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January 21, 2022

Photo Essay: Discovering 50 Years of Magic Mountain History in 9 Months' Worth of Visits

Six Flags Magic Mountain in the Santa Clarita Valley community of Valencia turned 50 years old in May 2021. 

It opened as just "Magic Mountain" on Memorial Day weekend 1971 as a joint project of Sea World, Inc. and The Newhall Land and Farming Company

Building the $20 million amusement park on the 44,000-acre Rancho San Francisco—renamed Newhall Ranch after its purchase by Henry Mayo Newhall in 1875—was a feat that the original director of engineering likened to "building an entire city" in just 70 acres.

Newhall Land and Farming company sold the park in 1979 to a company that actually knew how to operate amusement parks—Six Flags, then a Pennsylvania Railroad subsidiary. And in the decades that followed, Six Flags changed hands multiple times and even declared bankruptcy. 

But through it all, Magic Mountain has survived—and grown to 260 acres.


Today, it's known as the "Thrill Capital of the World." But I'd suspected that there might be some earlier remnants from its 50-year history—some that might be considered less thrilling by today's standards, but that would be of real historical interest to me. 

January 19, 2022

Photo Essay: Magic Mountain's Jet Stream Flume Ride, 50 Years Old in 2022

After several visits thanks to a season pass in 2021, I discovered that I wouldn't have to invert myself—or brave a free fall or a staggeringly speedy loop-de-loop—in order to enjoy the Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park in Valencia, California today. 

Because believe it or not, there are still original and very old rides from Magic Mountain's early days.

 

January 11, 2022

I Had So Much Potential

Sometimes I wonder how far I could've gone, had my parents just supported me a bit more.
   

Photo Essay: Climbing Magic Mountain to the Sky Tower (But Not Getting to the Top)

My one biggest regret from my one visit to Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California in 2011 isn't that I didn't take any photos (besides a selfie with a friend). It's that I didn't visit the Sky Tower while it was still open and while the elevator was still taking park visitors to the top observation deck. 


January 09, 2022

Photo Essay: Six Flags Magic Mountain's Movie Star Rollercoaster, The Revolution (Since 1976)

It's funny that the first indication I had that there were vintage areas of Six Flags Magic Mountain to explore ended up being part of the last historic ride I discovered  at the park in Valenica, California after a year of investigating. 

 

January 05, 2022

Photo Essay: Flying Through the Jet Age-Era TWA Terminal, On the Cusp of the Space Age

I've been long fascinated with the old TWA terminal at JFK Airport, out of commission since 2001 after decades of being too small to serve incoming or outgoing flights on jumbo jets. 

Designed by architect and industrial Eero Saarinen—as well-known for the "tulip chair" as for the St. Louis Gateway Arch—the 1962 Trans World Flight Center had fallen into disrepair by the time I got to visit it up close (and inside) in 2011, although it had been partially restored.

circa 2011

Over the last decade or so, I've watched how the defunct terminal of the defunct airline has been restored and even reincarnated as the TWA Hotel, connected to JetBlue Airways' Terminal 5. 

January 04, 2022

Photo Essay: The Triumphant Return of the Rose Parade and Its Flower-Festooned Floats

New Year's 2021 was the first time since December 2013 that I haven't experienced the Rose Parade in Pasadena in one way or another. It was one of many casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic

 Reese's

Fortunately, the Tournament of Roses managed to get the parade and all its affiliated events back on track for December 2021/January 2022—and on January 1, I found myself back in Pasadena, ready for an up-close view of the parade floats at the post-parade Floatfest. 

December 30, 2021

Photo Essay: Ascending the Bradbury Building, One Floor At A Time (Or, Cocktailing the Bradbury, At Night)

The historic Bradbury Building, built in 1893, is one of the oldest commercial buildings still standing in center city Los Angeles. It's a private office building—so generally, only the ground floor businesses and lobby area are open to the public. 

 circa 2020

A few years ago, there was an architectural tour of the Bradbury Building that would take ticketholders all the way up to the roof—but I couldn't get a press pass to it and I couldn't afford the ticket. Getting to the roof—or anywhere upstairs, really—has been on my bucket list ever since.

December 23, 2021

Another Year Of Wandering SoCal for KCET (2021 Edition)

In addition to my work here at Avoiding Regret, I've also been contributing to KCET's website for almost seven years—primarily as the columnist behind its "SoCal Wanderer" blog, but also sometimes writing stories for other sections (like "Lost LA"), too.

This became enormously challenging during pandemic lockdowns. How do you write about travel when you're not allowed to—or are too scared to—go anywhere?

I've had to get really creative since March 2020. 

But I haven't been keeping myself "locked up" too much and have still managed to stay safe. So, I've been passionate about sharing what I've learned with my readers. 

I don't often repost my KCET articles here, often because much of the content that gets published here first eventually makes its way into my KCET guides.

But with the year ending, I thought it worthwhile to round up all my 2021 articles in case you'd like to check them out. 

Here they are in chronological order, starting with February. (The COVID-19 surge was just too bad in January, so we took the month off.)

Enjoy!

December 22, 2021

Photo Essay: Top Posts of 2021

I know I post a lot.

And even posting half as much as I used to, it can get overwhelming. 

So at the end of each year, I do this little roundup of the most popular posts of the prior 12 months. They're not necessarily the ones people liked the most. They're just the ones that got the most views. 

Which is I guess a measure of popularity (if not quality). 

I have my own favorites that didn't make this Top 10 list—but if you're looking for a good place to start, or maybe catch up on what you've missed, the following should be a good primer. 

So, in more or less descending order from the most popular post, here's a recap of 2021: