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As I’ve mentioned before, the site that’s now Brackenridge Park used to be the headquarters for the Alamo Cement Company. The limestone was quarried on-site and when the “carpetbagger” George Washington Brackenridge donated land to the city and the widow of the founder of the Pearl Beer company, Emma Koehler, followed suit by donating some adjoining land, the city ended up with a decent number of old quarries to do something with.

Japanese Tea Garden, 2018
An overview of some of the Japanese Tea Garden, looking toward the pavilion/pagoda thing.

The city parks commissioner at the time, Ray Lambert, decided to turn this particular quarry, which was right behind the cement company, into a lily pond. The lily pond project got bigger and bigger until it became a full garden with ponds and the city invited Kimi Eizo Jingu, a Japanese-American artist, to move into one of the buildings with his family, where they ran a restaurant. The Jingu family was disinvited to live there in 1942, while we were at war with Japan (and, indeed. had confined a large number of Japanese-Americans in internment camps).

At this point, they changed the name of the garden to the Chinese Sunken Garden, and moved a Chinese family, the Wus, into the house. The Wus lived in that house for around 20 years.

Eventually the city got over World War II. They changed the name back to the Japanese Tea Garden in 1984.

I moved to San Antonio in 1993 and the garden had fallen into disrepair by then. Thomas and I hiked out there on a whim when we were in Brackenridge Park to visit the zoo. Someone else was with us. It was a long time ago and I cannot remember if it was our friend Frank or my parents. Maybe it was one of Thomas’s parents. Well, my dad says it wasn’t them, so that leaves Frank or Thomas’s folks.

Anyway, when we got out there we were underwhelmed. I don’t even remember if there was water in the ponds, it was so bad.

Then, in 2007, they began a major renovation project. They rededicated the gardens in 2008 and it’s well worth the stop now. There are koi ponds and walking paths, and a really lovely artificial waterfall. There are also signs warning visitors not to release fish into the ponds and Alex and I joked about putting kraken and such into it.

The building that the Jingu family lived in is now a restaurant (and I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never eaten there — the one time I tried, it was January and they had some kind of weird abbreviated winter hours).

The Japanese Tea Garden is not what you’d call handicap-accessible. The paths are narrow and there are steps everywhere. One can sit in the covered pagoda area and see pretty much everything. My understanding is that the Jingu House is handicap-accessible.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. This actually looks like something I might want to buy. Since the Japanese Tea Garden is so tied up in San Antonio’s history, I looked for San Antonio history books and found San Antonio: Our Story of 150 Years in the Alamo City, by the Staff of the San Antonio Express-News.

Not a huge post here, just a little note. When I went to see Elton John, I really expected lots of screaming and “Woo!”ing and such. And there was a fair amount, but the section we were sitting in was mostly people sitting down and I never stood up to dance because I didn’t want to block the views of the people behind me.

So in 2019, I’m going to see Wisin & Yandel, a reggaeton duo from Puerto Rico, and I’m going to sit in the section where I sat for Elton John (two rows farther to the front and farther to the left (from the perspective of those seated in the audience), but close enough to see if the audience for a more current artist will be more like I remember concerts being from my youth or if it’s just how things are here.

The concert is June 1 so I’ll have lots of time to plan and fret and freak out between now and then. I fear I’ve bitten off more than I can chew here, but I seem to recall some kind of saying about how you need to push your limits to grow. Well, here’s to growth.

And here’s to the gratuitous Amazon link. I’ll need to buy this myself before the concert, but I’m going to wait and see how many more singles from the album come out first. Wisin & Yandel, Los Campeones del Pueblo “The Big Leagues” (note there are explicit lyrics on this album).

I think I’m going to include a gratuitous Amazon link this time. If you buy Mandatory Fun by Weird Al Yankovic from that link, both Pharrell and I will make some money because this album includes both Word Crimes, hia parody of Blurred Lines, and Tacky, his parody of Happy.

4:00 So far I’ve had no luck figuring out where we are. It looks like a mausoleum but most of the mausoleums I’ve found just have skylights and this one looks to have fluorescent lighting or something. I did take a side trip because I saw that Jimmy Durante’s gravestone looked like it was designed for a husband and wife, but the photo I saw only showed him on it. I figured that his wife remarried and was buried with that husband or something, but when I looked up Margaret Little Durante’s grave, it shows the same gravestone with her information on it. That made me feel better.

Now, back to figuring out where we are. There’s a rose window up there. That should help.

Yep. It looks like we’re in the Mountain View Mausoleum in Altadena. Only it doesn’t look like the same mausoleum. Now I’m confused.

Wait. Is that the same waiting area that our 3:52 dancer passed through? It’s the same lamp, certainly. French doors? Check. Column, lamp, water coolers? Check, check, check. So I guess we’ve been in Altadena this whole time.

I also wonder if, instead of the mausoleum having fluorescent lighting, I haven’t been seeing that one fluorescent light this whole time. Nope. I definitely see two fluorescent lights at the same time now.

4:08 Are we going to spend this whole hour in this mausoleum? Also, this next guy has a man bun. Or is he a Sikh? He’s got a bracelet on his right wrist. Is it a kara?

I wonder if anyone famous is buried here. Findagrave says that there are 61 famous burials. I guess for a certain value of “famous.” Oh, my God. This is where Octavia E. Butler is buried. Oh, crap. I don’t know if Alex is going to be enthusiastic about adding another cemetery to our next California trip. Well, she’s not in the mausoleum at least. He’ll be happy about that.

4:12 We’ve left the mausoleum and are watching a small child and her smaller sister dancing around in the cemetery outside the mausoleum. Well, the older child is dancing. The younger is just exploring.

4:16 We’re still outside the mausoleum and our 4:16 dancer is a comedian named Gian Molina, who died in 2016.

We finally leave the cemetery grounds at around 4:22 and it looks like we’re on Sacramento, maybe?

Yes. We are definitely on Sacramento. We first head southeast and then it looks like we’ll make a left at Santa Anita, but instead we turn around, heading northwest up Sacramento again.

4:32 We’re somewhere else again, I think*. Let’s find out. This little kid sure is cute, though.

4:36 Well, maybe we aren’t somewhere else because I see a building that looks not entirely unlike the mausoleum there in the distant background. I wish I could see a street name or something. Okay, we have a big building or a mural or a big building with a mural on it on our right here. And the big building is really big.

4:40 We’re somewhere else now watching Stuart (?) dancing through a residential neighborhood. I’m also trapped because it’s midnight and my 16-year-old arthritic dog is having trouble settling down. She’s finally lying down and if I get up, that’ll make her get up and she’ll be forever trying to settle down again.

Some guy came out of one of the houses to take a picture of Stuart (and, presumably, his entourage).

We keep seeing signs that have the names of the streets on them, but the signs are all blurry and I can’t read them.

I’m so desperate to figure out where we are that I’ve locked onto a tall palm tree in the distance and am trying to locate that palm tree on Google Image Search.

We turn a corner and not only is the street name blurry, but there’s a tree in front of it.

4:52 We’re passing a restaurant or something but I’ve lost track because this dancer’s dress is just so cute!

I’ve found a phone number. Or most of one at any rate. What’s that last digit?

It may be the phone number for Occidental Entertainment Group Holdings, but their address isn’t the right place. Let’s try Google Maps, maybe?

I’ve got it.

Okay, so Stuart starts out at Willoughby and Sycamore and dances down the block to the corner of Sycamore and Waring. Our next dancer starts out headed west on Waring (and she really does pick up where Stuart left off – you can see him behind her. In fact, the guy who crosses the street before she starts must be part of the behind-the-scenes entourage or something; you can see him and Stuart walking off together). She dances down Waring to the block between Orange and Mansfield. Our next dancer picks up there and takes us to the block between Willoughby and Romaine (hey! It’s Romaine again!). And our final dancer (*such* a cute dress!) leaves us on the block between Romaine and Santa Monica.

Now what’s that big building I see in the distance on Google Street View? Before we go on to 4:56, let’s explore. Guess what? It’s the Hollywood Storage Building from 12:43 pm. Wow. It is big.

4:56 I got nothing. Lots of buildings. Lots of signs. A light rail station. I can’t read a single word.

4:59 I guess I just needed to be patient? Because we’re in a bus parking lot and the buses say “Atlantic Express.” I looked that up at Google Maps and one of the pins is just outside of Chinatown. And I could see at least one pagoda-looking building in the distance. Or, well, maybe not.

And what the heck is this big pinkish/white stripe across the middle of the damn map? The Los Angeles Marathon is today, I guess (now you’ll be able to figure out how far ahead I wrote this. I have no idea exactly when I will post this, but it looks like it should be at least two months from now; I can’t wait to find out exactly what the turnaround time will be).

So let’s try the other address. No good, either.

Of course, Atlantic Express rents buses so maybe these buses are rentals, which means that they could, once again, be anywhere.

Great. Let’s assume that the pagoda-looking building is, in fact, in Chinatown and look for a Metro station near Chinatown. That looks very familiar. We never saw the station very clearly, but that kind of looks like what we sort of saw. Let’s hit Street View and see what we see.

Oh, this is looking really likely. Metro station. Bus parking lot. Building with three triangular green awnings in front. I like this a lot.

So let’s start from 4:56. We start out in a parking lot just off Spring Street and under the Metro line. We come out from under the Metro line onto Alameda and then go north on Alameda to College. Then we go southeast on College until we get to the entrance to the parking lot. It sure looks to me like the buses say “Atlantic Express,” but I’m finding articles saying that they closed down at the end of 2013.

*Spoiler Alert: I never do figure out where we are during this part. I’m going to have to actually research it once I’m done editing and revising these posts to see if this fits in our polygon or not.

I’m starting to get into the swing of the gratuitous Amazon link, which may make me some money eventually. But it won’t make me any money if I can’t get any eyes on my site.

I’ve been using Habitica to help me keep focused on my goals and I’ve added working on this blog for ten minutes a day as a goal. That ten minutes is a minimum, not a goal, and every time I hit ten more minutes I give myself more credit for it.

So today’s ten minutes has, for the most part, been about SEO. I know that building good content is the most important thing. For this reason I agonize over every post. I try to find the best way to describe each place, its history, and so forth.

But I still need to make sure that Google can find my posts and that Google can help others do so. I know that I’m showing up on Google because I do get the occasional notice that someone got here by using Google.

But I think I could do better and I’m going to try to do better. I’ll be using my ten minutes per day at least once a week trying to find keywords and other things to, hopefully, greatly increase my traffic in 2019.

Now, what the hell am I going to use as my gratuitous link? It seems somehow inappropriate to use a book on SEO since I don’t know if I could make it through one myself. Maybe I’ll just use the last book I read. Well, the last book I read was . . . okay. The last book I really loved? Well, last night (early this morning?) I finished the most recent volume of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and I really did love it, but it would be awkward to post to the ninth book in an ongoing series. So, here it is, where it kinda/sorta starts*: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1: Squirrel Power

*Squirrel Girl really starts with the story The Coming of … Squirrel Girl by Will Murray and Steve Ditko in 1991. But the compilation I linked to is the start of the Squirrel Girl comic book series.

Happy 2019! I’m glad that we’ve made it this far. The 2018 midterm elections were a pleasant surprise (even if Beto didn’t win). Traffic is way up on my blog (and “way up” means that it still doesn’t even register on Alexa, but I’m getting at least one hit, and sometimes two, most days.

Let’s make 2019, well, if not awesome, at least let’s make some progress towards awesomeness in 2019!

We have about an hour left in 2018 and so I’m making plans for 2019. I was thinking that I could knock out the rest of the parks on my list of parks if I visited one a week but that doesn’t seem likely since I lost count around 120.

So if I visit a new park a week, I’ll be able to string that along for at least two more years. Alex and I went to the Japanese Sunken Gardens on Christmas, and if my records are right and I haven’t written about them, that’s probably where I’ll start.

Alex wanted to walk up above the crowd, but I really wanted to get over to the waterfall (picture to follow later, probably) and I literally said, without planning to at all, “I want to go down there. Where the people are.”

So, tomorrow I’ll start working on my new post and you’ll just have to wait to see if I did get to go where the people were.

And, today, to give Pharrell Williams some money, we have his 2014 album G I R L. (and also some non-breaking spaces I wonder if they worked?)

3:00 pm Ah. Okay. This is the part with the choir from the video. We stay inside the church for a while, finally emerging into the afternoon sunlight at around 3:13. We head north on Marengo until 3:16.

3:16 We’re somewhere else. Again. Are we still somewhere in Pasadena? Are we back on Vermont? Dunno. It looks like a residential neighborhood with broad streets. I can see a street name. It starts with an “A.” “Algernon”? “Algonquin”? “Aloysius”? No parking. Bike route. A guy doing The Pony this time. Another illegible street name. Pine trees.*

3:20 Wow this guy’s backlit. It’s almost like one of my photos. Wait – there’s a sign. Let’s go back. It might be a hospital sign I can see “Main Entrance” and “ICC.” Another agave. There’s a big building with a tile roof in the background.

3:24. We’re not in the same place, but it sure looks like the same big building there. From this angle it looks like maybe an apartment building? Yet another illegible street name. And another – no, wait. Does that say “Mt. Pleasant”? Let’s try that out.

This could be it. We start out on Campus Road and Alumni (that’s our “A” street name) near Occidental College.** We follow the street (which is lined with pine trees and has a sign that says “ICC” on it) and just before we make a left onto Stratford, we can see a large building with a tile roof behind us. Mt. Pleasant makes a T junction with Stratford.

3:32 We’ve moved again. I think. Did we move at 3:28? No, I think that’s where we left off. We cross Avenue 49 in the right place. The background matches. The fences match. That’s the same mailbox.

That flowering shrub is the same.

So that house on the corner must have really changed.

I guess that is the same house. Amazing what a coat of paint and a deck will do.

The train of her wedding dress will be really grubby after dragging it along the street like that.

Oh! And we’ve turned onto Avenue 50 and are headed southeast. Then we make a left onto Meridian. I wonder what this bride’s story is. Is she a model or is that her wedding dress. Pharrell got married in 2013, didn’t he? Is this his wife?

No it doesn’t look like her. And that’s doesn’t look like what his wife wore at their wedding so probably not.

3:36 Rush hour must be starting or something. Those vehicles are driving right past that young woman (and, presumably, the entourage walking ahead of her). I wish I knew where in the block she was right now. ‘Cause there’s something in the middle of the sidewalk there and I wonder if it’s a permanent fixture or what. Oh, wait. We’re at the end of the block. And I don’t see anything on the sidewalk there, though it could be behind one of those cars***.

We cross Avenue 51 and I really need to go to bed. We’re hoping to go state parking tomorrow.

(the next day)

We make a left onto Avenue 52 and we might not have time to go state parking today. We both overslept.

We eventually find ourselves making another right back onto Stratford. Our next dancer is wearing high-heeled footwear of some sort (we’re still pretty backlit here, but I think they’re boots) and she looks a little unsteady on her feet, like she has either walked or danced in these heels but not both together.

3:48 We’re on a sidewalk. Are we still on Stratford? I see a steeple-looking thing there. Let’s see if I can find it on Google Street View. Yep. There it is. I wonder what it is. I know how to get back here from there.

It’s the Iglesia Adventista de Highland Park. It’s kind of a cool-looking building. Their Facebook has the name in English (Highland Park Seventh Day Adventist Church) but the information on the page is all in Spanish.

Oh, I can hear my late mom now. “She’s not dancing. She’s just posing.” We get the occasional dance step from this young lady, but overall, it feels more like she thinks she’s a model in a fashion shoot than a dancer in a music video. We continue following Stratford after it jogs slightly north at Avenue 55. How far back do these numbers go? Is there an Avenue 1 somewhere? Looking it up, the “North Avenue #” names only look to go as far back as 16.

3:52 We’re leaving Highland Park and now we’re at a cemetery? I wonder what cemetery we’re in. It’s not Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, I don’t think. Time to hit Google Image Search.

*I still don’t know where we were, months later.

**Alma mater of Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Barack Obama.

***for varying definition of “cars.”

Every year, Alex and I visit some property of the National Park Service. In some years it’s a hardcore park like Yellowstone, others it’s a National Historic Site or something of that nature, like the National Mall or the Statue of Liberty. When we started planning the trip to California, I actually considered Channel Islands National Park for quite a while, but apparently they’re more fun for people who like to boat. And while I like to ride in boats, my only experiences with actually driving the boat involved me causing the canoe to capsize at Girl Scout camp.

So I went back to the proverbial drawing board and looked at the list of parks again. This time I did the math on Joshua Tree. I also asked a friend whose father is a retired park ranger and the friend said that Joshua Tree is a great place to learn about desert ecosystems. And with that I was sold. We ended up going to Joshua Tree.

Joshua Trees, 2018
Joshua Trees at, well Joshua Tree

We intended to get up early and head out at about 6 or 7 am so that we could miss the hottest part of the day. Yeah. That didn’t work out so well. By the time we got there (quarter to noon) the only wildlife we saw was a coyote who was apparently running late.

We stuck to Park Boulevard for most of our visit, arriving at the West Entrance Station and leaving at the North Entrance Station. We took the Keys View detour to see if we could see the San Andreas Fault (which is visible on a clear day). Unfortunately, it was not a really clear day. It wasn’t cloudy, I don’t even know if it was smog. I’ve been toying with the image and I think I can see the fault. At least it looks like the thing that’s labeled the fault on other photos. It doesn’t look like any of the faults here in Bexar County, though, that’s for sure. We also considered hiking out to the Lost Horse Mine, but we didn’t want to commit that much time to the trip in the heat of summer. I think we did walk out a while, but didn’t get too far.

Overall, we spent three hours at the park and saw most of the northern half of the park. It looks like if you want to see most of the rest you’ll have to be a more intrepid hiker than I am.

I did bring the recommended amount of water (a gallon apiece) and I even used sunblock. I wear a face lotion with sunblock all of the time, but generally the rest of my body is left to its own devices. The informational signs were informative and the people we bumped into were friendly and maybe when I return to California someday I’ll take some of those paths that go out into the hinterlands. Not in the summer though. I promise.

Yay! It’s Gratuitous Amazon Link Time! And in what I’m sure is a complete surprise, I’m going to post a link to U2’s album The Joshua Tree in my article on Joshua Tree. An awesome album by an amazing band (and I hope they come to Texas again someday — I want to take Alex to see them).

2:00 to 2:25-ish I really thought that we were going to spend another hour inside Union Station. Then, around 2:25, the dancer walks out the front door of the station and . . . keeps going. We start out on Alameda and head south. We cross Alameda at Temple.

What temple is this street named for, I wonder. Oh, apparently it’s not a temple, but a Temple. Jonathan Temple, to be exact, a rancher who lived in the area and was the first mayor of Los Angeles. No relation to Shirley, I guess.

Are we going to go down Temple? It looks like it.

And we start to go northwest on Temple.

2:44 Now we have three guys . . . somewhere. You can see an underpass and a pink and gray building behind them. We passed a pink and gray building on Temple, but this one looks less pink and more gray, so I don’t think it’s the same one, but I’ve been wrong before.

Maybe this is the parking garage from 9 am? Judging by the public art piece there by the underpass, yes, it is the Grand Avenue parking garage again and we’re heading northwest on 4th Street. At the corner of 4th and Hope, we make a right onto Hope.

2:48 4th and Hope was nice while it lasted. We’re somewhere else now. I see a sort of plaza with trees. I see buildings. I see a bicycle lane. I see Pharrell in Union Station (I goofed and restarted the video instead of pausing). There’s a bus shelter and a blue-and-white sign not entirely unlike the sign for Good Samaritan Hospital. Are we back over on that side of town?

Ah-ha! The words “Federal Building.” That should help us narrow it down. Are we back on Temple, maybe? A lot of the governmental buildings are out there.

We’re now on Los Angeles Street again, this time between Temple and Aliso. The blue sign is for the Los Angeles Mall. We cross Aliso and then go over the 101. Well, the dancers do. I somehow click in the wrong place on the Street View and end up on the 101.

Okay, I’m back on Los Angeles.

We continue north and pass a lady with a doggo. The dancer stops to pet the pupper and we see a man arrive with two more dogs in a stroller. There’s a lot of greenery nearby, so I wonder if there’s a dog park near where we are. So I look it up and we’re near Father Serra Park, which doesn’t seem to have a dog park.

In fact, Los Angeles has only nine dog parks that I can find. San Antonio currently has 11 dog parks. That’s one dog park per 441,000 Angelenos and one dog park per 136,000 San Antonians. Los Angeles had better get on the ball.

We cross Los Angeles and guess what we see in the background? If you didn’t guess Union Station, you’d better keep guessing until you do. Because that looks to be where we’re headed. Union Station is sure a pretty building and is framed very attractively at around 2:55:45 or so. I just kind of wish we’d spend some time somewhere else. Particularly since we’re burning daylight here.

I missed a day during the 2-2:59 hour because I had some kind of digestive thing. It may have been my motion sickness cropping up, it may have been something I ate, it may have been an eight-hour bug. But either way, watching Beattie look up into the sky after each dancer and then back down at the next one was making my nausea worse.

2:56 Where are we going to start the 3:00 pm hour? There’s a sign for California State Route 110 and the building there on the right sure looks familiar. Have I seen it in real life or in this video or does it just have one of those facades?

More building and our dancer (a) is being photographed from an awkward angle or (b) has a little bit of a limp.

Okay, we’ve left Los Angeles proper now, I guess. The building is the First Baptist Church of Pasadena. And it looks like the Google Street View car went through this area at night during a blackout. Never mind. I was in Pasadena Texas and not Pasadena California. That would explain the darkness (if the car did go through that area at night). There aren’t a lot of streetlights out that way, I guess.

So we start out on Marengo in Pasadena and make a left onto Holly. I wonder what that building behind the dancer is. Google Street View isn’t helping (though there must be a field trip to whatever this building is, since there’s a school bus parked outside), so we’ll use Google-Not-Street-View. According to the old school two-dimensional map, the building is the Pasadena City Hall. Also, according to the map, we’re just a stone’s throw from the Colorado Blvd. Bridge.

Looks like we’re going into the church now. I wonder why Pharrell is indoors for so many of his top-of-the-hour segments.