RMW: the blog

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


19 Comments

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!

 

 

 


4 Comments

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!


16 Comments

Train’s a-comin’ – all the way to the beach

expo line

When the Culver City station of the Expo Line light rail opened June 28, 2012 my late friend TL and I were passengers on the first day. You can see my post about that event here. Having grown up riding the trains in England, being able to ride the rails to downtown LA was a dream come true.

This past Friday, May 20, 2016, the second half of that dream also became a reality. The long-awaited stretch from Culver City to Santa Monica can now be traversed by train. And how could I ever guess I would be living within walking distance (one mile) of two train stations, Culver City and Palms!

langers kippers langers-kippers-102214-005-C-600px

I met my friend R at the 7th St. Metro Center, as far east as the Expo Line goes. He took the Blue Line which also ends at the Metro Center. Together we took the Purple Line to MacArthur Park and ate an early lunch at Langer’s Deli where I always order the kippers and scrambled eggs.

expo line

Expo Line arriving at the beach with the new “Santa Monica” header.

We were back at the 7th Metro station in time to take the second train to Santa Monica. I believe the first one left the station at 11:25 am and we were there about 11:35. It was so strange to see the train pull up with the Santa Monica header instead of Culver City… I am rather sad about that!

By the time the train arrived at Culver City the train was jammed to the gills and no possible way for any other passengers to board. I was so glad I met my friend in downtown LA instead of attempting to meet him at Culver City. Even though the train was packed, people still insisted on squeezing their way through the doors. It was insane!

expo line

expo line

Palms Station on the Expo Line. One of two stations within walking distance from my house.

I was afraid the overpasses would collapse with the weight or that the train would be too heavy to move. As it was, it did go rather slowly around the curves through West LA. The first new station after Culver City was Palms. I’ve been watching this station being constructed and it was cool to actually be stopping there.

expo line

When we arrived at the Downtown Santa Monica station passengers were cheering and clapping. I have to admit I was thrilled! It was history in the making as the last time a train arrived in Santa Monica from downtown LA was 63 years ago in 1953.

expo line

When the train doors opened it was like arriving on a new planet with everybody eager to explore.

expo line

People just kept coming and coming and coming off the train.

expo line

The train stops just a few blocks from the Santa Monica Pier. You can just see the entrance to the pier at the end of Colorado Blvd. in the center of the photo.

expo line

When it was time to go back, they had things a little better organized. They had lines set up just like at Disneyland and they were allowing only so many people on the train at a time.
expo line

This was certainly a day I will never forget!

expo line

Click here for post about my second ride to the beach on Sunday.

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!

nbsp;


20 Comments

Something about a train – day trip to Oceanside

oceanside california

There’s something about the sound of a train that’s very romantic and nostalgic and hopeful. – Paul Simon

My friend KL obtained two free tickets for the MetroLink train and after several aborted attempts over several weeks, we were finally able to use the tickets last Saturday. We decided to go to Oceanside, the end of the line, and hang out for a few hours with nothing in particular planned.

Oceanside California

I took my little Canon G15 point & shoot camera to capture a few snapshots. It was a very glary day with the sun beating down on the white sand and sparkling water so I had a lot of problems controlling the exposure. But you get the general idea. Sometimes I just don’t want to deal with the DSLR.

Oceanside (population approximately 173,000,) is about 95 miles south of Los Angeles and about 40 miles north of San Diego.

Oceanside California

As we had been riding the rails for a few hours all the way from Culver City we were both starving. A passenger on the train who was familiar with the area recommended “the restaurant under the pier.”

This turned out to be the Tin Fish and what a great suggestion it was!

Oceanside California

My friend ordered the fish ‘n chips but (British blood notwithstanding) I am more partial to fish tacos. I figured there would be one small cut of fish in each taco so I went for the double order.

oceanside, california

That was a mistake! Each taco was big enough to feed two people! And look at those waffle fries…

But trooper that I am, I managed to eat everything minus the second taco shell. Oh my, highly recommended if you ever find yourself hungry in Oceanside.

Oceanside California

Southern California has been experiencing excessive heat lately. We thought we would cool off by the beach. But no such luck. It was a very warm day.

Oceanside California

I cannot be exposed to the sun and I don’t use sunscreen (all those chemicals leaking into my body, no thank you) so I go to the beach covered from head to toe. People are always asking me, when the temperature gets up there, “aren’t you hot under all those clothes?” Actually no. I believe in the Bedouin approach to sun protection: the stronger the sun, the more clothes to protect me from it!

Oceanside California

After our delicious lunch we strolled along the 1,942 ft (592 m) wooden pier. This is not an amusement pier, except for the entertainment provided by looking at the waves and watching the people.

Oceanside California

Mostly it seems to be a fishing pier. And as you can see, these fisherman agree with me about sun protection… I’m not so dumb after all!

Oceanside California

Although the fishermen were no doubt enjoying themselves, the fish, not so much…

Oceanside California

Although I don’t eat four-legged animals, I do love me some fish… so what can I say? Fish gotta be caught in order to be eaten…

Oceanside California

Nevertheless, I had to resist the urge to throw the poor creatures back in the ocean so they could frolick another day.

Oceanside California

The fish were obviously prolific around the pier as they were being hauled up all the time. You would think the fish would learn. Pier = people = dinner.

Oceanside California

The color of the water was really spectacular.

Oceanside California

Like golf, fishing has never appealed to me as a past time. But I’m sure it’s more satisfying to catch your own dinner than to buy it at the supermarket.

Oceanside California

I couldn’t get over all the hoards of people elbow to elbow on the beach soaking up the dangerous UV rays from the sun. In my twenties I lived at the beach, literally, and paid my dues with sunburns and heat stroke.

Oceanside California

As we left the pier and walked along Pacific Street, we saw several young men driving up in their tricked out classic cars. I can’t remember what model this car is. Not a Chevy Malibu but a….. oh well, whatever it is I thought it was tastefully painted.

Oceanside California

The walkway and bicycle path leading to the downtown area. The train station is just a hop and a skip from the beach.

Oceanside California

A mural in downtown depicting Mission San Luis Rey, Oceanside Harbor and pier.

Oceanside California

The main drag through Oceanside. It’s a very cute little town. My friend is thinking about retiring there. If so, I will be visiting. But I’m a big city girl myself and all things being equal, I intend to stay put.

oceanside-082915-064-C

Some beach front properties.

Oceanside California

We discovered the pink cottages have a senior citizen rate if you stay for three months. Sounds tempting but I would go nuts after about a week!

Oceanside California

Bikes, pedal cars and pickup trucks all share the Strand.

oceanside-082915-070-C

Oceanside California

Sand, sand, sand and then water, water, water.

I was watching the PBS three-night series Big Blue Live. It is crazy how many animals live out there off the California coast (albeit the show was concentrating on Monterey). Then multiply that by all the oceans in the world. And we humans are solely responsible for polluting those oceans. Oh well, another story entirely.

Oceanside California

Another day, another adventure. As we rode the rails, we followed Interstate 5 which was backed up with traffic all the way down. Going home it was still backed up. The train is the only way to go by land. I don’t know why people would want to sit for hours all cramped up in their tiny cars when they could travel in the spaciousness of the train, looking out the window and not having to worry about whether the car behind you or next to you or in front of you is about to do something stupid. I really don’t enjoy driving anymore.

And besides, I’ll take a train over any other kind of transportation, any day! Paul Simon was right!

Oceanside California

With the sun still shining brightly in the background it was time for us to walk the few blocks to the train station to catch the 5:45 back to LA.

The California Surf Museum

According to Wikipedia:

Oceanside is home to The California Surf Museum (we popped into the museum store for a look), and has been the official start of the 3,000 mile bicycle race, Race Across America since 2006, and has played host to The Beach Soccer Championships since 2007.

I’ve been gallavanting about a lot recently and when I am home I’m working on a myriad of projects. So I’ve fallen behind with my blogging duties. Not enough time for everything!

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!


4 Comments

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!

 

 

 


1 Comment

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!


4 Comments

The train! The train! All the way from Culver City to downtown LA on the Metro Expo Line.

Culver City Expo Line station

Train arriving at Culver City Expo Line station – decorative tile in foreground

Wednesday, June 20 at noon the train station at Culver City officially opened. Less than two hours later a friend and I tested the waters… or should I say the rails… on the Metro Expo Line running to the Metro Center at 7th and Flower in downtown Los Angeles.

Culver City Expo Line station

Culver City Expo Line station

It was an exhilarating experience. And brought my personal history full circle with transportation in this city. The first time my family moved to Los Angeles was in the early sixties. I remember riding the Red Car to downtown LA to shop at the department stores. Downtown was where you went for the full shopping experience back then. When we were ready to come home we had to stand on a painted island—no physical barriers at all except a stripe of paint—in between two lanes of traffic racing past. That was an exhilaration of a totally different kind indeed!

Culver City Expo Line station

A great way to ride your bike all the way from downtown LA!

When we returned to LA a couple of years later, the Red Cars were history. We won’t go into that ignominious and infamous story here. But we are now paying dearly for it.

Culver City Expo Line station artwork

Photo collage of tiles inset into platform depicting history of former rail system that covered the Los Angeles area.

I never thought I would see rail transport come to West LA—let alone a short walk from my abode in Culver City—in my lifetime. It’s a miracle. I still think I am going to wake up one morning and read the story in the LA Times that train travel in our city is at least twenty years in the future!

Culver City Expo Line station

Culver City Expo Line map

Of course, I take the bus as much as possible but I grew up in England riding the train from one part of town to the other. It’s my favorite form of transportation. Fast, clean, efficient. I just returned from a visit to England and enjoyed riding the rails again.  

Culver City Expo Line bus stop

Culver City Expo Line – looking out to Washington Blvd and the bus stop for the Culver City #1 line that goes all the way to Venice.

So the journey on Wednesday from Robertson and Washington to the Metro Center was nothing less than amazing. I’ve been to this station at 7th and Flower many times over the years but arriving on the Culver City train was special.

Artwork at the Culver City Expo Line station

Artwork at the Culver City Expo Line station

TL and I walked out of the station on to busy 7th Street. I commented to my friend that it was like taking a spaceship to another planet… but an entirely interesting one. I happen to love downtown LA. It is full of life in every direction.

Buying tickets at the Culver City station

Buying tickets at the Culver City station

Years ago I was a Los Angeles Conservancy docent. I would bring my tour goers up 7th Street for the much-lamented, no-longer-available Marble Masterpieces Walking Tour. It was the best tour on the schedule but unfortunately dumped shortly after I left… okay, don’t get me started!!!!

My friend and I gazed in awe at the beautiful buildings from the glorious decade of the 1920s. The Conservancy has saved many of these architectural wonders from the wrecking ball. And I miss leading those tours…

St. Vincent's Court downtown LA

St. Vincent’s Court downtown LA

We were walking towards Broadway but as we passed a non-descript alleyway we noticed an outdoor café. We ventured further and discovered the alley was infested with cafés of all denominations. We felt like we were back in Paris.

St. Vincent's Court downtown LA - where we bought our sandwiches

St. Vincent’s Court downtown LA – cafe where we bought our sandwiches

We only wanted some light fare so we settled on a sandwich shop. We ordered two sandwiches wrapped in Lavash bread which we thought was a good deal for $6.99 each, only to find out they came with a drink and fries. When the meal arrived we agreed it was enough for four people, but I managed to plow through and left not a crumb on my plate.

All this and a drink (I chose Snapple) for $6.99!

All this and a drink (I chose Snapple) for $6.99!

We sat and talked on this warm weekday afternoon splat in the middle of the Jewelry District. We couldn’t remember when sidewalk cafés became a phenomenon in Los Angeles but we agreed it wasn’t that long ago. Strange for a city that has such an inviting climate. But whenever that first restaurant hit on the idea to put tables out on the street it was like a plague that spread overnight. A good plague, of course!  

St. Vincent's Court - Bullocks porte cochere

St. Vincent’s Court – what was probably the circa 1920s Bullock’s department store porte cochere

Around 4:00pm we walked back to the station. When we rode the train in we were surprised how few people were traveling. But when the train pulled in to take us back to Culver City, people came tumbling out of the doors… where did they all come from?

Metro Center at 7th and Flower - tile mural

Metro Center at 7th and Flower – tile mural

I imagine it will take a while for the citizens of West LA to get used to the idea of leaving their cars behind. As much as I enjoy traveling on the bus system, I understand why some people don’t like to take the bus. But the train is a different story—being able to say you arrived by train is so much more classy!

(All photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)