RMW: the blog

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


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Ventura Adventure

ventura city hall

Ventura City Hall

Ten of us adventurous souls met in Ventura for another exciting day. Seven of us took Amtrak from Los Angeles Union Station. The other three met us in Ventura.

Father Junipero Serra

I was out of bed at 3:45 to meet my friend at the bus stop at 6:15. The Expo Line was down for upgrading so we were stuck with the Metro #733 bus.

Father Junipero Serra looking out on the city of Ventura

It takes me two hours to get out of the house these days. Cleaning out the cat litter boxes, making the cat’s breakfast, watering my crops of tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, parsley, etc, making coffee, cooking breakfast, getting dressed, wandering around in a fog… it all takes time.

Ventura Botanical Gardens

I was ready to walk to the bus top by 5:45. It was beautiful walking through Culver City at that hour of the morning with only a couple of people walking their dogs and barely any traffic. So peaceful.

We arrived at Union Station with time to spare. I always like to be early instead of running at the last minute. As I always say, I would rather be two hours early than two minutes too late!

The Amtrak train left at 7:50am and we arrived in Ventura about 9:30. I LOVE traveling by train and Amtrak is soooooooo comfortable. It’s lovely to see the scenery go by from the top deck.

Our first stop was the Ventura Botanical Gardens.

The area was totally burned out in the Thomas fire of December 2017. But the gardens are being replanted and coming back quickly. You can still see the extent of the burned out areas.

The gardens are built on a hill with the option of switchback trails or stairs. I opted for the switchback. Whichever you chose there are some lovely views.

Plants are resilient and manage to grow in any situation.

Click on the first image below for a slide show:

After the hike up the hill we walked back through town towards the pier and lunch, always my favorite activity!

We ate at Beach House Fish. I ordered the wild snapper with mashed potatoes. I am a potato junkie… the way it is…

I thought this image represented the beach at Ventura!

Eating!

What a view as you eat your seafood lunch. Life is good.

After my delicious lunch I took a stroll along the pier. It’s a fishing pier.

Click on an image below for photos of the pier and views from the pier:

What a beautiful day we had with great friends!

Waiting for the Amtrak train back to Los Angeles.

 

 

 


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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!

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downtown-LA-070216-017-C-600px

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.

Clifton's

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!


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One good kipper and a visit to the Central Library – Part One

richard riordan central library

Atrium of Tom Bradley wing of Central Library completed in 1993

Last week I met a friend at the 7th Street Metro Center Station in downtown Los Angeles. We both arrived by train. This is the end of the line for the Culver City/Expo Line which I traveled on, and for the Long Beach/Blue Line which he traveled on. He was in the mood for deli food so he suggested eating at Langer’s, just one stop away on the Red Line train at MacArthur Park.

MacArthur Park, made famous by the song written by Jimmy Webb, is now a hispanic neighborhood so it may seem strange to find a Jewish deli in that milieu of Spanish-speaking people. According to my friend, twenty years ago the deli was in danger of closing, but thanks to the Red Line station opening literally yards away, and the ease of getting there from the downtown business district at lunchtime, it was revived.

My criteria for judging a deli is 1. do they serve kippers with scrambled eggs and onions? And 2. how fresh and plump are the kippers?

Langer’s Deli gets an A rating for serving kippers and a B+ for the kippers themselves. They were good but not plump enough to receive an A rating. However, a million times better than my last experience at the Roll ‘n Rye, generally a good deli, where the kippers were shriveled up to the size of a sardine and dry as leather. I would go to Langer’s again for the same dish.

My friend ordered the #19 – Pastrami with swiss cheese and cole slaw which apparently is their most famous dish. For a good photo of this plate click here. If you are a pastrami lover (which I am not) it might just entice you to jump on the train for lunch!

richard riordan central library

Scale model of Union Station at the Central Library

After our meal we trained back to downtown and said adieu. I decided to visit the Richard Riordan Central Library as I wanted to catch the exhibit commemorating the 75th birthday of Los Angeles Union Station. No Further West: The Story of Los Angeles Union Station  examines the architectural design and cultural politics of the historic station.

We are fortunate that both the 1926 library and the 1939 station were not gobbled up and destroyed by developers, a situation that so easily could have happened. Both are beautiful buildings in the downtown area that I enjoy visiting.

In the Union Station exhibit I was particularly impressed by the gorgeous pen/ink and pencil architectural drawings. In one of my many careers I labored as a lowly draftsperson “on the boards” before computer aided design came along. Although back in the day I was excited to be one of the first people transitioning to CAD, I still love to look at renderings and plans created the old fashioned way by hand.

As much as I appreciated the archival material, I was intrigued by the visions of the future. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro for short) purchased the Union Station complex in 2011, which makes so much sense as it is now the hub of transportation in the LA area. They asked six international design teams to use their imaginations in coming up with concepts for what the future could look like.

Some of the ideas are pretty far out but in my experience it’s always better to start out big and pull back rather than thinking small and then having to add on here and there. That is really what Los Angeles suffers from now… not a lot of planning for the future in considering the whole enchilada, more of a patchwork of individual neighborhoods now fighting to reconfigure itself as a unit.

Below, not part of the exhibit, is a YouTube video of Metro’s Union Station plans for the near future:

After viewing the Union Station exhibit I wandered around the library taking random snapshots. Interior shots of the library are posted here in Part Two.

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!


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Antonio Aguilar and a dance band at Olvera Street

antonio aguilar olvera street

There is a small plaza (plazita?) just to the east of Olvera Street. It’s a pleasant little space with a nice view of Los Angeles Union Station across the street. I’m not sure if it has an official name but a statue of Antonio Aguilar was unveiled in the fountain there about a year ago.

antonio aguilar olvera street

According to Wikipedia (and I hope all of you who use that website contributed a few dollars this year to keep it running):

“José Pascual Antonio Aguilar Márquez-Barraza (May 17, 1919 – June 19, 2007), most commonly known as Antonio Aguilar, nicknamed El Charro de México, was a Mexican singer-songwriter, actor, film producer, and screenwriter. During his career, he made over 150 albums, which sold 25 million copies, and made 167 movies.”

This is his photo from the Wikipedia page:

antonio aguilar

antonio aguilar olvera street

Señor Aguilar also has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Antonio Aguilar Olvera Street

Why he was honored with a statue near Olvera Street I am not really sure, although I did read one story that he came to Los Angeles illegally and slept for several days in this plazita before making his name as an entertainer.

antonio aguilar olvera street
Tiled mural depicting Father Hidalgo in Front of the Church of Dolores by Eduardo Carillo, 1979.

olvera street

All the above photos I took in June of this year. I was passing by there a few days ago. I was attracted by some music. This quiet little park tucked away unobtrusively beyond the main tourist area had come alive. A band was playing what sounded to me like Mexican music but what do I know? The only song I recognized was “Feliz Navidad.”

There was quite a crowd and many people enjoying themselves dancing. It was just a beautiful day. It was a couple of days before Christmas. I had spent a splendid day on my own wandering around the Union Station, Olvera Street, Plaza area and I was on my way back to Union Station to take the train home. This little concert capped off my perfect day in downtown Los Angeles. I was grateful to be alive.

I posted some of my Olvera Street photos from that same day here. And soon I’ll be posting more photos from the Chinese American Museum, LA’s first fire station and La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Ángeles.

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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What is that wet stuff falling from the sky?

los angeles union stationPlippity plop… ploppity plip… ratta tat a tat… what is that strange sound at 3 o’clock in the morning? Oh joy, it must be raining! This is a sound we don’t hear enough in the arid regions of Los Angeles.

It is now 11:00am and that wet stuff has been falling on and off all morning. The sun is now appearing so I am hoping for a rainbow. The forecast is for sunny, warm weather in the near future.

My young boy cat Freddie is going stir crazy as he likes to get his exercise in the early morning running back and forth across the roof. In his short life he has only experienced a couple of light showers but this rain is too much for even his adventurous spirit to withstand.

I’ve been hearing sirens all morning since the wee hours. Not that southern California drivers don’t know how to drive in the rain (well, they don’t) but as wet conditions are so rare, in between rain storms the surfaces of the streets and freeways become slick with oil. One minute of rain and voila—perfect conditions for hydroplaning!

Fortunately, I don’t have to go anywhere today and I am happy to stay home for a change…

So what does that have to do with the photo above of the Los Angeles Union Station waiting area? Well, not too much except that an old friend of mine was in town from Canada last week. I was afraid our one day together would be a soggy one. But the weather gods were more than kind and we had a truly spectacular day in every way.

We met up at Union Station. She took the Metro bus from where she was staying and I took the Metro trains, the Expo Line to the Red Line. So much better than driving all over hell and back to pick her up, then drive somewhere else, try to find a place to park…. and then do it all over again on the way back. We were both happy taking public transportation.

los angeles union station

If I had to pick just ONE building in all of the City of the Angels as my favorite, the 1939 Los Angeles Union Station would be it… although there are too many other contenders to really be definitive about that. But I could spend days in there checking out all the nooks and crannies and taking photos.

The photo above is looking towards the main entrance with Traxx restaurant to the right. Yes, you are looking at a Christmas tree by the entrance!

I am promising myself I will take a day in the near future to hang out there and then do a thorough blog post on the station. But today I am just posting this because, as usual, I have a million things to do (including working off my TWO full Thanksgiving dinners yesterday… yes, I am more than fortunate!) and I must keep moving.

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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Letting off steam at Los Angeles Union Station

union station steam train

It’s no secret I love trains.

Yesterday I was wandering around Los Angeles Union Station waiting for a group of tour-goers. A friend of mine had put together a day trip by train of historical sites and sights, and when she asked me to escort the group around the station I jumped at the chance. Union Station is one of my favorite venues in Los Angeles.

union station steam train

At one of the platform entrances I saw a sign that read “Steam Excursion.” Hmmm, sounded intriguing so I walked up the ramp, through the tunnel and out on to the platform.

And there it was, a gorgeous piece of art on wheels. The Santa Fe 3751 Steam Locomotive, built in 1927. What I would have given to be a passenger on that train. I don’t know where it was going but I wouldn’t have cared.

union station steam train

The platform was crowded with people of all ages taking photos and admiring this beautifully designed hunk of metal. There is nothing like it when form follows function and ends up in a magnificent sight like this.

union station steam trainunion station steam train

Wikipedia informs us that  “the Santa Fe 3751 is a restored 4-8-4 steam locomotive that was originally owned and operated by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.”

union station steam train

From the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society website: “Past contributions and volunteer power have helped transform steam locomotive 3751 from a rusting display in a park into one of the country’s premier passenger steam locomotives.”

I found this video of the train leaving Union Station on one of its excursions a few years ago.

I wish I could have waited around to see it leave the station yesterday. But I had to meet the tour group and by the time we arrived at this part of the tour, the 3751 had already left.

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!