Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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11/19/2016

Earthquake Tour with Atlas Obscura

Filed under: — stan @ 8:55 pm

Last year, I helped put on the San Andreas Scavenger Hunt with Atlas Obscura. It was pretty popular, and people have been asking when we’d do it again, so today was the day.

We met up at the Seismo Lab at Caltech for a quick tour. I brought everyone in to the first floor exhibit, where our geologist guide Kate explained the peel from Pallet Creek and told a bit of the history of trenching studies and how they tell us about the history of earthquakes at a site. Kate was a good guide for this, since she does trenches as part of her research at the USGS.

Next, we went upstairs to the Media Room, largely so everyone could see the room where the TV people go after an earthquake. Jen is the new staff seismologist at Caltech, and she spoke for a bit about how the displays work and how they are used after an earthquake.

Then we all got on the bus for our first stop at the McDonald’s in San Fernando. This is the small fault scarp from the 1971 earthquake that they just sort of smoothed over and planted grass on. Kate brought along a poster that showed a map of surface ruptures from the 1971 earthquake.

Our next stop was the overlook off the 14 freeway in Palmdale. That was a long ride from San Fernando. But it also meant we got to pass by Vasquez Rocks. I made sure to point out the famous spot where Captain Kirk faced off with the Gorn in the original series episode, “Arena”. When we got to the overlook, Kate explained what we were looking at and how we could see the trace of the fault stretching off into the distance. Then we got back on the bus for the short ride to Avenue S, where we walked up the hill to look at the famous road cut where the 14 freeway goes through a small hill that was pushed up by motion on the San Andreas.

Our lunch stop was at Charlie Brown Farms, which is a weird little place in Littlerock. And after that, we went to our photo-op stop at the signs marking the fault line on Pallet Creek Road. We took a group photo, and make sure to point out that from that side, we could see the trace of the fault going off into the distance in both directions.

Then we went just a short distance down the road to the Pallet Creek site. This was where Kerry Sieh did his original trenching studies back in the ’70s and established a timeline of past earthquakes going back several hundred years. Kate does trench studies, so she was able to point out lots of details in the face where the fault trace was exposed.

The next stop was a road cut near Big Pine. One side of the cut is a hill of sandy fault gouge. I showed everyone how you can dig out seemingly-solid chunks of rock from the sand and crush them in your hands. That’s always a hit.

After a short stop in Wrightwood, we headed down the other side of the mountains. Then we turned off to go to the last stop of the tour at Lost Lake. As we got to the railroad crossing, there was a train slowly making its way up the mountain. And then it stopped. We sat there for a few minutes, and then a very long train came by, going down the mountain. We figured that the stopped train might be waiting for the downhill train to pass, so we waited it out. When the downhill train finished passing, the stopped train still sat there. And then another downhill train came by. We waited again until it had passed. Then the uphill train started moving again and finally cleared the crossing. And we finally made it to Lost Lake. Sadly, the drought has taken its toll, and the lake was no more. The bottom was soft mud, which shows that there is still a bit of water there, but not much. Also, there had been a fire there recently, and the parking lot gate was closed. This presented a problem for turning the bus around. We ended up having to back up about 1/4 mile to a turnout to get the bus turned around.

By the time we got moving again for the trip home, it was dark. And the traffic on the 210 freeway was very heavy. So we ended up getting back to Caltech about 1 1/2 hours later than planned. But it still seemed like everyone liked the tour.


11/13/2016

The Wall of (Un)Fame

Filed under: — stan @ 2:01 pm

Today’s bike club ride was yet another art tour. We’ve been to Downey to see the Columbia Space Center, and also to see the Carpenters, but I recently heard about the Wall of (Un)Fame.

Every Metro Rail station has some sort of art in it. And it turns out the Green Line station in Downey is home to a piece called the Wall of (Un)Fame. The piece features something like 650 concrete panels, each with hand and footprints and names, much like the Walk of Fame at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood, but each is a random, not-famous local person who was chosen in a lottery.

So we started out going south, and we went through the part of Downey that has the oldest operating McDonald’s. Then we went a bit farther south and came do the Green Line station and the Wall of (Un)Fame. We go to see a lot of public artworks, and this one was very entertaining. It’s a funny idea, and it’s a bit of social commentary at the same time.

Leaving the Metro station, we headed back into Downey and our snack stop at 3rd Street Coffee. Then it was back up the Rio Hondo bike path to Temple City, and then home through Arcadia.

47 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

11/6/2016

Wrigley Field

Filed under: — stan @ 2:21 pm

In honor of the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, the Sunday morning bike ride did what is our first, and probably only baseball-themed ride ever today. The destination was Gilbert Lindsay Park, which was the former site of the original Wrigley Field. The stadium was there from 1925 until 1969, and for many years was home to a the Los Angeles Angels, who were a farm team for the Cubs.

We started out with our standard route into downtown Los Angeles. This time we didn’t make good enough time to be at tracks where Main St crosses the L.A. River in time to see the Metrolink 261 train to Lancaster that crosses Main St at about 8:51.

Coming in to downtown, we saw that Spring St in front of City Hall was closed off to traffic. We’ve seen this before when there were events going on on there, so we figured it was something like that, and like we usually do, we just rode down the sidewalk across the street. Playing tourist, I pulled out my camera, but one of the guards said something about “you can’t take pictures of the set”. That was when we realized it was all a set for filming something. The fake news trucks for fictitious L.A. TV stations were another giveaway.

Continuing south, we saw that the clouds were very low today. So the tops of the Bunker Hill skyscrapers were in the clouds. We rode Main St all the way down through downtown. When we got south of the 10 freeway, we saw the L.A. Sports Museum. I never knew there was such a place. And across the street from it was another aspect of L.A. life. A BMW with a broken-out window. And then behind that was an art installation in the form of a giant chair. It was all a bit surreal.

At 41st St, we came to the park. The far corner of the park is where the former stadium was, so I went and took a picture of the building that occupies the site now.

After leaving the park, we came back up into downtown, passing by the steel origami horse and the apartment building on Olive St that we visited back in 2006 on the Tour de Oozing Oil. Then we turned left on 7th St and rode that out to Westlake, and then Bonnie Brae up to Echo Park and our snack stop at Chango Coffee.

The route back was our regular route up the Arroyo Seco. It was a nice ride.

40 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

10/30/2016

Down for the Count 2016

Filed under: — stan @ 2:46 pm

This year marks the tenth time we’ve done our traditional “Down for the Count” Halloween ride to Culver City to visit Bela Lugosi’s grave. The weather today was looking threatening, but most of the route was very close to one or another Metro Rail line.

We rode through downtown L.A. I thought we’d see the Rock-’n'-Roll Half Marathon, and we did see a few runners, but it seemed like it was all over by the time we got there. Streets that I thought were supposed to be closed for the course were open to traffic. That seemed a bit odd.

South of downtown, we picked up the bike lane built on Exposition, next to the Metro Expo line. We rode that all the way to La Cienega, where we got on the Ballona Creek bike path. We took that to Overland, and then rode to Holy Cross Cemtery. We came in the back entrance, and then rode up and over the hill to The Grotto, where there are a lot of famous people buried. As usual, someone had come by and left a set of vampire fangs on Bela Lugosi’s grave. And we were all a little surprised when Jen perked up when someone mentioned that Bing Crosby was buried nearby.

Leaving the cemetery, we rode back into Culver City to our snack stop at La Dijonaise in the old Helms Bakery complex. Just as we got there, it started raining. We got a table inside and had some snacks. When it was time to leave, it looked like the rain had stopped. But once we started up Venice Boulevard, it started raining again. It wasn’t pouring down, but it was raining hard enough that it really was not fun to ride in. So we turned off on La Cienega and rode over to the Metro station there.

When we got up on the platform to wait for the train, there was a young girl there who started talking to us. It turned out she’s a bike racer. So I got to talk to her for most of the ride back to downtown. She told me stories about what racing is like now, and I told her some of my old-school racing stories from the ’70s. She said her dad used to race, so it’s possible we might have even been in some of the same races way back when.

33 miles

Route map and elevation profile

10/23/2016

Rainbow Donuts

Filed under: — stan @ 2:36 pm

Some months ago, I read an article about a small family-owned donut shop in West Covina. It’s owned by a family of Cambodian immigrants, and they have been a fixture in the neighborhood for almost 30 years. And now Dunkin’ Donuts is talking about opening a store in the same shopping center next year. So today’s ride was just to go see the shop and the center it’s in.

It was a cool and overcast morning. The forecast was for light rain later in the day, but it was pretty pleasant in the morning. We headed out east, and then south to get to West Covina. Along the way, we passed a house where the owners had really gone all-out decorating for Halloween. This was the same house that had the basketball-sized Christmas ornaments on the big tree next to it a few years ago. We were at the south end of the town, right up against the hills when we arrived. The donut shop is fairly unassuming. The sign was partially obscured by a tree. But there was a police car parked outside, so I guess that means the donuts are good.

Heading home, we rode through a little residential area to get to Lark Ellen Ave. That was the one real hill of the ride. Short, but pretty steep. Then we headed north. The plan was to take the little bike path next to the drainage channel north of Cameron. But when we got there, it was closed. There wasn’t a sign or anything indicating why, but that meant we had to double back and go around. Then we stopped for snacks at Panera in West Covina.

Heading home, we must have had a tail wind when we got on Arrow Highway by Santa Fe Dam. Without really trying, we were averaging over 20mph for no apparent reason. But then Silvio got a flat, so we had to stop for a bit. But once that was fixed, we headed home by our usual route. It was a pleasant ride.

40 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

10/16/2016

Metro Rail Tour and Ciclavia

Filed under: — stan @ 5:10 pm

The weather forecast for today called for a slight chance of rain, so that meant it was time to bring out the classic Metro Rail Tour. This is about 40 miles around L.A., but with the route never being more than two miles or so from the nearest Metro Rail station. We’ve done this before, and having the quick bailout option has come in handy in the past. Also, today was the Ciclavia downtown event, so we figured we could ride at least part of that route.

It feels like fall now, and we headed into downtown Los Angeles by our usual route. There were a few times when it started sort of just barely misting rain, but it wasn’t bad, and it stopped quickly. We made good time, and we got to the bridge across the river just in time to see the 8:50-or-so Metrolink train go by. Then we went to Chinatown and picked up the Ciclavia route. It had just opened, so it wasn’t crowded yet, and we rode the route to 7th and Flower, where we turned south.

We made the usual loop through Koreatown and Hancock Park, ending up at Noah’s Bagels in Larchmont Village. After the snack stop, we rode west, picking up the Ciclavia route again on 7th St near MacArthur Park.

Coming back into downtown, it started getting a bit crowded, so we turned off and rode up Main St instead of the Ciclavia route on Broadway. We took that to Chinatown, were we got back on Broadway to cross the river. Then we headed home by way of the Arroyo Seco bike trail

43 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

10/9/2016

Back in the saddle

Filed under: — stan @ 2:34 pm

It’s been just a bit over three weeks now since I had the surgery for the pituitary gland tumor, and last week, I got clearance from the surgeon to resume most of normal activities. Last week, I came on the bike club ride, and we rode to Glendora. That time, I bailed out at 25 miles and rode the Metro home from Azusa. So my goal for this week was to try and go a bit farther. The route for today was the ‘Big Donut’ ride to La Puente to see the Donut Hole drive-through donut shop. The route is something like 45 miles, but I figured I’d probably bail out somewhere near the end when the route met up with the Metro.

The route is pretty flat, although it begins with the ride up and over the hill through Sierra Madre. I was curious about this, since I was curious to see how the downhill out of Sierra Madre would feel. For the last few years, I’ve been having a sort of low-grade vertigo thing that’s made me doubt my balance on the bike. This has caused problems with both downhills, and also with doing my traditional trackstands at red lights. Last week, I managed to make it all the way to Glendora without having to put my foot down at any of the lights, and that was my goal again for today. And it worked out pretty well. There were a couple of intersections that were off-camber, so I ended up putting a foot down at them, but most of them, I was able to just balance on two wheels until the light changed. So between that, and the fact that the blurred vision I had in my left eye has cleared up, the surgery seems to have done what it was supposed to do.

We stopped briefly for a photo-op at the Big Donut. Then we continued on, making a loop through West Covina and back up to Irwindale and Santa Fe Dam. We picked up the bike path there, and rode that up to Duarte and Encanto Park. At that point, I had about 33 miles, and that was where I bailed. I rode about two more miles to get to the Duarte/City of Hope Gold Line station, where I got on the train to come home. For some reason, the train was packed. There must have been a game of some sort going on somewhere that everyone was going to. But I rode the train back to the Allen station in Pasadena, and then rode the two more miles home from there. So overall, it was a pretty good ride. I think next week, maybe I’ll try for the full 40-mumble miles we usually do on Sunday mornings.

35 miles, plus two more riding home from the Metro station.

Route map and elevation profile

9/11/2016

Santa Monica and the California Incline

Filed under: — stan @ 3:07 pm

Today is my last Sunday bike club ride before at least a couple of weeks for forced rest to recover from surgery that is scheduled for this Wednesday. So for my last ride, I thought we should go and see the newly-rebuilt California Incline in Santa Monica. It was closed for rebuilding in 2015, and recently reopened.

As we did the last time, we ride through downtown Los Angeles, and then west along the bike lanes and trail constructed alongside the Metro Expo Line. When we got to Culver City, we turned off onto the Ballona Creek bike path, and rode that to Marina Del Rey, and then north through Venice. It was a perfect day for riding.

When we got to Santa Monica, we stopped for snacks at Dogtown Coffee. Then we rode through downtown Santa Monica to the Incline, and then down to the beach. We ride all over L.A., but it’s not that often we make it all the way to the beach, so this was a nice treat.

After that, we rode back up the Incline and down to the Santa Monica Pier. Then we got on the Metro Expo Line for the trip home.

36 miles to Santa Monica, 39, including the ride home from the Metro station

Route map and elevation profile

9/5/2016

Visiting SkySpace

Filed under: — stan @ 4:36 pm

Today’s a holiday, so we went downtown to see the new OUE SkySpace on the 69th and 70th floors of the U.S. Bank building. I’ve climbed the stairs in this building many, many times, but it felt weird to be going there for any other reason. We’d made reservations online, so when we got there, we were able to go right on up. They have three floors dedicated to this, which seemed a bit odd. The entire 54th floor was just sort of a waiting area with photos and artwork to look at while waiting for the elevators up to 70. But fortunately, it wasn’t crowded, so we were able to go right on up.

When we got to 70, we walked around, looking at the view in all directions. That was kind of nice, since when we get to the top of the building at the stair climb, we’re only able to look north and west. Then I walked down to 69 to see Kathleen go down the SkySlide.

I did take a moment to paw forlornly at the door to the staircase.

It was fun having the outdoor observation decks on the east and west sides of the building. And it was novel to be able to look down on all the other tall buildings that I’ve climbed in the past. So I guess this is probably the most fun I’ve had in a tall building that didn’t involve climbing stairs.

9/4/2016

An Airplane-Themed Ride

Filed under: — stan @ 4:32 pm

Today’s bike club ride was the route out to Burbank to see the F-104 Starfighter-on-a-stick that they have displayed in a park. And also, we went by Burbank Airport to see how their new airplane topiary is coming along. It was cool and overcast and perfect for riding.

When I got to the park to meet up with the group, I saw that they had one of the playing fields fenced off, and there was a small group of geese foraging in there. When everyone got there, we headed out straight west across Eagle Rock and Glendale to Burbank. At the park, I read the little plaque that told the story of the F-104. It said it was developed by the Lockheed Skunk Works in the late 1950s, and it was in production until 1979. It also said that it set an altitude record by flying up to 103,395 feet, and a climbing record of 82,020 feet in 286 seconds. To put that in perspective, that works out to be about 195mph straight up.

From there, we headed north to the airport. The new topiary is coming along nicely. We’d been to see the old one before, but the last time we were out there, the former bush had died and they’d replaced it with a new one that wasn’t quite full yet. This time, the wire frame was completely filled out, and the bush needed a little trim. Carla noticed that the topiary plant itself is jasmine this time, and it was flowering. So we had to stop and smell the flowers.

We passed the kiddie ride boneyard again. I still think that would be a perfect setting for a killer-clown horror movie. Then we stopped at Priscilla’s for snacks.

For the trip back, we took the L.A. River bike path. They are apparently widening the bridge where Riverside crosses over the river. It’s kind of a mess now, but it will be nice when it’s done. And at the other end of the path, we rode the new bridge over the river to Figueroa Street, and I stopped to take a picture of the stub of the old bridge. Then we rode up to Ave 43 and got on the Arroyo Seco bike path to South Pasadena. All in all, it was a pleasant ride.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

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