Sunday, May 31, 2015

Secret Stairs Walk #8

This walk takes place in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles.  The walk starts near the intersection of N. Figueroa St and Avenue 53, near the old brick Faith United Presbyterian Church.  This section of Figueroa Street is Historic Route 66.

Red door of Church

Window of church

We head north on Avenue 53 toward the hills and cross the Gold Line tracks at Marmion Way.

Wall art

Wall art

We head along Avenue 53 and turn right onto Monte Vista Street and then turn left onto N. Avenue 54. where there is an elementary school with a mural on the side of the school.

Wall art on school

Wall art on school

As we continue to walk we find our first stair case.  This is a wide set of stairs, fitted with handrails, but not lights, rising over multiple landings.  Climb up 127 steps.  At the top of the stairs is the cul-de-sac end of Granada and we continue to walk straight ahead as the road rises and crests.  There is an Historic-Cultural Monument along this walk.  From here you can see Eldred Street and the staircase on the hillside across the canyon.  Eldred Street is the steepest street in California and was in Walk #7.

Turn right onto No. Avenue 53 and begin our ascent.  We see older homes and freestone rock walls, as we walk along.  We continue on winding up and around, to the corner Avenue 53 and Abbott Place, where there are two old homes with grand views.  Avenue 53 continues along until we get to Aldama Street, where we turn right and continue to the bottom of the hill, where we turn left onto Avenue 54.  There are some older homes in need of repair along this street, but we keep walking until we find Raphael Street. We turn left and walk up a half block of roadway and find the next staircase that has not been kept in good repair and has graffiti.  At the top, we keep walking straight ahead on Raphael.

Turn left, one block on, onto Aldama Terrace, where there are some interesting houses and then we turn right onto Aldama Street.  We walk straight ahead and following the road as it crosses Avenue 53 and bends to the left, where we find Avenue 52.   We walk on Avenue 52 and look for a driveway that leads to a staircase and up!  This staircase is a newish, double-railed set of 56 steps over several landings in condition, but not well maintained.  The top of the stairs puts us at the bend where Avenue 51 meets Shipley Glen Drive.  We walk straight ahead going down Shipley Glen.  At the bottom of the hill, we turn right on Avenue 50 and observe a pedestrian underpass.

Calico cat
Decoration on an address
Front Porch
Fruit tree
Tree Decoration
Up the stairs

Pedestrian Underpass

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Day 4 of our Oregon-Washington trip-Wine Country in California

We are staying in Vacaville, CA, which is close to where we would catch the Napa Valley Wine Train, which would take us from Napa to St. Helena and back.

One of the cars on the Napa Valley Wine Train

This information is taken from their website-  The Napa Valley Wine Trains' route runs through one of the top wine growing regions in the world.  The Napa Valley is located in Northern California, about 50 miles northeast of San Francisco and about 60 miles west of Sacramento.  The Napa Valley is 30 miles long and 5 miles across at its widest point.

Samuel Brannan, who was San Francisco's first millionaire, had a rail line built in 1864 to take visitors to the resort town of Calistoga, in northern Napa valley.  About 100 years later, Highway 29 was installed next to the rail line, being the best travel corridor through the Valley.  This rail corridor runs through the western side of the Valley, with the Silverado Trail traveling up the east.

We boarded the train at the McKinstry Street Station, which is located in Napa and after the train got moving, we traveled through the old industrial section of Napa.  The train crossed the Rural Urband Limit Line about ten minutes into the journey and we were greeted to the spectacular scenery of the wine country of Napa Valley.  While we were traveling along we were served lunch and a couple of glasses of wine.

Views from the train

Views from the train

Views from the train

Views from the train

Views from the train

Views from the train

Views from the train

Views from the train

Mari and I had decided to take advantage of one of the specials that we were offered and got a tour of the winery at Castello Di Amorosa.  Castello Di Amorosa is the only authentic medieval(13th century) Italian Tuscan castle and winery built in America.  The winery officially lowered its drawbridge for business in April 2007 and is located on 171 acres just south of Calistoga.

Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa

Dining room at Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa

Dining Room at Castello di Amorosa

It was an interesting day and I am so glad we did the train and saw Castello Di Amorosa.  Marissa had decided to stay at the hotel, which is typical, especially when we deal with lots of people, plus she wasn't that interested in the wine tour.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Day 3 of our Oregon-Washington trip

The trip from Salinas to Vacaville, CA, where we stayed on the third night was shorter, than the first long day from Orange County to Salinas, CA  When we stayed in Salinas, CA, at the Residence Inn, we learned that, because I am a rewards member, I can request certain rooms, such as being on the highest floor available, so we don't have to deal with the feeling that the people above us are going to come through the ceiling.

We left Salinas, CA, but not before seeing the John Steinbeck house, which is beautiful.

John Steinbeck House
The John Steinbeck House is a historic house restaurant and house museum and is located at 132 Central Avenue in Salinas, CA.  The house was the boyhood home to the author John Steinbeck.  The home is a turreted Victorian building in downtown Salinas, which has been preserved and restored by the Valley Guild, which is a non-profit organization.  The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.  Fixed menu lunches are served Monday through Saturday, and the house is open for tours during the summer on Sunday afternoons.  We were fortunate that when we stopped, there was a man working on the house and he allowed us to walk through the house.  We got sort of a tour, which was interesting.

From Salinas, we drove north and stopped in Gilroy, CA for lunch.  Gilroy is well known for its garlic crop and as you drive north on 101, there are times you can smell the garlic as you drive along. Gilroy has the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival, which features serious garlicky foods, including garlic ice cream. Gilroy's nickname is "Garlic Capital of the world".  Gilroy also produces mushrooms and a boutique wine production is a large part of Gilroy's western portion.

Hoey Ranch in Gilroy, CA

Wall art in Gilroy

Wall art in Gilroy, CA

Wall art in Gilroy, CA

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A trip to Oregon and Washington-Time in Carmel and Salinas

Two years ago, the girls and I took an awesome driving trip up to Oregon and Washington.  This trip took us two weeks, as we made stops along the way.  Our first stop was in Salinas, CA and we stayed at the Residence Inn Salinas Monterey for two nights.  Normally, I like staying at the Residence Inns, because it gives the three girls of us room to spread out and it also gives us two bathrooms and usually it is cheaper than staying in a normal hotel.  Unfortunately, we were on the second floor and it felt like the people above us were coming through the roof.  Overall, I liked the hotel.

Marissa stayed at the hotel the next day, which is typical of her, especially after we have been driving all day the previous day or we are doing a lot the next day.  Mari and I headed for Carmel to see Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo.  Please see my blog called for pictures and a description of the history of the mission.  We also did some exploring in Carmel and had lunch at The Tuck Box in Carmel.  When I was growing up and we were in Carmel, we would go to The Tuck Box, which is mainly a tea room.  The food was good, as well as the tea.

Place to sit

Tree and Building in Carmel


I love historic train stations, so while we were visiting in Salinas,  we stopped at the Salinas Station and explored the depot.  The Coast Starlight goes through this station on the way north and south from Seattle and Los Angeles.  The depot was constructed in 1941 by the Southern Pacific Railroad and exhibits a pared down Spanish Revival style as influenced by the then-popular Art Deco Movement.  Spanish Revival elements include the red tile roof and stuccoed walls, while the Art Deco influence is visible in the rectilinear composition and clean lines.  Greyhound moved its Salinas station here this year.

Salinas train station
There was also a Victorian house in the same area as the train station.  I love Victorian architecture.

Victorian architecture house
Mari and I, also went to the Mission in Soledad that day and on my Mission blog, you will find a description of that Mission and some pictures.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Secret Stairs #9

Secret Stairs Walk #9 is taken from a book entitled "Secret Stairs" by Charles Fleming.  Mr. Fleming has written a new book, which I will be getting and looking forward to doing those walks.  This walk is shorter than most we have done.

This walk began at the corner of N. Eastern Avenue and Gambier Street, in a seldom visited area of Los Angeles, known as El Sereno.  We parked near El Sereno Middle School and we did this the day before Mother's Day and there were vendors selling flowers and presents for Mother's Day.

The walk took us south on Eastern and then turned left onto Lynnfield Street and the first corner turned right on Phelps Ave.  There was some elevation once we turned onto Lynnfield Street.  We found our first staircase on Phelps.  According to the book, many of the staircases in El Sereno are painted green, but I think a lot of the green has worn off.  This stairway has 83 stairs with several landings.  At the top of the stairs is Lynnfield Circle.  According to the book, you might be able to get a view of Huntington Drive, where in the 1900's, the Pacific Electric Railway line went along the wide median strip.  The railway was designed to link Downtown Los Angeles with Pasadena, San Marino and El Sereno.

Secret Stairs

Secret Stairs-see the green?

Secret Stairs

More Secret Stairs with green

We crossed Lynnfield Circle and went up another 99 steps and landed at Chadwick Circle. There are better views from the top of these stairs.  In the book,  Mr. Fleming talks about barking dogs, but we didn't really run into that issue.  We head down Chadwick Circle to find our next staircase, which descends 95 steps, and then another staircase of 73 steps, which takes us to Ballard St.  We turn left and walk along a flat portion of the street to Chester Street.  We saw three dogs on this street, but they did not bark at us.  At the corner of Chester and Ballard, we turned left and climbed to the top of the hill and turned left onto Lynnfield Street and began another descent.  This is a walk of views as well.


We followed Lynnfield to the bottom of the hill and turned right on Phelps.  We walked straight ahead for a couple of blocks and turned right on Templeton.  The author described this neighborhood  as older and calmer with less dogs and small bungalows.  When we got to Castalia ave. we turned left and at the end of a dead end street was a short stairway and then we headed down the hill along Barstow St.   At the corner of Barstow and Phelps, we turned left and turned right at Templeton, which took us back to Eastern and our car.  It was an enjoyable and short walk and perfect for after a week of intense pressure.

Broken stairs that used to lead to a house

Stairs and a view

Wall art