Spring into 2009

Spring is in the air, so I created a Flickr group celebrating the first day of Spring with the same name—Spring into 2009.

Wildflowers are in bloom everywhere in California right now.

I’m not a horticulturist, but that’s not a requirement to know what I like, admire, and appreciate, therefore I wanted to share my recent flower photographs, some of which are blooms, while I’ve been Travelin’ Local:

In the northern hemisphere, we’re celebrating spring, the southern hemisphere is embracing autumn– which I was educated about–but worldwide the frame of reference is technically the Equinox.

So far, 39 photographers have joined the Spring into 2009 Flickr group. Because most of their pictures are designated “All rights reserved,” I can’t reproduce them here—so to appreciate and see their great photos, please click the Spring into 2009 group.

I highly recommend viewing every group member’s gallery because it’s definitely Travelin’ Local round’ the world web friendly.

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Pershing Square is the Place to be

Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, Pershing Square has a long and rich history dating back to 1866.

Its last redesign was in 1994, led by the famed architect Ricardo Legorreta and landscape architect, Laurie Olin. As you can see from the pictures, they did a great job:

Pershing Square is playful and elegant; modern but classical; fun and serious; and it’s practical for the people who work, play, and live in Los Angeles. Pershing Square is able to offer many different things for different people.

With its outdoor concert and event center, Pershing Square hosts an array of free programs for the downtown community. While I was there, people were relaxing, reading, walking their dogs, and just taking in the multitude of sights and sounds of the city.

One of the major annual events Pershing Square hosts is the Eggstravaganza Egg Hunt, featuring arts and crafts, clowns, magic, and storytelling. It’s a must attend program for families. Did I mention it’s free?

Because I went to Pershing Square on Car-Free Friday, I took the Metro, combining of both bus and subway.

In fact, this was my first time taking the Los Angeles subway. It was easy to navigate, clean, and fast. Although the underground rail was an expensive and controversial project throughout the 80’s and 90’s, obviously its promoters and advocates were correct—an investment in mass transit for Los Angeles was extremely important.

I will definitely be riding the Metro more often–it’s economical, I don’t have to worry about parking, it’s green, and if I want, I can bring my bike along with me.

What more could I ask for?

What park do you enjoy spending a relaxing afternoon at? Did you take a local bus or subway to get there?

For many, Travelin’ Local is the only place and way to go.

Education, Conservation, and the TreePeople

The caretakers and managers of Coldwater Canyon Park are the TreePeople, a non-profit organization whose mission is “To inspire the people of Los Angeles to take personal responsibility for the urban forest—educating, training, and supporting them as they plant and care for trees, and improve the neighborhoods in which they live, learn, work and play.”

Located at the top of Mulholland Drive, their eco message starts as soon as you enter the Parking Grove aka parking lot, where the following sign is posted:

I could feel the variation in heat of the different asphalts, by touching the surfaces in the sign above. The  TreePeople practice what they preach as their Parking Grove was paved with this light asphalt, and they incorporated recycled material in their curb bumpers, which were more like a hard plastic than cement.

As you walk into the hilltop their educational program literally unfolds before you:

All “about helping nature heal our cities,” the TreePeople offer sustainable solutions to urban ecosystem problems.

Through the La Krutz Urban Watershed Garden, children and adults can learn how to put water conservation to work in their own homes and neighborhoods:

You’ll notice that throughout this post, I’m using informational signs, which were all found at the TreePeople Center. They put their message into the best words possible.

The TreePeople Conference Center is one of the best examples I’ve seen for sustainability and eco-friendliness. By using such materials and procedures as:

Non toxic cotton insulation: Created from scraps of denim left over from the manufacture of blue jeans

Energy efficient window glazing: Keeps out solar heat while letting in visible light

Reclaimed lumber for solar shades: Made from planks of Douglas fir salvaged from the historic fire station once located in the park

Recycled Structural Steel: Contains both pre- and post-consumer consumer recycled waste

Concrete in both roof and floor: Absorbs heat during the day and releases heat in the evening. The concrete contains 50% fly ash, a by-product of coal burning power plants that is usually dumped in landfills.

In the business of planting and growing trees, the TreePeople maintain the W.M. Keck Foundation Nursery. Even before Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa launched his MillionTreeLA program, which the TreePeople are involved in, their nursery was growing seeds into seedling:

Another current project the TreePeople is working on is building cisterns to catch rainwater, filter it, and then reuse it at a local elementary school:

If you’d like more information on the TreePeople, you can become a member here or check out their calendar for upcoming events.

If you don’t live in LA, but would like to spread the eco-message of planting trees in your neighborhood, TreeLink will give you a heads-up on other US tree organizations.

What could be more natural than planting a tree while Travelin’ Local?

A Vacation Day at Coldwater Canyon Park

Nestled tightly toward the top of Mulholland Dr, in the hills of Beverly Hills, is Coldwater Canyon Park.

“Set atop chaparral-covered canyons, it provides a haven of natural beauty in the midst of Los Angeles’ sprawling urban landscape. From this shady, quiet retreat you can enjoy panoramic views of the San Fernando Valley. Over 70,000 people a year visit Coldwater Canyon Park, confirming Los Angeles Magazine’s declaration that it is “one of the 300 best reasons to stay in Los Angeles.” Those who visit marvel at what they experience: a sanctuary for nature, for all who love nature, and in particular, for children, who come to love and learn how to nurture the natural world around them.”

Source: TreePeople. (More on TreePeople in another story).

It’s a stone’s throw from home, a place to get away during the day, and a treasure within the city.

Climbing to new heights to touch the sky

It’s a dog friendly park

where the dogs even have their own drinking fountain.

There are several trails in Coldwater Canyon Park. Some short and a few longer ones that all connect to Wilacre State Park, Fryman Canyon State Park and Franklin Canyon Park. They all have great views of the city:

After a great day of vacation in the middle of the big city, now it’s time to head home.

Coldwater Canyon Park is without a doubt unique and special, and at the end of today, I’m satisfied that I got to go Travelin’’ Local, and feel like I was on vacation at the same time. What about you? Did you take a vacation while Travelin’ Local this weekend?

Chris Brogan, the So Cal Action Sports Network, and the evening that almost was

On March 8th, Chris Brogan, a well-known social media expert and activist, posted his upcoming trips and events.

This conference was a must-see for me:

March 26th - March 29th, So Cal Action Sports Network, Irvine, CA. - Speaking to a dynamic group of brilliant marketers.

So, I immediately hit the link and registered.

Although I had driven through Irvine before–it’s only about an hour away from Los Angeles—my confidence reigned supreme that getting from here to there wasn’t going to be a big deal. Plus, being a travel writer and photojournalist, I thought that I did my homework, looking over the So Cal Action Sports Network website, printing my Google maps, making sure my car had plenty of gas, along with a journal for taking notes.

I was very enthusiastic about meeting a few people from the So Cal Action Sports Network, and hearing Chris Brogan speak.

That’s where the good news ends.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to leave for the evening conference until 4:00pm. According to Google, Irvine is about 65 miles from where I live. Because the route was practically all freeways, I thought that even with rush hour traffic, I’d be able to make it in 2.5 hours–well, I was wrong.

This was the initial welcome for my good intentions:

The first 50 miles of my drive on the 405 looked like this.

I kept wondering when the traffic would let up.

The answer was, not until John Wayne Airport:

View Larger Map

According to Google maps, I traveled the first 48.7 miles in about 2.5 hours. (I did have to stop to go to the bathroom, which was a necessity.)

I kept telling myself: “Okay, I won’t be too late; I can still make it.”

Fate had a different plan. Although I thought I was headed in the right direction, I soon realized I missed a crucial turn.

I was going north instead of south and getting more and more frustrated with both myself and my predicament.

So I called a friend of mine, who counseled me on the phone to calm down, and maybe stop for a few minutes and snap a few pictures of the great sights, of which there were many. In fact, I had no idea just how beautiful this particular area of Northern Orange County was:

One missed turn ended up being a circle filled with an endless variety of toll roads.

Needless to say, at this point I was failing to get to where I wanted to go, leading me back to where I had already gone. Ah, the proverbial “Bermuda Triangle” of the California freeway system.

By now, as dusk was approaching, I realized that it would be impossible for me attend the event in a timely matter, if at all. So needless to say, I, who take pride in my punctuality and dependability, was both confused and upset.

At one juncture I did get very excited to find Portola Parkway, only to have it dead end at the CA241 Freeway– I’m pretty sure the locals, or the people who work at Oakley, the major sponsor of last night’s event, can confirm that fact.

For a conference that’s starts at 6:30pm entering after 7:45pm is not fashionably late but insulting. So the sunset literally did fall on my pride and feelings.

So after I arrived home, in less than an hour, from my fruitless sojourn, I wanted to make sure that my day was productive more than it had been.

That’s why I wrote this post of “woe is me” and the “hobgoblin of little minds” is driving south from Los Angeles at the worst possible time, I wanted to make sure that others less or more fortunate than me, could learn from “my” following rules of thumb when in driving in Southern California:

1. Always make sure you have a close-up, picture map of where you want to go.

2. Never drink too much water—or anything else for that matter–before you leave on a trip from Los Angeles to Irvine.

3. Give yourself a 3 hour window during rush hour.

4. Always wear your reading glasses when looking at the directions.

5. If possible, take a friend along who can assist, especially when you’re driving in the wrong direction. (Don’t use inflatable dolls to ride along with you for the “Carpool Lane.” The fine is massive and you’ll look, well, rather silly).

6. Accept the fact that the best laid plans may go awry.

9. When you’re frustrated while driving, take 10 deep breaths, then drive on, in a calm and orderly fashion.

8. Don’t get overly excited by any upcoming event that you become distracted and invert and transpose north and south.

9. Write a educational story as a form of learning and therapy.

As they say, sometimes pride cometh before the fall, or more accurately, traffic is a bitch!

The funniest thing is that I’m a seasoned driver who should know all of these lessons–I took my 4 daughters on a 5-week, 11,000 mile cross-country tour, in which we only got lost once. But as I recall, it was Berkeley where that happened.

Although getting lost may be an occasional occurrence in California, it’s not my usual style.

What about you? Have you gotten lost Travelin’ Local before? If you did, I’m sure you too also had a speedy return.

“Envisioning the End of Smog”

Is it possible? Yes, it is:

In 1986, James M. Lents, former director of clean air efforts for the State of Colorado, took the helm at AQMD.

In spite of progress in cleaning the air, businesses and even air quality regulators at the time generally believed it was impossible to achieve air quality standards in Los Angeles. The problem was too severe, the cost of cleanup prohibitive and the technology needed was nowhere in sight, they said.

Lents proposed a bold and revolutionary goal: to develop a strategy that would actually clean up the nation’s worst air pollution. Even some of his staff was skeptical.

Talk about bold, forward thinking, and strategic, this story is inspiring and it’s real:

Lents directed the development of the agency’s first Air Quality Management Plan to lay out a step-by-step blueprint identifying the specific control measures needed to attain clean air standards by 2007. AQMD’s Governing Board adopted it in 1989, creating headlines across the nation and in Europe. Achieving clean air would take years of work and major technological breakthroughs, but it was no longer a vague pipe dream.

"One of the unique things the agency has done is create the vision that we can have clean air," Lents said. "The concept of, ‘It’s impossible to meet current standards’ has gone away."

The plan was the first to call for a number of advanced technologies, including zero-emission electric vehicles, and to specify that clean air could not be achieved in the Southland without them.

AQMD’s clean air plan put pressure on other agencies to adopt regulations to require development of the new technology needed to achieve clean air standards, Lents said.

Source: South Coast Air Quality Management Board (AQMD)

All I know is that when I first moved here about 3 years ago—I had heard that Los Angeles had previously unbearable smog, and for decades was practically unlivable because of unhealthy air-quality.

That’s why I decided to write this story because for me, the last few days of photo shoots really was a “gotcha” moment–I had no idea! I was smog virgin!

Last week, I was hiking and researching an upcoming Travelin’ Local story, but the air was low to the ground, hazy, and overall smoggy and foggy. I went ahead and took a few pictures, even though I knew they wouldn’t be very clear.

When I mentioned—and indeed complained about it to a friend, she told me about how Los Angeles used to be. (Yes, LA was known as the “Smog Capital of the World.”)

But no more.

With the successful efforts and continued endeavors that are constantly being and continually made for our collective air quality improvement, great progress has been achieved. Take a look at the numbers:

In 1955, when modern ozone monitoring began, Southland residents suffered the highest ozone level ever recorded — 0.68 parts per million in downtown Los Angeles — nearly three times the highest level in 1996.

And the numbers only continue to get better: South Coast Air Basin Smog Trend

Two days after I shot the smoggy pictures, high winds and rain ensued, thus clearing the air. So I decided to return to the same park, and was shocked at the views I had missed a couple days before. Of course, I took a few more pictures. The distinction is quite striking:

Day One

Day Two

If you follow the arrow, you’ll see the same building in both pictures. On the first day, I couldn’t see the mountains, the sky, or the city. On the second day, my view was crystal clear. Same scene, two different days.

What a difference a day can make!

After seeing this, I have a much greater appreciation for all the efforts to end the smog, and I’m planning on taking steps to help with the challenge.

One way to do that is to ride my bike. The Los Angeles County Bike Coalition (LACBC) has declared the last Friday of every month, which is tomorrow, as a Car-Free Friday. You don’t have to live in LA to appreciate the positive effect that riding your bike one day per month can have for yourself and the environment.

Your neighborhood might not have the smog issues we have in LA, but air pollution is a problem all over the world. Is there something you can do in your neighborhood to keep the smog down while Travelin’ Local?

Travelin’ Local visits Tucson’s Sabino Canyon

Today, Travelin’ Local welcomes our guest poster, Diane C, whose blog, Sabino Canyon, features the panorama of sights, sounds, wildlife, natural resources, hills, canyons, plants, mountains, and the visually stunning photos from the desert oasis right next to her house.

I’m a big fan of hers and if you haven’t yet had a chance to read her sweeping and comprehensive photojournalistic coverage of the Sonoran Desert, today is a good day to start. Diane’s writing and photos are playful yet serious, and provide the reader with her emotional and educated connection with nature.

Travelin’ Local is headed to the Arizona desert today, by visiting the Nature Loop Trail. It’s literally in Diane’s backyard and she was gracious to let us explore her neck of the woods.

Nature Loop Trail

Hello, I’m Diane in Tucson, Arizona. I live within walking distance of Sabino Canyon Recreation Area in the Sonoran Desert.

The more I visit this desert canyon, the more I discover and learn about nature. Today I’m featuring the Nature Loop Trail right by the visitor’s center.

It’s already springtime at Sabino Canyon. The creosote bushes are in bloom. Birds are singing and gathering nesting materials. Reptiles and small burrowing animals are active as well. Cacti will start blooming next month.

Nature Loop Trail winds around an area called the bajada. A bajada is a gently sloping apron of sediments washed down from the canyon. The drainage is ideal for a cactus forest to thrive.

Gambel’s Quail

Many of the plants are labeled on this easy introductory trail. The sign by this cactus says Teddy bear Cholla. It looks soft and fuzzy, but this is one teddy bear not to get too close to.

Whiptail Lizard

These visitors are checking out the rare, crested saguaro cactus.

I’ve been coming here for 15 years and only recently discovered it by accident from a different trail. I guess I was in too much of a hurry to notice it before. I wonder what else I can see if I pay attention.

Crested Saguaro

Wildlife is abundant, but shy. Sitting down quietly for a few minutes is a good way to watch birds or other animals in their natural habitat. My husband explores the canyon with me a couple of days a week and I also enjoy walking alone.

Desert Cottontail

“My blog is about Sabino Canyon, because I want to learn more about nature without having to travel far. I also read blogs from around the world because I enjoy seeing others connecting with and sharing the areas where they live. That’s why I like Lisa’s Travelin’ Local blog, she reports on points of interest around Southern California where she lives and inspires others to check out their own locales. Thank you Lisa, for letting me share how I’m Travelin’ Local in Southwestern USA.”

Diane, the pleasure was all mine, and I look forward to many more days visiting your neighborhood. It’s beautiful and only a click or if I choose, just a brief airline flight away.

Lights, Camera, Action and The Unit

Sometimes in Los Angeles, we get to literally be “part of the action” and have a backstage pass for being at the right place at the right time, for just being there. Welcome to Travelin’ Local’s backstage shoot of “The Unit.”

Such was the case during my recent foray during my afternoon visit to Macarthur Park. When I was there, a CBS production crew was filming an episode of “The Unit.” It was quite an event as the scene being filmed was with their main star, Dennis Haysbert, who plays the character Jonas Blane.

To those unfamiliar with this television series—which I was a previous member of—it is a hit television show now in its fourth season and going strong.

The Unit’s Plot and Summary

From Executive Producers David Mamet and Shawn Ryan, The Unit is an action drama that follows a covert team of Special Forces operatives as they risk their lives on undercover missions around the globe, while their families maintain the home front, protecting their husbands’ secrets. Jonas Blane (Dennis Haysbert) leads the Unit on missions out in the field and is responsible for taking new recruit Bob Brown (Scott Foley) under his wing. The Unit includes Jonas, Colonel Tom Ryan (Robert Patrick), Mack Gerhardt (Max Martini), Charles Grey (Michael Irby), Hector Williams (Demore Barnes) and Bob Brown, all highly skilled, trustworthy, brave and dependable soldiers whose ability to rely on each other is what creates their brotherhood. Jonas’ wife, Molly (Regina Taylor), is the base matriarch who comforts and counsels the other wives as they cope with the fear and uncertainty they experience when their husbands leave home. Molly and Tiffy Gerhardt (Abby Brammell), a wife hiding her own dark secrets, help Bob’s pregnant wife, Kim (Audrey Marie Anderson), acclimate to the stress of her new secret life. Source: CBS

Allstate Insurance Company Connection

Many of you will already be familiar with actor Dennis Haysbert, because of his deep baritone voice and statuesque frame, as he’s frequently seen in Allstate’s nationwide commercials. Haysbert is the official spokesman for the Allstate Insurance Company.

24 Connection

Surprisingly enough, I became interested in Barack Obama’s persona, based on a character that Haysbert played—President David Palmer in the 24 on Fox.

And he agrees! It’s an eerie occurrence of Life imitating Art.

In 2001, Haysbert became better known when he was cast in 24 playing U.S. Senator David Palmer, who served as America’s first Black President (in the context of the show) during the second and third seasons. He also returned as a guest star in the last six episodes of season 4 and the first episode of season 5. He stated in an interview for the show that the three men he admires most — Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Colin Powell — collectively embody his idea of what a President should be. Haysbert believes that his playing of David Palmer on 24 helped Barack Obama — whom Haysbert supports — to win the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Source: Wikipedia

Since a picture tells a thousand words, I’ll let them do the talking. Without further adieu, welcome to The Unit, up-close and personal. Lights, camera, action:

Haysbert, crouched and shooting live. Although it’s only a television show—the gun is real, and it sounded real, although of course, blanks were used.

Cast and crew, plus lots of equipment “backstage.” It takes a lot of people to run the set.

That camera looks and must be heavy.

Haysbert, with his co-star, Regina Taylor, make their get-away after the shootout.

Living in Los Angeles frequently means that when we’re Travelin Local, we create our own “get-a-ways.”

Since Hollywood is the Entertainment Capital of the World, its sets are frequently built to represent other cities, or places, around the world.

But Entertainment is no joke—it’s big business here

With only 3 major big-budget productions due to be filmed in Los Angeles, city officials are considering hiring a "film czar" to promote their interests with the multibillion-dollar entertainment industry. By contrast, more than 100 major films were shot in LA in 2007 and 22 in 2008.

The loss of entertainment revenue and jobs is a critical issue in Los Angeles, especially given the current economic climate. The Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. estimates that more than 117,000 jobs are connected to the industry, which generates $38 billion annually for the region. Source: Contra Costa Times

Have you ever encountered a film shoot in your city? It’s becoming more and more common as the costs of filmmaking have dramatically decreased because of the move to digital moviemaking and associated content.

As well, many other states and countries are aggressively offering film and music production companies large subsidies and lucrative contracts.

How about you? Are you Travelin’ Local to your movie theatre today?

Next time you do, keep in mind that your favorite star or show, can be part of your neighborhood too…………………:)

Macarthur Park is going to The People

A couple days ago, I featured some of our local feathered friends that I discovered while visiting Macarthur Park, so today I’d like to share some other interesting photographs that I took while I was at the park.

As Diane C. noted, Macarthur Park is also famous for the song named after it, which was first recorded by Richard Harris in 1968.

If you listen closely, you can hear Harris using the incorrect possessive form, "MacArthur’s Park". Jimmy Webb, the song’s writer, said he tried correcting Harris during re-takes, but gave up when he simply could not sing the correct words.

With that in mind, here’s Macarthur Park, the song:

In both 2007 and 2008 summers, Macarthur Park hosted over 80 evening concerts of family entertainment. All told, at least 50,000 people attended the summertime park’s concerts.

Adding to this venue’s allure, there are at least 50 concerts scheduled and planned for each summer. They’re totally free to the public, so I’m sure I’ll be attending at least a couple of these, so watch for them this summer.

Although Macarthur Park has seen a major revitalization over the past few years, its recent history includes the Los Angeles May Day mêlée, a pro-illegal-immigration rally which occurred on May 1, 2007.

During the rally, police clashed with a few of the protesters, who began blocking the street, which the rally permit expressly prohibited. When several people began pelted Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers with rocks, bottles, and other debris, the police commanders declared the gathering an unlawful assembly and gave the command for the crowd to disperse.

During the incident, 27 marchers and 9 members of the media were injured, 5 people were arrested, and at least 50 civilians filed complaints with the LAPD regarding mistreatment by officers. 7 to 15 police officers were injured.

Well here’s to better times and problems solved!

In that spirit, the day I was there, quite a few other activities were going on, and people were having a whole lotta fun!

Wow, he must have had a great bike ride!!

An intense game of chess…………….:)

This is one of the entry points to the park, which a bike rider has just gone through. I think that these balls have something to do with ship anchors but I’m not sure, so if there are any military experts or ship aficionados in the audience, feel free to let me know, and I’ll update the story.

Reading the local paper is always a relaxing activity especially when surrounded by a beautiful lake and scenery.

If all of these actions weren’t enough for one day, there was also a live shooting of the very popular TV series, The Unit, taking place as well. I captured some unique and unlikely shots of the scenes, cast, and crew, so definitely stay tuned to Travelin’ Local. I’ve learned that you never know what you’ll find in your own backyard.

I hope everyone had a great weekend, and don’t forget, “Let’s keep our park clean!”

Welcome to the Free Pipe Organ Recital at the First Church in Los Angeles

For this Sunday morning, I’d like to take you to a very old church with an exceptionally large organ, the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. It’s Los Angeles’ oldest Protestant church in continuous operation, being founded in 1867.

Every Thursday at 12:10pm, the church opens its doors for a free 30 minute pipe organ recital.

Its exterior is as bold and omnipresent as its studious pews, magnificent stained glass windows and thunderous organ.

In fact, it’s the largest church pipe organ in the world.

Did I say pipes?

From the moment I stepped into the church, I was surrounded by pipes; large ones, short ones, tall ones, and tiny ones. In fact, there are over 20,000 pipes in total.

This organ is the largest church organ in the world and the third largest of all the organs in the world, with the largest, being The Wanamaker Organ, which is located in Pennsylvania, and the second largest Organ is in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Source: The World’s Largest Pipe Organs

The manufacturer of this Church’s organ was M. P. Moller, the same manufacturer of the organ at the United States Military Academy at WestPoint.

In fact, there seems to be some discrepancy—and a touch of controversy–as to which church or who can lay claim to which institution has the largest organ; as both of them claim the honor.

Controversy at the Church? Hardly, but who knew?

Be that as it may, my vote is for the First Congregational Church plus, the gentleman who I noted above agrees with me.

Due to economic circumstances, the M.P. Moller Pipe Organ Company closed its doors in 1992, but fortunately for the organ community, four of the Moller employees grouped together and started a new company, the Hagerstown Organ Company.

As I was watching the organist, S. Wayne Foster, I kept having mental images of watching a dancer or high-wire artist, because while playing the various songs, his body was perched static on his bench, but his hands and feet energetically but smoothly were using every key and pedal.

After the performance, I asked the Mr. Foster about the keys and pedals. He informed me that with the higher notes, the higher keyboard on the console is used. Indeed with this particular organ, most of the higher notes are keys and the lower notes are pedals.

The knobs on the right and left panels are called “stops,” with each stop used to turn on a set of pipes.  If no stops are turned on, pressing a key on the keyboard will not make a sound.

Although I didn’t record or videotape today’s Organ Recital, I did find a remarkable video recorded on a different day at the same First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. It provides a musical explanation of stops.

I encourage everybody to just sit back and listen—it’s quite an experience:

I hope you enjoyed today’s Free Pipe Organ Recital.

If you live in LA—or are planning to visit—definitely make sure to keep Thursday at 12:10pm free to attend the special lunchtime Recital at the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. It’s definitely the place to be.

After the free pipe organ concert, Macarthur Park is a short walk for a picture perfect picnic lunch.

I’d like to give a shout out to Will over at [sic], who first introduced me to the free recital and had a rather unique experience during the free recital he attended.

I hope you have a great Sunday planned Travelin’ Local, and don’t forget to shoot some Spring into 2009 pictures to show and feature for the first weekend of Spring.

Macarthur Park is going to the Birds

Whoever thought a major metropolitan city like Los Angeles couldn’t have so many different varieties of birds, definitely hasn’t visited Macarthur Park, which is located in the Westlake district.

Considering the recent history of Macarthur Park, it has come a long way; it used to be “crime central” in Los Angeles–drug-dealing, shoot-outs and the occasional rumored drowning, and as many as 30 murders in 1990. When the lake was drained during construction of the Red Line Metro tunnel, hundreds of handguns and other firearms were found to have been disposed of in the lake.

However, beginning in 2002, the Los Angeles Police Department, along with local business and community leaders led a revitalization effort that has led to the installation of surveillance cameras, the opening of a recreation center, increased business, a new Metro station, plus paddle boats and a fountain. Most recently, in 2005, the park was celebrated for having the highest reduction of crime statistics per resident in the United States. Source: Macarthur Park

I’ll be telling you more about Macarthur Park soon, but for today, I’m going to feature a few of our feathered friends that I discovered there. I wish I knew them by their names, but since I don’t, the pictures will have to suffice.

If there are any ornithologists in the audience, speak up or forever hold your peace; or if you do know the birds names, please feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll add them into the post.

Let’s Bird Watch:

That’s it for the birds for today, as this last guy—or girl—is seemingly both curious as to my reason for taking its picture but not offering him/her some food.

So as my visit to Macarthur Park this afternoon is fading into dusk, today’s Travelin’ Local’s foray into previously dangerous but now bird friendly ground, has made this day one more of delight and appreciation of nature right in the middle of downtown Los Angeles.

Tomorrow I’ll be featuring a testimony and treat about a world famous organ, its concert, and the church where the city was built around; it’s within walking distance from Macarthur Park as well.

Yesterday was a fun weekday Travelin’ Local. Not all events happen on the weekend, so are you trying to go somewhere nearby to celebrate your backyard and week?

[Update]  Much Thanks to Stacy from Create a Balance who provided the names of the birds.  From the top:

1.  A Brewers Blackbird

2.  The black bird in the background is an American Coot and the bird in the front is a Greylag Goose (note: this goose is not a native bird to North America)

3.  Barnyard Geese and potentially Western Gulls in the background.

4.  Perhaps a first year Glaucous-Winged Gull…but it could be a Glaucous-Wing Western hybrid.

Springin’ into action on the Metro’s Orange Line Bicycle Path

With the hint of spring in the air last weekend, I decided to ride a bike trail I’ve had my eye on, the Metro Orange Line Bicycle Path.

After having gone through a major clean-up effort, the Orange Line Trail looks great, and rides even better.

I didn’t ride the entire trail, but entered it via the intersection of Oxnard and Van Nuys. Almost all of this part of the trail is labeled a Class I bike trail, a completely separated bi-directional right of way designated for bicycles. The trail is smooth and flat, making for a seamless ride; however, there are rips in the seams, due to the many starts and stops at each major street crossing, of which there are many.

In my ride, I encountered one major problem—signage, or a lack thereof, especially in this particular section of the bicycle path near the Los Angeles River, where the Class I trail turns into a Class II bike trail, a striped lane for one-way bike travel on a roadway.

Unfortunately, there are no directional signs of where to go to continue on the intended trail, so it’s easy to get confused. This left me with one choice, to keep riding with the hope that the Class II trail would lead back to its intended course, along the bus route.

I was right; the Class I trail restarted several blocks down the road. But no sooner did I reach the path’s end and as I resumed my trek back, the signage issue became even more of a problem.

Upon starting this trail, I thought getting lost wasn’t even a possibility or I would have taken my map. After about 20 minutes of riding, fortunately, I found my way out of what was a maze of bike paths at the time. I had no idea bike trails could be so prevalent!

After returning home, I reviewed the map, and apparently on my way back, I took the wrong fork in the bike path, which led me astray to the Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area. On a different day, I would have loved to spend more time there, but on this day, I had to be somewhere in the afternoon, so getting lost wasn’t on my agenda. Indeed, when is it ever?

It’s incumbent that the LA Department of Transportation, show bicycle riders the same set of criteria and respect that they afford automobile drivers by providing proper signage.

Supply the proper information so bicycle riders know where to go to reach their intended destinations.

Safety first isn’t just a slogan to bandy about when convenient.

Here’s a slice of Los Angeles courtesy of the Metro Orange Line Bicycle Path:

This is another part of the Los Angeles River. It looks quite different here than it did closer to Griffith Park.

A wonderful family friendly painted brick mural I liked.

I encountered this bike rider both coming and going. She appeared to be at least 70 years old, and because she was riding her bike for at least 40 minutes, I’d say she’s in pretty good shape. You go girl………………..:)

As I approached this gentleman, I was trying to figure out what he was doing. Upon closer inspection, he is transporting empty bottles and cans to be sold at a local recycling center.

In Los Angeles, collecting recyclables is a mini-industry. Although it isn’t for the faint of heart, it’s green and eco-friendly.

The economics of recycling is increasing favorably, scouring garbage cans for recyclables, bagging them up, and taking them to a local recycling center is becoming popular. I’m not certain how much money one can make through this endeavor, but it’s obvious this guy is taking it very seriously.

All in all, I enjoyed the ride, and even though getting a little lost was an issue. I looked at it as an extra 20 minutes of exercise, and a worthwhile cause for advocacy.

Speaking of exercise, how are you going to enjoy the first day of spring on Saturday? If you’re going to take your bike out of mothballs, grab your camera, and share Spring into 2009.

I can’t wait to see what spring looks while you’re Travelin’ Local wherever you may live in the world.

Travelin’ Local is in Wisconsin Again

Today’s guest post is by the talented and engaging Lance, whose own blog, the Jungle of Life, has inspired me and others, to accomplish our goals, take a close look at who we are, and in no small part to due his enormous and copious way of providing motivation and inspiration via his writing and his dedication, I find myself returning over and over again.

Travelin Local’s message is clear yet profound: you can live anywhere in the world, and keep falling in love and enjoying your own city or town, without having to go very far or spend a lot of money.

One goal of hosting guest bloggers at Travelin Local, is that it affords our readers the chance to share their own neighborhoods and stories with others on the web, and that in turn, inspires us to get acquainted with places we’re perhaps not acquainted with or privy to– and may want to travel there at some point in the future.

But it also gives us flavors of the “Where’s,” “What’s,” “How’s,” “Why’s,” and “When’s” of how the locals view and interpret their surroundings. Without a doubt, Lance has accomplished this with his usual panache and style, and flair for the understated:

Travelin’ Local in Wisconsin

Hi everyone! This is Lance from the Jungle of Life. I’m coming to you from the heart of the United States – and this nation’s Dairy state – Wisconsin. Walk with me as we take a look at what “Travelin Local” means in this locale.

Our first stop is in our backyard. Beautiful winter days lead us oftentimes to the big hill behind our house. In fact, we’ve been known to call it a mountain (even though it’s nowhere near a mountain!). Many winter days are spent sledding and snowboarding, (not me, I’ll stick to the sled!) which are followed by a nice big cup of hot cocoa.

Winter also bring lots of basketball. So, we see a lot of gyms throughout southeastern Wisconsin. Three kids on three different basketball teams – we probably spend more time in gyms than we do in our own living room during the winter months!

Once it warms up outside, we’re all about getting out and enjoying nature. One of the latest family activities we’ve picked up doing is disc golf. With a new park that has a disc golf course within a couple of miles from home, this is a fun activity for us as a family, or even the kids and their friends.

Summer brings baseball and softball – and lots of time at local parks. A great time to be outside!

Some days, Travelin’ Local means just stepping out the back door to this – a mama deer and two fawns, while being able to see them briefly, before they dash off into the woods behind.

And Travelin’ Local is never complete without a stop at the local custard shop. A local place, that draws people from all over.

And we have it right down the road!

Thank you, Lance for being Travelin’ Local’s first guest blogger. In appreciation for Lance’s first guest post, I’d like to invite everybody to participate in a photography event which will honor the change of seasons. It’s an idea that takes us from winter, to indoors, to spring, just like Lance’s post revealed.

Spring is the perfect time for discovery–new seeds that sprout and grow, the snow melting, and the promise of summer right around the corner. Even though I live in Los Angeles and enjoy warm weather all year round, for those of you who reside in colder climates, spring invites outside activity, hiking, walking, running, taking your children to the playground, and bike riding to name but a few spring activities. What to do is only limited by your imagination.

What am I getting at with all of this talk of spring?

I’m inviting anyone and everyone who has a camera to take a picture on March 21, the first day of Spring.

I’ve created a group on Flickr, Spring into 2009 to host everyone’s pictures from around the world on the blogosphere. All you have to do is just join and download your pictures to the group.

So why don’t you Spring into 2009, go outside, and snap your favorite photos and welcome the change of season around the world. Choose the ones you like the best and put them up, it’s that simple.

Share a little of your world with the world on March 21st and please spread the word via your blog, Twitter, Flickr, or the social network of your choice. With your help, Spring into Action can be a true worldwide event…………………..:)

Travelin’ Local is visiting Wisconsin today

Today, Lisa from Lisa’s Chaos was gracious to extend her warm welcome by allowing me to feature Travelin’ Local from her hometown in Wisconsin.

So if you came here expecting to see another great Southern California blog post, you’ve come to the right place, but today you’ll get to check us out over at Lisa’s great photo blog and be sure to check out her weekly meme, Macro Monday.

I’m very excited to share my documentation of the Los Angeles River with her readers:

A Different View of the Big City

Independence Day, Paramount Studios, and a Contest

As a follow-up to yesterday’s visit to the Paley Center and its thousands of TV titles, I wanted to visit the movies today.

Not literally at the movies, or on a movie set, but one particular movie location in downtown Los Angeles.

Have you seen Independence Day?

It’s definitely one of my favorite movies. Although, I’m not usually a fan of the science fiction film genre, but this film was an exception. Starring Will Smith, Bill Pullman, and Jeff Goldblum, Independence Day had non-stop action from beginning to end.

In the opening scene, as the aliens are arriving, a strange group of people are standing on a rooftop, welcoming them.

Unbeknown to them, of course, the aliens were about to blow them to kingdom come. The “Library Tower,” the building’s nickname, was one of the three initial landmarks to be destroyed during the alien’s sinister attacks–the other two were the Empire State Building and the White House.

If you’re in the mood for an action packed movie, definitely rent a DVD of Independence Day.

In other movie news, on March 20, Paramount Studios is opening a new movie entitled, “I love you, Man.” The movie looks really cute, but it’s the title and the studio that attracted me. Paramount Studios has a long and storied history beginning in 1912.

Starting with the biggest names in the silent movies, Mary Pickford, Rudolf Valentino, and Clara Bow, Paramount moved on to do such blockbusters as Titanic, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Star Trek movies, and the Godfather series.

Why am I talking so much about movies?

Well, Travelin’ Local is announcing a contest.

First, the prize:

We’re offering the winner of our ongoing contests (Yes, this is the first of a few planned contests) a interesting and unique book. For this particular contest, Travelin’ Local is offering a beautiful copy of the Vanity Fair’s book, Hollywood.

Vanity Fair’s Hollywood” is a wonderful book that portrays the glitz and glamour of Hollywood at its most glorious. Vanity Fair’s best inspirational photos are presented from the distant and not-too-recent past. And a perfect gift for that star follower in your world. Every page screams "Hooray for Hollywood", and the nostalgia of some will have you yearning for past times. It’s possibly the most beautiful book ever made on the stars that captured our imagination and inspired us.”

Everybody loves or has their favorite movies or television shows. Frequently we like them for their excitement, drama, special effects, various genres, and a myriad of reasons.

In that vein, Travelin’ Local’s contest is simple, the participant with the most points wins:

· One point is earned for leaving a comment here

· Two points are earned if you write a post on your own blog, describing what your favorite movie is and why, and then linking back to Travelin’ Local

The deadline for your entries is March 31, 2009.

Part of Travelin’ Local in Los Angeles, and Southern California, is that we’re the “Entertainment Capital” of the world.

Plus, to my reader’s, “I love you, Man” (or Woman).

And with entertainment comes fun—so let the games begin……………………..:)

An Afternoon with the Media at the Paley Center

As I’ve mentioned several times, I’m not a “greenhorn” to Southern California nor am I a native, so I was very excited when a friend of mine suggested that we visit The Museum of Television & Radio (MTR) in Beverly Hills. Its architect, Richard Meir, created a building that lives and breathes on one of the busiest streets in Beverly Hills, yet its beauty, and elegance is inherently mesmerizing, in more ways than one. Richard Meier, just happens to be the architect for the world renowned Getty Museum, also located here in Los Angeles.

Before I proceed any further into my photographic and written foray of this magnificent place, the first matter at hand is to give notice to everybody that the name of The Museum of Television & Radio was changed to The Paley Center for Media in 2007.

Simply put— The Paley Center for Media is probably one of the most advanced media centers, educational resources, current events, associated galleries, topical films, archives of television and radio programs, and cataloguer of over 100 years of media and society.

William Paley, was the founder of what became CBS and by the time he died in 1990 at the age of 89, he had remained at or near its helm for more than 60 years. He pioneered many of the practices that gave first radio and then television network broadcasting their distinctive shape and extraordinary reach.

CBS’s success was due to the quality of its programming which Paley was the innovator and advocate and his great passion was for what went over the air, which is at the heart of what the Paley Center is all about. By the way, they have 2 locations—one in Beverly Hills and the other in New York City.

At the heart of the Paley Center is an international collection of more than 140,000 programs covering almost 100 years of television and radio history, including news, public affairs programs and documentaries, performing arts programs, children’s programming, sports, comedy and variety shows, and commercial advertising. Programming from over seventy countries is represented in the collection. "Lost" radio and television programs recovered by The Paley Center for Media that are preserved in the collection include Super Bowl III, a Rat Pack benefit variety show, and James Dean performances.

All you have to do is:

1. Go to the Museum

2. Climb the stairs to their computer room where dozens of computers are loaded with their extensive database.

3. Put in your search words.

4. Choose 2 titles. (Yes, each time you choose, you’re limited to only two titles. Go figure!)

5. Take your choices to the librarian.

6. Wait a few minutes, get your data disc, and watch your choices. Each component of the search is also indexed for further exploration, and research. For example if during a search the producer or actor of a particular show was listed, you are able to find all relevant archived information that the Paley Center has for that as well.

It’s that simple. I researched their database for old shows and discovered that they had archived past television shows like Laugh-in, Get Smart, and Grammar Rock were all included. On a more serious side, I typed in JFK, and a broadcast originally shown on November 23rd, 1961, featured many top political and social icons of that time, whom were interviewed right before Kennedy’s funeral.

An important aspect of the Paley Center is that it offers both a specific area of its vast catalogued archives for academics and for educational purposes. They have separate wired rooms especially dedicated for those interested in writing, teaching, and exploring past historical events that were recorded on television, cinema, and radio. You can view some of their perspectives on Media and videos from their Screening Room on the Internet.

In its John H. Mitchell Theatre, they have an ever changing line-up of old and rare features, which their curators have assembled. The day I was there they were featuring old clips of the controversial comedian in the show entitled Two Five-Letter Words: Lenny Bruce; The entire premier of the original 1955 Lawrence Welk Show—including highlights of the musical/variety programs of the bandleader and his “Champagne Orchestra” in honor of Lawrence Welk’s 106th Birthday; and a compilation of Superheroes on TV featuring Batman: ‘The Greatest Mother of them All’ starring Shelley Winters, from the 1966 show; and Danny Phantom: “Fanning the Flames” “Teacher of the Year” which features two 2004 episodes where the protagonist is a mild mannered Freshman at Casper High by day, superpower ghost vigilante by night, who confronts a power-mad girl rocker and a Tech-Ghost bent on taking over the Internet.

If all of that wasn’t interesting enough, in the Paley Center’s Ahmanson Radio Listening Room, they featured these programs all day:

- A Toast to Dean Martin

- Black Radio: Telling Like It Was

- Lucille Ball: The Redhead on Radio

- The Radio Interview: The Beatles

- A Salute to Sondheim

If you plan on visiting LA or better yet, if you live here, the The Paley Center for Media is a great way to spend an afternoon, or a series of afternoons.

Do you have a favorite TV program that you’d like to see again? Or historic events that were captured and recorded on the media?

By visiting Travelin’ Local, you can make rediscover history, live it, or view it.

Dream as if you’ll live forever.  Live as if you’ll die today.  ~ James Dean

Carpe Diem! It’s up to you to seize the day………………….:)

A Los Angeles Scavenger Hunt

About a month ago, I accepted an invitation to participate in a “local” photo scavenger hunt being hosted by Nicole over at NicoleB Photography.

I had so much fun taking all of these pictures—indeed, every time I reached for my camera, the scavenger hunt was in the back of my mind, as I’m trying to bring new and diverse ways to look at Los Angeles.

From the feedback I’ve received about Travelin’ Local, I’m certain that I’m succeeding in getting people interested in finding beauty, the unique, and the undiscovered that we take for granted living here.

When traveling, people always have a generalized and often times stereotypical view of Los Angeles.

We’re no different than any other big city, and have our share of urban and other problems. Be that as it may, we are the “Entertainment Capital” of the world, and California is one of the top destinations for travel, tourism, and relocation.

The future looks very bright for the City of Angels. So, without further adieu, the Los Angeles Scavenger Hunt is on:

1. Local currency

2. Local flag

3. Local food

4. Something rusty

5. Local wildlife

6. Local nature

7. Local stamp

8. Part of your neighborhood (it can be a very small part)

9. Traditional house

10. A local person

11. Local weather

12. Local transportation

13. Traditional local clothing

14. Night sky

15. Sunrise

16. Local product non-food

17. Something furry

18. Something feathery

19. A sign of the season

20. A part of you

21. Your main hobby

22. A local shop

23. A local restaurant

24. A street sign

25. A local mail box

As you can see, Los Angeles has a large, varied local landscape, full of characters, sites, sounds, and so much more.

I’d like to thank Nicole for hosting this contest, and if you’d like to see more of the other participants in the scavenger hunt, please visit 1st Scavenger Hunt on NicoleB Photography for the list of bloggers from all over the world.

If you did a scavenger hunt in your neighborhood, what would you find as you went Travelin’ Local?

Travelin’ Local featured by Liz Strauss at Successful Blog

Today Liz Strauss was gracious enough to publish my guest post entitled 7 Ways to Check………Is Blogging your Dream?

In case you don’t follow Liz, she is the go-to person to help people succeed with their blogs, and promotes the same via her writing, advice, and expertise. Essentially Liz helps people and their blogging passion become successful and if already successful, more successful.

And she’s very good at what she does. I encourage everybody to follow Liz and to include her in your reader and to bookmark her site–I and countless others are inspired and continually learn from her efforts.

Her Twitter address is:  twitter.com/lizstrauss

Again, many thanks to Liz and the opportunity that she’s afforded me to lend a tiny hand in her larger efforts to reach out to the blogging community.

What is one thing Los Angeles is famous for?

I should have used the word “infamous” but I wanted to get your attention.

Unfortunately our paradise is marred by one major ubiquitous problem:


Yesterday, I was on the 405 (Here in LA, the freeways are always preceded with the word “The.” I don’t know why, but that’s just the way it is.)

It was only noon, so when I got on the 405, I wasn’t expecting too much traffic, but nonetheless, I was wrong. The traffic wasn’t too bad, but it did last for 15 awful minutes. Thank goodness I wasn’t driving, and I used that time to snap some pictures:

And so it begins.

Take a look at my side of the freeway versus the other side. Can you guess what happened?

You guessed it, an accident; but on the other side of the freeway!

Thank goodness the local police and fire department were there to help with the situation.

Ok, now I’m moving, but the other side is not.

Well, in Los Angeles, the free moving freeway doesn’t always move free. However, if you look at the background you’ll see the mountains.

Do you have traffic while you’re Travelin’ Local? If so, the is radio always an option…………………….:) Using your cell phone without hands free is now outlawed in California without Bluetooth.

It’s an old cliché—but people here are always talking, on the move, and dreaming the California dream.

Don’t forget to look behind You

Yesterday, I posted about my bicycle ride along the Los Angeles River. This particular section of the trail along the river, is only about 4 miles long, so my trip was essentially a “up-the-trail, down-the trail” go to the “the end and turn around and came back” outing. Surprisingly, though, as soon as I turned around, the sights were so completely different from what I had just saw and chronicled.

Here the beautiful Burbank and Glendale Hills proffer a totally new perspective than the direct approach along the river.

Have you ever followed a path for a long distance, enjoying the view along the way, only to turn around and be surprised at a totally new view?

Lesson learned: To get the fullest view possible, look at your surroundings from all vantage points, including the one behind you.