8-25-18 Highland Park and Hippo Restaurant

Within the City of Los Angeles, there are any number of smaller cities and communities. For example, where we have lived for the last 40 years – Alhambra – is a City with it’s own governance but is within the County of Los Angeles so very much influenced by what happens “downtown”. This past Saturday, our friends, Phil and Jessie, took us to a new ‘hip’ restaurant called Hippo. Located in the old Highland Park Post Office Building, thus HIPPO, along with a neat little pizza place and a small wine shop it is one of a growing trend in this area of new restaurants.

Highland Park

Highland Park is a hilly neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles, located in the San Rafael Hills and along the Arroyo Seco. It is situated within what was once Rancho San Rafael of the Spanish/Mexican era.

The area was originally discovered thousands of years ago by ancestors of the Chumash people (the local Indian tribe), and would later be settled by the Tongva Indian tribe most associated with early settlements in Los Angeles and the Channel Islands off the coast.  After the founding of Los Angeles in 1784, the Corporal of the Guard at the San Gabriel mission, Jose Maria Verdugo, was granted the 36,403 acre Rancho San Rafael which included the present day Highland Park. Drought in the late 1800s resulted in economic hardship for the Verdugo family, and Rancho San Rafael was eventually auctioned off in 1869 for $3,500 over an unpaid loan. The San Rafael tract was purchased by Andrew Glassell and Albert J. Chapman, who leased it out to sheepherders. Highland Park was annexed to Los Angeles in 1895.

Historic Masonic Lodge Building

In the early 20th century, Highland Park and neighboring Pasadena became havens for artists and intellectuals who led the Arts and Crafts movement

Starting in the early 2000s, a diverse mix of people began arriving to Highland Park to seek out, buy, and revitalize Craftsman homes, some which had suffered neglect over the decades. Many of Highland Park’s oldest homes were razed during the 1950s and 1960s. One architecturally significant home made its way to Heritage Square Museum, thanks to the efforts of local activists dedicated to saving Victorian homes scheduled for demolition. Like Echo Park and Eagle Rock, Highland Park has steadily seen some gentrification. People from across the region have been attracted to the historic Craftsman homes that escaped demolition. Its relatively low rents have made it increasingly popular among young people who value the pedestrian urban lifestyle afforded by the older style of neighborhood.

Once again, Highland Park is building a reputation as a mecca for artists, with trendy shops, galleries, bars and restaurants opening throughout the neighborhood. Hippo, which opened just a little over a month ago, is just one example of this change in the City.

Saturday evening is “date night” and this place was no exception. We arrived for our 5PM reservation (the only time we could get) and joined the crowd getting settled in for the evening.

The front door!

From start to finish it was a very pleasant evening.

The restaurant was FULL up including the bar by 5:45!

The menu has a number of lovely items: Cool summer wax beans with fresh Serrano chiles, toasted almonds& frenchie vinaigrette; Griddle’d cauliflower, cauliflower “tahini,” walnut raisin caper relish; Royal Hamachi with Meyer lemon oregano relish; New Zealand tai snapper “ceviche”, cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro; Sweet corn cappellacci, funghi misti, thyme; Cedar smoked ocean trout, sweet corn succotash, green goddess just to name a few of the delights on menu.

We started off with cocktails – Janeen had a “Consider your shoes” Aperol, Prosecco, Amaro Angeleno, vermouth, olive & orange.

Consider your shoes

I had “Hippo old fashioned” bourbon, amaro sfumato, tart cherry, bitters

Hippo old fashioned

and Phil had “Paris is burning” – bourbon, italicus, lemon, blackberry, aquafaba, earl grey tea.

Paris is burning

The cocktails included a lovely bufala mozzarella with cured 14 month prosciutto di san daniclle.

Prosciutto and mozzarella

Jessie had a pour from the bottle of wine Barbera D’Alba.

Barbera d’ Alba lovely wine from the Piedmonte region of Italy

Between the four of us at the table, we ended up with several different starters and three different mains! For starters we had summer tomatoes, cucumbers, olives & feta,

Summer tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, red onion, basil, oregano vinaigrette and french feta.

and the yellowfin tuna carpaccio. Our mains consisted of the Oxtail tagliatelle ragu,

Oxtail ragu with fresh tagliatelle pasta

the fresh ricotta tortellini

Fresh ricotta tortellini, bufalo mozzarella, tomato and petit basil.

and the cedar smoked ocean trout.

Cedar smoked ocean trout

Portion size was wonderful – not so much you had left overs but not so small you felt cheated. We looked at the dessert menu but passed. One of the interesting things I noticed on the menu, and on the final bill, is they add a 3% charge to the bill to assist in offering health care coverage for the staff. Never seen anything like that before – I wonder if this is a trend for the future.

08-21-18 More Route 66 and Packing Up and Moving away!

Man does time fly! It seems like just yesterday we were having BBQ in Amarillo and now we are already in Southern California. A lot has happened in the last 10 or so days and it’s time for a minor update.

This was our road track from Macomb to Alahmbra

Driving along Route 66 (well really Interstate 40) is a treat. There are certainly a lot of interesting sites to see – although the old Route 66 structures are really not in the best of shape.

Not sure what you would call this – but it’s one of the sites along Route 66.
The Classic TP Motel along the route
We didn’t stop here but lots of people did.

After staying the night in Gallup New Mexico, we turned south away from Route 66 and headed towards Phoenix – well actually Chandler, Arizona where we were connecting with friends. However, before getting to their place, we stopped in Pleasant Valley.

In the late 1980’s I was active in a SCUBA club called the California Wreck Divers and every year we had a major speaker for our banquet. One year, one of our members was able to arrange for a shipwreck hunter and national author to be our speaker – Clive Custer

Clive Cussler

and I was the person who took care of him during his visit. Over the years Clive had found a number of historically significant shipwrecks around the US, last count more than 60 shipwreck sites – some of them have been recovered and put on display. He was able to do all of this because he writes adventure novels and people bought them – making him a bunch of money. Clive has been on the New York Times fiction best-seller list more than 20 times and written more than 70 books. Well, it turns out that Clive Cussler grew up in Alhambra – where we were living and he stayed at our home for a night and we showed him around the area. All of this ‘getting to know’ Clive was in the late ‘80’s but for some reason I have had his home address in Pleasant Valley Arizona ever since. It seemed like a good idea to drop in so I did.

After a brief visit with Clive we continued on to our friends Robin and Eric and their children Aria and Dorian (our adopted grand children). It was a wonderful visit including a lot of time to catch up on events. Of course it did include an evening out with adult beverages, always a good thing.

Janeen, Robin and Dorian
David, Aria and Eric.


The following morning, Sunday, we learned that Janeen’s dad had passed during the night. While it is always sad to loose a loved one, Harold was 101 and in failing health. We had spent a week with him prior to heading to SoCal and we knew his time was short. The passing of the meteor shower overhead about the time he released his spirit comforted Janeen.

Janeen having a brew at the Back Abbey – we stopped for lunch prior to getting to Alhambra.
David having a brew at the Back Abbey

We arrived in Alhambra later that day to stay with our friends Sally and Jim, well actually to house sit while they do a 3-week motor tour along Route 66. We were able to settle in and reflect on all that had happened and the full live lived by Harold.

Now it’s time to move forward – and that includes the sale of our home of 40 years. The house was listed on August 2nd and on Sunday the 12th, the day we arrived; there was an open house. As of today, August 21st, we have accepted an offer with a 30-day escrow. Between now and the 29th, when movers show up, we have to finish packing everything we intend to keep.

Stuff ready for the movers!
Work in progress – but very close to completion
Odds and ends yet to resolve

This “stuff” will be put into storage until we figure out where our next “Landing Pad” will be. That means lots of packing to be done and decisions to be made about what to keep and what needs to find a new home.

During our down time from packing the house, we will be visiting friends, going to the Huntington Library and Gardens (Janeen will go several times while we are here) and generally trying to enjoy our time in CA. Once the movers take everything away there will still be stuff that needs to find a new home – Am Vets will make a visit, as will others to haul the debris away.

We are in Southern Cal for the next several weeks packing, visiting friends and generally trying to deal with all that is happening in our lives. After escrow closes, which should be mid to late September, we head to the Bay Area to celebrate with friends their 50th wedding anniversary and on or about October 1st we drive back to Macomb to hold a memorial service for Harold check on Trust business there.

So, while our Blog hasn’t got the usual tid-bits of historical interest, I wanted to keep you up to date with what’s going on.




8-9-18 Hamilton, Macomb and Route 66

Wow, it’s been a while since I posted – so here’s a little update on what’s been happening.

After we got to Springfield, we had two things scheduled – tickets to see Hamilton at the Kennedy Center and an appointment for a long-term visa at the French consulate. Hamilton first opened on Broadway in February 2015. Since that time, it has continued on Broadway and also gone on the road. Broadway tickets are still VERY EXPENSIVE and the Bus and Truck crew also costs a pretty penny. Well, I figured I wasn’t going to see it if I didn’t just dip into the wallet and get tickets. Prior to doing our Northern Loop (Canada, etc.…) I had gotten a couple of tickets for the Sunday performance on July 22nd.   During our Northern Loop we had listened to the sound track a couple of times to be at least familiar with the music; that was a really good thing.

Hamilton – the Musical

The songs and dialogue really go quickly and having some idea of what is being said was a real benefit. The play is well over 2 ½ hours and has lots of action and historical references (we have also been reading the biography of Hamilton written by Ron Chernow which is what inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to write the play and a good deal of the dialogue comes from the book. We were NOT disappointed and would love to see the play another time.

The second major thing to get done was a visit to the French Consulate to see about getting a long-term visa. Due to an existing treaty, US Citizens can stay in Europe for 90 days in a 180-day period without a visa. Most times this isn’t a problem. However with Ryan and Chris living in Paris, two different April river cruises booked and a desire to tour more parts of the European part of the world,getting a long term resident visa would make it a lot easier to just wander around without having to worry about the time limit. The appointment required a whole lot of documentation to be put together and all of that was ready to go. When we finally got to the “desk” it seemed as if everything was going to be OK until we realized you cannot formally apply for the extended visa more than 3 months prior to going. So, as we were just a little over 4 months prior to our initial departure date ,we gathered everything and left with the understanding we would need to make another appointment sometime late October. The good thing about going when we did it confirmed we had all the information together and also gave us some pointers on what additional materials we might need to make sure we were successful next time.

OK, with all of that out of the way, we packed up to start our trip across country. First stop was Macomb,Illinois to visit with Harold (Janeen’s dad) and make sure he was getting all the care necessary to be comfortable. He is now under hospice care in the long-term care facility, Wesley Village, and doing as well as can be expected for someone who is 101 years old. We stayed a little over a week visiting daily and talking with his caregivers and others. One of the goals was to make sure all of those visiting him understand his condition and that, while it will be a sad day when it happens, he is slipping away to the other side. We were able to make sure he understands we were leaving for California as we have a time -frame to resolve some issues for the sale of our home and a wedding we have committed to attending in September plus a 50th wedding anniversary for friends in the Bay Area.

Now we are on the road. The first day was long – about 500 plus miles to get to Tulsa OK.

Roadside rest stop with a tornado shelter.
A lovely day to drive through the state f Oklahoma.

Next day (today) we drove to Amarillo,Texas. Most of today has been spent driving along Route 66! After getting checked into our Hotel, it seemed like it was time for BBQ.

So, first thing I did was check at the front desk to see if they had any recommendations – nothing really jumped out. Next was to check on Trip Advisor and see what was around. Not surprising there area bunch of places, but the one that caught our eye was a small place called Tyler’s Barbecue.

Tylers Barbeque – opened in 2010 and doing a fantastic job.

All of the reviews were 5-star (at least the dozen or so posted) and it was a small place serving ribs, brisket, pulled pork, sausage and all the other stuff you think about when thinking BBQ.

Here’s our brisket being cut!
We beat the crowd that’s for sure.

This place did not disappoint. We ordered the three-meat dinner with three ribs, some sliced brisket and a mound of pulled pork.

Ribs, brisket, pork and other goodies.

Along with this were potato salad and a peach cobbler for dessert. The place doesn’t serve “adult beverages” which helped to reduce the cost impact for sure and wasn’t missed actually.

Ribs – more ribs please.
Janeen getting her BBQ on.
Need a boot?

Tomorrow we head further west stopping in Gallop NM and then to Chandler, Arizona to visit with some friends and then to Alhambra where we will work on getting all the remaining stuff out of the house and selling it. More updates as something interesting happens.