Friday, December 7, 2007

The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum - Costa Mesa

While perusing Facebook lately (don't give me that look. You do it, too), I've been noticing a sudden trend of people having pictures in front of this enormous shadow wall. Now, I let it go for a little while, figuring maybe it had been a GYRAD or something and that's why everyone had been there, but as time went on, MORE of these pictures showed up. So finally I inquired about the location of this thing so that I, too, could be hip and silhouetted. Turns out there's a whole lot more to this place than a wall that makes you look ginormous.

The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum California Scenario in Costa Mesa is located in a rather inconspicuous location, which is what I'm going to blame for the fact that I've lived here for four years and have never noticed it. The landscape is representative of the many different landscapes of the state of California. Wet, dry, forested - it's all in here somewhere. Seriously, this place is LEGIT. Czech it out.

More Info:
Land & Living: California Scenario
The Noguchi Museum

Getting There From VU:
1: Start out going EAST on FAIR DR toward NEWPORT BLVD. 0.2 miles Map

2: Turn LEFT onto NEWPORT BLVD. 0.8 miles Map

3: Turn LEFT onto BRISTOL ST / SE BRISTOL ST. Continue to follow BRISTOL ST. 1.4 miles Map

4: Turn RIGHT onto ANTON BLVD. 0.2 miles Map

5: End at 611 Anton Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92626-7005, US
Total Est. Time: 6 minutes Total Est. Distance: 2.69 miles

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Wild Parrots of Orange County

A couple of days ago, a parrot was spotted in a tree on Vanguard's campus mall. As crowds gathered to observe this unusual occurrence, there was much speculation as to its origins. The general consensus was that it had most likely escaped from an owner's cage somewhere and was simply lost. My curiosity piqued, however, I decided to look into the parrot quandary myself. As it turns out, parrots are actually fairly common residents of Orange County, though no one is quite sure why. One theory suggests that as a local pet store burned down, the panicked owner set the tropical birds free. They managed to thrive in the local climate and their population has grown exponentially since. Another theory posits that there was a more sinister cause involving an underground parrot smuggling ring. Why anyone would want to smuggle parrots is beyond me, but who knows? Whatever the case, the end result is that there are a variety of tropical parrots inhabiting areas like Fullerton, Santa Ana, and Orange. Keep your eyes open for 'em.

For more info:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

El Adobe de Capistrano - San Juan Capistrano

It's quaint, it's romantic, and it's haunted... or at least rumor has it that that's the case. El Adobe de Capistrano is located in Southern Orange County and boasts multiple stories of hauntings. The wine cellar area (pictured here) is a converted jail. It is said that guests are often seen turning around suddenly as if tapped by an unseen hand, and the waitstaff experiences unsettling chills and sensations while in that area.

To make things even more interesting, the restaurant even boasts its own headless haunt. Inexplicably, a decapitated monk is seen wandering the streets around the restaurant. While history doesn't point to one incident that could be responsible for the apparition, some posit that military and political troubles in the area, as well as a history of forced religious conversions could be responsible for the wandering souls. 

Legends aside, if you're looking for a sweet date outside of the Vanguard bubble, El Adobe de Capistrano might be a good option. You'd probably want to save it for an anniversary, or a first date if you're really ambitious. After all, charming atmosphere in Orange County rarely comes cheap. Expect to pay a minimum of about $15 for an entree. Headless ghosts come for free.


Getting There from VU:

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Blackstar Canyon Road - Irvine

Perhaps it is the local lore that surrounds this spot that is to blame for the eerie vibes one gets upon visiting it, but I would be lying if I said that Black Star Canyon Rd. didn't give me the heebie-jeebies from the get-go.

Some legends about the road include a bearded man with no teeth called "Black Star Bill" who chases any visitors he finds away, creatures shrouded in black with a penguin-like gait, witchcraft and KKK rituals, ghost cars, and your regular run-of-the-mill squatters. To be quite honest, it's that last one that worried me the most.

Upon my voyage I saw no penguins, toothless men, or pagan rituals, but the consistent chill running up my spine was enough to inspire me to make my visit brief. Black Star is the kind of place where you constantly feel like you're being watched, and if it is true that there are various people residing here, it is quite possible.

For more info:

Getting there from VU:

1: Start out going EAST on FAIR DR toward NEWPORT BLVD. 0.2 miles Map

2: Turn LEFT onto NEWPORT BLVD. <0.1> Map

3: Merge onto CA-55 N via the ramp on the LEFT. 1.7 miles Map

4: Merge onto I-405 S via EXIT 6A toward SAN DIEGO. 1.8 miles Map

5: Take the JAMBOREE ROAD exit- EXIT 7. 0.3 miles Map

6: Turn LEFT onto JAMBOREE RD. 3.6 miles Map

7: Stay STRAIGHT to go onto CA-261 N (Portions toll). 5.7 miles Map

8: Take the SANTIAGO CANYON RD / CA-241 S exit- EXIT 6A- toward CHAPMAN AVE. 0.2 miles Map

9: Take the SANTIAGO CYN RD exit on the LEFT toward CHAPMAN AVE. <0.1> Map

10: Turn RIGHT onto SANTIAGO CANYON RD. 5.3 miles Map

11: Turn LEFT onto SILVERADO CANYON RD. 0.1 miles Map

12: End at Black Star Canyon Rd & Silverado Canyon Rd
Silverado, CA 92676, US
Total Est. Time: 25 minutes Total Est. Distance: 19.47 miles

Monday, October 15, 2007

Prehistoric Pets - Fountain Valley

If you're like me, you've never had any aspiration to host a "jurassic party," or to get up close and personal with small, hairy insects or large, clawed reptiles. However, if the inclination were to seize you, well, you're in luck. Prehistoric Pets in Fountain Valley is a truckload of weird with a side order of holy smokes.

Boasting a cast of characters that includes various stages of bearded dragons, all sizes of monitor lizards, and some mischievous and abnormally large catfish (among many other delights), Prehistoric Pets is a treasure trove of unusual and unorthodox creatures. It may not be Disneyland, but on a lazy Saturday afternoon, it could be just as exhilarating... or nauseating.

Getting There from VU:

1: Start out going WEST on FAIR DR toward FAIRGROUNDS. 0.3 miles Map

2: Turn RIGHT onto FAIRVIEW RD. 0.2 miles Map

3: Turn LEFT onto MERRIMAC WAY. 0.6 miles Map

4: Turn RIGHT onto HARBOR BLVD. 0.3 miles Map

5: Turn LEFT onto ADAMS AVE. 1.9 miles Map

6: Turn RIGHT onto BROOKHURST ST. 1.1 miles Map

7: End at 18822 Brookhurst St
Fountain Valley, CA 92708-7304, US
Total Est. Time: 9 minutes Total Est. Distance: 4.83 miles