This Thanksgiving Weekend, Let Us Take You on A Virtual Road Trip Vacation — from the comfort of home

Our preservation pals in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia are eager to show you around the landmarks they love... but beware of the giant salamander!

Gentle reader,

Greetings from your friendly historic Los Angeles sightseeing tour company, now offering digital programming until we can again organize groups to gather and explore the city we love.

As the COVID shutdown of our in-person tour business drags into its eighth month, several regular guests have asked sad variations of the question, “So, no Richard’s Birthday Bus this year?”

Obviously, it’s not safe or legal for us to gather fifty souls in close quarters to explore offbeat landmarks and scarf down sheet cake.

But the thought of doing nothing special over the Thanksgiving weekend was too grim to entertain. We don’t really celebrate holidays, yet we spend months planning Richard’s Birthday Bus excursion, to make it a thrilling one-off tour that is as much our gift to local history lovers as it is a birthday party.

We’ve visited some astonishing sites, eaten great buffet meals—sigh, we really miss buffets—and had a blast sharing the way we travel when we’re on our own: in depth and ever curious, open to randomness and surprises, for long hours without stopping, trailing behind the wonderful preservation people who are the stewards of the special places we seek out and who will let you into their worlds if you only ask.

And of course there are always embarassing childhood photos of Richard, and peculiar anecdotes from Richard’s mother.

In this year of losses, we just couldn’t bear to lose the Birthday Bus, too. So we’re taking it virtual, with an excursion far more ambitious than anything we’ve ever attempted before.

Please join us on Saturday, November 28 for the first in a new series, The United States of Preservation: Esotouric’s Ohio River Valley Virtual Vacation Road Trip Webinar.

The U.S. of Preservation title refers to our abiding belief—never stronger than while the country reels under assault from digitally savvy zealots and cynical power brokers—that Americans are fundamentally more alike than we are different, that we have so much to share and to teach one another, and that there is enormous potential for creativity, community, wealth, joy and beauty in the depressed historic spaces in the center of the country.

For this webinar, we will recreate a portion of our 2018 vacation trip, taking you along to four extraordinary sites where we’ll meet the local stewards who help them thrive.

From the flood-battered beauty of Johnstown, Pennsylvania and its magnificent funicular railway to the time capsule charm of Steubenville, Ohio and the town’s giant salamander mascot, from Mehlman’s Cafeteria, the greatest family-run eatery this side of the late, great Clifton’s, to the visionary architecture of Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold at the New Vrindaban intentional community in a wooded West Virginia holler, this is a virtual trip to scratch the travel itch we’ve all been feeling.

To learn more or sign up for your passport to the Ohio River Valley, click here.

Tomorrow at noon, we’re thrilled to present our second literary webinar, This is Charles Bukowski’s Los Angeles. Expanding on the popular tour, the program is packed with rare photos from the colorful, raunchy and rarely documented neighborhoods where the writer lived, wrote and got into trouble, and is a love letter to Bukowski and to the city.

And on November 21, it’s A Visit to Lost Bunker Hill with author Nathan Marsak, featuring cameo appearances by Bunker Hill native son Gordon Pattison and The Cranky Preservationist. Nathan is one of our oldest friends, so you can expect tales of youthful antics along with a fascinating portrait of the lost neighborhood that’s the subject of his new book, Bunker Hill Los Angeles: Essence of Sunshine and Noir. Nathan promises to dig up some photos that haven’t been seen anywhere else, so this one is a must for lovers of old Los Angeles.

We went Facebook Live, previewing the November webinars about the Los Angeles Times Bombing, Charles Bukowski and Bunker Hill. In the video featurette, we spill the beans on our favorite bomb nerd, tell you why the socialists left town, share college hijinks and show off what Richard's brand new joystick can do.

Stay tuned as we roll out a new webinar program each Saturday. And remember if you can’t watch live or need to leave mid-stream, you can watch the recording for one full week. There’s still time to see The 1910 Los Angeles Times Bombing with Detective Mike Digby through Saturday night. Raymond Chandler, Black Dahlia, Dutch Chocolate Shop, Bradbury Building, Tunnels and 13 Uncanny Crimes & Mysteries are now available On-Demand. And we’d love to see you tomorrow at noon for This is Charles Bukowski’s Los Angeles.

yours for Los Angeles,

Kim & Richard


Subscribe! In the latest subscriber's edition of this newsletter—$10/month, cheap!—Exploring the Hidden Spaces in Skid Row's Baltimore Hotel—massive Pennsylvania iron infrastructure, a claw foot bathtub graveyard, and a penthouse pad that needs a lot of love. Not a subscriber? Sneak a peek here.


If you enjoy all we do to celebrate and preserve Los Angeles history, please consider signing up for the subscriber’s edition of this newsletter, or putting a little something into our digital tip jar. Printed matter? We’ve got a swell selection of books and maps, some written by us, others sourced from dusty warehouses. For a wider selection, Bookshop uses the power of distributor Ingram to help independent bookstores stick around. We've curated a selection of uniquely Los Angeles titles, and when you order from these links, it supports participating local shops, and us, too. You can also click here before shopping on Amazon. Or you can reserve a gift certificate to join us for a tour once we're back on the road (tour gift certificates will also be redeemable for the lower priced ticketed webinars while tours are on hiatus)... & if you love what we do, please tell your friends.


We're dark until public health officials determine that groups can gather safely. But in addition to weekly webinar programs, we've got 138 episodes of the podcast You Can't Eat The Sunshine free to download for armchair explorers, and videos of the Downtown L.A. LAVA walking tours, plus Cranky Preservationist videos.


Road Trip! Although public bus tours are on hiatus, we still get around on our social distancing road trips around our beloved Los Angeles. Be a virtual backseat companion when you click the #esotouricroadtrip hashtag, on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

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