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LA Hipster Day

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Last Sunday was another LA day for us, but we weren’t just stopping on our way through town.  Sunday was normal at our house, with Marco editing photos and me working in the yard.  Then he suggested a drive to Los Angeles and visiting places we’ve never been.  Our first stop was the Brewery Arts Complex.  It’s downtown on Main Street, and it’s a live/work complex for artists.  Some studios are open to the public, but most of them are private residences.  Since we were there on Sunday, most were closed.  But it’s worth walking around anyway!  The area is a collection of old industrial buildings, including the old Pabst Blue Ribbon brewery, Paradox Iron, and the Edison building.

I loved the Paradox Iron building because it’s so rusted…it fits its name.

We thought the old buildings were so cool!  We had to pose.

The complex has been refurbished by the artists who live and work there.    There is a small park in the middle, with decor fashioned from old parts of machines.  I am amazed at how artists can take everyday objects and turn them into things of beauty.

It was very nice to walk around and see how the artists have turned a barren, forgotten space into individual homes.  The majority of them have brilliant gardens and gates serving as their entrances.

After our look around the Brewery, we stopped at the nearby San Antonio Winery.  We picked up a bottle of their Cardinale for my mom…it’s a very sweet red made from Concord grapes.  We found out that the winery’s grapes come from Napa, Monterey, and Paso Robles (my hometown).  They recently opened a new tasting room in Paso, too.

After looking around their tasting room, we made our way through downtown, and we noticed some very cool bridges.  We had to stop and take some photos.

From downtown, we headed to Silverlake.  We  love the little shops in this area, and one of Marco’s favorite Mexican seafood restaurants, 7 Mares, is there on Sunset.  We stopped for some shrimp tacos.

We continued on down Sunset and turned onto Hollywood Boulevard, and I introduced Marco to Wacko/Soap Plant.  This is a crazy store with books, toys, gifts, accessories, and work by many artists.  On Sunday, they had a taxidermy display.  Definitely worth a visit, and we’ll have to go back.  They closed shortly after we walked in, but it was enough to see how fun it is.


Loving LA

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The song “I Love LA” may sound silly, but it is true.  When you have lived in LA, you know the love someone can feel for the city.  Like a west coast disciple of Carrie Bradshaw, I spend time in the city whenever I get the chance.  In the last couple of weeks, Marco and I made a few stops around LA, and we have a renewed excitement for being tourists in our own corner of the world.  One interesting place we stopped was a consignment store called Nick Metropolis.  It’s a vintage Hollywood store, and they have tons of furniture and accessories that all look like movie props.  They rent out their merchandise for films and parties, also.

Some of my favorite items were the neon letters.  They had so many!

Marco and I also liked a couple of quirky things, like the shoe chairs and the bike mower.

This place is a lot of fun.  We asked about buying some furniture, but everything we liked was a little too expensive.  I’ve read that other people found great deals, though.  It’s definitely worth a stop to have a look around!  Places like this reinforce what a fun city this is.

If you feel like exploring, wander down the alley behind the store.  Nick’s is on La Brea near Wilshire, which is a great place to shop.  There are some wonderful furniture and accessory shops with a modern, urban feel.

We also wandered into a restaurant and decided to eat there.  It’s called Tinga, and it’s on the same block as Nick’s.

We went in the back way, but the restaurant is gorgeous inside.  It’s simple and artistic.  And they served wonderful food!  We shared a plate of pork loin tacos, cooked with peppers and in a wonderful sauce, served in hand made tortillas.  So yummy!  Marco had a watermelon juice, and I had a Mexican Coke.

Marco told me I had to see the bathroom, and he was right!  Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture, but the bathroom is all black and white murals, almost like Shel Silverstein.  I looked it up, and the urban dictionary says that the word “tinga” means toilet or urinal in the Shamananalan language.  So maybe this is why their bathrooms are so special!  However, the closest thing Google can find to Shamananalan is M. Night Shyamalan.  So maybe it’s a language created by the quirky director.  Hollywood, again!  Gotta love LA.


A Quick Stop at Pyramid Lake

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Anyone who drives on I5 north of Los Angeles has probably noticed Pyramid Lake.  Just as a weary driver begins to be hypnotized by the barren hills of the Grapevine (even though it’s called Angeles National Forest!), a glimpse of blue water appears on the west side, and a pyramid seems to be carved out of the mountain on the far side.  After 17 years of driving along I5, I finally visited this landmark when we were on our way back from Bakersfield last weekend.  Marco and I debated about spending the $11 to park, but we saved so much money on our Bakersfield trip that we felt comfortable with it.  And what a nice excursion!  The lake winds around and looks different from different angles.  We parked near a narrow portion of the lake and walked along it taking photos.

I had my little red Canon, but Marco brought out the big camera to capture the scenery.  Here he is taking a picture of me from up above.  You can see the gazebos behind him for barbecues.

The lake has some nice features.  There is a big, open boat launch area (bigger than other lakes), and it was very busy on this sunny day.

We wandered along the lake until we found the swimming beach.  It is protected from the boats, and it’s not too long of a walk, but it’s better to drive there.  The walk was hot in the bright sun!

This little guy climbed the stairs in front of us, jumping up each step.  He finally found his way onto the railing and out of danger.

The stairs took us up to more barbecue areas, and a great view of the lake.  The swimming beach is tucked in a corner on the left side of the photo.

The swimming beach is a bit small, but roomy enough for a family to take a swim.

As we wandered back along the lake, we noticed fishermen perched on rocks.  It was such an idyllic setting!  Absolutely beautiful.

I love his hat!

There were some beautiful natural elements all along the lake.  I loved the pattern and texture of these roots.

There was a great tree along the bank.  We took a rest in its shade, and I crawled down to water’s edge to dip my feet.

I took this picture of us!  So proud of my smile, instead of the apprehensive look I usually have when I’m holding the camera. 

If you’re in Southern California, this is a fun day trip!  Pack a lunch and bring your swimwear.


The San Miguel Mission

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My family lives in central California.  That means they’re halfway between San Francisco and LA.  When my childhood best friend and I started at UCLA, an announcer at one of the myriad welcoming assemblies asked for cheers from people hailing from Southern California, Northern California, other states, and other countries.  We sat, silently, waiting for the acknowledgement that would not come.  That was our first clue that we were from “nowhere.”

But the central coast of California is one of the most perfect places in the world.  Beautiful, temperate, and not too crowded (yet).  With beaches, farmland, wineries, and cattle ranches, it is a mediterranean lifestyle that inspires art and innovation.

Last weekend, Marco and I ventured to my family’s ranch to attend my niece’s 5th birthday party.  While we were there, we decided to go for a walk around the San Miguel Mission.

Mission San Miguel Arcangel is just off Highway 101 in San Miguel, CA. Very easy to find!

It’s one of the original missions in California, and it has recently been restored.  All the California missions are beautiful, and very photogenic.  Marco has done many shoots here, including family photos for my sister.

A view of the church from across the street. It was recently restored, thanks to huge local fundraising efforts. The state does not maintain it, because it is an active Catholic church.

Inside the mission’s Catholic church. The altar came from Spain in the 1800s, and the frescoes are recently restored.

Less than a mile away is another historic landmark, called Rios Caledonia.  It’s an old adobe hotel and stagecoach stop.

The sign reads “Caledonia Hotel, Stage Stop and Saloon”

I picked up a brochure, and we learned that it was purchased illegally from Governor Pio Pico, who later had to flee the area, by a man named Rios.  It was then purchased by a man named Blanchart, who decided to call it the Caledonia Hotel, because of his love for Scotland (called Caledonia by the Romans).  And thus, a little outpost in California came to use an ancient Roman name.  Incidentally, Pico Boulevard in LA is named after Governor Pio Pico.  Love history!

The front of the two story hotel, from down on the street. It was originally a residence for the Rios family.

So if you’re headed to the central coast, or just driving up Highway 101,

“Be sure to visit the mission, 1/2 block ahead. Visitors welcome.”

I couldn’t say it better myself!

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