Part 6: Planning your trip to DCI — Ten tips for savvy DCI Pasadena Travelers

by Christine Hoeffner, DCW staff

Publisher’s note: Christine and Peter Hoeffner have written this series of articles to help DCI fans plan ahead for their trip to DCI’s first West Coast championship event. The series began in the February 2007 edition of Drum Corps World and concludes with this article. We hope this information will be helpful. This segment was published in the July 13, 2007 issue of Drum Corps World (Volume 36, Number 6).

1. Do a little homework — The “lost tourist” look is definitely out — the savvy traveler look is in. Invest in a good map and read up on the areas you plan to visit, starting with Drum Corps World Knowledge is Power! (See DCW February: Los Angeles free treasures; March: “Pasadena roots and free treasures”; April: “Pasadena culture”; May: “Car-free in Pasadena”; June 1: “Car-free tours: heart of Los Angeles and Hollywood”).

2. Prepare for dry weather and chilly nights — Southern California’s dry (semi-arid) climate means music will sound crisper and cleaner. It also means you will be more comfortable in the heat, without realizing that you are rapidly dehydrating. To avoid turning into a prune — not to mention getting heat stroke — drink plenty of water and keep it on hand during your outings.

A tiny bottle of eye lubricant drops also makes outdoor shows more comfortable. To avoid suddenly chattering after dark when temperatures can drop like a rock (30 degrees or more), keep a light jacket handy. If you don’t need it, you can use it as a seat cushion.

3. No smoking please — The Rose Bowl prohibits smoking in the seating area of the stadium. Smoking is allowed around the concourse, but not near the stadium entrances. California also prohibits smoking in all public buildings, workplaces, restaurants, bars and in the area within 20 feet of public building entrances and exits.

The recent dry winter has further created a very high risk of fire, so make sure all cigarettes and flames are carefully extinguished and properly disposed of. Due to the recent Griffith Park fires, cigarette smoking and barbeque fires are not prohibited there. Nicotine patches are available at local drug stores.

4. When driving, plan ahead and account for traffic delays — If you must drive, know your route and exit name.

The east-west freeway through Pasadena has nine exits with up to seven lanes in each direction in some areas. (Yes, 14 lanes and we continue to pave over paradise.) It starts as Interstate 210, but in the middle of Pasadena, it suddenly turns north. If you want to continue west, you will get on the 134 freeway which then turns into the 101 freeway. Confused? Plan ahead!

The 110 freeway runs south from Pasadena through Los Angeles and on to San Pedro. It is also known as the Historic Arroyo Seco Parkway, one of the oldest in the country. With four charming tunnels, narrow lanes, tight curves and hair-raising entrances (0-55mph in 10 feet), you’ll want to avoid the right lane unless exiting.

As in all cities, travel times vary dramatically with road conditions, construction work, time of day and other factors. Radio stations AM 980 and 1070 provide news and traffic reports. Try to avoid driving during rush hour (there are Saturday and Sunday PM rush hours, too).

5. Save by taking the ARTS bus in Pasadena — Dump those stale “car required” stereotypes of Southern California. Why add to traffic snarls and air pollution while depleting your wallet?

AAA now estimates car travel costs over $.52 a mile (including purchase, gas, tires, maintenance, insurance, licensing) and even higher if you add parking fees and car rental expenses. Give your nerves a break from stressful traffic and spend your money on something other than auto expenses.

Pasadena’s ARTS bus is only $.50 and stops near most Pasadena attractions and at the Metro Gold Line Allen station. For DCI Division II and III shows, the ARTS number 10 bus stops every 15 minutes in front of Robinson Stadium at Pasadena City College and in front of the Pasadena Convention Center for solo and ensemble competitions.

For quarterfinals and semi finals, the ARTS number 51 bus runs up Raymond and past the Rose Bowl once an hour, on weekdays only. These buses stop running at 8:00 PM. Call ARTS for more specific pick-up times (626-398-8973).

6. Save by taking the Metro for sightseeing — The Metro Gold Line trains will breeze you from Pasadena to Chinatown and downtown Los Angeles. From downtown, the Red Line subway will zip you to Hollywood and Universal Studios. If you’re not staying in Pasadena, just park for free at the last Metro Gold Line station (Sierra Madre Villa) and take the train downtown instead of struggling with traffic and parking fees.

The Metro fare is only $1.25 each way or $5.00 for a day pass. Just press the “A” button on the ticket machine, select either a one-way or day pass, put your money in and be sure to pick up and keep your ticket for the entire ride.

7. Save by taking the FlyAway/Metro from LAX to Pasadena for less than $5.00 — Travel to Pasadena from LAX airport frequently takes at least an hour and substantially longer if traffic is heavy. Add another half hour if you need to pick up a rental car at the airport. (Be very skeptical of claims that LAX is only 30 minutes from Pasadena — maybe at 3:00 AM with a police escort and even then . . .). You can skip the rental car, high expenses and traffic.

FlyAway buses run non-stop between LAX and Union Station every 30 minutes using special freeway lanes that avoid most traffic. They stop in front of every LAX terminal under the green signs — just wave at the FlyAway bus with “Union Station” on the front so the driver will know you want to board (fare: $3.00 cash, $2.00 seniors).

From Union Station, the Metro Gold Line train will whisk you to Pasadena (for $1.25), where many hotels are only a few blocks from a Gold Line stop. Metro stations have ramps, escalators and elevators for rolling your suitcases anywhere without stairs.

If there are days you will really need a car, just rent one in Pasadena. (See DCW May, “Car-free in Pasadena” for more details.)

8. Bring quarters and one-dollar coins and bills — ARTS buses do not provide change, so bring exact change or be prepared to pay more than the $.50 fare. The Metro takes credit cards, but is quickest if you have cash. The FlyAway requires cash ($3.00), but you can get change at Union Station.

9. Check for discount passes — Theme parks can be pricey at over $60 a visit, plus parking fees and food expenses. If they are on your list of entertainment options, check their Web sites before leaving home. Some offer discounts which require advance purchase tickets.
Also check for the LA All-Access Pass and for other discounts to specified Los Angeles attractions.

10. Enjoy the adventure of traveling to new places — One of the many benefits of travel is getting out of our old ruts and habits and discovering new places, peoples and cultures. Have fun at DCI Championships and allow ample time to appreciate Southern California’s diverse populations, history and abundant natural and developed attractions. See you there!