Stan’s Obligatory Blog


Urban hiking in Griffith Park

Filed under: — stan @ 10:28 pm

I’ve been doing the Tuesday night hikes in Griffith Park lately. It’s fun, and interesting to see what’s in the park right here in the city. Tonight was a different hike, where we went and looked for an old trail that was burned out in last year’s fires. We went up a fire road for part of the way, and then struck out on a faint trail up a ridge, just overlooking the Golden State Freeway. Such is urban hiking. We can be walking up the side of a mountain, but listening to the roar of a freeway. But we got a nice view of downtown L.A. at dusk, which was nice.


My life these days

Filed under: — stan @ 11:51 pm


Ridin’ bikes in the hot sun, I sought a rhyme then I saw one

Filed under: — stan @ 7:38 pm

Today was the infamous “Mountain Lion” ride. We did this ride back in November, so I thought it was time to go back and do it again. Of course, I hadn’t counted on it being an early-spring L.A. heat wave. So it was hot like summer, and we were dripping sweat on the climbs.

The ride goes up into La Cañada, La Crescenta, and Tujunga, going up and down the front face of the San Gabriel Mountains. There’s a fair bit of climbing, and some terrifying descents as well. The high point, both symbolic and literal, is the hill on Pineglen Road that we refer to as “Mountain Lion Hill”. There is a sign part-way up that warns us that mountain lions have been seen in the area. So we try to maintain a brisk pace through there, which can be difficult when you’re riding a bike up an 18% grade. I was expending maximum effort just to go 3mph. That’s why the picture of the sign is blurry. It’s hard to have a steady hand with the camera while riding up a hill like that. I even had to shift. I ended up in my next-to-lowest gear for the final steep pitch to the top.

Coming down into Tujunga, we were on somewhat more level ground. We passed the Viking House, and then continued on down to cross Foothill Blvd. That’s where I saw the Roe Zee Market, which I found amusing for some reason. Maybe it was just the heat.

We stopped for water at a little park in Tujunga, and then rode down Tujunga Canyon Road into Montrose. Our snack stop was at Oven Fresh bakery. I always get orange juice there, since it’s fresh-squeezed and very tasty. And it also means I get to watch the Zummo orange juice machine doing its little mechanical dance, cutting each orange in half and simultaneously squeezing both halves, while more oranges roll down the feeder track. It’s entertaining to watch. Especially when you’re dazed from riding up Mountain Lion Hill.

After the snack stop, I got some couches for the Abandoned Couches Blog. Then we headed straight for home across Pasadena. Don’s fancy bike computer said we’d done a total of 3,600 feet of climbing. It was a nice ride, even with the heat.

42 miles.


The Museum of Neon Art is back again

Filed under: — stan @ 9:16 pm

I got my renewed membership card for the Museum of Neon Art last week. They just reopened the museum in a new space on 4th St in downtown Los Angeles. And tonight, they had a reception for the new exhibits. I went down there with Susan from the morning bike ride, since we’d talked about it while riding up the canyon. With a membership, we got in free, and we got to enjoy some wine and snacks while looking at all the neon.

The new space is a very funky one. It looks like it used to be the lobby of a hotel in years gone by. There were big holes in the ceiling, and lots of new electrical wiring on the walls to power all the neon lights. It’s a bit smaller than the old space at Olympic and Hope, but it’s all right. They are still looking for a larger and more permanent space for the museum in the future.

The exhibits included one of soda neon signs, some regular neon artwork, and also a collection of photos of old soda advertising signs. It was pretty entertaining, and we had a nice time looking at it. And maybe in the summer, we will go on one of their neon cruises around the city.

La Tuna Canyon the Right Way

Filed under: — stan @ 12:32 pm

Today’s club ride was “Up La Tuna Canyon“. To my mind, this is the right way to do this road. I like the four or five miles of steady uphill. I enjoy that more than riding down that hill.

We met at the Pasadena Elks Lodge for the 9:00 start. On Green St outside the lodge, I noticed that there were two parking spaces marked in blue paint for the Rose Parade. They were marked, “BLIMP”. But I’ve never seen a blimp parked there. That would be some impressive parallel parking skills. Leaving the Elks lodge, we headed out across Eagle Rock and Glendale. It was a nice day, and promising to be hot like summer by mid-day.

In Sun Valley, we took a right and took some small residential streets to get to La Tuna Canyon Road. And then the fun began. Look at how Susan is smiling in the picture. She and I set the pace, and by the time we were near the top, we’d dropped everyone in our group. We were passed by one guy from another group, but we figured that that didn’t count. She was fading a bit near the top, so I did a few practice Madison throws to give her a little push to the summit. When we got there, we stopped to regroup.

When most of the group was there, we headed down the other side into Montrose. We stopped for a snack at Berolina Bakery. I had an eclair there. It was good, but not quite as good as the ones at Paradise Bakery in Glendale.

After the stop, we headed back up Hospital Hill and then back down into Pasadena and home. It was a fun ride.

40 miles.


Mt Hollywood on a Friday night

Filed under: — stan @ 11:08 pm

On Friday night, I went with the L.A. Hiking meetup group for an evening hike up Mt Hollywood in Griffith Park. This is a pleasant little hike. Just enough to get warmed up, but not too hard. And doing it in the evening is nice, since it’s cool, and the views are nice.

On the way up, we took a combination of fire roads and some smaller trails. It was still daylight, so there was no problem finding footing on the trails. By the time we got to the top, it was just after sunset. Everyone had brought food and wine and such, and we had a little party on top of the mountain while looking down at the city lights.

Coming down, we took the fire roads all the way. By then, it was pretty dark, so the roads are easier to follow.

It was a fun little diversion on a Friday night.


The lava’s red glow

Filed under: — stan @ 9:13 am

lava glow
Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawai’i is having some activity in the summit crater. This is the first time there’s been anything going on there since 1982. And back then, webcams hadn’t been invented yet. Yesterday, I read that Hawaii Volcanoes National Park had been closed and evacuated due to the sulfur dioxide. I called one of the volcano program people I know in Menlo Park to see how their web site was doing with the increased traffic they get when stuff like this gets in the news. I’d gone to a meeting with them last year to talk about ways to deal with web traffic surges. She said it was doing all right, and that I should check out the Halema’ua’u webcam in the morning, just before the sun came up in Hawai’i. The volcano observatory guys had said that the glow of the lava was visible.

So here it is.


Return of the Rock Star Scientist

Filed under: — stan @ 7:39 pm

Stephen Hawking is giving a talk at Caltech tonight. And this is the line to get in. The talk is at 8:00, and this is the line at 4:15.


Greek meets Geek

Filed under: — stan @ 11:26 pm

The Caltech campus gets filmed a lot for movies and TV shows. Today, they had the end of one of the buildings dressed up to look like the entrance to a basketball arena. And they were filming just outside. There were banners for the fictitious Cyprus Rhodes University from the TV show “Greek“. They’ve filmed this on campus before. There was a night some time ago when the house that my office is in was used as a frat house for this show.

I think it’s funny that the show “Greek” is being filmed on a campus that’s more known for “Geek”.

They didn’t have any signs saying to stay out of their staged pep rally, so I rode my bike through it to get work.


San Dimas on a gloomy Sunday

Filed under: — stan @ 9:32 pm

Route map

Today’s ride was the “San Dimas South” route. It’s a ‘flattish’ route. There are a few hills, but nothing really big. This was good, since I was still feeling the effects of the 78 miles yesterday.

The weather forecast said, “June gloom in April”, and that was about it. It was gray and overcast. No drizzle, but just gray and gloomy. But it was cool, so it was all right for riding.

We headed straight east all the way to Covina, and then south in to San Dimas. We went close to Bonelli Park before turning back west. There were a couple of small hills there, but soon we were back on the flat land and heading for our stop at Panera across the street from the mall in West Covina.

After some bagels and such, we mounted up and headed for home. There really wasn’t anything remarkable on this ride, but we had a nice time anyway.

46 miles.

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