Friday, December 30, 2016

ROUTE 66 Landmarks and Historic Downtowns- San Bernardino to Pasadena

Here are some Inland Empire and San Gabriel Valley Route 66 landmarks not to be missed, again from east to west...

Picture courtesy of Flickr
Keith_Rock under CC BY-ND 3.0 license
Glen Helen Park, Devore - As you exit the Cajon Pass via Interstate 15, you're gonna go west on Interstate 215.  That large park in the hills just south of the freeway is Glen Helen Park.  It was here on two weekends, Labor Day in 1982 and Memorial Day in 1983, that Steve Jobs' partner Steve Wozniak spent a good deal of his Apple fortune to stage two huge rock concerts, the Us Festival.  Up to 375,000 people packed the huge lawn for acts such at The Clash, Tom Petty, Van Halen, The Ramones, The Pretenders, David Bowie, and many more.  The lawn quickly turned to dirt, then mud.  The heat was pretty much unbearable but misters and free-flowing water helped to keep things cool.  The area just over the hill is where much of the audience camped out for each of the three-day festivals.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
Cogart Strangehill under CC-BY-SA license
Original McDonald's Restaurant, San Bernardino - Actually the second restaurant the McDonald brothers started but the first one using their name.  The owner of the Juan Pollo chain has bought the property and turned it into a museum.  A modern functioning McDonald's is just down the street.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
Marcin Wichary under CC-BY license
Wigwam Motel, Rialto - As Route 66 heads into Rialto, the iconic Teepee shaped rooms appear with the inn's slogan, "do it in a teepee."
Bono's Restaurant and Deli, 15395 Foothill Bl., Fontana - Old locals sometimes call it "Fontucky," but it's here you'll find one of only six orange shaped juice stands left in the state.  The owner plans to put it back in business but for now it's just for looks.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
Cliff Hutson under CC-BY license
  -  Downtown Upland - Turn left on Euclid then left again on 9th Street.  Old timey village with a gazebo in the middle.  Not the most lively place at night, though.  Try Caffe Allegro for some really good Italian food or come to the Lemon Festival in May.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
Binksternet under CC-BY-SA license
Heritage Park, La Verne - This area was once covered in orange groves.  A small one is preserved here.  Saturdays, from January through March, you can pick oranges for $5 for a large bag.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
Phu "Son" Nguyen under CC-BY license
Old Town, La Verne - Dating back to the 1890's, this little downtown...originally called Lordsburg...was the heart of a Brethren community.  It's surrounded by the University of La Verne, which dates back to 1891, and is Tim's alma mater (see below).

  -  Downtown San Dimas - Cute, Western themed downtown.  A ghost town at night.  Turn left on San Dimas Ave. to Bonita.
  -  Downtown Glendora - mid 20th century type of downtown, coming back to life with new restaurants, shops, and entertainment.  Turn right (north) at Glendora the retro Route 66 Arco station.

Foothill Drive In Theater, Azusa - The theater's long gone...its land being used for the expansion of Azusa Pacific University...but the college has preserved the marquee.

  -  Downtown Azusa - At the corner of Azusa Ave. & Foothill (Route 66).  It has become one of the top stops on the Gold Line light rail for food and drink Try Max's for some great margaritas and enchiladas.

San Gabriel River, Irwindale/Duarte - Usually dry, this river drains Azusa Canyon (or San Gabriel Canyon) to the north.  The bridge that is a quarter mile to your north is an old Pacific Electric trolley bridge.

The cities you're now driving through have roots back to the Spanish land grant days...Rancho de Azusa, Rancho de Duarte, and Rancho Santa Anita which mostly became Arcadia and Sierra Madre.  A land speculator named William Monroe developed what became Monrovia in 1886.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
Flickr user Living in Monrovia under CC-BY-SA license
  -  Old Town Monrovia - Turn right (north) on Myrtle.  Pretty and lively downtown area dating back over 100 years, probably second only to Old Pasadena right now.  Many restaurants, a movie theater, and shops.  A large variety of ethnic foods in a three block stretch: Mexican (Rudy's,  La Adelita), Cuban (Marengue), Greek (The Monrovian), Italian (Bellasera), Vietnamese (Pho Lemon), Chinese (Wang's) and more.  Every Friday night is Festival Night here.

Photo coutesy of Wikimedia
Flickr user living in Monrovia under CC-BY-SA license
Aztec Hotel, Monrovia - A well preserved old hotel, now mostly used for apartments.  The lobby and gardens are very beautiful.  There's a bar and restaurant here but I can't vouch for them.  Tim and I used to get our hair cut here at the barber shop but he's gone now, I don't know what happened to him.

Past the Aztec, turn left on Mayflower and return to Huntington Drive and turn right, as you turn, notice the diner style McDonald's on the corner.  A plaque inside has a letter written by Dick McDonald  telling the story about how their first restaurant was actually here in Monrovia (approximately at Huntington Dr. and Shamrock Ave)  It was called the Aerodrome and was moved to San Bernardino and renamed McDonalds.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
TheBluZebra under CC-BY-SA license
Santa Anita Park, Arcadia - One of America's premiere horse racing facilities.  Home of the Breeder's Cup and the Santa Anita Handicap.  Seabiscuit raced here.  So did Spectacular Bid, John Henry, and many others.  It's not uncommon to run into trainers watching their horses run during breakfast at Clocker's Corner.  Racing in October and late December through April.  One of my favorite places to go.

  -  Downtown Sierra Madre - Turn north on Michilinda then right again on Sierra Madre Bl.  Quiet and quirky old section.  Probably the only city in Los Angeles County without a traffic light.  They have an old fashioned playhouse that puts on some pretty darn good shows.  Try Lucky Baldwin's on the corner of Baldwin Ave. for some great Belgian beer and pub food.  This is where the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers  was filmed.

Tournament of Roses, Rose Parade, Pasadena - Continuing along Colorado Bl. into Pasadena, once you pass Sierra Madre Bl., you're traveling on the Rose Parade route until you get to Orange Grove Ave. in Old Pasadena.
  -  Old Pasadena - One of the great urban renewal success stories.  Wildy popular with tons of restaurants, night spots, shops, and theaters.  Huge area.  Metro's Gold Line runs right through it.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
Mike Dillon under CC-BY-SA license
Suicide Bridge (Colorado Street Bridge), Pasadena - Beautiful arch bridge at the edge of town that, yes, has been the scene of a few jumps.  It turned 100 years old in 2013.

We'll end the landmark list if you look to the north of the bridge...
Rose Bowl, Pasadena - This New Year's Day landmark has seen many classic games.  It can hold around 110,000 fans because most of the seats are wooden benches.  You can take a look when no games are scheduled by going through the south entrance.  UCLA now uses this stadium as its home field for football.

Copyright 2010 - Darryl Musick

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

CEREBRAL PALSY STORIES: Answering The Call Of Mother Nature

For most people answering the call of Mother Nature is a pretty easy and fairly simple task to perform.   For someone like myself who uses a wheelchair to get around, answering the call of Mother Nature is not always easy but it's a fact of life that we all have to go bathroom in our daily lives.  Even those who are disabled like myself have to do it.  We just do it in a different way.

Still, there are times when I wish I didn't have to rely on my Mom, Dad or any other caregiver for help in performing a simple task that most people don't really have to worry about and is a no-brainer because when the feeling hits it can be taken care of fairly quickly and without too much hassle.

When it comes to going bathroom for someone like me who is disabled, it can be hard at times to go. At this point I'll try to do my best to continue our discussion of this sensitive and somewhat embarrassing  topic without being too graphic.

The first thing to consider is the equipment needed for such a thing.  The two most common items my Family and I use are a urinal for going number one and a shower chair for going number two primarily.  Sometimes I do go number one when I sit on the shower chair.

When using the urinal to go bathroom, the toughest thing that I have to deal with sometimes is working up a feeling.  Sometimes it comes and goes.  Other times it is really strong and I can go within a few seconds of being set up to do my business.

There are other times when it does take a while for me to go.  It is during those times when my hand gets stiff and tired from holding the urinal in place and I have to have my parents tie the seat belt on my wheelchair around the handle of my urinal so that I can take my time and relax when going bathroom.

Tim also uses his chair to take a shower

Even with this setup, I sometimes lose the feeling and I do tend to get frustrated on days when I'm having a hard time going, but I do the best I can to relax not worry about it too much and remember that there will always be a next time to answer the Call of Mother Nature.

Tim Musick
Copyright 2016
All Rights Reserved.  

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Friday, December 23, 2016

CLASSIC TRIP: It's Bargain Time in the Motherlode

I just hate it when wineries try to stick it to you when you visit their facilities. There was the time we went to a tasting room in Solvang with a $16 tasting fee...not applicable to purchase....that got you maybe two ounces of wine. Same with a winery in Temecula. Chateau Montelena in Napa Valley is famous for being the winery in the movie "Bottleshock" where an incredulous Bo Barrett asks his father if they now charge for tasting.

"No," Jim Barrett (in the movie answers). 

In real life, it will cost you a sawbuck and you have to buy at least $100 worth of wine before you get that back.

I'm more partial to the yet-to-be-discovered-by-the-masses wine areas where you will find down-to-earth winemakers, eager to intice you with their fine products and make you a deal when you decide to buy.

Watch the Video!

Cucamonga Valley, Mariposa County, and Lodi are examples of wine countries that have yet to go the route of the Napas, Temeculas, or Santa Barbara County's as far as gouging their visitors is concerned.

Still, our favorite is Amador County. Just a shade below the river where James Marshall found that fateful gold nuggett at John Sutter's sawmill, it's a sleepy, scenic area with blistering hot summers that are very conducive to growing the big, bold reds like sangiovese, barbera, temperanillo, and...the state's official grape...zinfandel.

You can find the state's oldest operating winery here, have a winemaker pour a taste while you scratch behind the winery dog's ears, eat at some of the state's best restaurants, explore some of the historic gold mines of the area (some of which are still commercially producing), see ancient Indian grinding rocks, and support those same Natives by throwing some money around at their casinos.

What you won't find is a lot of other tourists, especially if you come mid-week.

Monday is serious downtime for most in this area. Tuesday, a few wineries start to shake off the weekend cobwebs. Wednesday, a few more open up along with some restaurants and Thursday the county is winding up for another weekend with almost everybody up and operating again.

It's Wednesday. I already got a case of some very good barbera for just a hair over $100 at Amador 360 yesterday. Today, we'll go to the Shenandoah Valley and taste some more.

First stop is quirky Bray Vineyards. You'll find them easily on Schoolhouse Road by the yellow road signs with a silhouette of a farmer popping a wheely on his tractor, wine bottle firmly planted to his lips.

We start off alone with just the server (who turns out to be a winemaker I've spent a few years looking for) tasting their wares.  You can get "mystery wine" here, unlabeled bottles from their runs, at a discount along with growlers of wine filled from a tap.

Another lady comes in while we're there and she strikes up a conversation with my wife about where the best tasting rooms are around here.

We go outside, take some pictures, and pet the winery's dog.

It's up the road to Sobon Estate, the previously mentioned oldest winery (used to be D'Agostini), taste some more and trade an e-mail address for a 20% discount on an already reasonably priced mixed case.

It was to be Shenandoah Winery next but construction blocks our access so we end our day again with a trip to our favorite winery, Story, located way up a few winding roads at the top of the Consumnes River Canyon.

A case of their Gold Hill Zinfandel is procured for $99 while we sip. On this hot day, the biggest hit is their Miss Rose, which is a rosé made out of their mission grapes. It may be the best rosé I've ever tasted.

We grab a bottle and head outside to enjoy a picnic of bread and cheese on a very breezy day.

Alexandra, the lady we met at Bray, shows up next for some tasting and comes down to say hi.

"Wow, you were right. This place is amazing!" she exclaims to my wife.

She's on a reconnosance trip to find a place to take a group from work during an upcoming weekend and has settled on an Amador tasting safari ending with a picnic here at the stunning, grapevine covered canyon top picnic ground here at Story Winery.

As we sip our Miss Rose, chat with a new friend, and enjoy the stellar views, I realize my batteries are now pretty fully charged. Funny how everytime I come up to this beautiful, amazing, and laid-back place that happens.

Amador County is about an hour east of the state capitol of Sacramento. Everything mentioned in this post is wheelchair accessible. Good to great accessible lodging is available at the Best Western in Jackson, Days Inn in Sutter Creek, and...our new favorite...the Shenandoah Inn in Plymouth.  The Hyatt House in Rancho Cordova is also a good option with a 45 minute drive to Amador County and includes a full, hot breakfast.  All (except for Days Inn) have pools to cool off in the hot Amador summers with pool lifts.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Pictures by Letty Musick
Copyright 2014 - Letty Musick
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

SUPER SIDE: Broccoli Au Gratin

Eating healthy can be a bit daunting sometimes but here's a cheat even my son loves. A creamy, cheesy, broccoli side dish.

We're serving this on the side of some pork chops with a port wine, mushroom reduction sauce.

INGREDIENTS (3 servings)

1 large head of broccoli
4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup low fat mile
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper.

In a small sauce pan, melt the cream cheese into the milk.

Break up the head of broccoli and put into a casserole dish. Salt and pepper the broccoli. Cover with the cream cheese and milk sauce. Sprinkle the cheddar on top.

Bake, covered,  for 20 minutes at 300 degrees.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Monday, December 19, 2016

CLASSIC TRIP: Our Encounter with Fate

We've talked here about our trips to Sutter Creek and what was a wonderful steak house there, J&D's (NOTE: J&D's is now closed and another restaurant is open in the space). Well, one of the owners has become a real estate agent and the steak house is now Griffin's and we've yet to try the new place.

When we went, there was a Happy Hour where you could try a local wine for $3 a glass. We had a red that was sublime. I asked the server what it was and he said a temperanillo. 

But who made it?  It took a little prying and finally he told me. It was made on the side by a waiter at Taste, another restaurant in nearby Plymouth.

He said I could try to find the guy there...who's name he didn't know...and maybe he'd sell me some. Almost sounds like a drug dealer behind the 7/11 but what the heck, I'd give it a try.

We went to Plymouth but Taste was closed and so ended my adventure to find the underground wine of Amador Country...for now.

Fast forward to June, 2014. We're back and in Plymouth. Taste is still closed so no hope of finding the waiter but we're tasting at Amador 360.

Amador 360 is a tasting room on Highway 49, which serves as sort of a catch all for wineries in the area that are too small to invest in a tasting room of their own and the staff to run it.

I came here because I saw a great sale on Parallax Barbera they had here but we might was well take advantage of the tastes being poured today.

We're sampling barberas, old vine zins, and then the owner pulls out a couple of sangioveses. 

"This one is Fate," the owner tells us (printed as F8 on the label). "It's made by a waiter at Taste on the side."

What? Again? I've found the wine, except this time it's sangiovese.

"He makes a different wine each time, you should have tried the temperanillo."

Well, we did but I guess we missed the boat on buying more. Nevertheless, the sangionvese is also excellent so I buy a couple of bottles while I have the chance.

I'd finally found the underground wine and the dealer who I can get it from. Sounds like a drug transaction but, no, it's completely legit.

The next morning we're at Bray Winery in the nearby Shenandoah Valley. A bucolic place with winery cats and a dog. Hundreds of award ribbons line the walls and we enjoy a quiet tasting of the wines.

I notice a tattoo on the arm of the gentleman pouring for us..."F8" the same font as the label on the wine yesterday.

"Are you involved with Fate wines?" I ask, pointing to his tattoo.

"I am Fate," he replies.

No way...after two years, I'm finally catching up with the phantom winemaker I've been trying to meet.

His name is Thomas Allen and he tells me that he buys grapes from different wineries up here. He's friends with the Brays and they let him use the winery equipment off-hours to make his wine.

My video camera focus was on the wrong setting, but if you can stand a little blurriness, here's the man himself with a quick explanation of his wine:

Watch the Video!

About two thirds into the tasting, Thomas disappears into the back room and comes out with a couple of glasses of wine, half-full, definitely more than a taste.

"Here, try this. It's my next release, coming out in August."

We do, it's delicious.  I remark that the wines are exceptional but they're not expensive ($12-$15 range).

"I think wines should be affordable. I make enough, I'd rather people like my wine than think they spent too much money"

We need more encounters with Fate in today's wine industry.

Thomas sells his F8 wine through various restaurants in Amador county and you can buy it retail at Amador 360 either in person or online. Here's a link to F8's wine at Amador 360.

It took awhile but I'm glad I finally tracked down the mysterious underground winemaker in this great wine region.  I'm sure Fate will cross our paths again someday.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Pictures by Letty Musick
Copyright 2014 - Letty Musick
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Cocktail Hour: Ales for the Holidays - Trader Joe's Holiday Ale Taste Off 2016

It's time for our annual Trader Joe's holiday ale taste off. Be sure to watch the video below, it's the first every live Cocktail Hour broadcast we've ever done.

Watch the Video!

The store contracts with Unibroue in Canada to make it's Belgian style aged ale for each year's holiday season.

We skipped last year because we found out from Trader Joe's that you're supposed to age the ale a year before drinking so we've got our 2015 ale to taste alongside the just released 2016 version, which I have an extra to age for next year.

First, let's taste the younger. Tastes just like every other year, like a bitter Mexican Coke with a lot of foam. Good taste, not overpowering bitterness.

Now, the aged 2015 version. Much less foam, at least half as much and a slightly smoother taste reflecting the year of mellowing. I could taste more of the Mexican Coke flavor, maybe more notes of caramel on the back of my throat. Tim didn't notice.

That's it for this year's test. We'll do it again for 2017.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved.