Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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This was nice

Filed under: — stan @ 4:14 pm

So this happened. I put in my paperwork to retire from the USGS, effective March 31. Then the coronavirus came along. They sent us all home, and I put in my last two weeks on the job from home. And of course, the lockdown also meant I didn’t get a proper retirement party. At the time, I’d told everyone that my plan was to spend the month of April doing nothing. But that was supposed to be by choice. But now we are here at the beginning of May, and I really did do nothing in April.

But today, a package came from FedEx. It was a very nice plaque for my retirement. So that makes for a nice cap to a 25-year career at the USGS.


Circus Liquor

Filed under: — stan @ 4:10 pm

I get a lot of ideas for sights to go see from Roadside America. This week’s bike ride was to see the big neon clown at Circus Liquor in North Hollywood.

In addition, it seems that the 5 freeway (that’s Interstate-5 to non-southern-californians) is closed through the city of Burbank right now, since they are demolishing the bridge where Burbank Blvd crosses over the freeway. As an empty freeway in Los Angeles is a surreal sight, it seemed appropriate to drop by for a look.

The route out was pretty straightforward. There is very little traffic out these days. Got up to NoHo, and there was the 32-foot-tall clown. Yikes. It was kind of hot, so we went for iced tea at Groundwork Coffee in NoHo. They had just a small walk-up window, and only one person working inside. Groundwork is in the Pacific Electric North Hollywood depot, and it’s right next to the end of the Metro Orange Line bus line. Usually, the Orange Line is very crowded. But today, buses were coming and going with just a few people on each one. And I saw that they had installed a sort of sneeze-shield door next to the driver so that it is more isolated from the rest of the bus.

Heading home, we went to see Burbank Blvd and the bridge being torn down. Then we took Olive Ave to cross the freeway, and to gawk at the weird sight of a completely car-free freeway. From there, it was straight back across Glendale and Eagle Rock, then up the Colorado Hill into Pasadena. Riding through Old Town is normally like doing the Running of the Bulls, but Old Town is Ghost Town these days.

44 miles.

Route map and elevation profile


Bike Riding During Wartime

Filed under: — stan @ 1:31 pm

Today is the first bike club ride since the order came down to close all restaurants and coffee shops in Los Angeles County, and for people to stay at home. So I figured we could ride to Donut Man in Glendora, since the only service they have is a walk-up window. Since our bike riding groups are almost never more than 6-8 people, it seemed like it should be all right, and we never touch unless something goes very, very wrong.

It was a nice day for riding. And the whole ’social distancing’ thing, and the ’stay at home’ thing meant that the streets were pretty deserted. The last time I saw streets this empty was during the Arab oil embargo, when there were no cars out because people couldn’t get gas.

At Donut Man, there was a line wrapping around the building. But that’s normal for them. What’s not normal is the tape marking 6-foot intervals to keep the people apart. That was very odd-looking.

On the way back, we rode through downtown Glendora, and it was a ghost town. We stopped off at Encanto Park for a bathroom break. That was where we saw the roped-off playground. That had an apocalyptic feel to it. And downtown Monrovia was also a ghost town. The whole thing was a weird mix of being nice having empty streets to ride on but feeling like it’s the end of the world.

38 miles.

Route map and elevation profile


Ciclavia South Los Angeles

Filed under: — stan @ 2:42 pm

The latest Ciclavia is a six-mile trip down Central Ave in Los Angeles, from Adams Blvd to 103rd St. Usually, we tend to avoid Ciclavia, since they tend to be very crowded. But the last time they had one in Watts, it wasn’t too crowded. So we figured this would be similar. And besides, we could go see the Watts Towers, which is always a bit of a treat.

To get there, we rode down our usual route into downtown L.A., and then down along the river through the Arts District, where we stopped for a moment to look at the new 6th St bridge under construction. After crossing over the railroad yard south of downtown, we picked up the Ciclavia route. We rode straight down Central Ave to the end, and then we took a couple blocks side trip to the Watts Towers. The big towers are being renovated, so they had scaffolding and netting around them, so we couldn’t see them that well. But that was all right, since we’ve seen them before.

For the route back, we took Main St all the way up through downtown, and then the Arroyo Seco bike path.

48 miles.

Route map and elevation profile


And her little dog, too!

Filed under: — stan @ 6:59 pm

Last week’s ride was to Hollywood Forever to see Judy Garland’s grave. Since only two of us were there, we did the same route this week. The weather was much nicer, and I also remembered that there is also a memorial to Toto at Hollywood Forever. So that was the ride for today.

We stopped for snacks at La Colombe in Frogtown. I particularly like that they have sparkling water on tap there. Overall, it was a nice ride.

41 miles.

Route map and elevation profile


Somewhere over the rainbow…

Filed under: — stan @ 4:10 pm

I recently read that Judy Garland is now buried in Hollywood Forever. For a long time, she was at a cemetery in Westchester County, New York. But apparently, a few years ago her family decided that it would be more appropriate for her to be interred in Hollywood. Since celebrity graves are a good ride theme, Hollywood Forever was the destination for today.

The day started off with a slight threat of rain, but this route tracks close to several Metro Rail lines, so we have bailout options. Still, there were only two of us today. We rode through downtown L.A. and then out to Larchmont Village and then to Hollywood Forever, which is located right next to Paramount Studios. When we got there, we ended up having to ask the guy at the information booth where Judy is located. But once we found her, it was pretty obvious.

Continuing on, we headed for home by way of Frogtown. We got as far as crossing the L.A. River and starting up Figueroa St when it started raining. So we turned off on Ave 26 and got on the train at the Lincoln/Cypress Metro station. When we got back to Pasadena, it was raining lightly, but it was all right to ride the two miles home from the station. Then, about five minutes after I got home, the sky opened up, and we had pouring rain. So that was lucky good timing.

32 miles, counting the two miles home from the Allen Metro station.

Route map and elevation profile



Filed under: — stan @ 9:06 pm

A few weeks ago, when we were out riding, I saw an ad for a new series on Hulu called “Dollface“. I made a note to look this up, since it’s Kat Dennings, who I’m a huge fan of ever since she was Norah in “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist“. For reasons I can’t quite explain, “Nick & Norah” is one of my most favoritest movies of ever.

So I watched the series when it came out, and I liked it a lot. There are a lot of little surreal bits in it, and in particular, two of my most favorite ones were the beginning of episode 2, when Jules got into a fight with the fitness app on her phone, and also episode 9, where they made their own version of “The Wizard of Oz”. So going to see a couple of these locations became the theme for today’s ride.

The scene with Jules fighting with the app on her phone was shot at the Micheltorena Stairs in Silver Lake, just off Sunset Blvd. I worked out a reasonable route to get there, including riding through downtown L.A., which was the scene of the women’s march in sort-of-Oz in the “Feminist” episode. And we were off.

It was a bit windy when we started out, but we figured it would be all right. By the time we got to downtown L.A., it had reached the point of being windy enough that it was getting unpleasant to ride in. On the other hand, that also made for another tie-in with the show, since the “Feminist” episode began with a crazy windy day in L.A.

We rode out to Hancock Park and stopped for bagels at Noah’s there. The wind had gotten bad enough that people walking were having trouble with it. But we pressed on. We rode back into Silver Lake, and then down a very steep hill to get to the bottom of the staircase. The lower part of it has been painted with hearts, and is known for being the most Instagrammed staircase in L.A. The actual scene from the show was shot on the upper part of the staircase, so I walked up there, carrying the bike. I got my photo-op, and at that point, I said “uncle” and decided to bail out and take Metro home. The nearest Metro station was the subway at Vermont and Beverly, so we headed over there. Just before we got there, we saw a homeless tent colony on fire. That was kind of scary, and the smoke was very thick. But we made it to the subway and rode the train back to Pasadena.

33 miles, including the two miles from the Pasadena Metro station back to the park.

Route map and elevation profile


The Doo Dah Parade

Filed under: — stan @ 7:10 pm

Last week, I found out my friend Sue from the office was going to be one of the Grand Marshals for the Doo Dah Parade. So that was the plan for the Sunday ride today. I made a slightly shorter route, so we could make it back by 11:00. When we got there, I rode around to the staging area to find Sue and her crew. When I got there, Morgan wrapped a feather boa around my neck, and I got to be an honorary Seismo Sistah. We did two laps of the parade route, dodging a hail of flying tortillas. It was a weird and entertaining experience.

33 miles.

Route map and elevation profile


The Little Free Pantry

Filed under: — stan @ 2:38 pm

A few weeks ago, I read an article in the L.A. Times about a church in Burbank that had set up a Little Free Pantry. Sort of like a Little Free Library, but with food instead of books. I brought along a can of turkey chili to contribute, since it fit in the water bottle cage on the bike.

The route was basically our regular Burbank and NoHo route. We stopped for snacks at Priscilla’s before heading home. The only real change was that we rode a different route through Griffith Park on the way back.

42 miles.

Route map and elevation profile


Down for the Count – 2019

Filed under: — stan @ 3:05 pm

Today’s bike ride was the annual “Down for the Count” ride to Culver City to visit Bela Lugosi’s grave. We first did this in 2007, and we’ve done this every year since 2009. It’s one of only two rides we do on the same weekend every year.

We rode out by the usual route through downtown and along the Expo Line to Culver City. As always, when we got there, someone had been there to decorate Bela’s headstone for Halloween.

After we left the cemetery, we rode to La Dijonaise in the old Helms bakery complex. While we were there we saw some women walking some dogs. They said one of them was a Labradoodle, but I think it was really a Poobrador.

On the way back, we passed a couple of new cannabis shops on Venice Blvd. We got a good laugh from Hollyweed and The Pottery.

55 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

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