Monday, September 30, 2013

The Ethnic Melting Pot of Southern California: The San Gabriel Valley

Now that baseball season is over, it's time for me to figure out a new mid-week feature to replace the Fields of Dreams until next season.  I don't have to look far.

I am a big believer in the concept that the more you get to know people, the more bigotries and prejudices are starved for lack of oxygen. Yes, I love diversity and I love getting to know the different cultures in our world.

Thankfully for me, a good portion of them can be found within 10 miles of my home...the San Gabriel Valley...just east of Los Angeles proper.

Already becoming well know for it's large Asian population, it's also the home to a lot of African Americans, Latinos, and Caucasians that settled this area. Formerly a part of Mexico, at the time of the Gold Rush, many people migrated here from the eastern half of our country. Beyond the four biggest ethnic groups, there are also dozens more in smaller number.

In the recent past, it was known as an industrial land. Factories, gravel pits, landfills, warehouses and more dot the landscape. There's even a city here that is literally called Industry.

Perhaps, because of this, land prices tended to be lower here in years gone by and many immigrants flowed into this basin. 

Not all of the land was cheap, however. Some of the nation's most expensive real estate is also located here. San Marino has long been home to much of the 1%. Pasadena, San Gabriel, and Arcadia all have some grand homes on leafy streets. The foothills above houses what Forbes called the most expensive zip code in the country, Bradbury...which houses Chinese billionaires, rich athletes, top jockeys and trainers, and the youngest female billionaire, Linsdey Torres, owner of the In 'n Out chain...and sits behind a wall and armed guards at the edge of the mountains.

Mostly overlooked by travelers more intent on seeing Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Disneyland, the residents here know there are some special places we get to enjoy without the traveling hordes.

Santa Anita is one of the world's premiere horse racetracks. The Tournament of Roses Parade and the annual Rose Bowl football game takes place here. The Los Angeles County Fair takes place at the end of each summer on the valley's eastern edge where the NHRA's two biggest races of the year also take place.

The valley is the gateway to the mountains that many locals use to escape the pressure of the city. Thousands of miles of trails lace the San Gabriel Mountains, which form the northern boundary of the valley.

A two century old mission anchors the heart of the valley and, yes, some of the best and most authentic ethnic food can be found withing its confines, thanks to the rich tapestry of its residents' backgrounds.

A foodie can spend weeks here sampling the fares of the world without driving more than half an hour. Recently, we tried to come up with how many different types of ethnic foods we could identify within our little valley.

So far that is is up to 38.  That's right, almost 40 different and unique ethnic foods...many quite authentic and not dumbed down for American tastes...right here.  Maybe we'll find a few more.

Starting this week, we'll be investigating all those different tastes to be found here in the San Gabriel can call it the SGV for short...and running a new weekly feature, The Ethnic Foods of The San Gabriel Valley, here on Wednesdays.

See you then, come hungry!

Copyright 2013 - Darryl
All Rights Reserved

Friday, September 27, 2013


We've been exploring this area here on The World on Wheels for the last week.  Here are some images of this area that straddles some of the most unforgiving, yet beautiful, border area around.  

Civil War re-enactors in Julian, California.  

Infamous canal that created the Salton Sea at the Border, Los Algodones, Mexico

Colorado River separating Yuma, Arizona and Winterhaven, California

Yuma Territorial Prison, Yuma, Arizona

Calipatria, the lowest town in the Western Hemisphere

Date garden near the Salton Sea

The Salton Sea

Anza Borrego State Park, California

Borrego Springs, California

Sunrise over the desert

Offroaders in the desert

Coachella, California

Scottsdale, Arizona

Spring Training, Tempe, Arizona

Copyright 2010 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

FIELDS OF DREAMS: Hall of Fame/Walk of Shame

We're now up to 32 stadiums for all 30 teams, 28 of those are current stadiums. Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium have been demolished since we've been there and San Diego has moved into Petco Park from Qualcomm Stadium. Petco is linked below.

In rating the ball parks, keep in mind that our focus is on wheelchair accessibility. Some fans may not like the positions historic Fenway and Wrigely occupy on our list but that's due to the less than great wheelchair accessibility -  newer stadiums are usually better in that regard.

With that said, here is our ever-expanding list of Major League Baseball and minor league stadiums from our best to worst. If there is a link, we’ve reviewed it - click the link to read the review. If not, I have yet to write the review. If it does not appear on this list, we have not been there yet…

1. PNC Park - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

2. Oracle Park - San Fransicso, California
(Old Yankee Stadium would have previously occupied this spot)

3. Kauffman Stadium – Kansas City, Missouri

4. Nationals Park - Washington, D.C.

5. Camden Yards - Baltimore, Maryland

6. Wrigley Field – Chicago, Illinois

7. Fenway Park – Boston, Massechussetts

8. Target Field - Minneapolis, Minnesota

9. Minute Maid Park - Houston, Texas

10. Miller Park - Milwaukee, Wisconsin

11. Citizens Bank Ballpark – Philadelphia, Pennsyvania

12. Coors Field - Denver, Colorado

13. Busch Stadium – St. Louis, Missouri

14. Tropicana Field - St. Petersburg, Florida

15. Progressive Field – Cleveland, Ohio

16. Great American Ballpark – Cincinnati, Ohio

17. Comerica Park – Detroit, Michigan

18. Chase Field – Phoenix, Arizona

19. PETCO Park – San Diego, California

20. Globe Life Park - Arlington, Texas

21. U.S. Cellular Field – Chicago, Illinois

22. SAFECO Field – Seattle, Washington

23. Dodger Stadium – Los Angeles, California

24. Angel Stadium – Anaheim, California

25. Marlins Park - Miami, Flordia

26. Sun Trust Park - Atlanta, Georgia

27. Rogers Centre – Toronto, Canada

28. Rickey Henderson Field – Oakland, California

Retired or demolished stadiums we have visited, in order of best to worst:

Yankee Stadium – New York, New York
Jack Murphy Stadium (Qualcomm) – San Diego, California
Shea Stadium – New York, New York
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – Los Angeles, California (Dodgers)

Minor League Stadiums (note...none of these are bad at all but still ranked best to, uh, less best)

1. The Diamond - Lake Elsinore, California

2. Raley Field - Sacramento
3. Surprise Stadium - Surpise, Arizona
4. Tempe Diablo Stadium - Tempe, Arizona
5. Chukchansi Park - Fresno, California
6. The Epicenter - Rancho Cucamonga, California
7. Jay Littleton Ball Park - Ontario, California
8. Sam Lynn Field - Bakersfield, California
9. Recreation Park, Visalia, California

College Stadiums
1. Mazmanian Field - Walnut, California

Copyright 2010 - Darryl Musick

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

FIELDS OF DREAMS - PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
alpineinc under CC-BY license

And now we have it...the best stadium in Major League baseball. An absolute beauty in every way, although they could have a better team. Admittedly, this could change as we still have seven stadiums left to visit but ,as it stands, this is number one...

PNC Park is the home of Pittsburgh’s Pirates of the National League. It is located across the Allegheny River from downtown Pittsburgh. It's one of baseballs newest and smallest stadiums with the ability to seat just over 38,000 fans...the second smallest in the majors. It only has two decks and wheelchair seating is sprinkled throughout the stadium. You could have just about any kind of accessible seat you want, the view is spectacular from anywhere in the stadium, including the front row.

The only bad thing about the stadium is that the Pirates are an historically terrible team,  but that's all changed this year as they are pretty much unstoppable and are in first place by 2.5 games, tied with St. Louis close to the end of the season behind the phenomenal play of Andrew McCutchen. The team also has some great history. This was the team that brought us the great, late Roberto Clemente. It’s one of the oldest franchises in baseball, dating back to 1887. They played in the first World Series and another one in 1909 behind the pitching of Honus Wagner. Other Hall of Famers to play here include Willie Stargell, Bill Mazeroski, and Ralph Kiner. Besides 1909, the Pirates took the World Series in 1925, 1960, 1971, and 1979.

Maybe, just maybe, this might be their year.

Here are the stats:

Year opened: 2001
Surface: Grass
Construction cost: $216 million
Capacity: 38,496
Field dimensions: Left field – 325 ft.; left center – 410 ft.; Center field – 399 ft.; right center – 375 ft.; Right field – 320 ft.
Home team: Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB National League) 2001 – present
Events attended: One game

The first thing anyone notices at PNC Park is the view. The most spectacular of any stadium I’ve ever seen. The park is situated to take in the view of Pittsburgh’s skyline over the Allegheny River with the bright yellow Roberto Clement Bridge thrown in for contrast. It takes your breath away when you see it in person.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Donball09 under CC-BY license

Taking your eyes off of the view, you then notice the cozy feel of the park. Only two decks with the suites all but hidden. It’s one of the smallest parks in the majors and the placement of the press box on top of the stadium makes even the nose bleed seats seem close to the action.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Adam Stone under CC-BY-SA license

Next comes the food. The famous (or infamous) Primanti Sandwich is served here along with 15 inch kosher dogs and Italian sausages festooned with peppers and onions. The stadium used to have an Outback restaurant that anyone could access. Then access was restricted to premium ticket holders, now it’s the Hall of Fame Club where all ticket holders can go on game days and the general public can go to the rest of the time.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Banco under CC-BY licens

Another couple of cool features are the circular rotunda ramps that eliminate the need for huge ramps to mar the outside of stadium and the out of town scoreboard that not only shows you the score, what inning (top or bottom) but also a diagram of the diamond to see how many men are on base and where they're standing.

There are plenty of parking lots next to the stadium and public transit can get you close. Pittsburgh’s downtown subway will drop you off at one end of Roberto Clemente Bridge, you can walk or roll the rest of the way over it (the bridge is closed to traffic at game times). Buses go right to the stadium.

Tickets are easy to come by and range from $7 in the bleachers to $255 behind home plate in the Lexus club. Wheelchairs can sit in the front row along the left field foul line for $35-40 (depending on who they're playing).  Dynamic pricing is the name of the game for grandstand and bleacher seating.

If you’re in the Iron City, be sure to stop by and take in a game in baseball’s best stadium.

Copyright 2010 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved
Updated for 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

Goodbye to Summer...Yay!

Family stresses have taken a toll and I had to take a week off of the blog. Mostly medical issues…not with Letty, Tim, or myself…but to those close to us. It’s been like that this summer. Family members in the hospital, surprise expenses, other family members losing loved ones…it hasn’t been a real fun season.

It’s Labor Day weekend and all I can think about is getting this summer of stress over with and get back to thinking about travel. Unlike many of you, we tend to avoid too much travel during this season anyway. It took us many years to get Tim through school and, now that we have, like to avoid the time when everyone else is traveling.

We’ll wait till the kids are back in school and the places we want to see are not overrun with tourists.

Besides…it’s just too darn hot.  Yesterday, the temperature peaked at 112 degrees on the patio. Bedtime temperature was 88 and this morning at 5:45am, it was 83 degrees.  All I can think of is sitting in an air-conditioned room with whatever Cocktail of the Week I’m pouring.

I’m crossing my fingers that our loved ones medical adventures will soon come to an end and no new surprises will pop up. We’ve got some good adventures, stories, and projects coming up to spice up the offerings here on this blog.

We thank you for your support, thanks for shopping through our Amazon links, thanks for buying our book, and thanks just for being there.  We hope you stick around to see the new stuff that will be coming up soon.