Sunday In The Park With Dog: Ranger Lets Me Win

Susan wanted video of Ranger and me romping around Elysian Park after our hike this Sunday morning so I challenged her to a race around a nearby eucalyptus and back. Ranger not only gave me a head start, but after demonstrating her far-superior cornering capability around the tree’s trunk then slowed up enough on the way back to allow me the win.

There’s Snail In Them Thar Hills


Yeah, I know… I know. The east side of the country is digging out from massive amounts of snow dropped  by the latest monster winter storm, so this outdoor encounter doesn’t hold a 1000th of a drop of candlewax, but since fleeting hail is about the only organic frozen stuff I ever get rare occasion to encounter around these here Southern California parts, you’ll have to pardon me being fascinated with this singular patch of what’s called “graupel” I found below this magnificently mossy north-facing rock while about 2,400 feet up in the Verdugos between the Brand and Whiting Woods motorways as part of my latest Glendale Trail Safety Patrol yesterday.

Graupel (graw-pull) is the ungainly and term that seems to be just about the last thing meteorologist types would call the stage of precipitation that basically exists between hail and snow. I prefer to refer to the mixture via a mash-up of the words snow and hail to make “snail.”

Regardless of what it’s called, the one thing that can hopefully be agreed upon is that it was freakin’ cold enough up there at such a relatively low elevation to produce this stuff. I know that at the end of the patrol my nearly frost-bitten fingers wouldn’t argue that in the slightest.

Bamboo Charlie Lives!

You might remember last September when I wrote about visiting the garden of Bamboo Charlie (nee Charles Ray Walker) after I learned of his sudden demise. If not, you can read and see about it here.

Bamboo Charlie was homeless by choice and a beloved fixture in that area near the Boyle Heights Sears, carving out a quirky paradise on a slice of land near the east bank of the LA River. After I learned about him when his story made the LA Times, I failed to go see him when he was alive and so was heartbroken to only be able to visit his place after he was gone. It was a magical place.

One of the things I did when Susan and I visited was take a mature chili pepper from one of the many plants he had cultivated and put it in my pocket. When I got home, I harvested the seeds and planted them.

They sprouted and grew pretty quickly and even blossomed when pretty much everything else around the house was battening down for winter, but I wasn’t sure if the bees had pollinated any of the plant’s flowers. I should never doubt bees getting the job done because when taking out the trash yesterday, I glanced its way and was surprised to find two peppers have begun growing from where blooms had been, like so:


It’s a small tribute, but I’m happy to see Charlie’s legacy live on. Heretofore they are called The Red Hot Charlie Peppers.

Last Ride Of The Year

I joined some of my fellow Glendale Trail Safety Patrol volunteers — Paul, Rafi and Mark — and we tackled the Brand Motorway from bottom to top, with a side trip over to Tongva Peak before heading back down:

For all the riding I’ve done in the Verdugos, I haven’t rolled up or down the Brand Motorway since at least 2002, when a wildfire scorched much of the southern-facing hillsides around that area and subsequent rains washed out portions of the trail. As such I’d long forgotten how much more arduous and lengthy a climb it is than the Beaudry North Motorway (3.53 miles versus about 2 miles). In having my memory refreshed, I’m pleased to report I was able to make the trip up, nonstop — a first.

The 9.37-mile route with 1,873-feet of elevation gain/lost is mapped here

Got My Name In The Paper Yesterday

Last Saturday was the training day scheduled for the freshly minted volunteers of the inaugural class of Glendale’s Trail Safety Patrol program. I was among 17 others who sat in the Glendale Police Department’s Community Room for eight hours to learn about procedures, first aid, protocols, and such.

A reporter from the Glendale News-Press, Brittany Levine, was also in attendance. By far the most engaging segment of the day involved Glendale Police Officer Larry Ballesteros who discussed the best ways to deal with the inevitable “difficult” people we will meet on the trails. He asked for examples and I offered a scenario involving a speeding mountain biker. The ensuing exchange between myself and Ballesteros made it into her article published yesterday introducing the program.

Not being a regular reader of that newspaper, but being a regular reader of Rodger Jacobs, my thanks go to him for finding it and mentioning the article on his blog.

The pilot program set to begin next month rises from the ashes of cutbacks first to the city’s rangers and then to its naturalists program that basically has left Glendale’s 5,000 acres of open space pretty much unmonitored this past couple years.  The Trail Safety Patrol is modeled after the successful Mountain Bike Unit (MBU) program, which I was a member of in 2004-2005. It was during that same period that Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge was considering changes to Griffith Park’s master plan. Much to the joy of equestrians and hikers he ultimately bowed to the pressure they induced and opted to keep the long-standing mountain biking trail ban in place, and in the summer of 2005 I wrote him lengthily asking that he consider implementing an “MBU-Lite” version in Griffith Park, after the jump.

Needless to say LaBonge gave it zero consideration.

Continue reading Got My Name In The Paper Yesterday

A Question That Plagues Me No More

Despite what some might see as a physical and structural impossibility, I’ve long wondered if I could grow a seven-foot-plus tall sunflower in a six-inch planter box suspended off the south side steps, and now I have the answer (click it for the bigger picture):

Timelapse: July 4th Night Across Silver Lake Gulch

Every year these last few Susan and I have made the front porch our July 4th destination because despite ALL fireworks being ILLEGAL in Los Angeles, it seems like far too many of our otherwise mild-mannered neighbors disregard that civic ordinance. And the result is an hours-long noisy, poppy blasty boomy show consisting mostly of bottle rockets and firecrackers, backdropped by whumps and flashes that seem to happen all across the celebratory war zone that becomes our city. For 2012, with Independence Day square in the middle of the week, I set the GoPro cam up on our steeply pitched roof aimed westward across the gulch between our house and Micheltorena Ridge to see if it could capture the broad magnitude of local lawbreakers.

PS. And yeah, while the visuals aren’t that compelling, the song track I paired it up with from YouTube’s library is definitely diggable. The title’s “Downside Away Blues” by Big Mojo.