On Sunday, February 7, 2010, Esotouric rolled south from Philippe’s The Original on an urban exploration tour bookended by the sites of three old Lugo adobe homesteads (The Plaza/Olvera Street, Boyle Heights, Bell Gardens). Here are a few of the scenes seen along the way.

A highlight of the day came when Lauren Baumann opened her home, the historic Rives Mansion in Downey, for a fascinating tour through this beautiful early 20th century mansion. We also met Miss Downey Princess Natalia Amador, and learned about the evangelical youth work done at the house, including after-prom events and plenty of music.

At the Gage Mansion in Bell Gardens, that strange and fascinating adobe-wrapped-in-a-Victorian-wrapped-in-a-trailer-park, an eagle-eyed passenger spotted a wee hummingbird mama sitting on her eggs in nest built around an antique hanging lamp. She was gracious enough to pose for photos before zipping off to fill up on nectar.

In Downey, land of surprises, we listened to some vintage Carpenters’ tracks before slipping down a side street to spy a striking modernist home by Edward Durell Stone, architect of the Museum of Modern Art.

The lovingly restored Harvey’s Broiler provided a rare glimpse of new mascot Big Boy, rendered entirely in balloons, and an introduction to teenage cruising culture from restaurant manager and hometown boy Joe. Cruise nights are Wednesdays and Saturdays, if you’re planning a visit.

We paused to pay our respects to a deceased and possibly cursed tavern with an amazing doubled neon and bulb sign.

And were blown away by the precision and grace of the long lost Irving Gill-designed Clarke Estate in Santa Fe Springs, seen in this shot of the interior courtyard, where tour host Richard Schave discussed Gill’s influence on California modernism.

See all the photos from our tour here.