Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wherever the Day Takes You

It was HOT last weekend in SoCal! Temperatures soared to a whopping 95 degrees in my 'hood on Saturday and Sunday, making for very lazy afternoons where we napped and watched the NBA playoffs. Rene and I thought about visiting some beaches in San Diego on Sunday, but this happened last week. Supposedly the Great White Shark that attacked a triathlete is still in the area, so authorities closed San Diego beaches as far north as Carlsbad for the weekend.

We ended up running six miles on Saturday (followed by push-ups and tricep exercises whose impact I still feel today – ouch!), and on Sunday we got up extra early (6:30 am) to tackle five miles before the heat came. Where I live, the heat feels like a dozen lasers pointed at you whenever you come in contact with sunlight – on really hot days it is that intense. I usually make it a point to run in the morning or late afternoon to avoid getting burned alive.

Our run on Sunday was tough. We ran a trail called Towsley Canyon, and the first half of the run (roughly 2.5 miles) was a never-ending climb with an elevation of, oh, HALF A MILE. It wasn’t too bad in the beginning, during the first mile or so, but there were some sections that kicked our butts and we ended up walking some parts of the trail. I normally hate stopping during my workouts but it was too much – the hills were killing my calves so I decided to take it easy and walk long strides. I also had to stop during the downhill portion due to really bad side cramps, which has plagued me for the past week. I’ve been trying to make adjustments to my diet and workouts to get rid of them but I can’t seem to shake them. Rene thinks it’s because I bounce too much when I run, and consequently irritate or shake up my insides, resulting in side cramps. Have you ever had side cramps like this? If so, how did you get rid of them?

After our run we ate breakfast at Way Station Cafe in Newhall. It’s a nice local place with a small-town atmosphere, where the waitresses called you “Hon” (even though ours was not a day over 18, making it a little awkward for me to be called “Hon” by someone ten years younger) and is decorated with old license plates, framed newspaper articles from the 1970s, and other vintage signs. It was nice seeing license plates from states like West Virginia (Wild, Wonderful), Montana (Big Sky), and New Hampshire (Live Free or Die) while eating breakfast.

On our way home we came across the William S. Hart Ranch and Museum, which piqued our interest. We stopped to see if there was anything interesting to see when a friendly old man came up to us and told us that further up the hill were bison (bison! In SoCal!) and a historic house that gave free tours every half hour. Since I love tours, and free ones at that, we climbed the path to the house, where we came across these babies:

Don't they look a little like my dog Chuy? They were given to the property by Walt Disney back in 1962 and have been residing there ever since. It's really quite a sight to behold, bison in the heart of suburbia. I was really happy to see them, considering that bison don't run around SoCal, and the only ones I've seen live in Catalina Island (they were left there after filming wrapped for The Vanishing American).

So who is William S. Hart, and why is his estate open to the public? William S. Hart was an actor in the silent film era famous for playing cowboys. He was famous for carrying two six-shooter pistols (rumored to be from Billy the Kid) and was nicknamed Two-Gun Bill. Mr. Hart was the inspiration behind characters played by Gary Cooper and Clint Eastwood. He had a horse named Fritz, who had his own fan club, and owned many dogs. The Spanish Colonial Revival home, called La Loma de los Vientos, was designed by Arthur R. Kelly during the 1920s. Arthur R. Kelly also designed many other homes in SoCal during that time, including the Playboy Mansion. I was very impressed with the house, especially with the quality of the materials used to build it. According to our tour guide, all the doors are made from a single piece of wood, and the structure sustained no damage from the Northridge Earthquake in 1994. After William S. Hart's death in 1946 he willed the entire estate to the LA County Museum of Art, and it has been open to the public ever since. I recommend stopping by if you are in the Valencia area.

We spent the rest of the day getting ready for the week and relaxing at home. It was nice discovering a place I didn't even know existed, another gem in the crown of LA.

More pictures here.


LA Blogger Gal said...

I learn about the coolest places reading about your weekends. Funny thing too considering I have photographing bison/buffalo on my 101 in 1001 list. We have a group not far from where I lived in NM on one of the reservations, but every time I try to take pictures, they're too far away. I just might try this place instead.

Ever get that RSS thing settled?

Genevieve said...

hi. maybe your side cramps are because your spleen (where 30% of red blood cells are stored) is dumping the in-reserve cells into circulation.