Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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8/20/2017

Lava River Cave

Filed under: — stan @ 5:25 pm

Today was our last day at Newberry Volcano, and we got up early to go and see Lava River Cave before it was time to head back to Salem for the eclipse.

The cave opens at 9, and we got there a bit before that, just so we could be in the first group to go tour the cave. The rangers gave a short talk about cave safety, and then we picked up our rental lights and headed down to the entrance. Even though it’s August, the inside of the cave was an even 42 degrees, so it was actually pretty chilly.

The cave itself was pretty big. Most of it was just easy walking. There were just a few places where the roof was low, and we had to stoop a bit. The floor of the cave was covered in sand. The rangers said that the sand was actually ash from the eruption of Mt Mazama, about 7,000 years ago. That eruption left a thick layer of ash over the whole of what is now central Oregon, and the ash was washed down into the cave by rain over the years.

The walk through the cave was about a mile to get to the end. The cave went on, but the ceiling was very low, and the sign said to turn around and go back. So that was our little cave adventure, and now it was time to head back to Salem to see the eclipse.

8/19/2017

Newberry Caldera and Lava Butte

Filed under: — stan @ 8:52 pm

Today was our day to play tourist in the caldera at Newberry Volcano. We were staying in a little bed-and-breakfast place, and while we were having our breakfast, we saw couple of bucks wandering by. Then we headed over to the volcano. The first stop was at Paulina Falls. This is the western edge of the caldera, and it’s where water from Paulina Lake drains out of the crater. From there, we went to the visitor center. They had a stack of the USGS fact sheets about the volcano. I told the guys there that it was that fact sheet that got me interested to come there and see it.

Our next stop was the Big Obsidian Flow. This is one of the newest lava flows, at only about 1,300 years old. Apparently, obsidian was an ideal material for making arrowheads and other cutting tools in the ancient world. And it’s usually hard to come by. But this lava flow had lots of it. So the people who lived around here were able to collect it and trade it for other things. The signs along the trail said that arrowheads made from Newberry obsidian are found all over the western U.S.

After the obsidian trail, we went to the East Lake Resort for lunch. We also walked along the shore of the lake a bit, looking for hot springs. Apparently, the two lakes are both fed by hot springs that just sort of seep out of the lake shores.

The next stop was Lava River Cave. This is another lava tube cave. It’s open during the day, and the rangers there rent out lights to use in the cave. But when we got there, there were too many people already there, and we couldn’t get in. So instead, we went on the main visitor center at Lava Butte.

Lava Butte is a small cinder cone volcano. It formed in an eruption about 7,000 years ago. It’s also surrounded by a large lava flow that came out at around the same time. We took the short trail through the lower part of the lava flow. After that, we rode the shuttle bus up to the top of the cone. There, we walked the short trail that goes around the rim of the crater. By this time, the wind had shifted a bit, and the air wasn’t as smokey as this morning. Since we missed seeing the cave, we made plans to come back first thing in the morning to see it before heading back to Salem.


8/18/2017

Salmon and sloths

Filed under: — stan @ 9:30 pm

Today was an odd day. It was mostly traveling from Mt St Helens down to central Oregon to see Newberry Volcano. And along the way, we went to see a salmon hatchery on the Lewis River, also a sloth rescue, and we met up with my aunt Karen for dinner.

We started off at the salmon hatchery. One of the guys who worked there gave us a short tour of the facility. He said that the salmon would be returning starting in a couple weeks. At that point, the fish get diverted into the tanks there, and then they are sent into the sorting room. Wild fish are separated out and put in tanks to be taken up river in trucks. The hatchery fish are taken and ‘artificially spawned’ to create the next generation, and the fully-grown fish end up being given to food banks.

Our next stop was the sloth center in Ranier, Oregon. They took us on a short tour, and then we got to have a close-up meet-and-greet with some of the sloths. They gave us a little bowl of cucumber wedges to feed to the sloths. And they said that we could pet the sloths while they were (slowly) chewing on the cucumbers.

We had to pass through Portland, so we met up with my aunt Karen for dinner there. This was the first time I’d seen her since 1994.

The last part of the journey was up and over the mountains between Salem and Bend. We saw some nice lenticular clouds over Mt Jefferson there. After that, we descended down the eastern side of the mountains, and into a tremendous cloud of smoke from some big forest fires that were going on there. The city of Bend was completely enclosed by the smoke. We were going to be staying a bit south of there, right outside the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. I’d run across a USGS fact sheet about this volcano at my office, and it sounded like an interesting place.

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

8/13/2017

Pan Pacific Park

Filed under: — stan @ 2:05 pm

Today’s bike ride was a visit to Pan Pacific Park in Los Angeles. This was the site of the Pan Pacific Auditorium, which burned down in a spectacular fashion in 1989. After the fire, the burned-out hulks of the streamline-moderne entrance stood in the park for several years, before being torn down. Now, there is a new recreation center there, and its design echos the entryways of the old structure.

Our snack stop was at a new place. Just by chance, I found reviews in Yelp about Jessica Cafe inside of Park La Brea. We asked the guard at the gate, and she told us how to find it. They had pretty good food, and a nice outdoor area to sit. So it was nice.

46 miles.

Route map and elevation profile


8/6/2017

Hog Heaven

Filed under: — stan @ 2:18 pm

Today’s bike ride was a return visit to the Farmer John slaughterhouse in Vernon to see the big hog mural painted on the building. This is an odd bit of street art that is listed in many tourist guides. We went to see this last year, but it’s been long enough to go back for another look.

Our route was the usual way downtown by way of Huntington Drive and Mission Road. Then we took Santa Fe St down through the Arts District all the way to Vernon. We stopped for a few minutes to look at the mural, which is still impressive and a bit disturbing at the same time. Then we headed back into downtown. We went up Olive St, which took us past the apartment building with the oil oozing up in the basement, which was one of our first theme-rides, back in 2006.

We took Bonnie Brae from Westlake all the way up to Echo Park and our snack stop at Chango Coffee. Then we rode over the hill to the L.A. River and the bike path, which brought us down to Figueroa St. All told, it was a nice ride.

44 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

7/30/2017

“La La Land”

Filed under: — stan @ 5:55 pm
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Today’s bike club ride was the “La La Land“-themed ride I’ve been putting together for a while. We rode around Pasadena, Hollywood, and Burbank to go by several of the locations where scenes from “La La Land” were shot. Some of them only appear for a few seconds, while a few were the locations for relatively long scenes. The pictures from the ride are here, and where it’s relevant, there is a screenshot of the location as it appeared in the movie.

The first stop was the Rialto Theater in South Pasadena. This was where Sebastian and Mia went to see “Rebel Without a Cause”. The theater has been closed for about ten years now, but there is still talk of renovating it.

Next, we rode down through Silver Lake to find our way into Hollywood. The stop was at the “You Are the Star” mural painted on the side of a building at the corner of Hollywood and Wilcox. This was shot as the exterior of the restaurant where Mia first saw Sebastian playing the piano.

One novel thing about this route was that we went down a lot of streets we ride on fairly regularly, but in the opposite direction. So this time, we headed east on Hollywood Boulevard to get to Griffith Park. We turned up Western Ave, and then into the park at Fern Dell. That appeared briefly in the movie as part of the montage of Mia and Sebastian’s first dates. We were going to stop at The Trails Cafe in the park, but the line was too long.

Continuing on up the hill, we ride up to the Observatory. This was where Mia and Sebastian went after the movie at the Rialto. The place was packed today.

The next stop was just over the other side of Mt Hollywood Dr. We rode up to the top, and then started down the other side, stopping at Cathy’s Corner. This was the scene of the song-and-dance “A Lovely Night”. This scene is a bit over four minutes long, and was done as a single long shot. And it was filmed right at sunset to get the nice lighting. I read that they were able to get two takes during a single sunset. No word on how many days they were up there doing their two takes before they got the one they wanted.

Heading on down the hill, we rode into Burbank, stopping briefly to see the Smoke House restaurant. That was used as the interior of the restaurant where Sebastian was grudgingly playing Christmas songs.

We stopped at Priscilla’s in Burbank to get drinks and snacks. Then we headed for home, straight across Glendale and Eagle Rock, and then up the Colorado hill. At the top, we rode across the Colorado Bridge, which also appeared briefly in Mia and Sebastian’s first dates montage.

48 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

7/16/2017

Bubble soccer with the Derby Dolls

Filed under: — stan @ 1:04 pm

It’s been a while since we’ve been to see the Derby Dolls, but I’m still on their mailing list. So when I saw that they were doing a fundraiser this Sunday where they would be playing Bubble Soccer, I thought this would be a fun thing to go see on the bike club ride.

The park where they were playing is not really very far away, so we took a roundabout route to get there, going down to Atwater Village, over the L.A. River, and then up the river bike path and making a big loop through Studio City and North Hollywood. We stopped for drinks at Groundwork Coffee at the old Pacific Electric depot in North Hollywood. Then we rode back across Burbank and into Glendale to the park where they were doing the bubble soccer.

When we got there, there were two matches in progress, although the proceedings bore only a passing resemblance to soccer as we know it. But there was lots of running around and colliding and general hilarity. Besides, roller derby players are no strangers to colliding with each other. When the matches finished, one of the Dolls asked if I wanted to try on one of the bubbles to see what it was like. She helped me in to it, and then promptly body-slammed me so that I went rolling across the grass. And yes, it was pretty hilarious.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

7/9/2017

Lawnchair Larry

Filed under: — stan @ 1:59 pm

Last Sunday was the 35th anniversary of the flight of “Lawnchair Larry“. So today’s bike ride was to pay him a visit at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.

It was promising to be hot today, so I’d worked out a route that was about as flat as it could be. We rode out by the basic route across Eagle Rock and Glendale. Then we crossed the river to Griffith Park and headed out to Forest Lawn.

The listing in Findagrave.com said he’s in the “Columbarium of Valor”, which I wasn’t sure of the location. When we got there, there was nobody in the little information booth at the entrance, so took a chance and headed up to the top, where the Court of Valor is, with the idea that it might be nearby. But when we got there, there was nothing like that there. So we rode back to the entrance and I went into the main office to ask. The people there were very nice, and they gave me a map and detailed instructions to find the place. It turned out to be in the same general structure as where Carrie Fisher is buried.

Leaving Forest Lawn, we headed over to Priscilla’s. The original plan was to go to the gelato place in Studio City, but it was getting hot enough that we wanted to head back sooner. We had some cold drinks at Priscilla’s, and we even got some extra ice to put in our water bottles. Then we headed back by way of the L.A. River bike path. We had a couple of new riders along today, and one was suffering in the heat, so we stopped at Spoke to get some ice water. After that, we continued a bit more, but they wanted to bail out. I was still pretty sore from climbing Mt Baldy yesterday, so we all bailed out and rode Metro home from the Lincoln/Cypress station.

35 miles, including the two miles home from the Allen Metro station.

Route map and elevation profile

7/8/2017

Mt Baldy, 2017

Filed under: — stan @ 8:06 pm

I’ve been trying to get Lucinda to go and hike Mt. Baldy with me for a while. And since she’s off to college in the fall, today seemed like a good day to do it. The plan was to start at Manker Flat and take the Bowl trail up, and then come down by way of the Devil’s Backbone and the Baldy ski area service road.

It was going to be very hot down in the valleys today, but it was pleasantly cool at 6,100 feet at Manker Flat. We hiked the first 2 1/2 or so miles to the ski hut, and we took a break there. Then the trail went across the bowl, and then up the steep side of the ridge. We rested a bit at the top of the ridge, and then started up the last 1,000 or so vertical feet to the summit. At that point, we weren’t going very fast. But we were still moving. I kept an eye on the GPS to see when we were close to the summit. When we got there, we took the obligatory picture with the plaque, and then we sat down and had lunch.

After resting a bit and looking at the view, we started back down the ridge. I made a point of taking a picture of Lulu on the knife-edge ridge part of the trail.

We finally made it down to the ski lodge, where we got some ice and cold drinks. We briefly considered taking the chairlift back down, but in the end, we both wanted to actually do the entire hike. So we started down the service road. The road isn’t very steep, so we were able to make good time there, and it only took a little more than an hour to do the 3 1/2 miles back to where we started. It was a long and tiring day, but it was fun. And it was a nice treat to spend the day with Lucinda.

Route map and elevation profile

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