An Interview with Urs Baur, founder of The Topanga Film Festival

Topanga Film Festival

The Topanga Film Festival also known as (”TFF”), is an open-air, boutique, local film festival. It receives entries from around the world, and showcases a broad range of short films ranging from documentaries, animation, drama/comedy and experimental filmmaking.

Now in its 5th year, it promises to be the biggest yet. The festival provides the opportunity for showcasing new and emerging filmmakers, and unparalleled exposure and opportunities for additional entries–as well as workshops, panels to meet the filmmakers, and to network with others in the industry.

The festival actually started in Urs and his wife Sara’s own home, and now it’s considered the “biggest little festival.” It was nominated as one of the top 25 “coolest” film festivals in the world by Movie Maker Magazine.

The festival runs from August 6-9, and is located in the hills of Topanga. It’s set in its iconic hills, and uses a big screen outdoors where the audience spreads out on blankets and beach chairs to watch the movies, enjoy the sunset, groove to the DJ’s music, and partake in the food and beverage vendors—all before the evening’s program.

The short film genre provides an eclecticism which typical films are unable to reproduce, while resembling short essays—but in a different format.

Urs took time out of his hectic schedule to take my questions and to provide Travelin’ Local’s discerning viewers additional information about the Topanga Film Festival, its humble beginnings, and other facts not well known outside the inner circle of the festival’s organizers and founders:

Tom Jones conducted the interview–also known as (“TJ”)—and is Travelin’ Local’s newest culture, film, feature contributor and essayist.

Among the plethora and explosion of “Film Festival’s” nationwide, TJ and Urs conducted the interview with the stated goal of getting the word out that TFF’s growth, brand, and emergence is a regional, national, and international showcase and arbiter for emerging cinematic trends:

TJ: “Tell our readers a bit about how you became involved with the TFF and how it all got started, a bit of its history, and how its location at Topanga Canyon makes it special.”

Urs: “Sara and I are its founders, and we started the TFF 5 years ago, somewhat on a whim. Filmmakers’ ourselves, we were inspired by ongoing festivals in the U.S. and in Europe. Europeans are into outdoor screenings and the U.S. as well had amazing ‘destination festivals.’ Our goal was to position TFF to deliver both.”

TJ: What’s your background and the other principal’s involved with the TFF?”

Urs: “Sara [Ed.note - Urs’ wife] and I met in Art school 20 years ago and came together on a variety of creative projects. She’s a painter, writer, and artist; and I had a successful career in advertising, so the creation of the Topanga Film Festival was a logical culmination of our collaborations.”

TJ: “What are the goals and objectives of the TFF?”

Urs: “To showcase a unique program in a fantastic location, create a sense of community and build cultural bridges through providing a shared experience centered around film.”

TJ: “How are those goals and objectives being met? Are they met?

Urs: “Since our growth has been calibrated and organic, TFF’s reputation is solid, we’re the real thing, and now in its fifth year–the TFF is quickly establishing itself as a stand out amongst the small independents.”

TJ: “What’s new and different for this year’s TFF?”

Urs: “We’re expanding the festival from a two-day to a four-day event, and tripling the number of events including an Opening Party and “Action Sports and other High Impact Shorts” program; an International Short Film Competition screening Saturday evening on TFF’s giant outdoor screen; a collaboration with Project Butterfly for the presentation of the feature film "What About Me?"– from the creators of the Grammy nominated film and album ‘1Giant Leap;’ and last but not least– the Best of Topanga at Froggy’s.”

TJ: “Who are this year’s judges, and guests?”

Urs: “Judges are Howard “Hawk” Koch Jr. Dennis Haysbert, Patricia Cardoso, and others to be announced. TFF attendees and guests include an eclectic mix of filmmakers, film aficionados, fun loving Angelinos, and of course, a few local celebrities included in the mix.”

Topanga Canyon has been the perennial home of artists, celebrities, and others who enjoy the spectacular area, views, culture, and “small town” and “neighborly” aspect of its prime location high in the hills above Malibu.

It’s obvious that when Travelin’ Local, how to read and watch a film, spring directly from their origins as short stories. As in essays, they provide the viewer and creator, the ability to showcase and enjoy their imagination via filmmaking.

If you have the inclination to watch international, independent, and experimental short films among the tranquil hills of Topanga, I’m sure it will make for an experience you won’t soon forget and in the inimitable Travelin’ Local tradition, have fun at the same time.

For further information, to purchase tickets, and for Topanga Canyon’s Film Festival’s schedule and itineraries, visit their website at Topanga Film Festival.

Pan-Pacific Park – Family Friendly Fun

From its iconic start, the Pan Pacific Park, which spans a full city block, has had many rough years, but is now seeing a comeback.

Pan-Pacific Auditorium in 1937

The Pan Pacific Auditorium in 1937 (Photo via the Los Angeles Public Library and the LAist)

First opened in 1935, the Pan-Pacific Auditorium, with its famous four stylized towers and flagpoles which were meant to evoke up-swept aircraft fins, hosted such events as the Ice Capades, the Harlem Globetrotters, along with UCLA ice hockey, UCLA men’s basketball, and USC men’s basketball games, as well as hosting professional tennis tournaments, car shows, political rallies and circuses.

Its storied history includes the historic General Dwight D. Eisenhower speech to a beyond-capacity crowd of 10,000 in 1952, a month before being elected President of the United States. Elvis Presley performed there in 1957, shortly before he was drafted into the Army, and Vice-president Richard Nixon addressed a national audience from the Pan-Pacific in November 1960. The building remained as Los Angeles’ primary indoor venue until the 1972 opening of the much larger Los Angeles Convention Center, after which the Pan-Pacific Auditorium was closed. Source: Wikipedia

Once the Pan-Pacific closed its doors, neglect and decay took over, until 1989, when a blazing fire destroyed the Auditorium.

1989 Fire

Photo via Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Archive

Today, only one of the iconic towers remains, but the Park stands as a lasting memory of a time gone by.

Pan-Pacific Auditorium

As you can see in the picture above, right next to the Auditorium entrance, is a small playground named Renee’s Place. It’s a universal access playground with two play areas, one for 2- to 5-year-olds, and the other for 5- to 12-year-olds.

Pan Pacific

The park also has a mister so while parents keep a watchful eye, their children get to keep cool on hot summer days.

Mom, can I get misted?

Pan-Pacific Park has it all–basketball courts, baseball diamonds, picnic tables, a jogging trail, and barbeque pits.

Let's work out outside today

Here’s its brand new outdoor gym. With about 35 average annual days of rainfall, working out at this outdoor gym is pretty much available all year round.

Pan-Pacific Park Pool

The Pan-Pacific Park Pool is a welcome addition for the area, especially during the dog days of summer—here’s its full summer schedule.

Next time you need a place to bring the kids where they can run, play, and just have a good time; Pan-Pacific Park should be your destination. It’s also adult friendly.

For a full list of its varied activities, facilities, groups, features, programs, and times, check out the City of Los Angeles’ Pan-Pacific Park’s website.

The location of Pan-Pacific Park is in the heart of the city, so when Travelin’ Local, knowing where to go, is half the battle—the other half is up to you to have fun!

The Majestic Colorado Street Bridge

Synonymous with Pasadena, is the Colorado Street Bridge. My heartfelt devotion to magnificent archways, architecture, form, and function, was satiated during my visit.

Build in 1913, the Colorado Street Bridge, spans the Arroyo Seco, and is an east-west connector from Pasadena, to Eagle Rock and Glendale.

Colorado Street Bridge

History of the Colorado Street Bridge

The sheer size of the Colorado Bridge–spanning, 1,486 feet—is a sight to behold and is a bit overwhelming. In 1989, after the Loma Prieta earthquake, the bridge was declared a seismic hazard and closed to traffic.

In 1993, however, it was then reopened after a substantial retrofit.

Looking up

In order to photograph and research this magnificent structure, I took a path less travelled– a rather unused trail, with two sets of immense old steps.

Steps going up

Steps going up

Bridges to Nowhere and Everywhere

Just thinking about bridges brings to mind powerful metaphors, songs, stories, reflections, thoughts, and other emotions having to do with a “bridge.”

For Example:

  • Listening to a bridge song–59th Street Bridge by Simon and Garfunkel
  • Playing a hand of bridge
  • Placing your reading glasses on the bridge of your nose
  • Reading a book about a bridge–The Bridges of Madison County
  • Having a bridge put into your teeth
  • A bridge movie classic–Bridge on the River Kwai
  • Using the bridge in a billiards game
  • Jumping off a Bridge

And as I don’t want to “Burn any Bridges” or “Build a Bridge to Nowhere,” I’ll leave you with a quote by Alex Haley:

“In every conceivable manner, the family is the link to our past, and a bridge to our future. “

Welcome to the Metro Gold Line Car Wash

Have you ever wondered how the Metro keeps their trains clean?

A Clean Train is much better than a Dirty Train!

A few days ago, I was among a fortunate few to be able to take a tour of Metro’s light rail maintenance yards, which included the Gold Line.  Included in the yards were the usual train parts, train lifts, and train engineers–but there was a car wash as well! Metro calls it a “car” wash because their trains are made up of individual cars.

It’s an automated system, which requires the piloted trains to get cleaned using a combination of man and machine. Interestingly enough, the train’s speed going through their cleansing is approximately 2mph.

2mph is all it takes!!

Like a typical car wash, as soon as the train enters, the water starts spraying it with a combination of water jets, soap, and cleanser.

I want a shower to clean off!!

Just like being in the shower to clean off—the Metro buses need their brushes also.

I need a quick shower!!

Next of course, is the piece de resistance –the rinse!

"Piece de Resistance"

Afterward, within minutes a sparkling clean train departs the “Train Wash” which will be left to drip dry in the lot:

Here I come, Baby

And the result is a sleek, clean, "green," mean machine:

After rinse

“Ain’t I Pretty?”

“Ain’t I Pretty?”

All the water used is saved, filtered, and reclaimed. The “car” wash isn’t only one of life’s necessities; the green efficiencies of this process cannot be ignored nor understated. At the Gold Line Maintenance Yard, cars are washed daily, both inside and out.

Inside Cleaning Platform

The platform shown above between these two trains is the inside train cleaning station.

With an average of 24,219 weekday boarding’s there’s no doubt that the Gold Line trains get a daily workout.

Pictured above on the right, is the tried and true older model train still in use for the Gold Line; but on the left is the brand-spanking-new Silver model that’s soon coming to the Gold line stations, if not already.

If you’re interested in taking the tour of the Metro light rail maintenance yards, you still have time to sign up for the final tour, which is scheduled for Tuesday, August 4, 9am-1pm.

Kudos and a big shout out to the Metro for keeping their trains clean and ready for our daily, weekly, and monthly usage.

Who knew that Metro spent this kind of time and resources for our benefit? Next time you’re riding on their busses, subway, or rail, think about all the time and energy spent cleaning them, so please—don’t litter!

The Best Snow Cones in Los Angeles

Travelin’ Local is officially declaring that from this day forward, Sunday, July 26th, here on out, is the official “Snow Cone Sunday” Holiday in Los Angeles. What self-respecting fun in the Summertime routine is complete without enjoying at least one delicious snow cone? But—not to worry, Travelin’ Local’s food hounds hunted, found, ate, and now grace your presence with the “real scoop.” But, where can you go– you must be wondering– to enjoy such simple splendor in a cup?

Zacatecas Raspados

If you live in Los Angeles, the best place for a fresh, delicious snow cone is at, Zacatecas Raspados. Translated into English Raspados literally means drink of flavored crushed ice.

And at Zacatecas Raspados, they make theirs with a mixture of homemade juices, mixed in with the crushed ice– which these snow cones actually are. In the picture above, they actually use the term “Ice Cones.”

Having a tall Sweet and Cold one doesn’t get any better on a lazy Sunday day

As recently featured in the Wall Street Journal by a globetrotting gourmand, and foodie, food critic Amy Chozick, has literally traveled the seven seas in search for the perfect snow cone. In her travels she’s managed to find a few, and today’s story features one she considers to be a leader in the delicate art of “The Sweet and the Cold.”

Simple and Compact

Although the store is simple and compact– and might not look like much– as the saying goes, “The best things come in Small packages,” or “Don’t judge a book by its cover!”

With flavors including pineapple, strawberry, and mango, the store’s shaved ice is mixed with chunks of real fruit, so to live and not die in Los Angeles, is to kick back, relax, have a tall one, feel the cool breeze, and watch the people, cars, and sky hover in East Los Angeles, in the way that only the locals know how to do.

Special Recipe

The Ice Cones Secret Recipe

Fill the cup half way with crushed ice, ladle a generous portion of your choice of fruit concoction, fill the remainder of the cup with more crushed ice, and then add another ladle of your chosen fruit fusion.

Below are actual chunks of pineapple in my beverage. My girlfriend who was with me, chose the Limon, or Lemon in English, but because it’s a naturally sweetened fruit, no chunks for her!

Of course, all of the recipes at Zacatecas Raspados are a secret, crafted by one woman who makes the decadent mixtures every day at a secret location, and keeps them in a safety deposit box at night while she sleeps.

Just joking, but for me, there’s nothing better than a cool, natural, summer breeze for your inner body, which also cools your outside senses and gets one ready for the next Travelin’ Local sojourn.

Pineapple Snow Cone

The sights and sounds of Travelin’ Local feed the mind, but its food can satisfy the soul and the stomach, which is even better:

Zacatecas Raspados

422 N. Ford Blvd.

Los Angeles, Calif.


History and Grandeur meet in Pasadena at the City Hall

As I entered the Pasadena Civic Center, it felt like I had just entered into a bygone era of worlds, cities, and architecture, all combined. Although Pasadena is relatively new compared to the Classical and Renaissance times, the feeling of time and place for me became inexplicable and inexorably interconnected.

Pasadena City Hall

Completed on December 27, 1927, Pasadena City Hall is an incredible paradigm of California Mediterranean style united with design elements of structures from the Cathedrals and Domes of both Churches and architecture from Italy. From 2004 to 2007, Pasadena City Hall was closed, going through a major renovation, which was both “green” and a seismic retrofit. Seismic retrofit of the building included the installation of structural base isolators that now allow the building to withstand future earthquake activity.  Because City Hall is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, special care was taken to preserve many of the historic architectural elements.

Pasadena Courthouse

The Stunning Architecture of Pasadena’s City Hall

Pasadena’s City Hall’s massive circular towers and structure rises perpendicularly for six stories. The fifth story is 41 feet high and pierced with four huge, round arches and four smaller ones. The next story, set back and cantilevered is 30 feet high and is also pierced with arches. Above rises the dome, its dimensions are 26 feet high and 54 feet across. And on top of the dome is the lantern, a column-supported cupola 41 feet high, surmounted by an urn and ball. The highest point is 206 feet above the ground.

Here is the open archway’s ceiling:


Its magnificent detailing, symmetry, arches, and breathtaking design are simply nothing short of simple beauty. For a moment I turned my attention to the open courtyard facing out as I was long transfixed on the image above only to be equally mesmerized by the view here:


An inner sanctum of solitude, reflection, beauty, art, architecture, and form and function abounds:

Simple Elegance

Noticing the clean lines, perfectly aligned archways, and diagonal placement of the red iron brick colored tiles, I imagined being a courtesan in a King’s palace. I thought that anybody that has the money for a palace should design its hallways just like this—I then walked across the street and visited Plaza Las Fuentes. Upon returning, a wedding was taking place in this very hallway.

You never know what you’ll find while Travelin’ Local, but in this case, I found grandeur, history, and much more which I’ll share soon.

Free Summertime Movies in Los Angeles


Going to the movies is always in “vogue” but seeing them for free is tres chic.

Since we’ve wrote about all of the free summer concerts in Los Angeles; we thought you’d also want to know about all the free movies as well.

Your wish is our command–of course we know all of this because Travelin’ Local’s readership are an exceptionally discriminating bunch, especially when it comes to free things.

Well you’ve come to the right place. After a long and exhaustive search, I’ve found several local outlets for your free summertime viewing.

Councilman Herb Wesson and CD10’s Community Partners host “Movies in the Park,” a four film series, (two of which were held in June) on Sunday nights in July with festivities beginning at 6:00pm, at various parks in and around Los Angeles:


July 24, 2009

Shark Tale

Jim Gilliam Recreation Center

4000 S. La Brea


July 31, 2009

Madagascar 2

Reynier Park

2803 Reynier Ave.


I love the idea of sitting under the stars and watching a movie because what’s a better way to spend an evening with friends and family than with free popcorn and hot dogs.

Want more?

Here are some more locations for free movies held throughout the summer. If you’d like to know if you need to bring a blanket, just click the links.

List of Free Summer Movies and Locations

3rd Annual Summer Cinema Series

Where: WET pool at West Los Angeles - Westwood, 930 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles

When: July – September, Sunday nights

Time: Doors open at 7:00pm with the movie starting at sunset

Here’s the list of movies and dates they’ll be shown:

  • July 26th - Kite Runner
  • August 2nd - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • August 9th - Bad News Bears
  • August 16th - A Might Heart
  • August 23rd - Black Sheep
  • August 30th - Last Kiss
  • September 6th - Failure to Launch
  • September 13th - Mean Girls
  • September 20th - The Duchess
  • September 27th - Major League

Movies on the Terrace

Old and new classics are the theme for the Movies on the Terrace list.

Where: Dining Terrace at Westfield Century City

When: June – August, Wednesday nights

Time: 8:00pm

Here’s the list of movies and dates they’ll be shown:

  • July 22th - Ghostbusters
  • July 29 - Top Gun
  • August 5 - My Fair Lady
  • August 12 - West Side Story
  • August 19 - Grease
  • August 26 - Girls Night Out*

*A double feature screening of Legally Blonde 1&2, Beauty Bar mini-spa treatments, pink cocktails and fun shopping treats starting at 6pm.

Old Pasadena Film Festival

Although the first two weeks of Pasadena’s Film Festival have passed; it’s better late than never so I’ll definitely be heading over to Old Town, to watch West Side Story. For your viewing pleasure, chairs are provided at all screenings.

Where: see below

When: Friday and Saturday Evenings

Time: Varies

Here’s the list of movies and dates they’ll be shown:

Long Beach Sea Festival - Moonlight Movie Series

This free, funky, and fun Film Festival returns for its 6th season at the Belmont Shore Beach. This year’s films will be a collection of classics for the whole family.

Where: Granada Beach & Marina Green, 500 E. Shoreline Dr., Long Beach, CA 90802

When: Tuesdays, Granada Beach – Wednesdays, Marina Green

Time: At dusk around 8:00 p.m.

Here’s the list of movies and dates they’ll be shown:

  • July 21 – Jurassic Park
  • July 22 - Singing in the Rain
  • July 28 - Jaws
  • July 29 - West Side Story
  • August 4 - Coal Miners Daughter
  • August 5 - Field of Dreams
  • August 11 - The Great Outdoors
  • August 12 - Black Board Jungle
  • August 18 – Apollo 13
  • August 19 – Jaws

Free Movies in the Park at the Grove

At the Grove, enjoy you all-time favorite Movies Under the Stars. Bring a blanket (no chairs, please) and have a magical evening at The Grove. The park events open for general grass and bleacher seating at 7pm. Picnics in The Park are allowed

Where: The Grove, 189 The Grove Dr., Los Angeles

When: Thursdays, July - August

Time: 7:00pm

Here’s the list of movies and dates they’ll be shown:

  • July 23 - Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • July 30 – Twilight
  • August 6 - Kung Fu Panda
  • August 13 – Shrek
  • August 20 - Wall-E
  • August 27 – Cars

City Walk Summer Block Party

Enjoy blockbuster movies played under the stars on CityWalk’s outdoor screen.

Where:  Universal City Plaza, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA

When: Thursday, July - August

Time:  7:30pm

  • July 23 - Hotel for Dogs
  • July 30 - The Goonies
  • August 6 - Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Meet and greet with costumed character, Alex the Lion, prior to movie
  • August 13 - Grease, Featuring costumed dancers
  • August 20 - Hannah Montana: The Movie
  • August 27 - High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Featuring costumed dancers

If there are other Free Film events that you know about, feel free to contact us and we’ll add it to this list.

So grab a friend, enjoy an evening watching a movie under the starts at your favorite locations, and don’t forget to tell everyone that you found out about it on Travelin’ Local.

Relaxing at Plaza Las Fuentes in Pasadena

Currently all the rage, as made popular by Facebook and Twitter, short phrases which complete the idiom “Travelin’ Local is,” are all too common, vernacular, and often times lose the entire context.

However on this previous Saturday, its true meaning was the sine qua non of my visit to Pasadena; it was a day of the week—a workday of guilty pleasures– of walking, photography, relaxing, and discovery of art in our everyday world and life here.

Plaza Las Fuentes

The “Plaza of the Sources” is the direct translation from Spanish into English, of “Plaza Las Fuentes.”

From my visit, it’s obvious that Plaza Las Fuentes is a modern day equivalent of the Piazza’s of Rome or the Spanish Villas from Madrid.

Tile Pool

Although I was originally slated to visit Pasadena’s Old Town, my eye and my heart put that off partly because of what I saw below.

I love the sound of a fountain

This multi-layered fountain and its placement in the foreground of the Plaza, was the work and brilliant design of the world famous landscape architect Lawrence Halprin. The entire courtyard and surrounding grounds is an oasis of art, fountains, architecture, and unique sculptures.

So for this visit, since every picture tells a story, I’ll let the photographs of the Plaza Las Fuentes tell you its own tale:

Pasadena, the City of Roses

With over 80 public art works within a few city blocks, Pasadena is far and away a leader in bringing art into people’s everyday civic life. Above is the sculpture “Pasadena, the City of Roses” by Joyce Kozloff.

City Hall in the Background

With the distinct hexagon shape, color, and design of the Malibu Tile Factory, its frequent display and use takes you to a faraway place; although it’s at the forefront of Pasadena City Hall in the background.

California Pizza Kitchen

As my stomach frequently reads my mind, across from the plaza from the photo above, is a California Pizza Kitchen, with its stable of delivery bicycles for the area’s workers and patrons. What could be better, Pizza, “green” transportation, and a strapping young college guy on a bike delivering your favorite food?

Bubbling Snail

Although I spent over 2 hours in Pasadena this morning, today’s story is but a tiny precursor to everything that the great City of Pasadena has to be enjoyed, celebrated, and appreciated.

As I’m Travelin’ Local more and more, the sights, sounds, and images of my hometown become intertwined with other movers and shakers that view Los Angeles as a treasure to be protected and sustained—rather than the daily newspapers giving us mostly the bad, and the ugly, rather than more of the good.

The Los Angeles Metro Vanpool Program

Vanpooling and Metro

Most people aren’t aware of it, but the Los Angeles Metro has a Vanpool Program that provides alternative transportation choices for commuters, improves air quality, reduces traffic congestion in Los Angeles County, and provides a real-world solution that co-workers or fellow Vanpool riders can save money, time, and stress, during their weekly work commutes.

This under publicized Vanpool Program is aimed at sustaining and improving regional mobility.

Definitely one of Metro’s innovative and creative ways to reduce traffic congestion and improve our air quality, the Metro’s Van Pool Program, is part of a multi-million dollar program that was put in place with various Vanpool Leasing Agencies, employee transportation programs, and the well known journalist and speaker—Huell Howser.

Use Metro

Vanpooling Economics

Essentially the Vanpooling model builds upon the carpooling concept; which is among the easiest of clean air commutes.

It’s already a familiar practice as it utilizes our existing transportation infrastructure and simply takes advantage of the excess capacity for vehicles already in use.

Essentially, any person, organization, or entity can apply with one of Metro’s participating leasing agencies, and after approval, receive a $400 monthly lease subsidy. Although the subsidy cannot exceed 50% of the lease costs, it’s available to all qualified commuter vanpool groups of 5-15 passengers that have a destination to a L.A. County worksite. Although the program isn’t totally free—its cost and other savings are tremendous.

While much of Metro’s efforts are centered on improving bus and rail services for our transit customers, this new program aims at the very heart of the commute problem in our county: daily solo drivers,” said Roger Snoble, Metro CEO.

We are confident that more L.A. commuters will make a simple dollars and cents decision to let Metro help defray Vanpool leasing costs. The amount of funding and resources we are providing for this program is substantial, and underscores our long-term commitment to making Vanpooling even more economical and accessible in L.A. County.

Vanpooling and Employers and Employment Centers

Use the Car Pool Lanes

Metro’s program has been designed to primarily work with large Employment Centers throughout Los Angeles County. By having employees travel together they can save up to 30 percent in vanpool leasing costs alone. If you think about it, hundreds of thousands of workers drive solo to Los Angeles work-centric areas such as Century City, Woodland Hills, Downtown, Santa Monica, Burbank, Universal City, and so on. Therefore its participants don’t have to literally work at the same office, but frequently they work in the same area without ever knowing it and can use Metro’s Vanpooling program easily and without hassle.

Vanpooling saves time, money, and is more efficient than individual commuting

Go Metro via a Vanpool

A 70-mile roundtrip for one driver can cost as much as $785 per month in car ownership, fuel, and maintenance costs. A vanpool trip without Metro’s program is about $224 per person a month– but with the Metro Vanpool Program, the vanpool commute is further reduced to a $170 cost per month which equates to about $5.66 a day; about a 78% cost savings! That’s money that you can put into your pocket every day. Not a bad deal at all.

Benefits to Business’

Besides the bottom-line basics as explained—by using Metro’s Vanpooling program, participants are able to save time, money, wear and tear on their psyche—what’s the cost for that— while one’s able to put their hard earned money to better use. The result is that they’re less stressed out and can function better at their jobs.  Need a little help finding a Vanpool near you?  Try CommunteSmart.

Other ways in which Vanpooling improves esprit’d’corp, it saves money by reducing employer parking costs; it helps develop lines of communication among employees and promotes punctuality; and Vanpooling boosts morale and productivity.

And best of all—you get to make new friends. That’s priceless.

A Day of Shopping at The Grove

Not too long ago, the areas around The Grove, were run-down older apartment buildings, motels, and the hither and yearn of urban decay– so typical of inner-city life and living. Then something changed—the private sector stepped in to improve the quality of people’s lives, and of course to make money.

For shopping, dining and simply loving life, The Grove is your ultimate entertainment destination. From your favorite boutiques and restaurants to choreographed fountains, you’ll enjoy an experience like no other in Los Angeles. Why not head to The Grove?

The Spirit of Los Angeles

With its quaint streets, building facades, and various points of interest, shopping at The Grove is an experience—you can go from zero to hero in only a few minutes—to finding that perfect summer dress, wedding gift, or some furniture for your apartment or house–The Grove has it all.

Of course, you’re welcome to stop by for a quick shopping trip–but the best way to really enjoy The Grove is to spend the day, casually strolling past the choreographed fountains,

Choreographed Fountains

or the life-like statues. It’s family friendly. This little boy’s antics were cute as he played with the various water fountains.

Look Mom, water!!

Of course, if you spend the day, you’ll want to know which shops you’ll find there. The list is impressive, including: Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, Forever 21, Pacific Sunwear, Victoria Secret, and J. Crew, to name just a few.

For a complete list, click here.

What’s a day shopping with friends without enjoying lunch out? Be prepared to enjoy yourself at Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill or Maggiano’s Little Italy or maybe The Farm of Beverly Hills. Of course, these are just three of the many restaurants, food outlets, and café’s at The Grove.

At the end of the day, if you’d like to visit the neighboring Farmers Market, just hop on the electric powered trolley whose tracks meander between the two locations.

Trolley Track

If you visit The Grove–until August 28–Subaru is sponsoring free Movies in the Park,” featuring all time favorite movies “Under the Stars.”

Call me a hopeless romantic—but an evening under the stars viewing classic movies sounds so dreamy. I can’t ’t wait to see the movies. Staycations when Travelin’ Local just doesn’t get any better. At least until I find the next “in” spot!

Free Summer Concerts in Los Angeles

I attended my first free concert of the season last night. I went to the Santa Monica Pier’s Twilight Dance Series—;and I had a blast.

Ricardo Lemvo

One of Thursday night’s featured bands was Ricardo Lemvo. He had the audience moving their feet, clapping their hands, dancing, and having the time of their lives. For a sample of his music, here ya go!

I could feel the pier literally moving beneath my feet, but I’m not sure if it was from the band or the movement of happy, dancing feet. Nonetheless enjoying last night’s Free Summer Concert wasn’t only relegated to the Pier. Many people chose to listen to the music from the comfort of their blankets on the beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Music on the Beach

Tonight’s concert is just one in a large series of free concerts being offered this summer in and around the Los Angeles area.

We’re definitely lucky to have so many venues offering this that in actuality it’s hard to make a decision on which free concert to attend–it just so happens that many of them take place on Thursday nights, so make your choices wisely!

Travelin’ Local will be featuring more concert highlights and bands that we attend in town.

List of Free Summer Concerts in the Los Angeles Area

Skirball Cultural Center

Enjoy the 2009 season of the Skirball’s free Sunset Concerts, celebrating musical traditions from around the globe. Kick back and groove or get up and dance to the tunes of an eclectic line-up of leading world musicians.

Where: Skirball Cultural Center

When: Thursdays, July 16th - August 13th

Time: 8:00pm, Doors open at 7:00pm

Metro: Metro 734

Grand Performances

Grand Performances summer series takes place on two stages at California Plaza the Watercourt stage and the Marina Pavilion. The larger of the two venues - the Watercourt stage - is a unique performance site that can hold as many as 70 performers and is partially surrounded by a system of gardens and water features. The capacity crowd for this stage can be as large as 6,500 people. The smaller Marina Pavilion stage has an amphitheater style feel and can accommodate close to 300 audience members.

When: June - October

Where: California Plaza, downtown at 350 S. Grand Ave.

Time: Days and starting times vary so be sure to click the link:

Metro: Metro Red Line and multiple bus routes

Farm Fresh Summer Music at Farmers Market

With jazz on Thursday, and pop, rock, and Latin on Fridays, plus some of the best food outlets in the city, what’s not to love?

When: Thursdays and Fridays through September

Where: Farmers Market, West Patio, 3rd and Fairfax

Time: 7:00pm

Metro: Metro 16/316

Pershing Square Summer Concert Series

Features a variety of musical genres and performers, plus fun family activities

When: July 15th - August 23rd

Where: Pershing Square, 532 S. Olive St. Downtown Los Angeles

Time: Tuesdays: 12:00pm to 2:00pm

Wednesdays: 8:00pm to 10:00pm

Thursdays: 12:00pm to 2:00pm

Metro: Metro Red Line, and multiple bus lines

Twilight Dance and Music at the Santa Monica Pier

Celebrating its 25th year, the Annual Thursday Twilight Music and Dance Series at Santa Monica Pier feature some of LA’s favorite hometown and visiting bands.

When: Thursdays, July - August

Where: Santa Monica Pier

Time: 7:00pm

Metro: Big Blue Bus or Metro 4/704

Levitt Pavilion at MacArthur Park

You name it, and MacArthur Park has it, from world music to local talent, from rock to pop to folk to Latin. Just sit back on your blanket, and enjoy, plus with discount restaurant prices sponsored by Metro, you can’t go wrong.

Where: MacArthur Park, corner of Wilshire and S. Alvarado St., Los Angeles

When: Wednesday – Sunday

Time: 7:30pm except on Sunday when the Target Children’s night performances start at 6:30pm

Metro: Metro Red Line

Live Music at Hollywood & Highlands

Join Hollywood & Highland Center and KJAZZ 88.1 FM for the 6th annual Wine, Jazz & Moonlight series. Enjoy free concerts by some of the country’s top jazz performers.

When: Tuesdays, June through August

Where: Babylon Courtyard at Hollywood & Highland Center, corner of Hollywood and Highland

Time: 7:00pm

Metro: Metro Red Line

Long Beach Municipal Band

Celebrating its 100th birthday, the Long Beach Municipal Band is the longest surviving, municipally-supported band in the country. Bring your picnic basket, blankets, and lawn chairs.

When: Tuesdays, June 30th - August 14th

Where: Various parks throughout the city

Time: 6:30pm

Metro:Various Metro or Long Beach routes depending on the location.  Try using the Metro Trip Planner.

Long Beach Thursday Night Concert Series

For a great mix of music, people, and fun in the sun

When: Thursdays, June 18th- August 27th

Where: Various parks throughout the city

Time: 6:00pm

Metro:  Various Metro or Long Beach routes depending on the location.  Try using the Metro Trip Planner.

Summer Sunset Music Festival in Culver City

Musical styles this year include Motown, Afro-Cuban, Classic Rock, Folk, Blues, Cajun, Irish, and more

When: Thursdays, Mid July through early September

Where: City Hall Courtyard, 9770 Culver Blvd, Culver City

Time: 7:00pm

Metro:  Metro 33/333, Culver City Bus,

Levitt Pavilion at Pasadena

From salsa to rock to folk and jazz, music is definitely the theme at the Levitt Pavilion.

When: Wednesday through Sunday, June - August

Where: Memorial Park, 85 E. Holly St, Pasadena

Time: Check the listings

Metro: Metro Gold Line


Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

To enjoy a free night of jazz, just head over the the LACMA

When:  Friday, April - November

Where:  5905 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles

Time:  6:00pm

Metro:  Metro 720

I’ve created a virtual map to help you locate the concert venue that’s closest to your home, or one where your favorite music or band is playing:

View Free Summer Concert Series in Los Angeles in a larger map

So what’s better, the idea of a summer concert or the idea that it’s free? Well don’t fret—we have both combined together as gathered from the list above.

Choose your venue’s frequently and bands wisely because when Travelin’ Local, sometimes it really is all about the music.

Hancock Park, the La Brea Tar Pits, and LACMA

Last week I had an opportunity to visit to Hancock Park and the La Brea Tar Pits. I enjoyed myself so thoroughly that it was hard for me to leave—but I’ll be back soon as they’re located in the middle of the city and quite accessible from all directions, with plenty of parking and Metro access.

Hancock Park– a 23 acre park right in the heart of Los Angeles– is named after G. Allan Hancock, who was born and raised in a home, at what is now known as the La Brea Tar Pits.

Hancock Park

Hancock Park is home to three major attractions: The La Brea Tar Pits, the George C. Page Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Although, I’ve passed them all traveling on Wilshire Boulevard many times, I never knew just how exciting, interesting, and expansive all parts of the park were until I had the chance to see for myself.

LA Brea Tar Pits

The tar pits are really asphalt that comes out of the earth as oil. You can smell it in the air. Seeping in from underground, the asphalt, derived from petroleum, forms pools. For thousands of years, these pools have formed; some deep enough to trap animals. As the animals became stuck and died, their bones are fossilized and preserved.

Thus far, the oldest fossil found dates back approximately 38,000 years.

George C. Page Museum

Once discovered, the fossils are housed and studied at the George C. Page Museum, which is part of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Recently, the Page Museum announced Project 23: New Discoveries at Rancho La Brea, which to date, has uncovered over 700 measured specimens including a large pre-historic American

Lion skull, lion bones, dire wolves, saber-toothed cats, juvenile horse and bison, teratorn, coyotes, lynx, and ground sloths. Most rare of all is a well-preserved male Colombian mammoth fossil, about 80% complete, with 10-feet long intact tusks found in an ancient river bed near the other discoveries. Source: Page Museum News

Boiling effect

I stood watching as the methane gas kept rising from beneath, and it never stops seeping up–literally forming bubbles in the tar pits, which creates a “boiling” effect. It’s mesmerizing to watch.

Further down the trail, is Pit 91, where work has been temporarily suspended due to the Project 23 find. Walking into and looking from the vantage point of Pit 91, visitors get a feel for the down and dirty type of research the archaeologists at the Page Museum—have to endure–and are famous for.

Look Mom!!

While most were excavated in the early 1900’s, Pit 91 was reopened in 1969, and work continues there today.  During the ‘98 excavation, more than 1,000 fossils were recovered, including three saber-toothed cat skulls, four dire wolf skulls, and bones from giant ground sloths, horses, bison, coyotes, birds, rodents and even some insect and plant fossils.  Pit 91 is 28′ x 28′, approximately 14 feet deep, and the excavation area is divided into 3′ square grids. Source: George C Page Museum

Upon turning the bend, a display of color and plastic caught my eye.

Open Invitation

It’s part of the LACMA’a Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists from Korea exhibit. Visitors are invited and encouraged to be a part of the project by adding their own brightly colored plastic objects to the collection, which is reflection of the material culture and consumer habits of our industrialized urban society.


The multi-colored partition featured above is but a precursor to the artwork that greets visitors at the main entrance to LACMA.

Looking at the size of the chairs on the left compared to the height of the artwork, you can visualize the dimensions and massive size of this installation, by artist Choi Yeong-Hwa. When I was there, LACMA hadn’t opened yet, but I’ll be writing about it soon, as it’s remains one of the city’s defining art institutions.

After all my walking, I decided to sit in the park and enjoy the bountiful sunshine.

Green Grass

If you have children, Hancock Park should definitely be on your list of places to go. LACMA is named one of Child Magazine’s “Ten Best Art Museums for Kids,” the LA Brea Tar Pits will easily grab a child’s attention, and the George C Page Museum, with its large collection of fossils and affording the ability to watch the scientists at work, it’s literally a treasure trove of fun, entertainment, education, art, and history. Along with wide its wide-open green grassy expanses, kids have plenty of room to run around.

It’s also a beautiful respite for all ages, and during the daytime—and evening—you’ll always encounter couples, adults, and seniors, participating in all the fun that Hancock Park has to offer. Travelin’ Local has many advantages and Hancock Park, with the LACMA, and the George C. Page Museum, ranks among our greatest.

A Review of West Coast Drawings VIII at the Koplin Del Rio Gallery

I am pleased to announce that Travelin’ Local has a new arts, culture, essayist, and featured writer. Although he is using his pen name–Tom Jones–in the real world, his vast education and experience are in journalism, literature, law, and film. He is a writer, a thinker and above all, well admired for his ability to put pen to paper and create magic. As Travelin’ Local grows so too will our staff.

Saturday night’s opening at the Koplin Del Rio Gallery, was a multi-artist show to showcase figurative works on paper.

The show was guest curated by Normal Lundin, himself an exhibiting artist and Professor of Art, Emeritus at the University of Washington.

Evelyn Woods, "Lost and Found", charcoal on paper, 48" x 75"

Evelyn Woods, "Lost and Found", charcoal on paper, 48" x 75"

During my brief yet impressionable conversation with the curator, his comments provide context for further insight into the thinking behind the showing:

Before anything else, drawing is number one. Content is secondary to drawing. Realism can have an abstract component, and modernism is based on the here and now. Norman Lundin

The show accomplished its stated goals. The Koplin Del Rio gallery displayed venerable and impressive West Coast artists–and artists on the West Coast–which are fighting fit in more than basic aesthetics.

Elena Del Rio allows the viewer to copiously examine and purchase “state of the states” figurative and realistic based works on paper for any residential, commercial, or industrial space.

Fred Birchman, "Study for Puget Monument - Winter Solstice", 2006, charcoal on paper, 22 1/2” x 30”

Fred Birchman, "Study for Puget Monument - Winter Solstice", 2006, charcoal on paper, 22 1/2” x 30”

The drawings covered a wide range–from nudes, to industrial motifs, to portraits, abstract realism, and frequently whimsical content; in a show like this one “there is creative process we call drawing and another we call painting, then there is that combination where those process overlap.” It was a successful dalliance.

I’m neither puerile nor militant in being an art critic; I expect a marked degree of quality and sparkle before I’m going to give it a thumb’s up.

Saturday night I came away with more than a couple of up-and-coming artists that I would highly recommend to collect and to appreciate.

To achieve good drawing, that’s the focus, and to achieve it—don’t push it. Norman Lundin, Curator

Eric Elliot, "Studio #15", 2008, ink on paper, 22” x 30”

Eric Elliot, "Studio #15", 2008, ink on paper, 22” x 30”

Although some pictures used far too much charcoal on portions of their paper; –the shades and hues afforded by that enormous medium were never questioned, and was raised to a Raison d’Être—by the sketch drawn by Mark Kang-O’Higgins, entitled “Head of Nagle.” (top row, far right)

The figure reminisced of a Lucien Freud, Francis Bacon, or a David Hockney portrait.

The picture draws the viewer in to a marked degree, to conjecture what the person whose portrait was taken was thinking, who they are, and so on—-while the medium of charcoal, is accepted in both its heaviest tonality of all black and with its textures leave you wanting for more.

That’s the mystery and beauty of this show—it’s for us to find what we’re uniquely lured to in a drawing.

West Coast Drawings for both the Seattle Davidson Galleries and in Los Angeles at Koplin Del Rio Gallery

Drawings VIII

Exhibition Dates: July 11 – August 29, 2009

All artists are represented by several works, and a full list will be available at the exhibition or may be obtained by contacting the galleries.

The Participating artists include:

Koplin Del Rio

Juliette Aristides, Fred Birchman, David Brody, Sally Cleveland, Eric Elliott, Gary Faigin, Ann Gale, Philip Govedare, Michael Howard, Katina Huston, Etsuko Ichikawa, Mark Kang-O’Higgins, Philip Levine, Zhi Lin, Margie Livingston, Norman Lundin, Brian Murphy, Ed Musante, Linda Thomas, Kimberly Trowbridge, Evelyn Woods.

Davidson Galleries

David Bailin, Sandow Birk, Hilary Brace, Shay Bredimus, Wes Christensen, Melissa Cooke, Fred Dalkey, David Fertig, Kim Frohsin, Moira Hahn, D.J. Hall, Grant Hottle, Ira Korman, David Ligare, Tim Lowly, Robert Schultz, Fred Stonehouse, Bill Vuksanovich, Michelle Wiener

The Koplin Del Rio Gallery is located at 6031 Washington Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232 (310)836-9055

Reduce the Costs of Traffic Congestion by using Metro

Just released this week, the Texas Transportation Institute’s Annual Mobility Report concludes that:

“Travelers spent one hour less stuck in traffic in 2007 than they did the year before and wasted one gallon less gasoline than the year before. The differences are small, but they represent a rare break in near-constant growth in traffic over 25 years.” Source: Texas Transportation Institute.

To get a better idea of the numbers, let’s take a look at the chart below:

National Congestion Measures, 1982-2007

Also gleamed from this study:

Congestion wastes a massive amount of time, fuel and money

  • 2.8 billion gallons of wasted fuel (enough to fill 370,000 18-wheeler fuel delivery trucks –bumper-to-bumper from Houston to Boston to Los Angeles)
  • 4.2 billion hours of extra time (enough to listen to War and Peace being read 160 million times through your car stereo)
  • $87.2 billion of delay and fuel costs (The negative effect of uncertain or longer delivery times, missed meetings, business relocations and other congestion results are not included)

Traffic Congestion

Congestion is highest when People make trips during Peak Periods

They didn’t coin the term “Rush Hour” without a good reason. Makes sense that the more people decide to do things at the same time, the more it’s going to be crowded:

  • In 2007, the yearly holdup due to congestion for the average peak-period traveler was 36 hours—almost a week of vacation. That is an increase of 14 hours from 1982.
  • The added cost value for the delay and wasted fuel was almost $760 per traveler in 2007, compared to an inflation-adjusted $290 in 1982.

No Motor Vehicles

Using Alternative Transportation lessens Congestion

Walking: Frequent walking is one of the most healthy, efficient, and affordable ways to get from one place to another. All too frequently, people are conditioned to take their car wherever they need to go, no difference that their destination may only be a couple of blocks away and within walking distance. Walking leaves no carbon emissions and it’s one of the best ideas for getting around town.

Biking: Biking is another alternative transportation option. For example, if the rider and bike weigh 200lbs, traveling at a speed of 12mph, that rider will achieve approximately 685 mpg. I don’t think that any car will ever be able to achieve this number. Try the Bike MPG Calculator for yourself. And in case you didn’t know, you can use either a bike rack that’s provided on LA’s Metro buses; or a bike locker at a local Metro stop—either way, you can combine the benefits of two alternative modes of transportation safely, and affordably.

Vanpool and Park and Ride: By using a mixture of a private and public component, your energy usages, congestion time, money, and fuel requirements are decreased significantly without any lessening of your quality of life.

Orange Line

Public Transportation: Based on the chart above, if public transportation had been discontinued and its riders traveled in automobiles during 2007, an additional 646 million hours of delay would have ensued and 398 million more gallons of fuel would have been consumed.

Put another way, in large metropolitan areas, public transportation saved $12 billion dollars annually for 2007.

In 2009, the Los Angeles Metro has an average weekly ridership of 3,142,417 people. Imagine if all those riders were driving their own cars on the streets and highways; it’s not hard to envision what the additional congestion costs, time, and money would be just for the Los Angeles area alone.

Can we Change our Transportation Choices?

Let’s pretend for a moment that we could. Now imagine if the weekly Metro ridership doubled. How engaging would our roads than be; how much time would be saved; how much money would be saved; and how much easier would it be for other modes of transportation to accomplish what they were meant to do when they were conceived a long time ago. I don’t think that this is an unrealistic goal, and all it takes to revolutionize our way of traveling is to have one person change at a time.

Walkin' in LA

Cost Savings per month, and year, when using the Metro

“Transit riders can save on average $761 per month.  The savings amount is based on the cost of the national averages for parking and driving, as well as, the July 9 national average gas price of $2.58 per gallon for self-serve regular gasoline as reported by AAA.” Source: American Public Transportation Association

Are gasoline prices per gallon in Los Angeles at the $2.58 parity suggested in the APT Study above? Not at any gas stations that I’ve seen. If you’d like to calculate your own personal savings by using the Metro, here’s a trustworthy calculator to assist you calculate and see how much money you could be putting into your pocket.

Shortly it will be easier to use the Metro, as the first of the Measure R funds are making their way into use—I’ll be writing about this in further detail soon.

If you’re already taking the Los Angeles Metro, you’re way ahead of the masses in terms of finding alternative solutions to avoid congestion and to save money. If you haven’t started yet—just do it!

The Original Farmers Market Celebrates 75 Years

Farmers Market

Farmers Market early beginnings were humble to say the least. It originally opened 75 years ago with only 18 farmers, who paid $.50 each to rent space for them to sell their colorful harvests. Farmers Market has currently grown to 85 shops, and employs over 700 people.

It’s not hard to believe—the world famous Farmers Market, is a non-stop hum of activity.

Celebrating 75 years

With an average of 3 million visitors each year, Farmers Market is an industrious, busy, and a hopping place to be. Here are some salient and interesting facts:

1. On an average day, Farmers Market visitors purchase more than 1,000 gallons of coffee.

2. Employees in the various Farmers Market shops and restaurants speak over 20 languages for and as they serve their customers and clientele who hail from all parts of the globe.

3. Tusquellas Fish & Oyster Bar sells about 3,000 shrimps every day. Source: Farmers Market History

Marconda's Prime Beef

Farmers Market Celebrates its 75th Anniversary

Next week, Farmers Market is celebrating its 75 Anniversary and has many festivities planned. Be sure to mark it on your calendar and to-do list! Here are but a few of the activities being planned:

July 14th - Taste of Farmers

Will be featuring live music from the 30s and 40s, merchandise and food specials, and special ticket prices. Visitors are welcome to stroll the Market as well. The evening starts at 5pm and lasts until 9pm. For more information, visit

July 16th- 75th Anniversary Birthday Party

Join marching bands, celebrities, and local dignitaries at the Clock Tower at Farmers Market. It’s commemorating its 75 years at Third & Fairfax. The Opening Ceremonies commence at 8am, and the entertainment and special events start at noon.

French Crepe Company

Farmers Market Annual Events

In addition to these weeklong special events, Farmers Market is host to many other free year round events:

Free Summer Music Series, May 28 - Sept. 11, 2009

Free Summer Family Fun Series, June - August 2009

Fall Festival, October 16, 17 & 18, 2009

Holiday Festivities, December 2009

Mardi Gras, February 2010

Gilmore Heritage Auto Show , June 2010

How do you get to the Farmers Market via Metro?

You can use the 16/316, 217, or the 218, depending on your starting point.

So the next time you need something to do—and some delicious eats—head over to Farmers Market and enjoy yourself. You’ll then continue the long honored tradition of being a part of Los Angeles history.

Culver City Downtown Walking Tour

Culver City

Over the years, Culver City has gone through a metamorphosis. Gone are its days as a sleepy working class enclave. It’s now a modern, thriving intersection of the arts and motion pictures industries; a design, gallery, and artist retreat; and a sweeping paradox and panoply of businesses, schools, and a rich, cultural and historical infrastructure that includes a range and depth of endeavors that is befit for another story.

For some, if I mention Smashbox Studios, many people will say “What in the world are you talking about;” but others will nod accordingly and acknowledge out loud that “Culver City is hip and happening.

With its modern and restored architecture, world class restaurants and redeveloped buildings for mixed use, physical beauty and parks, Culver City is now lookin’ like one of the cool and in places to be in Los Angeles.

Walking Tour

Although my walk yesterday was short, it was sweet—there were many interesting sights, from Sony Pictures Plaza, to Culver City’s City Hall. I took many pictures for this tour below. But I didn’t just stick to the main thoroughfares though; when you get off the beaten path, Culver City offers one of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods in the Metro area.

With a history spanning three centuries, Culver City’s rich past is leading it to a vibrant future. If you can’t get to the heart of Culver City right this moment, or if you’d like a preview of what you can find there, take a walk with me now.

I promise you won’t be disappointed by the art filled and quaint family friendly streets of Culver City:

View Culver City Downtown Walking Tour in a larger map

Clover Park – Santa Monica’s Gold Mine of Parks

Clover Park

With over 20 public parks in Santa Monica, local residents and visitors have a lot of activities to choose from.

Is your favorite sport baseball? Do you have small children, or teenagers?

Whatever your game may be, Santa Monica Park and Recreations probably has it.

For Today’s Travelin’ Local morning walk, I strolled over to Clover Park, located at 2600 Ocean Park Drive, and discovered more activities in an hour, than could be probably done in a week.

A few unique items I found at Clover Park was a climbing tower for both kids and adults– complete with ground to top speaking pipes; a small bike path for toddlers, and two great playgrounds–designed for the pre-teen and under set.

Clover Park has a great outdoor fitness trail which includes 15 stations that were built for both endurance, and to keep its participants physically fit and in tip-top shape.

What about baseball and soccer? With two fully lit softball fields and soccer fields, it’s hard not to have a swing at the hardball or a kick at the goalie.

If you play tennis or volleyball, Clover Park has two tennis courts—including lighting for evening play–and a large beach volleyball court, perfectly sized and spaced for those that love sports action.

If you’d like a closer view of Clover Park and its many amenities, just click on the camera icons for an insider’s view:

View Clover Park - Santa Monica in a larger map

With the Luck of the Four Leaf Clover, hopefully we’ll be seeing you at the park soon!

Having Fun in the Sun at Cabrillo Beach

Cabrillo Beach

Can you see yourself in this picture? If you visit Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro, you can not only become a part of the scenery, you can frolic in it as well.

But, Cabrillo Beach isn’t just about relaxing on the sand or swimming in the Pacific. It’s also about:

A good walk

A leisurely stroll along the pier

Gone Fishing

“Going, Going Gone Fishing”

Are you Windsurfing?

Windsurfing at Warp Speed

Bird Watching

Bird Watching or Bird Watching you

Let's have fun!!

With all the fun and relaxing activities to do at Cabrillo Beach, it’s hard to leave.

Although I had to leave and get back home, I’m going back. If you’d like to “Meet the Grunion,” come to Cabrillo Beach this upcoming Thursday evening. It’s sponsored by the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and will make for both a fun and educational evening.

By Travelin’ Local, Life’s a Beach!

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Free Park and Ride with the Los Angeles Metro

Metro Orange Line


Who doesn’t like free stuff?

Free parking is included in the Metro’s Park and Ride Lots throughout the City, and they’re all part of, and connected to, a Metro location.

Why own a Car but also use the Metro?

Simple and to-the-point— Metro’s Park and Ride is a go-between for drivers who prefer to combine modes of transportation to better optimize and accommodate their daily commute. Best of all, depending on where you live, it can be—and frequently is–the quickest way to get from one place to another.

Top 5 reasons to use the Metro’s Park and Ride

1. It is easy.

2. It saves money on gas, parking, and wear and tear on your auto.

3. It is eco-friendly.

4. It is low stress.

5. It saves time.

How does Park and Ride Work?

First, you need to find the closest parking lot to your residence. To be sure, Metro has already created a great list of them.

Because there’s no substitute for a map—being able to visually know where each Park and Ride lot is located– I decided to create a county-wide diagram that commuters can utilize:

View Free Parking by LA Metro in a larger map

With over 100 Metro Park and Ride lots to chart, Travelin’ Local’s ongoing project will be finished soon, so it’s a work in progress.

During my recent ride to Long Beach, I encountered the Park and Ride lot in El Segundo—I was very surprised that of the 90 allotted parking spaces available, it was obvious that only 20 or so of them were being utilized.

Based on my experiences traveling the Metro in Maryland and Washington, DC, the parking lots were always full– and everybody had to pay $4.75 during the weekdays to use them.

To the contrary–here, the parking is free, and the lots aren’t full. We can do better Los Angeles!

How to use the Metro’s Park and Ride and your car to get where you’re going

For example, let’s say you live in Reseda and work downtown. You can drive to the Metro parking lot at 6064 N Reseda Blvd., park for free, and take the Orange line Bus—which has its own dedicated bus lane. From there all you have to do is transfer to the Metro Redline subway:

View Larger Map

The Cost/Benefit ratio of using Metro’s Park and Ride

  • Cost: $2.50, Parking is free and the train fare is $1.25 each way.
  • Time: About 1.15 hours, which compares to rush hour traffic of at least 1.3 hours.  Source: Google
  • Keeping your sanity on the way to work: Priceless


Why wouldn’t one use the Park and Ride vs. sitting in the middle of rush-hour traffic? By not doing so, more CO2 emissions are created, gas is being guzzled, and air conditioners are consuming a lot of petrol. And with the price of gas now at or around $3.00 per gallon, it’s a loss/loss for most people.

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Happy 4th of July from San Pedro and Point Fermin Park

San Pedro

San Pedro sits literally at the southernmost tip of Los Angeles and is located at the southern end of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

As you can see from this vantage point shot, San Pedro is a mixture of international shipping, a massive breakwater and harbor, beaches, commerce, housing, and much more. San Pedro, Wilmington, and Terminal Island are the locations of the Port of Los Angeles—one of the nation’s busiest ports and around the world.

If “Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” than San Pedro certainly qualifies as a distant cousin–It’s definitely a colorful, playful, and inscrutability different blend of Southern California’s past, current and future—where world’s literally cascade and collide, and the culture and surroundings are amazing, quite startling at times, and inexorably peaceful as well. Its history well runs deep–it was originally used by the Spanish starting in the 1540s.

Comin' in Slowly

San Pedro has many marvelous places to check out, including fabulous beaches bordering the Pacific Ocean, the Port of Los Angeles, parks, historical monuments, museums, aquariums, restaurants, shopping, and the historical downtown area.

The culture is eclectic; many working class families live here along with a vibrant youth crowd mixed with the zest and zeal of being one of Southern California’s iconic and ubiquitous beach towns, replete with its own swagger and atmosphere. It’s also a culturally rich area featuring artists’ galleries and theatrical venues.

The Southern Viewpoint

The vantage point atop the rugged bluffs affords some of the most breathtaking views of the coast toward Santa Catalina Island. This scenic hilltop–Point Fermin Park–was given its name by the British explorer George Vancouver, who visited here in 1793 and decided to thank Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen for his hospitality at the mission in Carmel. Source:

From high atop the hills, Point Fermin Park provides spectacular views of the coast and the nearby Channel Islands.  It has everything—picnic tables, a playground, stage events, tropical and bountiful plants and shady trees for a hot day.

The Deep Blue

Looking south, the blue hues of the ocean are because of the deeper ocean depths; and the contours in the water are from the offshore winds howling from the opposite directions. Its cliffs are massive and awe inspiring. The tide pools and beaches below are full of sea life, shells, and quite a few rocks strewn about.

Danger Below

Looking below there are two trails west of the area which lead to the beach and tide pools from the Park. However, do not, I repeat do not attempt to climb down to the beach and tide pools from the park’s cliffs–as the cliff’s are unstable, and many deaths have occurred from people attempting to do so.

Point Fermin Lighthouse

The Point Fermin Lighthouse—on the 4th of July, 2009. Historical Information courtesy of United States Coast Guard include:

  • Point Fermin Light was built in 1874 with lumber from California redwoods.
  • In 1941 the light was extinguished due to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. There was fear that the light would serve as a beacon for enemy planes and ships. Later, the lantern room and gallery were removed. They were replaced by a lookout shack that remained for the next 30 years, and was referred to as "the chicken coop" by locals.
  • In 1972 the light was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • The light fell into disuse and disrepair. A new lantern room and gallery were built in 1974.
  • The building has now been restored to its original beauty and is open to the public as the Point Fermin Lighthouse Historic Site and Museum.

The park consists of 37 landscaped acres of tree-shaded lawns, sheltered pergolas, colorful gardens and an esplanade along the edge of the palisade.

A Unique Vantage Point

The view through the decorative walls that surround the Point Fermin Park.

What better way to celebrate this Holiday then by Travelin’ Local at the beach. What did you do for the 4th of July? If you took any pictures you’d like to share, choose your favorite, email it to Travelin’ Local, and ’we’ll feature them in an upcoming story.