, they brought out a box of thermite. At that point, I knew we were going to see some fireworks.

After the torch had been heating the joint for a few minutes, they took it out, and then they placed a little white can that looked kind of like a big thermos on top of the mold. Then they lit it on fire. Bright yellow flames came out the top, and soon, glowing-orange molten steel was pouring out the bottom. It flowed into the mold around the rail joint and filled it up until a small amount of molten steel came out the top of the mold. I guess that was the indication that it had filled the gap between the rails.

They let the joint cool for a few minutes, and then they broke the mold off of it with sledgehammers. The metal inside was solidified, but still glowing orange. They cleaned it up a bit with a sledgehammer and a wedge. Then they got out a grinder machine that cleaned up the weld. All told, it was a pretty good pyrotechnic show.

30 miles


2/5/2015

Bar crawl with the Obscura People

Filed under: — stan @ 10:58 pm

Thursday night, we signed up for a bar crawl tour in Hollywood, on the east end, near Silver Lake. It sounded like fun, so we signed up. And it turned out to be a lot of fun.

The tour met up and started at El Cid. This used to be the Jail Cafe in the 1920s. It doesn’t have the prison theme any more, but it did have a nice outdoor bar and patio area. We were there for a little while before the group headed up Sunset to our next stop. Along the way, we stopped at the Elliott Smith tribute wall. Then we crossed the street to get to Tiki Ti.

Tiki Ti is an odd place. We’d heard of it on the Neon Cruise tour, since it’s a local landmark, and also, because of a quirk in the law, it is the only bar in L.A. where smoking is still allowed. They had a big menu of the drinks they make there, and we just sort of picked a couple to try. In the meantime, somebody down at the other end of the bar ordered something special, so the bartenders brought out the little animatronic bull and had it walk down the bar. It was all a very odd and entertaining experience.

Our next stop was at the Good Luck Bar, which is right around the corner from the Vista Theater. So we stopped along the way to look at the walk of fame of the B-list stars. I’ve been there before with the Sunday morning bike club ride. The Good Luck was also an odd place. It was decorated in a Chinese theme, which is not something I usually associate with a bar.

The last stop was the Dresden Room. On the way there, we took a walk up Lyman Place, which is an entire block of apartments that are all built and decorated to evoke old-time Hollywood, and each building is named for one or another old movie star. There was a Monroe, a Bogart, a Valentino, and others. When I saw that, I knew this was going to be a sightseeing stop on the Sunday morning bike ride soon.

The Dresden Room is another distinctive place. I’d been there once before, in 2008. That time was early in the evening, but this time it was later, and Marty and Elaine were performing. Apparently, they have been playing there for over 30 years. We ordered more drinks and some food. Overall, this was a very entertaining evening.

2/1/2015

Baby seals!

Filed under: — stan @ 6:12 pm

This weekend, we all took a trip to San Diego to visit my father, and also to go see the seals at La Jolla Cove. Late January and early February is the pupping season, and there truly is nothing cuter than baby seals. I first saw the seals back in 2007, and we’ve been coming to see them almost every time we come to San Diego since then. And in particular, we always make a point of coming to see them when the seal pups are being born. There was a volunteer from the Seal Conservancy at the beach, and he pointed out the new pups and told us a little about them. Sadly, there are some people who actively dislike the seals, and like to chase them away. But fortunately, since marine mammals are protected, the courts have ruled that the beach can be closed to people during the pupping season.

After seeing the seals, we headed back to my father’s place. Along the way, we stopped off at the Torrey Pines Gliderport. I’d only seen that once before, back in 1985, and I remember it being pretty spectacular to watch the hang gliders soaring along the cliffs there. But sadly, there was nobody out flying today. Still, it was interesting to see it again.


1/25/2015

Googie

Filed under: — stan @ 7:17 pm

Today’s bike club ride was another architecture tour. This time to see the old Johnie’s Broiler in Downey, which was a classic example of 1950s Googie architecture. It had fallen on hard times some years ago, and was partially demolished in 2007. I went to see it then, so I wanted to go back and see how it looks now that they’ve fixed it up.

The route it very straightforward. Straight down Rosemead Blvd all the way to Downey. We stopped off at the oldest operating McDonald’s there, and some of us had the old-style fried apple pies. Our snack stop was at 3rd St Coffee in Downey. And after that, we continued on down to Firestone Blvd and the former Johnie’s, which is now Bob’s Big Boy Broiler. It looks a lot better than the last time I saw it. And there’s a little plaque in the wall by the front door, telling the story about how it was saved from demolition and restored.

The route home took us up the Rio Hondo bike path, and then straight north on Walnut Grove, back to Pasadena.

42 miles.

1/18/2015

Roll Out the Barrel

Filed under: — stan @ 2:11 pm

Route map

Last week, I saw an article about how the old barrel-shaped restaurant in North Hollywood is being renovated by new owners, and it going to be reopening soon as the Idle Hour. The giant barrel is yet another example of programatic architecture, and as soon as I saw it, I knew we had a bike ride coming up to go see it. Other odd structures we’ve been to see before include the Coca-Cola bottling plant, the giant tamale, and the big donut.

The route was just a slight reworking of our old Toluca Lake route. We rode through South Pasadena, and then down Figureoa through Highland Park. We passed Chicken Boy there. Then we took the L.A. River bike path north, where we saw some Great Egrets wading in the river. At the end of the bike path, we got on Riverside Drive and headed west across Toluca Lake. We stopped at the Barris Kustom shop there to peek in the windows and see the Batmobile and the Munster Koach parked inside.

Then we headed north up Vineland Ave to get to the barrel. There were some guys working on it, so we got to peek inside the fence. They said we couldn’t look inside yet, but that it would be ready and opening in just a few weeks. The new finish on the barrel looks good.

We continued north up to Chandler, where we stopped at Panera, across the street from the Metro Red Line station. I saw there was a notification on my phone from the Field Trip app about the Southern Pacific train depot that Metro is renovating there. I looked, and it was right across the street from us. So that’s going to be yet another thing to go see when they get it finished.

Coming home, we took the Chandler Bikeway from NoHo and across Burbank. Then across Glendale, up Chevy Chase and Linda Vista for our obligatory hill of the day. And then past the Rose Bowl to get home. It was a nice day for riding, and we had a good time.

46 miles.

1/10/2015

The Marine Mammal Care Center

Filed under: — stan @ 2:58 pm

Today’s adventure was yet another tour arranged by the Obscura Society. This time, it was a visit to the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro. This is sort of a companion to our visit to the Marine Mammal Center near San Francisco last summer.

The Marine Mammal Care Center is the place to go for treatment and rehabilitation of rescued seals and sea lions in Los Angeles. It’s a relatively small place, with just a handful of pens with small pools for the animals. There’s also an office/lab/classroom building there, where the director of the center told us about the place, and about the animals they treat. He passed around a sea lion skull for us to look at. Apparently, the takeaway from all this is that sea lions have sharp teeth. That, and that harbor seals may look cute, but they also bite. So don’t get too near them.

After the talk inside, we went outside to see the animals. There were mostly sea lions there. He had said that they get a lot of malnourished and dehydrated animals there, and he described the procedure for tube-feeding sick animals. And when we were outside, we got to see three people wrestling a small sea lion to hold it down for tube-feeding. Afterward, the little pup looked like he’d just endured an alien abduction.

There was another pen that had several sea lions in it. They said that they were all nearly healthy enough to be released back into the ocean. They were being fed, but they were feeling good enough that they were playing with the fish. Which was fine with the very large bird sitting and watching them. Whenever they would toss a fish out of the water, the bird would come down and steal it.

It was an interesting morning. And since were were already in San Pedro, we took a short side trip to see the Korean Friendship Bell in the park down the street. Then we went home by way of Dim Sum in Chinatown. All together, that made a for a fun time.

1/4/2015

Checking in on the Metro Gold Line

Filed under: — stan @ 1:49 pm

This Sunday’s bike club ride is yet another installment of checking out the progress that Metro is making on building the Gold Line extension to Azusa. We first did this tour almost a year ago, when construction was under way, but not all that far along yet. And we’ve been looking in on it every few months since then. Since the completion of the track last October, work has shifted to finishing up the stations and putting up the overhead wires.

In Monrovia, we saw that the station looks almost complete, and they’ve made a lot of progress on the maintenance yard. The downtown station in Azusa looks more complete, and the station at the end by Citrus College is even starting to look like a station. Even the Irwindale station is making visible progress. When we first did this ride, it was just bare dirt and piles of rails and ties waiting to be assembled into track. Now, they’re starting to run test trains along the tracks to check clearances and such.

Maybe by next winter, we’ll be able to have a Metro Tour East ride that we can do on days when it might rain, since the train will be available as a bail-out option all the way out to Glendora.

43 miles.

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