Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Things are looking up

Now hiring

All over Downey, I've been seeing signs for hiring. Great turn for the economy. I'm excited for this new year.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Yosemite: A stormy end

IMG_2470 as Smart Object-1IMG_2523 as Smart Object-1

As we were preparing to leave, we made a final quick stop at the meadow to see what the weather was doing to the view. It was still snowing lightly and the clouds were covering much of the granite faces of the rocks, but it just added to the dramatic look.

We made a last stop at the tunnel view on our way out. Of course, Half Dome was once again barely visible, but the raw beauty of Yosemite never fails to amaze me.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Yosemite: Half Dome

Yosemite Half Dome trees

One of the iconic landmarks of Yosemite is Half Dome. This granite rock formation rises nearly 5,000 feet above the valley floor.

Photography is often about being in the right place at the right time. This trip, we were often in the right place, but the right time—late afternoon, on a clear day—was a challenge. The picture above was taken from Mirror Lake, a little before noon. From this vantage point, you look almost straight up at to the Dome. I don't remember ever being this close before, and that awesome wall of granite took on a whole new appearance. I was amazed by this line of trees that isn't visible from the more traditional views.

By the time we went out again, in what should have been the perfect before-sunset light, the clouds had rolled in and everything was gray and foggy. But I want you to see what Half Dome can look like at sunset, so I'm cheating a bit, and showing you a picture from a few years ago, also taken in February, just after a snowstorm.

Yosemite Half Dome at sunset

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Yosemite: The valley floor

Yosemite Merced River

For two mornings now, we've gotten up at sunrise and walked. Today we walked around the meadows and along the banks of the Merced River that cuts through Yosemite Valley.

This morning there was frost on the meadows and fresh ice along the edges of the river. In the spring and summer, the river rushes by and is a favorite for rafters. But right now, it's quiet, with beautiful reflections everywhere.

Yosemite meadowThe meadows are surrounded by small forests and the towering walls of the valley. Before the sun hits the valley floor, the colors are muted. This is the time of day when you would typically see deer grazing or the occasional coyote chasing a rabbit—although we saw neither this morning.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Yosemite: Roadside snowman


I know, most people when they head to Yosemite focus on the magnificent granite that surrounds you in the valley or maybe one of the countless waterfalls. Us too, but we also wanted snow! It took a dedicated ride up to Badger Pass to find it, but find it we did.

IMG_1911 as Smart Object-1Okay, so we also took just a few other pictures today. After breakfast, we hiked up to Lower Yosemite Falls. Yosemite Falls is actually made up of three separate falls—Upper Yosemite Fall (1,430 feet), the middle cascades (675 feet), and Lower Yosemite Fall (320 feet). There we were surprised by a stunning rainbow. It was impressive.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Yosemite: First view

First view of Yosemite Valley

We're going to take a side trip for a few days, to Yosemite National Park, one of the most beautiful parks in the country.

Yosemite is located in the center of California, about a 6-hour drive from Downey. The first view that you get of Yosemite Valley comes as you exit a long tunnel on the drive in. The site above is what greets you, and it is a spectacular view, of Bridal Veil Falls on the far right, and Half Dome in the distance.

We arrived just as the sun was setting, and had time for only a couple of quick shots before the light was gone. More tomorrow...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Not for the faint of ear


If you want a quiet corner booth, downtown Whittier after 10pm is not the place for you. Its located about 10 minutes northeast of Downey. This bar had live music, dancing, and not a minute of awkward silence, or any other kind.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Same picture, different years

downey grave yard

A few years later and the Downey Cemetery still looks the same.

From an excerpt from

The Downey Cemetery District operates a cemetery that traces its roots back to 1868 with the burial of the small daughter of W.A. Spurlock, owner of the land where the cemetery is now located. He donated one acre by his daughter's grave as a burial ground for others in the vicinity. William H. Pendleton purchased the Surlock property and along with others donated more land for the cemetery. Between 1873 and 1880 the Downey Masonic Lodge began its own graveyard adjacent to the Downey Cemetery's eastern boundary. The Downey Cemetery District Association and the Masonic Cemetery began a petition movement in 1921 for the County of Los Angeles to create a cemetery district out of the two cemeteries. In 1928 this Downey Cemetery District was created.

The Downey Cemetery is the final resting place for pioneers of the Southeast region and local historical figures. The cemetery is the final resting site for over 9,000 souls, including veterans from the Civil War through the Gulf War. We honor our Veterans' with graveside flags on the annual Memorial Day tribute held at the cemetery.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

La Barca


La Barca is open! The grand opening was actually last week, but we were finally able to stop in for dinner. It  is a charming authentic Mexican restaurant. It is the second location for the owner Guillermo Padilla, whose father opened La Barca in Los Angeles 35 years ago just up the street from USC. It has a rustic appeal, with bright colors and unique lily chandeliers at the entrance.

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There was live entertainment in the main room, although I'm not sure that will continue to be a nightly offering. The food was yummy!  It was fun to finally be able to enjoy this new family-owned eatery. It is a nice addition to Downey.


Monday, February 20, 2012

President's Day—not!

President's Day school holiday

Today is President's Day, a U.S. federal holiday that celebrates all of our country's presidents. Or so I thought.

In researching the holiday's history, I came across some enlightening information on This is really, officially, the "George Washington's Birthday" holiday, just like when I was in grammar school when we used to get a day off for both his birthday on February 22 and Abraham Lincoln's birthday on February 12. We're supposed to be celebrating George's birthday. Not all the presidents.

President's Day salesIt turns out that the Uniform Holidays Bill of 1968 officially set the third Monday of February as the day to celebrate George's birthday. This means that federal workers (and students) always get a 3-day weekend—but it also means that George's birthday is never actually celebrated on his birthday, because the third Monday can never fall later in the month than the 21st. And most of the states dropped Lincoln's birthday, because the bill also established Columbus Day as a new federal holiday.

Of course, a 3-day weekend also means bargains at the local shopping centers. In its depleted and messy shelves, Stonewood Mall tonight showed the ravages of three days of sales and shopping.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fences and gates

Neighborhood watch gate

“The fence that makes good neighbors needs a gate to make good friends.”

Each of us Downey Daily bloggers have things we return to over and over. For me, it's gates—especially the run-down, paint-peeling gates that are often found in alleyways.

The sign on this gate is another instance of Downey's Neighborhood Watch program that helps protect our neighborhoods.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mission bell

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The bell in this archway reminds me of some of the California mission bells I have seen. I pass it often as we head to Furman Park for a walk. Somehow it has a sense of history, just the look of it. I remember how fun it was to follow the mission bells of the El Camino Real for a mission trip when my daughter was in the 4th grade.

Although the missions date back to 1769, the mission bells that guide you along El Camino Real were not in place until 1906 when a cast iron 85 pound bell was placed into the ground in concrete at the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora Reina de Los Angeles, also known as the Plaza Church near Union Station in Los Angeles.

I don't know if this bell that I pass almost daily has any historical significance, but it is appealing and reminds me often of the heritage we have in California.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The bus stop

Bus stop

In southern California, everything is spread out so much that most people depend on cars to get around. But for those, such as my daughter, who can't or choose not to drive, the Metro buses provide an alternative.

This is the 115 bus, which runs east and west on Firestone Blvd. through the center of Downey. It starts at the Norwalk Green Line Station just to the east of Downey and continues west all the way to the beach in Playa Del Rey.

For my daughter, it simply means a convenient way to shop at Target or Stonewood Shopping Center.
“Never run after a bus or a man. There will always be another one.”

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The calm after the storm

Bellflower Blvd

Downey looked nice and bright and sunny this morning after yesterday's rain. And it made my garden extra bloom-ful today.

front yard flowers

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Table waiting

BJs table

Waiting for tables at BJs restaurant during game time is a lost cause. I will say that sometimes, they give out small free samples of pizza while you're waiting.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentines on the go


For all of those people who may have forgotten to get flowers or balloons before this was not too late. It seemed like wherever I went today, there were people set up in parking lots, in front of stores and on street corners offering all sorts of goodies (flowers, balloons, candy bouquets, stuffed animals) to buy for that special person in your life. Even my local grocery store was transformed.

IMG_1722It got me curious about what started it all. There are a few stories... Evidently, sometime around the third century, Emperor Claudius ll outlawed marriage for young men because he felt that unmarried men made better soldiers. Valentine (or Valentinus) understood the law was unjust and defied Claudius. He secretly married any young lovers who came to him. When his actions were discovered, he was put to death.

IMG_1726I'm not sure how our current celebration of Valentine's Day became what it is, but it began with an act of love by a priest who wanted to do the right thing.

Even though it has become pretty commercialized, it is still about wanting to show how we feel about our loved ones by presenting them with a gift—in the name of Valentine.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Russell's Bike Shop

Russell's Bike Shop

Whenever I need bike repairs, or parts, or just questioned answered, I stop by Russell's Bike Shop on Firestone Blvd. Tonight, this young girl's whole family was there to pick up her new bike—as soon as the last-minute dusting and polishing was complete.

Russell's Bike ShopRussell's was opened in 1944 by Russell and Freda Wagy. For more about the shop's history, see the Downey Patriot's article Looking back on Russell's Bike Shop.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Eco-friendly inside and outside

Southern California Gas Company eco-friendly garden

Right next to busy Firestone Blvd, there's going to be an oasis of eco-friendly green in a few months. The Southern California Gas Company is converting the area in front of its Energy Resource Center to a garden that will showcase a variety of native plants. In addition to the sprinklers being installed here, a rain catcher will capture rain water to use for irrigation.

According to Downey Beat, the garden "... will feature eight types of gardens – fire resistant plants, coastal flowers, sage and chaparral, native ground cover, Mediterranean, riparian meadows, oak woodland understory and edible – complete with paths for visitor access."

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Yonder window

Windows hold an inherent mystery for me. I always wonder what is behind them.
I have used this house in a post before and I really like this view of one of the windows. The tree frames it so nicely.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Planning ahead

Yard sale kid

It's common to find lots of games and toys at a yard sale. At this neighborhood sale, it looks like this young man is thinking about his academic future.

The last time I personally organized a yard sale, the sale started early on Saturday morning and lasted through Sunday. These days, the sales regularly start on Friday morning. Is this true everywhere now? Given that a large proportion of the population either works or goes to school on Fridays, who shops at these Friday sales?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Midnight snack

ice cream

I love when strawberries are in season!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tips please


Just another way to pick up some extra cash...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Power play

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Still at Rio San Gabriel Riverbed. These are pictures of the power lines along the east side of the bike path. I liked the lines and the repeated patterns. Some of the wires above look like they've taken on a life of their own, almost like some kind of really big toy.


Monday, February 6, 2012

The jogger

San Gabriel riverbed jogger

Another exercise enthusiast on our early morning walk on Saturday was this jogger.

This shot, compared with the two previous posts (here and here), shows how varied the scenery is along this section of the Rio San Gabriel riverbed.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Bicycling the San Gabriel River

We weren't the only ones out early yesterday morning on the San Gabriel Riverbed bike path (see A good beginning). Cyclists came zipping past us with increasing regularity as the sun came up.

The path goes from the San Gabriel Mountains to the north all the way to the Pacific Ocean to the south, for a total of about 50 miles. This man is heading to the north.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A good beginning

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Up for an early morning walk along the Rio San Gabriel riverbed this morning. It was crisp and clear, a beautiful beginning for the day.

"Things are always at their best in their beginning.--Blaise Pascal

Friday, February 3, 2012

Still waiting

La Barca Grill and Cantina

The last post I wrote about La Barca Grill and Cantina was a year ago this month. In that post, construction on the new restaurant had been in progress for a few months, and rumor had it that the new restaurant would be opening in May of that year.

I took this picture last month, in anticipation of the latest rumor of a January opening. I'd driven by several times, and I liked how the late afternoon sun made the building glow. I was going to save this picture to use in combination with some pictures of the inside, when we tried the restaurant out.

But now it's February, and they're still not open. So here's the outside, pretty much finished. Maybe this month I can take you to dinner there.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

One lonely glass


I find it kind of sad when someone orders a water and another drink and leaves the water undrunk...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Frosted lines


In the right light, anything can take on an interesting new look.