Saturday, April 30, 2011

Springtime in Encino

JD (my 3 year old) and I took a walk through our neighborhood this morning, and the flowers were exquisite.  I love springtime!!  Slideshow below the jump.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Nike Missile Site - Encino, CA

This morning we spent some time at a Cold War era Nike missile site located at the top of the Santa Monica Mountains in the Encino area.  This was one of many air defense system sites located throughout the United States under the name "Project Nike"; these sites were designed to deal with the growing threat posed by a new generation of long range bomber aircraft being developed by the Soviets, especially after the USSR developed its own atomic bomb.  This site in particular was in use between 1957 and 1974 (according to wikipedia).   As the Soviets shifted tactics from long range bombers to ICBMs, the perceived need for the Nike system decreased; all Nike sites were eventually inactivated by 1974.  A concise history of the program is at this website.

The platform on top of the tower commands panoramic views of the entire region.  This installation feels like an old wartime relic - well it is - but it's a bit weird for someone like me who remembers the Cold War.  I was four at the time the station was decommissioned, but my memories of the threat posed by the USSR stretch back to a very early time, down to the elementary school nuclear attack drills....

Here's a few pictures, and of course the now requisite slideshow beyond the jump.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

WWII Camouflage - Lockheed Burbank Aircraft Plant

The Lockheed Burbank Aircraft Plant -- at Burbank Airport -- was camouflaged against the possibility of a Japanese air attack.  Check out the before and after pix:  (Via LA Observed who came across it from others; this will take you to more pics):

San Fernando Mission

JD and I visited the San Fernando Mission this morning.  One of the reasons for this blog is the Valley often gets a bad rap - and yet it has all this wonderful stuff.  The Mission is no exception.   Despite my four decades of living in Los Angeles (with the exception of a couple years at UCSB) I've never been there before now - amazing since I love visiting places like this.  Three photos above the jump, and a slideshow below the jump.  Again, if you like this kind of thing check it out.


Inside the chapel

Bell of the El Camino Real.  (These bells are situated up and down the California coast and mark the location of the El Camino Real, the trail that linked the Spanish Missions together)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sepulveda Wildlife Reserve

I'm off work this week, had the morning to myself and decided to go to the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve.  It's a stunning expanse of flora and fauna right smack in the middle of the Valley.  I've posted two photos above the jump (it was really hard to pick just two), but I absolutely recommend visiting the slideshow after the jump.   What really strikes me is the beauty and serenity of the place - and it's right next to the 405 freeway...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Panoramic view of The Valley

On the way home today I took some photos of the Valley; I was at a small turnoff on Mulholland Drive.  I've always known that the Valley is a big place, but it's easy to forget as driving around the Valley is pretty easy.  Well this just reminded me of it.  I've put more photos behind the jump if you're interested.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

More Union Station journey footage

More footage of the Orange and Red Lines.  The first one struck me as interesting because while a great deal of effort is expended to make the Orange Line feel like a "light rail" experience (and fairly successfully so I should say) it still has to make stops at the stoplight.  So there it kind of feels like the bus.  The second one interested me as I didn't expect the bus to get to the speeds it did at certain segments of the line.  There, it definitely felt light rail-ish.   The third one is footage from the Red Line, leaving Pershing Station (on the way to Union Station) and just felt so classically "subway". 

Orange Line coming to a stoplight.

Video 2

This one shows the Orange Line moving along briskly, 
and it really picks up speed near the end of the video
(you'll have to get past me making up the "Orange Line" song for JD)

Video 3

Departing Pershing Square station on Red Line towards Union Station

Trip to Union Station

The boys and I decided to take a mini road-trip today, starting from the Balboa/Victory Orange Line stop, eastbound to the Red Line, all the way to Union Station and back (note I had some pictures of the kids up but then realized I probably shouldn't do that on a blog).  My initial observations are that the Orange Line is a pretty good piece of public transit - bright, timely, speedy & comfortable.  For those of you who don't know, the Orange Line is nothing more than a dedicated busline that cuts east/west through the Valley.  It looks and feels like a light rail line, except that it's a big bus.  It's a great idea that should be expanded elsewhere.  As for the Red Line, I've taken it before and it is efficient and quick - between both lines I'd say it took an hour max to get from start to Union Station.  The Red Line is a bit more depressing, maybe that's the nature of a subway.   Some excerpts from the trip are after the jump (the first two items are videos, the rest are photos):

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to all who celebrate it!  As an aside, my theory on how the bunny and the egg became part of the Easter tradition is someone at a Saturday evening passover seder a long time ago decided to, instead of (as tradition calls for) taking a piece of matzah and hiding it so that children could find it and receive a prize, color an egg for the seder plate and hide that instead of the Afikoman (the aforementioned piece of matzah).  The egg was artfully hidden by the front porch of the house, but as it turns out no one at said seder could find said egg, and the host of the seder had forgotten where he put it.

The very next morning, Easter Sunday, a little boy walking on his way to church saw a bunny on the sidewalk and chased it back to its warren - and to his shock and delight, he found a brightly painted egg, bursting with colors.  It was on that day the tradition of the Easter Bunny and the Easter Egg hunt was born.

Gold Line adventure

I thought this a fascinating montage of a Metro trip on the Eastside of L.A.  (You have to get past the trip-out music if you're not a fan of such things, although I do think it helps lend a lot of poignancy to the video).  The thing that strikes me is the gleaming newness of the metro stations & trains - which, from the POV of the person who made the video, appear almost empty.  So much investment into such a massive infrastructure.  And yet above ground there are few examples of any recent, major capital investment.  Maybe that's the author's point.  But that's how it looks to me.

Welcome to Valley Dude

I've been inspired by Valley Relics to start documenting my hometown, the San Fernando Valley.  I took the kids today to see a few of the places I spent time as a kid at.  We all had a great time.  Darn those Henry's Tacos are as good as I remember!!!

 The above image is from the corner of Balboa and Burbank - by the golf course and bike path
From the jogging path along Burbank Blvd., in between Balboa and Hayvenhurst
I thought this was weird - a bus stop with no sidewalks or paths leading to it.  It is right by the Golf building, but you have to tramp through some small bushes to get to it.
This picturesque scene is actually of the eastbound 101 on-ramp at Magnolia and Hayvenhurst.  Next image gives a better sense of perspective.
Mmmm - Henry's...
The above building is the Studio City Rec Center admin building, I spent a lot of time at this park
Most of the play areas were redone, but this turtle is the same one I played on decades ago.  There used to be a three level giant robot jungle gym, with the arms functioning as tunnel slides.  They removed it many years ago, the legend is some kid climbed up the side and either got killed or seriously injured.
Walter Reed Jr. High School - my alma mater
 Go Go Go, Go You Mighty Huskies!!  (Kind of a creepy sign, but they are memorializing someone who just passed away).
The Star Lite - pretty sure I never stepped foot in there.
Corner of Lankershim & Ventura - Universal Liquors, still there for well over 40 years
101 overpass at Hayvenhurst & Magnolia.  The SFV is big sky country (at least for L.A.)