Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cal Tech Kim-Day

Today I did a "Kim Day." A "Kim Day", for those of you who don't know, is a day in which I pretty much ignore my phone, do not attend to any of my regular responsibilities, and I take a day trip somewhere to do something cool... cool to me anyway. My 1990's into much of the 2000's was one giant "Kim Day" so I don't do them much anymore having pretty much expended a lifetime's worth. In fact, nowadays, I do this less frequently than a blue or a blood moon.

I was born in Pasadena, CA. Pasadena is home. Pasadena has changed. I have changed. You can't go home again. I don't want to live in Pasadena again. However, I can visit Pasadena. I enjoy visiting Pasadena and reflecting. Then I find myself happy to leave and head back home to the Central Coast. While growing up I either lived in Pasadena-Altadena, lived in a nearby city (Monrovia or Temple City), or visited Pasadena-Altadena from the Central Coast where I have lived since 1982 when I was age 11 turning 12. While growing up on the Central Coast my family commuted to Pasadena almost every weekend after my dad died in 1985.

Earthquakes have been an integral part of my entire life... a recurring theme and a common thread connecting so much of it. Also part of my reality has been the California Institute of Technology a.k.a. Cal Tech. Being in Pasadena, living or visiting, it has been a regular presence in my life, just like earthquakes. Added to that propinquity with Cal Tech, earthquakes in Southern California made Cal Tech a regular part of my earthquake experience as it has been for all Southern Californians since the days of Dr. Charles F. Richter. The public face of Cal Tech, earthquake-wise, has been Dr. Kate Hutton for 37 years. Whenever there has been a significant earthquake, she walked us through it emotionally more than anything else, by answering our questions. She was and is not just our seismologist, but also our quake mommy whom we run to for comfort after a scary earthquake. I feel like I grew up with her even though I never met her until more recently. I first encountered Kate online on California's Earthquake Forum and a bit later on California Disasters. She is good people and, despite her celebrity, remained a regular person which is more than can be said for many people who become famous. I later met Kate in person in 2009 at the Los Angeles County Arboretum when I did the Monrovia Rockhound's 46th annual rock show

For some time I have been wanting to take a tour of the seismo-lab at Cal Tech. In 2006 I did the USGS Menlo Park tour on the 100th anniversary of the 1906 "San Francisco" Earthquake. Heading into the holidays this year I felt it was time to take a Cal Tech tour. This year thematically for me as been a year of not holding back and trying new things and when necessary, stepping outside of my comfort zone. I mentioned to Kate my desire to drop in on Cal Tech and she graciously agreed to indulge me. Despite my car's mechanical integrity in question I decided to "damn the torpedoes" and go down to Pasadena today and trust God to keep me safe and my car roadworthy... which He did. Initially I hoped my mother would share the experience, but she was unable to attend.  Therefore, today turned into a "Kim Day."

The cherry on top for me was the fact a Santa Ana Wind event was setting up across Southern California today. On this day, I first encountered them on the south side of the Cuesta Grade where I was buffeted by down-slope winds at about 5 a.m. When I broke out onto Gaviota Coast on Highway 101 at about 6 a.m. I was greeted by about the most magical scene I have ever witnessed. The first light of dawn was turning the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel a dark blue to almost black upon which mysterious-looking but beautiful lights on oil platforms and ships twinkled. The sky was starting to low-glow in the east and illuminate just enough of the landscape of the Channel Islands beyond and on the Santa Ynez Mountains onshore to create a spectacularly beautiful sight. I did not feel like stopping to take photos (except one) and I'm not sure many a photo taken from the 101 Freeway corridor would have done the sight due justice. At the Ventura River I encountered the first current of strong Santa Ana Winds since the Cuesta Grade earlier. I could see its footprint on the sea-surface which was rippled by the winds where just north of there the sea-surface was smooth as glass. By the time I reached the Los Angeles Basin the winds were still in the process of clearing out the haze but the north wind could be seen pushing it ocean-ward. Below are some images of the highlights of my day.

Dawn over the Santa Barbara Channel.
This the the following images were taken from the top of Lake Avenue in Altadena, CA.
Verdugo Hills and Crescenta Valley
Downtown Pasadena, CA.
Downtown Los Angeles, CA with Palos Verdes Peninsula at left in distance.
Crescenta Valley with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's campus visible at center in middle distance.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada-Flintridge.
Lake Avenue headed down the hill towards downtown Pasadena, CA.
Downtown Pasadena, CA.
Downtown Los Angeles, CA, with the Rose Bowl superstructure at right in the foreground.
Where you see hills, think earthquakes because that is how these hills were built up over geologic time.
Santa Catalina Island is in the distance, then Palos Verdes Peninsula in middle distance.
Whittier Hills and Orange County beyond.
Santa Ana Mountains in the distance.
Whittier Hills and Puente Hills
I saw this CERT class advertisement on a sign on Lake Avenue.
Dr. and Mrs. McGee's old house at 1285 Woodbury Drive in Altadena, CA.
To me it always was and remains "The Folk's House."
The new owners have really fixed it up nice.
The charming but destructive ivy is all gone in front but the wonderful trees are still there.
The late Dr. Lois Groth's old home now stands abandoned and looks like a haunted house across the street from "The Folk's House." This used to be the tidiest and neatest property on all of Woodbury Drive from east to west.
A beautiful Santa Ana Windy day in Pasadena... these are the most beautiful days of the year at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. To me this is a quintessential Santa Ana Wind scene in this neighborhood that conjures many fond memories from my childhood.
I love this campus... I'm just not smart enough to attend school there.
Perhaps the most interesting map on the wall this day at Cal Tech's seismo-lab.
The media room at the seismo-lab at Cal Tech.
Kate firing up the big screen.
This was a simulation of the earthquake early warning system.
Each media outlet has its own feed connection.
Interesting paleo-seismological exhibit.
The Cal Tech Earthquake Exhibit
All photos by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved).


  1. I remember this day, it was great, I'm in 7 pictures, pretty cool. I would like to invite my friend kimmie to join and help out next time.

    1. Oh? What wouldest thou have me do?

    2. You know what to do. If your honorable that is.

    3. If you're (not your) honorable you will drop your anonymity and stop trolling.