RMW: the blog

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


Eating in the rain

 La Grande Orange Cafe


Some friends and I had planned to meet for lunch at La Grande Orange Cafe in Pasadena. Because of the flooding in my building I wasn’t sure if I could make it. Fortunately that was squared away in the morning and I was able to catch the Expo Line train to the Red Line and join some of the others at Union Station. From there we took the Gold Line to the Del Mar station where we met up with another friend.

I just love how we can all come from different areas in Greater Los Angeles and travel by train to our destination!

The cafe is part of the Del Mar station so we only had to walk a few footsteps in the rain once we debarked the train.

I asked G jokingly if we were going to ask for an outside table. The rain was really coming down at that point. The joke was on me. The restaurant was so crowded inside they seated us in the outdoor patio. I told the waitress the table had better be right under a heat lamp. It was. The waitress had to wipe the rain off our chairs before we could be seated!

La Grande Orange Cafe

Our table was sandwiched between the fireplace protected by a glass screen (photo above) and a heat lamp.  You can see one of the heat lamps in the photo at top.

The patio is under canopies but the precipitation managed to sneak through and every once in a while the rain spat on us… but in a very friendly way!

la grande orange cafe

My Bloody Mary and Huevos Rancheros more than made up for any bad weather. They were both excellent.

I am always happy when I decide to go out and do something as opposed to staying curled up on the sofa, which I easily could have done!

Back in Culver City the rain was coming down in Velociraptors and Tyrannosauruses as I left the train station. I thought about waiting for the bus but decided to take a chance on walking. I did a lot of puddle hopping but as the bus never passed me in the entire walk home I obviously made the right decision not to get soaked standing at the bus stop. Better to get soaked walking. And I did. Get soaked.

We have at least another day of rain. But by Wednesday the sun should be back and we’ll have a few dry days. I hope this isn’t the end of the wet stuff but it will be nice to have a chance to dry out.

Oh, and our flood… it was still a flood when I got home but the pump is doing a pretty good job… so we may get lucky and it won’t seep into the garages this time. Fingers crossed.

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!


Belated birthday bash

union station

Looks like the original ticketing area is being renovated. In the station’s previous hey day each of those window openings would have lines of people purchasing tickets. Now tickets are purchased in a less glamorous location… or mostly online!!!

It’s good to have the computer up and running again. Still haven’t re-installed all my programs or properly recalibrated my monitor but I’m slowly working on it… and I have my fingers crossed!

On Saturday my friend B and I visited Union Station… my favorite building in all of Los Angeles. B and I met a couple of decades ago when we were neighbors. She stayed put. I moved. But only about 1.5 miles away, so we are still almost neighbors!

Union Station

Looking through the waiting area to the trains at the end.

Her birthday is in June, mine in May. For several years we have been talking about taking the Expo and Red Lines to Union Station and eating at Traxx Restaurant to celebrate our mutual birthdays. Although we meet for dinner at least once a month, we never seemed to be able to make it to Traxx.

Union Station

To make a longer story short, we couldn’t get a reservation at Traxx Restaurant for the day we wanted. So we decided to take the train to Union Station anyway and improvise. Turned out to be a better situation than getting a reservation. The bar opened at 11:30 (ish) and we were the first customers!

Union Station

B suggested a Bloody Mary which sounded good to me! Tasted delicious so we ordered a second round. Well, we were celebrating our birthdays! To balance out the alcohol we shared shrimp tacos and chicken quesadilla. Perfect.

We sat there for a couple of hours people watching and gazing at the beautiful architecture. This is just how I had imagined it.

union station

In the waiting room there is a piano that anybody is invited to play. This guy was obviously a professional as (fortunately) his playing was definitely melodious. I imagined he was a studio musician having his moment in the spotlight!



Just looking around at the walls and ceiling from where we were sitting.

Los Angeles Plaza

It was hard to leave Union Station. Really I could have sat there all afternoon. But we needed to move on. We walked across the street to the Plaza area where people were dancing to a Latin beat.

Los Angeles Plaza

Then we watched as a group performed traditional Indian dances.

Methodist church

I’ve never been able to see inside the Plaza Methodist Church before. This was built in the 1920s. I learned that the Methodist church was the founding agent in Southern California for Goodwill Industries (where most of my unwanted “stuff” ends up).

We ambled through Olvera Street looking at the stalls and the stores. I’m always fascinated and intrigued by the Mexican goods available on this tourist street. No need to drive all the way to Tijuana!

Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles

We stepped across the street to Nuestra Senora Reina de Los Angeles (Our Lady Queen of the Angels), the oldest existing church in LA, founded in 1781. The first Europeans, the Spanish, arrived in 1769. Everything changed!

Nuestra Senora

We couldn’t get into the main church. The door with the sign “Always Open” was locked. But I think the little chapel is much more interesting anyway.

Union Station

View of Union Station from La Plaza across the street

wilshire grand

The new Wilshire Grand which was “topped out” in March. It will replace the US Bank Building (Library Tower) as the tallest building West of Chicago. I’m sad about that but it had to happen one day.

I always appreciate the opportunity to show friends living in Los Angeles or visitors from faraway lands everything there is to see in this city. I have to say, it always amazes me how people who have lived here for decades, or were even born here, know so little about Los Angeles. But then it makes it so much more fun for me!

I’ve never trekked through the Amazon jungles or ridden a camel across the Saharan Desert, but I still consider myself to be an explorer. An urban explorer to be sure. But I certainly enjoy excavating every nook and cranny of my adopted city.

downtown los angeles

For those of you who know downtown, this is the newly re-opened The Bloc on 7th Street, across from the 7th Metro train hub, formerly the bricked-in enclave known as Macy’s Plaza

One interesting phenomena around Los Angeles these days is the redevelopment of the major shopping centers. At locations all over the city they are being transformed from closed-in fortresses to airy complexes open to the sky. What day did somebody wake up and say, hey, we have sunshine in LA, maybe customers could enjoy it while they are shopping!

Always worth peaking into Bottega Louie to salivate over the macaroons and other delightful pastries. No tasting now, just looking!

Our final destination in downtown this lovely afternoon was Clifton’s. As many times as I have been there since it’s re-opening, there is always one more soul who hasn’t visited yet. So I have to drag myself in there again.


We sat in the bar sipping an expensive glass of really bad Merlot. You don’t go there for the wine, evidently. But the ambience is definitely worth it as far as I am concerned. Another place I enjoy just sitting and people watching.

At this point B had a craving for apple pie à la mode. While I didn’t share that particular craving, we took the Expo Line back to Culver City and B drove her car over to the Marie Callender’s in West LA. As soon as I opened the menu my eyes were drawn to the tuna melt. The previous week with my other friend B (from England) I had a very disappointing tuna melt at what used to be my favorite restaurant on the Santa Monica Pier. I can no longer recommend it. But this tuna melt more than made up for it.

It was a happy ending to a beautiful day with a very good friend. What more can you ask for in life than that?

(Photos brought to you by my faithful point & shoot Canon G16 camera).

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!


All the way to Santa Catalina Island for Bubble Gum ice cream

santa catalina island

The Catalina Casino has to be one of the most photographed and iconic buildings in the world. I never get tired of taking pictures of it, just as I never tire of visiting it.

On Saturday several of my explorer friends and I headed for Santa Catalina Island for a day trip.

Santa Catalina Island

Catalina is approximately 26 miles from San Pedro, the Los Angeles port we chose to travel from. I use that distance because it is the title of a 50s song by the Four Preps. I never heard the song before I Googled the words “Catalina song.”

At the end of the post I’ve included two versions of the song by the Four Preps, one from long ago and one more recently. It’s a peppy song and now I can’t get it out of my head… but certainly matches the Catalina feeling!

And yup, that’s our catamaran above, the Starship Express! Not quite the Enterprise, but close enough!

Santa Catalina Island

The photo above is our first sighting of the island after leaving port. A little hazy… and I was shooting through a window…

Santa Catalina Island

As we neared Avalon we were hit in the face by this crazy condo complex cut into the side of the formerly pristine mountainside. Hamilton Cove just keeps on growing… okay, moving on…

Santa Catalina Island

This was our next, more pleasant view from the boat. Just as I remembered it.


Santa Catalina Island

Avalon has a very small beach but it is popular. As it was past noon by now our first thought was food so we made a bee line for the restaurant.

It’s been several years since I last visited and since then The Busy Bee, my favorite water-side restaurant, morphed into the more upscale Bluewater Grill.

Santa Catalina Island

After a rather long wait for just the right table (able to accomodate six people) we were happy to sit down and admire that perfect view.

I ordered the sand dabs with summer squash and scalloped potatoes, one of the better meals I have ever eaten. I accompanied it with one of the best Bloody Mary’s I have ever tasted. It included a large, juicy shrimp, two huge stuffed olives and a string bean. I could have ordered two of those and called it lunch!

Santa Catalina Island

The Bluewater Grille hanging out over the water on the right. Pier on the left. At the top of the hill to the right is the Wrigley Mansion (now The Inn on Mt Ada).  At one time William Wrigley, Jr. (Wrigley’s Chewing Gum) owned the entire island.

Santa Catalina Island

After lunch we walked up to the Casino and I stopped to take some snapshots of people enjoying themselves on this glorious day. Not just people, of course. This dog was obviously captain of his ship.

Santa Catalina Island

The row of buoys designates a swimming area where boats are not allowed.

santa catalina island

A little paragliding, anyone?

Santa Catalina Island

And I had to take the opportunity for my selfie. Look at how clear that water is… if I wasn’t covered from head to toe to protect myself from the sun, I would have jumped in! Fortunately, I had many years of frolicking in the ocean so I still remember what it feels like… I have always loved being in, on and around water.

Santa Catalina Island

Cars are not generally allowed on Catalina but there are plenty of golf carts for hire. I also noticed quite a few two-person smart cars. According to the Chamber of Commerce there is currently a 14-year wait to own a car on the island, so why bother?

Santa Catalina Island

Tiles are everywhere. I could have filled this post with them but I had to restrain myself. Wrigley founded Catalina Clay Products in the 1920s which produced pottery and tiles. Forget about the pottery, I adore Catalina-style tiles which are prized by collectors and imitated by contemporary tile artists (myself included).



Santa Catalina Island

This tile piece illustrates the bison that have been roaming the hills of Catalina for a hundred years. I can tell you a few stories of my bison encounters when you have some time. Just recently (end of August) the CEO of a conservation group, engaged in mapping for a new hiking trail, was gored by a bison. Fortunately he survived, but they are wild animals and you don’t want to piss them off.


Santa Catalina Island

The Catalina Island Yacht Club sports a fancy weathervane of a galleon.

Santa Catalina Island

Sailboats come from Los Angeles and around the world to drop anchor at Avalon Bay. In my sailing days I remember not being able to sleep because of the clanging of the rigging from the boats that surrounded us. I suppose old salts get used to it, but I was merely a weekend sailor so I didn’t.

Like many things in my life, I’m glad I tried it, but after years of dreaming about learning to sail, the reality wasn’t as glamorous as the expectations! Now I’m happy just to look at the boats from afar.

Santa Catalina Island



Santa Catalina Island

The Casino is now a movie theater downstairs. The old ballroom is still open upstairs and many events are hosted here. There are also tours available of the building which I highly recommend… takes you back to days gone by.

The entryway murals were created in 1929. After John Gabriel Beckman completed the murals for Grauman’s Chinese Theater (in Hollywood), Wrigley invited the artist to adorn the Casino.

santa catalina island

Walkway to Descanso Beach Club, north of downtown Avalon. The place was hopping with loud music and twenty-somethings. A sign stated for $2 members of the public could access the property. But we decided it was time to return to Avalon for our ice cream dessert. I treated myself to a double cone with Bubble Gum on the top and Vanilla Bean on the bottom. The only time I go for Bubble Gum ice cream is at Big Olaf’s on Catalina. It’s a tradition I started for myself many years ago and I can’t give it up now!


santa catalina island

After sitting for a while to people watch as we finished our ice cream, we sauntered on down to Lover’s Cove just past the boat dock. This is a popular place for birds to hang out so they can watch the snorkelers.

It was almost time to board the Catalina Express to head back to the mainland. It was a short trip due to circumstances beyond my control. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful afternoon and I wouldn’t have missed it.


santa catalina island

We are already thinking about coming back next year when we can spend more time. I’m also thinking about making an overnight trip on my own. Just me and my camera.

There is SO much more to see on the island within walking distance of Avalon Beach… I have such great memories of hiking and biking all over.

santa catalina island

On the return trip we were able to snag seats on the outside deck. We had a fellow traveler for a while. But it turns out he was a stowaway without a paid ticket so as soon as we were out on the high seas he flew back to Avalon.

santa catalina island

Bye bye until next year, sweet Catalina!

Don’t leave just yet.  The Four Preps want to sing that song about the island that I promised you. But a warning, you will be humming it for the rest of the day!

The first video is from the 50s with the four original members:

The second video is a more recent version with two of the original members. (And one extra song.)

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. 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!