March 8, 2017
Tesloop - Palm Springs to Las Vegas
June 3, 2016
Santa Monica Photos
Things seen on a Sunday near the Santa Monica downtown Expo Line stop.
See how nicely they do the trees, with a big expanse of wood with lots of spaces to allow rain (as if it ever rained!) to get to the soil. Also expensive, I'm sure. But how much does it cost to replace dead trees?
The street intersection at the Expo Line goes all four ways whenever it goes into Walk mode and so, knowing how L.A. drivers are, no expense was spared in slapping paint all over the place. Also, there's a cop on duty.
This was a bit of a challenge for me. Even when you're walking on this flat surface, your brain tells you its wavy. Easiest solution was to look away.
Simple and durable directions. Now, try to find that in the press of a crowd.
I'd like to see their calculations on the efficiency of putting solar panels in a fixed vertical array like this. Their western wall, where these are mounted, is a lot bigger than their roof.
Please excuse my stupid finger in the view. I want you to notice how they handle their public education campaign.
April 4, 2016
How Much Would You Pay For A Randomizer?
The TSA bought an app that randomizes a simple binary choice: left or right. You could do it with a magic 8 ball, but that's not expensive enough. TSA paid IBM $1.4 million for this randomizer.
March 7, 2016
The I-10 Express Lanes
Back in January I had my first opportunity to use the express lanes on I-10 heading into Los Angeles and, boy, I was impressed! The regular lanes were a parking lot while I passed them doing 80 MPH. Last weekend I used them again and discovered congestion pricing. The first time I drove them, it cost me $2.60. This past weekend it was only $1.10! Cheaper than a bus ride! You have to have Fastrak, but getting set up with a Fastrak device costs you nothing at all. Sign up online, linking it to a credit card, and everything gets mailed to you. Stick it on your windshield and you don't have to think about it again, unless you have more passengers. You can set it to say you're solo, have two in the car, or more than two. Pricing may vary. I got it initially for the bridge tolls in the Bay Area. There is no way to pay your toll in person on the Golden Gate anymore. It's either Fastrak or go online afterwards and pay it.
This video picks up where I'm transferring from southbound 605 to westbound 10 which is where the express lanes begin. If they can ever extend them further east, that will be wonderful! The predictable permanent backup on I-10 begins east of the 605.
The thing to note in this video is that the regular lanes of I-10 on my right are mostly a parking lot, while I'm staying in the 70-80 MPH range. This is one of the very few places where I think the leftmost lane is where you should do most of your driving, while passing on the right. This gives you a buffer of one lane most of the time between you and the parked cars. One stupid driver opening his door, unaware of the faster traffic immediately to his left, and everything goes to hell.
As it approaches downtown there is a split between I-10 and 101. I've only followed the 101 branch. It crosses the L.A. River and puts you on Alameda Street right at Union Station. There's an entrance right there to get you back on the 101. But in this video I exited the express lane just before the bridge over the river. Would've been faster to stay in the express lane.
An interesting thing about the congestion pricing is that if the average speed in the express lanes drops below 45 MPH, Fastrak customers will no longer be permitted to enter, as the lanes will be reserved for those vehicles qualifying for HOV status.
January 1, 2016
At last week's Economic Development meeting, Councilmember Joe McKee shared some of the information he brought back from his official visit to Dalian, China.
First, there is the pamphlet about DHS prepared by Councilmember Russell Betts and his wife. For anyone who is worried, Mr. McKee said one of the first things they did in China was to ask one of their hosts to take a look at it to assure it didn't say anything we didn't mean to convey.
The Chinese returned the favor with a book illustrating many of the attractions in the area.
Jinzhou New District is home to a cluster of pearls: the romantic Jinshitan, the fashionable camp, the lofty Dahei Mountain. the thousand-year-old Jinzhou city... If you come here, you will be enchanted by her glamour, considering its being endowed with the coastlines of the Yellow Sea and the Bohai Sea, with the ancient Jinzhou city and the fast emerging New District, with the natural scenery and cultural landscape. which make New District a colorful scenic tourist resort with a blend of history and modernism.
Jinzhou New District of Dalian is constituted by the original Jinzhou District, the Development Area of Dalian, the National Tourist Resort -Jinshitan, and Dalian Export Processing Zone. She is favored by nature with abundant tourist resources, embodied by several "GuoZiHaos" (places of interest recognized by the nation): the National Tourist Resort, the AAAA Class Scenic Spot, the National Scenic Attraction, the National Forest Park, the National Natural Reserve, etc.
Jinzhou New District borders on the Yellow Sea and the Bohai Sea, rich in mountain and sea, sand and stone. She boasts several types of landscape as follows. Her natural scenery includes the coastline, stretching for over 322 kilometers, the coastal Karst landform of prehistoric Sinian and Cambrian, the National Scenic Attraction, the Jinshtan and the Dahei Mountain known as the First Mountain of South Liaoning province; her cultural landscape covers the historic Bei Shacheng city, the site of battle between Japan and Russia in Nanshun Mountain, and the former residence of Guan Xiangying, a respectable revolutionary Martyr; besides, she also has various plant bases, such as the nationwide largest base of large cherry and yellow peach, the bases of orchid, chrysanthemum, and lily, and the Ziyun Huaxi lavender ﬁeld covering a thousand mu of land [about 165 acres], which presents a purple sea of ﬂowers and becomes a landmark of the romantic and modem metropolis-Dalian. Also, you can enjoy pastoral scenery here, as described in the verses from Tao Yuanming, a renowned ancient poet, that "Picking chrysanthemums Dongli, I unexpectedly see Nanshan." The tourist resources here range from ancient ones to those of modem times. The ancient ones are amazing and beautiful, like the unique costal national geopark; the historic ones are eternal and profound, like the historic and cultural sites that have lasted across time and space; the modem ones are fashionable and energetic, like the Discovery Kingdom, the Tangfeng Spring, the RV camping encampment, as well as other leisure activities, for instance, playing golf, yachting, hunting, equestrian sports, etc.
Jinzhou New District is well equipped with tourism facilities, and now, she prides herself on five national A-class tourist resorts, six national agri-tourism sites, four streets for characteristic tour provincially, four tourism-oriented countries, nineteen households for star-rated agritainment. twenty-one star-rated hotels prepared for tourism, as well as twelve travel agencies.
The tourism activities in Jinzhou New District never cease to be held for all year round. The Temple Fair of the Dahei Mountain, Dalian International Cherry Festival, Dalian International Beach-culture Festival, Dalian International Winter Swimming Festival, together with other wonderful branded festivals and tourism activities, enjoy a high reputation home and abroad.
Jinzhou New District is a glamorous and brilliant place. And your coming will be greeted with a heartedly welcome from the hospitable people here.
Golden Pebble Tang Dynasty International Hot Spring Resort-one thousand year dream back to Tang Dynasty, oriental culture health spring.
"In early spring, princess Yang baths in the huaqing pool' which warmed and smoothed the creamy-tinted crystal of her skin." it comes from Tang Dynasty poet Bai Juyi's "A song of unending sorrow", gives the hot spring culture connotation, Golden Pebble Tang Dynasty International Hot Spring Resort is surrounded by mountain and near the sea, moving Huaqing Hot Spring to the picturesque Jinshitan, and hot spring culture deduces to perfection. Everywhere embodies Tang Dynasty's style of 56 Chinese courtyards, spa resort collects from the stone, bamboo, pine gardens and other landscape, Huaqing palace, Princess pool, Rose pool, etc. 76 hot springs bubble pool, it becomes an independent spa resort, unique style, as the advertisement says, "one thousand year dream back to Tang Dynasty, oriental culture health spring."
UPDATE: Councilmember Betts shares this:
6:55 PM (28 minutes ago)
to me, Joe
That probably is the stupidest thing I've seen you write Ron.
"At last week's Economic Development meeting, Councilmember Joe McKee shared some of the information he brought back from his official visit to Dalian, China.
First, there is the pamphlet about DHS prepared by Councilmember Russell Betts and his wife. For anyone who is worried, Mr. McKee said one of the first things they did in China was to ask one of their hosts to take a look at it to assure it didn't say anything we didn't mean to convey."
I have asked him to clarify what part of it is stupid:
Which part? It's all accurate.
Mr. Betts clarified:
7:29 PM (11 minutes ago)
Don't waste my time
He was the one who wasted his time by emailing me, and he probably could have clarified his comment using just as many syllables as "Don't waste my time."
What's the problem? Has he gotten tired of bullying everybody else in town?
December 26, 2015
NYC Cyclist Finds Route 66 "Not very scenic"
Jeffrey Tanenhaus grabbed a Citi Bike (a bike sharing bike) in New York City this past August and headed west. He has just now reached California. Yes, obviously he should have started sooner, but he's here and hanging out in Joshua Tree National Park now...or at least that's what the article says. He remarks on the sparsity of drug stores and such in the southwest, and he's not carrying any camping gear, so I don't know how he will make it in the park. He has been depending on the kindness of strangers for places to sleep, so maybe he can become the darling of Jumbo Rocks campground, or something like that.
He has done a bulk of the ride along historic Route 66, at times pedaling out on the shoulder.
“Out here in the West, sometimes there is no other road,” he said. “It’s not very scenic, but that’s where the roads are.”
One article dated in October said Los Angeles is his goal but he "may end up in San Diego instead of Los Angeles, as he originally planned, because of weather concerns." I wonder what sort of major weather difference he thought he could detect four months in advance.
In effect he bought the bike for $1,200 by not returning it within the time limit. For $1,200 he could have gotten an even better bike. He carried his gear in a trailer.
October 23, 2015
Well, This Explains That
The extension of the Gold Line along the 210. I first noticed this bridge sometime last year, I think. I thought it strange that I couldn't recall noticing the distinctive design, nor could I recall a lot of construction in that area. I thought maybe I had just been paying too damn much attention to traffic. But, now I learn that it is a new bridge and it's for the Gold Line extension.
September 22, 2015
Old Cazadero Road
Old Cazadero Road is the 5½ mile road from Guerneville up to the Wildwood Retreat Center. A look at the map suggested this road might be a good opportunity for a video, and I was right.
Three Bay Area Bridges
September 13, 2015
"How can I go to Burning Man?"
Well, here's one way, starting at Barstow. (Hang in there, it gets pretty on the playa.)
August 17, 2015
Corona to Palm Springs
While driving along CA-91 on one of the hottest days this summer my Ford Ranger seemed to lose its air conditioning. I didn't notice the temperature gauge climbing severely. What had happened was a small plastic part in the heater core had failed (after only 215,000 miles!). I drove probably another ten miles and didn't realize the trouble I was in until I pulled off for gas. When I stopped, steam was pouring out from under the hood. I thought I had blown the water pump, since that is also still original equipment, but it wasn't that. AAA covered my tow back to my mechanic in Palm Springs, about 85 miles one way.
And I took what I hope is a rare opportunity to video the route from a bit higher than I usually sit. I just left my dashcam turned on. Most of this video is at 12X speed. The parts that are not at that speed are faster. So it's only 5½ minutes long.
Music: "Break and Enter" by Prodigy
The highways are CA-91, CA-60/I-215, CA-60, I-10, CA-111.
August 6, 2015
L.A. Times On The El Morocco
They highlight the Inn & Spa with a couple of big photos and a short text summary. It's listed first in their article on Seven chill California pools where you can escape the loud and the crowd. "Summer rates start at $119 a night." I never knew. That's a price that ought to be higher.
The article also lists Las Fuentes Inn and Gardens in Palm Springs and five other resorts in California.
August 4, 2015
The Amenities At Burning Man
This comes from this AirBnB listing. $850/night. You are still responsible for your own $390 ticket. The ad neglects to specifically mention that you need to bring all your own food and water as well. And do the prep, I imagine. The listing doesn't mention collective cooking or meals. I think they could have easily listed "Heating." It'll get pretty warm in that bus by midday.
Also notice that if the customer is not in a placed theme camp, the bus will be located at "the most available spot on the first morning of the festival." And exactly where that spot is, you don't know, so all you have to do upon arriving is walk every street in the city until you find it.
July 21, 2015
Pinto Basin Road Closed
The paved road, Pinto Basin Road, that goes from Joshua Tree's southern (I-10) entrance up to the higher, Mojave areas of the national park is closed. Also, there is a bee alert for the cholla cactus garden. They are out there sucking up water while they can.
As for I-10 itself, CalTrans is doing its best to confuse me. On their front page they say I-10 is closed in both directions and refer the reader to their Twitter feed for frequent updates. There the latest update is 5 hours old and says the highway is closed in both directions. But if I go to their QuickMap I see that it says only westbound lanes are closed. But if you click on the traffic cameras along I-10 all you'll see is an abandoned highway in the desert. I hope some film makers can take advantage of this rare opportunity for filming post-apocalypse stories.
July 8, 2015
"Over 60% of the United States is privately owned," explains Hipcamp. Its big idea isn't just to open up camping, it's to reap the benefits that outdoors recreation can bring to private land. "It is essential to the future of our planet that much of this land remains undeveloped to maintain wilderness habitats and corridors that allow plants and animals to thrive and migrate naturally. By connecting landowners who want to keep their land undeveloped with responsible, ecologically minded campers, we can use recreation to fund the conservation of this land."
May 28, 2015
Burbank to Palmdale
It's easy to get from Burbank to Palmdale, unless you are California high speed rail. Here are four flyover videos of the four proposed routes.
May 7, 2015
It must be a trend. We've got two videos shot along the rugged shoreline of Antarctica using drones. And why not? If you're going to the expense and effort to travel there, you are going to want to be able to impress the hell out of those you left back home.
March 13, 2015
Getting To And Hiking The Alexander Zuckermann Bicycle-Pedestrian Path
While I was up in the San Francisco Bay area last weekend, I went over to the east bay and hiked that portion of the new Bay Bridge Trail that is open to the public. Officially it is the Alexander Zuckermann Bicycle-Pedestrian Path. The part everyone is excited about is the path that is constructed along the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge which will eventually allow bicyclists and pedestrians to have direct access to Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island. Currently, public access to the path stops just as it gets to the suspension portion of the bridge just east of the Yerba Buena tunnel.
But you don't get to bike or walk on that new path unless you find one of the trailheads in the real world environments of Emeryville or Oakland...or the bus stop on the Bay Bridge itself. The bus stop has been there all along, I'm sure, primarily to serve Caltrans employees who work on the bridge. Go to ACTransit.org if you want to figure out how to take advantage of the easy way.
The Bay Bridge's own website offers up a nearly useless map. The map has been shrunk so that no street names are readable with no link to a readable version. Your tax dollars at work. TrailLink has a better map, but you have to register to use it, and it only shows one entry point - the one I used. The Oakland Wiki has a similar map and you don't have to register to use it.
The trailhead that I did not go to is in Oakland at 37.82198, -122.301379, AKA the parking lot at Maritime Street and Burma Road.
The trailhead I did go to is in front of the Emeryville IKEA store at 37.829521,-122.292555. The current imagery at that link puts it in shadow, but it's there. The trailhead on the easterly (IKEA) side of Shellmound Street is for pedestrians and bicycles. Over on the westerly side of the street is another access point that joins the bike path that goes along there. They join immediately after the easterly branch crosses beneath the Shellmound/40th Street viaduct.
There are several bus routes that will take you right to the trailhead (or to IKEA, which is its own kind of hike):
- The AC Transit 31 bus from MacArthur BART station
- The AC Transit 57 bus from MacArthur BART
- The AC Transit Transbay line C which also connects to MacArthur
- The AC Transit Transbay line F, also connects to MacArthur
- The AC Transit 26 bus from West Oakland BART station
- The Shellmound/Powell line of the Emery Go-Round which is free, privately owned and connects to MacArthur.
Or, you can do like I did, and just walk the 1.8 miles from MacArthur BART. Head west on 40th Street. As you near the trailhead, 40th will go up on a viaduct that curves to the right and comes down as Shellmound Street. The trailhead is RIGHT THERE to your right. Even the blind can't miss it. If you get to the first driveway for IKEA, then you have gone too far! Turn around! Walk back the way you came a hundred feet or so and wake up and pay attention to the world around you. How in the hell did you miss that?
There is also a crosswalk at that first IKEA driveway which you can use to cross over Shellmound Street to get to the twin trailhead on that side of the street, but why expose yourself to traffic like that? The IKEA, BTW, offers restrooms and water fountains, but comes up pretty short in the hiking supply department. I'm sure you could find a water bottle in there, if you wanted to take the time to look for it. There is a Trader Joe's about half a mile north and you will have passed various retail opportunities on 40th Street.
Once you get to that IKEA trailhead, this video will give you some idea of what you could see along the path:
Here's a link to all my still photos from the hike which was about 10 miles round trip from the MacArthur station. Samples:
Currently the path is open from 7 AM to 6 PM and they say that CHP begins clearing it at 4:30. I was on there after 4:30 and saw no sign of CHP, but a couple of local police (or sheriff's deputies) bicycled up the bridge about then. This photo was taken at about the spot where the path from Oakland joins the path from Emeryville.
This is the last porta-potty before the bridge. I didn't spot anyplace to get potable water anywhere along the trail, so bring all you need.
As far as you can go for now. Access to the islands is supposed to happen this summer.
Old equipment under the old Bay Bridge atop one of the support towers. It looks electrical and I wondered why this equipment needed to be this far out from the shore.
Lots of landscaping along the way before you get to the bridge. Under the biggest snarl of overpasses there is a riparian habitat with all the plants and animals one might expect to find there - except not a lot of water fowl. Of course, buried beneath those highways I don't know how an egret is going to see it, much less get to it.
This seems to be the access to the tunnel out to the toll booths. I did not descend. There were no signs telling me to stay away or inviting me in.
On the viaduct facing east on 40th into Emeryville and Oakland. Pedestrians on one side (north and east), bicycles only on the other side.
March 10, 2015
Is That A Pink Backpack I See?
Why yes, yes it is. Anndee Laskoe hikes and picnics in the Mission Creek Preserve for the benefit of the Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. She forgets to mention it's just west of Desert Hot Springs, but the city is at least mentioned in the title of the video.
February 26, 2015
CV Link Route Identification Workshop #1
Tonight was the first of two community meetings in Desert Hot Springs to discuss the route and other aspects of the proposed CV Link as it may extend to Desert Hot Springs. The second meeting will be Monday, March 2, 6 PM, Carl May Center.
I'll just share the audio with you without comment:
The discussion wandered across many subjects not directly relevant to the CV Link, including access to Joshua Tree National Park. I want to share this map with you to give you an idea of the location of major landmarks north of the city, since these seem to be pretty slippery in the minds of many.
The locations drawn on the map are rough approximations. The blue squiggles from left to right are Big Morongo Canyon, Little Morongo Canyon, Long Canyon. The thin green line represents an approximation of the western boundaries of Joshua Tree National Park. The yellow spot is Black Rock Campground. The pink areas are what are labeled as Lower and Upper Covington on the National Geographic map of Joshua Tree National Park.
But if one is considering access from Desert Hot Springs into the park, one must be aware of the wilderness areas in the park:
The darker areas are designated as wilderness. The red lines are the paved roads. As you can see, the wilderness areas butt up against the entire western boundary of the park. The first break in wilderness as you travel along Dillon away from Desert Hot Springs is at Berdoo Canyon, where you can see they've carved that road out of the wilderness areas. At its narrowest, the Berdoo Canyon gap is more than half a mile wide.
What is wilderness, you may ask. The National Park Service explains it to you here.
Designated wilderness is the highest level of conservation protection for federal lands. Only Congress may designate wilderness or change the status of wilderness areas. Wilderness areas are designated within existing federal public land. Congress has directed four federal land management agencies—U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service—to manage wilderness areas so as to preserve and, where possible, to restore their wilderness character.
The Wilderness Act prohibits permanent roads and commercial enterprises, except commercial services that may provide for recreational or other purposes of the Wilderness Act. Wilderness areas generally do not allow motorized equipment, motor vehicles, mechanical transport, temporary roads, permanent structures or installations (with exceptions in Alaska).
People can recreate in wilderness, though in most places individuals do so without mechanical transport. Visitors may hike, fish, camp, watch wildlife, photograph, or hunt (where legally authorized).
Those wilderness areas will remain a permanent challenge to connecting DHS to JTNP in the big way that I think some people envision. Can we get Congress to carve a chunk out the wilderness to foster the economic development of Desert Hot Springs? How persuasive do we think Congressman Ruiz is? As it stands now, Desert Hot Springs could be the stepping off point for hiking trails into the park, but that's about it.