Wednesday, October 31, 2018

L.A.'s Day of the Dead

It's Halloween and all the ghouls and goblins will be on the prowl for sweets tonight. In Los Angeles, with it's large Hispanic population, it's also time for Dia de Los Muertos or Day of the Day. It's a day for families to get together and remember family members who have passed on.

This holiday has been gaining traction over the last couple of decades and you can now visit some very beautiful and complex altars that are built to honor the dead. 

Over the last 20 years or so, I use to walk daily in Downtown Los Angeles. Each year at this time, I'd wander over to Grand Park or Olvera Street and take in some of these displays.

Here is a gallery of some of them that I've come across on my walks.

Grand Park

Olvera Street

Olvera Street (Old Plaza)

Olvera Street

The Music Center

The Music Center

Grand Park

Grand Park

The Music Center

Grand Park is located on the west side of City Hall and runs three blocks to the Music Center on Grand Avenue. Accessible subway transportation is available via the Red and Purple Metro Lines, exit Grand Park/Civic Center station.  Olvera Street is located directly across the street from Union Station on its west side main entrance. Many accessible rail lines, the Gold, Red, Purple, and Metrolink trains, all serve this station.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 29, 2018

A Trio of Quick Fall Trips...Number 1 - Santa Barbara, California

We went from having no trips planned for this season to three trips real quick. That's life when hitting the road is pretty much second nature. First up is this overnighter just up the road to Santa Barbara where we'll be taking in some food for our soul, not to mention food for our stomachs, too.

You have to know that my favorite musician ever is William Royce Scaggs, better know by his high school nickname of 'Boz.' I'm the bane of bar singers everywhere when I go up and ask them "do you know anything by Boz Scaggs?" I usually get looks of puzzlemen and a quick "no" but in Memphis, I get more enthusiastic yes's.

Boz has a great way of mixing blues, smooth jazz, and rock into some very good songs and always...always...plays with a very tight band of professional musicians with a very unique and strong voice.

That's where the genesis of this trip begins. I keep saying I want to take in one of his shows but during my working days, I could never find a date that worked with my weird hours. Now that I'm retired, that's not a problem anymore.

What is a problem is the price of the tickets. Bad seats at local shows are heading upwards of $200 each. Ouch. I pretty much ruled out the current tour but at Boz's age of 74 I won't have that luxury for too much longer, I'm afraid.

A friend's post on Facebook about a Scaggs show she attended inspired me to take another look. Lo and behold, a show I hadn't see before in Santa Barbara opened up where we could get wheelchair accessible tickets in the front row of the orchestra section for $74 on a Tuesday night. My wife said "do it."

Now we find ourselves late on a Tuesday morning, heading up the Ventura Freeway. Just a few lingering effects of the morning's rush hour stall us for some minutes in Encino but we still make a good time of less than two hours.

We're still a little early for check-in at our hotel. The manager says they don't even check for available rooms until 1:30pm so we go to look for some lunch.

At a hidden shopping center next door, we find a little trattoria serving some outstanding and cheap pasta and pizza.

At Presto Pasta, we share this pizza and two plates of penne. One with pesto and the other with an outstanding marinara sauce.

Lunch over, we check in to our hotel, the Lemon Tree Inn. It's one of the city's budget lodgings and, at $125 a night, is actually around twenty dollars less that the local Motel 6 (that's cheap in this very popular beachfront city getaway for L.A.).

We opted for a ground floor, non-ADA adapted room with two queen beds. The toilet door will be tricky but barely doable. Otherwise, it's a fine room with plenty of space for the wheelchair. A large door opens up to a patio that is a few feet away from the pool in a richly landscaped courtyard.

Showtime finds us having some wine then wandering into the the Granada Theatre. This richly restored 1924 era auditorium will be a fine place to take in the show.

The three of us find our seats easily...front row of the orchestra section but we're still about ten rows back from the stage.

Promptly at 7:30, Boz and his band take the stage.

Picture courtesy of Dwight McCann 
under CC BY 2.5 license

It's a great show and only a few times to people standing in front of us block Tim's view, which is something that mightily upsets my wife. It's only for a couple of songs near the end of the set, though. Tim says he's not bothered by it.

Knowing his audience is not the young nightlifers that they used to be, Boz and his band wrap things up at a still early 9:15. That gives us some time to wind down and relax in our room before calling it a night.

In the morning, I have a hankering for some chilaquiles and eggs. Santa Barbara is known for having a lot of good restaurants so I do a Google search for the best in the city. What comes up is a restaurant on San Andres Street called Su Casa.

We pack our bags and head over. Unfortunately, the restaurant seems to think the wheelchair ramp is a dandy place to store a metal cabinet and chairs. We don't see anybody around to move it so we move on to Ventura.

Here, we find an old favorite, Eggs 'n Things, in a large shopping center just off the freeway.

They don't make chilaquiles here, to my dismay, but this plate of chile verde and eggs is a good substitute.

Letty has this tasty omelet...

...and Tim has these tasty blackberry Swedish pancakes.

It's just a quick overnighter for the show so we're back on the road to home. 

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Cocktail Hour: Blue Agave

It's hot. Time to be at the beach with a cool, blue drink in your hand.  Here's a very easy to make cocktail named after the plant that gives us the best tequila.

Watch the Video!

Just remember the number 2. To make two drinks, you'll do everything by two's...


juice of 2 limes
2 oz. tequila
2 oz. blue Curacao
2 oz. sweet and sour mix
2 oz. lemon lime soda

Mix all ingredients in a shaker half full of ice. Strain out into 2 cocktail glasses.



Friday, October 26, 2018

Visiting the Home Front: Schwabing, Munich

(NOTE: We're trying to see different things on this trip to Munich than we did on our last trip. You might want to check out our previous trip to Bavaria to see some of the big sites we won't be covering on this trip as well)

Previously on The World on Wheels...
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

We're getting ready to wrap up this latest edition of our Grand Tour. So far, we've seen many Cold War sites...such as the Bridge of Spies, remnants of the Berlin Wall, and former border checkpoints...along with World War II Hitler's bunker, his mountaintop hidewaway, and bomb damage in Berlin...along with some great food in Poland and the beautiful but crowded capitol of the Czech Republic (you can also click the link at the top to see other Bavarian landmarks we've visited in the past such as Neuschwanstein Castle, Dachau, the Munich Olympic Village and much more - Ed).

What we haven't done, yet, is to just chill out and enjoy our local neighborhood.

There's a great, accessible tram just a little over a block away from our hotel, the line ends at the Munchner Freihiet Station on Leopoldstrasse, the main thoroughfare for the Schwabing area.

A farmer's market is setting up at the station entrance, this trailer full of bread looks interesting.

Not quite ready to open yet, we head off down the street to see what we can find.

One note about Germany and...really, Europe in that ice seems to be a rare commodity. Letty wants to hit the stores for some shopping while Tim and I would just like to have a Coke with some ice in it for a change.

Don't judge us but we couldn't resist going to McDonald's for a nice, big, reasonably priced Coke that actually came with a scoop of ice in it - plus a side a great fries.

After this, a few blocks away, we come across this vintage Porsche.

It's a pretty residential neighborhood off of the main drag with a few little boutiques, cafes, and even this pretty little florist.

Elizabethmarkt, the quiet alternative to Viktulienmarkt, comes next.

We browsed the stands, looking for some snacks for later.

It's also a nice place to just sit back and watch the kids in the playground.

One last biergarten, the Wintergarden, provides us with a meal of wurst and potatoes before working our way back to Leopoldstrasse.

We find a gelateria where the owner speaks decent Spanish so we can get our order just perfect and enjoy some very delicious ice cream.

Back in the hotel, we enjoy our goodies from the day before one more night of rest. In the morning, it's back on the plane for the very long flight home.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

CEREBRAL PALSY STORIES: Tim's Mental Health Mayhem of 2015 to 2018 Part 3: The Long and Winding Road to Recovery-Taking Control of My Anxiety and Depression

In the first part part of this story I went on the record and finally opened up about my three year battle with anxiety and depression that started in 2015. In part two I discussed what led up to my three years of experiences with anxiety and depression. In this third and final part of this story, I will take you inside my journey during which I had various instances of anxiety and depression the issues that I have had to deal with mentally and how I have successfully managed to deal with and overcome them to be what is hopefully a better version of the person that I was some three years ago.

The main physical component causing my sickness was lack of sleep. I went to see a sleep specialist for help. The visits with this doctor consisted of an introductory one where I was with my mom and we described to the doctor what had been going on and what my symptoms were. During this visit, they also took my vital signs such as my blood pressure to see how I was doing physically. Other than the fact that my blood pressure was a little high and the troubles I was having with getting enough sleep, I think everything else was considered to be normal and good.

After the conclusion of that first visit with the sleep doctor I came back for what would be my second and most interesting visit to see the sleep doctor a few weeks later. That's because I had to actually spend the night at the office and sleep there so I could undergo a series of tests to see if I possibly had a sleeping disorder known as sleep apnea. For those that may not know what sleep apnea is, it is a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts.

In order to figure out whether or not I did have sleep apnea, I had to wear a sleeping mask that was connected to a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. To make a long story short, it was found out that I did indeed have sleep apnea and I have now been using a CPAP machine to help me sleep better for almost the last three years or so.

As for getting the mental health issues that I had with anxiety and depression that caused me to have various incidents of panic attacks and hallucinations, I ended up having to go see a psychologist/therapist to help me feel better and deal with the various issues that I started having. 

The first time that I went to see a therapist, I ended up going there for about a period of about only one month after which the doctor said that I had been suffering from insomnia but that I was slowly but surely getting better.

Dad: After the nights of crisis, emergency room visits, and the visit from the county mental health team, we took Tim to his primary care doctor. Because of how our insurance is structured, he basically told us he could do nothing for mental health issues and we’d have to take it up with our insurance carrier to find help.

We had to call our insurance carrier to get approval for mental health treatment for Tim. They referred us to a contractor who provided us a list of approved psychologists and psychiatrists. It was up to us to contact someone on that list a make an appointment with them.

The first psychologist saw Tim for a couple of months of weekly visits then said he didn’t need him anymore.

After seeing the first psychologist however, there were times when I was still experiencing periods of both anxiety and depression. For me, it took a little over a year to realize that I needed to go see another psychologist since I was still struggling mentally with some unresolved issues. 

The good thing for me though was that compared to the first time I went to see a psychologist when my anxiety and depression first started, I felt that I was better prepared to see a psychologist the second time around since I had a better idea of what the whole experience was going to be like. During this time before I went back to see a therapist, I also had a better idea of what the issues were that I was having which had an effect on the mental health aspect of my life.

Dad: The second psychologist saw Tim for almost two years on a biweekly basis. She recently retired and Tim is no longer seeing a psychologist at this time.

In addition to those visits with the psychologist my dad and I also started implementing some meditation and pow wow sessions into my daily and or weekly routine. The meditation sessions consisted of focusing on my breathing and trying my best to not do the snorting tick habit that I had started to do. These sessions would last for about five minutes on most days and they were very helpful for me the more times that I did them.

The pow wow sessions were done on a weekly basis most of the time and my dad and I would usually talk about what issues I may have had or did have throughout a given week. These were also very helpful for me.

Dad – The pow wow sessions are also helpful to me to help me understand what’s going on with Tim and to try to avoid getting angry when I don’t know why he sometimes behaves the way he does.

Fast forwarding to some three years later to now, the good news is that for now I am no longer seeing a psychologist after spending the last two years or so doing just that. As a result, my overall anxiety and depression levels are a lot lower than what they were when this whole journey started. I feel like I have definitely learned some very valuable life lessons for myself along the way and hopefully anyone out there dealing with similar issues like I did can see that they are not alone and that there is hope. Lastly, I would like to say thank you all of my family, friends and doctors who provided help and guidance to me along and supported me throughout the tough times during the last few years. I could not have done without all of you. I am truly appreciative and very grateful for it.

Tim Musick-with contributions from Darryl Musick.
Copyright 2018.
All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 22, 2018

A Day in the Garten - Navigating Munich's Englischer Garten from End to End

(NOTE: We're trying to see different things on this trip to Munich than we did on our last trip. You might want to check out our previous trip to Bavaria to see some of the big sites we won't be covering on this trip as well)

Previously on The World on Wheels...
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

New York has Central Park; London has Hyde Park; Vancouver has Stanley Park; Berlin has the Tiergarten.  It seems that every big city has a grand park in it for the residents to enjoy and escape the urban life for awhile. In Munich, this would be the Englisher Garten...a huge city park that stretches over five miles along the Isar River.

It is our destination for today.

Watch the Video!

One or two stops on the U-Bahn from our Schwabing district hotel puts us within walking distance of the park's northern boundary. We make our way along the Frankfurter Ring until we get to the parking lot of Munich Tennis club which allows us to get off of the busy highway and enter the park through a quiet entrance in the back of the lot.

For a few minutes, I'm lost in the woods until I see a sign in the bushes for our first destination, the Aumeister Biergarten.

A left up the path and eventually the garden's large seating area opens up in front of us.  We're here to fortify ourselves with some dessert...including a very good auzignone...and some beer before tackling the rest of the park.

This end of the park is much more forested and quiet than the lower half. You can easily get lost in the woods.

The meadows are not mowed, in fact, shepherds still use the area to graze their flocks.

Streams gurgle under low pedestrian bridges.

As we make our way through, we encounter many bikers, hikers, dog walkers, parents with kids...all just out to enjoy the natural surroundings of the area.

A dam looms up ahead. There's a bumpy, rocky, but somewhat accessible path up to the top of the dam that allows us to cross the river. One side is a lake, the other a stream.

Swans glide across the water in the deeper areas.

Tim's chair is starting to give us problems, so we exit the park here to search for a tram to take us to the middle of the park. 

After strolling through a residential area, we come across another park where dogs cool off in the clear stream.  One of the dogs owners strikes up a little conversation with us and tells us which direction to go in to catch a tram.

Much walking later, we finally find a tram that takes us to the middle of the park.

Here, we come across the massive Chinischer Turm biergarten. In Munich, biergartens are situated at strategic points, in the Englischer Garten, there are a few to help you rejuvinate after a long walk.

This one, with it's large Chinese Pagoda, is a very popular stop.

A brass band plays in the tower while we get a little food and beer before continuing on. I do need to remember before moving on that the price of beer at this particular spot includes a deposit on the stein. I'll turn it in to get it back before I leave.

There's a handy map at the exit of the biergarten where we can figure out a) where we are and b) how to get were we want to go.

We decide to walk along the Eisbach Canal for the rest of our park adventure.
It's a hot, summer day in Munich and the canal is almost irresistible. In fact, it is too irresistible for some as park frolickers jump in and float in the cool, clear water.

Families play, dogs yap, and a few naturists tan.

It's a beautiful day in the park.

Finally, we come to the south end of the park where the rushing Eisbach enters into it's course. This spot with it's permanent wave has become one of the city's biggest, modern tourist attractions where a line of surfers patiently wait their turn on each side to have a minute to ride it.

A block away is another park in this city filled with them, the Hofgarten where we end our day listening to a lone violinist under the park's kiosk dome.

This was originally supposed to be a laid back, easy going day but a final check on Letty's fitness app shows that we walked 26,341 steps or just under 12 miles.

We'll rest up and hit the streets again tomorrow.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved