Friday, December 29, 2017

PISMO BEACH AND ALL THE CLAMS WE CAN EAT! - Yes, You Can Make That Left Turn at Albuquerque

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I guess we did make that left turn in Albuquerque because we’re in Pismo Beach!
Yes, it really exists (as does the great town of Walla Walla, Washington…but that’s another story) and this beautiful, classic retro California beach town can be found about an hour north of Santa Barbara on California’s awesome Central Coast.

Watch the Video!

Our home for two nights is the Oxford Suites, located adjacent to the 101 freeway on the south side of town. The room is a true suite with a living room, a separate bedroom, and a bathroom. Each room has its own flat screen TV. In the front room, there’s also an L-shaped sofa that folds out into a rather large sofabed. A wet bar and fridge complete  the living room amenities.

The bedroom features a king-size bed (rooms with two queens are also available, sink, ironing board, and a patio. The bathroom was basic with a tub and toilet…the sink is in the bedroom. Accessible rooms with roll-in showers are also available.

The room also includes a full, cooked-to-order breakfast in the dining room next to the pool and spa. There’s a fitness room and beer and wine are served in the lobby lounge each night for 2 hours.

Dinner time arrives and we have a selection of restaurants we’d like to check out. A couple, we scratch off the list right away because they are in the town of Guadalupe and no one wants to make a 20 plus mile drive for dinner.

The rest are in downtown Pismo Beach but each one features a long line heading out the door and an even longer wait.

This is not our first time to the Pismo rodeo, so we know that the little town of Avila Beach is just a few minutes away and the always reliable Fatcats sits at the shore end of the pier there.

There is no wait here and the outdoor seating, under heaters in the chilly air, makes us want some comfort food. No problem…Fatcats serves breakfast all day so Letty and I have French toast and chicken fried steak while Tim is satisfied with his roast beef sandwich.

A quick stop at the local grocery store in Avila for an overpriced bottle of local wine and we head back to the hotel to drink it.

The morning finds us in the southwest corner of town, next to the only beach in California that allows you to drive your car on the sand.

We’re here for something else. Each winter, thousands of Monarch butterflies migrate up to 2,000 miles to winter in a tiny grove of eucalyptus. A web of wheelchair accessible trails surround the grove where all we do it look up and see the air filled with the orange insects.

Big clumps of butterflies cling to the branches where they huddle for warmth and mating.

After another night, the next day finds us heading south down the coast.

At Ventura, we turn east and head a dozen miles up the mountains to the little town of Ojai. Here, we’re going to a little restaurant sitting all by itself about a mile out of town.

This is Boccali’s Pizza and Pasta, a country casual Italian restaurant that is oh, so relaxing.

We have a pizza with their flaky crust and a little of their house wine. It’s oh, so good too while we enjoy it outside under the California sun surrounded by orange groves and condor country.

It’s a great end to another trip as we finish up and head slowly over the winding road back towards L.A.

Copyright 2012 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved
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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

D-Day - Type II: Better Living Through Chemistry

Yeah, it's been awhile since I've done one of these posts and even longer since I updated the other blog that they appeared on (just don't have time to maintain multiple blogs right now, hopefully that will change in the near future but that's a topic for another time). So let's catch up...

Until last fall (in 2016), I'd been able to maintain a sub 150 blood glucose reading and a 7.0 A1C score fairly easy with diet and exercise alone. Then, I was hit with a double-whammy.

First, I neglected to get a Flu shot and came down with a bout of it late November.  That put my system out of whack and my liver tried to overcompensate and lost it's calibration for awhile.  My numbers shot up to over 200 and over 9 for the A1C.

Just when I was managing to get those numbers to inch down again, I came down with a nasty cold in January which had the same effect.

I couldn't get those numbers down fast enough for my regular check up in March so the doctor put me on metformin, pioglitazone, and a statin. Suddenly, I was the one with all the prescriptions at the pharmacy (I already picked up a monthy supply of test strips, needles, and lisinopril for my blood pressure) and another date with the doctor in two months to see how the new medicine routine effected me.

One thing that concerned my was the pioglitazone. First, most diabetics start off with just metformin, why the extra pill? Second, my doctor said the number one side effect was weight gain.  I'd fought pretty hard to lose 25 pounds and didn't look forward to adding a medication that promised to wipe that out.

So, I faithfully followed instructions and by June my daily readings dropped down to the 150-160 range and A1C to 8.4 plus I had gained 4 pounds.  My doctor advised that I start insulin injections and lose weight.  I told him I wanted to hold off as long as my numbers were trending downward and we made a date for September to check progress.

After that visit and the weight gain, I was a little beside myself, especially with the weight gain that I'm sure was a result of the pioglitazone. To test that theory, I stopped the pioglitazone for a week. At the end of the week, I was down four pounds.

That seemed like some progress.  That same week, I started seeing news about the promising effects of broccoli sprout extract on blood glucose readings in studies. It was easy and cheap to order some via Amazon so I thought "what the heck" and ordered a bottle to see what happened.

Taking the broccoli extract did wonders. Along with the metformin but without the pioglitazone, taking it brought my daily readings down to the 100-140 range. At the September checkup, my A1C was back to 7.1 and I'd lost another pound, bringing my post pioglitazone weight loss to five pounds.

While the formal studies are ongoing, my experience with it seems to support the general thesis that it does work very well in helping to reduce glucose levels. It has also allowed me to stop taking the pioglitazone for now, which only seems to make me gain weight.

Another thing I've noticed is that the metformin in particular, and with the broccoli adding to the effect, is that I cannot eat as much food as I used to. At first, I have the same appetite but if I eat a full portion like I used to, I will get physically ill.  After several episodes, I'm learning...and my body is learning...that smaller portions keep me feeling better.

I'm hoping this effect will also help me peel off a few more pounds. It also means I'm taking quite a bit more leftovers home from restaurants so it helps me save money as one meal turns into two.

While type II diabetes is a progressive disease, so far it seems like I'm able to keep it down with the current medication, diet, and exercise routine (I walk at least 10,000 steps a day and work out two days a week).

This year, I made sure I got my flu shot early and am working hard so that the next check up in January will show some more concrete results.  We'll check back after that to see.

(DISCLAIMER: This series about Type II diabetes is not meant to apply to everyone. This is what works for me, you need to consult with your own medical professionals to find out what will work for you.  My goal here is to simply give you hope that once you're diagnosed, life as you know it does not have to can still enjoy life and the treats it offers.)

Copyright 2017 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas

The World on Wheels is taking today and tomorrow off in honor of Christmas.  Merry Christmas, everybody!

Thank you to all our friend, fans, friends, and family for supporting our blog and helping to make it  a success.

The Musick Family

Friday, December 22, 2017

CLASSIC TRIP - Central Coast (San Luis Obispo), California 2000

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Take a little trip back in time to the Central Coast with us...

San Luis Obispo lies just about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Many use it to stay overnight along the way however it is also a destination unto itself. San Luis Obispo is located about 12 miles inland from the ocean from Morro Bay. It is the starting poing of the scenic portion of Highway 1 that runs through Big Sur, Monterey, Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay before ending up in San Francisco.

Our trip begins on a Friday afternoon. It’s 3 to 4 hours driving before we get to our destination, the Sands Motel. For $70 per night, we get an adequate room with 2 queen beds and an extra large bathroom. It has a bathtub with a shower on a hose, no roll-in. Parking was difficult here as the handicapped spot was not large enough for us to deploy our ramp. We had to park away from the room (update - rooms now appear to be in the $100 plus per night range).

Having had dinner on the ride up, we watch a little TV and then hit the sack. In the morning, we have breakfast across the street at the Monterey St. Café. The motel provided a continental breakfast but to be honest, it just did not look appetizing. The restaurant provided a decent meal.

San Luis Obipso is in the middle of the Central Coast wine country so we headed east of town to visit it. We ended up at Edna Valley Vineyards which has just built a big new tasting room. The wines were good but with prices starting at $18 a bottle they’d need to be a bit better. The demonstration grape vines out by the parking lot were a lot of fun. 15 different varieties are planted here and you can wander through and taste the grapes right off the season of course.
Back in San Luis Obispo, we have dinner at F. McClintocks, a western themed steak joint. Dinner was excellent and the restaurant was accessible but small. After eating we take a walk along the creek that runs through downtown. Accessible walks allow wheelers to stroll along here too.

There is also an interesting, if a bit gross, attraction in the downtown area. That is “Bubble Gum Alley”, a narrow walkway where locals and visitors alike deposit their chewed gum upon the walls - sometimes to artistic effect. There is almost a half century work of gum deposited on the walls.
Wheelchair seating at Santa Maria Speedway
That evening, we head south to Santa Maria to take in a night of racing at Santa Maria Speedway. The sprint cars were running that night and the place was packed with race fans. Wheelchair users have reserved spots at the top of the stands overlooking the track by turn one.
Santa Maria Speedway
The racing that night was spectacular with typical sprint car hijinks and a lot of fun.
The next morning we drove over to nearby Avila Beach for breakfast. Avila has an interesting recent history. Years ago an oil tank farm was installed in the hills above town. About a decade ago it was found that those tanks had been leaking for years, fouling the ground under downtown Avila Beach. The company was sued and now must pay to remove all the soil under the downtown area (which was largely demolished), restore the downtown area and the beach, plus pay a huge settlement to the tiny town itself.
A sea lion begging for scraps off the San Luis Pier
Downtown Avila Beach is still under construction. Just up the road (past the equally infamous Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant entrance) is Port San Luis pier. This 100+ year old wharf nestles in a beautiful little cove. We had an excellent breakfast at Fatcats at the foot of the pier and then walked out to the end where sea lions cavorted in the water begging for handouts at the back of the fish market. Diners also know that the Olde Port Inn at the end of the pier offers some of the finest dining on the central coast.

In the afternoon we took in a matinee at the theater in downtown San Luis Obispo (Meet the Parents, funny movie).

Dinner tonight would be at the F. McClintock’s in Pismo Beach just south of San Luis Obispo (yes, the very same Pismo Beach that Bugs Bunny was always in search of). This is a much larger and much more tourist oriented location than the one in San Luis Obispo. It’s also a tad more expensive and not quite as good food wise. This night it seemed to attract every birthday and anniversary celebration on the coast. I don’t think I want to hear the wait staff sing the F. McLintock-generic celebration song again for a long, long time...

This being our last night here, we pick up a couple of bottles of local wine from the on-premises liquor store at the motel and soak in the inn’s hot tub before retiring for the night.

Of course, we couldn’t do it all in a weekend but over the years we’ve found the following area attractions to be well worth your time...

Hearst Castle is an hour’s drive to the north of San Luis Obispo

The Apple Farm Inn at the north end of town has a wonderful restaurant plus a working grist mill powered by the local creek.

The Monarch Butterflies spend their winters in several eucalyptus groves near Pismo Beach.

You can soak in natural hot springs and swim in naturally warm pools at Avila Hot Springs for a reasonable price or nearby Sycamore Hot Springs for a significant amount more. Both are just south of San Luis Obispo at the Port San Luis/Avila Beach exit of the 101 freeway.

Copyright 2000 - Darryl Musick
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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

CEREBRAL PALSY STORIES: Adventures Of A New Power Traveling Wheelchair - UPDATE


Well, it's no secret that the power chair from GeoCruiser came out of the gate underwhelmingly. As you can see from the story below, the chair actually started falling apart while we were in Germany (necessitating a visit to the Berlin version of Home Depot to find wrenches and parts for an 'on the fly' repair) and went so frustratingly slow that I ended up pushing it in manual mode for most of the trip.

While that was good for exercise and weight loss on the trip, it was also very frustrating and was making me rethink what I thought was a good idea to buy this light-weight fold-able power chair for traveling.

The chair comes with a one-year warranty so off to San Jose it went, via UPS, for the company to make it right.  It came back within a month.

Fast forward to May when we went to Texas and the Florida Keys. While at first the chair seemed a bit better, as the time went on, it went right back to just crawling after about five minutes of operation.

At least this time, it wasn't falling to pieces on us.

Phone calls for help were made to GeoCruiser's dealer in San Jose, who walked me through various tips to try to improve the speed of the chair. Among the advice was to turn the batteries over and, when I told them one of the batteries wouldn't lock into place, to push it in very forcefully.

Nothing worked so off the chair went to San Jose (this is where I found out that the one year warranty only covered shipping back for the first two months - I had to pay shipping back this time since it was the 11th month).

I got an e-mail saying that they might not cover it since one of the battery connectors was smashed, the same one they told me to push in "forcefully." Several e-mails, with increasing anger, back and forth convinced them that it was their tech support that told me to mash in the battery as hard as I could.

When the manager sent back an e-mail complaining that they had to spend over $1,000 for parts to fix the chair, I basically lost it with them and reminded them that I had paid far more than that for a chair that was basically useless and that their contract with me gave me 12 months to force them to make it right...I really didn't care if they were losing money on this since the chair was a lemon from the get-go.

A week later the chair returned. Tim and I took it out for a long walk.  It worked and went much faster this time and was working very well. We decided to roll the dice and take it with us to Canada for a two week trip. I was knowing that I'd be doing a lot of the mountains...if this happened again.

To make a long story short, the chair performed brilliantly with absolutely no problems. I just wish it had been that way from the would have been nice not to push this chair to the heart of Europe and southern Florida.  

Now, finally, the chair is worth it.  If you do decide to buy a chair like this, make sure it really works as promised as soon as it's delivered...and hold the vendor's feet to the fire if there is anything at all you're not happy with.

Our most recent European traveling adventure to Germany and the Czech Republic was special enough that it is worthy of not just one, but two...YES TWO...Cerebral Palsy Stories.  The first Cerebral Palsy Story from our time in Europe was about the basic fundamentals of using an aisle chair while boarding and getting off an airplane.

The second Cerebral Palsy Story from our time in Europe comes courtesy of a new traveling power wheelchair we bought from a company called GEO Cruiser up north in San Jose, California.  When we were looking at the different models they offered, we opted to go with the elite model in the Geo Cruiser line of power wheelchairs for a cost of about $2,500.  Considering that there are only two models of the wheelchair offered, the choice of models wasn't very hard for us in terms of the number of models offered.  We just had to make what we felt was the best decision for us in terms of which model of the chair we thought would give us the best bang for our buck.

We also wanted to get me a new power wheelchair for traveling purposes so that I could have some independence while seeing the sights in Europe by driving myself around and not having to rely on my parents to push me around all the time to wherever we went.

There are a couple of different electric chairs to choose from. To their credit, when we called Geo Cruiser, they suggested we also look at their competitor's chair before buying. This was the EZ Cruiser wheelchair.

EZ Cruiser's warehouse is located in Van Nuys, California and Geo Cruiser is in San Jose. We were heading up to Northern California so we decided to visit both locations in person to test drive the chairs.

EZ Cruiser seems like a well-built chair and has a nice turning radius and a good warranty.
The problem with it is that the back is at a too-severe angle and it feels like I'm reclining.

Geo Cruiser is more comfortable to sit in but takes a little getting used to with it's wider turning radius and slower speed. The warranty is good but not as good as EZ Cruiser's.

The price for both chairs is almost the same and both weigh around 60 pounds, including lithium batteries. They both fold up to easily fit in a regular sized car trunk, although the Geo Cruiser folds up just a little smaller than the EZ Cruiser.

As I mentioned above, we chose to go with the elite model of the Geo Cruiser when purchasing a new traveling power wheelchair a few months before we left for Germany mainly because it's a more comfortable chair to sit in.  As with most of our other purchases, we had the wheelchair delivered to our house similar what one would have delivered to them from an purchase.

During the time after the new chair was delivered, my family and I took full advantage of the time we had left before our trip so that I could practice driving it around and get more comfortable with it.

Those weekly driving tests consisted of driving it to and from our backyard and back inside the house.  From what I can remember, the only negatives we discovered from these pre-traveling weekly driving tests was that the new chair didn't have quite as nice of turning radius for tight and sharp corners compared to my regular power wheelchair and that it wasn't as fast.  We even got in touch with the company again before we left to ask how we could adjust the speed and they walked us through the steps on how to make it go faster.

Fast forwarding to the week when we leave for our trip, I can already feel a difference while driving it around the airport before our first flight leaves in terms of feeling better about how to use it when navigating it around tricky turns and sharp corners, so I can't say that the weekly driving tests I did before we left didn't help because they did in terms of making me feel more confident and comfortable about my skill level when driving it.

What my family and I didn't find out until the trip was in full swing were are the cons of the wheelchair that weren't present before we left.  For instance, when I had my chair at its top speed at times, it would suddenly decide to start slowing down for whatever reason even though I hadn't turned it down to a slower speed in the first place.  When this happened, I kept having to remind my parents to slow down their walking pace just so I could keep up with them.  When that didn't work, I had to have my dad put the chair in manual mode and push it so we could get to where we were going faster.

Then there were times when some of the screws and bolts on the chair would come loose from going over the lovely cobblestone sidewalks and streets that Europe is famous for.  To manage this obstacle we ended having to go to a hardware store near our hotel as well as borrowing a wrench from the helpful staff at the hotel's front desk to tighten the loose screws and bolts.  This became a nightly ritual during our time there.  So much so that one night, the lady at the hotel's front desk already had the wrench in her hand when we returned from our sight seeing one night and said that we could give it back before we had to leave.  The good thing about that is we didn't have to hold on to it and give it back since we went to a nearby hardware store and got the necessary repair supplies.

One final downside that the chair presented during our trip was a problem with one of the chair's motors that was making it even more difficult to use because it went even slower during these times and it was also making an unpleasant grinding noise in the motor while driving it.  At this point, I was already having enough of a hard time trying to keep the chair on the right side of the sidewalk to avoid any oncoming pedestrians and bicycles that it was getting really frustrating for both my parents and myself that more often than not, we had to put the chair in manual to save us from even more headaches.

About the only silver lining we found for easier navigation of the chair for future trips came at the end when we discovered by accident a little trick where we would put the right motor on manual while driving the chair and somehow this seemed to improve the overall performance of the chair and it also seemed to go a little bit faster once we discovered this trick.  It's too bad that it took us until the trip was over to find this out for ourselves since it would have made things a lot easier for all of us in the beginning.

Since the chair is under warranty, we shipped it back to Geo Cruiser to repair the problems that we had with it. The company took about a week to make repairs and ship it back to us. We will see if the problems we encountered are fixed.

Tim Musick
Copyright 2016
All Rights Reserved.        

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

CAREGIVER CHRONICLES: Navigating the Route from Childhood to Adulthood - Parents Edition

We are not only primary caregivers for Tim but also his parents. This has been a path of growth for both of us over the three decades we've been together and it is not always easy to let go of being a parent and transitioning over to letting him be an adult.

I imagine it might be easier if your child is able-bodied and able to do things for themselves. They can get a job, move out, start a family...but that is not how it is for us.

It's a precarious balance. On the one hand, we have to provide care for Tim's needs. We have to protect him, and I mean that literally, as he can't really fend for himself without being watched over such as being out in traffic, getting stuck somewhere without help for feeding or bathrooming, even just getting his chair stuck in a rut...someone's pretty much always got to be with him to keep him out of trouble or from getting into it.

On the other hand, we need to let Tim grow up and be an adult. He's intelligent and able to make decisions for himself. We have avoided the 'conservator' or 'legal guardian' route because he is of age and has the mental capacity to think and reason his way around things.

Since Tim graduated from college and reached adulthood, I've been striving to treat him as an adult, to let him know he's an adult, and to know that I am no longer in the role of raising him to adulthood. Yet, we live together and out of necessity have a very close working relationship with each other.

As you can imagine, sometimes that leads to frustration and one of the other of us losing our patience with each other. Tim may lash out at something and, out of habit and frustration, I will slip back into parent mode and snap back.

It's not something I'm proud of and we have both been working on it for awhile now.

While I strive to clamp off my parental instincts, it's not always that easy but I do work hard to see him as an adult and treat him as one.  I also remind others sometimes that, yes, Tim is an adult and you need to see him that way too.

Independence is another big hurdle for us. At this point, we know that Tim will never be fully independent. Even without us, someone will always have to be there to provide care for him. That being said, we still strive to get him to be independent as possible. Try to get him to go out by himself to see a movie or other excursion; let him be alone in the house for a bit while we go to the store...things like that.

Those periods of independence work out pretty good but we've still got to remember the five hour rule...Tim can only go so long before those needs that need caring for bubble back up to the surface.

Another thing I try to do is not hide anything or sugar coat things from him. We've talked about the inevitable mortality of my wife and I and what he'll need to do at that time. We've worked with him on achieving a financial literacy so that he will be able to manage his money once we're not around anymore. What he needs to do in an emergency. I've even trained him on how to get out of the house by himself if there's an emergency and we're not there to do it for him.

At the same time, we do try to provide a loving and caring environment for him. He knows that he's welcome to stay with us forever and we'll be his caregivers for as long as it's physically possible. He knows that we love him and that we see him as a valued family member, not a burden.

And, yes, sometimes we'll snap under the pressure but that we'll take a breather and talk it out until we reach a resolution. We'll admit our mistakes, and work on ways to try to remember...we're all adults here.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2017 - All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

These Meals Are Golden: Dining Along the Gold Line (More Adventures Close to Home)

It's another beautiful Saturday in Southern California. The sun is shining, the air is clear, and we've got nothing to do so let's go out to dinner. Except, traffic is clogged throughout the region as usual.

Luckily, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority...better known as Metro, these days...has been busy building a network of light rail lines and subways throughout the region where we can simply hop on board one of their trains and light out to our destination. We're also lucky that one of those stations is less than a mile from our house.

Today, we hop on the Gold Line for a short hop to the Memorial Park Station in the heart of Old Pasadena. From here, it's a quick walk through Big Bang Theory Alley (yes, really) to Union Street, then one short block west to Harlowe's French Dip.

This is a new restaurant in Pasadena that pays homage to the sandwich created a few stops farther south on the Gold Line at Philippe's.

It's a small place but lined with warm woods on the brick walls, it's homey and comfortable. A table near the entrance is accommodating to Tim's wheelchair.

We arrive during happy hour so we get some cheap beers and a glass of wine for Letty.  Tim and I are big French dip fans so we get their signature beef sandwich.

My wife gets a fig marmalade burger.

It all goes good with the Texas toast appetizer ($2 during happy hour)...

...and the donut holes with caramel dipping sauce for dessert.

Yes, it's all very nice, delicious, and stress-free since we didn't have to drive. We are loving this new train style, even when we have to deal with some of the 'public' in public transit. It still beats hassling with all the bad drivers and traffic on the roads.

And, since I'm not driving, I don't have to worry about that food and beer making me fall asleep from all that gentle rocking.

Here are our favorite places to eat along the Gold Line, which runs from East Los Angeles to the Glendora city limits in the San Gabriel Valley:


If you've watched our Gold Line Pub Crawl, you'll see this spot near the Indiana Station where we fortify ourselves for all the drinking that is to come. It's Tamales Lilianas.

From a plate of chicharones and eggs to their namesake tamales, it's all good and very authentic here in the heart of East L.A. Just a short, one block walk from the station at 3448 E. 1st Street.


While there's a food court, a nice sit down restaurant, and and even nicer restaurant coming soon to the station's former Harvey House, we like to cross Alameda Street to go for taquitos at Olvera Street.

This touristy little alley, supposedly evoking Los Angeles' Mexican past, has many places you can go for overpriced, bland food but there is still a jewel here and there. Cielito Lindo, at the north entrance is known as the originator of the taquito...little rolled tacos, filled with meat, deep fried, and covered with a guacamole sauce.

It's a great cheap eat for only $3 for two. An even better deal is located near the other end of Olvera Street. Cielito Lindo may have invented the taquito but La Noche Buena perfected it.

Here, the taquitos are several notches above the original in taste and you'll get them even cheaper...$2.50 for two.

Afterward, you can get some of the best churros in L.A. in the hallway behind El Paseo restaurant at Mr. Churro.


Speaking of French dip sandwiches, Philippe's...a block south of the Chinatown station...invented them. Sure, there's a counterclaim by another downtown restaurant (Cole's) but we'll go with the Philippe's story. Not to mention, they're better here.

Any good Angeleno will know Philippe's...we've been coming here as long as we can remember for those delicious sandwiches made on the spot by the carver at the counter right in front of you. The restaurant has been here well over a century and it shows, too, with the sawdust on the floor, long communal tables, old wooden phone booths, and a newsstand in the corner.

The sandwiches, though, are the star. Although there is a very extensive menu, 99% of the customers order a sandwich. Beef, lamb, turkey, ham, pork, and the recent addition of pastrami are your choices of meat.  The efficient ladies at the counter will slice the meat, dip the bread in the au jus, and plate the sandwich in less time than it took me to type that sentence.

My favorite? A beef dip (as the carver to double dip it), with jack cheese. A vast array of side dishes are available from pig's feet to pickled eggs. Me, I just like to get a slice of their delicious cheesecake. Don't forget to dab a little of their own hot mustard from the jar on the table. It'll clear your sinuses along with bringing out the flavor of that delicious sandwich.

From the station, you can also walk through the adjacent Blossom apartment complex to Broadway. Across the street, we'll sometimes stop for the delicious desserts at the Phoenix Bakery.  It's just a kid compared to Philippe's...only around 80 years old, not the 100+ that Philippe's is.


If you come here on Tuesday afternoon, there's a spiffy little farmer's market at the station but we come here for something else. Walk east about a block to Figueroa Street, look south for the old Highland Theater. Just beyond that is the Greyhound Bar and Grill.

While there's a lot of good drinking and snacking going on here, we come mainly for one thing...shrimp and grits.

Southern themed restaurants come and go in this town...Frank and Joe's, Cajun Way, Spoonful...but the cuisine hasn't really reached critical mass yet. My wife particularly laments the lack of a good place for shrimp and grits.

I was very pleased to find this place that not only serves them but serves a version that she claims is "fantastic." I'm not such a shrimp and grits fan so I can't really describe it for you but can tell you that you want to come after 4pm...that's when they start serving it.


This station is smack dab in the middle of downtown South Pasadena where there more than a few good places to eat and drink. We like to go right behind the station to Nicole's Market, a small market and cafe that specializes in French food.

While browsing for some great soft cheese to take home with a couple of baguettes, we'll also have a nice light lunch here from one of their sandwiches, pastas, soups and more...along with a cold craft beer or a great glass of French wine.

It's on the quiet side of the station at 921 Meridian Avenue.


This is one of our favorites, despite the few addicts and homeless you have to wade through when exiting the station. Letty and Tim will leave from their end of the line, I'll leave my office at the other end in downtown Los Angeles, and we'll meet in the middle here. From the platform, it's only about 100 yards to Pitfire Pizza where we can nosh on $5 pizzas and cheap beer during their happy hour which starts at 3pm on weekdays.

This isn't just any pizza, either. Pitfire was doing artisanal pizzas long before it was popular.  Hand stretched dough, housemade sauce using fresh ingredients, and delicious buffalo mozzarella baked in a hot, wood-fired oven, make for some very tasty pies.

Since it's only setting us back some pocket change, we can even have another one or opt for their soft-serve topped cookies for dessert.

A very delicious way to commute home.  


The station here cuts through a slice of apartment buildings built so that residents could have easy access to the train. On the west platform, you can see the restored station that served the city back in the glory days of passenger train travel.

Inside that station is an upscale restaurant called Le Grande Orange that we have yet to try. At the end of the build is another one we need to try called the Luggage Room, which is basically a pizzeria.

Where we have gone are the two restaurants across the street, Houstons and Congregation Ale House.

Houstons is a moderately expensive steakhouse and chop chain. It is very nice and the food has always done well by us. There's also a sushi bar here and no corkage fee if you bring your own wine.

Congregation Ale House is part of a small chain owned by our friend Travis Ensling. It was his dream to create this sort of 'Catholic High School Girls in Trouble' themed restaurant and bar (you'll understand when you go...Travis is a pretty creative thinker).

Specializing in craft beer and extremely well made pub grub, you'll find their burgers, gourmet sausage sandwiches, flatbreads, and more to be very delicious. They've also expanded to brew some of their own beers. The theme and atmosphere make this a very fun place to stop along the way.

Houstons is on the corner of Del Mar and Arroyo Parkway just east of the station and Congregation Ale House is on the corner of Del Mar and Raymond Avenue on the west side.


This is the station for Old Pasadena, a very popular place for people to visit with dozens of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, name it. It's a horrible place to drive to and try to find a cheap place to park. The Gold Line is the perfect way to visit this very entertaining neighborhood.

See up above for our dinner at Harlowe's.

We'll skip ahead...while there are many restaurants along the corridor at the Lake, Allen, and Sierra Madre Villa stations, nothing is really a standout among them. At least we haven't found them yet.


We usually come here to drink and buy tacos on the Taco Tuesday all day happy hour at Mt. Lowe Brewery but you can read and see more about that in our pub crawl posts.

Otherwise, you're on the edge of the Asian dining empire of the San Gabriel Valley here, which is justifiably world famous. A walk south of the station will take you to a favorite of ours here, Hot 'n Sweet Chicken. It's a standout serving authentic, not that. In this case it stand for Korean Fried Chicken and, wow, is it good.

You can get wings or drumsticks fried to an incredible degree so that the skin is super-crispy, yet the inside is tender and moist. Glazed with a sweet sauce that comes in a variety of spiciness from mild to melt your tongue, it's an outstanding meal.

There's also a selection of Italian style pastas and Korean dishes but I'm here for the chicken.


Our dining tour ends here. I know there's one more stop on the we've skipped over Monrovia, Duarte and Irwindale...but there's really not much there outside of college cafeterias and snack bars.

In the line's penultimate stop, there's plenty, though. Another Congregation Ale House is here (this one is also the chain's brewery), City Cafe is a bit of sophisticated dining that runs its air conditioning a bit too high, Bambino's Pizza is good for take out but California Grill Express has let us down.

Where we end up here is the delicious Mexican food and margaritas offered by our friend Max Arteaga at his eponymously named Max's Mexican Cuisine.  Why not? (you might get that reference if you've ever been there)

Along with the menudo (available every day here), albondigas, enchilladas, tacos, burritos, and more, Max's has a variety of some of the more spicy salsas you'll get in a sit-down, mainstream Mexican restaurant like this...starting with the hot pico de gallo with your chips and moving on to the other red and green salsas that you'll have to ask them to bring from the kitchen.

While Max has another location in Monrovia and another on the way in San Dimas, we like the ambiance, attitude, and food of this original spot in Azusa the best.

OK, that's making me hungry so I better stop for a bite. Be sure to jump on the train next time you're in downtown L.A. or the eastside to get some of this great food.

And if you want to catch up on our Gold Line pub crawls, use the links below:

Gold Line Pub Crawl 1.0

Gold Line Pub Crawl 2.0