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Sunday, June 06, 2004

A Big Weekend

This was an uncharacteristically busy weekend for us as we attend major events. We ran the gamut from endangered species, at the zoo, to the wilds of downtown Los Angeles. While we are a bit tired from our adventures, everyone agrees that it was a weekend to remember.

Our adventure started with the Fox Festival at the LA Zoo. (Click on the photo for a complete gallery of pictures!) This event was arranged by our good friends, Keri and Michael, who are dedicated volunteers at the zoo. The Channel Island Fox was the focus of the festival. These small animals only exist on the Channel Islands off California, a very fragile environment, fraught with problems. Captive breeding programs on the islands, and removal of imported species, like the Golden Eagle, are helping the foxes to rebound.

Events included a 6 stage mini-scavenger hunt where kids had to visit booths to get a stamp on their "passport". Each station had informative displays on the variety of issues effecting the Channel Island Fox and the California environment, in general. Joe had a great time playing the Recycle game, and trying to remember what Channel Island foxes needed most from their environment.

A Keeper's talk introduced us to the foxes, their habits and needs, as well as the keeper's themselves. They showed how they use "enrichment" devices, methods of eliciting natural behaviors by introducing hidden food and signs of other animals to the enclosure. These help to keep the foxes happy and healthy.

Finally, a short play, The Three Little Foxes, reinforced the issues facing the Channel Island Fox and what can be done to help. After that, we stopped at the last station, got our passport stamped and made a kitty toy for the "wild" animals that share our home. We even got to make an origami fox to bring home as a reminder of our trip.

We've been riding on the railroad (subway)

Sunday's trip involved a lot of trains and a lot of sights. We decided to go to the bi-annual Open House of the Slim Gauge Guild in Pasadena. This model train club has a 2000+ square foot layout, scrupulously modeled and great fun to visit. We have been to the Open House several times over the years, but this is the first year we were able to take the train all the way to their door. (Photos from previous event)

We drive to the North Hollywood Metro station, boarding the Red Line with our $3 Day Passes, good for travel on all MTA trains and buses. If you plan on boarding more than twice in a day, the Day Pass makes a great deal. We knew we were going to visit several sites today, so it made great sense for us. A 30 minute trip brought us to Union Station downtown where we transferred to the Gold Line, which goes through Chinatown, Highland Park, Lincoln Heights, South Pasadena, Pasadena and ends in Sierra Madre.

The trip to the Del Mar station in Pasadena took about 20 minutes. Even better, this station is directly across the street from the Slim Gauge Guild. It took less than 5 minutes to walk there. We entered the basement layout and enjoyed the trains for about an hour. Then, getting a little hungry, we returned upstairs in the same building for our traditional lunch in the Crown City Brewery. Afterwards, it was back to some more train watching until we had seen each layout and a host of trains including steam engines, diesels, passenger trains, logging trains and more. The club even provides free coffee and has a concession of cookies and sodas available.

Being this was our first chance to ride the Gold Line, I wanted to ride out to the end of the line in Sierra Madre. This took us through the Memorial Park Station, which is the preferred stop for Old Town Pasadena and the Pacific Asia Museum and Allen, which is the stop for The Huntington and our to the end-of-the-line in Sierra Madre Village. We then returned along the same route.

The last stop before returning to Union Station is Chinatown. (Click a photo for complete gallery of pictures) Rosanne has always wanted to go and this was the perfect opportunity. Exiting the station, it is a short walk up to Broadway. Broadway is lined with restaurants, food shops and funky but fun stores of all sorts. We headed South on Broadway, towards downtown, checking out things along the way. It soon became clear to me that we could easily walk all the back to Union Station. At Ord Street we headed West to stop at Philippe's (Home of the French Dip) for pie and an iced tea. Thus refreshed, we headed further south to Union Station. Since the entrance to Olvera Street was on along our path, we took a short strolls through the shops there, as well.

Finally, back to Union Station, we boarded the Red Line again and rested our weary feet on the trip back to our car. We found ourselves smiling at each other and repeatedly telling each other what a great day it had been. I highly recommend you get out and see some of the sites that LA has to offer. You will be surprised at all the neat places, and people, that are to be discovered.


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