Sunday, June 28, 2009

Will Rogers State Park

Staycation has come to an end, spurred by a trip to Will Rogers State Park in the Pacific Palisades with a "Triple H" (shout out to my WWE groupies!) of cool things to see and do: hiking, history and horses.

For the hiking, there's a moderate 3 mile round trip trail called Inspiration Point, along with other loops and routes. On a clear day, atop Inspiration Point, you can see out to Catalina Island, and on any day get a beautiful view of the Santa Monica Mountains. As a bonus, I tried out the panorama feature on my camera to great amazement, and, yes, I was inspired!

For history, the park area once belonged to Will Rogers, who was the "man of all media" in his time (he died in 1935) and left his mark in many arenas. Extremely talented as a roper, Will started in vaudeville before taking his skills to Broadway in 1916 with the Ziegfeld Follies as a "filler" between the real acts. His banter during his shows led him to Hollywood movie stardom, as well as radio show host. In 1934, Will started writing a daily telegram from wherever he was, and his post -- almost like a daily blog post -- was published in newspapers around the world. Again, I was inspired! His 1928 home is open to tours and is highly recommended as an opportunity to hear more about the historical impacts he made.

Finally, Will loved his horses, from his "trick" horses to his polo ponies. Today, his polo field is the only remaining outdoor polo field in Los Angeles County. Matches are held on weekends, and, even though I don't really get the nuances of polo, I recognized when the ball was hit in the right direction and goals were scored. Yeah!

And on the subject of horses, I'm going to get on my high horse for just a moment and request that when you visit this - or any other - state park, you pay to park in their lot. Yes, you can park in the neighborhood and just walk in, but our California state parks are on the budgetary chopping block. Fees collected from parking fund operations and verify that people are visiting.

I hope you're now inspired to explore these great resources over at Will's place, and to pay the $8 in an attempt to keep the park open. Giddyup!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Staycation: South Pasadena Museum

A Museum? In tiny South Pasadena?! Yes, and what a treat it is! The South Pasadena Historical Museum is in this cool red building right by the Mission Goldline station on Meridian.

Curated by the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation, there are multiple display cases of artifacts, including a flag flown at Abraham Lincoln's inauguration (yes, in this little museum!!), along with a pipe organ console and a 3-seated wooden ostrich from a 1910 carousel-type ride. Upstairs there are more relics in cases, articles of clothing, and walls filled with historic pictures.

The "white sheet" on the backside of the building is where movies are shown on select Saturday nights in the summer. Folks sit on the lawn and watch the family screenings. I'm so there for Edward Scissorhands on July 25th!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Staycation: Buster's

Buster's was my first taste of the sweet life in South Pasadena! I came here with SGV friends for ice cream while I was housesitting in the Hollywood Hills. When it came time to get out of someone else's house and find my own place, South Pasadena, and Buster's, was at the top of the list.

Buster's is now my place to catch up with friends, have informal business-esque meetings, grab a healthy and tasty sandwich (the hummus sandwich ROCKS!), or get yummalicious salads and desserts for a picnic or the Hollywood Bowl.

Buster's is also front-of-mind when I need my quick Fosselman's ice cream fix (not to worry - a full Fosselman's post is on the horizon!) and can't rationalize the 2.67 mile drive to Alhambra. Buster's continues to leave a sweet taste in my mouth, and a smile on my face, for whatever reason I'm visiting.

No Web site at this time. Street address is 1006 Mission Street, South Pasadena 91030. Cross street is Meridian. Phone is 626-441-0744.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Staycation: South Pasadena Farmer's Market

The South Pasadena Farmer's Market is unlike any farmer's market I've visited, at least locally. I selected this picture to show the families and friends hanging out, bringing blankets, getting their food and settling in for awhile. This doesn't happen at Sierra Madre, Alhambra or Villa Park markets. Maybe it's the Thursday late afternoon-early evening schedule? Don't know why, but I know it's been this way since I've been going.

Like these folks, I generally go for dinner, which is usually some yummy tamale variation from Corn Maiden, and maybe a roasted ear of corn. I might buy some produce, but not always. But, I almost always run into someone I know. So, dinner, al fresco, with hundreds of my neighbors? I'll see you there!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Staycation: South Pasadena Architecture

When I think of South Pasadena architecture, I think of these Flintstones-esque shelters and portals. Until recently, I did not know that these were actually the work of building brothers Greene and Greene. (You probably know their work from the Gamble House.) This portal is at Oaklawn and Columbia. On the Fair Oaks end of Oaklawn is a bridge, built in 1906, which happens to be the only bridge Greene and Greene designed. I was completely unaware as I was running sprints across their work of art!

For a city less than 3.5 square miles, South Pasadena actually has lots of architecture to gawk at. From several massive Greene and Greene homes, to the 1925 Rialto Theatre, and the Myers home from the first Halloween movie, pick a street - any street - and you could see mixed and mingled styles from 19th century Foursquare, Victorian Farmhouse, Eastlake and Queen Anne to 20th century Craftsman, American Colonial, Spanish Colonial and Tudor Revival.

So get out there and explore! And if you want to take on the bridge, I'll meet you at the so-called waiting station on Fair Oaks. Yabba dabba doooo!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Staycation: South Pasadena Fair Oaks Pharmacy

Fresh from a visit with the family in Indiana, I did a quick check of the finances and realized THAT trip would be THE trip for the summer. Although I don't regret the funds spent on my plane ticket, rental car, Crave Cases at White Castle, or multiple scoops of homemade ice cream (who could resist the blackberry cobbler flavor?), I still could use a vacation. Instead, I'm gearing up for a staycation, right here in South Pasadena, and exploring my little city.

My first stop had to be the Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain. Located on Route 66, on Fair Oaks and Mission, this place dates back to 1915. Since I get my prescriptions filled here, I'm quite familiar with the offerings. But to the uninitiated, it is one multi-tasking joint! In addition to the pharmacy service, there's the vintage soda fountain with all the classic ice cream options. I'll vouch for the peanut butter milk shake if you're leaning to the dairy side of the menu. Or, start with a burger to lay a base, then have a shake. Then take out your handy-dandy Blackberry (or PDA, not more sugary treats) and schedule some time for a food coma. Note that you do have a pharmacy at your disposal should you need some overindulgence tummy-aids. Finally, there's the cool shopping opportunities with the whimsical greeting cards, old school toys and games, "bathcessories," jewelry and more. Fair Oaks Pharmacy is my go-to place for baby and wedding shower gifts because the selection is so unique.

Never a dull moment, or bad experience, at Fair Oaks Pharmacy, so stop by when you're in town to see it all for yourself.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tito's Tacos

Every now and again I get a Tito's Tacos craving and make the drive to the westside. Tito's, in Culver City, has a few quirkies that make their tacos unlike any other. First off, I love that they offer tacos with or without cheese, for a 50¢ difference. Which may explain why they give out 50¢ coins as change. Plus, their salsa is almost like a puree. All the flavor and spices, but soooo smooth you could almost drink it. Speaking of drinks, they have pea-sized ice balls in the sodas instead of crushed or cubed ice. Trust me, it makes a difference. Tito's dates back to 1959; I've been a fan since the early 90s when I lived in Venice. The place always has a line but it is always worth the wait. This is a rare shot of barely a line, as it was taken pre-lunch rush, and I took advantage for 3 tacos with cheese, an icy root beer, and a happy tummy as I got back on the 10.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cherry on Top frozen yogurt

I thought frozen yogurt was so '90s! For a relevant time stamp, the Seinfeld "non-fat yogurt" episode aired in November, 1993. Cherry on Top has put a new spin on the current fro yo craze, with fun yo flavors and toppings. Their focus is on "healthy," and no one is pretending this treat is totally fat free. In this photo of the Monrovia store, first notice the delightful cherry chandelier, then the dispensers and the some of the salad-bar style options of toppings. On the day I visited, yogurt flavors included some basics: original, raspberry, chocolate, and vanilla bean, along with some funkier choices: cake batter, strawberry banana, Hawaiian delight, pomegranate energy, cappucino, and caramel/creme. With the toppings, you can graze from sugary Saturday morning cartoon cereals, to the confectionery store with crunched candy bars, M&Ms, gummy bears and worms and Nerds, plus random things like sprinkles, granola, graham cracker crumbs, pralines, nuts, coconut, iced circus animal cookies, and lots of fruit. I'll leave you to your own imagination and taste buds...

I went with the cake batter base and added M&Ms, crunched Butterfingers, blueberries, along with various other treats. At 39¢ an ounce, it's a fine way to get your calcium and sweet-tooth fix at the same time.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Randy's Donuts

Yesterday was National Donut Day. Several friends mentioned this to me, and each time I said "You're going to Randy's Donuts, right?" I got equal shares of "heck yeah" and confused stares.

How could someone not know about Randy's Donuts?!

Randy's, my esteemed 24-hour drive-through donut shop in Inglewood near LAX, dates back to 1953, and it has a 32-foot donut on the roof. What else do I need to say?

The Chicago Salvation Army rolled out Donut Day in 1938 to raise funds for their programs. Randy's made a donation for each donut sold on National Donut Day to the Salvation Army. I celebrated with a Boston cream (Randy's version is shaped like a long john instead of the the typical round shape -- I think there are more custardy bites that way!) and a chocolate raised. And, hopefully, I've raised some awareness on the awesomeness that is Randy's.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Tournament of Roses Mansion

The Tournament of Roses Mansion in Pasadena offers a little something for everyone. Definitely visit if you're a fan of the annual new year's spectacles Rose Parade and Rose Bowl. For the gals, here you can see various Rose Queen crowns worn by the lucky ladies. The Queen tradition dates back to 1905, so be sure to check out the photos covering 100 or so years of fashions. For the fellows, there are two rooms dedicated to the college championship football game. Kicking off in 1902, then played continuously since 1916, "the Grandaddy of them all" is showcased with displays of trophies, helmets, programs and photos.

And, if you're not a devotee of these events, there's still the architecture and the roses. It's also fun to be a looky-loo in the house, one of the six homes owned by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. Take note that the "wallpaper" in the solarium is painted aluminum foil, a material Mr. Wrigley probably knew well from wrapping his Juicy Fruit.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Eaton Canyon Waterfall

I was needing a Lewis and Clark nature exploration and remembered the elusive Eaton Canyon waterfall. Located in the Pasadena/Altadena area, Eaton Canyon offers a range of guided hikes including California native plants, by moonlight, birds, family-oriented, and the waterfall. However, on this visit, I was initially on my own. My Corps of Discovery came together as I trudged on, first a young couple (I'll call them Sacagawea and Charbonneau), then two friends (hereby named Drouillard and Cruzatte), and we banded together in search of the waterfall. Note that explorers get to rock-hop the creek multiple times, so be sure to wear appropriate shoes. When you see the sign indicating the waterfall is 1/2 mile ahead, assume that distance is based on how the crow flies, and not your actual route. And just keep going. We had a benefit that Meriwether and William did not have -- we encountered folks on the return trip who could confirm our goal was ahead. And, unlike our heroes, the only hardship I suffered was the complete breakdown of my hiking boots! You'll probably still find parts of my lugsoles on the trail. But, if you do, you'll know you're heading the right direction.

Click here to go to their Web site.