Friday, September 30, 2011

A Longer Way To Go

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again;

we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”

- Jack Kerouac

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's A Matter of Principles

"These are my principles. If you don't like them,
I have others." - Groucho Marx

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oh C'Mon Take a Chance

Audrey Hepburn with Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday

“The Only Thing More Surprising Than the Chance She's Taking...Is Where It's Taking Her! ”

― Frances Mayes

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

An "Esotouric" Bus Adventure Weekend

This adventure began last Friday night, September 23, 2011. I had planned a special surprise for my husband Mike's birthday. To start off we had a nice dinner at a neighborhood italian restaurant.

"Cheers Mike, hoping your year ahead is filled with great adventures!"

Once home it was time to open gifts. My gift was a surprise mystery tour which is scheduled for the next day. The one prerequisite (and clue) is that we must watch the film "Double Indemnity" this night...and so we did.

"Double Indemnity" starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred Mc Murray

What Mike doesn't know is that I've gotton us both tickets for a special tour of Los Angeles through a company called "Esotouric". They specialize in very inventive, themed tours in the "City of Angels- Los Angeles". The tour we are taking on Saturday is called: "The Birth of Noir: James M. Cain's Southern California Nightmare. Cain was a novelist who penned several books that became popular films in the "film noir genre". They were, "Double Indemnity", "Mildred Pierce" and "The Postman Always Rings Twice". This tour will take us on an adventure through the streets of Los Angeles to various locales for these films. We will also visit places were Cain would frequent to feel the pulse of the city and learn more about its inhabitants, who became the models for some of his characters.

We were to meet up with our tour guides in downtown Los Angeles at noon. We were given great and precise directions on when and where to meet. The mystery began for us in chinatown where we parked our car. We arrived an hour early and had time to wander and explore.

This funny little shop had so many trinkets and oddities including neon signs.

Oooh I was so excited for our tour to begin. The word Esoteric is defined as: "Intended or understood by only a few ...not publicly disclosed, confidential." I love the play on that with the name of this tour "Esotouric" what a fun adventure. We certainly are on the brink of something confidential...all the little secret places with hidden stories about to be revealed as we board the Esotouric Bus!

We are met by our tour guides who happen to be the owners and founders of the company, Kim Cooper and Richard Schave. see their website for more information on their varied themed tours:

They are so personable and friendly and extremely enthusiastic and welcoming. The large 50 passenger bus pulls up and we start to board exactly on time.

Philippes famous french dip restaurant located at the corner of Ord and Alameda is our meeting point. We plan to have dinner here at this iconic L.A. eatery after the tour. This is located one block from Union Station (the train terminal) and a few blocks from Chinatown and Olvera street. So there's plenty of interesting sites in all directions.

Here's a little youtube clip you might want to see which gives you some insight into film noir. Our tour guide Richard Schave is seen in a few scenes. Both Richard and Kim are well regarded in their knowledge of this genre of film as well as extremely respected experts in the special interest stories about the city of Los Angeles history and architecture.

Glendale Train depot

I don't want to give away the tour details but I will include some photos of places we were taken to on this 4 hour adventure. If you are visiting L.A. you might consider booking one of these tours. I suggest checking out their website listed above. This is not your ordinary Hollywood tour bus. Here you will learn many "inside" stories and be driven to truly unique parts of Los Angeles. I consider myself practically a native Angeleno and there were so many surprises on this tour. I recommend this heartily for those who also live in this city. Fascinating and so much fun to be a tourist in your own town! You will be surprised at what you see and learn from and the places on the tour.

Here are the very knowledgeable guides for Esotouric adventures: Richard and Kim
They are full of great stories about L.A. and how various places fit into film scenes. There are monitors on the bus which will show you a film clip and then the next thing you know you are parked exactly in front of the place you just saw in the movie. Often you will get out and walk the area and Richard will point out unique little bits of side stories about the actors or the film or an aspect of architecture or some interesting historical tidbit about what you are looking at.

So much to see as the bus winds down a Los Feliz street following the exact path of Fred McMurray as he is about to commit an evil deed in "Double Indemnity".

Here we are getting some behind the scenes stories on "Duck Baby", the little statue

at Forest Lawn...YES we are at a cemetary in Glendale! I can't tell you about Duck Baby or Frog Baby. You'll just have to go on the tour to find out.

On to Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles. This is Mariachi Plaza which has been the meeting place for hundreds of Mariachi bands since the 1960's. Fascinating cultural experience in the heart of Los Angeles that many Angelenos have never seen.

Here our guides have arranged for an opera singer to perform a lovely "Aria" on the steps of Mariachi plaza. There exists a special association between Opera and Mariachis in relationship to the author James Cain but you will have to go on the tour to find out all about that.

I'm going to end here by telling you that there were many more surprises that filled this great afternoon. I felt like it was as much a gift for me as it was for my husband. I mean how often can you say I had a really fun adventure where you can be swept away literally to unexpected places and told secret stories about things that happened long ago in your own city?

Truly a fun experience for Mike and me! Somedays you just get lucky!

Monday, September 26, 2011


"There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

There is another theory which states that this has already happened." — Douglas Adams "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


"Our life is frittered away by detail
Simplify, Simplify"
-Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Filled With Light

"The waiter yawned in the corner but we both ignored him and stayed and talked some more. And by the time I was wishing I'd washed my hair this morning instead of just bathed and was practically doubled over with gratefulness that I'd at least brushed my teeth, out of the blue,
he kissed me. Right in the middle of the Robert E. Lee Hotel Restaurant, he kissed me so slowly with an open mouth and every single thing in my body--my skin, my collarbone, the hollow backs of my knees, everything inside me filled up with light." - "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett

Friday, September 23, 2011

This Is What I Want

"I heard what you said. I’m not the silly romantic you think. I don’t want the heavens or the shooting stars. I don’t want gemstones or gold. I have those things already.

I want…

a steady hand.

A kind soul.

I want to fall asleep, and wake,

knowing my heart is safe.

I want to love, and be loved."Shana Abe`

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Water Aerobics Ritual

Three times a week I go to a wonderful water aerobics class held near my home at a University campus outdoor pool. It's therapeutic not just for how it helps my body feel but also for the way it invigorates me, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I love the time it takes me to walk to and from the class. I try to take in all that is around me, the way the sky looks, the way the air feels against my body, the little things that change within a day since I've last walked this way-like newly fallen leaves, or the bloom of a new flower. I watch the rhythm of the way the student in front of me is pacing her steps, or the skate boarder who whizzes by me on the way to class. When I'm nearing the pool I'm filled with joy knowing how good the water is going to feel. As summer comes to a close I am hoping I will be just as excited to enter cool waters when the temperature is chilly. Hmm we shall see. I wanted to document my walks to and from the pool so here is what I see:

This is the giant pyramid that houses a huge gymnasium for sporting events as well as many training rooms and classes that are health and sports related. You can see this bright blue pyramid for miles around the University. It's a very unique landmark. I park here and walk to the pool.

I love the tree lined walkways.

I pass Maren Hassingers wire sculpture in front of the University Museum.

I like to study the undulation of the wire forms which almost seem to echo the undulation of the trees and branches nearby.

"Evening shadows" 1993 Maren Hassinger "collection piece Cal State University Long Beach"

This metal bench is another nearby sculpture that I pass . It's a whimsical little piece. It never seems to be lonely even though no one sits on it.

When I'm here I know I am getting very close to the pool! Woohoo!

There are two giant outdoor pools. Our class gets 1/3 of the largest pool and the rest are for students who wish to swim laps.

The pool is especially inviting during the hot summer days.

This foreground section of the pool is where our little class of about 10 students gets to swim.

The hour lesson goes by quickly. I feel renewed, relaxed and so, so happy after this class.

Then it's back toward the pyramid and home I go!

"Water is as much a part of our language as it is a part of our bodies and our planet. In the ancient Sumerian language, the first letter of alphabet, A, was the word for water and also signified regeneration. Water provides us the means to communicate with each other, with ourselves, with our planet and with the cosmos - and to inspire change." -Sara Firman-Pitt, BSc. MPhil., Aquaest Retreat, Ozarks, MO

Thoughts on Herself

"She entertains hopes of authenticity, wildness, rude good health and enlightenment somewhere up the trail, but for now she is content to ramble and wonder and just breathe in and out..."-Cate Kerr

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Slowtravel Get Together in Pasadena California

This past sunday I spent a wonderful day together with several of my slowtravel friends.*
Eight of us were meeting for brunch in Pasadena. The sun was shining brightly and there was not a cloud in the blue sky. A perfect sunny California Sunday which made me very happy since our group mostly consisted of out-of-towners. One from Santa Barbara, others from Sacramento, Missouri and as far away as Philadelphia.

Our rendezvous point was "La Grande Orange" restaurant in Pasadena.

Brunch is served at 10:30 and we arrived right on time. The interior of La Grande Orange is very inviting but...

the beautiful sunshine was so lovely, we just had to sit outside.

Our table of eight was waiting for us in a perfect little corner.

Here are our slowtravel friends Terry and Stu who are touring southern California from Philadelphia.

L-R : Andrew (Missouri), Margaret (Sacramento), David (Pasadena) Terry and Stu (Philly), Marcia (Pasadena), me (Long Beach) and Charity (Santa Barbara)

After a leisure breakfast we headed to the Huntington Library and Gardens. This is the lovely estate of Henry Huntington founded in 1919. He was an exceptional businessman who built a financial empire that included railroad companies, utilities, and real estate holdings in Southern California. His library collections include a manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a Gutenberg Bible on vellum, and a world-class collection of the early editions of Shakespeare’s works. Those to name just a few amongst thousands of volumes of rare books. The grounds also house fine paintings and sculptures and galleries with rotating exhibits. There are many exotic gardens on the property.

Marcia and I were the first to arrive and soon after our whole group is ready to tour the library.

The grounds of the Huntington estate are beautiful and tranquil.

We strolled to the path leading to the Chinese garden.

There was a lovely special exhibition of Bonsai trees. They are amazing to look at.

One last look at the lovely grounds before Terry and I say goodbye to the group.

Since I had some time to spend with Terry solo I decided to take her for a tour of the San Marino/Pasadena area near the gardens. We both loved the tall palm trees which stood so tall against the sky.

We enjoyed a leisure drive through the winding tree lined streets with beautiful homes.

The planned destination for our final stop was the elegant and historic "Langham Hotel" in Pasadena. This was formerly the Ritz Carlton for 15 years and prior to that known as the landmark "Huntington Sheraton". It was here that I was married 30 years ago so you know I love this place.

I gave Terry a short tour of the grounds and also of the "Viennese Ballroom" which is where our reception was held. Then we were off to have cocktails at sunset on the veranda.

Of course we toasted to good "Slowtravel friends" and to many more get togethers with each other in the future.


I have spoken before of friends that I have met through the "Slowtrav website". If you are interested in travel, need help with any kind of travel questions or just want to know what slowtravel is, you can go here:

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin