Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Warning: Use of undefined constant archives - assumed 'archives' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: Use of undefined constant page - assumed 'page' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32
class="post-8753 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-misc tag-food tag-los-angeles tag-photos tag-travel">

Grand Central Market

October 26th, 2019

On my last visit to LA I kept kicking myself for not taking any photos of Grand Central Market, the big local food hall downtown. It’s also one of the best food halls I’ve ever been to and I have some recommendations. So here we go.

 

Grand Central Market Grand Central Market Grand Central Market

 

Opening at 8 AM, a handful of vendors serve coffee and breakfast. Although I’m not much of a morning person myself the weirdly named Eggslut chain has a popular outpost here with their various egg-based sandwiches, and long lines to show for it.

Lunch is the main attraction at Grand Central Market when everything is open. Aside from made to order lunches from pasta to tacos to salads, you can also buy ingredients from tiny grocery stores to cook your own food.

Snack foods and beverages are also available. I’d recommend trying La Fruteria, a Mexican street food joint with spiced fruit cups and aguas frescas.

 

Grand Central Market Grand Central Market Grand Central Market

 

Grand Central Market closes around 10 PM, but many of the vendor stalls close after the lunch rush and the crowds thin out.

One solid place for dinner — also open for lunch, but is usually slammed — is Olio, an Italian place. Though they offer salads as well, the real focus is on small thin crust pizza. It’s a better bet for dinner just because there will be open seats and you won’t have to wait as long, though if you’re willing to take it to go lunch works too. The dough is a little chewy for my taste, but the perfect tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings more than make up for it.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a “foodie” Grand Central Market is located between two Los Angeles landmarks: Angel’s Flight and the Bradbury Building.

Warning: Use of undefined constant archives - assumed 'archives' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: Use of undefined constant page - assumed 'page' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32
class="post-8747 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-misc tag-los-angeles tag-pershing-square tag-photos tag-travel">

Pershing Square

October 26th, 2019
Pershing Square Pershing Square Pershing Square

 

Just like my last visit to Los Angeles I’m staying near Pershing Square, a public plaza spanning an entire city block. I’ve also found it’s a convenient orientation point when I’m not quite sure where something is located in downtown LA.

The square is named after American WWI general John J. Pershing. Though he was a famous general in his day, as far as I can tell he has no direct connection to Los Angeles.

In its current incarnation the square features a mix of boxy and curvy concrete structures, mostly painted in pastel purple and orange. It should come as no surprise this design is the work of the late Ricardo Legorreta, whose designs are notorious for this style and color scheme.

But what surprises me most about Pershing Square is just how similar it is to Union Square back home in San Francisco. Aside from being public squares in California, consider these similarities:

  • Both are named to honor wars that have very little to do with their respective locations, let alone the west coast.
  • Both are in historic neighborhoods, surrounded by hotels, shops, and restaurants.
  • Both were rebuilt on top of underground parking garages in the mid 20th century.
  • Both are located downtown on one city block and are about the same size.
  • Both have a subway station located located nearby.

Obviously there are many, many differences between Los Angeles and San Francisco, but I think anyone who spends time in both California cities would be surprised by the similarities in their respective downtown squares.

Warning: Use of undefined constant archives - assumed 'archives' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: Use of undefined constant page - assumed 'page' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32
class="post-8740 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-misc tag-los-angeles tag-photos tag-the-last-bookstore tag-travel tag-videos">

The Last Bookstore’s upstairs labyrinth

October 25th, 2019

The Last Bookstore: Upstairs

 

On my last trip to LA I just sort of stumbled across The Last Bookstore, a large bookstore selling new, used, antique, and rare books and comic books as well as vinyl records.

Both times I wandered in I was a little distracted by well-attended events they were holding in the store with authors and poets. Not a bad problem to have for The Last Bookstore by any means, but it meant I couldn’t explore the space as freely as I would have liked.

As it turns out I’d missed two key aspects to the store. One I knew about: the upstairs. The other took me by surprise: the bank vaults. Yes, the building was once a bank, and the open bank vault doors now reveal small rooms lined with books.

So what’s upstairs? Balconies on each of the four sides of the building are roughly half devoted to art gallery spaces, and half to a quirky “labyrinth” of oddball book decor and oddly arranged shelving.

On those shelves you’ll find a strange blend of genres from science fiction to identity politics. A few bookshelves are devoted to single topics — Sherlock Holmes, for example.

Here’s a short video I put together of the crazy upstairs labyrinth at The Last Bookstore. I had to remove the ambient audio due to copyrights.

 

Warning: Use of undefined constant archives - assumed 'archives' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: Use of undefined constant page - assumed 'page' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32
class="post-8732 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-misc tag-history tag-los-angeles tag-photos tag-trains tag-travel">

LA’s Union Station

October 25th, 2019
LA Union Station

 

It’s been almost two years since my last visit to Los Angeles, a trip I accidentally over-planned to the point where I had three times as much stuff to do as I did time to do it. So today I’ve returned for a few nights in an attempt to cross a few more of those items off the list.

But my first stop was actually a new item for me: Union Station. I’d become interested in the grand train stations of yesteryear during my Ameritrip2019 excursion on Amtrak. Many of these classic stations are named “Union Station” since they served a group — or union — of different passenger train services, like the one in LA still does today.

As it happens Union Station was the closest stop to my Airbnb on the LAX Flyaway “express” bus — which in reality has to share the same clogged freeways with everyone else.

The bus stops at a bus area behind the station. A short walk down a ramp leads into the newer half of the station, with the LA Metro’s subway downstairs, and both the regional Metrolink as well as Amtrak and Amtrak California on the outdoor upstairs level.

 

LA Union Station LA Union Station LA Union Station

 

The main passageway continues straight into the old part of Union Station. Unsurprisingly it’s the most interesting part of the complex, the uniquely beautiful interior in particular.

The building was completed in 1939, combining the Mission Revival style with Art Deco — a combination that sounds objectively terrible on paper, but the designers somehow fit it together perfectly. It’s worth noting the LA City Hall was designed by the same team.

Today the old half of the station is mostly waiting areas with shops, cafes, and a pair of outdoor courtyards. Still, my favorite feature in today’s 98F weather was a little more modern — the air conditioning.

Warning: Use of undefined constant archives - assumed 'archives' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: Use of undefined constant page - assumed 'page' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32
class="post-8532 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-local tag-comics tag-northbaytrip2019 tag-peanuts tag-photos tag-santa-rosa tag-travel">

The Peanuts statues of Santa Rosa

July 8th, 2019

Santa Rosa Peanuts characters
Santa Rosa Peanuts characters Santa Rosa Peantus characters Santa Rosa Peanuts characters Santa Rosa Peanuts characters

All over Santa Rosa’s downtown I stumbled across statues in the likeness of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts characters (Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, etc.) They’re all about the same height, but made from different materials and from different artists.

These were all commissioned after Schulz’s death in 2000, apparently because he didn’t like the idea of statues honoring his characters in his own hometown. Once he wasn’t around to say no anymore, I guess the statues were inevitable.

As I made my way to the Downtown Santa Rosa SMART station on my journey home, I couldn’t help but to notice a guy laying down a blanket to take a nap with his dog right next to the Charlie Brown and Snoopy statue.

Warning: Use of undefined constant archives - assumed 'archives' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: Use of undefined constant page - assumed 'page' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32
class="post-8528 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-local tag-northbaytrip2019 tag-photos tag-public-art tag-santa-rosa tag-travel">

Cyclisk

July 8th, 2019

Cyclisk
 

Easily the strangest thing I saw on this trip was the “Cyclisk,” an obelisk made of around 340 damaged bicycles. It was created by Mark Grieve and Ilana Spector as a public art project for Santa Rosa.

Ironically the statue is next to a car dealer and a car wash, but Grieve says “The statement is up to the viewer.” I’d also point out there are no bike lanes anywhere near the statue, and the street it’s located is even missing a sidewalk just north of it. So the meaning seems pretty clear… or is it?

If the nearby streets were rearranged with complete streets in mind, it would give the statue a completely different meaning. Perhaps in that context it could be seen as a call to action in its current state.

Warning: Use of undefined constant archives - assumed 'archives' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: Use of undefined constant page - assumed 'page' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32
class="post-8524 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-local tag-northbaytrip2019 tag-photos tag-santa-rosa tag-travel">

Luther Burbank Home and Gardens

July 7th, 2019

Luther Burbank Home and Gardens
Luther Burbank Home and Gardens Luther Burbank Home and Gardens
 

I arrived in Santa Rosa this afternoon and made a beeline for the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens. It’s the site of the home and a test garden of the wildly prolific horticulturist Luther Burbank. I bought a ticket for the hourly tour.

Although not a household name, Burbank invented a number of common foods you can find at your local grocery store including russet potatoes and various types of plums, as well as flowers including the Shasta daisy. One of his more out of the box ideas was to create a spineless cactus (no spikes) intended to be used as cattle feed in dry climates.

The tour goes through some of his failings, in particular not graduating medical school, not being taken seriously as a scientist in spite of his achievements, and not being granted patents due to laws at the time.

 
Luther Burbank Home and Gardens Luther Burbank Home and Gardens
 

Burbank was friends with some of his well known contemporaries including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and Stanford University president David Star Jordan. This is all glazed over in the tour, but with the benefit of hindsight some of these men have a seriously tarnished reputation, including perhaps Burbank himself.

After the tour I went poking around the gardens. The tour guide, apparently finished for the day, noticed me and pointed out something truly strange. Part of the garden is still devoted to scientific research and a Ph.D student from UC Davis grew two separate trees and grafted their branches together. I’m not sure what this means but if she’s successful we might have a new horticultural expert working in Burbank’s old test garden.
 

My recommendation: If any of this sounds interesting, the guided tour is only ten dollars. It takes about an hour, and you get to set foot in Burbank’s original home on the property (a second home has since been demolished.) The gardens are free to visit and a hot spot for wedding and quinceanera photo shoots.

Warning: Use of undefined constant archives - assumed 'archives' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: Use of undefined constant page - assumed 'page' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32
class="post-8521 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-local tag-99-percent-invisible tag-northbaytrip2019 tag-petaluma tag-photos tag-travel tag-water">

Petaluma’s temperance fountain

July 7th, 2019

Abstinence fountain
 

I happened to walk by a stone drinking fountain in downtown Petaluma with a curious inscription on the side:

ERECTED 1891

TOTAL ABSTINENCE
IS THE WAY TO HANDLE
THE ALCOHOL PROBLEM

It seemed odd at first glance, I think mostly because the word “abstinence” is generally only used in modern American English by religious zealots peddling unscientific sex-ed material. But in this context the word is referring to abstaining from something else: drinking alcohol.

Yet again, the connection seems unclear: what does a drinking fountain have to do with avoiding alcohol?

An episode from the 99% Invisible podcast about the history of modern drinking fountains explains the connection — in fact this very fountain in Petaluma is mentioned at about 10 minutes into the episode.

The gist of it is this: back in the day water wasn’t always safe to drink due to bacteria, so many people stuck with alcohol. Once modern science made water reliably safe to drink, the temperance movement promoted the use of drinking water as an alternative to alcohol.

Obviously people still drink alcohol today, but thanks to plentiful clean water (well, in most places) we don’t have to choose between feeling thirsty and feeling tipsy.

Warning: Use of undefined constant archives - assumed 'archives' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: Use of undefined constant page - assumed 'page' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32
class="post-8513 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-local tag-beer tag-northbaytrip2019 tag-petaluma tag-photos tag-travel">

Lagunitas Brewing Company tour

July 6th, 2019

Lagunitas Brewing Company tour
Lagunitas Brewing Company tour Lagunitas Brewing Company tour
 

Today I took a tour of the Lagunitas Brewing operation in Petaluma. The facility was largely built before they sold themselves to Heineken, and still operates independently. Tickets for the tour are free and (if you’re over 21) include a free beer.

The tour focuses very little on brewing and much more of the stories behind the company. Which is fine with me, every brewery essentially does the same thing at some level. Back when I used to brew beer at home I covered the process here.

Some highlights from the Lagunitas tour stories:

  • Founder Tony Magee was an unsuccessful musician from Chicago who moved to California and started brewing “house beers” for local bars, eventually launching his own brand.
  • An early version of the brewery was in a much smaller town that (unbeknownst to the company) had a communal septic tank instead of a proper sewage system. Let’s just say you don’t want to trap yeast with human waste in a closed environment.
  • The state had the brewery shut down for a few weeks after catching employees smoking marijuana at a company party. Lagunitas responded by issuing a beer to commemorate the occasion when they reopened, the Undercover Investigation Shut-down Ale.

I’ve left out many details, and there are many more stories on the tour. Depending on the tour guide you might get a different set of stories entirely.
 

My recommendation: Anyone who enjoys Lagunitas’ beer or is curious about this quirky brewing company would probably enjoy the tour. Their taproom and beer garden with live music and food is just outside the brewing facility. One caveat is it’s only accessible by car; I think I spent around $30 total getting to and from the brewery from downtown Petaluma via Lyft.

Warning: Use of undefined constant archives - assumed 'archives' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: Use of undefined constant page - assumed 'page' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/public/blog/wp-content/themes/eric-cordobo-green-park-2/archive.php on line 32
class="post-8500 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-local tag-frank-lloyd-wright tag-northbaytrip2019 tag-photos tag-san-rafael tag-travel">

Marin County Civic Center

July 6th, 2019

Marin Civic Center Marin Civic Center
Exterior of the building
 

The more I’ve seen of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs, the more I’m convinced he was an interior designer at heart who happened to get tasked with architecture. His interiors are always unique and playful, but the exteriors are almost offensively boring.

It’s certainly true of the Marin County Civic Center. From the outside it mostly looks like a big mess of arches, as though a bridge builder lost his or her mind.

 
Marin Civic Center Marin Civic Center
Marin Civic Center Marin Civic Center
Interiors
 

Stepping inside though it’s a completely different story; while it certainly has some of the look of a mid-century government building, the giant skylights and lush indoor gardens give off relaxing vibe. Pretty much the opposite of what most of us have come to expect from our interactions with government offices and courthouses.

I should point out that part of the secret to the building’s success is how well it’s maintained. It’d be much cheaper to let entropy take its toll and allow the gardens die or turn into weeds. Instead they’re watered, pruned, etc.

A number of tourists were wandering around in there snapping photos just as I was. Not much was going on since it was the day after July 4th, and the county fair was in full swing outside.

 
Marin Civic Center
 

On my way out I walked through a gallery of painted portraits for sale. I recognized a couple of the people, but this one in particular seemed appropriate as he’s one of the more famous people in Marin County: George Lucas.