When I was young, going to Stonewood Mall on my own with my friends was a rite of passage. But I don't remember being as young as these girls who apparently drove themselves to the mall for a shoeshine.
What I do remember is that guys have always enjoyed girl-watching.
I love old cars and it's fun to see cool ones in Downey. I spotted this car while I was wandering around one morning looking for interesting photos. This one was parked outside the Gourmet Cafe on Downey and Firestone.
Pam, Joan, and I have realized having a daily blog gives us a much shorter time for creating and editing. The challenge we’ve created is that interesting shots are ordinary pieces of life. No staging is involved. Sunrises are not always gorgeous. People do not always welcome cameras in their faces. Buildings can be built and torn down without our noticing until they are gone. As passé as it sounds, "constant vigilance begets the “aha!” moments," as Joan stated.
This puppy is one of these aha! moments. Joan saw him this morning popping out of the hole he had eaten in the gate. The alley probably isn’t the most intriguing of visual fixations, but for ten minutes we gave him something else to look at besides the orange and eucalyptus trees. We hear dogs barking up and down the alleys of Downey but this one came to greet us and stick his nose out to sniff out our cameras.
So, I learned this weekend that "no trespassing" applies, even if the gate is open (which really feels like an invitation to explore). I have felt drawn to Rancho since discovering it a mere few weeks ago. I went back this past weekend, just to check it out. When I came back to my car, I was greeted by a police officer (who pulled up just as I was getting to my car). Unfortunately, I cannot remember his name, but he was really nice and very informative about the history of Rancho. We chatted for several minutes and he was able to fill in some of the details about Rancho for me. . . like the train depot where they loaded the produce grown at Rancho for the County Hospital. Very interesting! By the way, I didn't get a ticket.
I know that Harley riders give the impression of being tough, but all my preconceived notions were tossed out the window (of my car) when I saw this 'picture' in front of me. One of the things I am learning from A Yankee-in-Belgrade is to always have your camera ready and at hand. After struggling for what seemed an eternity with my seatbelt, I extricated my camera and snap!
I was out walking Ivan, our dog, around the neighborhood when I noticed this "beware of dog" sign on a nicely rustic gate. It took a second glance to see I was being stared at. This house not only had a guard dog, they also had a guard cat. I think they need to change their sign!
A worker is protected covering himself from head to toe in clothing while he works sorting grain. Another one of the many workers throughout the blue collar businesses in Downey takes a break from welding to wave to us.
Downey can boast of two beautiful golf courses; Rio Hondo Golf Club and Los Amigos Country Golf Course. The Rio Hondo Golf Club course was built in 1924 but has been remodeled and now has large mounds and moguls for each hole. The fairways are narrow and lined by old pine trees. Los Amigos Country Golf Course is an 18-hole regulation length golf course in Downey, California. It was built in 1966 and has also since been redone. It has a short layout that ensures an experience for anyone whether you're there for a full round or just to hit a bucket of balls.
I'm not sure how old it is or if Downey Glass Company is still in use, but I had fun taking some photos of it. I was surprised to find that after wandering around this area, just south of Firestone, for over 2 hours that I had covered a total distance of only about 1/2 mile!
Early last Friday morning, Joan, Allison, and I spent about two hours walking a half-mile stretch of the train tracks between Dolan and Paramount, an industrial area in a mostly residential city. It's amazing what you can see when you wander instead of drive through an area. This picture of a man taking a morning break, was my favorite.
I was trying to catch the last of the sunlight. I was at the train tracks looking for fun shots and I snapped a picture of this wheelchair trying to race a car! Okay, so maybe that's not really what happened. . .
The cats at the Petsmart Adoption Center call to me. Every time I visit the Petsmart at Downey Landing, I have to stop and look. This cat was very appealing, but he looked so discouraged, like he'd given up all hope of finding a home. The kittens, below, were just having fun.
We've been looking at old pictures and researching the history of Downey. We came across a piece about the old train station and were so intrigued that we went to see it. We found a little area that used to be a turnout running into a loading station but is now wild and overgrown. It is weird to see the past stagnant in the present. There are tiny palm trees growing through the tracks, graffiti fading on the walls, and doors that haven't been opened in years.
Night time in Downey. As soon as the sun is down, the neon lights come on. It gives the city a whole different feel. It's a fun look. Even the standard all-night restaurants take on a magical appearance.
I know Christmas is really over when I see the Christmas trees lining the streets and alleys, cut in half waiting for trash day. Or when I see what's left of the Christmas ribbon at 70% off at Michael's in Downey Landing.
Most of the time, we know our city from the outside. The insides, the stories and the explanations, remain a mystery. The Rives Mansion is one of those mysteries for me. I love the era and the style of the house. It's the kind of house I'd like to live in, and I want to explore every inch of it.
A few years ago, the owners opened the house up for tours during the Christmas season, and I got to see portions of the inside. At the time, it was owned by a Swedish couple who covered every nook and cranny with Swedish furniture, memorabilia, and pictures. Not necessarily in a bad way, just in an overwhelming way. It was hard to see past Sweden to the house itself.
The house changed owners recently, and the new owners have repainted the entire outside, cleaned up the yard, and added new landscaping. The outside is truly beautiful now. And the little bit I can see of the inside makes me think that the inside is beautiful now too. But will I ever get the chance to see it again? Maybe next Christmas...
To see a picture of the Rives Mansion circa 1912, click here. For more posts about the Rives Mansion, click here.
When I make it up early enough on a Saturday, I head for the Farmers Market in downtown Downey. Whether it is fruit, vegetables, or taboli, the Farmers Market has it. Walking through the array of savory smells, I come to Keith's flower stand. I love the selection of flowers in his booth. It has always feels like a special treat to have fresh flowers in the house, and his are so reasonably priced, too. My personal favorites are the sunflowers. But I have to say that even more impressive than his display of greenery, Keith remembered our names as well as our dog's name! Talk about having a small town feel. . .
Earlier this week as I wandered around downtown Downey, I stopped at the construction site of the new Porto's Bakery, where work started last November 25. While I took pictures, Aham, who introduced himself as a worker at the site, filled me in on the details. I asked him if there would be outdoor seating, and he said yes. (Yay!) He thinks they'll be ready to open in May. And he invited me to come back regularly to take pictures of their progress. (If I come by on a Tuesday, I can even meet the boss.) I promised I'd be back!
Meanwhile, I'll buy my Porto's baked goods at the Porto's booth at the Downey Farmer's Market.
Nikon d40, f/4.8, 1/60, ISO 200, 200mm, handheld, 4:30p.m.
This is my favorite park in Downey, Furman Park. It's a place our families grew up using as a playground, a workout area, a dog run, and a classroom. These two guys were tying a renegade shoelace that had tripped the boy a minute before.
For as long as I can remember, El Taco has been there offering my favorites...chile verde, chile relleno burtito, ooh and the breakfast burritos. My fav is egg, cheese, potatoes, and salsa. I also love the chicken flautas, but you have to order the guacamole on the side so the flautas don't get soggy. If you think I'm obsessed with fresh, yummy Mexican food, you could be right. But it's not just me. I have friends who live in Colorado. When they come to town, they visit El Taco before they visit me. Once you're an El Taco fan, you are forever an El Taco fan... no matter where you go. As you can see from the I Love El Taco Downey Facebook fan page.
After two weeks home for Christmas, my friend Andrea returned to South Carolina this morning to continue her basic training for the Army National Guard. I join Downey in saluting her and all the others who serve our country in the military.
Wilderness Park is my favorite Downey park. It is the biggest park in Downey, with two lakes (stocked with fish if you like that kind of thing) and lots of paths for biking, walking, or whatever takes your fancy.
The park is the perfect place to go after Christmas to try out your new toys. A family with several young kids was having a great time playing with their new remote-controlled racing cars.
f/32, 1/13, ISO 100, 70mm, handheld, 1:56 p.m.
My daughter and I also played with our new toys. She had lots of room to try out her new skateboard, and I got to practice my panning technique with my new camera.
After going to Rancho proper, we headed for the old Rancho—south of Imperial. It was a ghost town. Originally 500 acres in 1888, it has dwindled. Most of the 200 remaining acres are covered with buildings that are simply wasting away. The tree-lined streets are full of multiple dorm-style housing, engineering shops, a bakery, a church, a water tower, you name it, all crumbling before our eyes. It appears to have been a self-sustaining community and you have to wonder what happened. We were intrigued. It seems such a mystery and a waste of such beautiful property.
Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center is kind of a mouthful for a name. I grew up knowing the center as simply “Rancho.” My big sis worked there for a while, doing clerical work. Next, I knew it as the place my friend, Debbie Stone, had her ongoing therapy and treatments. As a paraplegic survivor of polio who lived across the street in a local apartment, Debbie gained an immense sense of independence from the help she received from Rancho.
Originally founded in 1888 as a Poor Farm for indigent residents who were transferred in from County Hospital, Rancho has changed significantly over the years. In the 50’s it was designated as a respiratory center for polio patients. In the 70’s it was officially affiliated with USC. Today it is a national center for rehab with over 150 years of service to the community. U.S. News and World Report listed Rancho in the top 10 for best rehabilitation hospitals.