Friday, December 12, 2014

Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park

Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park is located in Carlsbad, CA and is also known as Rancho de Los Kiotes.

The original working rancho and vacation retreat was 2,538 acres and belonged to Leo Carrillo, who acted in approximately 100 films from 1927 to 1950 and costarred on TV in the series The Cisco Kid.    The City of Carlsbad has stabilized, preserved and restored nay of the buildings on this 27 acre parcel.  Historic structures include the visitor's center, hand-crafted adobe buildings, hacienda, reflecting pool, cabana, cantina, carriage house tack shed, stable, barn, foundry and equipment shed.  The park can be found on the Citywide Trails System 4 mile long Rancho Carrillo Trail.  There are self-guided walking tours and a 13-minute introductory film which gives an overview of the ranch.  Guided 90-minute walking tours are offered on Saturdays.

Currently, Leo Carrillo Ranch is a 27-acre historical park with irregular earthen and paved surfaces, including without limitations, stairs and trails.

Leo Carrillo was originally known as Leopoldo Antonio Carrillo and was born on August 6, 1881 and died of cancer on September 10, 1961.  He was an actor, vaudevillian, political cartoonist and conservationist.  Mr. Carrillo played many different ethnicities in his acting career, Mr. Carrillo was Castillian Spanish and traced his ancestry in Spain to the year 1260.  His great-great grandfather Jose Raimundo Carrillo was a solder in the Spanish Portola expedition colonization of Las California, arriving in San Diego on July 1, 1769.  Father Junipero Serra performed the marriage for Don Jose Raimundo and Tomasa Ignacio Lugo in 1781.  His great grandfather Carlos Antonio Carrillo was Governor of Alta California and his great-uncle , Jose Antonio Carrillo was a three time mayor of Los Angeles, and twice married to sisters of Governor Pio Pico.

The family moved from San Diego to Los Angeles and then to Santa Monica, where Carrillo's father Juan Jose Carrillo served as the city's police chief and later the first mayor. Carrillo was proud of his heritage and wrote a book, The California I love, which was published shortly before his death in 1961.

Leo Carrillo Ranch

Peacock at Leo Carrillo Ranch

Peacock at Leo Carrillo Ranch

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Valhalla Memorial Park

Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery is located at 10621 Victory Blvd. in North Hollywood, CA

The cemetery has a special section called the Portal of the Folded Wings Shrine to Aviation, which is the final resting place for some aviation pioneers, including barnstormers, daredevils and architects of aviation.  There is a memorial to Amelia Earhart and others,

The shrine was originally built as an impressive entrance to Valhalla Memorial Park cemetery.  It was named for the palace Odin, the Norse god of slain heroes.

Valhalla was founded in 1923 by John R. Osborne and C.C. Fitzpatrick, who were Los Angeles financiers.  The Spanish Mission Revival entrance structure was designed by Kenneth McDonald Jr. For the decorative stone castings, McDonald hired an Italian born sculptor Federico A. Giorgi, who had created 30 foot tall statues of elephants and lions for the 1917 film called "Intolerance" and crafted the exterior of downtown's Million Dollar theater.  The gateway to the new cemetery cost $140,000.  The rotunda was dedicated on March 1, 1925, with a concert by English contralto Maude Elliott.  It became a tourist attraction and was used for concerts that were broadcast over radio station KELW by station owner Earl L. White.  About five months after the dedication, Osborne and Fitzpatrick were convicted of fraud.  They had sold the same burial plots repeatedly.  Some had been sold as many as 16 times and the two needed a profit of $3-$4 million, per the Los Angeles Times.  The two were fined $12,000 each and sentenced to 10 years in prison, but served less than half the sentence.  The cemetery was taken over by the state and it is unclear how long the state owned the 63 acre cemetery, but Pierce Brothers bought it in 1950 and within two years, closed the rotunda to vehicle traffic and move the entry to the cemetery from Valhalla Driven Burbank to Victory and Cahuenga Blvds. in North Hollywood.  There, they opened a two story office and mortuary.

On December 17, 1953, the rotunda was rededicated as the Portal of the Folded Wings, through the efforts of aviation fan and cemetery employee James Gillette.  During the ceremony, the cremated remains of Walter R. Brookins were interred there.  Brookings was the first aviator to take a plane to an altitude of a mile and had been the Wright brothers' first civilian student.

When sculptor Giorgi died in 1963, he was buried outside the structure, near his masterpiece.  Gillette  was also buried outside near the shrine he helped found.

In 1958,  Pierce Brothers sold its family-owned chain of Southern California mortuaries and cemeteries to Joe Allbritton, a Texas financier, who sold off 20 acres of Valhalla for development.  In 1991, the cemeteries and mortuaries were acquired by Service Corp. International in Houston, but the Pierce Brothers sign remains at Valhalla.

A trip to the Anaheim Packing District

Mari, Marissa and I took a trip to Anaheim to the Anaheim Packing District.  This was a place I had heard about that recently opened and I had driven by, while Marissa was going through testing up the street.   I had seen the building while it was going through renovation.

The Anaheim Packing House is one of the few remaining packing houses from the agricultural era for which Orange County is named.  The packing house is a landmark in the history of Orange County and the city of Orange.  The building was built in 1919 at the edge of downtown Anaheim  and along the Southern Pacific rail line.  The Packing House was a hub of commerce for the area, as local farmers arrived to unload trucks of freshly picked citrus  to begin the process of washing, grading and eventual packing into wooden crates.  Once this process was completed, the crated and labeled citrus would be loaded onto rail cars that were parked on the side of the building and were shipped nationwide.

The restored Packing House is a food hall reminiscent of the great public markets of South America and Europe.  These markets served as a resource for the neighborhood  and a community gathering space.  The two level Packing House features a large central atrium with communal dining surrounded by cafes and kiosks of varying sizes as well as outdoor picnic gardens and a building-length dining porch looking out to the outdoor marketplace known as Farmers' Park

Chairs in Farmers' Park in Anaheim
Chairs in Farmers' Park

Farmers' Park at Anaheim Citrus Packing District
Farmers' Park


Farmers Park is a two acre park with a grassy knoll, redwood boardwalk, community gardens and olive grove.  The Farmers Park connects the Anaheim Packing House and the Packard Building and provides the community a gathering place for events.  There is a Certified Farmers Market on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  

The Packard Building is one of a few historic commercial buildings that remain in the district.   The mission revival building was built in 1925 and was designed with an open and light filled interior typical of car showrooms.  After decades of various automobile uses  and miscellaneous modifications, the Packard Building has been restored to its original 1920's glory.  The Packard Building is now home to the Anaheim Brewery and Umami Burger.  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

What to do in the 5 counties of Southern California during the month of November!

Halloween and Daylight Savings are over and now we head into the holidays.  The stores are putting out more and more holiday decorations.  First comes Thanksgiving though!  On Facebook many people are doing a 30-days of gratitude.  Let me know in the comments what you are grateful for!


LAST MINUTE NOTICE!  There is an architecture tour at the Getty Villa in Malibu on November 3 at 10:30


During the month of November, the Blue Whales; which are the largest of whales begins their migration southward.  


San Diego Beer Week is a ten-day celebration inspiring people to drink local craft beer and promoting San diego's thriving brewing culture with events happening around the San Diego area. 


Calico Holiday Fest from November 28 at 9 a.m. to Sunday, November 30 at 5 p.m.


18th Annual Palm Springs Veterans Day Parade on November 11, 2014 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m at Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon.

Get out and explore and enjoy the month of November and Thanksgiving and remember to let me know what you are thankful for!

Friday, October 3, 2014

What to do in the 5 counties of Southern California during the 31 days of October

October is the month of Halloween and all things spooky!  It is also the first full month of fall and you might find changing leaves.  I have found something in each of the five counties that might be interesting, when you get tired of Halloween and all things fall!

Los Angeles County

Brewery Artwalk and Open Studios on October 25 and 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, CA  I have been to this a couple of times and it is interesting and well worth going, especially if you enjoy art and seeing a place that is historical.

Orange County

Tiller Days on October 3-5, 2014 in Tustin, CA

Silverado Days on October 17-19, 2014 in Buena Park, CA

2014 Pumpkinmania on October 26 at Tanaka Farms in Irvine, CA

San Diego County

MCAS Miramar Air Show on October 3-5, 2014

San Bernardino County

Enchanted Pumpkin Patch and other pumpkin patches and corn mazes

Riverside County

Oktoberfest 2014 in Upland, CA on October 24, 25 and 26, 2014

Have a good October and Happy Halloween!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Secret Stairs Walk #6-Hermon and Highland Park


The girls and I took a Secret Stairs walk yesterday, as the weather was nice and relatively cool.  As the book says "This is a quirky walk through a quirky part of town-most Angelinos don't even know there is a Hermon-featuring some very secluded staircases and some ancient Los Angles history.

We began this walk near the intersection of Via Marisol and Monterey.  We walked north on Monterey.  There are a mixture of older homes and apartments along the way.


"Hermon is a town let dating from 1903, when a group of Methodists built a church school here.  (The school became Los Angles Pacific College, then became Pacific Christina Preparatory School, and then closed.)"

Arroyo Seco means Dry River and there is a bicycle path
Arroyo Seco
We turn left onto S. Avenue 60 and cross Pasadena Freeway, which is also known as the Historic Arroyo Seco Parkway.  Arroyo Seco means dry river and it is currently a dry river.  Down this same riverbed once ran a wide elevated wooden "cycleway".  Designed to speed bicyclists from Pasadena's Green Hotel to Downtown Los Angeles.  It opened in 1890 and closed shortly after.

We walked along other streets in the area and found our first staircase and some wall/tree art

Arroyo Seco means Dry River and there is a bicycle path

When we got to the top of the staircase, we walked up to Figueroa, but first taking pictures of some wall art.

Wall art on the backs of buildings on Figueroa near Avenue 57

Made our way down Figueroa and turned onto S. Avenue 57 and saw more wall art.

Wall art near Figueroa and Ave. 57
Wall art 

Continued walking down S. Avenue 57  that is lined with freestone walls and older homes.  On the right hand side of the strew is what is called an "urban oasis"La Tierra de la Culebra Park is an open -to the -public garden operated by the non-profit Arts Community Land Activism organization.  The park is built on the ruins of several old homes, features rock walls, terraced rock gardens, tile lined rock pools and some nice shade.

Staircase with graffiti in La Tierra de la Culebra Park
Staircase with graffiti

Snake head rock in park on Secret Stairs walk
Snake head rock

Squirrel in the park on Secret Stairs walk
Squirrel in the park  
Colorful house next to the park on Secret Stairs walk
Colorful house
This house is next door to the park.  Perfect!

We continued along Avenue 57 and crossed back over the Arroyo Seco Parkway.  Hermon Park is on the left, which has tennis courts, play areas, dog runs and public restrooms, which were most needed. After the pit stop, we crossed back across the street and found our next staircase.  At the top we followed a couple more streets and walked by an elementary school and at the end of the street was our next staircase.

Long staircase in Secret Stairs walk
Long staircase
 At the top of the staircase is a sloping walkway and a another short staircase.  The walkway is actually a city block of Pullman Street and might once have served a community of homes higher up the slope, but there are no homes there to serve.  The walkway continues and provides a good view of the arroyo, Pasadena and the San Gabriel Moutains.

View from Secret stairs walk looking at San Gabriel Mountains and valley
At the end of the walkway is another stairway going down.  At the end of the stairway is the base of Walnut Hill and the road below where we were standing is Monterey Rd., which cut through Walnut Hill in 1930 and connected Hermon to the communities of Happy Valley and El Sereno to the south.  To finish this walk, we walked down Monterey Road to the car.

The walk was approximately 3 miles and the difficulty, per the book was relatively easy or 2.5 on a scale of 1-5, where 1 is very easy and 5 is difficult.

This walk was taken from the book "Secret Stairs" by Charles Fleming.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Seven ways to celebrate fall in Southern California

1.  The Los Angeles County Fair is now known as the L.A.County Fair.  This is an annual county fair and was first held on October 17, 1922 and ran for five days through October 21, 1922, in a former beet field in Pomona, CA.    The fair runs from August 29 to September 28, 2014.

2. Octoberfest at Alpine Village in Torrance, CA is from September 12 to October 26, 2014 and              Octoberfest at Old World Village in Huntington Beach, CA from September 11 to October 27, 2014.  

3.  Have some fun with Halloween:
     Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Hollywood from September 19-November 2, 2014
     Knott's Scary Farm from September 25 to October 31, 2014
     Queen Mary's Dark Harbor from October 2 to November 2, 2014
4.  Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)


Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, CA on November 1, 2014 from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Olvera Street in Los Angeles, CA is from October 25-November 2, 2014.

Old Town in San Diego on November 1-2, 2014

5.  Annual Historical Cemetery Tour in Santa Ana, CA on October 25, 2014

6.  Places to find apples:

     Julian, CA-September to mid October or when all the apples are gone!
     Oak Glen, CA-Labor Day weekend to Thanksgiving weekend.

Apple Doughnut machine in Oak Glen, CA
Apple Doughnuts-Yum!

Pumpkins in Oak Glen, CA

Apples on Apple Tree in Oak Glen, CA

7.  Best Pumpkin Patches in Southern California, thanks to CBS, Los Angeles

      Lombardi Ranch Pumpkin Festival

      Cal Poly Pomona Pumpkin Festival

      Underwood Family Farms Fall Harvest Festival

      Tanaka Farms

Pumpkins and scarecrows at Tanaka Farms in Irvine, CA
Tanaka Farms
Irvine Park Railroad Pumpkin Patch

 Peltzer Farms

 Riley's Farms

Enjoy the fun of fall!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

August field trip-San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which is also known as the San Diego Wild Animal Park until 2010 is an 1800 acre zoo in the San Pasqual Valley area of San Diego, CA near Escondido.  The park houses a large array of wild and endangered animals including species from the continents of Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South American, and Australia.  This is not your typical zoo.  The park is in a semi-arid environment, and one of the most  notable features is the Africa Tram, which explores the expansive African exhibits.  The free-range enclosures house such animals as antelopes, giraffes, buffalo, cranes and rhinoceros.

The park is also noted for its California condor breeding program, which is  the most successful such program in the United States.  The park houses over 2600 animals that represent more than 300 species, as well as 3500 plant species.  There is a quarantine center at the park for zoo animals imported into the United States through San Diego.  The park has the world's largest veterinary hospital and next door is the Institute for Conservation Research which holds the park's Frozen Zoo.

The San Diego Zoological Society became interested in developing the Wild Animal Park in 1964.  The idea of the park began as a supplementary breeding facility for the San diego Zoo, which would allow ample space for large animals.  In 1964, the park was assessed financially and then moved onto the next phase; this resulted in three alternative developments.  There was an idea for a conservation farm, a game preserve, and a natural environment zoo.The natural environment zoo development was chosen over the conservation farm and game preserve.  This was the most expensive option at the cost of $1,755,430.

The main purposes of this park were to be species conservation, breeding of animals for the San Diego Zoo, as well as other zoos and providing areas where zoo animals could be conditioned.

The original opening day of the park was to be April 1, 1972; however, the gates did not open until May 10, 1972.  The layout of the park was designed by Charles Faust, which included a large lagoon with a jungle plaza, an African fishing village, an aviary at the entrance of the park and approximately 50,000 plants were to be included in the landscaping.  The park was scheduled to open within three years of the original groundbreaking and the total development of the park was to take approximately 10 years.  The first two animals to arrive were an antelope from the plains of North India and a zebra, which was native to East Africa.

In the summer of 2003, the San Diego Zoological Society and Lowry Park Zoo captured 11 wild African elephants from the Hlane Royal National Park in Swaziland.  The zoos claimed that the elephants were scheduled to be killed due to overpopulation; however the Save Wild Elephants Coalition disputed this, reporting that there were three other sanctuaries in Africa that had offered to take the elephants.  Seven of the elephants are now at the Safari Park and altogether have produced 13 babies as of 2013.  In March 2012, five elephants were moved to the Reid Zoo in Tucsion, AZ to form a new herd.  In return, the Safari Park received two cow elephants that had been together for years.  One of the elephants died from cancer in July, 2012 and the other was introduced into the herd in February, 2013.

Monday, August 11, 2014

August field trips-A trip to Los Angeles County Museum of Art-LACMA and searching for ice cream

One of the things, Mari wanted to do this summer was to go to LACMA, so we planned that outing for last Thursday.  Originally we had planned it for Wednesday, but found out it was not open on Wednesdays.  At this point, we have to drive, but once they expand the purple line of the light rail in Los Angeles to a station in front of LACMA, we will be able to take the train to Union Station and then get on the purple line and take it to Fairfax and Wilshire, which is where LACMA is located.

We drove to LACMA and usually I can park in their underground lot, but it was full, so we went across the street to the parking lot for the Peterson Automotive Museum and parked.  Both lots cost $10.  We walked across the street and got our tickets.  Mari and I are members of the museum, so we got in for free and it cost $25 for Marissa to get in, as she is not a member.  The girls and I wanted to see the exhibit titled "Van Gogh to Kandinsky".  Normal admission is $15 and it was $10 extra to see this exhibit.  The hours on Thursday are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The exhibit was enjoyable.  Dual membership for Mari and I costs $110 per year.

Urban Light

Buildings in LACMA

Old May Co. building-now known as LACMA West

Urban Light at night

Urban Light

Van Gogh to Kandinsky

Buildings at LACMA

Inside the Resnick Pavilion

The history of LACMA has its roots in the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art, which was established in 1910 in Exposition Park.  In 1961, LACMA was established as a separate, art-focused museum.  The museum opened to the public in 1965 in its new Wilshire Blvd. location with the permanent collection in the Ahmanson Building; special exhibitions in the Hammer Building and the 600 seat Bing Theater for public programs.  The Art of the Americas Building was opened in 1986.  Originally it was named the Anderson Building and housed modern and contemporary art.  In 1988, the Pavilion for Japanese Art opened at the east end of the campus and in 1994, the museum acquired the May Company department store building at the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax, now known as LACMA West.

Further expansion continues, which includes buildings designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop. These buildings include the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, which is a three story 60,000 square foot space for the exhibition of postwar art that opened in 2008.  In the fall of 2010, the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion opened to the public, which provided the largest purpose-built, naturally lit, pen plan museum space in the world, with a rotating selection of major exhibitions.  Ray's restaurant and Stark Bar opened in 2011, near Chris Burden's iconic Urban Light.

Mari and I had heard that "Salt and Straw", which is an ice cream place in Portland, OR was coming to Los Angeles.  After we left LACMA, we decided to go looking for ice cream.  One place, I had heard that had "Salt and Straw" was in Farmer's Market, which is very close to LACMA.  Not there!  The other place we had heard served "Salt and Straw" was at "Joan's on 3rd".  Not there, but had been!  We were five days late.  "Salt and Straw" is building a new store in Larchmont Village.  Once it is open, which is supposed to be the end of August, we will have to make another trip to Los Angeles.  After we found Larchmont Village, we got on the "freeway" and fought traffic getting home.

Enjoyable, but tiring day!