RMW: the blog

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


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Yosemite – part one – just a taste

yosemite

yosemite

It’s been three years since I visited Yosemite National Park. Last time the temperature was in the mid 70s and everybody was in shorts and tank tops in February. So this time I wanted to see some snow. But the probability wasn’t very high.

yosemite

But I decided I would have a good time regardless. Yosemite contains so much magnificent scenery it’s hard to look in any direction without being overwhelmed.

yosemite

This was another Sierra Club trip sponsored by the West LA Group. We left West Los Angeles around 6:40 Friday morning.

yosemite

My friend SB came along as my roommate. These shots are all as we arrived in the park late afternoon. Yosemite is about 280 miles (450km) from West LA. We made a few pit stops and a picnic stop on the way. It was a gorgeous California day. yosemite

There’s nothing like being on the road in the comfort of a motor coach. I used to love to drive around California in my own car, but no more. I prefer to leave the driving to the professionals!yosemite

 

I’ll be posting more photos later. We had four beautiful days, and yes, including SNOW!

 

 

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White Sands, New Mexico and an unplanned ode to the Sierra Club

 

white sands

Out of the tour bus at White Sands National Monument

I’ve been a member and supporter of the Sierra Club for almost forty years. Politics aside, the Club has been very good to me. Over the years I’ve participated in hundreds of hikes, events, activities and trips. And most importantly, I’ve made many good friends (including a couple of boyfriends and a husband!).

White Sands

A forensic nightmare: the perpetrator walked across the sand so we can identify the pattern on the soles of his shoes…

The Sierra Club has played an important part in my life. I was a hike leader for many years, editor of various newsletters and a volunteer at many fund raising events.

White Sands

The tenacity of plant life

It has also taken me on numerous wonderful trips around the USA and allowed me to discover the great National Parks of this country that I would never have seen on my own.

White Sands

Waves of sand. You can imagine the ocean in the distance but Santa Monica is more than 800 miles (1287 km) away

I’ve been on cruises, hiking trips, camping and just plain sight-seeing. This is an easy way for me to support the Club while having a good time myself.

White Sands

I’ve lived in Los Angeles continually since 1965. We are surrounded by beautiful mountains, but other than hiking the trails of Griffith Park (which are not to be sneered at) I had never really ventured into the Santa Monicas or the San Gabriels or the Verdugos. Around 1980 I discovered the Sierra Club and that all changed. I became addicted to hiking at least twice a week. One weekend my car wouldn’t start and rather than spend the time to get it fixed I convinced my father to loan me his car so I could go on a hike!

White Sands

The sun was already fading and the contrast between light and dark was making it increasingly difficult to capture the landscape

I can’t trust myself to do any heavy duty hiking anymore. My ankles, knees and hips took a beating with all the running I did for several decades. But that is totally okay. I have fabulous memories of trudging around the mountains in awe of the beauty of Southern California. I look up at the mountains now as old friends and we smile knowingly at each other.

White Sands

The purple flowers in the center stand out in this stark landscape

Sometimes I start writing and I get off on a tangent. So I just let it flow. This post was supposed to be all about my Sierra Club trip to southern New Mexico last year. And White Sands National Monument in particular. All the photos you’ve been looking at are from that area. We had a limited amount of time but as I’ve said before, there is always a trade-off when on a motor coach tour. On the one hand you have no responsibility and all the stress is on the shoulders of the leader. On the other hand, you don’t get to decide where to go or how much time to spend at any given location. But I did manage to take one prize-winning photograph at White Sands and that made the whole trip worthwhile for me!!!

White Sands
From the website: Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world’s great natural wonders – the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of this unique dunefield, along with the plants and animals that live here.

White Sands

As the sun went down the shadows were getting longer which made some interesting photographs

White Sands

On the photo above I liked the way the tendrils seemed to wave around as if the plant was under water and the shadows added extra interest.

White Sands

Hey, we saw some native wildlife! This beetle was making his own tracks over the imprints left by human visitors.

The original photo

White Sands

Playing a little in Lightroom and Photoshop

Although I love the act of taking a photo and making it the best composition I can, I have to admit the real fun begins for me in the post processing. When I saw this tree I also immediately imagined the possibilities. By itself it’s a perfectly acceptable photograph. But in my opinion the trip through Lightroom and Photoshop makes it magical!

White Sands

This leaf also had a little help from Photoshop with the posterization filter. This is my go-to filter to really make the image pop.

White Sands

Got to love those shadows. Although the light was getting a little difficult, it also added a little drama!

White Sands

White Sands

I had wandered off quite a ways by myself to take photos. I came back to see the group having fun sliding down the dunes. Good for them. My fun is in making art. To each their own, yeah?

Click on an image below for slide show.

Original photo

White Sands

A little fun with Photoshop

By now the shadows were REALLY long. I couldn’t resist taking this photo of my shadow. I didn’t even notice the person standing at the top until I played with the image in Photoshop. Totally serendipitous. This won first prize in the member’s theme at the Culver City Art Group Holiday Show. And I think it also helped me win for best body of work. You never know when you are out shooting what photos are going to turn out best and which ones are going to miss the objective. It really is a hit and miss shooting match!

White Sands

Like all the trips I take, I always think I’ll have the opportunity to return and take more time. But I never do. So I have learned to soak in as much as possible whenever possible.


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My Oregon souvenir

roslyn in oregon

I was in Oregon last week on a trip with some friends and members of the Sierra Club.

On the first evening, while five of us were waiting for a table for dinner, we decided to walk around the quaint town of Seaside.

seaside, oregon

I had my camera in one hand, my bag in the other and I was talking instead of looking where I was going. Next thing I knew my forehead met the boardwalk!

This is the photo I took of the boardwalk from the hotel balcony before the big fall.

To make a longer story shorter (you don’t want to know all the details, believe me) I ended up in the ER at the Providence Seaside Hospital.

Needless to say we missed our dinner reservation. I really felt bad for my friends, as they were so kind. They eventually went to dinner but they missed seeing the town and strolling along the beach all because of me.

I’m not quite sure of the timeline but I waited more than an hour to see the doctor (he may have been at dinner!). Then I was wheeled in to get a CAT scan of my head. After that another hour while the scan was sent to Portland to be viewed.

Of course it was a very small ER but everybody was very courteous and attentive. I felt like I was in good hands.

The gentleman in the next bed to mine was obviously drunker than a skunk, and evidently was a frequent visitor as they all seemed to know him. But he was not ignored. The nurses came whenever he called out for help, which was every few minutes.

As I was lying there listening to all this, half of me wanted to have a glass of wine and forget everything. The other half of me, realizing the terrible distress this man was in, never wanted to touch alcohol again! But at the very least I was glad I had not had a glass of wine before our walk so that was not a component of my accident. It’s bizarre all the thoughts that went through my mind as I was waiting.

I also decided I should have changed from my clunky hiking shoes (they are not hiking boots just sturdier shoes with good tread) before leaving the hotel. If I had worn my Asic walking shoes maybe I wouldn’t have tripped. And I should have swapped my heavy DSLR with the 18-135mm lens for my little point & shoot camera. So many “shoulds.” Also, I had not slept the night before. The alarm went off at 2:00am to be ready for the taxi at 4:00am. I am not good without at least 6-8 hours of sleep.

This combination of events all contributed to my fall. Of course I have walked all over Europe and Los Angeles in those same shoes. I’ve carried that camera everywhere. And I have certainly fallen many times before but never hit my head. Who knows what combination of circumstances allowed this to happen.

I like to think of myself as a glass half full kind of person at this point in my life. The CAT scan was clean and I was able to continue with the trip. However, I was a little disappointed that no actual kitties were involved!

Before I knew the results and I was lying there with a truckload of ice on my forehead, I decided that no matter what, I was completing the trip even if I had to do it on a stretcher! I had been looking forward to this Oregon adventure for too long!

The outcome could have been so much worse. No broken bones, no chipped teeth, no sprains. And, most important, I was not dead, or even brain dead (at least I don’t think so…).

The next day I had a little trouble with some words. I was aware they were not coming out properly. But that cleared up. The day after that my vision was a little blurry but that cleared up too.

The photo at the bottom of the post shows my black eyes… otherwise known as my Oregon souvenir! My companions were calling me Alice Cooper and Gene Simmons… but I would rather be Morticia! One of my friends, not on the trip, said “And you should see the other guy!” Yes, that boardwalk will never be the same!

Fortunately, all the clothes I had with me were in shades of blue, purple and grey. So people were commenting on my color coordination. Yes, if I was wearing greens and yellows it would indeed have been a fashion disaster.

I kinda like the photo at the top of the post so I decided to use it as my new profile photo. I cleaned up the mess on my forehead in Photoshop but left the black eyes as they were too difficult to deal with. I don’t think anybody will notice!

I’m still dependent on Tylenol for all the aches and pains that come and go all over my body. But I was able to do some limited hiking and enjoy the rest of the week.

I have an appointment with my doctor on Thursday for a checkup. I feel like I am healing properly but I’m not taking any chances.

The good thing is I am a tough old broad and nothing can take me down that easily!

roslyn swollen face

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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Walking around the Atwater Village neighborhood in Los Angeles

atwater-LA-river-walk-111113-002-C-850px

My Canadian friend (who is really English) who was visiting the week of Thanksgiving, noted that the reason she likes Los Angeles so much is that the city is comprised of little pockets of neighborhoods totally different from one another. Yes, I agree. Every block is a surprise. And sometimes one block can contain a Spanish-style single family home, an art deco condo complex, a beaux artes office building, etc. You never know.

atwater village

In that vein… (oops, I think that’s an English expression translated to American means “along those lines…,” the older I get, the more I slip back) a few weeks ago I joined a Sierra Club walk of Atwater Village and the Los Angeles River. This post is about the Atwater part.

atwater village

LA is so vast (467 sq miles/1209.53 sq km) give or take a few inches that it is very hard to pin it down. I’ve lived here all my adult life and no matter how many more years I have left I will probably never see it all. However, compared to most citizens of the City of the Angels, I have seen more than my share. Because I live to explore! (Physically and mentally…)

atwater village

The Atwater Village neighborhood takes up about 1.78 sq miles of that space in the northwest part of the city with a population of 16,000 more or less.

The residential area contains some interesting, original and odd architectural styles.

So, without further ado, some of my photos of Atwater. You know the drill, click on any photo to start the slideshow!

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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Chinatown – Year of the Snake – part one

chinatown los angeles“Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.” Chinatown, 1974. The movie was filmed all over Los Angeles (I have to Netflix it to revisit the locations) but “The uncompromisingly bleak climax… was filmed in Los Angeles’ real Chinatown, on Spring Street, just south of Ord Street, which has since been largely redeveloped.” – www.movie-locations.com.

I haven’t visited Chinatown in well over ten years so participating in a Sierra Club walk a few weeks ago seemed like the ideal way to re-aquaint myself and take some photos.

We rode the Gold Line from Union Station, just one stop and walkable, but I had not actually gotten out at the Chinatown station before.

los-angeles-chinatown

View of downtown Los Angeles from the platform.

los-angeles-chinatownArtwork at the station: the I Ching,  The Wheels of Change, 2003, Chusien Chang, artist

los-angeles-chinatown-The I Ching was written over 3,000 years ago and describes 64 states of human situations such as “Inexperience,” “Creative Power,” “Conflict.” I wonder if we have added any since then!

los-angeles-chinatown

Stairs or escalator, take your pick!

los-angeles-chinatown

These pedestals are found in various areas around the city with information about the history of that particular neighborhood. As you can see, we are multi-cultural with a box containing copies of “Hoy,” the Spanish-language newspaper in Chinatown.

The story of LA’s Chinatown is a sad one. In a nutshell, it was the sweat of Chinese laborers (with other ethnic groups too, of course) that brought the railroads to southern California. But when the railroad magnates and the city fathers decided to build a new railway station to centralize the different train companies rolling through Los Angeles, they decided that the old Chinatown area was the ideal spot.

Members of the Chinese community were thrown out of their neighborhood lock, stock and barrel and moved to the location where Chinatown sits today. In excavations for expanding Union Station in the 90s, numerous artifacts were discovered that had been left behind in the hurry to move out. But that is a blog post for another day.

los-angeles-chinatownlos-angeles-chinatownlos-angeles-chinatownGateway to the “touristy” area of Chinatown with shops and restaurants.

los-angeles-chinatown-062913-022-C-850pxCreative way to designate the pedestrian crosswalk.

los-angeles-chinatown

Look up or you’ll miss the best parts.

los-angeles-chinatown

los-angeles-chinatown

On that note I will end Part One of the Chinatown post. More coming (including the snake) another day.

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, either give full credit to myself and One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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You are invited to join my free Sierra Club Discovery Walk of Sunset Boulevard from La Brea to Rodeo Drive

Sunset-Blvd-La-Brea-to-Rodeo-2013

Sunday, June 9, starting at 8:45am: Stroll along and learn about the world famous Sunset Boulevard. We will be walking from La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles through West Hollywood, ending at Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

This Sierra Club walk is sponsored by the Sierra Singles and West Los Angeles Group but you don’t have to be single, live in West LA or even be a member of the Sierra Club to participate. As always, the public is welcome.  

Please click here for the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter schedule for all the info you need.

O: Sunset Blvd & La Brea to Rodeo Dr Discovery Walk

Date: Sunday, June 9, 2013
Time: 8:45 AM
Presented by: Angeles Chp Sierra Singles
Leader:
Level: Easy
Location: West Sunset Blvd and North La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90028, USA

O: Socially paced, 4.5 mi rt. with many stops to learn about the history, art and architecture of this part of Sunset Blvd. Some of the sites include the Guitar Center Rockwalk, Director’s Guild of America, the Whisky A Go Go, Chateau Marmont, Saddle Ranch, views of the Hollywood Hills, multi-million dollar mansions and the pink Beverly Hills Hotel. Bring a sandwich to eat at beautiful Will Rogers Memorial Park at Rodeo or hop on the Metro Line #2 bus back to La Brea. Meet 8:45 am at NW corner of La Brea and Sunset. 3 – 4 hrs. Wear walking shoes. Bring water, snacks, sun protection. Dress appropriately for weather. Co-sponsored by Sierra Singles and West Los Angeles Group.

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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You are invited to my Farmers Market, Museum Row and La Brea Tarpits Discovery Walk

As a volunteer hike leader for the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club, I enjoy leading discovery walks around various neighborhoods in the city.

You are invited! These are free and open to the public. However, for non-Sierra Club members a donation is optional but appreciated.

May 19, Sunday, 9:00am:

O: Farmers Market, Museum Row and La Brea Tar Pits Discovery Walk: Socially paced, 4 mi rt. with many stops to talk about the history, art and architecture of the area. “Meet me at 3rd & Fairfax!” is the trademark phrase for Farmers Market and our meeting place. We stroll through an architecturally diverse residential neighborhood, then view sections of the Berlin Wall on our way to the lamppost forest and big rock at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Next we visit woolly mammoths and saber-toothed cats at the La Brea Tar Pits, returning to Farmers Market via Museum Row, Park La Brea and Pan Pacific Park just in time for lunch. Meet 9:00am at NE corner of 3rd and Fairfax. 3 – 4 hrs. Metro Line #217 stops nearby. Wear walking shoes. Bring water, snacks, sun protection. Dress appropriately for weather.

Farmers Market, LACMA, La Brea Tar Pits Walk

Please click on flyer 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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Walking from Westwood to Santa Monica with the Sierra Club

westwood to santa monica walk

I was planning to do something else entirely different on Saturday, January 12. But the day before I decided to check the Angeles Chapter Sierra Club hike schedule online just for the heck of it… because what I was planning to do was necessary but boring. Lucky me, there was a walk from Westwood Blvd. and Wilshire Blvd. to the ocean. Okay, forget necessary, I was on board.

Photo above was our view of the high rises as we moved westward from Westwood.

westwood to santa monica walk

This statue honoring the Spanish War Veterans stands outside the 114-acre Los Angeles National Cemetery on Wilshire.

So I took the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus Line #12 up to the starting point. My mother swears she is responsible for Santa Monica naming their buses so, and, given the circumstances I believe her, although she never received credit… and I think that is worth some kind of compensation… okay, a whole other story.westwood to santa monica walk

At first I thought Westwood to Santa Monica? That is some kind of heavy-duty walk. But it is only about five miles and certainly do-able.

westwood to santa monica walk

For Angelenos this has been an unusually severe winter, experiencing daytime temperatures in the 50s F (the 10s C). I know, we are weather wimps, but we are not used to it. Worst of all, we had about three days with no sun. Seriously, that is unheard of.

westwood to santa monica walk

So for this walk I wore a t-shirt under my long-sleeved polo shirt with a jacket over that and an extra folded-up windbreaker in my bag. Oh, and a scarf. And I brought along gloves for good measure.

westwood to santa monica walk

All the above photos are on the grounds of the Veterans Administration in the Westwood area.

It turned out to be a beautiful day. Halfway through the walk I shed my jacket. Even at the beach I didn’t need it. It wasn’t exactly warm but the wonderful sunshine made everything seem better. Days without sun in LA is like a blizzard in other parts of the country. I’ve been in blizzards and I know.

westwood to santa monica walk

But you out there in Bad Weather Land probably don’t go to bed every night wondering if you will be woken up at 3:00am by The Big One, the 8.0 on the Richter Scale earthquake that will be the end of civilization as we know it. So count your blessings as you shovel that white stuff.

westwood to santa monica walk

This beautiful park is all part of the VA. Apparently there has been some talk of selling of this valuable land to developers. Just what we need in LA, more condos and less green space.

westwood to santa monica walk

This was view about 4.5 miles away from the shining sea. Can you see the sliver of the blue Pacific Ocean at the very end peeking between the buildings?

westwood to santa monica walk

One entrance to the Los Angeles National Veterans Park.

 westwood to santa monica walk

A stark reminder that the American dream didn’t happen for a lot of people.

westwood to santa monica walk

Artist Tony Delap’s sculpture The Big Wave you see spanning Wilshire Blvd. at center of the photo is considered the unofficial gateway to Santa Monica. 

westwood to santa monica walk
This building was originally Home Savings. Many people have asked what style of architecture is this? Well, it’s Home Savings. What can I say? Fortunately, most of these buildings around LA have been preserved by subsequent take-overs by Washington Mutual and Chase Bank.

westwood to santa monica walk

westwood to santa monica walk

Yes indeedy, people dressed in the the traditional whites still play the British game of bowls in Santa Monica.

westwood to santa monica walk

Beautiful display of flowering plants at Whole Foods.

westwood to santa monica walk

A sad tribute to Claire Rose, victim of a hit and run on her 20th birthday July, 2012.

westwood to santa monica walk

1940s TV in a store window.

westwood to santa monica walk

Lovely art deco theater, The Wilshire, now closed.

westwood to santa monica walk

westwood to santa monica walk

Callahan’s Restaurant – Vienna Bakery, example of streamline art deco architecture. This area was full of art deco buildings before being torn down in the 60s and 70s… nice to see some are still standing.

westwood to santa monica walk

westwood to santa monica walk

westwood to santa monica walk

westwood to santa monica walkwestwood to santa monica walk

westwood to santa monica walk

westwood to santa monica walk

Can’t find any information about this building as I write this but myguess is it was built circa 1940. I’ll do some research.

westwood to santa monica walk

Streamline moderne. I love architecture. I especially love the art deco era.!

westwood to santa monica walk

I enjoyed talking to some lovely, interesting ladies on our walk. At the end of our journey in Santa Monica we split into two groups to have lunch. Some were taking the Metro line #780 back to Westwood.

I was catching the Metro line #733 back to Culver City so I went to lunch with a quartet of adventurous women who had all met on Sierra Club walks and were spending the day in Santa Monica.

We walked along Palisades Park to Santa Monica Place. We bought our Iunches at various places in the food court and sat on the roof with a splendid view of the ocean with the sun beating down on us. A glorious January day.

I would have liked to spend the rest of the day with these women but that necessary project was still waiting for me. So I left them, hoping to meet another day.

(Photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)


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Eclectic architecture on Crescent Heights Boulevard

fairfax-area 

It’s a good thing I took some photos the last time I toured the route for the Farmers Market, LACMA, LA Brea Tar Pits walk I am leading for the Sierra Club next Sunday. Once again I forgot to put a memory card in the camera. What is wrong with me?

I particularly wanted to photograph the yummy tropical fruit shrimp and avocado salad I ate for lunch upon returning to Farmers Market after the walk. Next time!

The walk starts at the Farmers Market on the corner of 3rd and Fairfax. Then we will walk down Crescent Heights to Wilshire. So that is the part I am writing this blog post about.

fairfax area

From what I can tell by doing a few internet searches for properties in the area, this neighborhood was mostly built in the 1930s… some buildings as early as 1931 and some as late as 1939. It is a mixture of apartment houses (maybe some condos?) and single family homes.

fairfax-area

This is what all steps should look like.

When I was putting the tour together I was looking for a more interesting way of getting from Farmers Market to Wilshire Boulevard. And I discovered this street.

fairfax-area

The photo above is more for the hedge than the building… an art deco hedge if ever there was one!

fairfax

A little bit of French fantasy… complete with a southern California interpretation of the mansard roof…

fairfax area

You know I love tiles in all their manifestations. Perhaps that is one of reasons I enjoy seeing Spanish style/Mediterranean architecture around the city.

fairfax area

This is why I love to walk. We (or at least, I) tend to drive by everything in our cars so intent on getting to our destination—not to mention paying attention to all those other bad drivers out there—that we miss out on all the details.

fairfax-area

 Can you say mission style, art deco in the same sentence?

At a later date I’ll post some photos from the next section of this walk.

(Photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)


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My free Sierra Club walks

I am leading two walks for the Sierra Club on November 18 and December 2. They are both free and open to the public.

santa-monica-pacific-palisades

View from Palisades Park, Santa Monica, CA

November 18 is in Santa Monica.

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LACMA big rock installation

December 2 is the Farmers Market, LACMA, La Brea Tar Pits area.

Click here to go to my Touring and Walking LA website for all the information!