Sunday, January 31, 2010

In-N-Out -- Historic Sign, Legendary Burgers

The In-N-Out Burger on East Foothill dates back to 1955. Back then East Foothill was part of the famed Route 66. This Pasadena store must have been among the first In-N-Out sites, opening seven years after In-N-Out was started in nearby Baldwin Park.

This In-N-Out Burger sign is on the City of Pasadena's list of historic properties. The neon and bulb rooftop sign is a designated as a Historic Sign.

Pasadena has only one In-N-Out and this is it. Seems this place is always jammed. It is not uncommon for half a dozen cars to line up in the right lane of Foothill waiting to pull into the drive-up. Where else can you get a fantastic hamburger for a buck sixty-nine?

I saw in LA Observed that Huell Howser has an hour special on In-N-Out tonight at 7 pm on KCET. Should be an interesting story about a phenomenon that is part of San Gabriel Valley history and certainly (insert Tennessee accent) a fine example of California's Gold.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Kitchen Window

Clear skies and snowy mountain peaks remind me of my mom's old kitchen window.

The window, like the house itself, was the definition of ordinary. An ordinary double hung sash above the kitchen sink in an ordinary small ranch style house on a street of other ordinary small ranch style houses.

But, on a clear day, my mom's ordinary kitchen window became extraordinary. When the sky was clear, her kitchen window framed a spectacular view.

The house I grew up in had the good fortune of being the last house on a street that dead-ended into acres and acres of fields. My mom's kitchen window was on the north side of the house and overlooked an expanse of fields capped by the San Gabriel Mountains. The view was kind of like the photo, only without the buildings.

The fields and the San Gabriel Mountains -- they were just there for the taking. At least that's how it seemed. And we appropriated it all.

The kitchen window and the mountain views were my mom's. I remember her standing over the sink looking out her window. I often heard her talk about her window and her magnificent view.

The field belonged to the kids. When not in corn, the field was inhabited by kids from our neighborhood. There were kites, football games, forts and any of a million things kids conjure up. It was our field.

At least that's how it seemed.

In truth, my mom owned the kitchen window and that's about all we could lay claim to. The field belonged to a farmer named Homer who lived in the rock house behind us. Homer had been there long before we arrived, with his horse, Dot. And my mom's mountain view? Well, who really owns a mountain view?

In time, a swath of Homer's field was acquired by the state or Caltrans or whoever takes land for freeways. A phalanx of bulldozers dug a giant trench at the north end of the field that became the Pomona Freeway. The familiar southern California story followed.

Homer's barn came down and Dot went away. The dead-end sign in front of our house was removed. New streets were paved across the field. Driveways and foundations were poured, houses framed, stuccoed and sold.

All too soon, our field was gone.

And, my mom's kitchen window, which had for a time framed such a glorious mountain view, now looked north upon the stucco side of the house next door. Her extraordinary window was now forever ordinary.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mt Wilson Tower Cam

The Mt. Wilson Tower Cam has some extraordinary photos following snow storms and is well worth a look. Photos today are spectacular. The Tower Cam is one of my regular links along the right side of this blog.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

After the Storm 2

A line of geese enjoying Eaton Wash Reservoir. They sounded like this.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

After the Storm

San Gabriel Mountains this morning from Sierra Madre Blvd.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Date Shakes

On the way back from Joshua Tree we stopped at Hadleys for date shakes. The sign in the store is right -- they are delicious and incredible.

I'm a big date shake fan. Over the years, I've had date shakes from lots of places -- the Orange Inn in Laguna Beach, Shake Shack at Crystal Cove, Indio Date Festival, and the old Santa Claus Lane in Carpinteria. Mother's Market in Costa Mesa makes date shakes and I had a very good date shake at the Summit Inn just over the Cajon Pass. Hadleys used to have a store in Carlsbad where you could get them, but the store closed. There's a place in Santa Monica that makes date shakes. I can find it, but don't remember their name. There may be a few other places.

The best date shakes are blended with vanilla ice cream and chunks of dates. Sprinkling cinnamon and nutmeg on top makes them even better.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Joshua Tree 2010

You can definitely get away from it all in Joshua Tree National Park. The park is a good 2 1/2 hour drive East of Allen (including the stop at Hadleys).

We were there this weekend with my son's scout troop. I took this photo while straggling back to camp Saturday night.

The desert is a combination of desolation and beauty. The rock formations at Joshua Tree are spectacular. This weekend's clouds only added to the area's beauty.

The whole place has an otherworldly look and feel to it. Though named for a cactus-like plant, the park is perhaps best known for its incredible rock formations that rise abruptly from the desert floor.

These rocks were just to the east of my tent.

As were these.

The trip was to allow the scouts to learn rock climbing, which they did in impressive fashion. That's my guy on the far right. He and many others (including some dads) made it to the top.
Of course, I had to stay on the ground to take pictures. Great trip.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

It Never Rains


The Midwesterners who journeyed west to found Pasadena were sure they had found it -- paradise that is. They were amazed that flowers bloomed in winter and you could pick oranges off the tree. Seems natural to want to share such a place with others. So, in 1890, the enterprising members of the Valley Hunt Club decided to start a parade to "tell the world about our paradise" (and maybe sell some land). The notion was to promote southern California and attract Easterners to move here. Climate was the big draw.

So, for fun, I compared our weather today with that of the hometowns of the four teams here for bowl games. Today, Pasadena's weather is going to be clear with a high of 74 and projections for high 70's this weekend. By contrast, it is snowing in Columbus, Ohio with a high in the low 20's and colder weather forecast for the weekend. It's better in Tuscaloosa -- they get rain and snow with a high in the 30's and in Austin, where they get 41 degrees with 20-30 mph winds. Eugene is on the west coast and doesn't really count, but duckland will get up to a cool 51 with some showers.

Seems an easy sell. Why live there when you could live here? For decades upon decades, we've assumed that, once the folks back east get a load of our weather, they would all want to move here.

And they did. People moved here in droves. Back in 1890 when this whole parade thing started, Pasadena's population was pushing 5,000. As of 2007, the census folks estimate the city's population at 143,000.

But, you know, as good as the weather is, I think it was mostly work that really drew people to California. Work is also what keeps people here. It's not much use to live in paradise if you can't find work and pay your bills.

That's been the story in my own family. My great-grandfather on one side and my grandfather on the other side moved here for work. One came to California to work in construction and the other in the orchards. For a century, California's seemingly limitless resources and opportunities sustained each generation. That is, until my generation.

Times have changed. We don't like to think about it, but California is not the land of opportunity it once was. I've seen friends move out of state for a better life. I've seen family leave to find work. And I read regularly about how California has lost its appeal.

In fact, much has been written of the domestic migration out of California over the last decade. This, and population movement in general, is a regular topic on the NewGeography blog. They report that over the last decade a net 1.5 million people moved out of California to other states. Over the same period, Texas and Alabama saw net population growth as the result of domestic migration.

Then there's this interesting little thought. We might be seeing Rose Bowl history tonight. I haven't done an exhaustive search on this, but this game may mark the first time Rose Bowl teams have hailed from two states that are outpacing California in domestic migration.


Still, it seems like paradise here. It is a sunny January day. We have the mountains behind us and the beach to our west. Flowers are in bloom. Orange and lemon trees dot the neighborhoods. There is beauty upon beauty, if you take a moment to look.

On the other hand, the stories of friends and family and the migration statistics are real. Over the last decade, the state seems to have bumped up against something. Maybe it's the economy. Maybe it's the schools or cost of living, or traffic. Maybe it is all a temporary thing -- coming changes will push the state to new levels of luster and appeal.

Or maybe, it's just that even paradise has its limits.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2010 Rose Parade Additional Photos

Sierra Madre's float. Lots of energy. Beach Boys song. Skaters. Great job.

Around these parts we're not used to seeing Trojans wearing blue and gold. But, this group did it with style. I was interested in this band on its name alone. Soddy Daisy, is a Tennessee town about the size of Sierra Madre (12,000 people) and fields an impressive band. The banner carrier on the right has either found something really funny or is in excruciating pain after walking five miles.

Bobby Grich. Angles second baseman in the 70's and 80's. In '81,he led the league with 22 HRs, in baseball's pre-juice era.

The venerable Valley Hunt Club, which started it all 120 years ago. I imagine that this is what floats looked like in the parade's early days.

I liked the monkeys, but an off year for the generally stellar Cal Poly float.

Flags and mountains. You only get this view on Sierra Madre Blvd.

Oh yeah, there were fairies on horseback.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 Rose Parade From Sierra Madre Blvd.

Great day for a parade. It must have been about 70 degrees and sunny as we left the house and walked down to Sierra Madre Blvd. We staked out space on the grassy median next to folks who had camped all night and others who walked in from the surrounding neighborhoods. My sister and her family joined us which made it an extra special day.

I like the mountain vistas on bright mornings like today and I enjoy walking the street before the parade starts. There are crowds of people -- some who arrive in the morning and many who have camped overnight. There's a buzz of anticipation. Plus, it's just fun to walk in the middle of a street I drive to work on every day.

In past years this is when I'd call my mom. I'd walk down the street talking to her on the cell phone and sharing with her the sights and sounds as she watched the parade on TV. Like all the holidays, New Year's morning is another reminder of her passing and I missed her as I took this year's walk.

There were two bands that were off the charts. This was one. The band members, including the two banner carriers, are blind. Members of the band are assisted by sighted persons who helped guide them along the way.

I don't claim to be an authority on bands, but in over 20 years living in Pasadena, I've watched a lot of Rose Parades and seen a lot of bands. To me, a good band should engage and move the crowd. This band hit the mark.
Therefore, this band shares honors as this year's East of Allen Best Rose Parade Band.

The other East of Allen Best Band honoree is the Ohio University Marching Band from Athens, Ohio.

The Rose Parade route is five miles long. When you're standing where we were (toward the end of the parade route) you see some bands that are pretty wrung out. So, when a band kicks it into high gear and starts dipping and dancing, the crowd goes wild.

I've never picked up a tuba. But, I can imagine how hard it is to carry one around for five miles, while playing music and dipping and kicking along the way. These folks were amazing and very entertaining. Very deserving co-winners of Best Band.

East of Allen Best Float winner was easy. Just can't beat dogs snowboarding downhill on a float.

Runner up Best Float is this one -- Donate Life's float "New Life Rises." The float title and the faces on the float tell the story.

The Donate Life float was built in the same place as the Boy Scout float. When we went to the Rosemont Pavilion to help on the scout float, there were maybe a dozen groups helping out on different floats. The Donate Life group was in a different class than anyone else. It seemed they had more volunteers than anyone, had these very cool Donate Life t-shirts, their tent was always buzzing with activity and all looked to be having great fun.

Enough with the awards. On with the regular parade stuff.

Rose Bowl mascots this year were a bit different. I guess I'm used to seeing mascots that symbolize power or strength. I know Ohio State is a venerable institution with a storied football team, but to have a mascot with a nut for a head is .... Well, I don't quite get it. Maybe it's a Midwest kind of thing.

On the other hand, I get that Oregon is rainy and maybe a bit quirky, so the duck makes sense. Still not symbol of power like a Trojan or Bruin, but it makes some sense.

There was a lot of down time in this year's parade. That gave time for bands of people to run back and forth across the street spraying silly string into the crowd. Looks like this guy got a silly string hair do.

From Brazil. These folks got the crowd going.

One of the most recognizable faces to American children, Ronald McDonald had some sylish shades and was showing off his "eye" phone.

El Dorado H.S. Band from Placentia. My nephew, who was with us this morning, is a student there, so I've got to give them some space. Actually, the band was very very good. During parade down time, two of the band members -- one with a saxophone and another with a trumpet -- stepped out of formation to treat the crowd to solos. Very impressive stuff. In an ordinary year, this band would vie for East of Allen Best Band honors.

Ahh, the long awaited Boy Scout float. Nice job on the yellow roses in the front. I last saw this float on Tuesday when my son and I helped on the decoration. At that time, you could definitely see where the float was going. But, the finishing touches have taken the float to new levels.

Shirt sleeve weather on January 1, floats, scouts, crowds on Sierra Madre Blvd. and mountain views. Where else but Pasadena?