Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Motown from the past


I grew up listening to Motown music so tonight's concert by Stone Soul was a blast from the past. Matt Gray, the lead vocal, had the sounds of the various artists down very well so that you could close your eyes and feel you were back at a 70s concert listening to some of the greats. You can see their website here.

DSCN1222This was the largest crowd of dancers I have seen at this summer's concerts. They weren't moving quite as quickly as I remember the dancers of my youth, but they were having as much fun.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Rives Mansion redux

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Every day when I go to work, I drive past the Rives Mansion. I am really excited that there will soon be a new restaurant and wine garden in our neighborhood in such a potentially beautiful and historical location. I watch the progress being made and can't wait to see what it will look like when they are done.

IMG_8569 as Smart Object-1A few days ago I noticed a red spot on the mermaid statue we've posted about before. Look at the close-up to see the nice baseball cap the mermaid is now sporting. Fun touch!

Monday, July 29, 2013

On the fence

Golden Park baseball

Golden Park is so far south in Downey that most people aren't even aware that it is still in Downey. Which is too bad, because it's a large and beautiful park with lots of room for all kinds of recreation. Yesterday, the basketball courts and baseball field were all in use, as well as a well-appointed children's play area.

Golden Park slideSo whether you want to play or watch, or literally sit "on the fence," check out Golden Park.

Golden Park basketball

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The turtle park

Brookshire Children's Park turtle

Continuing my review of the Downey parks...Brookshire Children's Park is a tiny little park in the south of Downey. Dedicated in 1971, it provides a small play area in a very densely populated part of Downey.

The most noticeable thing about this park is the giant turtle that challenges kids to climb on top. In fact, it's pretty unusual to pass by here, as I did today, and not see kids climbing the turtle.

The park is so small and out of my ordinary path that I forgot that Allison has actually posted about this turtle before. Click here for her childhood memories of this park.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

How does your garden grow?

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I love this garden! Clearly the gardener has a sense of humor along with quite a collection of quirky items....all artfully placed!

"Grow a garden. When there's a food shortage in the future, you'll need it. And when people try to steal your food and you shoot them, you'll also need a good place to hide the bodies."
~ Jared Kinz, This Book Has No Title

Friday, July 26, 2013

Some pictures are worth less than a thousand words


Since the weather has been so off lately, I was worried I wouldn't get a good picture of the ocean. I was right. You could barely tell the difference between the steel-gray sky and the icy gray ocean. The horizon was no help either. It was just a gray blur in between. So I went to the harbor and took a picture of a boat instead.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Out of the ordinary


There is a neighborhood just west of Calvary Chapel, Downey, that is made up of some very well-kept houses and some not so well-kept. I was riding through the neighborhood and noticed this house. The bars on the windows certainly drew my attention, but what made me take this picture was the four satellite dishes on the roof. I thought, "Why would someone need four dishes? Even if they had four TVs. Maybe it's a safe house for the CIA?" Anyway, I thought it was interesting.

Does your imagination run wild when you see something out of the ordinary?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Latin dance beat


Another Summer Concert Series night at the park for us. This week we listened to Sonoclip, a Latin American band. From their website, "Sonoclip is a band formed by six professional musicians from Venezuela, who combine the genre with its roots [in] POP [and] Latin-American rhythms, giving the result of a dance beat, contagious and easy to digest for audiences of all ages." You can view their website here.

DSCN1202The congas certainly enhance the dance beat.


These members of the audience certainly agree that the band creates a dance beat.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Downtown Downey night


Last night we decided to go out for dinner. We ended up at Ichiban Sushi. It was yummy! My favorite was the soft shell crab, called the spyder.

20130722_183950While we were eating, my daughter noticed that Despicable Me II was playing at the Krikorian. We finished up, walked over to the theater, and bought our tickets. We had a great evening.

It wasn't until later that I realized we didn't go out of town. In fact, we spent the entire evening in downtown Downey.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Let's make a deal

Garage sliding doors

Sliding doors are common for closets. Or for barns. They are much less common for garages. These three doors on a 1920s-era Downey garage remind me of the old game show "Let's Make a Deal."

Which door do you choose?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

July gloom?

Whittier Hills

The weather in Downey is being so weird lately. These are the Whittier Hills (just north of Downey) and at 10:00 am, it's humid and muggy and overcast. Yesterday it even rained! What's going on with this summer?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Here comes the sun

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One of the last places we stayed was just outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Our room had a balcony and this was our early morning view. I sat outside drinking my coffee waiting for the sun to rise. It was a peaceful, lovely moment.

IMG_8532 as Smart Object-1"A sunrise is God's way of saying, 'Lets start again.'"
~ Todd Stocker, Refined: Turning pain into purpose

Friday, July 19, 2013

Home sweet home

Front porch

After two and a half weeks, it's good to be home in Downey again. But when I looked through my backlog of Downey Daily pictures, I came across this one that reminds me of the farm and small-town houses that I saw constantly in the Midwest. Much of Downey was built in the post-WWII era. This house, with its appealing and open front porch, was built in 1921, and would fit in perfectly in any small-town neighborhood in the Midwest.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A night at the Bowl


Tuesday night, my wife and I journeyed with fifty other Downey residents in a chartered bus to the Hollywood Bowl. The world-famous Hollywood Bowl is just 20 miles northeast of Downey and when you go by bus, even the LA traffic is easy. The city sells the tickets at $12 each, which included the bus ride, parking in the upper parking lot, and the concert seats. We checked it out and found that the seats themselves are $39 if bought from the Hollywood Bowl. They still have seats for future concerts if you are interested.

Before the concert begins, while the orchestra is warming up, there is still enough light to get a close-up of the iconic Bowl. I remember my first concert at the Bowl when we saw Credence Clearwater Revival. The crescent-shaped front section where patrons dine at their own tables was a water fountain back then. One of the band members jumped in after a set to cool off on that hot July summer night.

P1020852If you had been there, you would have enjoyed the superb performance of Johannes Moser playing Edgar's Cello Concerto. The guest conductor was Bramwell Tovey.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

DSB = Journey


Tonight my wife and I went to this week's Concerts in the Park concert, which featured DSB Band. They have been identified as "America's favorite tribute to Journey." You can read about them here. This is Scotty Kormos setting the beat for the band. The drummer is usually in the back, heard but not seen, so I thought I would put his picture on top of my post. By the way, he plays bare foot.

P1020897Lead singer Juan Del Castollo called for the crowd to come on up to the stage and move to the rhythm of their music They responded.

P1020894One feature of each concert is the opportunity for attendees to support the Downey Rose Float Association by purchasing their goods for sale. The association is responsible for building our entry into the Rose Parade each year. Check out their website here and then come next week to support them. You may even wind up volunteering to help build the float later this year.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Yellowstone colors

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America's first national park, Yellowstone is pretty uniquely amazing. I did not realize it contains approximately one-half of the world's hydrothermal features. There are over 10,000 of these features, including over 300 geysers in the park. My favorites, however, were the hot springs because they offer such a dramatic range of colors.

IMG_8366 as Smart Object-1What is a hot spring?

According to the National Park Service website:  superheated water cools as it reaches the surface, sinks, and is replaced by hotter water from below. This circulation, called convection, prevents water from reaching the temperature needed to set off an eruption. So you end up with these colorful pools of extremely hot water (most close to 199 degrees).

The picture above is the Grand Prismatic Spring. It is one of the most brilliantly colored and the largest spring, stretching 200 feet across.  It is so big, you really don't see the spring itself except from the sides. The pool in the last picture is named Morning Glory. While it is much smaller, it allows you to get closer to see the entire pool from above.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Making a comeback

Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center gray wolf

Tomorrow we will enter Yellowstone National Park. It's unlikely we'll see any grizzly bears or wolves in the park. And even if we do, they'll probably (hopefully!?) be too far away anyway. So tonight we visited the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center grizzly bearThe grizzly bears at the center are all unable to live in the wild for different reasons (they've been orphaned or are a danger to humans). At the center, they get a second chance, and help with the education of visitors. Grizzly bears are no longer listed as an endangered species, but they are still considered to be threatened.

We learned about what to do if faced with a grizzly. (If they attack defensively, drop and play dead. If they attack aggressively, fight for your life.) And we learned about their keen sense of smell, and watched them find food that had been hidden in their enclosure.

But my favorite animals at the center are the two packs of gray wolves (above and below). There is something beautiful about a wolf. These wolves are all captive-born. Gray wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995, and the population has recovered to the point that the wolf is no longer on the endangered species list.

Listening to our guide explain their behaviors, I gained new understanding of my very wolf-like Husky back home. For example, face-licking is a sign of submission to the leader of the pack.

Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center gray wolf

"The wolf is neither man's competitor nor his enemy. He is a fellow creature with whom the earth must be shared."
~L. David Mech

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Working together for art

Kalispell mural

Tonight, I'm staying in the historic downtown section of Kalispell, Montana. Downtown is very quaint, and a bit quirky, too.

There were several long murals. This mural was created by Pam Davis and her 5th grade classroom at Edgerton School. The students created poetry and artwork to honor their partner's lives. Another mural was created by the local juniors and seniors from Laser High School.

The murals are presented through the efforts of the Mural-Poetry project, a non-profit organization that works to "broaden awareness of the arts by preserving the value of history through the voices of our youth and the experiences of our elders. This project strives to unite the basic elements of our communities—businesses, schools and service organizations—to a common ground, providing a continual means of celebrating diversity, creativity and the strength of our cultural heritage."

Wouldn't this be a great project for our Stay Gallery along with our local schools and downtown businesses?

The quirkiness shows up at various local businesses:
Kalispell bearsKalispell climbers

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Abandoned places

North Dakota is beautiful. As we continue to drive both highways and the scenic byways, it does not disappoint. It is so green and fertile this time of the year.

Something that surprised me was the number of homes and structures (barns and such) we have seen that have just been abandoned–left to rot where they stand. It makes me so curious. What happened?

IMG_7388 as Smart Object-1This church has obviously not been used in some time, yet the lawn around it was kept mowed and behind it, there were houses that were being lived in.

This small house was in front of a "neighborhood" of houses where there were people still living, but clearly you can see this is empty and rotting. The yard behind the vacant house was being "tended" by  two beautiful horses who were happily grazing there.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Flower house


The house is up in bloom! No matter what season we're in, I love that Downey is always full of flowers.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Universal truths


While walking with my wife around Downey Landing this evening, I spotted this display of items for sale outside a store on the sidewalk. I thought, what a clever marketing idea. Even if people aren't coming to Downey Landing to visit this store, they will see some of the merchandise, stop, and look around.

DSCN0515[1]But then I remembered seeing a store on our recent trip to France that did the same thing. I searched my SD card and pulled up this shot. Some ideas are universal because in some respects we humans are pretty much alike.

DSCN1194[1]The other thing that is universal is that we lovers enjoy holding hands and taking a walk during sunset.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

80s music


Last week I featured the first of eight summer concerts in the park here in Downey. Tonight I continue this series. The beginning of every concert begins with everyone reciting the flag salute. Can you still say the whole thing? "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America..."

DSCN1175[1]We are always greeted by the mayor.

DSCN1177[1]And then the concerts begins. Tonight's concert featured "The Neon Nation," an 80s band. I'm sorry but I stopped listening to popular music after the 70s so I didn't know any of their songs and I am not qualified to give a review of their talent. I thought their outfits were great though. You can check out their website here.DSCN1180[1]

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Let the sun shine

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Today we drove north from Indiana and followed along the coast of Lake Michigan. At 307 miles long, it took most of the day to drive. We were on the Mackinaw Trail, heading from Kalkaska to Petoskey (close to Elmira) when we came across this sign on the side of the road.

I did not realize until I looked at a map that the same latitude connects Bordeaux (France), Krasnodar (Russia), the deserts of Mongolia, the island of Japan, and South Dakota just to name a few. Sharing the same latitude means that these very different places will have the sun shine down on them at exactly the same angle - sharing exactly the same length of daylight. I think that's kind of cool. It makes the earth seem a little smaller, somewhat more connected.

"Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, July 8, 2013

Our third coast

Silver Beach, Lake Michigan

Our country has two coasts, right? There's the Pacific and the Atlantic. So what is this huge body of water that is so big it gives the impression of being an ocean?

This is Silver Beach on Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes. The Great Lakes form the largest group of freshwater lakes on earth, containing 21% of the world's surface fresh water. The lakes are sometimes referred to as the North Coast or "Third Coast." Traversing the shoreline of each of the lakes covers about 10,500 miles (17,000 km), roughly the distance of almost half the earth's equator. (Wikipedia)

The afternoon we enjoyed here was a reminder that you don't have to live on a "coast" to be able to enjoy the beach. In fact, the water here was warmer than our southern California ocean—and had the advantage of not being salty.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

University of Notre Dame du Lac

Notre Dame Touchdown Jesus

I didn't realize when we headed for South Bend, Indiana, that we were heading to the home of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame University.

This building is the library—9 floors of books. One of our hosts, a history major, studied here in his college days, and is still impressed, years later, by the huge number of books that were available in Latin.

The front of the library is adorned with the Word of Life mural designed by artist Millard Sheets. This mural is popularly known as "Touchdown Jesus" because it is visible from the football stadium and gives the impression that Jesus' arms are signaling a touchdown.

Notre Dame Gold domeNotre Dame Main Building

The campus is beautiful—almost enough to make me want to go back to college. (Even the new buildings maintain the same timeless character and ambiance.) The Main Building (the administration building) is topped with a gold dome and a statue of the Virgin Mary.

And everywhere, there are bikes.

Notre Dame bike