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How Weird Is My Valley? : You don't have to venture far for some off-the-beaten-track sightseeing spots.

June 25, 1993|JOHN M. GLIONNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

See here, Frank Zappa, The San Fernando Valley is more than a collection of shopping malls and ditsy-looking, ponytail-off-to-the-side-of-their-head babes looking for Now Clothing.

The Valley can be a happening place, almost as much as, dare we say, that cluster of confused buildings and people over the hill in the part of town that has anointed itself the real L. A.

I've only called The Valley home for a few months. One day, it was so blasted hot, I had to get out of my Sherman Oaks house. So I got in my late-model Honda and cruised for spots to write home about, places I wouldn't mind taking my 103-year-old great-aunt Fiona Glionna from Sicily if she follows through on her threat to visit.

See, I'm a blue-collar kind of guy. I dig places without the typical L. A. glitz and phoniness. Give me real people and a real hangout, and I'm happy.

In the end, when I wasn't waiting at traffic lights or in confounded freeway tie-ups, I found some pretty cool places--spots I'm used to seeing featured on late-late-late night television. What follows are the choicest nuggets of Valley gold:

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Hey, midnight cowboys, there's a spot along Mulholland Highway that's truly the place for the born to be wild.

Come weekends, hundreds of decked-out biker dudes and their tattooed love units rumble into the Rock Store, a quaint roadside bar and cafe just south of Calabasas, checking out rides and girlfriends, sizing up each other's engines.

The hangout picked up its hip character in the early 1960s when cycle-riding Steve McQueen cooled his leather riding boots there on dusty Sunday afternoons. Now Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are regulars. So is Jay Leno. But the real thrill is biker-gawking.

And if you chill long enough, you can see the sports bikers and horrid-looking Harley types rumble off into the sunset--wild at heart, every last one of them.

The Rock Store, 30354 Mulholland Highway, Cornell, (818) 889-1311.

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The heck with the over-hyped Sunset Strip. The Valley has its own little bit of '50s noir--right here in our own back yard. The Pink Motel, perched like a psychedelic trip out on San Fernando Road in Sun Valley, is a blast from the past with the coolest nighttime neon, a whale-shaped pool and rooms resembling the set of Hitchcock's "Psycho."

Owner Monty Thomulka has kept the place just like it was when his father opened it in 1946, when San Fernando Road was Route 99, the main drag for traffic bound for L. A. from the north.

The place is--you guessed it--pink. The 20 rooms are cozy, some with aqua-colored walls and pink carpets. And they cost just $30 a night--the perfect getaway from the Motel 6 rut.

Mosey next door and peer into the cafe with its "Rebel Without a Cause" red booths, signs for 25-cent burgers and a jukebox featuring Elvis, Rick Nelson and Bobby Darin. Food is no longer served here. But like most places in La-La Land, the diner sees its share of movie shoots. Some Japanese outfit just filmed here. So did an American car manufacturer.

So hop into your '57 Chevy and motor out to the Pink Motel. Monty'll leave the light on for ya.

The Pink Motel, 9457 San Fernando Road, Sun Valley, (818) 767-3605.

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Are you tired of getting pushed around by self-important film types who tell you: "Sorry, step aside. We're doing a shoot here."

Well, there's a way-cool spot in the Santa Clarita Valley where you can see huge rocks jutting from the earth like the blooming Stone Ages--a place where you can stroll across a few movie sets.

It's Vasquez Rocks County Park on Escondido Canyon Road, and everybody films here. Bill and Ted had their bogus adventure here. And this summer, Fred and Barney did the "yabba-dabba-doo" for the new Flintstones movie.

See, the Hollywooders pay to use the rocks, these rough-looking remnants from the days when big, bad dinosaurs roamed Los Angeles. You can run along them, screaming like you were loosed from some asylum for former tag-team wrestlers.

Here's the best part: The boys in sunglasses can't order you off their sets. Park rangers make sure that the public comes first out here. They have to ask you to kindly avoid their rolling cameras.

Vasquez Rocks County Park, Escondido Canyon Road, (805) 268-0840 .

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Speaking of rocks, there's a cluster on Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Chatsworth that has become the Disney World of rock climbing. It's called Stoney Point.

Rockers come from around the globe to try their skills at hundreds of different climbs. The spot has been popular with the chiseling set since the mid-1930s, long before the present-day trash and graffiti stains.

The Big Boys have been here. Famous climbers Royal Robbins and Yvon Chouinard climbed here before taking on some of the world's major peaks.

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