Saturday, March 31, 2012

It's a guy thing

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I've started noticing all the barber shops I never noticed before. One of the things they all seem to have in common is that they are basic (oh yeah, and they all have the striped barber poles). They all seem to say:  Barber shop, stop in, get a frills. For guys, it's just a hair cut.

The place I get my hair cut is a salon with a beauty supply attached. You can get a massage, facial, a variety of relaxing treatments, and your nails done. In addition, there is usually some kind of refreshment. I look forward to getting my hair done, it's relaxing and the atmosphere is artsy and fun. I've come to the conclusion that—in general—guys must not feel the same way about getting a cut.

See my last Barber Shop post from earlier this month.

Friday, March 30, 2012

After the lights go out

Pets and Grooming parrot

After the lights go out at the Pets and Grooming pet store, do the animals come out to play like the toys in Toy Story?

Pets and Grooming fish tanksThis parrot, with his feathers all ruffled out for warmth, was wary, waiting for me to leave him to his nap.

In the back, the fish seemed oblivious to the perpetual light on their tanks.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Closing time

Baskin Robbins

What does the local strip mall look like at closing time?

At Baskin Robbins, the tables have been brought in from the front sidewalk, the floor is scrubbed, and the door is just about to close.

Next, the pet store after closing...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Weed's eye view


In my opinion, this is the luckiest weed in the world. It sits up here on this magnificent hill in Whittier, staring out into the basin that so many of us call home. On my hike this morning, I kept having to stop. Partly to catch my breath, but mostly, to turn around and look at the exquisite view. To see more of what I saw, click here

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The best buns...

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Tonight I felt like a burger, so we tried a new hamburger place on 2nd Street called L.A. Buns. We walked through the door and Mike welcomed us like we were old friends.

IMG_2822IMG_2824 as Smart Object-1The menu is small, so ordering was easy. I had the LAX burger—I have to say it was a great burger. Everything is fresh. They even grind their own meat, according to Josh (cook and co-owner).

One of the differences you'll notice right away is that the buns are different. They use French brioche. There is something about the texture that was kind of just gotta try it! It was a treat to find a unique new eatery so close to home. Now we can tell people that Downey has the best buns in LA!

Monday, March 26, 2012

The advantages of looking down

Puddle reflection

It can pay off to look down while you walk.

It can keep your feet dry.

And now and then, it can reflect back your surroundings and make you see them from a whole new perspective.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Famous hamburgers


A couple girls from work and I went out to BJ's Restaurant the other night and were all so excited with what we got that all of our camera phones were whipped out and flashing like it was the paparazzi.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Citizen soldiers


Walking the base...

This weekend I am out of Downey spending a little time with my daughter. She is in the Army National Guard, visiting Vandenberg Airforce Base.

Vandenberg is only a couple of hours north of Downey up the coast. While I was wandering around the base, I noticed a monument to the Korean war veterans in 1950, thanking the citizen soldiers of the 40th infantry division for their great determination, courage, and honor. It got our attention because the 40th is the same division out of Los Alamitos that my daughter is attached to for her service. It is a small world.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Home is where your dog is...


Yesterday, I was sitting at Pam and Joan's kitchen table editing pictures and I heard a whine somewhere behind me. I turned and saw Ivan, their Siberian Husky, sitting and staring at the back door. A few minutes later, I heard the garage door open and he ran out to greet whoever had come home. I love dogs!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Celebrating our cultural landmarks

Taco Bell 50th Anniversary Russ Jones

Yesterday, Taco Bell celebrated its 50th anniversary. They celebrated at the corporate headquarters with some 800 people, including some of founder Glen Bell's family members. They served classic Taco Bell menu items and gave away retro T-shirts.

Taco Bell 50th Anniversary with Downey ConservancyMeanwhile, here in Downey, the Downey Conservancy's celebration was decidedly smaller. But while the corporate group might have had food and T-shirts, we have the original Taco Bell building (see yesterday's post). And joining us were Russ (above) and Mary Jones, two of Bell's first employees. Russ regaled the group with stories about Bell and how he eventually helped the Joneses start their own taco restaurant chain.

The Downey Conservancy (right, with Russ and Mary Jones) is dedicated to raising awareness of Downey's cultural landmarks, such as the original Taco Bell building.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Taco Bell—now and then

Original Taco Bell Downey

Fifty years ago today in Downey, Glen Bell opened the first Taco Bell restaurant. By the time he sold the chain to PepsiCo in 1978, there were 868 restaurants.

Bell was considered one of the pioneers of fast food restaurants. But instead of offering the typical hamburgers, fries, and milk shakes, he had a hunch that Mexican food would be a hit. The problem was the soft shell, which took too long to prepare. Bell figured out how to create preformed fried shells.

Today, there is a Taco Bell located across the street, with a modern facade and a drive-through lane. The original building is home to Seafood and Tacos Raul, which was doing a very brisk business when I stopped by there tonight.

Tomorrow, I'll show you how this 50th anniversary was celebrated.

Branching out


Another walk along the Rio Hondo riverbed. This time we are at Treasure Island Park. Somehow the shrub planted along the fence managed to actually grow through one of the support pieces of the metal fence.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Blockbuster no more

Closed Blockbuster Video store

Our local Blockbuster Video rental store closed its doors a few weeks ago. The big yellow letters and the torn movie ticket logo—for a long time, Blockbuster meant something fun and cheap to do on a Friday night. You'd stop by to pick up one movie, and come home with three or four.

Then that red envelope started creeping in. You didn't have to stop at Blockbuster any more—Netflix delivers to your door. And with their Instant Queue, you don't even need that envelope.

What about you? Do you still have a local video rental store?

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Downey carnival cars

It's been a rough weekend for the carnival at Downey High School. It rained most of yesterday. Today the sun was out (and the sky was wonderfully blue!) but the wind was strong and cold.

Downey carnival slideSo it wasn't very crowded, but there were still plenty of little kids enjoying the rides. Whether it's just the illusion of speed in the little cars, or the real speed of the super slide, kids love the carnival rides! And sometimes, so do the parents.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


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I was just wishing for summer to come and then we had a rainy Saturday. It was kind of nice to have a reason to stay inside and just hang out. I spent some time watching the drops fall on the ground just outside my window. It didn't take long for bigger puddles to form. And the shapes the falling rain made in the puddle were almost hypnotic to watch. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Seen in a new light

My wolf-dog

The bike path along the Rio Hondo riverbed is a great place to take your dog for a walk, especially early on a Saturday morning. I guess everyone else was sleeping in, because we had the path almost entirely to ourselves.

The early morning shadows gave me a new perspective on my Siberian Husky. He often seems more closely related to his wolf ancestors than he does to your everyday domesticated canine—especially from this perspective.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

No matter when you're hungry...


Tacos Al Gavilan is open "until the last customer leaves." At 4 in the morning, people are still hanging out there getting some of their delicious tacos. This city never really sleeps, with the neon lights everywhere and cars driving all hours of the night getting home from or going to work. It is a quiet city—but she is still awake.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Should I be worried?


Gas prices are pretty crazy right now in Downey. How do they compare to the rest of the world? What are the gas prices where you call your home? They seem to skyrocket up and then come creeping slowly down a cent at at time.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bloomin' yellow

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I like it when I come across beauty in an unexpected place.

This is along the Rio Hondo riverbed. It's an area where there is a double fence—one behind the home that backs up to the riverbed and the chain link that for some reason I'm assuming the city felt necessary to maintain. Yet, it appears nothing will stop this yellow bush from blooming.
Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting - a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dressed for success

Columbia Memorial Space Center Suited for Space exhibit helmet and boots

When I stopped at the Columbia Memorial Space Center yesterday to see the moon bounce, I finally got the chance to check out the "Suited for Space" exhibit, which has been open to the public at the space center since February 2.

Columbia Memorial Space Center Suited for Space exhibit spacesuitAccording to the Downey Patriot article, "the Suited for Space exhibit, set up on the space center’s second floor, features a collection of large information-rich images of the various spacesuits worn over the years by NASA’s spacefarers from the Mercury program to Apollo and Skylab, x-rays showing their seldom seen interior construction, spacesuit-associated objects and artifacts, a photo-op allowing one to take a photograph of oneself wearing an Apollo spacesuit, as well as walk in Buzz Aldrin’s footsteps on moon soil."

"It's a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one's safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract."
~Alan Shepherd

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Moon bounce

Columbia Memorial Space Museum bounce inside

The term "moon bounce" takes on new meaning when the inflatable structure resembles the space shuttle Enterprise, complete with orbiter, external tank, solid rocket boosters, and main engine nozzles in the rear.

Columbia Memorial Space Museum bounce outsideThe Columbia Memorial Space Center brings out this moon bounce on weekends and family days. Today, there were about a dozen kids having a great time bouncing around the "controls" in the main cabin. There's only one requirement to be an astronaut in this shuttle: take off your shoes before entering.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Early bird

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Saturday morning was beautiful and the time for an early morning walk along the riverbed. On the way back, we spotted this bird weaving its way through the tall grasses on the east side of the Rio Hondo River. It believe it is a crane.

They are such interesting-looking birds, awkward looking, but graceful in movement. According to a little research on Wikipedia, cranes nest in wetlands and move into grasslands to feed. And this kind of looks like grasslands....I have to admit it is fun to still experience little surprises of nature in the middle of suburbia.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Summer's in the air!

Pier One chairs

Summer might not be on the calendar (in fact, it's not even spring yet), but today in Downey, summer was definitely in the air.

It started this morning when I took the dog for a walk. From the moment I stepped outside, I wanted to throw out my arms and bask in the warmth of the sun and the day. I wanted to keep walking forever in the fresh air, under the crystal blue sky. (Alas, I had to head off to work.)

And then shopping at Downey Landing tonight reinforced the feeling. Old Navy was selling shorts and tank tops. And the display at the Pier One store, with its patio chairs and bright colors and cushy pillows, made me want to find a nice corner of the yard to curl up and relax in.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


iPhone Pix 053

Growing up in Downey, Balboa Island was only about 45 minutes away and a whole day of family fun... The Balboa Bars, the ocean, the long walks around the island. Grown up, I get to take people there that have lived here their whole life and have never even heard of this magical place.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Paramount Auto Center

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There is a place on Paramount right by the railroad tracks that always catches my eye. It doesn't seem like it would belong in Downey, a mix of cookie cutter houses, McMansions, and businesses from the 50s. But sometimes, this kind of building pops up out of the norm and surprises me. Another example would be the "new" bus station and the Carl's Jr. on Firestone near where the All American Home Center used to be. They are fun little exceptions to our town.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Barber shop

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IMG_2707 as Smart Object-1Every day as I drive to work, I pass these small businesses along Paramount Blvd. This one in particular, an old-style barber shop, has caught my attention for a few weeks now. It certainly has the traditional barber shop look—including the striped barber's pole (a tradition dating back to medieval times).

Monday, March 5, 2012

Double vision

Las Flores Escrow sign and shadow

We've shown this building before (see California adobe). This time, what caught my attention one recent sunny morning was the crisp shadow of the name against the light stucco walls.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A day at the beach

Seal Beach surfer

One of the great things about Downey's location is that we can reach the beach in less than half an hour, so this morning, my daughter and I headed off to Seal Beach.

Seal Beach kidsKids of all ages were enjoying our 80-degree hot spell. The surfers and the kids enjoyed the water. Others sunbathed on the warm sand or relaxed in the shade of their umbrellas.

Seal Beach crowd

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Closer than you think

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One of the nice things about living in Downey is that you are close to so many other cities. Over the last few years, I have enjoyed getting familiar with downtown Los Angeles (which is only about 13 miles west of Downey on surface streets). I have also come to realize, since we started blogging every day, that winter is a great time to take pictures in Southern California. The sky is generally more blue and we often get puffy clouds to show up!

IMG_0890 as Smart Object-1Here is the LA skyline on a winter day. One of my favorite haunts in LA is Olvera Street. It is where Los Angeles began. And, there is a significant Hispanic culture still vibrant there. The old marketplace is filled with booths selling musical instruments, clothing, toys, food...and rosaries. It is fun to walk around and get a sense of our local history, close to home.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Practice makes perfect

Triple Play batting cages - boy battingTriple Play batting cages - girl battingTriple Play batting cages - girl pitching

Triple Play batting cages - baseballTriple Play Batting Cages, Downey's "first and only indoor batting cage facility," opened a few weeks ago just south of Independence Park.

This Friday night, all the cages were filled with kids working on their skills and dreaming of the big leagues.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Population growth

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Dear sign makers of Downey,
Please update our signs, we have a new resident in town.

Thank you,