Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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12/17/2017

Math Lab!

Filed under: — stan @ 4:47 pm

My old friend Bruce is an AP math teacher at a school in Palm Springs, and he brought his Math Lab group into the city today for a field trip. So I met up with them to take them on a quick tour of the Seismo Lab at Caltech. We started out with lunch on Lake Ave, and then headed over to Caltech. I told them a bit about the history of the lab, and some stories about what it’s like there. On the way in to the building, we passed Mike Brown’s office, and I pointed out that he was the guy who got Pluto de-listed as a planet. There’s a certain nerd-cachet to that. And afterward, we all walked around the campus for a bit just so they could see it. The majority of them are seniors now, and will be heading off to college in the fall.


It’s a Wonderful Ride – 2017

Filed under: — stan @ 12:21 pm

Today was the 2017 edition of our Christmas-themed ride, where we visit two sites associated with the 1946 film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” We’ve been doing this ride every December since 2011, so it’s become something of an institution for us.

The actual route is pretty simple. I forgot to record it with my little GPS thingy this time, but if you want to see it, look at last year’s ride.

When I got up this morning, the wind was gusting pretty hard, and I was a bit apprehensive about the ride, but it calmed down by the time we actually left on the ride. It was still a bit windy, but not terrible.

We went to Forest Lawn in Glendale to pay respects to James Stewart for bringing George Bailey to life. As always, we made a point to stop at the information booth at the entrance to tell them why we were there. For some reason, the security people at Forest Lawn sometimes have some sort of emotional malfunction regarding people visiting the cemetery by bike. We’ve found that telling them why we’re there can defuse this.

After that, we headed over the Paradise Bakery for snacks. And then up the long grind up the hill to La Cañada and the Martini Family’s new Bailey Park home there. The house only appears in the movie for one brief scene, but it’s unique in that it’s the only scene in the entire movie that was shot on location, away from the studio and backlot.

The ride was a bit on the short side, but that’s all right, since I needed to get back a little early today.

36 miles.


12/10/2017

Ciclavia Wilshire

Filed under: — stan @ 2:44 pm

This Sunday was the last Ciclavia of 2017. It was the Wilshire Boulevard route, from 4th and Spring downtown, out to Wilshire and Western. The plan was to ride downtown, pick up the Ciclavia route and ride it out to Western, and then make a loop back through Hollywood, and then down the L.A. River.

We got there early, so there weren’t many people out on the route yet. That made it more pleasant, and we made good time out to Western. Then we continued on through Hancock Park, and then back up into the east end of Hollywood. We stopped for snacks at Spoke in Frogtown

41 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

12/3/2017

Whittier Again

Filed under: — stan @ 1:05 pm

Today’s bike club ride was our old Whittier route. It’s not a ride to anywhere in particular but it’s a nice, relatively flat route. Not a lot to see along the way. The only stops we made were for the photo-op with the sign for Dork Street in Pico Rivera, and for snacks at Merengue in Monrovia.

43 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

11/26/2017

Glen Haven

Filed under: — stan @ 3:00 pm

This past week, we were watching the 1954 movie, “White Christmas” again. This stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney. All are big-name stars. Yet there were four major characters in the story, the fourth played by Vera Ellen. Since she had a large role in this movie with big stars, I was wondering why I didn’t know who she was. So I went looking. Turns out she was a dancer, and worked in a lot of movies with big-name stars in the 1950s, but she stopped making movies in 1958, and she died of cancer in 1981. And at the end of the trail, I read that she was buried in Glen Haven Memorial Park in Sylmar. I looked it up, and looked at the relatively short list of famous people buried there. And when I saw Jeffery Hunter on the list, I immediately knew we had a new bike ride in our future.

We headed out our usual route across Eagle Rock and Glendale, and then took Glenoaks all the way up to Hanson Dam. Along the way, we saw the van advertising the Hot Topless Maids, including a sign that they are hiring. Good to know. When we got to Osborne, we took that across the dam and then started up Kagel Canyon.

When I mapped out this ride, I knew we had to go up Kagel Canyon a bit, but I really didn’t pay attention to how far we had to go. It turned out to be about three and a half miles, all uphill. Yikes. And about two and half miles in, Carla got a flat. But we finally made it up there, and there was this little cemetery with a commanding view of the San Fernando Valley. We found Jeffery Hunter first. I had to explain to everyone his significance in the geek world. He played Captain Pike in the first “Star Trek” pilot episode, “The Cage“. So even though he was only ever in one episode, he still has a place in the “Star Trek” universe.

Then we went to find Vera Ellen. I’d made a map by hand showing her approximate location, but we had trouble finding her. In the end, John looked up the lat/lon coordinates, and then we walked around with my little Magellan GPS until we’d matched them up. And then she was right there.

Now it was time to head back down. That was a nice, long descent. The sort I would have loved in my racing days. Then we got on Foothill Blvd for the ride home.

Along the way, we met up with another bike rider who lives in the area. He told us that the coffee shop that I’d found in Yelp was closed. He recommended the Back Door Bakery, so we went there. And it was quite good. While we were there, I saw a flyer on the bulletin board for a holiday party that was going to feature the Randy Van Horne Singers. We all know them, even if we don’t know that we know them. Here’s a hint:

Van Horne, Randy Van Horne
He’s piece of music history
He sang ’bout the Flintstones
In the song that we know from TV

Then we continued on up the hill through Tujunga until we passed Stan’s Liquor near the top, and then headed downhill into La Crescenta. From there, it was going to be mostly downhill all the way home.

In the end, the route turned out to be somewhat longer than I’d expected. Mostly because I didn’t measure how far up Kagel Canyon we had to go.

50 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

11/19/2017

The Word on the Street

Filed under: — stan @ 3:39 pm

This past week, I saw a small item in the L.A. Times about an artist who has been making funny fake street signs, which are currently installed at various parks around Glendale. He has a Facebook page for the project, and I was able to contact him there, and to get a map showing where the different signs are installed. So that was our ride for today.

We rode out across Pasadena and Eagle Rock, and then into Glendale. The first one we saw was the “START” sign in Maple Park. Heading off to the next sign, we passed Mission Wine and Spirits. Funny thing is, back in 2006, that same store was called Hammered Liquor Store.

Continuing on, we came to the “BREATHE” sign at Glendale Central Park. Then we rode a little side trip to Pacific Park, and the heart-shaped “ONE WAY” sign. After that, we headed up almost to Burbank to see “RELAX” at Griffith Manor Park. We liked the placement of that one. Seeing the mountains behind it did give it a peaceful air. At least now that those mountains aren’t on fire any more…

We stopped for snacks at Paradise Bakery in Glendale. Then we started on the return leg of the trip. We took a short side trip to see the “Peace Signs” at Casa Adobe de San Rafael. Then we started up the long hill into La Crescenta. We stopped at the skate park to see the ‘SHRED” sign installed there.

Finally, we stopped off at Montrose Community Park to see “Infinte Clearance”. That one turned out to be the hardest to find, largely because that park was much larger than all the others we’d visited.

This was a very entertaining street art project. We liked seeing it, and it kind of reminded me of the time when Richard Ankrom made and installed a freeway sign as an art project in downtown Los Angeles. In the end, it was a fun ride, but as sometimes happens when I make up a completely new route to see something, this one came up a little short. But that’s all right once in a while.

35 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

11/12/2017

The Voice of God

Filed under: — stan @ 1:26 pm

I generally scan the obituary pages of the L.A. Times every day. And some years ago, I ran across an item about Don LaFontaine, the voice actor who was known as “The Voice of God”. We’ve all heard him a thousand times in movie trailers… “In a world…”

This past week, I found out that he’d been buried at Hollywood Forever. We haven’t been there to visit in a while, so that was our destination for today. The last time we went there was last January, when we went to see the monument to Toto from “The Wizard of Oz”.

We went through downtown L.A., stopping briefly to look in the hole where they are building the Regional Connector. We just heard yesterday that the project is going to be delayed by a year, due to some old sewer lines that need replacing around where the tunnel runs. Then we headed out on 7th St, through Koreatown and Hancock Park to end up by Paramount Studios in Hollywood. Then we turned into the cemetery and went looking for Don LaFontaine. He was in a section that I’m not too familiar with, and in the end, I had to look up the GPS coordinates on findagrave.com, and then I walked around with my little Magellan GPS to find the exact location.

Leaving the cemetery, we headed east across Hollywood to the Franklin Hills area. We crossed the Shakespeare Bridge and rode down to the L.A. River. Our snack stop was at Spoke in Frogtown. I had a ‘breakfast bun’, which was sort of like an artisanal version of an Egg McMuffin. It was good.

41 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

11/5/2017

Metro Tour East

Filed under: — stan @ 2:19 pm

There was a chance of rain in the forecast today, so we did the Metro Rail Tour East. This is the ride to Glendora and back where the route is never more than two miles from the nearest Metro Rail station. That way, we have a bailout option if it starts to rain.

On the way out, I saw something I’d wondered about for some time. A couple years ago, we’d gone to see the dedication and open house at the Metro Gold Line Operations Campus in Monrovia. That day, they had one of the new train cars on display there. It was number 1003, and since then, Carla and I have been looking for it on the Gold Line. We never did see it, but one time when we were riding in West L.A., we saw it on the Expo Line. Since those two rail lines do not currently connect with each other, we were wondering how they got it there. And today, we got the answer. There was a train car sitting up on top of a long truck trailer, ready to be moved. Another mystery of the universe, solved.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. We had snacks at Classic Coffee in Glendora. And it never did rain on us. But it’s always good to have a plan to escape when that might happen.

37 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

10/29/2017

Down for the Count – 2017

Filed under: — stan @ 3:09 pm

It’s the Sunday before Halloween, and time for our annual Halloween-theme ride to Culver City to visit Bela Lugosi’s grave. We’ve been doing this since 2007. It’s a slightly longer ride than we usually do, but it’s a relatively flat route.

We too our regular route, which involved going downtown, where the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon was going on. We saw Wonder Woman there, along with hundreds of other runners in costumes. Then we headed south to USC, and then out on the Metro Expo Line bike lanes to Culver City. There, we got on the Ballona Creek bike path and rode that to Overland Ave, where we turned off to go to the back entrance to Holy Cross cemetery.

People generally show up to decorate Bela Lugosi’s grave for Halloween, but this year we apparently special. The tinsel garland, spiders, and a little lawn light were more than we’ve ever seen there before.

We stopped for snacks at La Dijonaise in the old Helms Bakery complex. Then we headed back by way of Venice Blvd, and then 7th St back into downtown. In the end, I cut the route short slightly by taking Metro back from South Pasadena. This was largely to save some time at the end, since the full round-trip is about 56 miles.

50 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

10/22/2017

P-22 Day

Filed under: — stan @ 5:01 pm

This morning, when we were riding through Griffith Park, I saw a sign for the P-22 Day Festival. This was in honor of P-22, the famous Griffith Park puma. So after I got home, Kathleen and I went back to the park to go see it.

There were booths with exhibits about wildlife conservation, and mountain lions in particular. About plans to build a wildlife overpass over the 101 freeway, since crossing freeways is one of the most dangerous things that wild animals have to do. The had a stuffed puma that had been killed by poachers so we could see what it looked like up close.

It was an odd little event, but fun in its own way.

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