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All posts for the month March, 2018

When we first moved down here, Thomas and I drove downtown and then paid to park. We really wouldn’t have considered any other way, despite the fact that almost every time we went into downtown Chicago, we took the train.

In the last month, I’ve been downtown four times and I haven’t had to pay for parking even once.

We start on February 10. When trying to figure out how we’d get to the Howard Jones concert (which was awesome), I drove to the Pearl and walked downtown down the River Walk. I was both trying to figure out how to get to the concert and also trying to figure out how many tries it would take to get Foxy into shape so that we can take her downtown before we reach the end of her life. I measured our walk with her on February 4 and then decided to increase our range by half that amount every two weeks. I finally came to the conclusion that it would take us nine tries, which would get us to downtown the last week of May (we have since missed one two-week period of walking with her, so it will now take us until early June).

I explored a bit, because I wanted to get all the way into downtown.  I checked out the Southwest Center for Art, which was originally the old Ursuline Academy. I went on a tour of the Southwest Center in 2001, and Thomas has those pictures. So I decided to take some of my own pictures while I was in the neighborhood. I also checked out the Central Library (and got my library card renewed until 2020).

Once I got to the Tobin Center, I checked out a few parking lots and a parking garage, but while I was walking, I passed a bus stop which was less than a block from the Tobin Center and was a route that runs close to my home. I called the number on the sign and discovered that we could realistically take the bus down and maybe take the bus back as well (turns out that we were just a tiny bit too late for the first of the late buses, so we took a cab home).

The clock on top of the Ursuline Academy building only has faces on three of its four sides. The north side has no face because the school was built in what was then the far north part of the city. From what I’ve read, the only people farther north were Native Americans, who had their own methods of keeping track of the time.

After discovering that we could take the bus, I explored a bit more. I walked through to Travis Park, which used to be home to our Confederate Memorial. They took the monument down in September of 2017 and I hadn’t had a chance to check it out yet. Then, while I was there, I remembered a statue in the parking garage of the St. Anthony hotel, so I asked the concierge about it. The concierge said that a previous owner of the hotel (Ralph Morrison, I guess) had bought a lot of art from Europe and put it in the hotel and that statue was probably one of the pieces he bought.

February 15 was the concert, and we took the bus. We caught the bus about half a mile from our house then got off a couple of blocks from the Tobin Center.

February 17 was the Asian New Year Festival at the Institute of Texan Cultures. Alex and I took the bus again, but this time it was our usual bus, which leaves one of the transit centers and goes directly downtown. We drove to the transit center and took the bus from there.

Then today was his and/or my fourth trip since February 10, which was another walking trip. This time, rather than starting from the Pearl, we started from the Blue Star Arts Complex and walked north to downtown.

So there you have it. Walking south, walking to the bus, driving to a different bus, and walking north. That’s four different ways I got downtown and I didn’t have to pay for parking even once. If you want to get picky, of course, there are five directions here, because of the cab.

And I intend to get downtown one more way in the not-too-distant future. It’ll technically be back to driving, but still won’t involve paying for parking

This project is seriously eating into my language learning time. Before I started this project, I was routinely getting $2 and $3 easily. Now it’s like pulling teeth to get more than my average daily amount (currently $1.32) so that I don’t lose ground. And I’m definitely not going to make it for today — it’s 11:51 pm and I’m only at $1.30.

On the other hand, doing this project is going to give me 20-something new blog posts, so that will advance this part of my future as a self-employed something-or-other.

Speaking of which, I had something of a setback recently. I know that if I want to reach my goal, I’ll need to start investing in the stock market. So, to that end, I finally saved up the money and then the stock market dropped. I watched my stock for a couple of days and once it started going back up again, I figured I’d better get in while it was still low. And then it dropped farther. And farther. Fortunately, I’m investing and not speculating, so I’m just going to wait this out and figure that it’ll turn around someday. And if it drops another $50 or so I might go ahead and buy my second share now and then work to pay myself back for it.

Notice the words “20-something” up there. The 9:56 to 10:55:59 hour was spent in Union Station. The dancers really didn’t explore around the station much, so I’m probably going to lump that hour in with either the 8:56 to 9:55:59 hour or with the 10:56 to 11:55:59 hour, which means that I will have, at most, 23 posts.

On Alex and my last day in California, we finished up a couple of things I wanted to do but hadn’t had time to. The whole story will have to wait until I post my next installment (hopefully I’ll get to working on that tonight) but when I was watching the video for Pharrell Willams’s song Happy, I saw one of the places we’d been that last day. At least, I was pretty sure that it was the same place. I called Alex in and he agreed that it was the same place. Well, while I was working my way up to making these posts, I watched that video again (for reasons that you’ll understand when I post that post) and saw a note at the end directing me to go to 24hoursofhappy.com and so I did. And I discovered that the official Happy video is clips from a huge 337-person* project of people mouthing the words and/or dancing to the song. And so I began to watch it to see what places I’ve been to on my trips to Los Angeles.

I watched the first hour and then I realized that I was going to need a list. And then the list started to include notes on how I figured out where we were. And then I started marking the areas we’d been in on a map in Google Maps. This became a polygon (as I write this, after finishing the 9:00-9:59 hour my polygon has 10 sides and covers 21.64 square miles). And I put notes about that, as well.

I eventually realized that what I have here is the beginning of a 24-post series. So I think I’m going to do just that, once I finish my next post about the time Alex and I spent in California.

*Each segment is 4 minutes long, so we have 360 segments. However, the top of every hour is Pharrell, so I had to subtract all but one of his appearances because he does have to be counted once for the first time he shows up. So you get 337 people. Technically, it has to be more than that, since some of the segments have more than one person in them. We’ll have to just go with 337+ people,because I am not going to go back and rewatch those first nine hours to make sure I know exactly how many people are in there. I’m not that OCD.

I guess it’s not a terrible surprise that we finally did make it to the observatory on our last full day in California. I mean, it was totally a quest by then. If I’d needed to park in downtown Los Angeles and take the Red Line to the DASH, I would have done it with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

Fortunately it didn’t come to that. There was actually no event at the Greek Theater that night, so we were able to park there for free and take the shuttle (50¢ apiece) up to the observatory. The shuttle was affordable and convenient and as a fan of public transportation, I have to give it, oh, 3.5 stars. You see, it wasn’t very comfortable. I had surgery on my tailbone 35 years ago and so my hind end is kind of picky about the surfaces I use it on. As a result we walked back down. But more on that in my special post on the observatory.

I have to admit that I’ve been up to the observatory something like four times in my life (actually maybe something like 5 or 6), but I’d never been inside until this trip. Always before we were there during the school year and there were always field trip groups in there. We’d visited the outside of the building, and I seem to recall visiting the room that has the telescope in it, which is on the roof of the building itself. I was very pleasantly surprised at what we saw and experienced while we were there. I’ll do a separate post on the observatory later.

sea cave, carrillo state park, 2017

This is about as good as photos of that cave got

After we left the observatory, we headed out to Malibu to visit yet another beach. If Thomas and I had known about the beaches of Orange County, then this trip probably would have been my first. Instead, however, when Thomas and I went to California that first time, we wanted a public beach. So, figuring that a park would be a public beach, I found Leo Carrillo State Park, which I will also go into detail on in a future post. Since Thomas likely has those pictures in his collection I set about creating my own. Alex and I took pictures of the rocks and wildlife, built our annual sandcastle (a rock castle this time, based around a rock that Alex found that looked like a grand piano) and slogged around to the other side of the rock outcropping where I made numerous attempts to take pictures of one of the sea caves. Finally we went back to the car (after bypassing the showers, which were awfully sulfurous-smelling). While we were rinsing off our feet in a little of our drinking water, we saw a car wreck (the front parking lot at Carrillo is a little too small for the trailer that the truck was pulling) and watched rescue workers come to help a man who thought he might be having a heart attack (I think it turned out he was okay). With everything else, it took a while to get out of the parking lot.

I wanted to take Pacific Coast Highway all the way down to our final lighthouse, but we gave up after 17 miles of stop-and-stop-some-more traffic. We headed inland in Santa Monica and took the 405 and the 101 down to Palos Verdes. I missed a step in my request for directions to Point Vicente light, but we got it sorted out and made it to the park next to the lighthouse just as the last bit of light faded from the sky. It’s been a long time since I went to California, but I swear that park wasn’t there 17 years ago. I remember a smallish building with a deck for whale watching, but nothing like the park that’s there today.

By this point, it was full dark, so we stopped in San Pedro for gas, got on the highway and headed back for our final night in our hotel.