Stan’s Obligatory Blog

7/9/2011

History is all around us

Filed under: — stan @ 8:06 pm

This morning, I went for a little bike ride while it was still early and cool. I did my usual 30-mile ride that doesn’t go anywhere in particular. But there was a small sightseeing stop today.

I’d been reading the list of places that are in the National Register of Historic Place in Los Angeles County. And I saw that they Pacific Electric Substation was only a 1/2 block detour from my route. In fact, it’s right next to my vet’s office, and I’d never noticed it before. So I decided to go see it today.

I rode down into Temple City and then across San Gabriel and Alhambra, and then up the back side of the hill to the South Pasadena Water tower. I got a picture up there with the help of a flat-topped mailbox. From there, I went up Arroyo and around the Rose Bowl. There was something going on there that involved large numbers of young women running. Nothing not to like about that.

I rode up into Altadena for the trip home. At Lake, I went right a half a block to see the old substation building. It was a very quaint old building. Then I continued on home.

It was a fun little ride.

Here we go again

Filed under: — stan @ 12:24 pm

It’s time to start practicing again. The U.S. Bank stair climb is coming up in September. This will be the first event of the fall stair climbing season. And it’s my chance to see if I can improve on my 14:34 time from last year.

Yet, I know that when I get to about the 45th floor, I’m going to be thinking, “OMG what-the-HELL-was-I-thinking-when-I-signed-up-for-this.” It happens every time. But I keep coming back. Because it’s fun.

7/7/2011

Shakespeare in the Park

Filed under: — stan @ 11:34 pm

Last summer, Kathleen and I used to have picnics at the Old Zoo in Griffith Park. And while we were there, we saw the Independent Shakespeare Company doing their summer show in the park. We were having a picnic there last week, and we saw the rehearsals, so tonight we decided to go back and have another picnic and see the show.

The show was a reinterpretation of “The Merry Wives of Windsor“, set in 1920s London. The show got a good review in the L.A. Times. Neither of us is especially familiar with Shakespeare’s plays, but we looked up some information about it beforehand, and Kathleen brought up a synopsis of it on her iPhone, so we were able to refer to that at times when it wasn’t clear what was happening.

All in all, it was a very fun evening.

7/4/2011

Echo Mountain for the 4th

Filed under: — stan @ 11:58 pm

Tonight, Kathleen, Lucinda, and I hiked up Echo Mountain above Altadena to watch the fireworks. Apparently, this is a popular thing to do, since there was a pretty big crowd headed up the trail. It’s about 2 1/2 miles to the top, and by the time we got there, most of the prime picnic spots were taken. But we managed to find a reasonable place to set up, and we had a little picnic while we waited for the sun to go down.

When night fell, we could see the entire Los Angeles basin laid out in front of us. And we could see people setting off backyard fireworks all over the city. Some of them were quite large. But when it got to be 9:00, the big fireworks shows started. The one at the Rose Bowl was the closest to us, but we could see them going on all the way down to Long Beach, which is something like 35 miles away as the crow flies. We could also see a big show going on at Dodger Stadium, which was just in front of the downtown skyscrapers, and another show going on just beyond downtown. It was kind of strange to see the fireworks peeking through the gaps between the big buildings.

I’d brought a light tripod, and I set my camera up on it. I set it on the timer, and had it take several shots at a time. There’s no way to hold the camera steady enough without a tripod, and it’s best if I’m not even touching it when it’s shooting, so I just had it snap away by itself. And I got some nice pictures just by random chance.

When it was all over, everyone headed back down the trail at the same time. The hike down was like driving the 405 on a Friday afternoon. Lots of stopping and waiting. But it was still a fun little adventure, and I think we’re going to do it again next year.

7/3/2011

Up the mountain

Filed under: — stan @ 5:35 pm

I had heard from the Caltech cycling people that Glendora Mountain Road was going to be closed to cars this weekend. This is a nice treat for us, even though I’m pretty sure that’s not why they were doing it. Most likely, it’s to keep the locals from driving up the mountain and setting it on fire with July 4th fireworks. Still, it’s a nice chance for us to have the road to ourselves.

We rode out to Glendora and headed up the hill. We had to stop briefly to hoist our bikes over the gate, but that was a small price to pay to have the quiet mountain road to ourselves. On the way up the hill, we saw many, many other riders coming down. Apparently, there were a lot of other cyclists who had the same idea today.

It’s been several years since the last time I’ve been up this hill, and I think that I’ve only ridden all the way up the hill once before, because the hill was a lot longer and harder than I’d remembered it being. I suppose that last winter’s rains might have made the mountain grow, but that seems a bit unlikely. It’s also possible that I may have shrunk after turning 50, but that also seems a bit far-fetched. Most likely, it was just faulty memory on my part. In any event, the hill was about twice as long and hard as I’d remembered. This was likely due to the fact that the last two times I’ve been there, we were not able to ride all the way up. Adding to the experience was the fact that it was pretty hot by the time we were heading up there, so all that came together to make it a bit of an experience.

When we got to the top, we stopped and sat in the shade for a bit before heading back down. On the way down, I stopped and had a look at a small memorial for Kevin Unck, who was killed in a cycling accident there last January.

When we got back to the bottom, we went looking for some water. We didn’t find any immediately, but then David spoke to some people we saw leaving their house. He asked if we could use their hose to fill our water bottles, and the agreed. They also told us to have some oranges from the tree in their front yard, and those were easily the best oranges I’ve had in years.

The ride back was pretty uneventful. By then it was very hot, and the trip back became a bit of a Retreat From Moscow, but we made it all right. We stopped for a snack and drinks at Merengue in Monrovia. Then we pushed on for the final seven miles home.

It was a nice ride, even though we were all dragging a bit by the end.

56 miles.
cycling

7/2/2011

Random Saturday morning bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 4:53 pm

This morning I had a couple of free hours to go for a ride. So I did a variation on my I-have-a-couple-of-free-hours bike route. As always, I was on the lookout for anything vaguely amusing.

I saw Pink Moving. And yup, that’s Pink all right.

I added a little bit extra in Arcadia to stretch the route out slightly. In the process, I saw that the topiary swans at the corner of Camino Real and Baldwin won some sort of award.

The sign when I rode into San Gabriel said “Dedicated to George Kennedy”. I looked it up, and this is apparently referring to George H. Kennedy, who owned Kennedy Outdoor Advertising in San Gabriel, and not George Kennedy as seen in such films as “Airport”.

And in several towns, I saw that the fireworks stands are up and in business. They’re sort of like the mayflies of the business world, since they are only allowed to be open for a few days every year.

I rode up the hill to the South Pasadena water tower, and then home by way of the Rose Bowl and Altadena. It was a pleasant ride.

30 miles.
cycling

6/26/2011

Around the Fairplex

Filed under: — stan @ 4:41 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a longer one out to La Verne, making a loop around the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds. The fair’s coming up this fall, and I need to decide which recipes I’m going to enter this year.

On the way out, we saw a car club on their way somewhere. That was kind of novel. We also saw what looks like a large new ride at the fairgrounds. Aside from that, there was no particular sightseeing in store for today. Just a pleasant ride with not too many hills.

55 miles.
cycling

6/25/2011

Evening Electric

Filed under: — stan @ 10:27 pm

On Saturday night, Kathleen and I went over to Glendale for Evening Electric, which was a small party put on by the Museum of Neon Art in their new home on Brand Blvd. This was just a preview, and the museum won’t be opening there for real until next year, but it was a chance to see the space with a few pieces of their collection in it. They also had drinks, food, and a silent auction to benefit the museum.

And yes, it’s still my favorite art museum.

We had a nice time there. The food was good, and there was an open bar, complete with an animated electric sign. They said that the sign really used to say “BAR-B-Q”, but they just left off the last part of it for tonight. The cake was a rather alarming shade of red, but everyone said it tasted good. They had a guy playing a singing saw, which was interesting. Sort of like an acoustic version of a theremin.

In the end, I bid on only one item in the silent auction, but I got to bring it home. It’s a small plasma dome, and it’s entertaining to watch with the lights off. And it’s for a good cause, since it helps raise money to support the museum.

It was an entertaining evening.

What is it they say about a bowl of cherries?

Filed under: — stan @ 4:09 pm

On Saturday morning, Lucinda and I went to Leona Valley with Kathleen and her daughters to all go picking cherries. I’d never been there before, but I looked it up on the map, and Leona Valley is a long, straight valley west of Palmdale, and the San Andreas Fault runs right down the middle of it. So I was curious to see how obvious the fault would be on the ground there.

We all met up in Newhall and then we all went the rest of the way in my car, since it’s big enough for five. When we got there, we had a look a the cherry orchards that were open and picked on to go in. We got our buckets and went to it.

They said that they had a small crop this year, due to a hard freeze late last winter, but there were lots of cherries on the trees, and we quickly filled the buckets. In the end, we had something like 12 pounds of cherries, and they were very good.

After that, we found a shady spot and had a little picnic before heading home.

It was a fun little morning adventure. And I even found a new hot-rod mailbox:

mailbox

6/23/2011

More Disneyland

Filed under: — stan @ 10:33 pm

Today was the after-the-last-day-of-school trip to Disneyland. But Lucinda’s friends who have Disneyland passes couldn’t come. I told Lucinda that I’d made the arrangements, and Kathleen and I were going anyway, regardless of whether she wanted to go or not. So she stayed home and we went and had a nice day at the Magic Kingdom.

When we got there, we headed straight for the newly-reopened Star Tours, only to find that everyone else had had the same idea. This wasn’t really a surprise, but I’d hoped that the line might be not more than an hour. But it was too long. So we walked over and got some Fast Passes for Space Mountain for later in the day. Getting passes for that ride is like buying savings bonds. You have wait a long time for them to mature. In the meantime, we rode Big Thunder Mountain twice, California Screamin’ four times, had lunch, and rode the new Little Mermaid ride. By then, our passes for Space Mountain were ripe and ready, so we walked over there and went in.

We got all the way down to the last ramp when something happened and they shut the ride down. They turned on the lights, which was kind of weird. And they brought all the trains down. Apparently they have something like eight or nine trains running at a time in there. After a few minutes, they reset whatever had gone wrong, and they started it up again. So we finally got our ride on it.

We finished off the day at the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean. Both old favorites. I thought it was funny that the ducks on the jungle cruise know that the alligator isn’t real, even a lot of small children don’t realize that.

All told, it was a fun day.

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