Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Metro Series - Civic Center, Day Two

Having been so sure what I was going to write before embarking on my first day of Civic Center exploration, I now found myself on the opposite side of the spectrum. Heading back downtown to fill in some gaps, I was no longer sure what I would say, unable to find a through line, unable to piece together my own narrative of the area. I had tried to organize my thoughts the night before, but they ultimately mirrored my general feeling about the area – random and unconnected. But through it all, I couldn’t deny that the area had gotten into my head, that it had affected me in some way. Sitting once again on the Metro Red Line, I was happy that I had been unable to tour both the cathedral and the Music Center on the same day, as I now had the perfect excuse to go in for a second look, to see what I could find on day two.

Arriving a little ahead of my 12:30 tour start time I decide to get a preview of coming attractions and mosey on over to the Grand Central Market, firmly in Pershing Square territory, for a quick lunch at Sarita’s Pupuseria before hopping on the Angels Flight for the short trip up the hill - tales of which will have to wait until my Pershing Square entry.



Heading up Grand Avenue I pass through and briefly pause at my MOCA oasis, momentarily sitting in contemplation by one of the reflecting pools, before continuing on to the Walt Disney Concert Hall for the start of the tour. While tickets to see a concert can get pricey, tours of the center are delightfully free and occur, with a few exceptions, daily. Their most comprehensive offering, a self-guided audio tour narrated by John Lithgow and covering conception to completion of the Hall, lasts about one hour. They also offer an hour-long docent lead tour of the Hall, which presents highlights of the building and covers the interior space and exterior gardens. I, however, have decided to go with the Symphonian, a 90-minute, four theatre tour, which provides architectural highlights and an historical overview of the entire Music Center. I assume this is probably the lightest of the three on content, as a lot more ground has to be covered in only slightly more time, but after what I felt passing through the area the day before, I can’t resist the opportunity to get a little more behind the scenes of those other theatres.



The tour starts in the newest addition to the Music Center - Disney Hall. Designed by Frank Gehry and completed in 2003, it serves as home to both the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Having never been inside, I find myself just as impressed with the fluidity of the interior design as I am with that of the exterior. It is an amazingly open, inviting space, with grand, sweeping lines drawing your eyes further in and further up and I find myself wondering what other Gehry buildings I can get into and explore. While a visual delight, my initial suspicion that this particular tour would be a bit lighter in content seems to be confirmed. Due to near constant rehearsals, the auditorium is understandably not part of the tour, but as we wind our way up the levels, through the various lobbies, and finally out to the upper garden I feel as if we are being quickly shuffled from one spot to the next while our guide tosses out tidbits of information that seem more like interesting facts she once read somewhere than well researched tour information. Compounding this, members of the tour group are providing her with information. A Canadian couple points out that Gehry is a fellow Canadian when she guesses that he is American. I’m not sure if this is more a fault of the tour or a failing of the guide, but I’m a little jealous when we pass people doing the self guided tour, ears pressed to their audio devices – I’m sure John Lithgow does a marvelous job. In the upper garden, out of view of the surrounding area, you can still see a portion of the building with the original reflective finish, part of the initial design, which called for a more mirrored surface. When they realized that the reflection of the Los Angeles sun was blinding passers by and tenants of the surrounding buildings as well as creating hot spots in excess of 140 degrees on the sidewalk, the design was altered and the majority of the outer shell was dulled into what you see today. The garden itself is another delight. Open to the public and accessible from both Grand and 2nd, it is another quiet oasis that I had no idea existed. Unexpectedly this part of downtown is quickly becoming the place I want to come to relax away from the hustle and bustle.



Continuing on we cross 2nd and make our way to the other theatres, the ones I am more familiar with, and the ones that gave me pause the day before. For the moment we pass by the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and head into the Mark Taper Forum. Designed by Welton Becket (as were the Dorothy Chandler and the Ahmanson), the Taper opened in 1967 and was actually designed without a specific tenant in mind, being considered for anything from chamber music to grand jury meetings, before becoming home to the Center Theatre Group. In 2008 the space was renovated – the size of the lobby with its beautiful curving abalone wall was increased, the seats were widened slightly, and the number of women’s restroom stalls was quadrupled. As the space is currently between shows we are able to enter the theatre and once inside I am again struck by that bittersweet feeling I felt the day before. An empty stage, save for the ghost light, and memories of what has been there before and the promise of what could be. Our docent is offering some token facts, talking about seat count and the type of productions that are mounted in the theatre, but I am lost in the moment and only half aware of what she is saying. As she begins ushering us back out I find myself wanting to slip away from the group, to stay behind, to stand here on that stage. I like this space but we are moving on.

Moving on, across the way, to the Ahmanson, which was also opened in 1967. Larger scale than the Taper – at 1,600 to 2,100 seats depending on theatre configuration it holds 2-3 times more people – this is where the heavy hitters are staged, the crowd pleasing, blockbuster musicals. Once again we are able to enter the theatre, and in doing so I get another moment of bittersweet reflection, a small hint of past glory, though not as strong as the feeling that I had in the Taper. Sitting in this theatre my mind again wanders back, though not as far, thoughts cast back to shows I’ve seen here. Recent recollections. The group is providing more information for the docent – “33 Variations” is ending its run and a Dutch couple is offering insight into Beethoven. This time I don’t think I can fault the docent for not being up on her classical composers. And once more we are on the move, much to see and little time to see it in.

Retracing our steps we make our last stop of the tour. The first theatre to open in the Music Center, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion was completed in 1964. The site of many Academy Award shows before the completion of the Kodak Theatre, the Dorothy Chandler is home to both the Los Angeles Opera and Dance at the Music Center. As with Disney Hall I have never been inside this particular theatre and am once again impressed with the grandeur. While obviously of a different era, the mammoth chandeliers and sweeping staircases, coupled with a stage which is as deep as the house is long, creates a space worthy of staging an opera. However, the spot that catches my interest the most is not related to the theatre at all, but rather to the area as it once was.

The Music Center sits in the middle of Bunker Hill, which was first developed in 1867 by Prudent Beaudry (who you may remember from my last entry as a former Los Angeles mayor and man of awesome beard fame). Filled with Victorian houses the area was an exclusive neighborhood whose glory days lasted through WWI, after which the wealthy residents of the area began a gradual migration to Pasadena and the West Side. In decline for the next forty years, Bunker Hill would reach near slum status and by 1955 it would be marked for redevelopment by the Los Angeles City Planners, making way for the construction of the Grand Avenue Corridor – an undertaking which is still in progress. Hanging in the bar on the Founders level of the Dorothy Chandler is a large, three-dimensional piece of art that replicates the Victorian structures using lumber reclaimed from the demolition of the homes. It is a piece of art that manages to strike a chord with me, touching on both my love of the history of a place as well as my fondness for dioramas. I imagine a miniature version of myself wandering through the buildings of this work and, by extension, through the old streets of Bunker Hill and somewhere inside of this piece of art I begin to understand what has been running through my head, just out of reach.



I start to understand why this area has affected me the way that it has, what it is that draws me in. I think about how things change and how much my interaction with a place is not necessarily focused on what is, but rather on what was, and how what was defines my love of a place. This is not a groundbreaking personal revelation as I have always tended toward nostalgia, but it is the way this love of place has manifested over the past couple of days that gets my attention. My attraction to places like the Hall of Justice – a snapshot of the past, no longer moving forward. The feeling that if I could only get inside I could somehow connect to the past. The pull of places like the Music Center – firmly rooted in a specific time but able to evoke a wistfulness, to recall a fondly remembered past whether real or imagined. Even places more connected to the present, it is the journey of that place that really draws me in – the evolution of an entire area from exclusive homes to accessible urban use. These feelings are the through line that I have been chasing, they are what, for me, ties together these seemingly unrelated sites. They reconcile the years between the 1935 Art Moderne Los Angeles Times building and the 2009 Modern LAPD Police Headquarters standing in contrast across the street from each other. Together they create a feeling of an area that somehow stands outside of time, a feeling that will extend into my next adventure – Pershing Square.


Click on photos for larger views.

For more photos, visit my flickr page…

For more information on the Music Center,
visit their website

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Metro Series - Civic Center, Day One

The night before my exploration of Civic Center, I had a fairly clear picture in my head of how it was going to go. While there are a handful of interesting sights in the area (some of which I had to postpone lest I venture into Pershing Square territory, thereby cannibalizing my next entry), as the civic and legal center to the city there are understandably not a bevy of tourist spots. Aside from seeing a show at the Music Center or attending mass at the Cathedral, I would wager that most voluntary visitors to the area only visit when they are serving on a jury. To that end I assumed that a large part of my visit would involve the architecture of the area, that the narrative would revolve around talking about the buildings and their history – so much so that I had practically started writing before I even stepped foot out of the house. I was already thinking about John Parkinson, previously mentioned for his work on Union Station, and his involvement in the design of City Hall. I would discuss the Walt Disney Concert Hall and how it is next to impossible to take a bad picture of a Frank Gehry design, especially in the golden hour, that long light at the end of the day. And to a certain extent, that is what I found. What I hadn’t planned on was how the area would make me feel, how much it would get into my head, and how long it would take me to figure out just what it was that I was feeling.

Starting off my day and emerging from underground I am initially a bit disoriented, coming up not at the intersection as I had assumed, but rather in the middle of the block. Fortunately City Hall serves as a very convenient navigation point, its 454-foot tower easy to spot from all over the area. Recalibrating my internal compass I head off in its general direction and am immediately struck by two things, that there is a lot of construction in the area and that aside from a few spectacular buildings most of the architecture is rather non-descript, the buildings more famous for what has happened within the walls than for the walls themselves. Case in point, the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center at Broadway and Temple. Built in 1972 it is a testament to the architecture of the era, which is to once again say, rather non-descript. Within the walls, however, it is a veritable who’s who of celebrity murder trials – OJ Simpson, Phil Spector, Dr. Conrad Murray. That’s not to say that the area is without charm, especially if, like me, you hold a soft spot for mid-century architecture like the 1961 Modernist Hall of Records building which is found across Broadway from Clara Foltz. It is the kind of building that makes me immediately imagine floors full of men with buzz cuts, white shirts, narrow black ties, and thick, black rimmed glasses. For some reason I imagine the 60’s workforce composed entirely of NASA Mission Control circa the moon landings.

The most impressive building in the area is also the most hidden - boarded up, fenced off and overgrown the Hall of Justice sits on yet another corner of Broadway and Temple, abandoned since sustaining damage in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The neoclassical Beaux-Arts style building was completed in 1926 and was home at one time to the Los Angeles county courts, coroner, sheriff and district attorney as well as being the primary county jail which housed the likes of Bugsy Siegal, Charles Manson, and Sirhan Sirhan. Notables who passed through the coroners included Marilyn Monroe and Robert Kennedy.



Now it sits, a ghost inside the city. There are plans to restore the building, repair the damage and give it a good scrub, at which point it will once again serve as the Sheriff’s Headquarters. While it will be nice to see it returned to its former glory, I suspect that fixing it and inhabiting it will take away some of the allure for me. Living history is nice; ghosts from the past are better. One last peek through the fence and I turn the corner, back toward the present, back to City Hall.

I am excited about this stop and even happier to discover that I have happened upon a weekly farmers market in City Hall Park, right in the shadow of the tower. Always one to appreciate a good farmers market I take a little stroll through the booths, sampling the fruits, listening to the chatter of the crowd, enjoying the delicious aromas emanating from the hot food tents. I’m further thrilled to find that this is one of the markets frequented by Corn Maiden, makers of gourmet and (slightly) healthier tamales. I now know what I am having for lunch, but first, City Hall.



Gracing the badges of the LAPD and recognizable to any fan of Dragnet, City Hall was designed by John C. Austin, Albert C. Martin, Sr., and the aforementioned John Parkinson and was completed in 1928. At the time of its completion it was the tallest building in Los Angeles, an honor it would hold until 1964 thanks to a law that prohibited any structure taller than 150 feet. The tower was supposedly built to resemble the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – though one can also see some similarity to the Los Angeles Public Library, which had been completed just two years prior. Truly a California monument, the concrete used in the tower was made with sand from each of California’s 58 counties and water from the 21 historical missions.

Passing through the public entrance on Main St. I embark on what feels like a scavenger hunt. Signing in at the desk I receive a visitors badge and a list of instructions – my clues. Take the express elevator to the 22nd floor. Once there, transfer to the local elevator and take that another four floors, to the 26th, where you will find the Tom Bradley Room and portraits of a majority of LA’s previous mayors. Interesting in and of itself, but not what I am here for. Up the grand staircase to the 27th and the meeting room, ready for a speech with rows of chairs facing a podium framed by flags. Then through the doors and outside to the 27th floor observation deck – a free 360-degree view of downtown Los Angeles. I wander around the deck, taking in the view and snapping pictures from every vantage point, realizing just how in flux this area is. Two thirds of the block directly in front of City Hall across Spring Street lays vacant and fenced off. The end lot holds a mysterious foundation, its original purpose eluding me so far, another ghost in the middle of the city, another spot I want to explore but am unable to do so.



The middle lot shows more signs of life, being under active construction. On the next block up lies the Court of Flags, where I emerged from underground, and beyond that another block with more construction. It turns out that the entire area is being revitalized, the current promenade between Grand and Spring being undated with the goal of turning Civic Center into a “Central Park” for Los Angeles. The revamped 16-acre promenade between City Hall and the Music Center will include a grand terrace, a great lawn, gardens, and a plaza. Three parking lots around the Walt Disney Concert Hall will be replaced with mixed-use lots combining residential towers, retail blocks, and hotel space. An ambitious undertaking and one I am interested to see the results of.

Looking further out, I realize how small downtown actually is and how little attention I’ve paid on previous trips. Chinatown, Union Station, Little Tokyo, the Music Center, all visible from here, all within walking distance, and aside from the Music Center, I’m not sure I would have been able to tell you that City Hall was visible from any of these spots. Broadening your gaze and through a bit of Los Angeles haze you can see Dodger Stadium and Elysium Park, Griffith Park and the Observatory, and the Hollywood sign. It is a spectacular view and no one seems to know about it.



I spend at least half an hour popping back and forth from one side to the next and no one shows up. In a city the size of Los Angeles, with the number of tourists that visit every year, you would think more people would know about this, more people would be taking advantage of this unique and free view of the city. The only down side is that the deck is only accessible during regular City Hall hours, which makes it difficult for anyone with a 9-5 job, but it is absolutely worth it if you find yourself in the area on a weekday with a little time on your hands. Realizing that I am short on time I head back down the stairs and make a quick circle around the 26th floor taking in the portraits of previous mayors, and thinking that we really don’t know how to rock a sweet beard anymore. Check in with Thomas Foster or Prudent Beaudry and I think you’ll agree. Waiting for the elevator I finally see someone else coming up for the view, a lone visitor who appears to have a jurors badge. Thankfully this is not a revenue source for the city or we would be in even more financial trouble than we already are.

Retracing my steps I head back out to the farmers market, grab a couple tamales, and make my way back up Temple to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels for a free guided tour. I’ve passed through the Cathedral before but never spent much time there and walking into the grounds I am once again struck by the sounds of the city fading away – a small oasis in the city, made more impressive by its location directly next to the 101.



The tour is actually very informative and not overtly religious, though being a tour of a Roman Catholic cathedral it is obviously not devoid of religion. Designed by the Spanish architect Professor José Rafael Moneo and built between 1999 and 2002, the Cathedral replaced the Cathedral of Saint Vibiana as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese after that building was also damaged in the Northridge earthquake. While I won’t go into great detail on the history and architecture of the building, as I would be unable to do the volunteer docents justice, there were a handful of facts that jumped out at me. First the location – traditionally European cathedrals were built next to rivers and Moneo considered the Hollywood Freeway as LA’s “river of transportation,” connecting people to each other. With the design of the cathedral, all the exterior glass that can be seen is simply there to protect the actual windows of the cathedral, which are made from alabaster.



And for durability (the cathedral was designed to last for 500 years) the 75,500-ton building sits on 198 base isolators allowing it to “float” up to 27 inches during earthquakes of up to 8.0 magnitude. As a result of this there are some support columns in the courtyard that are purely decorative – the beams that they “support” actually floating a few inches above them. Anyone interested in what came before can head less than a mile south to the original Saint Vibiana’s at the corner of Main and 2nd. Now called simply Vibiana, the old cathedral houses a performing arts complex, event space, and the Little Tokyo branch of the Los Angeles Public Library.

Once more on the move I head down Grand, passing through the Music Center, on my way to the Museum of Contemporary Art. Having been through here only when seeing a show, it feels a little strange to walk by the Ahmanson and Taper when they are quiet and devoid of people. Pausing briefly I realize that it is a familiar feeling and one that I find somewhat bittersweet. It is the feeling of being the last one there, the feeling you get when something you have been anticipating comes and goes, the feeling when everyone else has moved on but you aren’t quite ready to let go. It’s interesting that I feel it here and now. Perhaps an echo from my theatre past, the energy of theatre lingering across time. One more moment of taking it in and then moving on. I will be back again tomorrow.

On Thursdays MOCA offers free admission after 5:00 and I debate waiting a couple of hours to take advantage of that but ultimately decide that $10 to support art is worth the cost. A good decision as it turns out since I have managed to show up on installation day and because only half of the museum is accessible, admission is free anyway. Walking in, the smell of oil paints instantly takes me back to any number of museums and galleries that I’ve visited with my father. Standing in front of a Rothko I am reminded of a half serious conversation I had with him - my father, not Rothko - on several occasions, that it was harder to see “modern” art as art because it was something that I could do. His reply was always, “but you didn’t.”



This is actually what I love about “modern” art, the feeling that I could do it. Standing in front of a Rembrandt or Rubens is intimidating. Standing in front of a Rothko or Pollack is inspiring, the seeming simplicity of their work makes me want to pick up paints and create. The irony being that more often than not, I couldn’t do it. Trying to reproduce a Rothko or Pollack, it comes out amateurish, without feeling – they are more than paint on canvas. But the inspiration is there.

The museum houses an impressive collection, some beautiful pieces by names I recognize, which is apparently integral to my criteria for an impressive collection. Mark Rothko, Robert Rauschenberg, John Chamberlain, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein…but it is the Jackson Pollack that grabs my eye and holds my attention.



Number 1, 1949. I stand, transfixed, and find myself having an unusual thought. I want to get inside the painting. I’ve had that thought about other, more traditional paintings, pieces by Edward Hopper, Norman Rockwell, and Claude Monet, but this is not generally the sort of painting that one would say that about. Gazing at it, eyes darting every which way following the chaos of the paint, it looks comfortable, like an inviting embrace. Up close I marvel at the minds ability to assign order to chaos. I find faces, small figures, full bodies in motion. I try to find the last color applied, tracing a line until I find it interrupted by another color. I want to touch the painting, to feel the thickness of the paint, and figure that this is a good time to move on. They don’t take to kindly to touching the art. Walking through the rest of the accessible space there are other pieces that draw me in, but none to this extent. It is a nice collection and is definitely worth a stop if you are at all interested in art. Reflecting on what I’ve seen as I wander out of the museum I stumble across another quiet oasis in the city. Behind the museum in a pedestrian throughway lay a fountain and a pair of reflecting pools. Sitting by one of the pools I am overcome with a sense of calm contentment. I’ve found a new favorite place downtown.



For the most part my day is done. I wander around a bit more, grabbing shots of the Disney Concert Hall and City Hall from the top of one of the parking garages that will eventually give way to one of the mixed-use lots. Looking back on my day I am struck with the feeling that there was little to connect my various stops, that my sightseeing felt a bit like randomly flipping through channels and just catching snippets of different shows – CNN to Bravo to ESPN, City Hall to Our Lady of the Angels to MOCA. Little connection and no obvious through line, but somehow it works. I make my way back home, still thinking about the various things I’ve seen, and would in fact end up thinking about the area for most of the night. Civic Center had gotten into my head and it wouldn’t let go. Fortunately I was all set to go back again the next day.


Click on photos for larger views.

For more photos, visit my flickr page…

For more information on the Catherdral of Our Lady of the Angels,
visit their website

For more information on the Museum of Contemporary Art,
visit their website

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

On the Road in Cinco, California

Having felt the siren call of the open road calling to me more clearly for the last few weeks and with a sudden wealth of time on my hands, I finally succumbed and hopped into my car for a familiar trip. I find comfort in a familiar destination, like the warm embrace of an old friend, but I also have to admit that reliving these trips is my version of updating obsolete technology, my way of replacing a copy of a VHS movie with the DVD and again with the Blu-Ray. As I get access to better cameras and higher pixel counts, I feel compelled to return to my favorite spots. To try and get better pictures than the last time I was there. It’s a little embarrassing to look through my photos and see how many pictures I’ve taken of the Pike Place Market over the years – but I swear the next one I take is going to be the best one yet. So with my latest collection of cameras (I would use three on this trip), I set off on my latest greatest hits tour.

I’ve followed this particular route several times before and was pretty familiar with the stops that I was going to make. Up CA-14 to the Vasquez Rocks, past Mojave to Red Rock Canyon State Park, onto US-395 and a quick stop to see the Uniroyal Gal in Pearsonville (the Hubcap Capital of the World, don’t you know), and on to the Alabama Hills outside of Lone Pine. If I had time I would continue up into the mountains to see Mt. Whitney, or a little further north to see the abandoned runways near Manzanar or the ghost mine of Reward. With these well-known stops in mind on this oft-traveled road I am therefore surprised when I stumble across Cinco.


Red Rock Canyon…


Uniroyal Gal…

Admittedly I am a bit like a dog when I am on these road trips, head figuratively out the window and easily distracted by each little bend in the road and so it is all the more surprising that I hadn’t noticed this one before. Not a vast city, but more than a solitary house and certainly something that you’d notice with eyes glued to the roadside looking for interesting stops. Speeding by I briefly struggle with the decision to keep going or turn around, but it’s never really a question of stopping. Having passed many a site that I’ve later regretted missing, I am working on listening to the voice in my head when it gets excited, and soon I’m circling back for another look. Pulling in I’m pleased and more than a little surprised to find that there are no fences and not one No Trespassing sign – unheard of these days.

Creeping further in I become increasingly aware that I am pretty much driving into my own horror movie. A mysterious, abandoned, and oft passed but never noticed community at the side of the road? It’s only a matter of time until the crazies appear and I find out if I’m in The Hills Have Eyes or Children of the Corn. I can practically hear the audience screaming at me to keep driving without looking back. Still I inch forward. I count six permanent structures as I drive in. There is the main house out front, nearest to the highway, perhaps a manager or foreman’s house. Behind that is what appears to be a mechanical shop or garage, the air still thick with the smell of old engine grease. Further in are four duplexes, and behind those are seven singlewide trailers, which stretch out to the railroad tracks that mark the far end of the lot.


Satellite View…

I pull in between the duplexes, turn off my engine and step out of the car, quite aware of the silence broken only periodically by another car passing on the freeway. This is not a busy stretch of road. Moving toward the first duplex I instinctively lock the car, telling myself that it’s a force of habit from having lived in Los Angeles for so long though subconsciously it’s a lot more likely I’m just trying to make sure that if I do make it out of here I won’t be surprised by the killer in my car a few miles down the road. A few tentative steps into the first duplex and I half expect to be confronted by an angry resident or wandering lunatic. I snap a few pictures, take a few more steps in and turn to face a very clear message. While usually uttered in a menacing and guttural growl the meaning is still the same. Get Out! I take a couple more shots and decide to abide by the wishes of the graffiti for the time being, retreating out the front door, circling the outside of the building and heading to the trailers instead.


Get Out…


The Trailers…

Laid end-to-end in two rows, siding stripped bare, sparse insulation blowing in the breeze; I face a gauntlet of singlewides. Occasionally the wind blows a stray piece of metal roofing, sounding very much like a creaky door and giving me pause each time. I glance behind me just to make sure that I am still alone. Down one row and back up the other I stick my head in open doors, grabbing a few photos, and once or twice being startled by a cupboard door opening just as I stick my head in. The wind, I’m sure. I eventually find one easy enough to step into. Careful where I put my feet, testing the floor to make sure I don’t come out the bottom, and I’m in. Standing in the living room, den to my back and kitchen straight ahead. I move down the long and narrow hallway, silently thankful for the man sized holes in the outer wall, just in case I need to make a speedy escape. Approaching the bathroom I become acutely aware that this is the one room in the trailer I couldn’t verify was empty from outside. I brace myself for the shock of being discovered, fight or flight primed, one tentative step followed by another. One more step and I’m clear. No one in the bathroom and I’m on into the bedroom at the far end of the trailer. Still alone. A creak, another moving door. Just the wind…right? I don’t explore every trailer, but they all look the same, the wallpaper in the kitchen seemingly the only distinguishing factor. Who lived here and where did they go?


An Imposing Hallway…


A Vacant Bathroom…

I head back toward the duplexes, poking around, checking things out before I commit. The bedroom door of one catches my eye – five locks on the door. Someone wanted to keep something out. Perhaps a clue to the fate of this place? A deep breath and I finally step back inside through the back door and into the kitchen, keeping an eye on the sink – I’m pretty sure that it’s only insulation in there but I can’t be entirely sure that it didn’t just move. More tentative steps, all too aware of how easily someone or something could be hiding in here. Another creak, another glance behind me, another moment of still being alone. Moving deeper into the heart of the house, once more toward the bathroom, once more a room entirely hidden from outside inspection but this time the walls are solid. There is no quick escape. I steel myself against whatever it is that may lie in wait around that corner, sure that this time there will be something there. It may be my imagination but it suddenly feels a little colder. One more step and then I see it. I come face to face with the horrible truth, shaking me to my very core. The message is all too clear…Elvis died here. Ladies and gentlemen, the truth is out there. Elvis did not die in 1977. It all starts to make sense, a small community designed to protect the privacy of someone no longer content to be in the public eye. And now that he is gone, the place serves no purpose, it’s returning to nature. We may never know what happened in the intervening years or when he did actually leave the building, but at least we know now where it happened. Cinco, California – Elvis died here.


The Kitchen Sink…


Elvis Died Here…

I’ve since tried to find any information about Cinco, but have found precious little. The sum total of what I have been able to piece together is that Cinco was founded as a work camp in the early 1900’s for workers on the Los Angeles Aqueduct and I’m sure that these buildings don’t date back that far – although the setup does have a work camp or company town type feeling. While I may have made the area out to be a little creepier than it was, there is something much scarier about the more recently abandoned places – whether it’s because there are indeed more places to hide or that it’s just that much easier to imagine someone still being there, I generally find my imagination to go a little further when exploring these places and the creak of the metal roofing did make me look behind myself more than once. Piles of clothes and toys, stray shoes, and a baby’s car seat also gave the impression of a much hastier exodus than you generally imagine for an abandoned community.


Toys and Clothes…

Interestingly, for those who do buy in to the whole ghost phenomenon, I did make my way all the way to the front house and grabbed a few pictures from the door, but for whatever reason felt a lot more wary of actually stepping inside and in the end remained content to have the pictures from the doorway.


The Front House…

It may be that it’s proximity to the main road made me more nervous that someone would see me and come tell me I shouldn’t be there. It could possibly be because while I was taking the pictures another car pulled in and made a slow pass of the buildings before heading back out to the road, again reminding me that there were other eyes on me. Or it could be that aside from the very brief Wikipedia article and the few pictures on Flickr that I was able to find, the only other information I found was from a local paranormal investigation team who they claimed to have encountered spirits in this front house. An explanation that I am willing to entertain. At the end of the day it was an interesting site to find, and I already feel it creeping onto my list of places I may need to re-visit to once more try and capture that perfect picture.


Click on photos for larger views.

For more photos, visit my flickr page…

To read P.O.S.T. Paranormal’s account of their visit,
click here

Monday, February 28, 2011

Metro Series - Union Station

Staring out the window of the Orange line watching the vaguely familiar buildings pass by as it makes its way toward North Hollywood I feel something that I haven’t felt in a long time, if ever, in Los Angeles. I feel like a tourist. For perhaps the first time in the thirteen years that I have called Los Angeles home, I feel like a visitor to the city and I kind of like it. I’ve often wondered how I would plan for a visit to LA, how I would overcome the sheer size of the city knowing that even as a long time resident I’m still somewhat intimidated by the Herculean task of navigating around the city, especially in rush “hour” when the traffic maps are all but devoid of green and the quickest route is not necessarily the most direct one. Shortly after I start to ponder this question I usually thank the heavens that I don’t have to plan a trip here and go about my business. But why not? Why not attack Los Angeles like I would New York, London, or Tokyo? Why not start thinking of the city in terms of where the subway will take me? Sure the rail lines are far from comprehensive and to get anywhere you basically have to route through downtown, but the same thing that limits the Metro – the massive sprawl of the city – should also work to its advantage. With size comes diversity and there must be something interesting to see at every stop.

From North Hollywood I grab the Red line for the 30 minute trip to Union Station, the center of rail transport in Los Angeles and the last of the great American railway stations. Opened in 1939, its combination of Spanish Colonial and Art Deco styles are likely recognizable to many who have never walked through its doors, having served as a backdrop for many films and television shows through the years – the most memorable to me being its role as the police station in Blade Runner.



An iconic fixture of Los Angeles, its designers were also responsible for several other notable and instantly recognizable LA landmarks, City Hall and the LA Memorial Coliseum among them. Deserving of its place on the National Register of Historic Buildings, the station itself is worth a visit and I have to pause to take a couple of shots, though this is not what brought me down here today.



Out the front doors of Union Station and directly across Alameda stands the reason for my trip – El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument. I have passed through here several times before, but usually only on my way to Chinatown, which is a short walk from the station, and a trip for another day. Until today I had never ventured here for the sake of seeing what the monument had to offer nor, to be honest, even realized that the area was an historical monument. On September 4, 1781 near the site of the present day plaza, eleven families of various cultural backgrounds settled the first non-native civilian settlement in southern California. This is where Los Angeles began. 44 people recruited by Spain from northern Mexico laid roots in a town whose original borders spread from present day Hoover Street to Indiana Street and began what would become the second largest city in the United States. Standing here in the midst of this city of 3.8 million people covering 498 square miles, it is next to impossible to imagine that starting with only 44 people. With the massive sprawl that has consumed the area, it is mind boggling to think of being able to stand on one edge of the city and being able to see the other side. The names of each one of those 44 inhabitants are now commemorated together on a large plaque within the plaza as well as on individual family plaques, which circle the outer ring of the plaza.



Walking around, reading each name, one wonders how many families have remained in the area over the ensuing 220 years, how many people in Los Angeles today can trace their ancestry back to those first eleven families.

Reaching out from the plaza to the northeast is Olvera Street and likely what draws the most people to the area. While the history of the street stretches back to 1877 when a short lane known as Wine Street was extended and renamed in honor of a prominent judge, the street in its current incarnation came to be in 1930 when through the efforts of Christine Sterling it was blocked off to traffic and transformed into a tourist destination meant to evoke a Mexican marketplace. Walking through this short street today – really no more than an alley – one is hit with a sensory overload.



Crammed to the gills with shops and stalls selling everything from colorful handcrafted Mexican goods to inexpensive lucha libre masks and ukuleles, the smell of the copious amount of leather goods envelopes the visitor as they enter. Adding to the bouquet, restaurants are littered throughout the alley offering “traditional” Mexican cuisine (although LA is not hurting for spots where one can find more authentic Mexican food). On weekends strolling musicians and music from the plaza add another layer to the sensory tapestry. Today traditional Native American instruments provide a soundtrack that sounds tip of the tongue familiar. Pondering the song I realize that what I’m hearing is Chiquitita by ABBA, a somehow fitting representation of modern Los Angeles – indigenous instruments playing a song with a vaguely Spanish title, written by northern Europeans.

Roughly one third of the way down Olvera lays the Avila Adobe, the oldest extant residence in Los Angeles. Originally built in 1818 by the Avila family who were affluent ranchers in the area, the home passed through many hands in the ensuing years, gradually falling into disrepair. By 1928 the Adobe had been condemned by the city and was on the verge of being demolished. Christine Sterling championed for the home to be saved and restored and it was in fact the Avila Adobe restoration that prompted the creation of modern Olvera Street, as she understood that without the surrounding area being revitalized, restoration of the adobe would merely postpone the inevitable. It now stands as an historical recreation, “furnished as it might have been during the days when the Avilas were there.”



I am particularly fond of these recreations, which often take me back to the road trips of my youth as the family explored the Southwest, but found this one to fairly basic and in some places rather stark. While it was an interesting walkthrough, there was little there that kept me truly enthralled and several of their interpretive signs had so much wear that they couldn’t be read. Housed within the grounds of the adobe are two other exhibits – Water in Los Angeles, which traces the development of the Los Angeles water supply, and A Tribute to Christine Sterling – though neither exhibit was accessible on the day I was there. There is also a short interpretive film detailing the history of the area that is played periodically through the day. Though lacking great depth, it is an interesting diversion and hard to argue with the historical interest of the oldest house in Los Angeles. While admission is free, donations are gladly accepted and would no doubt help to restore the wear and tear the site has received.

Northwest of the Plaza, across Main Street, is La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles, or Our Lady of Angels Church, a mission style church that holds the distinction of being the oldest church in the city (I may be noticing a pattern here). On this spot in 1784 a sub-mission was built to serve the religious needs of the Pueblo but was eventually abandoned as the Pueblo grew in size. A new church was built on the site between 1814 and 1822 and once again rebuilt in 1861. It is this church which stands today, now serving as the parish church for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Not a mission itself, the church does share some characteristics of the California Missions – the solid buttressed walls, the broad undecorated wall surfaces, the bell wall, and the fountain patio – which in this case resides in a courtyard which also houses food vendors, only one of which was active when I was there. Stepping inside I am hit with the unmistakable scent of the church candles as dozens of sense memories instantly take me back to any number of churches and cathedrals I’ve visited in the past. The smell of burning wax and I am in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. Smoke from an extinguished wick whisks me the mission churches in New Mexico. The underlying mask of incense and I’m at Christmas mass as a child. It’s been a long time since I’ve been a regular churchgoer but all those moments are pulled together here and I am moved to a moment of quiet introspection. Removing my hat I take a seat in one of the pews and reflect on not just this space but life in general, amazed at how quiet a church can be. I can hear little more than the shuffling of feet and the near silent murmurs of the devoted though hardly removed from the hustle and bustle of the city.



I gradually return my attention to the church itself. It is a modest sanctuary, active and functional. I think its appeal is more for the history of the location than the church itself. A map of the monument shows that the city’s first cemetery, Campo Santo, once stood next to the church. All that can be found there now is a large construction zone – the future home of a Mexican-American cultural center.

Continuing around, LA’s first firehouse stands southwest of the plaza. Completed in 1884 the Plaza Firehouse’s tenure as such was brief, ending in 1892 after which it was used as a saloon, a lodging house, and a store. Restored to its firehouse state in 1960 it became a small museum showcasing the history of firefighting in Los Angeles and housing firefighting memorabilia dating back to the 19th century. While interesting to see some of the old equipment, I ultimately found the museum to be a fairly quick walkthrough and probably spent no more than 10 minutes there, though it undoubtedly holds greater interest for those whose passion lies in the history of firefighting. The one thing that I did learn was that the aptly named Chief Walter Lips was the first Los Angeles fire chief to proudly display his lips - being clean shaven while all six of his predecessors were bearded or mustached. I’m sure the museum would be glad to know I picked up on this.



Having been steeped in the Hispanic heritage of the monument to this point, it was interesting to find that perhaps the most engaging attraction for me was the Chinese-American Museum on North Los Angeles Street - although the entrance lies in the rear of the building. Seemingly out of place, the area around the monument was actually the original Chinatown before Union Station displaced it in 1939. The rest of Chinatown having been razed, the Garnier building, which houses the museum, is the only surviving structure from this original incarnation. Opened in 2003, the museum tells the story of Chinese-American life and the difficulty of making their way to and in a new country. A large portion of the current exhibit deals with their passage through Angel Island in San Francisco (the west coast version of Ellis Island) and the paper sons and daughters – the practice of established immigrants claiming unrelated children as their own in order to help them immigrate during a period of severe anti-Chinese laws. A compelling story of their journey is told through the use of historical artifacts and accounts from the surviving ancestors of those early immigrants. The upper levels of the museum offer temporary exhibit space, which when I was there was an exhibit titled Dreams Deferred – Artists Respond to Immigration Reform, artistic representations of the current state of immigration. I spent a good deal of time walking through the museum, which piqued my curiosity and made me want to learn more. There are some activities for children as well, though it seemed far from a comprehensive children’s experience. Definitely worth the three-dollar suggested donation and I look forward to future exhibits.

There are other historical buildings dotting the area around the plaza – the Merced Theatre, the Pico House, and the Sepulveda House to name a few – all of which have interpretive signs and plaques placed along the sidewalks and the buildings themselves to help paint a picture of the early days around the plaza. I believe that there is normally a Visitor Center in the Sepulveda house but it appeared to be closed for construction with signs warning of no floor. There also seem to be plans to convert the Italian Hall, which is located at the corner of Main and Cesar Chavez, into the Italian Hall museum. But the places I have visited today are the main locations that you can interact with and as such bring my day of tourism to an end with the thrill of discovery of this city I call home awakened. I look forward to further exploration, to seeing the city like I would if I were but a brief visitor, to soaking up Los Angeles both on and off the beaten track…as long as the Metro will take me there.


Click on photos for larger views.

For more photos, visit my flickr page…

For more information on the LA Conservancy walking tours,
visit their website

For more information on the buildings found in El Pueblo,
visit the Olvera Street website…

Thursday, December 2, 2010

December Festivals

And then it was December. Where did the last 11 months go?

December 4-5
- A Country Christmas (4th, 10th, 11th, & 12th, Yucaipa)
- Big Wave Dave & Christmas on the Farm (Nov 26th - Dec 20th, Moorpark)
- Chill at the W (Nov 19th - Jan 2nd, Westwood)
- Christmas Tree Holiday Train (Nov 27th - Dec 12th, Fillmore)
- Downtown on Ice (Nov 18th - Jan 17th, Pershing Square)
- Ice at Santa Monica (Nov 5th - Feb 15th)
- Indio International Tamale Festival
- Montrose Christmas Parade (4th only)
- North Pole Express (Nov 27th - Dec 27th, Fillmore)
- Oxnard Christmas Parade (4th only)
- Oxnard Tamale Festival (4th only)
- Sawdust Art Festival: Winter Fantasy (4th -5th, 10th - 12th, Laguna Beach)
- The Lights at Calico (4th, 11th, & 18th, Yermo)
- Woodland Hills Ice (Nov 5th - Feb 6th)

December 11-12
- A Country Christmas (4th, 10th, 11th, & 12th, Yucaipa)
- Big Wave Dave & Christmas on the Farm (Nov 26th - Dec 20th, Moorpark)
- Chill at the W (Nov 19th - Jan 2nd, Westwood)
- Christmas Tree Holiday Train (Nov 27th - Dec 12th, Fillmore)
- Dickens Holiday Celebration (Carson)
- Dinner with Santa (10th & 17th, Fillmore)
- Downtown on Ice (Nov 18th - Jan 17th, Pershing Square)
- Holiday at the Ranch (Goleta)
- Ice at Santa Monica (Nov 5th - Feb 15th)
- Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade (11th only)
- North Pole Express (Nov 27th - Dec 27th, Fillmore)
- Sawdust Art Festival: Winter Fantasy (4th -5th, 10th - 12th, Laguna Beach)
- The Lights at Calico (4th, 11th, & 18th, Yermo)
- Whittier Christmas Parade (11th only)
- CWinter Holiday Festival (Pershing Square)
- Woodland Hills Ice (Nov 5th - Feb 6th)

December 18-19
- Big Wave Dave & Christmas on the Farm (Nov 26th - Dec 20th, Moorpark)
- Chill at the W (Nov 19th - Jan 2nd, Westwood)
- Dinner with Santa (10th & 17th, Fillmore)
- Downtown on Ice (Nov 18th - Jan 17th, Pershing Square)
- Festival Navideno en la Calle 8 (Los Angeles)
- Ice at Santa Monica (Nov 5th - Feb 15th)
- Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade (15th - 19th)
- North Pole Express (Nov 27th - Dec 27th, Fillmore)
- Santa’s Shopper Holiday Train (Fillmore)
- The Lights at Calico (4th, 11th, & 18th, Yermo)
- Woodland Hills Ice (Nov 5th - Feb 6th)

December 25-26
- Chill at the W (Nov 19th - Jan 2nd, Westwood)
- Downtown on Ice (Nov 18th - Jan 17th, Pershing Square)
- Ice at Santa Monica (Nov 5th - Feb 15th)
- North Pole Express (Nov 27th - Dec 27th, Fillmore)
- Woodland Hills Ice (Nov 5th - Feb 6th)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November Festivals

And just like that the bulk of the festival season seems to be over. A few offerings for this weekend with more to follow…

November 6-7
- American Indian Arts Marketplace at the Autry (Los Angeles)
- Escondido Renaissance Faire (Oct. 30th-31st and Nov. 6th-7th)
- Harvest Festival (5th - 7th, San Luis Obispo)
- Hot Chili Peppers Festival (Los Angeles)
- Japanese Garden Festival (La Canada Flintridge)

November 13-14
- Los Angeles Asian & Tribal Arts Show (12th - 13th)
- Los Angeles Story Telling Festival (13th only, Culver City)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

October Festivals

As hard as it is to believe in a week that saw record breaking temperatures in Los Angeles (113, seriously!?) fall is upon us and thus a slew of autumnal themed festivals, and for some crazy reason a whole handful of Oktoberfests. Small update now, more coming later…

October 2-3
- Autumn Arts, Grapes & Grains Festival (2nd only, Santa Maria)
- Bates Nut Farm’s Pumpkin Patch Festival (Weekends Sept. 25th - Oct. 31st, Valley Center)
- Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest (Weekends, Sept. 18th - Oct. 30th)
- California Avocado Festival (1st-3rd, Carpinteria)
- Filmore Pumpkin Liner (Weekends 2nd - 31st)
- Forneris Farms Harvest Festival and Corn Maze (Mission Hills)
- Irvine Global Village Festival (2nd only)
- Japan America Kite Festival (3rd only, Seal Beach)
- Kern Couty Fair (Sept. 22nd - Oct. 3rd, Bakersfield)
- Lake Arrowhead Oktoberfest (2nd-30th)
- Los Angeles County Fair (Wed.-Sun., Sept. 4th - Oct. 3rd)
- Los Angeles Lithuanian Fair
- Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair
- Montrose Oktoberfest (2nd only)
- Newport Beach Sandcastle Contest (2nd only)
- Oktoberfest at Alpine Village (Weekends, Sept. 10th - Oct. 23rd, Torrance)
- Old World Village Oktoberfest (Wed.-Sun., Sept. 5th - Oct. 31st, Huntington Beach)
- Oxnard Multicultural Festival (2nd only)
- Reyes Adobe Days (1st - 3rd, Agoura Hills)
- San Dimas Rodeo
- Santa Clarita Festival of the Arts
- Pumpkin Patch at Faulkner Farms (Weekends in October, Santa Paula)
- Tanaka Farms Pumpkin Patch (Weekends in October, Irvine)
- Temecula Greek Festival
- Wooden Boat Festival (2nd only, Newport Beach)

Okay, rainy and cool (comforter has gone on the bed) is much more like it…sort of feels a little fall like finally…until we are back into the 80’s this weekend. Of course that is nice weather for some outdoor activities…

October 9-10
- Bates Nut Farm’s Pumpkin Patch Festival (Weekends Sept. 25th - Oct. 31st, Valley Center)
- Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest (Weekends, Sept. 18th - Oct. 30th)
- Calico Days (8th-10th, Calico Ghost Town)
- Central Coast Railroad Festival (7th-11th, San Luis Obispo)
- Filmore Pumpkin Liner (Weekends 2nd - 31st)
- Forneris Farms Harvest Festival and Corn Maze (Mission Hills)
- Industry Hills Pro Rodeo (City of Industry)
- Lake Arrowhead Oktoberfest (2nd-30th)
- Little Italy Festa (10th only, San Diego)
- Los Angeles Haunted Hayride (8th-31st)
- Oktoberfest at Alpine Village (Weekends, Sept. 10th - Oct. 23rd, Torrance)
- Old-Time Fiddlers’ Convention and Festival (10th only, Goleta)
- Old World Village Oktoberfest (Wed.-Sun., Sept. 5th - Oct. 31st, Huntington Beach)
- Origmai Festival (10th only, Van Nuys)
- Pasadena Wine Festival (9th only)
- Polish Festival (8th-10th, San Diego)
- Pumpkin Patch at Faulkner Farms (Weekends in October, Santa Paula)
- Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor (Weekends in October, Long Beach)
- San Clemente Seafest (10th only)
- Santa Barbara Harbor Seafood Festival (9th only)
- Seaside Highland Games (8th-10th, Ventura)
- Southern California Fair (8th-17th, Perris)
- Tanaka Farms Pumpkin Patch (Weekends in October, Irvine)
- Via Arte Italian Street Painting Festival (Bakersfield)

October 16-17
- Armenian Cultural Festival (San Diego)
- Bates Nut Farm’s Pumpkin Patch Festival (Weekends Sept. 25th - Oct. 31st, Valley Center)
- Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest (Weekends, Sept. 18th - Oct. 30th)
- Cal Poly Pomona Pumpkin Festival
- Calabasas Pumpkin Festival
- California Lemon Festival (Goleta)
- Dust Bowl Festival (16th only, Lamont)
- Fall Festical at the Farmers Market (Los Angeles)
- Filmore Pumpkin Liner (Weekends 2nd - 31st)
- Forneris Farms Harvest Festival and Corn Maze (Mission Hills)
- Lake Arrowhead Oktoberfest (2nd-30th)
- Los Angeles Haunted Hayride (8th-31st)
- Oildorado Days (15th-24th, Taft)
- Oktoberfest at Alpine Village (Weekends, Sept. 10th - Oct. 23rd, Torrance)
- Old World Village Oktoberfest (Wed.-Sun., Sept. 5th - Oct. 31st, Huntington Beach)
- Pasadena Heritage Craftsman Weekend (15th-17th)
- Pismo Beach Clam Festival
- Pumpkin Patch at Faulkner Farms (Weekends in October, Santa Paula)
- Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor (Weekends in October, Long Beach)
- Sherman Oaks Street Fair (17th only)
- Silverado Days (15th-17th, Buena Park)
- Southern California Fair (8th-17th, Perris)
- Springville Apple Festival (8th-17th, Perris)
- Tanaka Farms Pumpkin Patch (Weekends in October, Irvine)

October 23-24
- Bat Night (23rd only, Fullerton)
- Bates Nut Farm’s Pumpkin Patch Festival (Weekends Sept. 25th - Oct. 31st, Valley Center)
- Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest (Weekends, Sept. 18th - Oct. 30th)
- Diwali Festival (24th only, San Diego)
- Filmore Pumpkin Liner (Weekends 2nd - 31st)
- Forneris Farms Harvest Festival and Corn Maze (Mission Hills)
- Lake Arrowhead Oktoberfest (2nd-30th)
- Los Angeles Haunted Hayride (8th-31st)
- Oildorado Days (15th-24th, Taft)
- Oktoberfest at Alpine Village (Weekends, Sept. 10th - Oct. 23rd, Torrance)
- Old World Village Oktoberfest (Wed.-Sun., Sept. 5th - Oct. 31st, Huntington Beach)
- Pumpkin Patch at Faulkner Farms (Weekends in October, Santa Paula)
- Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor (Weekends in October, Long Beach)
- Tanaka Farms Pumpkin Patch (Weekends in October, Irvine)
- Trick or Treat Festival and Halloween Hearse Show and Procession (24th only, Costa Mesa)
- Western Heritage Weekend (Moorpark)

October 30-31
- Bates Nut Farm’s Pumpkin Patch Festival (Weekends Sept. 25th - Oct. 31st, Valley Center)
- Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest (Weekends, Sept. 18th - Oct. 30th)
- Dia de Los Muertos (30th only, Los Angeles)
- Escondido Renaissance Faire (OCt. 30th-31st and Nov. 6th-7th)
- Filmore Pumpkin Liner (Weekends 2nd - 31st)
- Forneris Farms Harvest Festival and Corn Maze (Mission Hills)
- Lake Arrowhead Oktoberfest (2nd-30th)
- Los Angeles Haunted Hayride (8th-31st)
- Oktoberfest at Alpine Village (Weekends, Sept. 10th - Oct. 23rd, Torrance)
- Old World Village Oktoberfest (Wed.-Sun., Sept. 5th - Oct. 31st, Huntington Beach)
- Pumpkin Patch at Faulkner Farms (Weekends in October, Santa Paula)
- Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor (Weekends in October, Long Beach)
- Tanaka Farms Pumpkin Patch (Weekends in October, Irvine)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Southwestern Colorado - A Visual Tour

Instead of waiting until I write something before I post some pictures I figured I would post a quick visual tour of my recent roadtrip through Southwestern Colorado, a trip that found my sister and I visiting old haunts and finding new treasures (when we weren’t foiled by a serious lack of 4WD).

Day 1

Boreas Pass…


Como…


Day 2

St. Elmo…

St. Elmo…

St. Elmo…

Hancock…

Hancock…

Below Hancock…

Below Hancock…

Cinnamon Pass…


Day 3

Dillon Pinnacles…

Ouray…

Red Mountain Pass…

Red Mountain Pass…

Red Mountain Town…

Silverton…

Animas Forks…

Animas Forks…

Animas Forks…

Eureka…


Day 4

Alta…

Telluride…


Day 5

Above Marble…

Above Marble…

Redstone Coke Ovens…

Outside Glenwood Springs…

Outside Aspen…


The Empty Airport

Courtney’s flight in from Los Angeles was delayed so I had the luxury of wandering around a nearly deserted airport…


Check In…


Baggage Claim…


Baggage Claim…


Main Hall…


Security…


Click pictures for larger views…

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

September Festivals

Somehow it is September now. Two thirds of the year have passed by and I’m not quite sure how that happened. Here are some things to do in September…

September 4-6
- Assumption of the Virgin Mary Greek Festival (Long Beach)
- Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fair (2nd - 6th, Bishop)
- Fiesta Hermosa
- Labor Day Arts and Crafts Festival (3rd - 6th, Bishop)
- Labor Day Festival of the Arts (Mammoth Lakes)
- Long Beach Art Deco Festival (3rd - 5th)
- Los Angeles County Fair (Wed.-Sun., Sept. 4th - Oct. 3rd)
- Norco Valley Fair Fair (2nd - 6th)
- Old World Village Oktoberfest (Wed.-Sun., Sept. 5th - Oct. 31st)
- Orange International Street Fair (3rd - 5th)
- St. George Greek Food Festival (5th - 6th, Bakersfield)
- Ukrainian Festival (3rd - 5th, San Diego)

September 11-12
- Grape Day Festival and Parade (Escondido)
- Long Beach Lobster Festival (10th - 12th)
- Los Angeles County Fair (Wed.-Sun., Sept. 4th - Oct. 3rd)
- Los Angeles Greek Festival (10th - 12th)
- Mexican Independence Day (11th - 12th, 18th - 19th, Los Angeles)
- Old World Village Oktoberfest (Wed.-Sun., Sept. 5th - Oct. 31st)
- Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Festival (Cardiff-by-the-Sea)
- Thousand Oaks Arts Festival
- Toshiba Tall Ships Festival (10th - 12th, Dana Point)
- Village Fest (11th only, Bakersfield)

September 18-19
- Avocado and Margarita Festival (18th only, Morro Bay)
- Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest (Weekends, Sept. 18th - Oct. 30th)
- Brazilian Street Carnival (19th only, Long Beach)
- Danish Days (17th - 19th, Solvang)
- Gold Coast Pirate Faire (Ojai)
- Living History Festival (Solvang)
- Los Angeles County Fair (Wed.-Sun., Sept. 4th - Oct. 3rd)
- Mexican Independence Day (11th - 12th, 18th - 19th, Los Angeles)
- Old World Village Oktoberfest (Wed.-Sun., Sept. 5th - Oct. 31st)
- Pasadena Greek Fest (17th - 19th)
- Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival (17th - 19th)
- Route 66 Parade & Classic Car Show (18th only, Duarte)
- Scandinavian AutumnFest & Marknad Celebration (19th only, Agoura Hills)

September 25-26
- Abbot Kinney Festival (Venice, 27th only)
- Apple Valley Fall Festival (25th only)
- Baja Splash Cultural Festival (Long Beach)
- Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest (Weekends, Sept. 18th - Oct. 30th)
- Redondo Beach Surf’n’Turf Lobster Festival (24th-26th)
- 32nd Annual BBQ and Family Faire (25th only, San Juan Capistrano)
- Great Western Grub Fest (26th only, San Juan Capistrano)
- Latin American Parade and Festival (25th only, Long Beach)
- Los Alamos Old Days Celebration (24th-26th)
- Los Angeles County Fair (Wed.-Sun., Sept. 4th - Oct. 3rd)
- Newbury Park Rotary’s Oktoberfest Celebration (Moorpark)
- Old World Village Oktoberfest (Wed.-Sun., Sept. 5th - Oct. 31st)
- S.S. Lane Vctory WWII Summer Cruises (San Pedro)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August Festivals

I’ve gone and done it again, playing from behind at the start of the month. I’ll post events that happened the first weekend as a historical record.

August 7-8
- Chula Vusta Lemon Festival (8th only)
- Fiesta Street Festival (8th only, San Clemente)
- La Habra Corn Festival (6th - 8th)
- Long Beach Crawfish Festivall
- Norco Valley Fair (5th - 8th)
- Old Spanish Days Fiesta (4th - 8th, Santa Barbara)
- Orange County Fair (July 16th - Aug. 15th, Costa Mesa)
- Sawdust Arts Festival (June 25th - Aug. 29th, Laguna Beach)
- Ventura County Fair (4th - 15th)

August 14-15
- B-Movies and Bad Science - Gammera the Invincible (15th only, Los Angeles)
- Big Bear City Renaissance Faire (14th, 15th, 21st, and 22nd)
- Old Mission Santa Ines Fiesta (15th only, Solvang)
- Old West Weekend (Oak Glen)
- Orange County Fair (July 16th - Aug. 15th, Costa Mesa)
- Plaza Festival (Los Angeles)
- Sawdust Arts Festival (June 25th - Aug. 29th, Laguna Beach)
- Sunland-Tujunga Watermelon Festival (13th - 15th)
- Tanabata Festival (13th - 15th, Los Angeles)
- Ventura County Fair (4th - 15th)

August 21-22
- Antelope Valley Fair & Alfalfa Festival (20th-29th, Lancaster)
- Be-boppin’ in the Park (21st only, Burbank)
- Big Bear City Renaissance Faire (14th, 15th, 21st, and 22nd)
- Big Bear Cowboy Gathering (19th - 22nd)
- Mammoth Festival of Wine, Food, and Music (20th - 22nd)
- Norco Mounted Posse PRCA Rodeo (20th - 22nd)
- Paso Robles Olive Festival (21st only)
- Plum Festival (22st only, Huntington Beach)
- S.S. Lane Vctory WWII Summer Cruises (Aug. 21st - 22nd, Sept. 25th - 26th)
- Sawdust Arts Festival (June 25th - Aug. 29th, Laguna Beach)
- Tehachapi Mountain Festival

August 28-29
- Antelope Valley Fair & Alfalfa Festival (20th-29th, Lancaster)
- B-Movies and Bad Science - Caveman (29th only, Los Angeles)
- Chiefs Along the Channel Car Show (29th only, Ventura)
- Grape Harvest Festival (27th - 29th, Rancho Cucamonga)
- Sawdust Arts Festival (June 25th - Aug. 29th, Laguna Beach)