Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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4/1/2018

Some Random Hollywood Sightseeing

Filed under: — stan @ 2:50 pm

This week I was a bit short on inspiration of things to go see, so we took a trip to Hollywood to see just a small random selection of items that we hadn’t gone to see before. Also, I’d been sick the previous week, so I wanted to do something a little on the easy side. And according to my logs, we hadn’t ridden out that direction in a while. The two bits of sightseeing on the route were RuPaul’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the mural of silent movie stars underneath the Hollywood Freeway on Argyle Ave.

We rode through downtown Los Angeles, and then up through Hancock Park to get to Hollywood. When we got there, we found RuPaul’s star on Hollywood Boulevard. It was right in front of a storefront that was completely dedicated to advertising RuPaul’s Drag Con. Seemed appropriate. Then we headed across Hollywood on Selma Ave. We had to carefully pick our way through the Hollywood Farmer’s Market. Then we found the mural under the freeway, It’s right across from Castle Argyle. Both of those made brief appearances in “La La Land“.

We stopped for snacks at Spoke. And then headed up Figueroa St to go home. In South Pasadena, I bailed out and took Metro back, just because I was still getting over being sick last week.

38 miles, including the ride home from the Metro station.

Route map and elevation profile

3/25/2018

Sea Monsters

Filed under: — stan @ 5:29 pm

This past week, I saw an article on KCET about unusual and interesting parks in the L.A. area. In particular, I saw the pictures of the sea monsters at Whittier Narrows. These look a lot like the ones at Vincent Lugo Park in San Gabriel, which we’ve been to see before. So I thought it might be interesting to go and visit both sets of sea monsters on our Sunday ride this week.

We started off heading down to San Gabriel by way of Alhambra. The sea-monster playground is all the way at the back of Vincent Lugo Park there. We climbed a bit on the sculptures and took some photos there. Then we headed east to get to Whittier Narrows. We’ve been by there hundreds of times, but never actually gone into the park. I’d looked at the aerial views in Google maps to see where a couple of the sea monsters were, so we started by heading for the first one. When we got there, there was a map showing the locations of the others. We ended up riding all the way around Legg Lake to see all of them. It was actually a very nice park.

Our snack stop was at Merengue in Monrovia. We took the San Gabriel River bike trail all the way from Whittier Narrows up to Duarte, and then streets to Monrovia. We had some snacks and drinks there, and then headed home.

42 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

3/18/2018

Amelia Earhart

Filed under: — stan @ 4:58 pm

This past week, I saw an article in the L.A. Times about how they believe that, after 80 years missing, Amelia Earhart has been found. So we had a theme for this week’s ride.

The first stop was at Valhalla Cemetery in North Hollywood. This is the home of the Portal of the Folded Wings, which is a shrine to aviation. We’ve been to visit it before, although not for almost two years. I knew that there is a cenotaph for Amelia Earhart there, so that was our first sightseeing stop.

After the Portal, we headed back into North Hollywood to the park at Magnolia and Tujunga. That is the location of the Amelia Earhart library, as well as a statue of her on the corner.

Our third sightseeing stop was Amelia Earhart’s former house in Toluca Lake. From what I’d read, the house looks just about the same as it did in 1937. After that, we went to our snack stop. Because it was right there on Riverside Dr, we decided to try out Sweet Salt. This is a small cafe opened by a former “Top Chef” contestant, and it was quite good. So I think it will be added to our list of regular places to visit.

49 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

3/11/2018

The Metro Tour East

Filed under: — stan @ 12:41 pm

It rained all day Saturday, and there were still supposed to be scattered showers on Sunday, so the bike club ride for today was the Metro Rail Tour East. This is a ride to Glendora and back, and the route is designed to always be within two miles of the nearest Metro Rail station. That way, we have a quick bailout option available if it starts raining. We’ve done this ride many times before, so there wasn’t anything to take pictures of.

37 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

3/8/2018

ME72 Tank Wars

Filed under: — stan @ 5:44 pm

Today was the ME72 robot contest at Caltech. I’ve been going to see these things for over 20 years, and it’s always entertaining. The theme this year was “Tank Wars”. Each team had to build three tanks, and the tanks had to fight for control of three bases on the playing field. Each base had two buttons on it, and to take control of a base, one team’s machine had to push the button corresponding to the color of that team. One base was on the ground in the middle of the playing field. One of on a see-saw, and the third one was on top of a platform with ramps leading up to it from both sides. The ground base was worth one point for each second of control. The see-saw was worth 1.375, and the platform base was worth 1.75 points per second. As a result, most of the time, machines from both teams would go up to the platform, and a lot of times they ended up just alternating control of it for the duration of the match. So the point advantage of the platform wasn’t that much of a factor in most matches.

One funny thing was that they had a fire extinguisher handy by the playing field. This was because of the incident two years ago when one of the machines caught fire in the middle of a match.

The first match was won by the Riveters team. They had a clever strategy. In each match, they had one machine go and take control of the see-saw base. Then the machine would drive to the center of the see-saw and balance there, so no other team’s machine could even get on the see-saw. This worked well for them, and in the end, the Riveters were the only undefeated team of the day. And that included the final. Very well-done. They deserve both ears and the tail.


3/4/2018

Biddy Mason Memorial Park

Filed under: — stan @ 2:51 pm

Last week, I saw an article on Atlas Obscura about Biddy Mason. who was born a slave in Mississippi in the early 1800s, and won her freedom after being brought to California. It was really a remarkable story, and it said there is a small park in downtown L.A. that tells her story. From the address, I knew we’d been by there a hundred times, but we’d never noticed it. So that was our destination for today.

The ride was basically to downtown L.A., then home via Echo Park and the Arroyo Seco. We rode down Huntington Drive, and then Mission Rd. There is one stretch along Mission where there are always several cars with Denver boots on them.

When we got downtown, we went looking for the park. It turned out to be in the alley behind the buildings there, which explains why we’d never noticed it before. The panels on the wall told her story. She really did have a remarkable life.

After looking at the park, we noticed that the alley we were in was right behind the Bradbury Building, which is an ornate old building that was J.F. Sebastian’s home in “Blade Runner”, as well as appearing in lots of other movies over the years. We had a look into the lobby there before continuing on our ride.

From downtown, we rode out 7th St to Westlake, and then up into Echo Park and our snack stop at Chango Coffee. As always, there were lots of Echo Park people with their absurdly-well-behaved dogs. I got a sort of artisanal version of an Egg McMuffin there.

On the way home, we took one more short side trip. I’d heard recently that the city of Pasadena had put a plaque in front of the apartment building where President Obama lived when he was a student at Occidental College. So we had to go see it.

39 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

2/18/2018

Twin Pines Mall

Filed under: — stan @ 6:07 pm

Today’s bike ride was a visit to the Puente Hills Mall, which was the location used in “Back to the Future”, where Doc Brown first shows Marty the DeLorean time machine. It was kind of chilly this morning, but promised to warm up some and be nice later.

The route was planned to try and be as direct as possible, while avoiding a few major streets that I knew would be bad for riding. Still, the route was a bit longer than our usual rides. Fortunately, it didn’t have any major hills.

When we got to the mall, I found the spot that matched up with the screenshot from the movie. Then I rode down to the spot in the parking lot where Doc’s truck was parked. Fortunately, the parking lot was pretty empty, so I took a run across it, just to see if I could get up to 88mph. Sadly, not today. Then we all rode over to the corner of the parking lot, where there was a Panera Bread for drinks and snacks.

The route back was slightly different from the route going out. The underpass they are building to run Puente Rd under the railroad tracks still isn’t finished, so we had to take a bit of a detour. I guess I’ll have to figure out a different way to get through there.

49 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

2/11/2018

The Whittier Greenway

Filed under: — stan @ 3:02 pm

Today’s ride was the Whittier Greenway Trail ride. We’ve done this before, once to see the googie bowling alley sign, another time just to ride the whole length of the trail, yet another time to see the antique streetlights with the swastikas on them, and even one time to visit the site of a 1975 airplane crash.

Along the way, we also took a short side trip to the mall in Montebello. This mall overlooks the Pomona Freeway, and I had remembered that the scene from “Back to the Future” where Doc Brown first shows Marty the DeLorean time machine was filmed at a mall next to that freeway. But after riding around the parking lot once, it didn’t look quite right, and when I looked it up, it was filmed at the other mall next to that freeway. So I know where we’re going next week. Still, it was a nice day, and good for riding.

46 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

2/10/2018

The Museum of Failure

Filed under: — stan @ 8:21 pm

A few months ago, I saw an item in the L.A. Times about the Museum of Failure, which was a temporary exhibit of products and ideas that were complete and abject failures. It sounded funny. Of course, then I forgot about, and when I looked at the article again, it said that the exhibit was only until February 4th. Crap. But on the off chance something had changed, I had a look at their web site, and it said something to the effect of, “we’re such failures that we failed to close on the 4th, and we’re here for two more weeks”. So we had a second chance.

There were lots of things that were just kind of silly, some were weird ideas that left us wondering, “what were they thinking?”, and some were downright horrifying. They also had a few video monitors up, playing commercials for weird failed products. Like who thought that orange-juice flavored cereal was a good idea?

They had one fairly large exhibit devoted to Donald Trump, who has presided over numerous failed products, a failed airline, and even a few failed casinos.

The lobotomy tools definitely fell into the ‘horrifying’ category. The stories of movies made for budgets in the millions, but total box office gross under $1,000 were just funny. And of course, they had one bit about Olestra, the failed fat-substitute that added the term ‘anal leakage’ to our vocabulary.

All told, this exhibit was hilarious.


2/4/2018

The Cafe at Park La Brea

Filed under: — stan @ 2:52 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a trip out to Park La Brea and the little cafe inside. We went there once last summer, and it was a nice setting. The route went through Highland Park and Silverlake on the way out, and then back home by way of downtown L.A. All ground we’ve covered before. There wasn’t really any sightseeing along this route. But it was a nice day, so it was just pleasant to be out riding.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

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