Monday, March 14, 2011

MONSTER PARK II: The Revenge of the Sea Creatures

Not far from La Laguna de San Gabriel Playground in San Gabriel lurks yet another deep sea uprising!  We were ecstatic to learn that the sculptural playgrounds of artist Benjamin Dominguez existed in more than one location.  These creatures are a real fun-for-all and can be found in the charming city of El Monte at the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area.  The name of this enormous park falls a little flat and doesn't nearly do justice to the 1,492 acres of sunny park land.  Whittier Narrows is home to multiple, stocked, man-made lakes that are perfect for casting a line, peddle-boating or just watching the congregation of all kinds of water fowl.  There are trails for walking and peddling surreys.  There are several playgrounds and picnic sites.  There are even areas for racing model boats.  There are also hordes of people to stare at an overgrown man-child as he climbs the playground equipment.

Obviously, we were there for the monsters.
I quickly tamed the beast and the children
were free once more to frolic and play....and then
We spotted another creature off in the distance.
We had no idea what the heck this was supposed to be but it was fun.


Extended exposure to these creatures left me with a few
questions about nature's miracles but they were quickly answered.

So that's where giant baby starfish come from....huh.

Apparently, the water is good for splashing
 too...and the sacrifice of small children.
Unlike La laguna playground, we had to earn these monsters.  They are spread at a great distance all around the lakes and so began our forced march.  Did I get a blister?  Yes.  Did I also get some much-needed, low-impact exercise? You got it.  We left the park injured, thrilled and exhausted but the fun wasn't quite over yet.  On our tour of El Monte, we found another picturesque exhibition of nature's awesome beauty.

Roughly translated from Spanish, I'm pretty sure this means
"Mr. Hondo's Nature Walk."
Mr. Hondo's Nature Walk

Mr. Hondo's Nature Walk is a riparian habitat rife with the spoils of untamed nature.
First, we saw one bird.

Then we saw two birds!
We ended the day at Colonial Kitchen Restaurant in San Marino.

This little gem of a restaurant is one that I had spied many years ago and vowed to one day return.  Thanks to Lori, our dear friend and trusty GPS, we made it there just in time to miss the 4 o'clock, early-bird rush.  Yes, Colonial Kitchen might be known for its above-a-certain-age clientele but it is quaint and reminds me very much of my grandparents.  The lobby is decorated with "Royal Doulton" toby jugs and porcelain bric-a-brac of indeterminate vintage and value.  Green booths, wood paneling, turned- spindle pub chairs and red glass lanterns decorate the dining rooms.  Yelp reviews on this joint are all over the map but to me it actually exceeded expectations.  If you're slumming it San Marino check out Colonial Kitchen and get the waiter with the wicked pompadour!

Original counter seating

We might start a whole blog based solely on the clever way restrooms are labeled.

I must always include the light fixtures.

wacky tacky signs of the day.

Whittier Narrows Recreation Area

823 Lexington-Gallatin Road
South El Monte, CA
(626) 575-5526

Colonial Kitchen Restaurant

1110 Huntington Dr 
San Marino, CA


Mr. Tiny


  1. I can't stand this much awesome this early in the morning. Aah! I want to go drive around and look at cool signs and eat at questionable restaurants!
    We've got one close by called the "Wagon Wheel" I've been meaning to try out. When you get down this way we should give it a go.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Mary was signed in on my account - I had to remove her comment. She has been banned!

  4. Darn! I missed Mary's saucy comment! Haha.

  5. Hey Chris,
    We used to go to the Colonial Kitchen when I was a kid! Can't believe there is such a great wet lands area in El Monte. El Monte used to be dairy land many many moons ago.
    You banned your own little sister? This I cannot believe!

  6. She is not officially banned - she just isn't allowed to leave comments when she is signed in as me. Believe me, her comments weren't terrible, they just would have had everyone even more confused than they are already!!

  7. Love the monster park. We had a local sculptor that made kids rocket playground equipment in Minneapolis but I think they tore them all down now as they are now deemed unsafe but I will check it out in a few weeks when things defrost more around here.

  8. Living Vintage - please share! We would love to see photos of other crazy playgrounds. There was a rash of giant, metal, space ship jungle gyms out here in California, but most of them are gone now as well.

  9. I love this! It makes me want to go there and explore. Maybe it is the primary teacher in me. If you decide to start snapping more photographs of bathroom his and her labels, let me know, I have a few clever ones.