Archives for July 2011

Los Angeles Brewing Company Bottled Beer

I discovered this bottled beer advertisement in a 1916 Los Angeles City Directory (similar to the 1915 Los Angeles City Directory I recently acquired) and thought it was too cool not to share. The advertisement reads…

Best By Every Test
Eastside Bottled Beer
Stands Supreme
Los Angeles Brewing Co.
For Sale Everywhere

Best By Every Test - Los Angeles Brewing CompanyBest By Every Test – Los Angeles Brewing Company

This is the first advertisement I’ve seen for locally bottled beer in Los Angeles. Eastside (also known as East Los Angeles) is typically referred to as the part of LA that lies east of downtown. The Los Angeles Brewing Co. also ran advertisements in the 1915 version of the same directory I saw this ad in, and it is nearly identical to the one shown here.

Nearly 100 years later, the brewing and bottling of beer in Los Angeles is becoming popular again, with several microbreweries recently having been opened in the downtown Los Angeles and surrounding areas. If I stay on pace I should have plenty of pics for this year’s beer drinking photo review.

Trailheads, Closed Roads, and Muddy Jeeps

If you’re hiking and/or camping in the San Bernardino National Forest it’s not unlikely you’ll come across 4×4 trails and other dirt roads that have been gated off, like the one shown here at Green Canyon Road.

Green Canyon Road SBNFGreen Canyon Road at Wildhorse Meadows (34.205833, -116.765167)

If you like off-road dirt trail driving (DMV licensed vehicles), camping and hiking, this is a great location to spend some time. As I posted recently, using the proper map, is important in identifying locations and names of dirt roads in the area. While Green Canyon Road is gated at both entry points, there is a trailhead here that can be followed to Sugarloaf Mountain (that’s one option).

Muddy Jeep UnlimitedMy Muddy Rubicon

Yellow post-campsite 54 is not far (2N93D) from where these photos were taken. I didn’t find any part of national forest road 2N93 required four-wheel drive but there were patchy sections of mud so it’s a good thing to have a fairly good clearance vehicle with the option of 4×4 if traveling through the area. There are some forest roads in the area recommended for 4×4 high clearance vehicles only, so do your homework before entering the forest.

Rubicon Jeep Black and TanMud Covered Rubicon Jeep

The mud that got on my Jeep this past trip was incredibly sticky and it took several washings to get the majority of it off. If you want less mud and you still want to hike to Sugarloaf Mountain (or along the Green Canyon Trail) there is a much easier entry point off of California State Highway 38 (aka Rim of the World Scenic Byway). The turn off at Hatchery Road is not the easiest to find but it’s a short 1.3 miles to a small parking area for the trailhead. Be sure to have an Adventure Pass on your parked vehicle.

Green Canyon Sugarloaf TrailheadGreen Canyon Sugarloaf Mountain Trailhead (34.218447, -116.805867)

Another gated area that is closed to vehicular traffic but the parking area is nearby. Check the coordinates above to view them on your map of choice. This trail is along Green Canyon Road and can be taken all the way to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain. The topo guide for this area is Moonridge an elevation begins at around 7500 feet. Even in July you can expect some mud on the trail so prepare your hiking gear accordingly.

Shiny Black RubiconMuch Cleaner Version of my Rubicon Jeep

I love hitting the mountains and the desert for hiking, camping, and 4×4 off-road adventures, but I hate washing and detailing my vehicle. I also hate the immense amount of gas is traveling from Venice Beach to any of my preferred locations, which are typically 150+ miles away from home. Fortunately, there is always someone happy to detail my Jeep (for a hefty price) and there’s plenty of refueling gas stations along the way.

Bing Maps Beats Google Maps Off Road

When it comes to mapping of US state forest roads (which are typically open to the public), there is a clear distinction as to which service is doing it best.

According to my latest testing along trails in the San Bernardino National Forest it’s not even close. Bing Maps beats Google Maps when it comes to Off Road mapping.

Take a look at the photos below and I’ll tell you my story.

Jeep Rubicon Wildhorse Meadow 2n93Jeep Rubicon on Wildhorse Meadow 2n93 (my location)

Google Wildhorse Meadows RdGoogle Maps Wildhorse Meadows Rd (Green arrow represents my location)

Bing Maps Wildhorse MeadowBing Maps Wildhorse Meadow NF-2N93 (Orange pin represents my location)

Last weekend at 4 AM I hopped in my Rubicon Unlimited custom Jeep to make the drive from Venice Beach to Big Bear Mountains. The route via Highway is about 140 miles but why not take the near 30 mile scenic shortcut through the San Bernardino forest? That’s what Jeeps are for.

It would be my first off-road trip through the area so I mapped a primary and secondary off-road route using Google Maps, and printed those maps, just in case I lost signal and could not view mapping via my phones (my Verizon Droid X and AT&T iPhone both lost carrier signal in the forest).

I wear a GPS that is synced to my camera (yes I am a geek) so that geographic location of photos I take provide accurate coordinate data. Take a look again at the photo of my jeep and related map screenshots above, the coordinates (34.2059, -116.764306) are displayed differently using Google Maps versus Bing Maps.

Admittedly, I took the photo of my Jeep while taking photos of several roads in the area, I was lost!

I counted on Google maps and thought the route would be simple (see the Google map screenshot above) by remaining right of the fork in the road. Problem was, there was more than the expected route to choose from. Had I used the map provided by Bing, I believe I would’ve had a much better understanding of what my options were.

Isolated Incident?

Jeep Rubicon Sand Canyon RoadMy Jeep Rubicon on Sand Canyon Road (Coordinates: 34.221463, -116.835867)

Google Sand Canyon RoadGreen arrow on Google map marks my location

Bing Sand Canyon RoadOrange pin on Bing map marks my location

Given a choice which map would you use? I was not lost at this point and I did make it to my destination successfully, but I discovered that there were a lot more roads in those mountains than what was being displayed via Google maps.

Numerous Examples

Juniper Springs Group Camp RoadBlue Skies and Meadows on Juniper Springs Group Camp Road

Google Maps Juniper SpringsWhat Google map says about this location

Bing Maps Juniper SpringsBing map is clearly the better choice

I have numerous examples from the weekend journey but the 3 examples shown above should make my point clear. Bing is doing a far better job over Google when it comes to mapping off-road location data.

Perhaps you’re thinking it’s no big deal, because these roads are not major thoroughfares, and therefore not traveled by many people. I would argue against that point and suggest that accurate mapping in areas like these is critically important.

The last set of images shown above relates to Juniper Springs Group Camp, which is located off of Highway 38, in the San Bernardino National Forest. While access is via four-wheel drive and the site is admittedly remote, unfortunately the map provided via Google does not list the route to this pinyon-juniper woodland and meadow. However, the map provided via Bing includes identification of State Forest Road 2N01, as well as identification of the Juniper Springs Camp Road, and surrounding roads.

Finding a route to a remote campground may not be considered critical, but imagine there was an emergency that required directing others to your location, which mapping system would you use?

Ancestor of Local Search or Mere Coincidence?

I’m quite a fan of local search, so much so that when I recently acquired a 1915 directory for the city of Los Angeles, I read it for hours like it was a mystery novel. The entire publication is more than 2000 pages, and I’m not yet completely through, but I wanted to share at least one of my discoveries. I’ll get into details below.

street avenue guide los angeles 1915Is this the ancestor to online directory pages?

Hundreds upon hundreds of pages in the printed directory were formatted like the one above. At first glance it may appear like a typical page from a Yellow Pages directory. But could it be an ancestor to a best practices webpage (at least pre panda update)? Remember, this was printed nearly a century ago, in 1915. I decided to highlight the similarities.

street avenue guide los angeles 1915 tagged1915 Edition of the Los Angeles City Directory – Street and Avenue Guide

Perhaps I’ve viewed one to many search results, but flipping through page after page, I couldn’t help but notice the layout of advertising on each page. Not every page in the book was like the one shown above, but this was the most typical format. On the page there were 4 blocks of advertising with the nonpaid (organic) content appearing in the middle.

The advertising is highlighted by red rectangles. Notice that the top is formatted for a Leaderboard 768×90 ad (image resized for blog post formatting). I imagine R.A. Rowan & Co. paid the most among advertisers to be in this position.

The two advertisements along the right of the page measure for a near-perfect 120×600 Skyscraper format and the advertisement along the footer measures near 728×90.

Once I highlighted the advertising this 1915 printed page began looking a lot more like a webpage and the coincidences continued. Let’s take a look at three more elements on the page.

1) Los Angeles (1915) City Directory (navigation back to the homepage)

2) Street and Avenue Guide of the City of Los Angeles (page title)

This is what it would appear like if we put the page title in H1 tag (considered by many to be a good SEO practice) format, which matches nearly exactly the size on the printed page.

Street and Avenue Guide

Take a look at the image again, notice the spelling error? There was no spell check in the 1915 printed directory days.

3) Look at the first sentence in this blue rectangle block section (organic content). Do you see what I see? Here is the text…

In this department of the City Directory the streets are alphabetically arranged and described by giving the point of commencement of each and its intersection.

Yes SEO lovers, that’s exactly 160 characters (when you include the spaces), a textbook perfect 160 character meta description.

According to SEOmoz Meta Description best practices, meta descriptions can be any length but search engines generally truncate snippets longer than 160 characters, For this reason it is best to keep meta descriptions between 150-160 characters.

I underlined the term City Directory in orange to suggest that if this was a webpage, we’d likely see a link here back to the directory homepage (we would if it was my directory).

After the 160 character first sentence is the following content.

Main Street and First Street are the principal dividing lines. Most of the streets running East and West from Main are designated by the prefixes E and W respectively. Those running North from First by the prefix N for North, and those running South from First by the prefix S for South. In East Los Angeles, North Broadway divides the streets crossing it into North and South, and Pasadena Avenue, from Avenue 26 to Avenue 21, divides the streets crossing it into East and West.

That’s an additional 479 characters, that when added to the first sentence, provides 639 characters of unique organic content, which doesn’t appear anywhere else in the 2000+ page directory.

The remaining content is a list of streets in the city of Los Angeles. Street names appear repeatedly throughout the directory.

Is this an ancestor to a pre-panda well optimized SEO webpage or am I imagining things?

July 4th Muscle Beach Swimsuit Competition

It’s a tradition in Venice Beach California to have bodybuilding, fitness, and swimsuit competitions on the 4th of July. The event takes place at Muscle Beach in Venice California, just off of Ocean Front Walk, on the concrete platform in the recreation area. The weather for today’s event was perfect and I had an opportunity to test out a new Canon lens that I recently purchased.

I’m posting a select set of photographs from the women’s fitness and swimsuit competitions (similar events have been held for generations). I took nearly 600 photos today, so if  you were a competitor in the events and you want photos, contact me and I’ll get you high resolution images. I did not get photographs of every single competitor, but I’ll share what I have. Thanks all for having me, enjoy the pictures!

muscle beach women onstageWomen entering the competition stage at Muscle Beach

muscle beach contestant 173 front poseMuscle Beach Contestant 173

muscle beach contestant 171 poseMuscle Beach Contestant 171

muscle beach contestant 164Muscle Beach Contestant 164

muscle beach contestant 166Muscle Beach Contestant 166

muscle beach contestant 174Muscle Beach Contestant 174

muscle beach contestant 174 legsContestant 174 Leg Pose

muscle beach contestant 173 pose turnContestant 173 Striking a Pose

muscle beach contestant 173 shows legsContestant 173 shows off her legs

muscle beach contestant 171 side poseContestant 171 showing a side pose

muscle beach contestant 171 legsContestant 171 Lats and Leg Pose

muscle beach contestant 191Contestant 191 close-up

Competitors (both male and female) came onto the podium in varying age groups throughout the day. Groups typically consisted of two to five individuals that went through a series of poses for the judges. It was a hot day at the beach and contestants waited for hours while others were competing. The crowd was fantastic and the entertainment was top-notch.

Congratulations to Joe Wheatley Productions on another successful event. Muscle Beach swimsuit, fitness and bodybuilding competitions are held annually on the Fourth of July, similar competitive events are held throughout the year. I love when bodybuilding events take place near me. And yes, I can’t help but notice contestants postures, that’s what I do.

Muscle Beach is located on Ocean Front Walk in Venice, California.

Venice Beach Recreation Center
1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291

Depending on feedback and time I have available, I’ll post more photos from today’s event.