Parcel 203-54-122 Willcox, Arizona

Willcox, Arizona was established in 1880.

Willcox, Arizona was established in 1880.

Willcox, Arizona is best described as a town that has been around for a long time that not many have heard anything about. My favorite band is a group called America. Their #1 song is “A Horse With No Name.” I now wonder if they were in Willcox, Arizona when they wrote that song.

The town itself is kind of nice. It basically has two claims, Wyatt Earp who was shot there in 1900 and Rex Allen “the Arizona Cowboy” who called the town home until he died in 1999 in Tucson, Arizona.

Downtown Willcox is very quaint. As far as I could tell there was only one stop light.

Downtown Willcox is very quaint. As far as I could tell there was only one stop light.

Apparently Rex Allen narrated a lot of Disney nature films.

Apparently Rex Allen narrated a lot of Disney nature films.

For the $2 they charge, the Rex Allen Museum is a nice way to spend an hour or two.

For the $2 they charge, the Rex Allen Museum is a nice way to spend an hour or two.

Apparently if you live by a gun, you will eventually get shot by one.

Apparently if you live by a gun, you will eventually get shot by one.

Some Rex Allen posters.

Some Rex Allen posters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I however was not visiting Willcox for either. About a year a go I bought a piece of property sight unseen and now it was time to see it. I bought it off a land website from a bulk land seller. The guy that I bought the property from had never seen the land either. This was evident when after I had obtained the deed I ended having to pay back taxes to clear the dead. In all it cost me a few hundred dollars for this land.

So the question becomes, what did I get? The answer is not a lot. Getting out to the land was interesting. There were roads, but they were of course all dirt road. Using my GPS I was able to get pretty close to the land, but I had to walk the last .25 miles. The land was flat but that is about it. The features are pretty much dirt and scrub brush. The closet tree was at least a mile away.

The original plan for Twin Lakes is that it was going to be a beautiful master planned community. All that got built was the golf course.

The original plan for Twin Lakes is that it was going to be a beautiful master planned community. All that got built was the golf course.

The only tree seen within miles of my property.

The only tree seen within miles of my property.

According to my GPS this marker is on the corner of my property. My guess is it shows where the street should be.

According to my GPS this marker is on the corner of my property. My guess is it shows where the street should be.

Notice I brought my own water.

Notice I brought my own water.

There is a lake with water, but it is waste water. Only suitable for the birds.

There is a lake with water, but it is waste water. Only suitable for the birds.

 

I have no idea what I plan to do with this land. To develop the land would probably require more money. That I really don’t have. My best hope is that some developer comes in and starts to buy all of the parcels, but then with my luck I would probably lose my land to eminent domain. In the meantime I plan on just keeping up the $20 a year property taxes and every once in a while visiting it.

A 360 shot from my property.

A 360 shot from my property.

 

 

 

A video about the land:

 

La Fonda, Baja California Mexico

1985 Zilpha and John in La Fonda, Baja California, Mexico

1985 Zilpha and John in La Fonda, Baja California, Mexico

It is funny how time and space play with your memories. The farther you get from a certain point the memory starts to fade and you start to fantasize about what really happened. Case in point this picture. Taken very long ago this pictures marks a half way point to one of our numerous car trips to Ensenada. Back when this picture was taken there was no express way into Ensenada. The one road that did exist was a two lane road that was very bumpy and windy. To get where this photo was taken from the border it took us about 3 hrs. of driving. I remember along the way we would see people selling stuffed armadillos,coconut vendors and countless souvenir shops.

Fast forward 32 yrs. from this picture my Aunt Zilpha has continued on in her eternal journey and I am now a grown man with a wife and child. I have a fast paced career that keeps me very busy. Yet, in the back of my mind I have this picture of me and my aunt sitting on a beachfront restaurant listening to a man slowly strumming a guitar as we eat lunch. It is something that haunts my memory in almost a taunting way. I have learned with many memories things have faded or changed. I remember when Puerto Nuevo was not “lobster capitol” but just a sleepy fishing village south of Rosarito with only three restaurants. Rosarito was the only town south of Tijuana back then, but now it is a full grown city with a Walmart and movie theater, although it still could use more traffic lights. So while the memory might be fun I have learned to temper what is in my head with what is reality. Though the question always lingers, what is out there?

The entrance to La Fonda.

The entrance to La Fonda.

So with the question in my mind I do what any modern millennial does, I googled it. Using my faded memory and my internet research skills I learn that there was a place called La Fonda but the news doesn’t look too good. I read some articles about how the original owners have sold the place and it now has been divied out into to three places: two hotels and two restaurants with the same name right next to each other. It sounds strange to me. I find a website for the “Original” La Fonda Hotel, but it doesn’t work. I then find a Facebook fan page, it has an email on it. Success!

Traffic going into Mexico was something new for me.

Traffic going into Mexico was something new for me.

I email the owner (who turns out bought back half of the original hotel) and they said they do have a room and it will cost me $100 a night cash, no credit. With follow up emails and a phone call I am told I need to be there early, no later than 4 p.m. Kind of funny to me. Usually hotels it is the other way around, you get charged more for early check in, not for later check in, but I roll with it because this is Mexico and in Mexico you just roll with it.iving to San Ysidro to Tijuana I see something I have never seen before, traffic going into Mexico. I panic slowing while we slowly inch our way to Aduana (customs), so we call the hotel to explain the situation. The owner thanks me for the call and we proceed along our way. With the new toll roads we make good time and get to the hotel only about a half an hour later than we were supposed to be there. In Mexican fiesta rules this is practically considered early. The very nice lady takes our money. The whole transaction is done in paper and cash. The hotel key is an actual key, no plastic at this place.

We find our room, which is up a flight of stairs. As far as hotel rooms go you need to understand that this is Mexico. There is paint that is chipping, there are signs of past leaks looking at the bathroom sink, the water pressure is low, the TV doesn’t work, and towels are thin. If you are looking for luxury, you have come to the wrong place. If you are coming here, you are coming for one thing, the view. Can’t beat it anywhere. There is nothing like opening up your door, having your own little balcony and just listening to the waves roll in.

I don't think the decor of the La Fonda has changed much in 30 years.

I don’t think the decor of the La Fonda has changed much in 30 years.

This is why you get a room at La Fonda.

This is why you get a room at La Fonda.

 

For drinks you have to go to the OXXO across the street.

For drinks you have to go to the OXXO across the street.

For dinner we walk to the tiny town of Alisitos and eat a never ending supply of dollar shrimp and fish tacos. Before bed we play on the beach which are all ours as we watch the sunset.

Next morning we get up for breakfast and go to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. The waiters have started the fireplace and out on the balcony we can see it. The same place from all that time ago. The waiter turns on the radio and a gentle guitar rift fills the air and for a brief moment I am once again 9 yrs. old and I am enjoying a lunch with my family on the beach. I come back to my senses as the food comes. Banarama pancakes with coconut syrup and chilaquiles by the beach. Sometimes the memory is just a fantasy,but sometimes it is not, and that is when you know life is good.

For breakfast the waiters made a fire which was nice.

For breakfast the waiters made a fire which was nice.

Chilaquiles with the best flour tortillas.

Chilaquiles with the best flour tortillas.

Many things change but it is nice to see that balcony and if I ever need it I know where to go to find it.

Many things change but it is nice to see that balcony and if I ever need it I know where to go to find it.

#11 Visit the Statue of Liberty

It doesn't matter at what angle you view the statue, it always inspires.

It doesn’t matter at what angle you view the statue, it always inspires.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

-Emma Lazarus

Denise in front of Castle Clinton

Denise in front of Castle Clinton

We were anxious the morning we were to go and visit the Statue of Liberty. We got to Battery Park very early, too early. Arriving at Clinton Castle Fort (which is also a national monument) we found the line where we needed to confirm our reservation tickets, but we told that we could not get in the line until 30 minutes prior to our start time. I wasn’t sure why this was, when we finally did get to the line we found out that your start time doesn’t really matter. The ferrys just constantly run and when you get to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island you are allowed to stay on each island as long as you want.

The closest metro stop the Statue of Liberty is Staten Island Ferry.

The closest metro stop the Statue of Liberty is Staten Island Ferry.

An early morning view of the Statue of Liberty as seen from Battery park.

An early morning view of the Statue of Liberty as seen from Battery park.

The sea glass carousel at Battery Park is definitely different than other carousels I have seen.

The sea glass carousel at Battery Park is definitely different than other carousels I have seen.

This statue is dedicated to the immigrants who arrived at Battery Park.

This statue is dedicated to the immigrants who arrived at Battery Park.

AJ boards the ferry after passing security.

AJ boards the ferry after passing security.

AJ in front of Battery Park that used to protect New York.

AJ in front of Battery Park that used to protect New York.

On the way to the statue you can see the one world trade center.

On the way to the statue you can see the one world trade center.

This building used to be the immigration building for non-immigrants.

This building used to be the immigration building for non-immigrants.

Denise in front of Castle Clinton

Denise in front of Castle Clinton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As soon as we got to Liberty Island we headed straight for the crown. You are not allowed to bring anything with you into the statue except a camera and one bottle of water. They have lockers you can rent for $5.00 at the gift store at the base of the statue.

Despite having gone through intense security before getting on the boat, to go to the statue you have to pass through security again. Inside the base of the statue, the first thing you see is the old torch, which is nice because from inside the statue, even at the crown, it is hard to see the torch. Not to mention the passageway up to the torch has been closed to visitors since 1916 when German spies blew up some ammunition and the shrapnel got lodged in the torch in what is now known as the “Black Tom” incident.

Going inside the base you can see the original torch.

Going inside the base you can see the original torch.

A view from the crown up to the torch.

A view from the crown up to the torch.

The ladder goes up to the torch, but it is closed off to visitors.

The ladder goes up to the torch, but it is closed off to visitors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After climbing a lot of steps you get to the pedestal. The pedestal viewing area is very windy and cramped. There are a lot of people and it can sometimes be hard to get past them. From the pedestal you can get a good view of the base of the statue and see the old walls of what used to be Fort Wood, which was what was on the island before the statue.

As Denise demonstrates there is not much passing room at the pedestal.

As Denise demonstrates there is not much passing room at the pedestal.

From the pedestal you can see the outline of what was Fort Wood.

From the pedestal you can see the outline of what was Fort Wood.

This archway is leftover from Fort Wood.

This archway is leftover from Fort Wood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continuing upward in a very narrow (only one person can go at a time) spiral staircase, you get to the crown. There is very limited space at the top. When we went up there were two rangers keeping a watch on the statue and stairs. They were very informative and told us an interesting story about the real intentions of the statue.

Here is a video:

 

The beginning of the stairs up to the crown.

The beginning of the stairs up to the crown.

As you can see the stairs are very curvy, but every so often there are areas to stop and rest.

As you can see the stairs are very curvy, but every so often there are areas to stop and rest.

This shot kind of shows how many steps to the top.

This shot kind of shows how many steps to the top.

The port holes at the crown are not very big.

The port holes at the crown are not very big.

This is a side of the statue's face that not many see.

This is a side of the statue’s face that not many see.

It took some effort but the Pedrozas made it to the crown. No elevators inside.

It took some effort but the Pedrozas made it to the crown. No elevators inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AJ got a souvenir coin than is the thickness of two pennies, just like the statue.

AJ got a souvenir coin than is the thickness of two pennies, just like the statue.

Going back down we got our backpacks once again out of the lockers. There are two gift stores at the island. The one at the base of the statue of liberty is very crowded, compared with the store at the landing with the food court, that has most of the same stuff (Denise said they had different postcards) and is less crowded.

AJ always enjoys doing the Junior Ranger program every time we go to a national park. It is a free activity and you get a cool badge for your adventure. The junior ranger program is much shorter than other junior ranger programs. We completed it rather quickly with the audio tour that is included with all tickets. The audio tour looks like a phone receiver with a lanyard and at different points you put in a number and the virtual guide explains what you are looking at. At the end of junior ranger program we got to meet ranger Louie, which was cool. He is one of three rangers that go up to the torch to make sure it is always lit (except for that one day, but that is another story).

statajonetower statjuniorrangeroath statrangerlouie

 

 

 

 

 

From Liberty Island the ferries run every 30 minutes to both New York and Ellis Island.

These are the bolts that keep the statue attached to the pedestal.

The ferries run every 30 minutes.

Denise and John arriving to Liberty Island.

AJ poses in front of the statue.

My favorite view was from the base upward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was #11 on my all time goals list. For the rest of the list please go to goaltravels.com

#17 See a Show on Broadway, Welcome to Broadway, NYC

It is fun to read the Playbill before the show.

It is fun to read the Playbill before the show.

As a kid growing up in Southern California I was no stranger entertainment. We are indeed the Entertainment Capital of the World. Radio, television, music, and film making, as well as the abundance of tourist and amusement attractions in the region, undoubtedly makes us the #1 entertainment place in the world, except for one thing, the stage.

Denise and AJ in front of the theater.

Denise and AJ in front of the theater.

To find the best musicals, the greatest musicals, there is only one place to go, and that is Broadway, New York City. They know, we know it, and if you ever go to a show on Broadway your pocketbook will know it.

Shows on Broadway are expensive. There are ways to try to mitigate. You can do what we did and try to find a show like Groundhog’s Day that is previews and rush it. That is when you go to the theater the day of the show you want to go to and see if there are any discounted tickets. There is a cost to that, in our case it cost us $119 dollars when we walked out during intermission when we discovered how much bad language can be crammed into a 4 minute song (it is a lot). It also means that you can you can find yourself 3 rows behind comedian Caroline Rhea. You just never know what is going to happen when you follow your dreams and perhaps that is why Broadway is so magical, because it is a not only a place of dreams, but it comes with a soundtrack.

Today (4/23/17), Charlie and The Chocolate Factory is opening on Broadway. It is amazing show. It brings in that magical mystical musical adventure that is Broadway. A mix of new and old songs, it brings new twist to the Roald Dahl classic. It is very different than both the 1971 Gene Wilder and 2005 Johnny Depp version.

It has the “Pure Imagination” song, it has some definite dark moments (when the oompa lumpas start singing you know something bad is going to go down), but it is unique, and they are my favorite part in the musical. How they do them is something you have to see for yourself.

As magical as seeing a show on Broadway was it was kind of eye opening. First of all the theaters are very close to each other, which is good because they are all in walking distance. The second was that they are all very small, or at least smaller than their Los Angeles counterparts. The term Broadway show does not necessarily mean that the show plays on Broadway, which is a street in New York, it more refers to how many seats the theater holds. If the theater has over 500 seats it is considered a Broadway show. The largest is the Gershwin Theater (currently playing Wicked) at 1,935 seats and the smallest is the Helen Hayes Theater (currently under renovation) at 597 seats. Compare that to the 2,703 seats at the Pantages and you notice the difference. The third thing was parking. At $38.01 an hour, you are not parking on Broadway. You are going to take public transportation in, which is fine because the streets.

 

Paying full prices were not so fun.

Paying full prices were not so fun.

It is very bright outside at 11 pm on Broadway.

It is very bright outside at 11 pm on Broadway.

Rush tickets can be a great deal if available.

Rush tickets can be a great deal if available.

The Neil Simon Theater currently playing a revival of Cats

The Neil Simon Theater currently playing a revival of Cats

The Wonka Emporium did sell chocolate but not Wonka bars, kind of weird

The Wonka Emporium did sell chocolate but not Wonka bars, kind of weird

Did not buy the soundtrack.

Did not buy the soundtrack.

A pre-show selfie at the Lunt-Fontanne

A pre-show selfie at the Lunt-Fontanne

Hamilton playing at the Richard Rogers Theatre, next to the Marques playing On Your Feet, as seen from the Lunt Fontanne Theater

Hamilton playing at the Richard Rogers Theatre, next to the Marques playing On Your Feet, as seen from the Lunt Fontanne Theater

Caroline Rhea sat three rows up from us during the show.

Caroline Rhea sat three rows up from us during the show.

A lot of people were pushing the button that was clearly labeled "Do Not Push."

A lot of people were pushing the button that was clearly labeled “Do Not Push.”

At $38.01 an hour, you should really find another way than your car to get to the theater

At $38.01 an hour, you should really find another way than your car to get to the theater

Apparently musicals run on Macbooks.

Apparently musicals run on Macbooks.

The production poster for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The production poster for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

We waited at the door to the Lunt-Fountanne Theater at 10am to get discount tickets but there were none.

We waited at the door to the Lunt-Fountanne Theater at 10am to get discount tickets but there were none.

We were that close to the Groundhog day show.

We were that close to the Groundhog day show.

Side view of the Lunt Fontanne Theater showing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Side view of the Lunt Fontanne Theater showing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Look, a car elevator

Look, a car elevator

The inside of the August Wilson theater.

The inside of the August Wilson theater.

The August Wilson Theater playing Groundhog Day.

The August Wilson Theater playing Groundhog Day.

A look into the box office of the August Wilson theater.

A look into the box office of the August Wilson theater.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am very happy to have been able to have finished this experience for the list. Saying that however I am OK watching the new musicals preview at the Macy’s Thankgiving Day parade and waiting for the good ones to come out to Los Angeles.

Thanks for reading

Thanks for reading

Welcome to The Grand Concourse, Bronx, NYC

The Bronx motto translates to "Yield Not to Evil"

The Bronx motto translates to “Yield Not to Evil”

Our original plan for visiting New York City included visiting all five of the New York Boroughs. We did accomplish this goal, but the day we had planned for the Bronx did not quite go the way we wanted. What wanted to do is to go to a park near the zoo and eat pizza in the northern Little Italy of New York. What  we did is get stuck in a very heavy rainfall and ended up getting very wet while running down the Gran Concourse. Which is probably just as well because looking at Bronx history I learned it too didn’t quite go the way it wanted.

This is a drawing of the Grand Concourse in the 1890s

This is a drawing of the Grand Concourse in the 1890s

To understand this you have to look back to New York in the 1890s. At that time New York was booming. So much so that they had so many jobs available that they were practically begging people to come and work for them. Hence a great migration was started and poor people from all over the world started arriving in New York. At first when the immigrants started to arrive, they lived in Manhattan, but the locals very quickly came to the agreement that although they needed workers, they didn’t really want to live close to them. No worries, there is lots of money and all of this land north of Manhattan in an area known as the Bronx. This guy, his name was Aloys Risse (who happened to be an immigrant himself), got this great idea on how to get the immigrants to the Bronx. It was a better than great idea, it was a grand idea, The Grand Concourse.

The Grand Concourse was a huge two story street that was to rival the  Champs-Élysées in Paris. It was bigger, longer, and it had all these cool buildings built along the way. Everything was great until the prohibition came along in the 1920s. A bunch of poor immigrants and a law the majority of the people did not want to follow gave rise to bootleggers (illegal alcohol sellers) and that gave rise to crime. The situation got worse with the Great Depression and World War II, when many people left the area. In an effort to boost the population of the Bronx and to clean up Manhattan, the city adopted a policy that anyone on welfare in the 1960s was to be moved to the Bronx. This created a huge immigration of African Americans, Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans to the area. They didn’t get along with each other very well and a wave of arson swept the Bronx in the 1970s. It was so bad that by 1980, 90% of all housing units were declared unsuitable for habitation. Eventually the citizens of the Bronx had enough and a ten year housing plan was put into effect. Financially backed by the city of New York, it worked and in 1997 the Bronx was declared an “All American City”.

Garlic twists from the Bronx were yummy.

Garlic twists from the Bronx were yummy.

Enjoyed the chicken roll. Reminded me of Costco.

Enjoyed the chicken roll. Reminded me of Costco.

AJ demonstrates the proper folding technique of a New York Pizza slice

AJ demonstrates the proper folding technique of a New York Pizza slice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The result of this is the Bronx still has a lot ethnicity it had back in the late 19th century, but most of the historical buildings are gone. The Grand Concourse however remained. It was on that very long, very wide road we briefly paused to take a picture, declared that we had made it to the Bronx, and quickly found a pizza place that was warm and dry. We were very much wet that night coming home, but we like the Bronx, can say we made it.

 

The Grand Concourse 2017.

The Grand Concourse 2017.

This is a view looking to the police station. I don't know why but I thought it was hilarious they were putting on a musical about the Bronx.

This is a view looking to the police station. I don’t know why but I thought it was hilarious they were putting on a musical about the Bronx.

Welcome to Delmonico’s, NYC

Last month I reviewed the Sundowners Delmonico Steak in San Bernardino California. If you missed it (how could you have done that), here is the link: http://www.johnpedroza.com/blog1/sundowners-family-restaurant-delmonico-steak/
Due to this it was natural that we had to go to the real Delmonico’s in New York. Why Delmonico’s? Well we have to tell you a story…

The entrance way to Delmonicos has a trophy case with a bunch of awards.

The entrance way to Delmonicos has a trophy case with a bunch of awards.

The year was 1825 when the first steam ship from Albany in New York arrived on the Manhattan bay. Stepping off the ship was the esteemed guest, the one and only, Marquis de Lafayette. It was at that moment the United States suffered a major diplomatic embarrassment. There was no place for this man to eat. The existing taverns and inns were not the type of place a man like this would want to be seen at and the newly created coffee house did not serve enough food for a group setting. Luckily, a few families got together and agreed to host the Marquis de Lafayette, but not before his couriers dispatched the news to Europe that the United States had no restaurants, not even a small cafe. Hearing this, two years later, two swiss men, John and Peter Delmonico decide to establish the United States’ first restaurant. Actually, they started two business, a restaurant and a corner store. The corner store did not do too well. The restaurant went on to fame. Don’t believe me? Watch this:

DRG – Chef Billy reel 2015 from NYC Restaurant on Vimeo.

The presentation of the steak was simple.

The presentation of the steak was simple.

Delmonico is known for many things but mostly for it’s steak, the Delmonico cut. The Delmonico steak is a special steak that combines both a ribeye cut that resembles a filet mignon and a strip steak (which by itself is known as the NY steak). What makes a Demonico cut special is by cutting the steak in this way it makes the rest of the ribeye only good for stew meat. The benefit being the steak is extra thick and very moist.

 

A medium well steak has pink in the middle and brown on both sides.

A medium well steak has pink in the middle and brown on both sides.

This is what I would call a medium steak, I sent it back.

This is what I would call a medium steak, I sent it back.

AJ really liked the Mac and Cheese with Alaska king crab and truffle sauce.

AJ really liked the Mac and Cheese with Alaska king crab and truffle sauce.

Denise had the seafood pasta al dente.

Denise had the seafood pasta al dente.

The Creme Brulee and Baked Alaska for dessert.

The Creme Brulee and Baked Alaska for dessert.

The inside of the Baked Alaska.

The inside of the Baked Alaska.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was no question I (John) was going to order meat when going to Delmonicos. What I didn’t know is that I could up my game even further and get a 45 dry aged rib-eye. This is considered the best of all meat, all the fat, no tendons. It also gives the meat a different flavor from sitting for that long. In order to do that you have to have a special refrigerator, so as to age the meat, but not let it go rotten. I ordered the steak medium well, which is when both sides are brown but there is still some pink in the middle. The presentation was good, but it came out medium. That is when is light pink on the outside, dark pink in the middle. That was Chef’s suggestion. I tried two bites, the second only at the waiter’s suggestion that I try again, but it wasn’t that great. I sent it back do get a little more heat. On the second round it came out perfect. I asked for some horse radish sauce but it really didn’t need it. It was good on it’s own. For a side I had an asparagus and broccoli dish that was infused with walnuts. For dessert we shared a creme bruelle and a baked Alaska, which is ice cream inside a baked meringue cake.

It wasn't a cheap menu, but it wasn't like those crazy ones where they don't list the prices.

It wasn’t a cheap menu, but it wasn’t like those crazy ones where they don’t list the prices.

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

The Pedroza's were here.

The Pedroza’s were here.

Delmonico's was the first restaurant in America to allow women come by themeselves.

Delmonico’s was the first restaurant in America to allow women come by themeselves.

We were practically the only people there.

We were practically the only people there.

This room was called "the Boardroom."

This room was called “the Boardroom.”

AJ did not like all the waiting that is involved in a formal restaurant.

AJ did not like all the waiting that is involved in a formal restaurant.

The bar room was very noisy with people talking.

The bar room was very noisy with people talking.

Watch out! They let the Pedroza's in!

Watch out! They let the Pedroza’s in!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost wise it was an expensive meal but it wasn’t the most expensive meal I have ever had (that was Victoria and Albert). Considering the exclusivity of the restaurant and that we had our own waiter (he only was at our table), it wasn’t that bad. The ambiance was very nice and the staff was great. We were very appreciative of the courtesy afforded to us even the only coat we had for coat check was a raincoat. I do have to say although it was fun I still consider us more of a Sundowners type of crowd. It was great steak but I am not sure it was worth 10 times what we paid back in California.

Welcome to Brooklyn, New York

The seal of Brooklyn means "Strength in Unity" in Dutch.

The seal of Brooklyn means “Strength in Unity” in Dutch.

Translated, the seal of Brooklyn means “Strength in Unity” or at least that is what they told me because I don’t speak Dutch. Brooklyn is the most populated borough in New York with about 2.6 million people. If it was it’s own city it would rank as one of the most populous in the nation. Which sounds like a trivial thing to say, but significant in that Brooklyn was at one point it’s own city. In fact, established by the dutch in 1645, it predates the island of Manhattan.

At first glance the borough may seem new and hipster but if you look deep down you will see that it has a lot of history.

At first glance the borough may seem new and hipster but if you look deep down you will see that it has a lot of history.

Brooklyn became a borough of New York City on January 1, 1898, about 15 years after the famous Brooklyn Bridge was built. As a borough Brooklyn is definitely part of New York City, but it also has a distinct feel that keeps it’s own identity. Kind of gritty, kind of hipster, Brooklyn is a Borough that feels lived in. Not to say that people don’t live in the other boroughs, but you feel it more in Brooklyn. It was in Brooklyn that I saw more people in the parks, in the stores, and on their stoops talking to each other. Lots of talking, in lots of different languages.

On almost every corner there is a deli. The deli is like a 7/11 in that is meant for convenience food, but they make it to order for you hot or cold. Some have tables and chairs where you can sit but most food is meant for take out. In between the corner delis you will find small restaurants and trendy coffee shops. Also, in the mix you will find plenty of parks (that are almost always attached to a public school) and warehouses (where you buy stuff that is not food).

I miss getting sandwiches at the corner deli.

I miss getting sandwiches at the corner deli.

The corner deli is a staple of New York and Brooklyn is no exception.

The corner deli is a staple of New York and Brooklyn is no exception.

At $1.50 a sandwich, McDonald's could never compete in Brooklyn.

At $1.50 a sandwich, McDonald’s could never compete in Brooklyn.

I loved the vintage shops in Brookyln

I loved the vintage shops in Brookyln

Food is plentiful in Brooklyn

Food is plentiful in Brooklyn

I don't know why but Boar's Head is the primary go to meat in Brooklyn.

I don’t know why but Boar’s Head is the primary go to meat in Brooklyn.

The fish and the cheese come in daily

The fish and the cheese come in daily

Couldn't be New York without a bagel place

Couldn’t be New York without a bagel place

They say the water makes the difference for a New York bagel.

They say the water makes the difference for a New York bagel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part of the metro goes through Brooklyn but the main form of transportation is the elevated trains that go through all 69 square miles. The most famous locations in Brooklyn are the bridge and Coney Island, but also important are the continental plaza (where Washington regrouped after his defeat) and the artsy Williamsburg.

Continental Army Plaza

Continental Army Plaza

At the warehouse you can get anything that is not food related.

At the warehouse you can get anything that is not food related.

This noodle factory in an old beer factory shows how Brooklyn constantly recreates itself.

This noodle factory in an old beer factory shows how Brooklyn constantly recreates itself.

Waterbury and Wilson are known for their street art.

Waterbury and Wilson are known for their street art.

Everyone is very friendly in Brooklyn

Everyone is very friendly in Brooklyn

No "magic" mushrooms at this shop, but they were exotic looking.

No “magic” mushrooms at this shop, but they were exotic looking.

The crepes on Wilson were cheap and good.

The crepes on Wilson were cheap and good.

This crepe was called the tornado

This crepe was called the tornado

This was in the middle of the Maria Hernandez park, who was killed after advocating against the drug dealers, but it worked because I didn't see any drug dealers (unless you count the chocolate chip cookies, those are like crack).

This was in the middle of the Maria Hernandez park, who was killed after advocating against the drug dealers, but it worked because I didn’t see any drug dealers (unless you count the chocolate chip cookies, those are like crack).

The J, M, and Z runs through the heart of Brooklyn

The J, M, and Z runs through the heart of Brooklyn

Even the cheapest buildings have style in Brooklyn

Even the cheapest buildings have style in Brooklyn

Unlike other boroughs you can see that people actually live in Brooklyn.

Unlike other boroughs you can see that people actually live in Brooklyn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

Brooklyn was our “home” base for our New York trip. We stayed at the Bklyn (no, I spelled that right) House Hotel. It was I would describe as a hipster hotel. The rooms were a bit small, but it had cool graffiti (urban) type art throughout the hotel. It took us about an hour to get to anywhere in Manhattan (the main island) via the elevated train. It cost us about $40 a day less to stay in Brooklyn over Manhattan. Denise said she felt safe and enjoyed going over the bridge every day.

Sundowners Family Restaurant Delmonico Steak

In a very non-descriptive building at 1131 S E St in San Bernardino (there is also a location in Fontana) California you will find Sundowners Family Restaurant. They call themselves a restaurant but what they really are is an old-school cafeteria. When we were newly married I would often take Denise out to this place because it was cheap and we couldn’t really afford much. This last weekend we were on our way back from going to the temple and I had twenty dollars in my pocket. Twenty dollars will easily get you two fast food or counter service meals,  but I wanted a sit-down place, the only place I could think of was Sundowners.

Denise was happy she didn't have to cook or clean.

Denise was happy she didn’t have to cook or clean.

Going into the line at Sundowner there are a bunch of billboards announcing everything they offer. Something on the lunch menu caught both of our eyes. They had an item labeled “The Delmonico Lunch Special.” This caught our eye because when we made reservations to go to Delmonicos in April (which we had to make in January), we were told to expect a minimum of a $200 bill. Here at Sundowners they had a picture of a Delmonico steak, and the price? $11.09!! And that included Texas baked bread, baked potato, soup, and a soda. Denise got a tuna melt (which also included the same things my lunch special had) but I knew immediately what I had to get. We ordered our food  and the two meals and the final price was $19.39. I couldn’t believe it I had my sit-down meal for under $20 and I had change in my pocket!

Sundowners is always seasonal and over the top with their decorations.

Sundowners is always seasonal and over the top with their decorations.

So of course the question is was it any good? I am not going to say it was the best steak ever, but for the price you really can’t beat it. I don’t know if the cut of beef I had was a true Delmonico, but it certainly looked like one. It had the traditional cross hatching, the traditional triangle bone-in cut, and the New York strip steak cut. The meat was tender but the cooking was not optimal. I ordered my cut medium well-done, so I expected it to be thoroughly cooked but was looking for the center to still have some pink, the pink line was not there.

High class dining it was not, but for the price it was great. How can anyone call a $11.09 steak anything less than great. You can’t even go to the store and buy a raw piece of meat for that price, let alone have someone cook, serve, and clean up after you.That has got to be one of the cheapest steaks I have ever had and the funny park is Sundowners sells several other cuts of beef and the “Delmonico Special” is the most expensive.

I order it medium well-done. It was cooked well but it was missing the pink strip which indicated it was a bit over cooked.

I order it medium well-done. It was cooked well but it was missing the pink strip which indicated it was a bit over cooked.

The presentation of the dish was simple but it had all the basics.

The presentation of the dish was simple but it had all the basics.

The appetizers consisted of clam chowder soup, saltines, and a soda.

The appetizers consisted of clam chowder soup, saltines, and a soda.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It will be interesting to see what the real Delmonico has to offer. I expect them to be better, that is without question. The question will be, are they 20 times better? It is gong to be a tough act to follow.

Cathedral of our Lady of Los Angeles

AJ and John in front of the LA Cathedral.

AJ and John in front of the LA Cathedral.

In the 13th century St. Francis of Assisi (Italy) was given the small chapel of St. Mary’s in which to use as a base of operations. It was not a very good chapel and had to be rebuilt, which is said he did by hand after hearing the world of God come to him and say “Go and restore my house.” According to the story while praying in that chapel during Mass he got another vision that said to “go forth and preach penance and conversion to all mankind” and so was born the Franciscan order in the Catholic church. In the Franciscan order this revelation is celebrated on August 2nd.

Fast forward to Wednesday, August 2, 1769, Father Juan Crespi, a Franciscan priest accompanying the first European land expedition through California, led by Captain Fernando Rivera Y Moncado, talked about a “beautiful river from the northwest” located at “34 degrees 10 minutes”. Recognizing the amazing coincidence of the date, and seeing as though they were Franciscans they named the river Nuestra Señora de los Angeles de la Porciúncula. Thus Los Angeles got it’s name.

In the hallway of the Cathedral of our Lady of Los Angeles is a sacred stone from the original St. Mary’s Chapel in Assisi, Italy. The stone symbolizes the spirit for which Los Angeles got it’s name. Los Angeles is a place to be explored and so is the Cathedral.

Old murals mix with new paintings.

Old murals mix with new paintings.

A modern painting meets visitors upon entry.

A modern painting meets visitors upon entry.

This wall contains paintings highlighting the original 21 California Missions.

This wall contains paintings highlighting the original 21 California Missions.

A sacred stone from the original St. Mary's Chapel in Italy.

A sacred stone from the original St. Mary’s Chapel in Italy.

The main altar in the cathedral.

The main altar in the cathedral.

The final resting place of Chief Justice Malcom Lucas who presided over the California Supreme Court for a number of years. I think they will update his cover later.

The final resting place of Chief Justice Malcom Lucas who presided over the California Supreme Court for a number of years. I think they will update his cover later.

Many of LA's past Cardinals and Bishops have been laid to rest in the Cathedral.

Many of LA’s past Cardinals and Bishops have been laid to rest in the Cathedral.

The refurbished stained glass windows are impressive.

The refurbished stained glass windows are impressive.

The chapel containing the remains of St. Vibiana, a third century Martyr.

The chapel containing the remains of St. Vibiana, a third century Martyr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Los Angeles Cathedral sits on a huge plot of land on Temple St. that overlooks the 101 freeway, which intersects the heart of Los Angeles. It was opened in 2002 to replace the Cathedral of Vibiana, which had previously been the cathedral of Los Angeles, that had been severely damaged in a 1994 earthquake. There was a lot of back and forth on what would be done with the damaged cathedral, but in the end the old cathedral became a public library and the Catholic Church constructed a modern cathedral.

As a modern cathedral the lines a very sleek and minimalist. Though minimalist in nature there are antique touches throughout the building. One of my favorite example of this is downstairs in the mausoleum. The mausoleum is very modern looking in with clean lines, housing the final remains of important and famous people such as Gregory Peck, Chief Justice Malcom Lucas, Bishop Thaddeus Amat y Brusi (first Catholic Bishop of Los Angeles), and even Saint Vibiana (a martyr from the 3rd century). Despite the modern look, the mausoleum is decorated with the stained glass windows from the old Cathedral of Vibiana.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles CA

disneyfrontA few years ago when AJ was little and I (John) was out of town on business Denise went out to downtown Los Angeles with AJ in a stroller. Being a downtown LA explorer, Denise has been encouraging me for sometime to take the audio tour.

I am not sure I can add anything to the knowledge of the Walt Disney Concert Hall that you can’t readily access via Wikipedia. The Disney Concert Hall was finished in 2003. It is located on Grand Ave. and is in walking distance to both the Civic Center and Pershing Square Metro Red Line.  It is home to both the LA Philharmonic and the LA Chorale.

Tickets at the Walt Disney Concert Hall can be expensive, but the good news is that the audio tour is free. All you have to do is leave an ID card for collateral for the tour wands.

balconytour disneyaudiotour

 

 

 

 

It should be noted that there are elevators, but there are a lot of stairs in the concert halls, so make sure you have some comfortable shoes, although I did see one lady in high heels walking up 5 flights of stairs (how did she do that?!).

disneystairs2 disneystairs

There are a lot of small spaces in the concert hall such as the Wellington Music Room (currently exhibiting Jazz singers).

There are a lot of small spaces in the concert hall such as the Wellington Music Room (currently exhibiting Jazz singers).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

disneydelfinrosefountainThe tour was interesting, but I have found that when it comes to architecture I prefer more flourishes and decorative touches. The would paneling of the concert hall gave it a warm feel, but the overall simple ascetics of the was too bland for me. My favorite part of the tour was the back of the concert hall where they had a little garden. In the garden they have a rose fountain made out of Delphine China. Apparently Mrs. Disney was a big fan of Delphine China and collected it on all of her travels. Her favorite flower was the rose. The architect decided to make a fountain out of Delphine China. According to the story there is cheap china and expensive china. The architect went out to find cheap china but when Delphine found out what they were going to use the china they insisted the concert hall use the expensive stuff. So the fountain has a bunch of very expensive broken plates in it.

 

Even in downtown LA all Disney tours end at the gift shop.

Even in downtown LA all Disney tours end at the gift shop.