RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life


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Lotus Festival at Echo Park

echo park lotus festival

“Park Proud”

Another day, another adventure in Los Angeles!

Yesterday I joined several friends to celebrate the blooming Lotus plants at Echo Park, located approximately two miles from downtown LA. As usual, we all arrived by public transportation from all over the city. For me it was the Expo Line train to the #200 Metro bus up Alvarado to Sunset Blvd.

echo park lotus festival

This was the 37th annual festival. Echo Park Lake was closed for several years for rehabilitation. The festival started again just a few years ago. Every year the festival is hosted by a different country and this year it was the turn of Bangladesh.

You can read my blog post about the history of the park here.

echo park lotus festival

It was a pretty hot day yesterday… and humid… but it was a lovely day by the water. The lotus plants were lush and tall due to all the rain we had in the winter months and now the heat.

echo park lotus festival

echo park lotus festival

The dragonflies were enjoying themselves too.

echo park lotus festival

echo park lotus festival

echo park lotus festival

One of the highlights of the festival is the dragon boat races.  I’ve been to Echo Park many times to walk and take photos but this was my first time at the festival so I was delighted to finally see a dragon boat race! Click on a photo below for slideshow:

echo park lotus festival

The opening ceremonies were colorful and fun with a traditional Bangladesh puppet lion dance. Click on image below for slideshow:

This certainly worked up an appetite. I was hoping for some Bangladesh food but that didn’t pan out.

echo park lotus festival

But I certainly enjoyed my Korean BBQ squid. I also ordered a watermelon drink, not realizing it came with it’s own pool float! Now if I only had a pool…. but I’ll use it as a coaster.

echo park lotus festival

After lunch we had an enjoyable walk around the lake.

echo park lotus festival

The dragon boat races continued on throughout the day with various teams. It seemed that some teams were taking the race seriously, really out to win. Others were just having fun, which would be my option.

echo park lotus festival

I always enjoy festivals of any kind as they all have their own special flavor, like last month’s Summer Solstice parade in Santa Barbara. And coming up the end of this month is the Gilroy Garlic Festival, my all time favorite… stay tuned for my post about that!

If you’ve never visited Echo Park I certainly recommend the effort to get there… even if you can’t make it to the Lotus Festival…

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

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Summer Solstice in Santa Barbara

summer solstice festival

Seems like every couple of years I take a tumble. Some are more serious than others. This one happened last Friday. I had packing boxes lined up on the living room floor. I had just finished a good half hour workout with Richard Simmons when I turned around and hit one of the boxes with my right foot. My left foot had nowhere to go so couldn’t save me. Somehow I twisted around trying to get my balance and I landed kersplat on both knees on the hardwood floor! My left leg took the brunt of it. So I am walking on my trusty cane for a while!

summer solstice festival

However, that didn’t stop me from enjoying a planned adventure on Amtrak to visit Santa Barbara for the Summer Solstice Celebration the very next day. I rarely pop pills but I was thankful to have Tylenol left over from my last “trip” in Oregon two years ago when I managed to give myself a mild concussion.

summer solstice festival

On Saturday I was out of bed at 4:00 am. My friend picked me up at 6:00 am to drive to the Metro train station (as I couldn’t walk as I usually do). We met another friend there to take the Expo Line to the Red Line to Union Station where we met yet another friend.

summer solstice festival

The Amtrak train gave us quite a tour of Los Angeles, stopping at various stations along the way including (not in order) Van Nuys, Glendale, Burbank, Simi Valley, etc on the way to Chatsworth where we picked up seven more friends for a total of eleven. By the time we got to Chatsworth (Northwest Los Angeles County) we were advised the train was so full it was going to be standing room only so nobody could hog two seats! Everybody was headed to the festival.

summer solstice festival

Santa Barbara is approximately 100 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles and about 2.5 hours by train.

summer solstice festival

Upon arrival we headed straight for Moby Dick’s restaurant on the wharf which was a mere fifteen minute walk from the train station… or twenty five minutes for me on my cane! I had already decided I was ordering the seafood omelette with lobster, shrimp, crab and hollandaise sauce. It did not disappoint and although it was enough food for three people, I valiantly cleaned the plate all by myself.

summer solstice festival

I wish I could have taken more seascape photos but my normal modus operandi when walking with a group is to lag behind taking photos then run to catch up with the others. It’s hard to run with a cane. For one thing, even if I could, I would have ended up tripping over it!

summer solstice festival

From the website: 

Summer Solstice Parade began in 1974, as a birthday celebration for a popular artist and mime named Michael Gonzales. In subsequent years, their parade joined forces with a Summer Solstice Music Festival coordinated by Michael Felcher, sponsored by The Santa Barbara Museum of Art, staged at the Sunken Gardens to celebrate the longest day of year.

The Parade and Festival is the largest arts event in Santa Barbara County, drawing crowds of over 100,000 spectators from around the world. From these humble beginnings arose a celebration of life which, is like no other.

 

Not knowing how my legs would hold up, I couldn’t wander too far off the beaten path. So I just walked along State Street taking in the parade which was very enjoyable. I took several videos but didn’t know how to upload them to WordPress. So you’ll have to imagine the music and movement!

Click on an image below to start the slideshow.

On the trip back to LA the train was so crowded our group got to sit in Business Class. That is the way to travel. Plenty of room and leg rests like a Barcalounger. Perfect for my aching limbs.

I love traveling by train and I look forward to returning to Santa Barbara by Amtrak maybe next year on a non-festival day to see the rest of the city. It’s been about thirty years since I was there last.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 

 


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Post Rose Parade Floats: Downton Abbey to Disney to Dragons

post rose parade floats

First of all I want to apologize for being so behind with my postings and for not being able to address your comments and visit your blogs. I have projects I have to work on but I will catch up soon, I promise!

Okay…. Yesterday I watched the Rose Parade twice. It was the last time Stephanie Edwards and Bob Eubanks were hosting the parade for KTLA TV in Los Angeles. Sad to see them go, but as they said, it was their choice to go out on top.

post rose parade floats

I’ve seen the parade in person twice many years ago. It’s a lovely thing to do with the bands and horses but the floats go by yards away and you can’t see all the details.

post rose parade floats

Three years ago I viewed the Post Parade floats and enjoyed seeing them up close and personal. Click here to see that post.

post rose parade floats

So this year I organized a trip for some friends. We were a group of ten. I was really happy that so many people wanted to go.

post rose parade floats

I took about a billion photos. The images I chose to post here were totally arbitrary and admittedly way too many. So forgive me.

post rose parade floats

You have to remember as you look at these photos that everything has to be from the plant kingdom. Flowers, seeds, leaves, beans, grasses, bark, fruit, vegetables… you name it.

post rose parade floats

No, you can’t use feathers so these wings are made of some kind of vegetation.

post rose parade floats

I don’t know how many gazillions of people show up to view the floats. They say it amounts to tens of thousands. This shot was taken on the way out and you can see a bazillion people still coming in way way way way up on the hill.

post rose parade floats

It was a good thing we arrived about ten in the morning before the serious crowds arrived.

post rose parade floats

There are two and a half miles of floats. And it takes over two hours to look at everything.

post rose parade floats

Fortunately it’s really well organized.

post rose parade floats

The weather was spectacular. Look how clear the mountains are. One of my friends commented he expected to see a dusting of snow. But there was none. However, next week we are expecting rain in the city which should mean snow on the mountains.

post rose parade floats

I pretty much took off on my own and lost sight of the group. It’s easier for me to take photos that way.

post rose parade floats

I think people are used to that by now!

post rose parade floats

It’s hard to expect people to go at my speed when I keep stopping to take photos. Oh wait, I have to take a picture of that!

post rose parade floats

I believe photographers see things other people don’t. And find significance in insignificant things.

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On some of the floats I couldn’t help taking several pictures at different angles. Other floats I skipped completely. Not because i didn’t find them worthy but sometimes the crowds of people blocked my view and other times I just got tired. Nothing personal!

post rose parade floats

Also in some situations that pesky sun was just in the wrong place. Of course, later in the morning when the sun was overhead it became almost impossible to take a shot.

post rose parade floats

But I feel like the photos I was able to take are representative of the floats.

post rose parade floats

I am just plain impressed with this art form where anything seems to be possible.

post rose parade floats

As I wanted to get these photos posted as soon as possible, I didn’t have time to do a lot of post processing so many are as they came out of the camera and many have very little basic processing.

post rose parade floats

I have to say what really annoyed me was the photographers trying to take “artsy” photos. They were adjusting the aperture or shutter speed or angle or whatever, hogging their particular space so nobody else could take a photo. Get over it! If you want to be an artist then arrive really early in the morning to take your award-winning shots!

post rose parade floats

I was being courteous by taking my snapshot and moving on. This is not the place for Ansel Adams!

post rose parade floats

I think I got some pretty good photos that give people the general idea.

post rose parade floats

Enough of that!

In the US we are coming up on the final season of Downton Abbey in 2016. So it was really nice to see a representation of Highclere Castle where it is filmed. It was certainly a popular float:

As usual most of us arrived by public transportation. I walked 25 minutes to the Culver City station, took the Expo Line to the Red Line to the Gold Line. There was a free Metro bus shuttle from the Sierra Madre Villa station to the float viewing. The whole trip took a little over two hours.

post rose parade floats

I love public transportation and especially riding on the train.

post rose parade floats

After the float viewing we took the shuttle back to the train station.

post rose parade floatsFrom there we had a six-minute walk to the original Panda Inn for lunch.

I don’t know how wide-spread Panda Express is, but this is original sit down restaurant that also owns the Express venues. I always wanted to eat at this restaurant so I can check that off my bucket list now. They served a lot of food… but that was no problem for me. I ordered the garlic shrimp and ate every morsel.

Of course, I neglected to take photos.

Anyway, here are the rest of the way too many photos for your enjoyment. Click on any image to start the slideshow:

Hopefully next week, after I am done successfully with some events, I will be back on track with my blogging duties and responsibilities! Thanks for hanging in there!

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Someone left the “cakes” out in the rain at MacArthur Park

MacArthur Park spheres

Through September 22 the lake at MacArthur Park is covered in painted balls. Since first hearing about this project several months ago (while eating lunch at Langer’s across the street) I’ve been looking forward to this event.

MacArthur Park spheres

From the Portraits of Hope website: The Spheres at MacArthur Park is the largest public art and civic project in the U.S. More than 10,000 children and adults throughout Los Angeles have participated in visually transforming and revitalizing MacArthur Park as part of Portraits of Hope’s latest project. 

Click on an image to start slideshow.

Everybody knows the lyrics to Jimmy Webb’s MacArthur Park made famous by Richard Harris and many others. As it happens, there was a very heavy rainstorm Monday night so when I visited yesterday I wondered if there would be any damage to the spheres. But I didn’t notice too much.

However, it did seem like life imitating art for here were all these brightly colored “cakes” floating around in MacArthur Park after the rains.

MacArthur Park spheres

Besides the colorful “cakes” there was plenty of wildlife to captivate my lens.

MacArthur Park spheres

I couldn’t decide if this little guy was admiring his own fine feathers or fascinated, as I was, by the reflection of the ball.

MacArthur Park spheres

This seagull was obviously more interested in posing for his portrait than viewing the artwork. Seagulls are very hard to impress.

MacArthur Park spheres

I took so many photos of the “cakes” that I had a hard time deciding which ones to use for the blog. I wanted to pick the photos that were most representative of my experience rather than necessarily the most artsy ones. So I hope I struck a balance between the two ways to go.

Over the decades MacArthur Park has seen many ups and downs, to say the least. I was a little apprehensive about visiting on my own. The park is known for drug deals, the sale of false IDs, shootings, gang violence and other nefarious activities. I believe part of the reason for this installation was to bring the citizens of Los Angeles to the park and to create some interest in its revitalization.

Macarthur-park-091615-185-C-750px

MacArthur Park spheres

MacArthur Park spheres

Evidently the birds don’t care about any of that and consider it a haven in the middle of the big city.

Above are images of the artists floating on the water.

MacArthur Park spheres

I watched these two birds for quite a while as they chased each other all over the lake and held each other in death grips, keeping the opponent’s wings pinned under the water. Several times I was sure one of them would drown. But after a while one or the other got tired or decided the lesson had been learned and it was all over

If you are interested in seeing this spectacle, do not delay. I took the Expo Line from Culver City to the Purple Line to MacArthur Park. The park is just across the street from the station. The Red Line stops there too.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 


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It’s a Doo Dah day

doo-dah-parade-pasadena

Everybody is familiar with the Rose Parade. Gazillions of people line the streets of Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena every New Year’s Day to watch the elaborate and expensive floats go by. More gazillions all over the world watch the parade on TV from the comfort of their sofas. There aren’t too many people who don’t know about it.

doo-dah-parade-pasadena

The opposite is true of the parade’s ugly sister, the Doo Dah Parade. And that is just fine.

doo-dah-parade-pasadena

Thirty seven years ago a chap named Peter Apanel  had a brain storm to start a parade that would be the anti-Rose Parade. The Rose Parade had “a theme so we would have no theme. They have judging and prizes, so we would have no judging and no prizes. Since none of us would be allowed in the Rose Parade, we would allow everyone in our parade.”

doo-dah-parade-pasadena

And so the Doo Dah Parade was born.

doo-dah-parade-pasadena

When I first heard about it several years ago it became one of those things I wanted to see sometime in the future when I had the time. That time finally came.

doo-dah-parade-pasadena

This year the parade was held on November 15 and I decided to go.

doo-dah-parade-pasadena

Pasadena is 20 miles, 2 freeways and 45 minutes (depending on the date and time) from Culver City. But now I can get there by Metro train: Expo Line to the Red Line to the Gold Line.

doo-dah-parade-pasadena

I met some friends at Union Station and we all hopped on the Gold Line together to ride to the end of the line at Sierra Madre Villa station. (It won’t be the end of the line for long as it is being expanded out to Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa in the first phase and further out later on.)

doo-dah-parade-pasadena

Then we walked about a mile to what happened to be the turn around point for the parade, and a good location for taking photos.

doo-dah-parade-pasadena

That was my first and last Doo Dah Parade. I enjoyed seeing what it was all about and now I can strike another event off my list.

doo-dah-parade-pasadena

It’s just a bit of fun and I’m sure the people who enter it are having a super time.

doo-dah-parade-pasadena

For more photos than you ever wanted to see of the Doo Dah Parade click an image below:

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Setting up for el Dia de los Muertos at Los Angeles Grand Park

grand park dia de los muertos

With the Culver City Art Group 18th Holiday Art Show looming less than a week away on November 9, yesterday I decided to take the train downtown to Grand Park to see if I could find anything worth photographing to enter into the show. My kiln went kaput recently and as I don’t have the time or the money to get it fixed, this year, instead of ceramic tiles, I am showing photos. I am looking at it like the universe is shoving me in a different direction. So I am going with the shove!

grand park dia de los muertos

Lo and behold, when I emerged from the train station I could see preparations were going on for some kind of event. I soon realized it was a Dia de los Muertos celebration. I was there around 11:30am but the party was not due to start until 3:00pm (going on into the night) so I didn’t get to see the full effect. Entrance and exit to and from the park would have been closed down by then anyway so it was a good thing I was there beforehand.

grand park dia de los muertos

According to Wikipedia: “Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where the day is a bank holiday. The celebration takes place on October 31, November 1 and November 2, in connection with the Christian triduum of Hallowmas: All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.”

You’ll notice the use of a lot of marigolds in the altars. The Aztecs believed that the smell was strong enough to raise the souls of the dead so they could come back to join in the festivities.

grand park dia de los muertos

I’m hoping I can make some kind of collage from these photos for my entry in the Members’ Theme (Abstract Patterns) or I may decide to go with what I already have. We’ll see, as time is running out!

There were so many interesting altars it was difficult to choose only certain ones, but below is a slide show gallery of some random picks. Click on any photo to start the show.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Pre-July 4th fireworks at Santa Monica College

santa-monica-college-fireworksL is one of my oldest LA friends. We were architectural draftsmen/women/people, whatever the politically correct terminology is these days, way way back before computers. She is one of those friends I see maybe twice a year in a good year. But when we do get together it’s like, didn’t we just see each other last week? Anyway, she lives in Santa Monica and invited me, along with a couple of other friends, to the Santa Monica College fireworks display.

The Santa Monica College display always takes place the Saturday night before July 4th. This was my 3rd outing to this display.

The Santa Monica fireworks were a staple of my life every July 4th when I lived at the beach and the fireworks were shot off from a barge at the end of the pier. But over the years the crowds became more rowdy. Drugs and alcohol took their toll. Gangs too. It became not safe.

santa-monica-college-fireworks

The City of Santa Monica moved the show to some ungodly hour in the morning like 5:30 or 6:00 (I don’t remember exactly) figuring the gang bangers, the druggies and the boozers wouldn’t show up at that time of day. But nobody else wanted to either.

So the latest incarnation is at the college where security guards can keep a tight lid on things. So tight that the lady in front of me in the line going in had brought an opened bottle of Italian dressing for her salad. The top was removed and passed along the line for everybody to sniff it! I couldn’t help myself. I commented loudly enough that the line of security personnel could hear me. “You know, sometimes it’s just salad dressing!” They even closely inspected my UNopened bottle of Fiji water…  Whatever!

We arrived about 7:30pm for the 9:00pm show. It was a balmy night. We spread our tarps (okay, shower curtains) and blankets out on the astro turf. The sound of the country rock band blared raucously out of the speakers. We shouted to hear each other.

santa-monica-college-fireworks

Above is my self-portrait of my “shadow-self.” I think this should be in a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art!

I had thought to bring my dSLR to try my hand at taking photos of the fireworks. I read all the instructions and suggestions. But, along with the fact that I hadn’t even figured out how to mount my camera on my new tripod, I decided I really didn’t want to carry all that equipment. So I whipped out my phone instead. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be taking photos on my phone!

But a few weeks ago, after my old cell phone dropped yet another business call, I realized the time had come to sign up for a grownup cell phone. A smartphone. Of course, now it has already become a part of my life. This was the first outing for my Samsung Galaxy S4 phone as a camera. Just about all my friends rave about their iPhones so I had to be different. Really, I’m just not a big fan of Apple products. Each to their own.

I turned on the camera and flipped through all the menus. There are more options than on my Canon T3i dSLR. Okay, I’m exaggerating… just a little. I settled on the night setting. One of the reasons I didn’t want to bring the Canon was so that I could relax and enjoy the fireworks without worrying about getting perfect photos. I was happy with the idea that I would merely take a few snapshots for memories.

santa-monica-college-fireworks

People had brought light sticks, so when the lights went down this is what it looked like around me.

I had thought to bring my DSLR to try my hand at taking photos of the fireworks. I read all the instructions and suggestions. But, along with the fact that I hadn't even figured out how to mount my camera on my new tripod, I decided I really didn't want to carry all that equipment. So I whipped out my phone instead. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be taking photos on my phone!

Ah, the moment we had been waiting for. The band packed up and the real show began.

I had thought to bring my DSLR to try my hand at taking photos of the fireworks. I read all the instructions and suggestions. But, along with the fact that I hadn't even figured out how to mount my camera on my new tripod, I decided I really didn't want to carry all that equipment. So I whipped out my phone instead. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be taking photos on my phone!

Now, I am by no means claiming these are the most fabulous shots you have ever seen of fireworks. But I let my imagination off the leash and let it run wild.

santa-monica-college-fireworks

I am always fascinated by telescope photos of the birth of nebulae. The way these photos came out reminded me of those stellar nurseries of clouds of dust and gas.

santa-monica-college-fireworks

I can look backwards in time and see stars being born billions of light years away.

santa-monica-college-fireworks

Planets and suns and galaxies spinning out of the gaseous mass and into the universe.

santa-monica-college-fireworksHurling through the cosmos.

santa-monica-college-fireworksBillions and billions and billions of stars.

santa-monica-college-fireworksThe new planets being formed by volcanoes and earthquakes.

santa-monica-college-fireworks

Ribbons of energy spewing forth into the emptiness to form new life.

santa-monica-college-fireworks

After shooting the first few minutes of the show I was dizzy. I turned off the camera, sat back, and enjoyed the fireworks for themselves.

At the finale I wanted to grab some shots but after fumbling around in the dark for a few seconds I realized that was not going to happen and I was about to miss the ending. So I let it go. I can still see it in my head if not on my camera phone… and that is fine with me.

Please click on all the photos for a larger view.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, please check with us first for proper usage. Thanks!

 


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Pasadena Rose Parade floats on wheelchairs and walkers

rose parade floats Wednesday of last week my plan was to have lunch with my mother at her assisted living home in Culver City and run some errands for her. When I arrived I was greeted at the elevator by the activities coordinator. “Change of plans,” she told me. “We’re going to see the Rose Parade floats in Pasadena. Do you want to come?”

rose parade floats

“Yes, yes, yes and yes.” So I flew up the stairs, woke up my mother, told her she had five minutes to get dressed and we were out the door and on the bus. I have to say, my mom was a really good sport about the whole thing as she really didn’t have a clue where we were going or what we were doing. But a little bit of mystery is good for everybody’s life.

rose parade floats

I’ve been to the Rose Parade a couple of times too many years ago to admit to. And in the 1990s I was thrilled to be working on the Star Trek float for Nestle USA. I referred to what turned out to be a less than thrilling experience in a previous blog post.

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Fortunately, on that Wednesday, even though I was not expecting to go anywhere exciting, I happened to have my trusty point & shoot camera with me. From now on my motto is never leave home without it…

I’ve been to the Rose Parade a couple of times too many years ago to admit to. And in the 1990s I was thrilled to be working on the Star Trek float for Nestle USA. I referred to what turned out to be a less than thrilling experience in a previous blog post.

By the time we got out to Pasadena we were all starving. Our driver recommended a Mexican/Yucatan restaurant. El Portal on E. Green St. All I have to say is just go there. The best Mexican food I ever remember eating and that is saying something living in a city infested with Mexican restaurants.

rose parade floats rose parade floats

 But we had to move on to the 2013 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Post Parade… A Showcase of Floats. I don’t think any of us realized how huge the exhibit area was. We had several people on walkers and canes along with the wheelchairs. The wheelchairs weren’t a problem. But our walking people soon got tired.

rose parade floats

I managed to take a few pictures pushing my mother’s wheelchair with one hand and clicking my camera with the other. It was actually a good thing I didn’t have my big DSLR as that is definitely a two-hand production.

rose parade floats
Just remember when looking at these photos, everything that is visible on the floats has to be made out of some kind of plant life. You may think you are looking at a rock or fur or silk but it is all petals or seeds or leaves or something similar.

rose parade floats

Next year I would really like to go see the floats without the walkers and wheelchairs and get some good photos. But who knows, with all the millions of things I do, if I will remember by then?rose parade floats
Of course, this very adoptable and adorable kitty had to be my favorite!

rose parade floats

rose parade floats

rose parade floats

(Photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)


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Riverside’s Mission Inn lights up for the holidays

Riverside Mission Inn Festival of Lights
Riverside Mission Inn Festival of Lights Bell Tower

Several years ago I took a day trip to Riverside with the West LA group of the Sierra Club. We learned about the history of oranges in southern California, visited a museum and a mansion. The highlight of the day was the tour of the Mission Inn Hotel designed in the Mission Revival style.

Originally built in 1876 as a two-story adobe guest house (which no longer stands) the hotel now offers 238 guest rooms. In 1952 Ronald and Nancy Reagan spent their honeymoon night at the hotel. And before that Richard Nixon married Pat at one of the wedding chapels in 1940.  

But you can read all about that elsewhere.

Riverside Mission Inn Festival of Lights

Riverside Mission Inn Festival of Lights Porte-cochere

During the holiday season the Mission Inn Hotel lights up like Disneyland with 3.5 million lights. The Festival of Lights runs from November 25, 2011 through January 8, 2012.

The ITMI (International Tour Management Institute) So Cal Network chose the venue for our annual holiday dinner. First we were given a comprehensive tour of the hotel by one of our members, Carol Williams, who is also a Mission Inn docent. I remembered some of the information from my previous tour, but there is always something new to learn.

We had a little free time before dinner was served so I walked around gawking at the lights. The hotel takes on a totally different and magical ambience at this time of year. One of the reasons I love the holiday season is because of the decorations and light displays. I revert to my six-year-old self.

Riverside Mission Inn Hotel Festival of Lights

Riverside Mission Inn Festival of Lights Cinderella coach

I was especially delighted to see the horse-drawn Cinderella carriages transporting people around the streets. What an amazing way to view all the decorations in the area.

I recently read an article in the London Telegraph about an Englishman who decorates his house with 40,000 lights and makes three or four trips to the US every year to procure them. Now that is a man after my own heart!

I was so enamored with the lights and festive decorations I was late for the buffet. A feast for the eyes versus a feast for the stomach. Hard for me to choose!

Click here for a photo gallery of the lights.

 (All photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)


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Working the Rose Bowl Tournament: a sea of red Badgers

Pasadena Rose Parade float barn

I am not a sports fan (unless you count following the FIFA World Cup every four years) so when I heard I would be working the 2011 Rose Bowl Tournament it really didn’t have a lot of significance for me. However, now that it has come and gone I have to admit I enjoyed myself and I learned a lot.

At first I had no idea which teams were playing. I found that out pretty quickly when hordes of red t-shirts disembarked from the plane at LAX. The Wisconsin Badgers (University of Wisconsin) were here en masse to route for their team against the Horned Frogs (Texas Christian University) wearing deep purple.  

The next morning my job was to take forty six Badgers on a five-hour Los Angeles City bus tour. I always enjoy showing off my city to people from out of town and I had a great time. We did the usual route from the Coliseum to downtown LA to Hollywood to Beverly Hills to Century City and out to Santa Monica. In the afternoon the bus headed out to Pasadena for a live and video orientation for the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Tournament. It was a lot more interesting than I expected.

From there we proceeded to the Float Barn where we paraded on a catwalk above the volunteers working on the floats. I was happy that we got to see the Trader Joe’s float being decorated with giant carrots and cabbages and various other fruits and veggies.

Pasadena Rose Parade float barn

On the way out to Pasadena I had to tell the story of my experience decorating a Rose Parade Float. I worked for Nestle USA for several years. The last year I worked there they sponsored the Star Trek float. As a huge fan of the show I asked if I could help decorate. My boss, knowing my Attention Deficit Disorder problem (only a problem in certain circumstances, like all of corporate life!), made me promise I would stay for a full seven-hour shift. Of course I would, I said. Why would I want to leave sooner as I would be having so much fun!

The conditions we saw on Thursday evening at the Float Barn were nothing like the situation I faced the year of the Star Trek float. This barn was enclosed and relatively warm. The “barn” I worked in all those years ago was open at both ends with freezing rain and chilly winds whipping through from one side to the other. My hands were so numb after an hour I could hardly hold the scissors. After two hours I couldn’t feel my butt or legs. I was in mortal pain.

My task was to cut up flower petals as tiny as possible. My idea of tiny was not the same as my supervisor’s. My tray of teeny weeny itsy bitsy petal pieces kept being returned to me to be cut up even smaller. I don’t know if they just wanted me out of there, or if I was being tested because I was new, or I was seriously expected to cut the petals into infinitesimally tiny specks that could only be seen under a microscope. In any event, I suffered for five hours before giving up. If it had been any other float than Star Trek I would have probably succumbed in three. So my hat is off to all float decorators, albeit working in more comfortable conditions than those I had to put up with.

Pasadena Rose Parade float barn

Two days after the LA City and Float Barn tours, I was the tour guide taking another busload of Badgers out to the Rose Bowl game itself. Unfortunately, “my” team lost to the Horned Frogs, but only by two points so it was at least a valiant effort. And I was sad to be saying goodbye to my cheesehead friends (although I only actually noticed one guy wearing a cheesehead, which surprised me.)

Once again the weather gods were with us as it rained, rained and rained the day before I did the city tour and the day after the Rose Bowl game. Amazing how, with only two exceptions in the history of the Rose Bowl and Rose Parade, the weather is always beautiful on New Year’s Day.

For a photo gallery of the Float Barn, click here.

(All photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)