Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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4/24/2022

This is why we can’t have nice things…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:13 pm

This week, I saw a news item about the Micheltorena Stairs in Silver Lake. This staircase had been painted with hearts and rainbows, and it’s on the list of ‘the most Instagrammed places in Los Angeles.’ We’ve been to see them before. But this week, the news was that the stairs had been painted-over.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

So I figured it was time for us to go visit again.

We used the mostly the same route as last time, just without the extra bit to West Hollywood to see the Pink Wall. When we got there, we could see that the designs painted on the stairs had been painted over. I walked up to the second set of stairs to see if they had been painted over, but apparently they had not. The article I read said that the city is talking to the artist who painted the stairs originally, and she may come back to re-do them. If so, we’ll have to come see them again.

After seeing the stairs, we made a quick stop to see the “Music Box” stairs, since they’re just a couple blocks away. Then we went to Noah’s Bagels in Larchmont for drinks and snacks. And then we headed home by way of downtown L.A.

42 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

4/17/2022

Dinosaur Safari

Filed under: — stan @ 7:55 pm

This past week, one of my friends sent me a link to Jurassic Empire because they were doing an event at Westminster Mall in Orange County. I had a look, and I saw that they were also doing it at the mall in West Covina, and I immediately said, “I know where where going this Sunday!” So today’s ride was a trip to go see some dinosaurs. The event was intended as a drive-through, so I figured we wouldn’t be able to ride through it, but I figured we’d be able to see the dinosaurs anyway.

The route went out to the east by a kind of roundabout route, just to pad it out. It was a nice day for riding. We made a big loop around before ending up in West Covina. The mall is right next to the plaza we went to see on the “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” ride. The actual exhibit was fairly small, and it didn’t look like much in the morning light. I think the trick is that the animatronic dinosaurs have motion sensors in them, so there would be a fair amount of motion, sound and action if there were cars going through. But the dinosaurs looked good.

Afterward, we went across the street to have drinks and snacks at Panera in West Covina. Then we headed home by the most direct route.

43 miles

Route map and elevation profile

4/2/2022

Atomic Tourism

Filed under: — stan @ 7:36 pm

A couple weeks ago, my friend Gordon called me up and said, “They’re having an Open House at the Trinity Site on April 2nd. Want to go?” Gordon and I met sharing a cubicle at McDonnell Douglas back in 1982, where our department was all about nuclear weapons effects. And back then, we talked about wanting to someday go visit the Trinity Site. And it only took us 40 years to get around to it. But here we are.

We made arrangements to fly in from Los Angeles and New York, and meet in Albuquerque. I’ve been thinking about how much fun it was back in the ’80s when we had convertibles, so I arranged to rent us one for this trip.

On Saturday morning, we headed south on I-25 for something like 80 miles or so from Albuquerque to get to the site. Apparently this is a Big Thing, since there were many hundreds of people there, all for the same reason we were. There were tables set up at the edge of the parking lot with information about the Trinity test, and people to answer questions. There was a table with some samples of trinitite, along with Geiger Counters to show us that it was in fact radioactive. There was also a big trailer with a full-scale mockup of the Fat Man bomb, which was the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, as well as the same design as the ‘gadget’ that was tested at Trinity. And of course, there was the monument built at the spot that was under the tower where they assembled and detonated the ‘gadget’. Everyone wanted to get a picture with the monument, and we were no exception.

They had told us that it was still possible to find little bits of trinitite around the site, so we walked around a bit, scanning the ground, and we found a few pieces. They were small, about pea-sized. They were green, glassy on one side, and visibly fused sand on the other side. And after taking pictures, we left them on the ground for the next group to find.

The find part was the bus ride to the McDonald Ranch house, where they assembled the core for the ‘gadget’. That was several miles away, but certainly part of the complete atomic tourist experience.

Afterward, we headed out, stopping for lunch in Socorro before heading back to Albuquerque. When we got there, it was still daytime, so we headed out to see the three little cinder cone volcanoes on the west side of town. I’d seen them when I visited my college girlfriend Cindy in Albuquerque in 1980, so I was curious to see them again. The area they’re in is now part of the Petroglyph National Monument, so we couldn’t drive up dirt roads to the cones like back in the old days. We parked and hiked in to see them this time.

All around, it was a fun day, and I’m glad we finally got to do it, even if it did take us 40 years to get around to it.

3/13/2022

The TV Hall of Fame

Filed under: — stan @ 2:51 pm

A few weeks ago, we went to see the Skirball Center’s exhibit about “Star Trek”. One of the stories in the exhibit was about how, without Lucille Ball, :”Star Trek” might never have come to be. So this week’s ride was a visit to the TV Hall of Fame in North Hollywood, since they have a garden of statues of people who are in the Hall, and of course, Lucille Ball is one of them.

The route took us down through Highland Park to the L.A. River, and then up the river trail to NoHo. The TV Hall of Fame garden is outside the TV Academy building on Lankershim. We looked around the garden for a bit. I saw they had a bust of Merv Griffin, and I was reminded of his headstone from the cemetery in Westwood.

Afterward, we rode to Groundwork Coffee in the old Pacific Electric depot building at Chandler and Lankershim. We had snacks and drinks, and then headed home across Glendale. The route took us up and over the big hill on Chevy Chase and Linda Vista. Then back down by the Rose Bowl and home from there.

48 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

3/6/2022

The Colorado Freeway

Filed under: — stan @ 1:43 pm

I’ve been reading a new book lately:

Freewaytopia: How Freeways Shaped Los Angeles

It tells the story of the planning and building of the freeway system in Los Angeles, and a big part of the story is about the freeways that were planned, some started, and then ultimately never built. One of these is the Colorado Freeway, which was planned and started in the early 1950s, but then never finished. So today’s bike club ride was a tour to visit the two stubs of the freeway that were built but never connected.

The first part of the freeway was built from the edge of Pasadena into Eagle Rock. Most of this section has been incorporated into the modern-day SR-134 freeway, with just the comically-long Colorado offramp hanging on as a reminder of what was once planned. So we rode down the hill out of Pasadena and then stopped to look at the remaining stub of freeway that’s still there.

Heading west to Glendale, I ran over something that sliced open my tire, which promptly exploded. I was able to patch it up to a sort-of-rideable condition with an emergency tire boot, so we continued on. Over near the Los Angeles River, we saw the 0.6-mile stub of freeway that was built off of the Golden State Freeway near Griffith Park. The giveaway about this freeway stub is the center divider. Until just recently, it was just a concrete curb divider, which was the style of the old freeways built in the ’50s. Caltrans recently upgraded it into a proper center barrier divider.

We went for snacks at Paradise Bakery in Glendale. And when we were ready to leave there, I saw that the cut in my tire was spreading, so it looked like the boot was working, but not going to last forever. So we looked and saw that Montrose Bike Shop in La Crescenta opened at 10, and was more-or-less along the way. So we rode up Verdugo to La Crescenta and I went and bought a new tire and tube. After all that, my bike was all right, but all of this took some time, so we cut off part of the rest of the route and just headed home.

35 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

2/27/2022

Marvin Gaye

Filed under: — stan @ 9:04 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a sightseeing ride to go see Marvin Gaye and Hattie McDaniel’s houses. The route was pretty straightforward, aside from one misstep when we came to a dead end at Pico Blvd. The map did not indicate that the street was fenced off, and even when streets are closed off like that, we usually can get through on the sidewalk.
But Wilton Pl at Pico was totally closed off. But we managed to go around, and we were able to find Marvin Gaye’s house. From there, just a short distance south we found Hattie McDaniel’s house. Then we rode back toward downtown on Adams. This was the first time we’ve ever taken that part of Adams in that direction, and it got mixed reviews.

We took Figueroa back up into downtown, and then through the 2nd St tunnel. The city put in a protected bike lane in the tunnel, so it wasn’t bad to ride. This is only the second time we’ve gone through the tunnel, and the first was during a CicLAvia when the street was closed to traffic.

We stopped for drinks and snacks at Chimney Coffee outside of downtown, and then headed home. It was a pleasant ride.

44 miles.

Route map and elevation profile.

2/15/2022

“To boldy go…”

Filed under: — stan @ 7:53 pm

We finally made it out to the Skirball Center to see their exhibit about “Star Trek” and its legacy in our culture. It was a good collection of stuff, some of it even dating back to the original series. Since back then it was just considered to be a stupid little TV show that would never amount to anything, it’s surprising how much stuff survived. And of course all the artifacts from the later series and movies were kept for their historical value. All told, it was a pretty amazing thing to see the legacy of this particular stupid little TV show.


2/6/2022

Biddy Mason

Filed under: — stan @ 8:45 pm

It’s Black History Month, so that led us to the theme for today’s bike club ride. Some years ago, I’d read an article about Biddy Mason, who had a really remarkable life story. Today’s bike ride was a visit to her grave at Evergreen Cemetery in East L.A., and then into downtown to see the memorial to her in the alley behind the buildings on Spring Street that stand on the property she owned back in the 1800s.

After that, we rode around and into Echo Park to see if the new Canyon Coffee location was open yet. It wasn’t, so we went a few blocks up the street to Valerie Confections. It had turned into a very nice day by then.

All told, it was a nice day and a nice ride.

42 miles.

Route map and elevation profile.

12/12/2021

The Griswold Family Christmas

Filed under: — stan @ 4:02 pm

Last week, I saw an item on the news about a guy in La Mirada who decorated his house as the Griswold house in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation“. And of course, I immediately thought, “I know where we’re going this Sunday…”

https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2021/12/07/la-mirada-says-it-wont-fine-national-lampoon-house/

As it turns out, La Mirada is pretty far away from Pasadena, but I figured out a route to get there, as directly as I could make it. So we set out to do the ride.

The first part was very familiar, until we got to the part where we went south from Whittier. Some of the streets were pretty big ones, but they turned out not to be bad for riding. And after a few miles, we made it to La Mirada. When we got there, we saw the house immediately. It was impressive. The guy was there, so he talked to us a bit about how he did it. The whole display was very elaborate, complete with two cars and the beat-up RV. We have no idea where he keeps all that stuff the rest of the year.

The route back was almost identical to the route there. I made it slightly different just to have some different scenery on the way back When we got to Whittier, we stopped at Mimo’s in Uptown Whittier. Then from there, it was just a straight and familiar ride home.

49 miles.

Route map and elevation profile.

11/28/2021

Henry Rollins’ House

Filed under: — stan @ 5:27 pm

A few days ago I saw an article in the Los Angeles Times about how Henry Rollins is selling his house in the Hollywood Hills. So of course, I said something like, “I know where we’re going this Sunday!”

The house is in Nicholls Canyon, which is my old favorite canyon from the days when I was living and bike riding in Hollywood in the late ’80s. This is the first time we’ve gone there in a long time. We took our standard route out of Pasadena and down through Atwater Village to get to the east end of Hollywood. We rode down Hollywood Blvd, which is always a bit of a surreal ride. The block from Highland to La Brea was closed in anticipation of the Hollywood Christmas Parade this evening, but we were able to sneak around on the sidewalk there. We passed Donald Trump’s Walk of Fame star there. Surprisingly, it was intact and undefiled today.

When we got to Nicholls Canyon, we turned and started up the hill. By then, it was pretty warm, so we had to stop and take off jackets and such. Then we rode up the hill. The house was right there, and it was a pretty impressively-large place. Then we rode the rest of the way up the hill to Mulholland, where we turned to head down to Cahuenga Pass. We stopped along the way to help a family of tourists get a group picture with the Hollywood sign. Then we continued down the hill, past Universal and Warner Bros to get to our snack stop at Priscilla’s.

After the snack stop, we took the direct route home, back across Glendale and Eagle Rock.

42 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

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