Sunday, July 31, 2011

2011 Alyssa Soccer & Ayden's Kids Cooking Videos!

I finally completed Alyssa's 2nd soccer video.  This was long overdue.  Good thing she took a month off over the summer to allow me to catch up a little.  That said, there are still nearly a dozen games that I filmed that I haven't got to yet.  Click the link below and enjoy the show:
Alyssa's 2011 Soccer Video 

I also completed the editing for my son's: Kids Cooking, Webisode 2.  Click the link below if you're hungry:
Kids Cooking 2 

Day 258: Dixie Canyon, Dodgers & Diving (The Three D's)


Lucky: When Preparation intersects Execution.  

For over 30 years I have gone to over 100 ball games and "Prepared" for this moment.  This was a Father/Son day for us; it began with his dive meet, we added a hike in the middle and concluded with a Dodgers Game.

In the top of the 2nd inning, Arizona Diamond Back 2nd Baseman Kelly Johnson fouled a ball back behind home plate.  With one hand in the dibs cup that Ayden and I were sharing, my reaction time was instant.  I stood up on my tiptoes and leaned two seats over.  It appeared that the ball was sailing higher.  However, it came down and deflected off the top of my wrist, just below the leather of my trusty glove.  I felt dismayed, shocked; I did not "Execute".  The family in the row in front of me was scrambling around.  The moment lasted forever.  I glanced and saw nothing.  According to my son, the ball slowly fell from my wrist to our feet and then dribbled below the seats in front of us.  And then it happened; the family found the ball and the father (Steven) stood up proud and held the ball high in the air.  The crowd in our section cheered and I felt dumbfounded.

Congratulations to Steve and his family!  He has gone to baseball games his entire life and this is the first foul ball that he will be going home with.  Just an inning earlier, I heard him talking smack about the Cleveland Indians.  Well, my son and I were wearing Chief Wahoo hats so I assumed he was talking about us.  Thus, I spoke out.  Come to find out, he is a Michigan guy and was talking about his 1st place Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.  We come from similar backgrounds; Ohio State v. Michigan is arguably the greatest rivalry in all of sports!  --There's no hard feelings here and I am glad that the ball went to a good guy with a family :)!

Another father sitting two seats over reassured me that the ball was over his head.  My son said that I jumped but the bottom line is, no excuses, I over extended.  This ball was floating and when it hit me, it didn't hurt nor leave a red mark on me.  **I've never caught a foul ball before.  The closest I have been was at the old Municipal Stadium in Cleveland.  While my father was in the restroom, a ball was fouled back and coming right at me.  The trajectory was targeting the walkway in front.  Just then, the hot dog vendor was walking by and rather than shouting out or leaning over the easy railing to catch the ball, I just sort of stood there and watched the ball hit the cement about 2 feet from the guy and then it bounced back to the upper deck.  I was young but my lack of confidence then could have caused certain injury to the worker.  Fortunately, nobody got hurt.

At the old stadium as a child, we often sat in the $2.00 General Admission Seats next to the foul pole.  Back then, it was common that less than 5000 fans showed up for the game.  The park attendants were firm that you had to stay in your seats (first come first serve), but when the ball was hit in foul territory, the race was on!  There were no fans sitting in dozen sections separating the pricey box seats to our section.  Many foul ball were hit over that way and I did come home with souvenirs on several occasions.  However, I used those balls to play stick ball with my friends and I no longer hold the possession.  Further more, I did not share the event with my son and in my opinion, it only counts if you catch the direct shot.  --I am on a mission--   

**It was less than a month ago when a fan leaped out for a ball in Texas.  He was at the ballpark with his 7-year-old son.  Sitting just a few sections over was former President George W. Bush.   Reaching over the railing, the father fell 20 feet below and landed on his head.  He told the paramedic, “Please check on my son. My son was up there by himself.”  Less than an hour later, the father was pronounced dead.  I can't imagine how that moment will alter the boy's life forever.

There's something instinctual about going to the ballpark in search for that foul ball.  This was a most horrible tragedy and I'd like to send my heart and condolences to the family---

Day 258: Saturday July 30, 2011
Dixie Canyon Trail
Where: Sherman Oaks
Distance: 1.75 miles +250 feet
Time: 45 minutes
 My 258 Day Summary: 896.5 miles  +111,850 feet


From the 101 Freeway in Sherman Oaks, exit on Woodman and drive a half mile to Ventura Blvd.  Turn left on the boulevard for another half mile and then turn right on Dixie Canyon Ave.  About a mile up, take the road will circle back but turn left up Dixie Canyon Place (No Outlet Sign).  At the end of the road is the trailhead. 

You will notice water running down the street in the middle.  This comes directly from the tiny stream along the trail.

 Walk up the stairs to begin the short journey

The bridge of decisions

Heading back up the easy graded hill, you will reach this bridge.  We crossed and then switched back to the left.  A ways further, you switchback several times up about 200 feet.  This is very easy but in some places, the trail is eroded so keep one hand on your son.  The all shaded trail is a pleasant relief.  Up top, we circled to what I call a switchover.  We then began to descend to the other side of the canyon and wound back up at the bridge.  I was expecting to reach the top of this canyon and hope to take a picture of the distant San Fernando Valley.  We walked past two other hikers and they said that they had heard there is a way to climb up to Mulholland, but they looped like we did.  So, Ayden and I continued our adventure up past the bridge.  We followed the stream a ways but the footing was treacherous.  We could have gone on further but it became wildly overgrown and we had a baseball game to get to :).  

I discovered this hike many months ago on David's blog:  Dixie Canyon by

This was the perfect easy hike before the game...

Diving Competition:

Early Saturday afternoon, before the hike and ballgame, Ayden competed in his second diving competition.  These pictures are of his practice dives.  I video taped his competitive dives.  During practice, Ayden hit his foot on the board while performing a reverse inward dive.  It was a painful injury which caused a bloody cut on his heel.  Nevertheless, Ayden performed 5 dives and completed them all.  In the 2nd round, he performed a back dive and scored: 4.5, 4.0, 4.0.  Out of nearly 30 competitors, approximately 10 divers attempted this jump in the 2nd round.  Ayden's score was the highest.  He even beat out the more experienced teenagers.  Good Job Ayden!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 257: Westlake Vista Trail & Las Virgenes Reservoir

Las Virgenes Reservoir

Day 257: Firday July 29, 2011
Westlake Vista Trail
Where: Westlake Village
Distance: 3.75 miles +350 feet
Time: 1 hour
 My 257 Day Summary: 894.75 miles  +111,600 feet


I discovered this trail just a few weeks back.  For driving instructions, please follow: Day 239: Pentachaeta Trail

I came back a week ago with the intention of hiking this but I left my hiking shoes at home so I took it to the street.  Today I was better prepared with camera phone in hand, which explains the poor quality of the pictures :(.

Begin with a fairly level and short jog

At the fork in the trail, head left toward the rock formation

Looking back...
The trail becomes very steep and there appears to be alternate ways to go.  I figured it out and near the top to the right was a little path that lead through the bushes to an opening.  Below, a large body of water; The Las Virgenes Reservoir (as pictured above).  Instead of going back to what I presumed to be the "main trail", I wandered down to water level to approach the reservoir.  I once saw this body of water when I hiked Day 50: Lake Eleanor  Today I was on the other side.  I reached a fence and was forced to turn around.  I took another trail lower, which lead back to the original fork just a quarter mile from the trailhead.

Barely 30 minutes into my workout, under 2 miles of trailing, my legs were just getting warmed up.  So, I headed up Lindero Road and turned right on the first street.  Open Space:

 (Private Property)

There was an upper trail that seemed to follow the street and then there was the lower trail that I took.  I ran it fast and took the obstacles in stride like a hurdler. 

The shaded forest began like an off road place for bmx bikes.  I've discovered several underground places like this in the past but nothing as fascinating as Day 14: Ventura Barranca

The trail went back a bit further but once it got too thick, I said forget about it.  I was in shorts and no shirt and places like these always seem to lead to poison oak.  Not today.  A swift run back and my journey is over.  --I will return to really hike the Westlake Vista Trail.  On a quick google skip, there is not much mention of this place.  Next time I hike it, that will change!

Day 256: Thursday July 28, 2011
Football at Arroyo Verde
Where: Ventura
Distance: 3.75 miles +500 feet
Time: 2 hours
In celebration of the NFL finally confirming that there will be a season, we brought the football on this when.  While Jess and Sammi took off down the trail, Alyssa, Ayden and I jogged behind while playing leapfrog with the football.  The games continued out into the field and we did cut down into the field on a short path that I had not taken before.  Just for fun, I surged up beyond the western fence line in another off trail that I've never stepped foot on.  Actually, that really sucked, but football was fun!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 255: Palo Comado & Modelo Trails

Day 255: Wednesday July 27, 2011
Palo Comado & Modelo Trails from Smoketree Ave
Map: Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyons
Where: Oak Park
Distance: 4.75 miles +550 feet
Time: 1.5 hours
Level: Easy, I jogged a good part of this, but a lot of sun and little shade.  Kids & Dogs ok.
Reward: Very Peacful
 My 255 Day Summary: 887.25 miles  +110,750 feet
From the 101 Freeway in Thousand Oaks, head south and exit on Kanan.  Turn left across the bridge and drive north for 2 miles.  Turn right on Smoketree Ave.  Drive about a half mile and park here:
Trailhead (Sunrise Meadows Open Space)

**Pictures are  uploaded but I will notate the file at a later time...


Day 254: Tuesday July 26, 2011
Russell Park
4.25 miles +75 feet
 1 hour

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 252: Happy Birthday Ayden; All Day in Santa Paula

A True Heroic Story (read the tablet below)

Day 252: Sunday July 24, 2011  --  Happy Birthday Ayden
A Day in Santa Paula
3.0 miles +100 feet (of Hiking)
All Day -- Easy (Bike Riding for many more miles...)

 St. Francis Dam (Click on pic for story)

I lived in Santa Paula for three years, when the kids were real young.  We often went on bike rides and I will always remember this memorial.  I recall researching this story many years ago and discovered that the dam was built cheaply and was barely finished before it cracked.  The reason, money!  They cut costs and as a result, millions of gallons of water exploded through and rushed down the Santa Clara.  The low lying parts of Santa Paula were totally wiped out.  Fortunately, these two motorcycle cops rode in the midnight hours to save as many lives as possible.  

 My old house

This picture is taken from the park on Ojai Rd, the 150.  Just behind that large tree was my place of residence for over three years.  I remember homies from the park would often drink and then piss behind the tree, in clear sight of my wife and kids.  Sorry for the vulgar grammar but it is what it is.  I can't believe I lived here; I've come such a long way...

 Ayden met a friend at the playground

We parked our car downtown SP and then rode our bikes about a mile or so up the hill to the park.  Ayden met a 5-year-old boy named Frankie, who shared his scooter.  Just like old times, Ayden rode his Razor on the jungle gym, across the bridge and down the hill towards the swings.  Then, we set foot on the trail that led beyond the park...

 From the trail, my old apartment complex

Near the end of my stay in Santa Paula, some cronies set fire to the hillside back here.  How stupid.  I was just getting home from work and saw the hill behind my apartment on fire.  Along with another tenant, we stomped on the flames and through dirt on it until it went out.  The brush was dry and if we hadn't of stopped it, it's quite possible that my apartment would have been in flames.  --This entire trail is only about a quarter mile or so.  Eventually, it ends behind a church.  Just for old times, we hiked the 3/4 mile loop.

 The Rrr People

The neighborhoods across the street are actually really nice.  When Ayden was on training wheels, he, Alyssa and I would often pedal back here all the way up to the school where there was a cooler playground than the park.  Along the way, we always passed the "Rrr People".  Back then, these scarecrows were positioned in the middle of the lawn and dressed in dirtier closed.  I would always kid with my kids that these people were real and screamed, "Rrr, Get Off My Ground!"  The truth was, the slow incline hill was about halfway to the school and my young kids often got tired here.  I made it like a game so they would pedal faster by them to get to our destination.  It was really fun on the way home because Ayden would be maxing out the speed of his bike...

 Trailhead off Forest and Cliff

Park your bikes, or ride them along the trail.  I nearly forgot about this spot.  About a quarter mile back you will reach the Santa Paula Creek.  During the rainy season, this river really flows...


 Ayden skipping rocks in the water

 Flows down to the Santa Clara
(The SP in the Mountain stands for Santa Paula)

 On our way out, up scream, hmm, a hiking trail?
--I'll be back to explore it!

 The Water Ball

We pedaled back down to the train tracks and then walked over to the water ball.  This was the coolest thing that came to Santa Paula since.... um, well, nothing cool has really come here.  There is a K-Mart :)

 Moreton Bay Fig Tree
I once told Ayden if he ate his spinach he would grow taller than the tree


 Mupu Grill - Good Food

Happy 8th Birthday Ayden!

Day 253: Monday July 25, 2011
Westlake Lake
5.0 miles +25 feet
 1.25 hours

I parked the car at the corner of Triunfo and Lindero.  Initially, I came here today with the idea that I was going to hike the Westlake Vista Trail.  I discovered this spot on Day 239  
Problem is, I didn't bring my hiking shoes and I didn't want to hike the uphill trail in my running shoes.  Thus, I left the car there and ran the entire circumference of the lake across the street.  At first, it was easy and scenic.  However, after a mile or so into it, you start cutting down side streets and then realize that you cannot exactly just circle the lake.  --By the time I did make it to the otherside, I was dragging but down Lindero.  I'll be honest, my marathon was 18 months ago and I could not keep up a pace the entire way.  Sad... 

However, I then went to Bally's after the run.  I am working out with weights 3-5 days a week.  I'm loving it!  Although, I am gaining weight from it.  My old muscles are starting to come back.  Look out!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tree People - Rainforest, Franklin Canyon, Beverly Hills & Bel Air - Tarzan Jungle

Along the Wodog Nature Trail in Franklin Canyon

Day 251: Saturday July 23, 2011
Tree People - Rainforest, Franklin Canyon, Beverly Hills & Bel Air - Tarzan Jungle
8.0 miles +800 feet

From the 101 Freeway in Studio City, exit on Cold Water Canyon and head south for a few miles.  At the 6-way intersection at Mulholland drive, make a sharp right turn into the Tree People Parking Lot.  For more information, please visit their website:

Inspired by yesterday's hike and drive home, the wife and I decided to bring our Golden Retriever, Sammi, back to this area for further exploration.  We began at the Tree People:

 Along the wood chip "Oak Trail" you will pass an amphitheater
(check the website for book readings & showtimes)
 there are pamphlets along the trail with maps

 we turned left at a junction (Betty B Dearing Trail) and followed it up

At the peak, there was an option go go lower; instead we looped back
(google maps shows the trails)

 Rather than going back to the car, we followed the Betty B trail to Iredell St

 Cross the street and the trail picks back up about 100 feet down
(I remembered this street from yesterday; lets connect the dots)

 about a half mile in, the rainforest rests below...

 watch out for snakes...

 (Officially made it further than were I hiked to yesterday)

 The Rainforest, the not so tropical rainforest

I'm still mesmerized by this place.  Who would of thunk that the City of L.A. had a rainforest just 3 miles from CBS Studios.  Huh!  --We turned back to the Tree People and ate lunch.  So far, my total mileage was about 4.0 miles  +350 feet; but we are not done.  At that same 6-way intersection, we drove across to the "no outlet", which turns into Franklin Canyon.  For maps and details, please visit:
Franklin Canyon Map

 We parked our car and walked around the lake

 There are legit hiking trails leading into the forest; next time...

After about an hour of adventure, we headed back out.  You could spend an entire day in Franklin Canyon if you wanted too.  There was a back way out, to Beverly Drive.  Amazing!  I had no idea I could connect to Beverly Hills from the 101 side.  In fact, Coldwater Canyon turns into Beverly Drive at this park:

 Quaint playground here for the kids

 Fountain across the street trickles out a little stream

 Jog around the small track...

So, we called my dad and told him where we were.  In the 1960's, my grandpa moved his family to Bel-Air.  My dad lived nearby this park for about 4-years; long enough to graduate high school in Cali.  Then, they all moved back to Ohio and my dad went to Ohio State, where he met my mom.

If you take Beverly down to Sunset, you turn right past all the Star homes and then turn right into the Bel Air homes.  All the way back...

 My Father's old House on Hamner Drive

The quickest way to get here is to exit the 405 on Mulholland Drive, exit #61.  Take Mulholland east for about a mile and then turn right on Roscomare.  About a mile up on the right will be Hamner.  My dad's house is on the right.  Cool- but at the end of the street, an even more bizarre finding.  Hamner turns into Nalin and then ends into nothing.  Only about 3 miles from the 405:
The old Tarzan Jungle!
My dad explained that decades ago, the filmed Tarzan in this open Space.  --We hiked past the fence and down the hill to a small orchard.  We didn't go any further.  The thick jungle below looks intimidating.  What a find though and one day, I will be back!



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