CicLAvia: San Pedro Meets Wilmington


Last Sunday, I participated in a CicLAvia event that ran from my hometown of Wilmington, CA to San Pedro, another city close to my heart.

If you’re not familiar with one of these events, here you go. Ciclovía events started in Columbia over 40 years ago as an alternative to traditional means of transportation. Streets are closed to automobile traffic and open to everything else non-motorized: feet, bikes, skateboards, you name it. There’s really no better way to discover your town no matter how large or small. I’ve walked through Los Angeles a few times in my life and I have to tell you it’s so much more than what you see on TV – all cities are pretty amazing when you’re not trapped in a car watching them whiz by.

This event was particularly personal since I grew up in Wilmington and spent a lot of my time in San Pedro as well. While I spent many years pedaling around the city on an old Huffy but having the opportunity to ride down the palm tree-lined main street of Avalon Boulevard was much to good to pass up.

Now I could go and post many of the pictures I took that day but I’ve narrowed it down to these because I have stories to go along with most of them. A ton of them are already on Instagram anyhow. So without any further ado, here they are.

Photo Aug 13, 1 56 29 PM

The Banning Mansion in Banning Park. Historic not only because of its Civil War roots but because its owner, Phineas Banning, was the mastermind behind what would eventually become the Port of Los Angeles. That’s only the busiest port in the country.

I spent many a summer riding around Banning Park. The smell of the eucalyptus trees still gets to me and even though there’s a fence around the perimeter of the mansion, I took a little sentimental journey around the park on my bike. It was like I never left and I felt like a kid again. I almost had a moment just thinking about all the good times me and my friends had at the park.

Photo Aug 13, 9 10 53 AM

A few blocks away from the mansion is Avalon Boulevard. Those palm trees have been there forever. This was taken just after the event began so there’s very little traffic yet but by the time I rode back from San Pedro, wow. People everywhere and they were all smiling.

Photo Aug 13, 12 49 57 PM

The building you see on the right of the Avalon Boulevard shot is The Don, a senior apartment complex. This is one of the Wilmington landmarks – most likely because of it’s former seedy reputation. What I always laugh about is the fact that it was once called Don Hotel so when they changed the name, all they did was remove the H and L and rearrange the letters. I always wondered what happened to those. And look! More palm trees! Those are all around Wilmington Town Square Park which has been a congregation area for transients since I was little.

Photo Aug 13, 12 51 06 PM

Literally across the street from The Don is Fire Station 38, the only one in town. Really, this is it. If there’s something big going on in the area then the neighboring cities of Carson and Harbor City would most likely join. Dad would often take us here to see the fire trucks up close and personal in the days when they would let you slide down the pole. Yes, it has a pole (you can almost see it on the right of photo, or to the left of the fire truck). Definitely have some fond memories of this place.

Photo Aug 13, 1 50 29 PM

Here’s my old elementary school, Fries (pronounced “freeze”) Avenue School. Aside from the fancy-schmancey digital billboard out front, it pretty much looks the same from the outside. I attended at a time when we still had duck-and-cover disaster drills complete with air raid siren blaring on the last Friday of every month. I can still hear it – extremely creepy yet somehow comforting thinking back on it. The stairways also had “Fallout Shelter” signs (complete with the radiation symbols) posted as you made you way downstairs.

If you were to walk through those doors, there might be a mosaic hanging on the left wall depicting Pedro, the Angel of Olvera Street, a project that my Enrichment Class worked on. Yeah. I was a nerdy kid in enrichment. I was supposed to advance a grade but Mom held me back for the sake of not putting too much pressure on me. Made sense. It was also at this school where I was chosen to be the narrator for the 5th grade Christmas play based on Bing Crosby’s Mele Kalikimaka. Apparently I was the only one in the class who could stand in front of a crowd and read, which probably explains why singing karaoke doesn’t bother me. For the play, I remember I was speaking into one of those bitchin’ classic microphones similar to this. Good times.

Photo Aug 13, 12 36 05 PM

No story here. I just thought this was a cool building.

Photo Aug 13, 12 43 24 PM

The signs at C & C Liquor have not changed. Dad would take us here sometimes on the weekend for, presumably, his Burgermeister and some snacks for us. Remember Ice Cubes chocolate candy? This is where we would buy them. They were soooo good.

Photo Aug 13, 9 33 54 AM

We are now in San Pedro. This is the sign at Neptune Electronics, a place that has been there forever. And like most things in the area, the sign has not changed. I remember seeing it all the time as we took Dad to work but never got the chance to get close to it until last Sunday. It was almost like a religious experience for me to be so close and admire it after all these years. Some may see a dirty, faded sign. I see something beautiful.

Photo Aug 13, 9 56 20 AM

Speaking of seeing things up close for the first time, here is the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro. For years, I’ve driven past it but because parking is at a minimum on these small streets, I never got a chance to see it. Sunday changed all that and it was worth it.

Photo Aug 13, 9 57 05 AM

I’m a big fan of Art Deco architecture, art, anything. So standing here looking up at this magnificent structure was one of the highlights of the day. It’s absolutely amazing.

Photo Aug 13, 9 57 40 AM

Ceiling detail at the Warner Grand. I swear I was born in the wrong era.

Photo Aug 13, 11 25 06 AM

As I made my way around San Pedro, I had to pause for a moment and reflect. These are the docks where Dad used to work, right next to the Vincent Thomas Bridge. I remember how he used to love driving over the bridge and look down (the best he could) at the water below.

Photo Aug 13, 11 22 47 AM

There is now a small park next to the bridge and this is there I paused, took a deep breath, and wiped a tear from my eye. I can still see him going to work. Still smell the bean burritos in his lunchbox. Still…everything. It was tough but it made me smile. Note the Calder-esque mobiles.

Photo Aug 13, 11 31 34 AM

Oh. These. So beautiful. These are lights that line the walkway of the park as well as the bike/walking path, and the design is based on these columns a few miles away. There used to be more of them including some near a pond filled with lilly pads, yet another place Dad used to love taking his lunch. As you can tell by the image in the link, these fixtures are much smaller but with better detail. Sadly, most of the originals are horribly weathered after years of exposure but it’s awesome that someone decided that they should be honored in this way. They are all over this park – and I love it.

Photo Aug 13, 10 01 49 AM

Without a doubt, the coolest BofA sign ever. EVER.

Photo Aug 13, 10 55 48 AM

Although this is the new fire boat, Dad used to take us to Station 112 to see the old one which is currently undergoing a major restoration. I was there when this new fire boat arrived many years ago.

Photo Aug 13, 11 07 20 AM

During the ride I thought it would be fun to take a picture of my bike at different, interesting locations along the way. I don’t think you can get more interesting than a battleship, right? The USS Iowa is dubbed The Battleship of Presidents for good reason, and I highly recommend boarding her if you’re ever in town. I also witnessed the USS Iowa arrive and make San Pedro her new home.

Photo Aug 13, 12 07 14 PM

Heading back to Wilmington. This is a relatively new structure and park. I’d never visited the park or been on the bridge so of course I took advantage of it.

Photo Aug 13, 12 22 11 PM

You get a great view of the harbor from up here.

Photo Aug 13, 10 26 06 AM

But CicLAvia was about people-watching, too. The lady in the picture rides her skateboard at every local event and this is the third time I’ve run into her. Seriously. She’s pretty awesome.

Photo Aug 13, 10 09 52 AM

The there’s this gentleman who was riding a recumbent bike while wearing a Russian MIG fighter helmet that he bought on eBay. Yet another cool person.

By the time I made it back to Wilmington I wasn’t really tired. If anything, I was pretty darn pumped to finally be able to see both cities in a way I never have, exploring places that I always new about but never had the opportunity to visit.

You know what else?

Photo Aug 13, 1 59 49 PM

Peacocks! Yes, we have them! They’ve been a part of the area for as long as I can recall and they just keep breeding. They are always fun to see but are extremely loud.

I took so many pictures. I logged over 20 miles round-trip. I ate lunch – two burgers and chili fries – at Tom’s #9, a burger joint I frequented as a kid. I ate for less that $5 since many restaurants were having specials because they had limited car access. Oh, and I got free ice cream. YES.

I made my way back to Banning Park and rode one more lap just for old time’s sake. This was without a doubt a great day and I’m not only looking forward to the next CicLAvia, but the one in this area in particular.

It really took me back.

Photo Aug 13, 12 47 53 PM

And Wilmington, you’ll always have my heart.

All images shot with iPhone 7 Plus and adjusted with Snapseed

Advertisements

I Want to Ride My Bicycle…


Those were some of the many words that the late, great Freddie Mercury sang about whilst prancing about the stage with that distinctive voice that nobody will ever come close to imitating.

At any rate, now that my cold is pretty much a thing of the past I decided that it would be a great time to take the ol’ bike for a spin down the trail and to the beach. And you know what? You’re going along for the ride!

That’s right. I mounted my HTC Re camera to the front of my bike and shot a time-lapse video of a portion of my ride, starting at the trail entrance and ending at the Seal Beach Pier.

Ready? Let’s roll! For best results, watch in HD since YouTube’s default standard definition really sucks.

A few notes about the video:

  • Images were taken every 4 seconds
  • The music is not mine; it’s some stock music I decided to throw in there
  • I used the highest resolution
  • This was about 8 miles of the 22 that I logged today

Also, I had the chance to ride because I was done with work early. They simply had no hours to give anyone and from what my experience has been, things are turning sour when there’s not enough in the payroll budget to pay everyone. I worked a total of 2.5 hours this morning (from 3:30am to 6am), which really wasn’t even worth waking up for. I’ve worked for companies where I had to rush to the bank to cash my check because the funds were always low and we had to ask if there was enough to cash it. Pretty sad, and I think it may happen again.

Oh well. At least I got to burn off some steam during my ride.

One more thing. I shot a video on the way back and captured something funny. About 2 miles from the beach – I made 2 stops today – I suddenly realized I wasn’t wearing my gloves. I stopped the bike, made sure they weren’t in my pouch (which they weren’t), then turned around and headed back to the beach to see if I could find them.

Oh yeah. I did. Here’s a screencap of me walking to pick them up.

stupid ass

They were sitting on the sand where I parked my bike when I took a little break. I sat on the rocks and let the sounds of the ocean soothe my soul for a bit.

And with that, I put them on and went home.

What’s a few extra miles, right?

2014: My Year In Review


I know it’s a few days late but I like to wait until the year is over because hey, you never know what can happen, right?

Anyhow I bid you a very Happy New Year. And in keeping with what seems to be a new tradition since I’m always taking pictures of even the most minor event in my life with my phone, I’m going to share with you my photographic year in review* as I did last year. I enjoy doing these posts because I throw in a lot of crazy little things that I saw along with the big things, plus add often sarcastic commentary to go along with all of it.

Will 2014 compare to 2013? Will it be better or worse? You be the judge. So grab your choice of beverage, sit back, and enjoy the (possibly bittersweet) ride.

January 2014

We were invited to go to Disneyland and took the first of what would be, quite honestly, too many trips to Walt’s Magic Kingdom.

IMG_1619

I found a wallet and tried to return it, which turned into one clusterfuck of an ordeal. (Note that the term “clusterfuck” may appear many, many more times in this post – you’ve been warned!) The coins were found in the parking lot next to the wallet but I kept them. Half-dollars are cool.

IMG_20140107_100916-picsay

We made another trip to Disneyland a few weeks after the last one. It’s already too much.

IMG_20140120_112733

I had two of my photos posted in the local newspaper which recently shut down after only 20 months.

IMG_20140122_100014-picsay

IMG_20140102_095648

February 2014

I discovered that the local church has parking dedicated to corpulent parishioners.

CAM01889

In an effort to cut costs due to unemployment, we cut the cable cord and bought Roku boxes and digital antennae.

IMG_20140212_093014

Speaking of unemployment, I got a job the day after my birthday at a local grocery store where I tend to take selfies in the freezer.

2014-07-28-21-22-35_deco

And speaking of birthdays, I turned 45 without much fanfare as don’t have my birthdate visible on Facebook. (Those who know, know.) I’m not a big birthday person and only posted this cryptic image on Instagram for people to figure out. I think only one person did.

PhotoGrid_1392349852399

I celebrated Chinese New Year the way I did last year, by riding in the Chinatown Firecracker 30-Mile Bike Ride. It’s one of my favorite events but sadly, due to my part-time status, all of my events for 2015 have been put on the back burner. I may not do any if I can’t get the money together for them.

PhotoGrid_1393190029559

March 2014

I participated in my second Coaster Run but only the 5k. It rained for most of it and was probably the most fun I’ve had doing an event.

PhotoGrid_1393782145944 (1)

I witnessed one of the most amazing sunrises in recent memory.

100_0332 tm

We switched from MetroPCS to AT&T using my new Corporate Discount through work. That, of course, required getting new phones.

IMG_20140311_123136

I decorated (read: wrote on) my first cake while working in the Bakery.

IMG_20140330_145559-picsay

After around a week of building, I completed constructing The Simpsons LEGO house.

IMG_20140331_075642

We celebrated Anthony’s 10th birthday at a local pizza place where his grandfather showed him how to score a bunch of tickets playing the Blackjack game.

IMG_20140329_101931-picsay

April 2014

While out for a run, I saw the Amityville Horror house being built in a local park.

IMG_20140413_072010

You know. Korean Doritos.

2014-04-21-12-55-23_deco

We took one of two trips to the tide pools, one of our most favorite local spots.

20140424_110338-picsay

Sadly, on my Mom’s birthday, my Aunt Mary (seated) passed away. This was taken a year earlier at Mom’s surprise 75th birthday.

10256612_10152197217279118_7152726511052891669_o

May 2014

We were invited to go to Disneyland’s 24 Hour event and I was the only person in our group to make it to sunrise on Saturday (after arriving around 4pm Friday). I didn’t blog about it; I only posted my pictures on Instagram.

20140524_054946

June 2014

We discovered that there’s a Hello Kitty wine, but we don’t like Chardonnay. I’m more of a Merlot person now that I occasionally drink wine.

IMG_20140602_092949

We took our final trip to Disneyland.

IMG_20140624_213104

July 2014

I got this really creepy lenticular Jesus picture sent to me from a church that was begging for money. I was on their mailing list for a while and got all kinds of weird stuff sent to me, including a communion wafer.

2014-06-30-14-42-22_deco

The door of the baler at work came down and smashed my fingertips. They were numb for about a month or so but are fine now.

20140627_170125

In an effort to earn a few bucks since I was (and still am) only working part-time, we sold our extra refrigerator. And you know what? That turned out to be a big clusterfuck as well!

IMG_20140702_180325

Only 17 months into our lease, we had to say goodbye to the Kia Optima. Working a minimum-wage, part-time job just wasn’t enough to make the payments anymore. It felt like a kick in the gut but it has turned out to be fine in the end. It also gives me yet another opportunity to say that Kia financing is the worst on the planet. Read this post for more information.

20140711_125642

The day we got rid of the Optima also ushered in a new day of motoring for me: I bought my Yamaha Zuma scooter which I still love. Payments are 1/4 that of the Optima and it is ridiculous on gas (between 65-80 MPG), meaning I’ve never put more than $3 in it since I’ve owned it.

2014-07-12-10-33-19_deco

I applied for a job at Disneyland. I had the interview and was shortlisted then later offered a position. I turned it down for many a good reason.

2014-07-01-19-33-59_deco

I got a second job someplace near and dear to my heart, which I quit after only one day of training. I’ve never seen the paycheck. I quit for many reasons, the main one being their ultra-strict policy on personal items and phones. It pretty much granted them the right to search my locker, backpack, and phone any time they wanted with no reason or cause. I’m an honest guy but their policy was way overboard for me, so I left.

IMG_20140708_105826

After a month of studying, I took the written exam for my motorcycle license and got my permit.

2014-07-29-15-39-19_deco

August 2014

Anthony got his parakeets.

IMG_20140726_193619

I hit 100 miles on the scooter.

IMG_20140804_105048

We took a trip to Mattel, across the street from where I used to work.

IMG_20140815_103425-picsay

We paid a visit to the Queen

temp~01

…and her neighbor, a Russian submarine.

IMG_20140821_125605-picsay

My friend commissioned us to refurbish the sign for his restaurant. Here is the Before shot.

IMG_20140829_103631-picsay

September 2014

My “promotion” at work became official. But I still take selfies in the freezer.

IMAG0518

I was reunited with some friends from my old Catholic school whom I hadn’t seen in over 30 years.

IMG_20140906_210007-picsay

Remember the sign we were working on? Here’s the finished project.

IMG_20140916_121921

How YOU doin’?

2014-09-27-14-58-27_deco

October 2014

The job allowed us to root for our favorite local team in the MLB playoffs, so naturally I did.

IMG_20141003_190428

My mad art skillz came in handy at work once again when I was asked to conjure up a sign for a our seasonal caramel apples.

IMG_20141008_191917

Catastrophe. Just a few days before participating in another event, I dropped my phone and rendered it useless.

IMG_20141010_082710

That same day, my scooter was vandalized by local school kids who don’t understand what it’s like to have their property willingly broken.

IMG_20141010_160938-picsay

Anthony ran in his second Aquarium of the Pacific Kids Run

IMG_20141011_111017-picsay

..and I did my second duathlon the following day. I did it last year and rode the bike tour the previous four years.

IMG_20141012_093121-picsay

I replaced my broken phone with this, the Samsung Galaxy Skyrocket II. It was such a horrible phone that I returned it the next day.

IMG_20141024_193623

It was replaced with the HTC one M7, an absolutely amazing phone.

IMG_20141025_164615

November 2014

I got a new camera and started shooting quality photos again. My first trip was a Dia de los Muertos event.

DSC_0018

A few days later, we made another trip to the tide pools where I messed with the different settings on the camera.

DSC_0146

Anthony and I took the train to the L.A. Auto Show where the camera performed well in every lighting condition.

DSC_0533

December 2014

Well, outside of Christmas, there wasn’t much to speak of in December so I don’t have many pictures for that month. It looks like 2014 had its share of highs and lows but naturally, I took the good with the bad and moved on.

By the way, I’m still on Facebook Vacation and enjoying it. It’s amazing how much you can do with your time when you don’t give it so much attention.

Anyhow, there’s my second annual Year In Review post and I hoped you enjoyed it. Here’s hoping my 2015 is less phone-breaky, scooter-pushy, and wallet-findy and that yours is everything you wish it make it to be.

*Selected events, of course. You don’t need to know about my doctor’s visits.

2013: My Year In Review


Since this is a personal blog, I figured that instead of writing a year-end review about other things, it would be better suited for me to give a year-end review of things that actually happened in my life. It’s much easier to do something like this now since chances are I captured those moments with my phone, giving me photographic proof of the events.

With all of that out of the way, here’s a month-by-month photo essay of how things went with me and the family in 2013, some of which was never mentioned here on the blog. Take a virtual trip of the things we did, places we saw, events that brought us happiness, triumph, and even sadness.

Got your scrollin’ finger ready? Good! Here we go!

Continue reading

Blogging 365, Day 54: Long Day


UPDATE: The video is now up! Go to bottom of post!

Indeed it was.

I woke up at 4:30 am, took a shower, got dressed, had a little breakfast, put the bike on the bike rack, hopped on the train, got to Chinatown, rode my bike almost 30 miles…and by the time I got home, it was nearly 3 pm. So here I am, exhausted.

Anyway, here’s the day in pictures since I’m pooped. I am having trouble uploading the video of me lighting the firecrackers but when I can do it, I will post it. I had a great time doing that and riding today.

CAM03007

Union Station is incredibly awesome. So many movies, shows and commercials were filmed here.

Chinatown Firecracker Bike Ride 008

Chinatown

Chinatown Firecracker Bike Ride 007

Waiting for the event. I got there way early.

Chinatown Firecracker Bike Ride 009

My bike.

Chinatown Firecracker Bike Ride 020

Firefighter giving us tips on lighting. We had to wear helmets and goggles and when the firecrackers went off, even where we were standing, the debris was hitting us. We also had an option to wear earplugs which I did.

Chinatown Firecracker Bike Ride 027

Near the top of one of the many hills we had to climb.

Chinatown Firecracker Bike Ride 029

Dodger Stadium, still looking as great as ever (even under construction).

CAM03020

Pit Stops were set up every 10 miles with goodies like this, fruit, peanut butter, and water.

Chinatown Firecracker Bike Ride 035

Warner Bros. Studios Gate 2. I worked here when I was on The Whole Truth.

Chinatown Firecracker Bike Ride 038

Roy E. Disney Animation Building.

Chinatown Firecracker Bike Ride 039

Walt Disney Studios. I worked there when I was on No Ordinary Family.

Chinatown Firecracker Bike Ride 043

River sans bike trail. We rode along another river.

Chinatown Firecracker Bike Ride 049

With my medal. It was pretty small. Here’s a better view.

CAM03025-picsay

I don’t drink beer but I thought I’d try. And to this day, I don’t know what compels people to drink that garbage. It’s awful stuff (but was free to all riders after the tour).

CAM03026

Even got a free meal afterward. And Chinese food in Chinatown? Nothing compares.

CAM03037

All in all, it was a beautiful day and a great event with awesome volunteers. Thanks to all of them, the organizers, and to the LAPD for keeping traffic in check while we rode along.

I’m pretty sure it’s time for bed now. I’m sure you would be ready too if you did this today.

chinatownrideU

UPDATE: Here’s the video!