Category: Out & About
A series of mostly random photos taken while out and about on a particular day or weekend
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Out & About - 05/05/2012

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Saturday saw us at two events in Riverside.

Riverside ReStore

The first was at Habitat for Humanity's Riverside ReStore where items salvaged from the historic Fox Theater were made available for purchase. The once in a lifetime event drew dozens to Habitat's store early Saturday morning for first pick of the lot, with several pieces sold (one | two | three) within a few hours.

The items -- doors, windows and power switches -- were recently donated to the Old Riverside Foundation, which in cooperation with Riverside ReStore, is selling the items. Proceeds will help benefit historic preservation efforts of Old Riverside Foundation as well as support Riverside's Habitat for Humanity home ownership mission.

Perfect for just about any home and business -- or simply as a great accent for the garden -- these unique "art" pieces will remain on sale at Riverside ReStore until sold.

Show and Go

Later in the afternoon, we headed downtown to the 14th annual Show and Go classic car event. Over 1,000 cars -- mostly from the 1950s and 1960s -- were parked and open for close inspection for several blocks along downtown streets.

The event included a slow cruise down Market Street, allowing the cars to flex their muscles to curbside spectators. Noted designer Chip Foose was even on hand signing autographs.

The three-day car show also has numerous car product booths (including Riverside's K&N Filters and Wayne's Engine Rebuilders) as well as several food vendors (including a beer truck from Hanger 24 Brewery in Redlands).

The Show and Go continues on Sunday, May 6.



Exotic plants are abundant at UCR's Botanic Gardens

Note: The following write-up by us on UCR's Botanic Gardens first appeared on


Nestled within 40 hilly acres on the eastern edge of the University of California at Riverside campus, the UCR Botanic Gardens is one of the Inland region's best-kept secrets.

Main entrance

Alder Canyon

Spring blossoms

Aloe - Eastern Africa

Arizona Barrel Cactus

Busy bee

Friendly finds

Picturesque scenery

With four miles of self-guided walking paths and over 3,500 plant species from around the world, the park contains a diverse mix of plants and scenery. Its semi-rugged slopes help create localized microclimates, partly explaining the ability to maintain a wide range of plants allowing for year-round blooming (with April usually being the most colorful).

Once inside the gardens, visitors can decide among various paved and unpaved paths winding their way among the arroyos, trees and foliage. As you stroll around the grounds, one can't help but feel they've escaped the hustle and bustle of daily life. Scattered about the paths and trails are numerous secluded spots and park benches, each offering up opportunities for inner contemplation and picturesque scenery. Several built structures add to the scenic park-like grounds, including several bridges, gazebos, arbors and even a small pond.

The garden's plant variety also attracts various forms of wildlife, with over 200 species of birds - from hummingbirds, mockingbirds, wrens and woodpeckers to ravens, hawks, crows, jays and herons - having been recorded. The occasional rare bird, such as the turkey vulture and golden eagle, has also been spotted. Also abundant are various insects, spiders, lizards and even snakes (with lizards being the most common creature spotted). During the morning and evening hours can be seen the usual mammals - squirrels, gophers, rats, rabbits, skunks and even the occasional bobcat.

Since most of the key features are easily viewed from the paved paths (which are wheelchair accessible), we suggest a clockwise direction beginning with the Deserts and Cactus sections. From there you can make your way through the Rose, Iris and Herb gardens before ending with a leisurely stroll through Alder Canyon as you head back toward the main entrance. For those more adventurous, several unpaved paths found along the way will get you closer to the action, particularly if photographing, as well as steer you to quaint secluded areas.

Among the Botanic Garden's highlights are the eccentric forms and blossoms found in the Desert and Cactus sections. Indeed the most curious portion of the park, the area contains several exotic-looking succulents, including various species of aloe and cacti.

Another favorite is the Rose Garden, which contains over 300 selections - including miniatures - that blossom with color and fragrance during the springtime. For enthusiasts, the Botanic Gardens offers a free rose pruning demonstration, usually held each January.

One of the most unique sections of the park is the Herb Garden, where culinary and medicinal plants often fill the air with their distinct aromas. Nearby is the Geodesic Dome Lath house. Inside the redwood-built structure are several shade plants, ferns and exotic palms.
Probably the most-visited area of the park is the Alder Canyon section. Situated near the entrance, the park-like area features a grassy area with several benches and wooden bridges shaded by tall trees. Farther back, the pathway squeezes into a small arroyo flanked with pines, ficus, cypress and even palms and bamboo.

From Alder Canyon, those who wish to venture off the paved area will find several dirt paths leading up into more secluded spots as well as the Botanic Garden's way-back areas. Relatively easy to reach are the Celebration of Life Memorial and Bobcat Rocks areas. Farther back are found the Sierra Foothills (chaparral, foothill pine, mountain mahogany, California buckeye) and Australia sections (eucalyptus, bottlebrushes, acacias).

But the Botanic Gardens is more than just a horticultural exhibition. Twice each year (Spring and Fall), volunteers prep and host the Inland region's largest botanical plant and seed sale at the gardens. Nearly 10,000 plants and more than 600 varieties are available for purchase at very reasonable prices (with many under $10). The 2012 Spring Plant Sale takes place this weekend (March 31-April 1). Proceeds from the widely-attended event help fund continuing maintenance.

In May, the gardens host "Primavera in the Gardens," a wine and food tasting event. Approaching its 14th year, the fundraiser usually attracts hundreds of attendees with food and drinks provided by various local entities. Past participants have included Cafe Sevilla, Mario's Place, Simple Simon's, Smokey Canyon BBQ as well as Callaway Vineyard & Winery, Falkner Winery, Galleano, Joseph Filippi Winery & Vineyard. Also on hand have been beers from Hangar 24 Craft Brewery and Inland Empire Brewery. This year's event will be held Sunday May 20, 2012. Reservations are suggested ($60 reserved or $70 day of event).

Open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., UCR's Botanic Gardens are open to everyone, with the primary portions being wheelchair accessible. Self-guided tours take anywhere from 1-4 hours. Bikes, pets and smoking are not allowed and children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Reservations for school tours are also available. The gardens are closed on New Year's Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

To reach the gardens, enter UC Riverside at Campus Drive off either University Avenue or Canyon Crest Drive. Follow Campus Drive easterly around to Botanic Gardens Drive located near Parking Lot 10. Continue past Lot 10, turning right and following Botanic Gardens Drive until you reach the main entrance. Entry into the gardens is free. However, a small $4 donation is requested and a short-term parking permit ($1 for 4 hours) is required and can be purchased just inside the gate.



From the eclectic Mission Inn and magnificent County Courthouse to the modern City Hall and mid-century public library, downtown Riverside is rich in architectural history and variety. Fortunately, many of these gems are within walking distance down a few adjoining streets. As such, we've created a few short circular, self-guided tours -- Mission Inn Avenue, University Avenue and Main Street.

The three tours, which we first produced for, can easily be completed within 1 to 2 hours each (depending, of course, on how fast you walk). So print out the articles, put on your walking shoes, grab a bottle of water and be sure to bring your camera!

TOUR: MISSION INN AVENUE | MAP: View a larger Google Maps of this tour

TOUR: UNIVERSITY AVENUE | MAP: View a larger Google Maps of this tour

TOUR: MAIN STREET | MAP: View a larger Google Maps of this tour

Out & About - 12/2/2011

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University of California at Riverside

A short visit to UC Riverside on Friday afforded us some time to take a few photos.

Initially established at the base of Mount Rubidoux in downtown Riverside in 1907, the seeds for present-day UCR began when the Citrus Experiment Station -- forerunner to UCR -- relocated a few miles east to the base of Box Springs Mountain in 1918.

In 1948, the University of California Regents voted to fund planning and designs for the formation of a liberal arts college in Riverside. In 1954, the new campus -- dubbed the "Swarthmore of the West" -- began accepting students. In 1959, its mission was expanded and UCR was declared a general campus of the UC system. In 1960, the University's Graduate Division was established.

In October 1966, UCR's signature "bell tower" was dedicated*. The 161-foot tower -- one of only five true carillons in California -- was designed by the noted architectural firm of A. Quincy Jones and Frederick E. Emmons (one* | two*). The tower's 48 chromatically-tuned bells* located at the top were cast by Paccard Foundry of France.

Today, UCR hosts nearly 20,000 students in a park-like setting spread over 1,200 acres in northeastern Riverside.


Carillon Tower
and Rivera Library
Pierce Hall and
Science Labs

Sproul Hall
The "HUB"
Carillon Tower

* Courtesy of UC Riverside

Sources: UC Riverside

Out & About - 01/29/2011

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Lunar Festival
Visitors stroll Mission Inn Avenue in downtown Riverside during Saturday's celebration marking the Chinese New Year.

Out & About - 12/29/2010

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Main Street
A trolley strolls along Main Street near City Hall on a rainy Wednesday
in downtown Riverside.

Out & About - 08/07/2010

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Main Street pedestrian mall
Slideshow: Out & About

This past weekend saw us out and about downtown on both Friday and Saturday.

On Friday evening, downtown was relatively busy as a special screening of "Gone With the Wind" brought a sold-out audience to the newly-restored Fox Performing Arts Center. The showing included appearances from 4 of the 7 surviving cast members at a special gala held before Friday's re-screening.

While downtown, we took an impromptu tour of the Mission Inn, following it up with a bite to eat at one of the hotel's unique eateries. Later, we strolled along the Main Street pedestrian mall, which was alive with other downtown patrons.

Saturday morning found the pedestrian mall and weekly farmer's market busy with both shoppers and walkers alike. A re-opened Simple Simon's helped keep the outdoor dining area filled with folks taking advantage of the mild summer temperatures.

Nearby, we spotted the emergence of the former De Anza Chevrolet behind a recently-removed facade on Market Street (one | two). In the early 1960s, 7 new car dealers downtown -- including De Anza -- came together to build the Riverside Auto Center, which was the first auto center of its kind when it opened in 1965 alongside the 91 Freeway at Adams Street. Today, De Anza Chevrolet, one of the seven original auto center dealers, is known as Singh Chevrolet.

Slideshow: Out & About

Pecuiliar post-war commercial add-ons

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Scattered around downtown Riverside one will find a few remaining commercial "add-on" oddities from the post-war years. Here are two of the more obvious ones we've noticed.

riv-2010c-dt-10th-3833-002c-900.jpg riv-2010c-dt-10th-3833-003-900.jpg
Tenth Street

First up is this house located on Tenth Street. We're not sure of the original home's date, but city permits show an addition valued at approximately $5,000 was built around 1947. Though the permits do not indicate what it was used for, they do indicate the expansion was permitted as a "business" addition.

It's readily apparent the 1947 addition did not make any real attempt to complement the Cape-Cod style motif of the original structure, but a recent makeover does help it blend in better.


riv-2010c-dt-main-4353-001-900.jpg riv-2010c-dt-main-4353-002-900.jpg
Main Street

Next up is this house located at the south end of Main Street. City permits show minor alterations taking place on portions of the house in 1947 for use as a "cafe." Later, in 1955/56, a permit was issued for a front addition valued at approximately $11,000. The permit indicates "store" as the intended use for the expansion (though we presume it could have easily been an expansion for the cafe as well).

Although the addition's roof line offers subtle reference to the home's traditional architecture, the flagstone and basic cinder block construction adds a bit of mid-century flair (unintended as it may have been at the time).


Today, design codes are simply too strict to allow such non-conforming additions. And as much as they tend to ruin the architectural motif of the original structure, there's no doubt seeing these "grand-fathered" oddities does add a bit of interest and character to what might otherwise be a monotonous streetscape. It's also one aspect that make parts of Southern California's older established cities -- such as Riverside, Redlands, Fullerton and Pasadena -- a bit more unique than newer master-planned cities and neighborhoods.

Out & About - 01/24/2010

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San Bernardino peak, one of the highest points in Southern California, as seen from an orange grove in east Highland
Slideshow: Out & About

Sunday was a postcard perfect day in Inland Southern California as a week-long sky full of heavy rain and dark clouds gave way to bright sunshine and snow-capped mountains.

The picturesque views evoked colorful scenes from the days when the navel orange industry -- and imagery made popular by Sunkist marketing -- dominated the region's landscape.

Slideshow: Out & About


Out & About - 12/19/2009

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Festive decorations at every corner during downtown Riverside's yearly 'Festival of Lights'
Slideshow: Out & About

On Saturday evening, we spent a couple hours browsing and shopping during the annual 'Festival of Lights' in downtown Riverside, snapping a few photos -- and finding a few nice surprises along the way.

First, it was great to once again see the storefront windows -- decorated and lit up for the holidays -- for the long-shuttered Westbrook's / Imperial Hardware building. We're hoping the windows remain on display following the holidays (possibly for historical/museum displays ... ?).

Second, the newly opened 3rd floor for Mission Galleria offered sweeping views of the pedestrian mall below.

And finally, it was nice to see fresh art sculptures (one | two) along the pedestrian mall near UCR/California Museum of Photography.

We found the newly refurbished pedestrian mall to work quite well with the large crowds, particularly alongside the Mission Inn. The new layout allowed for a larger ice rink and a larger events stage.

The Festival of Lights includes an ice rink, carriage rides, carolers, shopping, food, entertainment -- and Santa Claus. Oh, and of course, the centerpiece is the historic Mission Inn decorated with over 3.5 million lights and hundreds of animated displays.

The event runs daily (excepting Christmas) through January 3.

Slideshow: Out & About


Out & About - 10/20/2009

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Crews work on the new crossing at Mission Inn Avenue as part of the pedestrian mall makeover in downtown Riverside
Slideshow: Out & About

This week found us taking a stroll along downtown's Main Street pedestrian mall during a workday lunch, where we encountered others also taking in the fall-like weather.

Further up, we noticed both the main entrance and several windows on the former Westbrook's / Imperial Hardware store are now on display for the first time in several years. They had been boarded up for at least the past decade, if not longer.

The sidewalk around the building's foundation has been chipped away in preparation for the pedestrian mall's new surface. It appears a new header has also been put into place. Does this mean the building -- which dates back to 1900, but has sat empty since the 1970s -- is finally about to see a new tenant?

Although Imperial's former false front is no match against Westbrook's 1935 art deco facade, we admit to somewhat missing its mid-century starkness (here's a view from 1967), which covered the building's front from about 1964 until 2007. Regardless, we hope the improvements signal life is once again stirring within the building.

Moving on ... the second phase -- between University and Sixth -- of the makeover for 1966-era pedestrian mall* is nearing completion. This week, crews were busy working on the new mall crossing at Mission Inn Avenue. (The first phase, completed earlier this year, took in the mall's southern blocks between University and Tenth.)

Nearby, a crossing for a soon-to-be water feature is now in place while new pavers, ground plantings and lighting are also being completed. We have mixed feelings on the new lighting. By no means terrible, but also not very unique. Certainly not as unique at the original raincross lights. (We're told they're being salvaged by the city -- for what, we do not know. Let's hope they get shipped off to the city museum as opposed to the landfill.)

The pedestrian mall is expected to be completed in time for this year's "Festival of Lights" on which the months-long work has already started.

Slideshow: Out & About

* Courtesy of Ruhnau, Ruhnau & Clarke

Out & About - 10/14/2008

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Flash: Out & About slideshow

Incorporating the old RIR logo

March Field Air Museum

An original WWI-era plane
traced back to March Field

This past weekend saw us check the status on a few ongoing projects in downtown Riverside, including Regency Tower and Main Street Pedestrian Mall as both projects continue moving along. We also managed to take a nice snapshot overlooking downtown as well as take in two local museums.

First up was a visit to the Riverside International Automotive Museum in Riverside. Located in a business park near Hunter Park, the museum pays homage to the former Riverside International Raceway, which hosted major races on the eastern edge of town from 1957 - 1988. On display are posters, videos and various RIR memorabilia -- including a refrigerator from the driver's lounge. The museum also houses 3 Indy Eagle cars from the track's most prolific racer, Dan Gurney.

But more than just honoring RIR, the museum has a small collection of memorabilia from the former Ontario Motor Speedway (which held races from 1970 to 1980 on land where the new arena now stands). Likewise, several sports cars are on display, ranging from Ferrari and Maserati to Indy cars. It's also a working museum with race car restoration projects in the works.

Photos: Riverside International Raceway



Next was a stop at March Field Air Museum adjacent to I-215 in southeastern Riverside. Located on the western edge of March Air Reserve Base, the museum is comprised of a few hangar-like structures and several outdoor aircraft displays.

An interior exhibit area offers historical displays on March Field -- which celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2008 -- as well as the nation's major wars. Several other displays include the Tuskegee Airmen, Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, SAC Commander Gen. Curtis LeMay and the International Combat Camera Association. The museum also includes a short film on the history of March Field -- the oldest Air Force base on the west coast -- and it's involvement within the nation's modern military.

Outside on the museum's flightline are over 50 aircraft, including an SR-71 Blackbird, B-17 Flying Fortress, B-29 Superfortress, B-52D Stratofortress, F-4 Phantom, F-14 Tomcat, F-15 Eagle and KC-135 Stratotanker. Also on display are 4 Soviet MiG planes and a small hanger dedicated to the P-38.

The museum is also a working museum, with several hangers set up for ongoing restoration projects. Future plans at the museum include expansion for more interior exhibit space and a re-working of the exterior flightline.

When visiting March Field Air Museum, be sure to make time for a few solemn moments across the freeway at Riverside National Cemetery, which was the former site of Camp Haan during World War II.


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