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Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Short Tour of Pasadena

I've been to Pasadena before. I'd say I've been quite a few times over the past decade or so. Some for long weekends. Once as a longer stay with a meandering drive south. It's a beautiful location with so much to offer.

I've sipped mezcal and cocktails paired with amazing dishes at ARO Latin. I've lied on a bench looking up at the beautiful trees at  Descanso Gardens. I've had delicious local brews and rare beers sitting on the patio at Lucky Baldwins Pub. I've eyed the oddities and art at Gold Bug. I heard the music and saw the hand-carved instruments of John Trapani at the Athenaeum at the Cal Tech. But mostly, I've sat under the party tree in the carved out gathering spot in my in-law's backyard. I've discussed family history and growing-up stories in grandma's sitting room and patio. I've eaten giant sundaes at Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain catching up with a local cousin.

Last weekend, I had a different experience in Pasadena. It was more active exploring. A driving tour of the region led by Grandma G. After 70+ years in the region, she was the perfect tour guide. It started out with a focus on family history. 

We drove around town to the apartment where my husband's parents lived after they were married. We saw the church that his parents were married in. The mosaic work above the entryway was colorful and vibrant. 

Grandma pointed to the street where an uncle and aunt lived before heading out Camarillo. We saw the historically protected house where Grandma lived as a child with her immediate family and sometimes her extended family. We expected a house barely standing, but were surprised to see renovations in progress and a fresh coat of paint. Just next door was the house a great aunt grew up in. 

North of Pasadena, we drove by the strawberry fields and wild flower fields between Camarillo and Ojai. We saw the blooms, dried up creeks, and hillsides. We stopped by the Channel Islands Visitors Center and saw a tidepool display with giant starfish, a tiny shark, and a sea anemone. We walked through a little natural plant garden and on the soft sand. 

The next day we took time before the flight to see some historical buildings in Pasadena. We saw The Gamble House. It was the summer home of David B. Gamble (of Proctor & Gamble). It's a Greene & Greene house designed in the Arts and Crafts architecture style. It's simple, clean, and a beauty to look at. We got out of the car and circled the house. The stained glass, wood work, and secluded back patio were all well-preserved. The draw was that this was Doc Brown's house in Back to the Future! We drove around that area and enjoyed the other houses.

We drove around the Wrigley Mansion Tournament House and pulled over beside it. We decided to drive up and found a rose garden in full bloom next to the parking lot. They had so many varieties, so many colors and color combinations. and so many fragrances. Every variety smelled different and each bush had flowers at each stage of bloom. 

Exploring new and not-so-new areas is always interesting. It's even better with a tour guide. You never know when you'll get to stop and smell the roses.

Link to a few more photos.

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