August 31, 2022

A World Without Olivia Newton-John

Pan-Pacific Auditorium, seen in Xanadu (Marvin Rand, Historic American Buildings Survey, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)
I don't remember a time when Olivia Newton-John hasn't been a part of my life.

August 28, 2022

Photo Essay: The Automobiliana and Petroliana of the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center and Museum

I usually don't give up a chance to visit a car museum—whether I'm in Nashville, Tennessee or Las Vegas, Nevada. But sometimes it might take me a little while to get there. 

The Segerstrom Shelby Event Center and Museum opened in October 2021...

August 27, 2022

Virginia & Truckee Railroad Once Again Rolls Out of Virginia City, Thanks to Rebuilt Tracks and Tunnels

My first trip to Virginia City, Nevada coincided with the 150th anniversary celebration of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad, a.k.a. "Queen of the Short Lines"—so while I was in the area, I wanted to make sure I could experience as much of the V&T as possible. 

After having ridden a railbike from Carson City towards Virginia City (where a train also runs, though its schedule didn't mesh with mine), I headed to Virginia City to ride a special train towards Carson City to experience the rail from the other end. 

But I had some time to kill before my train departure, so I started snooping around town. 

August 22, 2022

Photo Essay: Boating Lake Arrowhead, Upon the Centennial of Its Neighboring Norman-Style Village

Ever since I took the tunnel tour at Lake Arrowhead a year ago, I've been eager to actually experience the lake from its surface. 

The only problem? You need to be a homeowner to get access to the lake. No land rights? No lake rights. 

There is, however, an exception: the Arrowhead Queen tour boat. 

Regularly scheduled cruises take visitors on an hour-long journey around the lake during daylight hours—but if you book a special cruise through Rim of the World Historical Society, you get a two-hour cruise led by local historian around sunset. 

I was booked on one of those historical cruises last month—but the three-and-a-half-hour drive from home to Lake Arrowhead in Friday night rush-hour traffic made me eight minutes late. I literally missed the boat. And all I could think to do was sit on the dock at Village Point and cry. And watch some ducklings follow their mother across the surface of the lake's Village Bay. 

Fortunately, I came to my senses and decided to get something to eat before getting back into the car and driving back home—so I went to the nearest Mexican restaurant, Papagayos, for a margarita and a steak quesadilla. 

What I didn't know then—and what I discovered upon my return to Lake Arrowhead Village a month later for my Arrowhead Queen do-over cruise—was that Papagayos is located in the village's former ballroom (a.k.a. casino building). And it's the only original building of the 100-year-old Norman-style Lake Arrowhead Village that remains—as the rest of the "old" village was demolished by intentional fire in 1979 and rebuilt and expanded in 1980-2.

August 18, 2022

Photo Essay: Diving Into the Brand-New West Hollywood Pool, Inspired By Neon and Sunsets

I'd been swimming at the West Hollywood Pool since before I even moved to California. I started when I was housesitting for a friend in the area back in 2009 or 2010.

It's been a huge part of my time living in the Los Angeles area, since first arriving in January 2011. I still live in the same apartment. It's the longest I've ever lived in one place.

So you can imagine my heartbreak when it never reopened from its COVID-19 closure and was unceremoniously demolished—with zero chance of saying goodbye. 

The only consolation? It was being replaced by a fancy new structure with two rooftop pools.

August 10, 2022

Photo Essay: Paramount Pictures' Star Movie Train & Passenger Car, Revived In Retirement at Nevada State Railroad Museum

If I was going to drive all the way up to Carson City, Nevada all by myself for the Great Western Steam Up, then I was going to ride every train it had to offer while I was there. 

And that meant signing up for the special excursion pulled by the Virginia & Truckee Railroad No. 22, Inyo

August 08, 2022

Photo Essay: Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the V&T Railroad at the Great Western Steam Up

I'd been wanting to visit the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City, Nevada—but there are just too many train museums to visit.  

August 04, 2022

Photo Essay: A Real Estate Heir-Turned-Recluse Kept His Lake Tahoe Compound To Himself (And Accidentally Conserved Much of the Shoreline)

On my way from California to farther east in Nevada, I stopped along the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe (technically in the town of Incline Village, NV) to take a tour of a historic estate known as Thunderbird Lodge.  

Locals seem to call it "the old Whittell estate"—named after the eccentric millionaire from San Francisco who built it, George Whittell, Jr.