Total Pageviews

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Huntington Library and Gardens (Part I)

The Huntington Library and Gardens in a privately owned 120 acre botanical garden and art museum located in San Marino, 12 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. 

This time last year, we were back in the Los Angeles area. My wife, teenage kids, and I took time to enjoy The Huntington along with my extended family. Above, obligatory group photos just inside the entrance. 

First stop: the 12 acre Chinese Garden. 

The Chinese Garden opened in 2008. It's been at least twenty years since I'd been to The Huntington, so this was the first time I had seen it. 

The garden's Chinese name is Liu Fang Yuan, which translates "The Garden of Flowing Fragrance." 

Artisans and architects from the Chinese city of Suzhou spend six months working along the Southern California team in the creation of the of the garden. 

Apparently, Liu Fang Yuan is the world's largest Chinese garden outside of China. Even if you're not "into" Chinese culture, it's very impressive. 

Here's a view from behind one of the garden's waterfalls. There are some beautiful water features, including the "Lake of Reflected Fragrance" and "Pond of Reflected Greenery." 

My kids, in between their two cousins (center). 

My niece and nephew, plus their older sister and parents, lived in Shanghai, China for five years. In that sense, it was especially fun to visit. 

San Marino is located in the San Gabriel Valley, which has a huge and vibrant Chinese-American community. Here's a link to a previous post on a visit to nearby Monterey Park, highlighting the extensive Chinese-American influence in the area. 

The political changes in China over the past 2-3 years are another issue, and should be of concern to those of us in the West.

The Chinese government has built massive detention facilities in the western province of Xinjiang, and are currently detaining one million ethnic Uighur Muslims under the guise of "re-education." Elsewhere in China, churches have been closed and bulldozed, Christian leaders have been imprisoned.

While the current administration's "trade war" might be making the news, of greater concern should be the increasing repression occurring in China. 

The relative freedoms that the Chinese have enjoyed over the past couple of decades are quickly disappearing, with a new and aggressive reassertion of the Chinese Communist Party. China's new "social credit" system sounds like something out an episode of TV show Black Mirror. 

Many of these changes, or at least awareness of them, have occurred in the past twelve months since our visit to The Huntington. While this blog generally keeps a light and optimistic tone, the current direction of the Chinese government is taking is sobering. Friends living long-term in China have described it as a return to the culture revolution of the 1960's and 1970's. Here's a link with more info. 

Obligatory family photo. Since we took this photo last year, my son has since started as a Freshman at San Diego State University, my daughter is a High School Junior. 

A few photos on our way to the next stop, the ajacent Japanese Garden. 

Here's a link to The Huntington website.

More next time. 

© 2018


Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Last Bookstore: 5th & Spring, Downtown Los Angeles

I thought I'd finish out 2018 with a final post featuring The Last Bookstore. 

In January of this year, my wife, teenage kids, and I - along with my in-laws - were in Downtown Los Angeles, to go ice skating and grab dinner.  

We had some time before skating, so my son and I walked over a few blocks from Pershing Square to The Last Bookstore. 

The Last Bookstore is located on the corner of 5th and Spring Streets.

The entrance is located off of 5th Street. 

The bookstore occupies a former bank, and at an incredible 22,000 square feet, is apparently California’s largest book store. 

Incredible selection of vinyl records as you walk in. 

Lots and lots of different categories upstairs. Let's take a look. 

View from the second floor of the main entrance area. 

The Last Bookstores very famous, and very photographed, tunnel of books. 

So cool. 

Another view of the outside. 

Apparently, the tunnel of books is a huge Instagram magnet. Got got started blogging ten years ago using Blogger. Meanwhile, my 19 year old enjoys Instagram, my 16 year old Snapchat. 

People were walking around taking photos. 

More photos. Which is what we were doing, too. But next time I'm back, I'd like to buy a book - or two or three. 

Love this place, but I'm also aware that it only stays in business if people like me actually make a purchase, not just take photos. 

My son, at time a High School Senior, posing for an obligatory Instagram photo. 

The bank's old vault is used to house horror (and I believe crime) themed books. 

The second floor has a small section dedicated to artwork, apparently for sale. 

There are also several small sublet spaces for featuring local art and other niche products. Really great.

Yet another creative use of books.

Another look at the main entrance area.

While I'm generally not a fan of people brining their dogs into stores, it really seems to fit the vibe of Downtown Los Angeles. Plus - and this is important - this is the dog owner's neighborhood, not mine.

Lots of big, comfy chairs.

A final look inside in the main entrance area. I like the way the effect the lighting makes, which was just accidental. 

I came across this outstanding video on The Last Bookstore on Vimeo. 

Worth watching. 

We were pressed for time - I hope to come back sometime soon. 

We walked over to Pershing Square to go ice skating. Here's a link

We didn't make it to Downtown Los Angeles this Christmas break. Too bad. We're tentatively hoping to get down to both the Rose Parade in Pasadena, plus maybe the Huntington Library, and ice skating Downtown the first couple days of January 2020. We'll see if that happens.

The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles, located in the (1914) Spring Arts Tower on the corner of 5th and Spring. Their tag line is "What are you waiting for? We won't be here forever." 

Here's a link to their website.

Happy New Year from Experiencing Los Angeles. 

© 2018


Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas in Los Angeles

Just a few throwback photos on how our family celebrated Christmas during our five years living in Los Angeles:

Nativity Scenes in Santa Monica.  Dating back to 1953, these outdoor nativity scenes were a fixture along Ocean Avenue at the bluffs Palisades Park for 50+ years. After years of legal challenges, they were moved to private property in 2011 and currently located at the corner of 20th and Broadway.

The Salvation Army, Compton. We tried (with varying success) to involve our family in some aspect of service to greater community during the Christmas Season. We appreciate the chance to serve alongside The Salvation Army - which does an outstanding job meeting both the physical and spiritual needs of men, women, and children in the area. 

Downtown on Ice. Every year we went ice skating just before Christmas in downtown Los Angeles at Pershing Square with extended family. If you're in Los Angeles, or just visiting, it's a fun experience. In fact, we had a chance to visit again this past January. 

Back to Bethlehem. For our family, and millions of others around the world, Jesus Christ remains the central focus of Christmas. We so appreciated the annual Back to Bethlehem event sponsored by The Church at Rocky Peak in Chatsworth. Staffed entirely by volunteers, this event had an amazing 30 year run, which - sadly - just ended. A google search should bring up similar events in the Los Angeles area. 

Santa Monica Pier. Finally, I'm including an extended family photo from back in 2004 - when our kids were really little, and before we had even moved to L.A. This was taken at the Santa Monica Pier a few days before Christmas. Say what you will about Los Angeles, the weather is pretty stellar.

Merry Christmas from Experiencing Los Angeles. 

originally posted on 11/24/11
© 2018


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Pershing Square Ice Skating Rink & Grand Central Market - Downtown Los Angeles

Downtown on Ice is a seasonal event sponsored by the Los Angeles Parks and Recreation. My family and I have enjoy this since our kids were very young. This past January we were back in town and took time to enjoy it. 

The rink is located in Downtown Los Angeles' Pershing Square. Apparently, after years of being sponsored and run by the City, this year it's run by Bietak Productions. 

Walking around beforehand, an artist was working on a mural on the northwest corner of Pershing Square. 

We were actually there fairly early and my son, now age 19, and I took time to walk a few block over to explore The Last Bookstore. More on that in a future post. 

By the time we were actually on the ice, it was dark. Which actually made for a more fun experience. Here's a link to the Pershing Square Holiday Ice Skating site. 

Below, my in-laws (minus my niece, studying at Calvin College in the Midwest). They lived a mile northwest of USC for several years. Then five years in Shanghai, China. Now back in greater Los Angeles. 

Above, my wife, kids, and I. 

Below, a couple of throwback photos, when my kids were five and 2 1/2! This while we were still living in Arizona, before our family moved to Los Angeles.

After ice skating, we walked three blocks over to Grand Central Market for dinner. Here's a link to a previous visit on a crowded Sunday afternoon. The evening we visited in early January felt much more manageable. 

Sarita's Salvadorian Food. This is the exact spot were Sebastian and Mia had there first date in the 2016 film La La Land. I've eaten here before. Good experience, but I was looking for Mexican food. 

Fun when it's not crowded, and you can sit on the same stools that Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone sat on. 

Grand Central Market is a 100+ year old food hall, with entrances at both Olive and Broadway. 

My kids have memories of coming here when they were much younger, when it was less "upscale." 

Personally, I like the mix between the older, established places and the newer offerings. 

I ended up getting a huge burrito at Tacos Tumbras a Tomas. 

Here's a link to the Grand Central Market website. 

Merry Christmas from Experiencing LA. 

© 2018