Steelcraft, December 26, 2016

The picture above shows the southwest corner of Bixby and Long Beach Blvd in Long Beach, where a collection of empty shipping containers have been magically transformed into “AN OUTDOOR URBAN EATERY BRINGING SUSTAINABLE AND HIGH QUALITY CRAFT FOOD AND DRINK TO LB” named Steelcraft.


Steelcraft is currently a bit light on the “EATERY” portion of the description, but my favorite coffee shop, Steelhead Coffee, has finally opened its location at that site! The owner, John, has apparently run out of patience with the other  vendors, and having been staffed up and ready to go since, I think, way back in October has decided to at least get his segment open this year. While the current state of affairs won’t do much for the munchies, you can now get your fix of artisanal coffee in Bixby Knolls!



If the early business is any kind of a reliable indicator of future performance, then the future is bright. I stopped by in the afternoon on my walk home and found Greg, Skyler, Corey, and Mike all behind the counter. I commented that it seemed a bit crowded back there, and Mike told me that they had been so busy that day that they had to call in an extra body to handle the peak business.



Men at work!

None of the other vendors are currently operational, and from looking at their sites they appear to be in varying degrees of readiness. I am expecting that there will be a kind of rolling roll-out of other food sources.


In addition to the vendors above I also saw a SHAVED ICE location on the Long Beach Blvd side away from Bixby, and you can get a better idea about the vendors by looking at the Steelcraft website.

There is no indoor seating, but there a couple of open air seating areas, one of which was still under construction as of my visit.

Given that a rainy winter is predicted, I am a bit concerned about how this installation will fare when it rains. There is a system of overhead screens that can be deployed to provide shelter from sun and storm, but I didn’t see anything in the way of awnings that would provide shelter while customers are ordering. My fingers are crossed, and I am hoping for the best. This section of Long Beach Blvd has been a food and beverage desert for too long!

Status Update, Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I have been somewhat less diligent than usual regarding my blogging! A conspiracy of factors are at work: I am doing a LOT of walking (6-12 miles daily, average about 8) and that takes a LOT of time, and I have also been supporting my housemate Ramona’s yoga studio, Flow LBC. I am not really cleared on yoga yet–at this point in time doing a down dog could be very detrimental to my recovery–but I have been taking 3-4 yoga classes a week at Flow LBC. Luckily, this has been a bit of a boon as the classes have been largely private classes with Ashley Corbin-Teich, Katie Bond, and Sam Parker, and they have been able to tailor their instruction specifically to my needs! I love the way things work out some times, but I do hope that I start getting more company in their classes. Check out their schedule here.


The problem with all the walking and yoga classes is that between the time spent walking, and all the time spent getting to and from and attending the yoga classes, my day gets so cut up into segments too small for me to get much writing done. Plus, I have had some technical difficulties as my keyboard for my iPad stopped working, and without the keyboard that iPad was not much use for blogging (sad face emoji here). Those difficulties have been resolved, and here I am again!


Wednesday was a rainy day, and I also needed some foundational work on my new gait, so I went to LA Fitness to walk real slow on the treadmill and use the elliptical trainer. I went into the nearly empty gym to do some yoga, and I noticed the young couple in the picture above. They had set up a step platform and were taking turns jumping off backwards and landing on one leg. They looked like serious athletes, so I asked if they were training for something. They said yes, they were both figure skaters. I asked what level they skated at, and she said she had competed in the Olympics and he said he is the National Champion, and “…by the way, she is a national champion too.” They are Adam Rippon, the current Senior Men’s National Champion, and she is Ashley Wagner, current World Silver Medalist and a three-time Senior Women’s National Champion!

I guess I had better talk a bit about my physical status lest I be accused of false advertising. Not much new on the triceps front, but this is a time when no news is good news. Nothing much to do but be careful and not get hurt, and so far I have been successful on that front. I have made excellent progress on getting my gait straightened out, and now can really walk almost on a line. Executing that walk and adjusting to it, though, are two different things, and while I can do it I am now in a “two steps forward, one step back” mode where I sometimes need to take time off from walking to let my ankle and foot adjust. Good thing it’s raining out!

Mt. Wilson Toll Road, Sunday, December 4, 2016

Well, it is now Thursday morning, 9 am. Up at 5 this morning, internet until 6, an hour of stretching and strengthening, a shower, walk 1.7 miles to Steelhead Coffee where I am greeted by Nick, Skyler, and Amelia behind the counter, have my usual cortado with egg’s and Manchego on toast prepared by the lovely Zoe (aka, @rosemarysbabyzoe), followed by ten minutes of folding, stretching, squatting, and balancing in the parking lot, and I am now ready to write.


Elevation Profile for Mt Wilson Toll Road

This week has been a rather low mileage week, which is probably good since parts of my body have been complaining a bit about the stress put on them by Sunday’s trudge up the Mt. Wilson Toll Road. I have gone through several cycles in my life where circumstances, usually work-related and then complicated by relationship issues, cause me to not get sufficient exercise. When that happens, I can actually put on about a pound a week and before I know it I am 60 pounds overweight, with bad feet to boot. One of my most valued tools for reversing this trend is the trudge.


Ready to trudge!

A trudge is like a hike in that it involves walking in a natural (or more natural) setting on a natural (or more natural) surface. It is a special case of a hike, however, that requires a) non-technical walking on easy surfaces, and at least 3 miles (5K) of an unrelenting grind upwards that gains at least 1000 ft of altitude over that span.

The Mt. Wilson Toll Road is the ultimate trudge. It begins at the head of Eaton Canyon Regional Park, although the best access is off Pinecrest, in Altadena. From the gate the trail descends, crosses over the creek, and then begins an almost uninterrupted climb to the summit of Mt. Wilson. The distance is 10 miles, and there is about 4400 feet of altitude gain. I like it for training as I can hike up until I have had enough (keeping in mind that I will also be descending, which I like much less than ascending), and then turn around. When I get to the point where I can do the whole enchilada, then I consider myself up to snuff!

My destination for Sunday was the first real landing pad on the hike, Henninger Flats. Henninger Flats is the first (and perhaps only) place where the road levels off, and it sports a campground, picnic area, and restroom facilities (although the modern facilities were locked and only the rustic ones were available). It is about 3 miles from the gate to Henninger Flats, and there are 1325 feet of elevation change involved.

On Sunday I started my trudge at about 10:30 am, hung out at the Flats for a little while, headed back down, and returned to my car at 2 pm. Only some relatively minor complaints from my left hip and my right foot, and I was energetic enough to head out to Calabasas to visit one of my families, the Dennis’s–I was feeling guilty because I had stood up the Dennis’s on Thanksgiving, opting instead to head down to La Jolla to visit yet another of my  families, the Feifer’s. Need to keep ones families happy!


Eaton Canyon drainage from Henninger Flats

My current goal is to do a trudge each Sunday. In addition to the Toll Road, which I am planning on doing on the first Sunday of each month as a benchmark, I have a good trudge up the North Ridge Trail in Chino Hills State Park. That trail has been officially closed for a couple of years, but I am guessing that I can still get past the closure for the ascent, and by connecting to the Sycamore Trail it can be turned into a loop where the descent is a bit more forgiving.

Status Update, Thursday, December 1, 2016

I had my long-awaited follow-up appointment with my surgeon, Dr. Warden. It has been 12 weeks since the surgery to reattach two of the three heads of my triceps on my right elbow, and he was worried. In my first follow-up two weeks after the surgery he had accused me of having a year-old injury, that prognosis based on the difficulty he had in stretching the tendons and the fact that the first pin he had used had pulled out, so it was with some trepidation that he entered the room, closed the door, and said “Well, let’s see what we have here.”


Just scratching my back…

I dutifully extended my arm and he began going through his diagnostic routine. His glumness very soon morphed into something more like glee as he assessed my progress, which he deemed remarkable. I have full extension and flexion, which amazed him, and all muscles seem to be fully attached and functioning. He did caution  me that the attachment takes on the order of 9-10 months to fully heal, so he did not even want to start on any kind of therapy aimed at strengthening the muscles at this point, and no heavy pushing is allowed. He also said that maybe at the 9 month mark I might be able to start PT but that given my track record to date I might not even need it.


On the other battlefront, the re-training of my gait is really coming along. My goal is to be able to walk 20 miles any time I want to. That has been a distant goal for the past year as I have been working on completely reworking the functioning of my right leg, and that has often greatly restricted my walking range. There have been many objections by many body parts, starting from the smallest of toes, migrating up the leg through the knee, with the current front line being the muscular systems high up on the leg that control the orientation of the femur. They were kind of stuck in a turned-out mode for a long time, and muscles that are supposed to be loose were too tight, and muscles that were supposed to be tight were too loose.


I think I have now regained the necessary flexiblities and basic strength to walk properly and I am now working on building strength. In the beginning phases I was lucky to get in five miles in a day, but lately I have had a number of 10-12 mile days. My experience is that the best therapy for my is trudging long distances up steep hills, something that Long Beach largely lacks (sad face emoji here), so it is off to trudge Signal Hill two or three times!