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From Adobe Abode to Icy Chalet

August 25, 1994|BENJAMIN EPSTEIN | Benjamin Epstein is a free-lance writer who contributes frequently to The Times Orange County Edition.

Want to beat the heat? Look no further than Costa Mesa. It's always cool inside the Diego Sepulveda Adobe, and kids and adults alike find its history even cooler. Then, for a way cool experience, spend some time on the ice at Ice Capades Chalet.

1 to 1:45: The Diego Sepulveda Adobe was built by the padres of San Juan Capistrano between 1823 and 1828. Estancia means "way station," and that's what the structure provided vaqueros herding mission cattle. Today, Estancia Park is landscaped with cactus and roses, palm and shady pepper trees, and is perfect for picnicking, or even a wedding.

Hank Panian guides about 600 third- and fourth-graders on tours of the restored and rebuilt adobe each year. He helped set the scene for its original construction.

"Mexico had just revolted from Spain," Panian said. "The Spanish empire was crumbling, replaced by 21 republics by 1823. But California was pretty isolated, and even after the revolution was over and done with, even in the midst of all that chaos, the padres still wanted to build a new building, and they did. Their mission wasn't over--it wasn't military; it was spiritual.

"Our city's grab-hold, can-do, damn-the-torpedoes spirit is reflected in the construction of this building," noted the decidedly pro-Costa Mesa Panian.

Each room of the adobe represents a different period of Costa Mesa's history. The kitchen reflects the life of Native Americans, who had a village on the site before the adobe was built, and Colonial times. There's also an early 20th-Century room.

"You know what the children are most fascinated (by) in this room? The chamber pots," Panian said. "Remember, no plumbing."

The most recent inhabitants were members of the Segerstrom family, who donated the adobe and its five-acre site to the city in 1963. Among the many owners were also Don Diego Sepulveda and Mexican War veteran and sea dog Gabe Allen. "Sepulveda owned it in the mid-1800s," Panian said.

1:45 to 2:30: Duck into Ball Park Pizza and digest all that history before hitting the ice.

The walls are decorated with sports paraphernalia and photo collages of customers and local Little Leaguers. "The whole Costa Mesa Little League comes here to eat," noted manager Rich Whitaker. There's a mural along the counter of Bart Simpson playing hockey in the house; another of Mickey Mouse, Goofy and friends playing baseball, and four big-screen TVs overhead.

A "Gilligan's Island" video game involves the Professor's secret formula for Lava Seltzer--"eruptus interruptus"--and Mary Ann's hot pineapple pies; the flashing image of Jim Backus means the game is over. The umpire in the Baseball Card game says, "Steee-rike one!" but if you win, you get football cards.

Sandwiches with names such as Bench Warmer and Slam Dunk are $3.50. Pizzas range from $2.70 for a plain cheese mini to $16.85 for a large Grand Slam, and the ingredients always taste crisp and fresh. Try a pizza with onions, anchovies and jalapenos; garlic powder (but no fresh garlic) is available on request.

2:30 to 4: No matter how hot it is outside, bring along warm clothes, and maybe even gloves, to the Ice Capades Chalet, where it's 45 degrees year-round. Some skaters bundle up like Eskimos on a night run, while others sport T-shirts and shorts; hockey wanna-bes wear their Wayne Gretzky best, while Nancy Kerrigan wanna-bes are all turned out in skimpy tutu-like skirts. The shop sells mittens and socks in case you forgot yours; those things that look like somebody buzz-sawed Robocop's forearms are called hockey gloves.

Once on the ice, the first thing you'll notice is a burning sensation in your lower legs. Don't know how to stop? That's what those walls are for! If you're a beginner, don't skate with your hands in your pockets no matter how cold you get, or there go the brakes. Though many skaters blithely skate backward with more speed and grace than most of us could ever manage forward, it's a comfort to know you're also sharing the rink with a lot of other misguided missiles.

Skaters' parents are invited for free coffee at Bilbo Baggins, just across from the rink's viewing windows. Inside the rink, vending machines offer chicken noodle soup and chili with beans. Hot drinks include whipped chocolate and spiced cider, but the T-shirt crowd will no doubt opt for ice cream bars. Rest up with a round of "Blades of Steel" video hockey.

The chalet also offers real-life hockey programs ranging from Termite teams for ages 3 to 5 on up to leagues for adults 30 and over, and a variety of skating and fitness classes. General admission is $5.50, skate rental $2.50. Skates are free on Mondays, and Wednesdays are Family Nights--$19 for four skaters and rentals.


1. Diego Sepulveda Adobe

Estancia Park

1900 Adams Ave.

(714) 631-5918

Open Saturdays 1 to 5 p.m., or by appointment.

2. Ball Park Pizza

2701 Harbor Blvd.

(714) 434-0123

Open Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m.; Friday through Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

3. Ice Capades Chalet

2701 Harbor Blvd.

(714) 979-8880

Open Monday, 3 to 5 p.m.; Tuesday, 1 to 5 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday 1 tp 5 p.m. and 7:30 to 10 p.m.; Saturday 1 to 4 p.m. and 8 to 10 p.m., and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.


Parking: There is ample parking at each location.

Buses: OCTA bus 76 runs east and west along Adams Avenue with a stop at Placentia Avenue. Bus 43 runs north and south along Harbor Boulevard with a stop at Adams Avenue.

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