Saturday, April 9, 2016

I spy

This is a photo from our first meetup event, "Bike Ride to Starbucks," which was an utterly simple event.  We all met at the train station and rode down San Fernando Rd and Los Feliz to the Starbucks in Atwater Village.  Then we rode back to the train station.  In total the ride was 2.5 miles.

I absolutely love this photo because it shows the people who were there, by showing all of our bikes.  The other day I had a meeting with friends at Panera Bread.  I was nervous to sit in one of the back tables because I thought my friends wouldn't be able to find me.  But one of them said,

"I knew you were here.  I saw your bike."  

Even though that meeting was over a month ago, when I think of that it makes my heart smile.  I love seeing bike racks along busy streets here in Glendale and throughout places where people want to go.

Friday, April 1, 2016

It's all happening at once!

So many great things are happening, it seems impossible to keep up.

Walk Bike Glendale is planning a series of events:

Verdugo Mtn 10k Training Hike

Women's Beginner Rides

Family Ride

Commuter Workshops

Commuter Workshop Class #1 = Tuesday, May 10 from 7-9pm

Commuter Workshop Class #2 = Thursday, May 12 from 7-9pm

Commuter Workshop Ride #1 = Sunday, May 15 at 7:30am

Commuter Workshop Ride #2 = Saturday, May 21 at 10:00am

Sunday, February 21, 2016

I wish

When I was in my early teens, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by college-age girls.  But when I was in my twenties, I needed advice from a thirty-something.  Here are some thoughts that have been knocking around...

things I wish someone would have told me:

1) Your career will not take off right away.

This is a big one, and a bitter pill to swallow.  I had a thought in my 20s that if I worked SUPER hard to distinguish myself from everyone else, then I would land an amazing job right away.  That didn't happen.  Or maybe it did, but I didn't realize that I was right where I needed to be and there was nowhere else I was supposed to be going.

2) You do not have to hurry so much.

I did enjoy my 20s but I was in such a hurry to "get everything done" that I made myself miserable.  I wish someone would have told me to slow down sooner.  I wish I could have helped myself sleep better at night, with more patience and self-compassion.  I had a frantic state of mind because I thought I wouldn't live past 34 and I wanted to check off every item on my bucket list.

3) You will eventually turn 35 and things can be simpler.

In my 20s, like many other young people, I drank a lot of soda.  Now young people have "energy drinks" in more varieties than there are fresh fruits in a grocery store.  I complicated my life with a lot of worrying.  I thought there was something wrong with me, but I didn't know what it was.  I was so amped up but didn't know that I could have lived at a more reasonable pace with less drama.

4) You are the love of your life.

I thought about having a family in my 20s.  I have heard women do this: considering a family while planning their career path.  They end up making choices that will accommodate an imaginary husband and child before those things even enter their life.  I wish I would have been happier and less concerned that those things would come to fruition immediately.

5) Paying back student loans sucks.

I really didn't have a care for how much I was taking out in loans.  I wish I would have lived more simply earlier in life and saved more money.  We recently went to our first model home tour and had a heart-to-heart about what amount of cash we should have saved for a down-payment on a house.  I know, real estate in California is astronomically expensive, but I wish I had started saving earlier.

Season 8 starts March 7th
I know there are more ideas, but these are a few I will leave you with for today.  Like RuPaul says "If you can't love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else, can I get an Amen?"

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Griffith Park Traffic Plan Presentation

The presentation hinged on four points:

1) public safety
2) shuttle
3) Hollywood sign
4) media campaign

The intersection of Vermont and Western Canyon was heavily impacted during Spring Break.  They propose one-way traffic on Vermont and two-way traffic on Western.  A shuttle would stop at Traveltown, the LA Zoo, connecting to the Metro Red Line at the Sunset & Vermont station.

There will be free parking at the Greek Theater and Section 9.  East & West Observatory Road will have angled parking (metered).  The goal is to redirect tourists who wish to view the Hollywood sign from the neighborhoods to the park.

The shuttle route would be from the Greek Theater to the Obsevatory.  Another shuttle would run from the Greek Theater to a Hollywood sign viewpoint.  A third shuttle would run through the tunnel and back.  Shuttle service would run every 15-20 minutes.

Vehicle traffic invading Vermont and Ferndale would be alleviated.  Hollywood & Western may be designated as the official Hollywood sign viewing point from the Metro system.  There will be shuttle stops outside the park.

Q & A session:

Q. Will Western Canyon eventually become a one-way street?
A. Eventually, but not in phase 1.  Phase 1 will roll out in Fall 2016.

Q. Can you give us more details about the shuttles?
A. They will hold 21 passengers.  There will be 4-5 shuttles total.

Q. What about the sharrows along Obsevatory Road?  Sharrows do not work to improve public safety.  Impatient motorists passing cyclists can cause problems.

Q. What about the environmental impact of the shuttles?
A. The mitigated negative declaration tells how much emissions the shuttles will generate annually.  The document is available on

Q. How does the neighborhood traffic exit Commonwealth Canyon Drive?  Residents cannot get to their houses, nor can emergency vehicles access those residents.

Q. Why can't Griffith Park be closed to all cars like Central Park in NYC?
A. We are reaching saturation of cars within the park, so this may be a long-term solution.

Q. Has a bike lane been introduced to the one-way plan?

Q. Can revenue generated by parking fees be used to repave Mt. Hollywood Dr. and keep it closed for pedestrians and cyclists?

Parting thoughts:

The shuttle in Zion National Park is a buzzkill for pedestrians and cyclists.  The selfie culture is dominating wilderness access.

Griffith Park is my Backyard, Too (Mapped on 12/21/2015)

After thoughts:

During public comment, I spoke about how I was among the dreaded Spring Breakers, although it was 15 years ago.  At that time, websites were sparse.  Back then, I found information about the Youth Hostels we stayed at on a webpage, but most of our information was found in travel books and magazines.

As a tourist, I would not have had the sophistocation to take public transportation back in 2001.  Coming from Nebraska, I had no idea how to navigate the Metro light rail system.  I have lived in California for more than 10 years now, and I am just now figuring it out.

This is a scan of the actual scrapbook.
In order to take our photos in front of the Hollywood sign, we drove around the area until we found some neighborhood to park in and hike up a bit.  Some nice locals even took our picture.  I want to say that our "tourist dollars" poured into California, but the truth was that we didn't actually go inside Legoland or Disneyland.  We did a lot of walking in areas that were free.

What I didn't realize at the time is that I was already imagining what it would be like to live in Southern California.  I love the sunshine and recreational opportunities that come with it.  Speaking with a former running buddy, I describe how the streets of Glendale are a dangerous place to go running, but Griffith Park is considered a safe space.  Also, the climbing offered by Griffith Park, in particular Mt. Hollywood Dr. (currently not open to cars), is a great way to train for other longer rides that involve hills.  If I only ride out to CSUN and back, it's too flat to prepare for hills.  

Having a safe space to climb on a bike is EXTREMELY important to those who train for the long multi-day rides such as Aids/Lifecycle, the Climate Ride, and Ride2Recovery California Challenge.

With all the negativity (on the part of cyclists) about sharrows, I did a bit of reading.  It turns out that sharrows are meant to show cyclists the safest place to ride.  I had been confused when there are sharrows in the middle of the lane, I ride in the middle of the lane.  I thought there were no sharrows in Glendale painted to the right of the lane, but here's one example.

Watch this video here.
When a sharrow is painted in the center of the lane, it means that riding to the right side of the lane is not safe, due to parked cars (creating a door zone) for example.

If you really want to read the entire report regarding "Griffith Park Action Plan" as it is called, see here:

If I, as a cyclist, had to do 2 hours worth of research and reading to really understand a "sharrow" it's unlikely that people will use them as intended.

SF to Salinas Century (May 2015)
The other thing, that I think is related to these issues, is a discussion of requiring cyclists to have safety flags and wear a certain amount of square inches of fluorescent fabric.
I have no problem wearing fluorescent colors and reflectors and I have a flag for my bicycle that I use when I'm volunteering as a ride marshal or when I ride recreationally along the Pacific Coast Highway.  I wonder if the Park Action Planners realize that opening Mt. Hollywood Dr. to cars will force cyclists like me to start worrying about my safety.  I already worry enough as it is, can't we just have one car-free space to train?  

When I ride among cars, I will wear a safety vest and if on a particularly busy highway, I will fly my flag.  I don't want to have to do all that to ride in my "backyard," aka Griffith Park.

I understand that a helmet is expensive. The safety vest I wear was $15.  I think we paid $12-15 for our flag at a bike shop, but you can buy a 6' flag online for $7. Some helmets cost $60-120 and some are as cheap as $7 (see Burbank Bike Angels).  I have heard that a mandatory helmet law for cyclists is not supported by bicycle advocates due to the cost burden for low-income individuals that rely on a bicycle as their primary means of transportation.  What about the requirements for reflectors ($8)?  Are they not cost-prohibitive?   The lights I use are in a state of constant flux, but $26 was just for a USB-rechargable taillight.  A set of front and rear lights was $39 (in 2013).  Half of our fleet of bicycles is missing the pedal reflectors ($5).  So just to meet the current laws would cost just over $50.  Adding requirements for a helmet, vest, and flag would bloat the cost for the casual cyclist, commuter, or competitive athlete.

The bottom line for me, that I didn't get to articulate in my 1 minute public comment, is that Griffith Park should NOT be open to shuttles or car traffic. #keepgriffithwild

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Cyclecamping or Cyclocamping?

Whatever you call it, traveling to a campsite by bike is wonderful!  Here's the ride report:

Add to the packing list:
13) Frisbee
14) Folding chairs for the fireside
15) Los Angeles & Orange County bike maps

Subtract from the packing list:
Fewer books/things to do
Maybe fewer socks

I brought a coloring book, colored pencils, belated holiday greeting cards (blank), a journal, and a bunch of pens.  The only thing I really wanted to do was use the colored pencils to make this drawing after sitting on the beach all day.

I loved watching the brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) diving headfirst into the water to catch their meals. They also did a funny flapping of their wings on the water, it seemed like they were talking to each other that way. There was also some kind of duck or grebe that was smaller than the pelican which dove under each wave. Seagulls were abundant also, and there were crows around the camp.

We ended up taking an earlier train down to LA Union Station, to give us more time for our "layover."  That gave us time to have a cup of coffee and use the restroom, as well as let our dog walk around outside before the long OC line train ride.  The cost of the train was $25 for two adults.  Our monthly passes only got us as far as LA and we had to pay for the second leg of our journey.  There were officers with canine cops in training, and it was hard for the dogs not to distract each other.

We arrived in San Juan Capistrano and a very friendly man offered to ride us to the check-in for our campsite.  It was great to ride the TRABUCO CREEK and SAN JUAN CREEK TRAILS.  We were able to arrive at the camp without any vehicular cycling.  We passed a pack of dogs at Creekside Park and the trail was shared with walkers, joggers, cyclists, strollers, scooters, and leashed (and unleashed) dogs.  We arrived at the park so early (9:45am) we couldn't check in.  So we ate at Coffee Importers instead.

The original entrance to Donehy State Beach
After a slammin' breakfast bagel sandwich, we rode down towards Camino Capistrano on the Coast Highway Protected Trail. We could have gone a bit further to the San Clemente Metrolink station, but we decided to turn around and hang out at a day-use area on Park Lantern, just south of our campsite. The sun felt warm even though the temperature was in the mid-60s. We hung out there until just before 2pm, when we were allowed to check in to our campsite.

We setup our tent and got a sense of the campground.  We walked to the nearby AM-PM and the Carl's Jr to get snacks and dinner, respectively.  Since we were on foot, we didn't buy firewood there.  Around sunset, we looked for the camp host to get some firewood.  There were no hosts on site, so I rode back to the AM-PM to learn that they were out of firewood.  Luckily, the Albertson's on Del Obisbo was only 1.5 miles away.  I strapped two bundles of firewood to my rear rack and coasted downhill back to the campsite.
Pedestrian Bridge over Coast Hwy: A new entrance
The nights were cold.  Sleeping on the ground is uncomfortable.  I thought there was condensation on the inside of our tent when I woke up at sunrise.  Regardless, it made our house feel so comfortable when we got home.  It was nice sleeping in until the tent became a sauna.  We definitely didn't emerge until around 9am.  We walked up Goldern Lantern to the Coast Hwy, which had great views coming back down the hill.  It was nice to work up an appetite. 

Looking back towards the water
We had a great breakfast at Denny's.  I had the Lumberjack Slam, which was more food than I could finish and bottomless coffee!!!  It was so hearty, I wasn't hungry again until it was dark.  They were also cool with our dog, Edna Jo, hanging out on the patio.  We spent the mid-day and afternoon at the beach.  I brought some yoga sequences, which we practiced once our bellies had digested the brunch.  We returned to our campsite after the sun was telling us that night was falling.  I sketched the image in this post right at this point.

Mosaic on the Pedestrian Bridge
That night, we located the camp host and got three bundles of firewood.  At some point, we took showers.  We fed in a $10 bill and got a big handful of tokens.  Each token was 2 minutes.  I used 4 tokens for a great shower.  When you live in a tiny house, the campshower seems huge and luxurious.  On one side of us, there was no campers, but on the other side was a huge group of friendly, happy people.  It was great to share the space with such a positive bunch.

We walked to the Del Taco and got a Fiesta Pack.  There was outdoor seating and it was well-lit.  We ate burritos and tacos with our dog, Edna Jo.  We ate everything we could and then walked back for our our second fire.  

The great thing about our site was that it was a straight shot to the restroom.  I didn't hesitate to get up several times in the night to use the facilities.  They were clean, well-lit, and well-stocked with TP.  The RVs around us had motion-sensors on them which lit up when you walked by, which one might find annoying but I found it comforting.  

A word of caution: we were warned about a "homeless problem" so we locked our bicycles securely to our picnic table.  We also put all our gear inside the tent when we weren't around.  We did receive a visit from the sheriff (3 squad cars) that evening, but we never really got the details what was going on.  We speculated it was regarding non-paying visitors to the campground.

Beach access from our campground
The next morning, we realized that there were only two options for us to get back to LA.  One train was at 7am and the other was at 4pm.  We didn't wake up until after 7am so we planned to hang out and pack up by noon, when we were required to check out.  We went over to the McDonald's for a late breakfast, now that a limited breakfast menu is served all day.  That was the perfect fuel we needed to head back to San Juan Capistrano.

We let Edna Jo run around at the dog park for a bit.  Then we hung out at the Metrolink station.  It's right by the Mission and there are lots of boutiques and cafes.  It was a great spot for people watching.  We saw a wedding party and many people came over to pet Edna and chat the hours away.

San Juan Capistrano Amtrak/Metrolink Station
In conclusion, it was a great trip.  I would highly recommend cyclecamping at this site to anyone.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Doheny SB ~ Packing List

So, we're doing our first bicycle camping adventure!  It's not a full-on wilderness campsite, being just 1 mile away from the urban center named Dana Point, and less than 4 miles from Laguna Niguel, San Juan Capistrano, and San Clemente.  I wanted to write about what we plan to take in order not to over-pack.

1) tent
2) sleeping bags
3) yoga mat
4) cycling shoes
5) swimsuit?
6) long underwear
7) matches/lighter for starting fire
8) towels
9) camping lantern/headlamps
10) bike tools (pump, tire irons, patch kit, etc.)
11) reading materials (coloring book, colored pencils, journal, yoga poses)
12) hat/sunglasses/sunscreen

It's hard to bring many electronics that would need to be recharged.  Obviously we need to bring our Metrolink Monthly Passes.  Our plan is to take the Ventura County line train 104 (departs 7:37am from Glendale, arrives 7:50am at LA Union Station) and Orange County line train 600 (departs 8:00am from LA Union Station, arrives 9:23am into San Juan Capistrano).  After the train trip, we will ride 3.7 miles from the station down the San Juan Creek Trail to our campground.

Loaded with Christmas Cheer
We did a big Christmas ride loaded down with gifts to practice riding with loaded bikes.  It was a great way to explore the Pacific-Electric trail.

IE Metric Century: total ascent of 2600 ft 

It was also fun to ride Historic Route 66 through Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, and Claremont.  We picked up the trail at Monte Vista Ave.  It ended at Cactus Ave where we dropped down to Rialto Ave, cruised by the Rialto Metrolink Station, and dropped into Riverside on Riverside Ave.  The journey took us 9 hours and we never stopped to have a sit-down meal.  We did use the restrooms at the Taco Bell (140 W Huntington Dr, Monrovia, CA 91016) which were clean!  That was about 17 miles into our trip (2 hours) and we got a burrito and a Dr. Pepper.

I definitely don't want to bring a camping chair strapped to my back to Doheny, we will have a picnic table for sitting.  There are areas to explore, well described here.  We have all day today to pack and get the house in order so we can come home in the new year to a clean tiny house.

Friday, December 18, 2015

2015 Year In Review

When the year is winding down, it's nice to do some retrospection.  For me, this gets quantitative.  I found some infographics that show how the average american family spends their income.

I periodically download all our bank transactions and create a graph comparing us to the average American family.  The way we managed to survive in 2010 was by keeping our transporation costs extremely low.  We shared one car that was paid off and maintained liability-only insurance.  Also, we almost never drove the car.  We rarely ate out and made most of our meals from scratch.  We spent next to nothing on clothing and appearances.  We didn't make any donations to charities.

HOS = HOUSING When we were living in two separate places (Riverside, CA and La Jolla, CA) we spent 48% of our meager income on rent!  Now even though we live in a relatively expensive area (Glendale, CA) in terms of housing (3.59 x the national average) we spend less than the average American on housing costs.  How, you may ask, do we achieve this miracle?  We live in a tiny house.  Our rent includes utilities.  We do pay extra for a storage unit off-site, but even accounting for that, 24% of our spending goes to housing.  I'm not sure how the Average American Family numbers were calculated but that means in 2010, we spent 28% of our income on housing.  Now, we spend 18% of our income on housing.  Turns out we spend almost EXACTLY the same amount on housing, but we're making more money.

TRA = TRANSPORTATION Now, we still spend less than the average American family on Transportation.  Even with keeping our bicycles running in top shape, paying insurance on one vehicle, making car payments, and driving the car periodically, we're spending less than the average family.  I guess it's easier for us since we don't have a large family (no kids).  Also, CSUN gives us a sweet discount on Metrolink monthly passes, which get us around on weekends for free!
FOA = FOOD (DINING OUT) Here's where we really suffer.  We eat on campus all the time and when we're home, we eat out and get delivery all the time.  Out of 1,317 total transactions, 52% of them were eating out!  We eat out 1.9 times per day!  An average "dining out" cost is $12.37.  Sometimes that's for 1 person and sometimes for 2 or more.  But mostly for 2 people.  This is literally eating up 9% of our income.
FOH = FOOD (DINING IN) Out of all transactions, 5% of them were going to the grocery store.  We go to the grocery store 5.4 times per month.  An average trip to the grocery store is $70.  I feel like this semester (FA15) I had more free time so I did more cooking, but certainly not as much as I did in 2010.  We were living very cheaply, shopping in bulk from Winco.

INS = INSURANCE We're spending about half what the average American family spends for insurance.  This is probably because we don't have to pay homeowners insurance and we only have one car.  Glendale, CA is considered the WORST city in California, where drivers pay 62% more than the average Californian for the same coverage.  If we lived somewhere else, and when we get the SmartCar paid off, this part of our expenditures will decrease.

OTH = OTHER I really have no idea what this spending is about.  I put all ATM withdrawls into this category because obviously we don't know where or to whom that money went.  Some goes to buy groceries at the Farmer's Market and some goes for tips to service professionals (our Massage Therapists for example).  Why this category takes up 19% of our spending, I couldn't say.  I put all our random travel expenses in this bracket.  Taking out identifiable fun trips and academic expenditures, 8.2% of our spending is still uncategorized.  I guess that's why it's good to put everything on plastic, so that you can look back at what they were.

HEA = HEALTHCARE We are blessed not to have had to worry much about this category.  I think next year we'll see a further reduction since dear husband has stopped his membership in a Martial Arts gym, and I've stopped my membership to Bella Fitness.  Not because these weren't good things, but because we weren't really using them and they were costing us $150 and $70 per month, respectively.  We're still getting our massages every month, and maybe we can put those other monthly things we won't be doing in the future into dentist, podiatrist, and women's health care visits.

ENT = ENTERTAINMENT This includes movies, plays, musicals, and Netflix.  I also put our phone and internet bills into this category.  It's only 4% of our income.  I guess we're doing well here.  Or should I say that we could spend more here.  I still want to go to the Aquarium of the Pacific down in Long Beach.  Also we discussed buying an Annual Zoo Pass for next year.

APP = APPAREL (or Appearance) This includes clothing, shoes, and haircuts.  We saved money in 2010 by doing homecuts.  We also didn't buy hardly any new clothes or shoes.  Now, we definitely spend more freely in this regard, although not lavishly.  I've purchased quite a few new shoes this year, and so has my husband.  I get new clothes almost every semester, due to wear and tear and the fact that I can't seem to maintain a constant weight.

DON = DONATIONS I put all the donations to various organizations into this category.  We've been fairly generous this year: our nephew's Surf team, The OC Marathon, RailPAC, Steel Wheels Conference, CalBike, Rail User's Network, Ride 2 Recovery, Cal Bike Summit, LACBC, The Climate Ride, and others.  Compared to the average American family, we could give a bit more.  In 2010, we didn't really have any money leftover to give to charity.

ACA = ACADEMIA I had to make a category especially for us.  Because being an academic has associated costs.  I'm sure other industries have business-related expenses, but this year we made it to two conferences and purchased various books and supplies directly to facilitate our learning.  We also renewed our memberships in professional societies, which again I'm sure other professionals do too, but I don't think there's an American Housewives Network that has dues of $100 per year.

You may be wondering: are you really that nerdy that you enjoy looking at your personal financial data and posting a blog about it?  The answer is: yes, I am that nerdy.  But also, we've been giving some serious consideration to getting into the real estate game.  We're trying to pinch every penny and sock it away to use as a down payment.  The funny thing is, we calculated this weekend that for homes in our area, we'd have to gather $80,000-$100,000 before getting the process going.  We have saved nowhere near that amount.  So this analysis may lead me to discover where we can save and redirect that part of our income to savings instead of spending it.

P.S. I did the drawings myself.  I think I'm suffering from whiteboard withdrawls.


Source: NY Times Feb 10, 2008  Accessed: June 10, 2010

Accessed: December 14, 2015