Archive for April, 2014

Santa Cruz Island

On March 29, 2014, I went with my friend, Lori, and The Valencia Hiking Crew to Santa Cruz Island for a day of hiking. Santa Cruz is the largest of the eight Channel Islands and one of five islands that make up Channel Islands National Park. Once privately owned, it is now 24% National Park and 76% Nature Conservancy.

We met up with our fellow VHC friends at Island Packers in Ventura, securing a spot on the upper deck, outside, for the one hour boat ride to the island. So far in my boating experience, I’ve never gotten seasick (knock on wood), but from what I gather, it’s something that can happen to you at any time, so I debated over whether or not I should take any preventive measures. Since I’ve never had a problem with boats, roller coasters, or other topsy-turvey, spinning carnival rides (knock on wood again), I decided I’d be ok. And I was, thank God. What I wish I had done was pack long pants and gloves. That wind was more bitter-cold than I had anticipated. On the return trip we warmed our hands with cups of hot chocolate, which you can buy onboard, as well as other food and beverages.

It was very warm on the inland trails. I wasn’t able to keep up with the pace of the group, so I ended up spending the day hiking alone on the cooler cliffside trails.  Normally I would never recommend hiking alone, but I had a trail map and too much plenty of water with me. I also knew my friend wouldn’t take off on the return boat without me (would she???), so it was really a wonderful experience, hiking in solitude.

If you’re not into hiking, sea kayaking, or camping, there is nothing for you here.



Cal-Earth Superadobes

(1) shelter is a basic human right, (2) every human being should be able to build a house for him or herself, and (3) the best way to provide shelter for the exponentially increasing human population is by building with earth. — The three principles in Cal-Earth’s mission.

This place was nothing like I imagined, thank God. It was amazing! I highly recommend checking out one of their open houses, especially if you have kids. They can climb all over the superadobes, even up onto the roofs. Yes, of course, I tried it out myself!

The open house is the first Saturday of the month (except August). You can either bring a pot luck item or a minimum donation of $7.00. While you’re exploring the superadobes and taking in a lecture, the Cal-Earth people are setting up the potluck.

The superadobes are made out of sandbags and barbed wire. The structures have passed California’s high-seismic building codes, making them resistant to earthquakes, fires, floods and hurricanes. But even more imporantly (ha ha) they are cuuuuuuuuuuuuute!

Read about the founder Nader Khalili here, and about his inspiration, the poet Rumi, here.

Thanks to The Valencia Hiking Crew for organizing another amazing event!





Angeleno Heights

Angeleno Heights is one of the oldest districts (1880s) in and contains the highest concentration of 19th century Victorian homes in Los Angeles. Although there are more than 50 Victorian houses in the neighborhood, the majority of the ones you’ll want to see are in the 1300 block of Carroll Avenue, between East Edgeware Road and Douglas Street.

You could have someone drive you around Angeleno Heights while you snap pictures out the window. Please don’t. Take my advice… park the car and walk down the block instead. These beautiful Victorian houses have so much detail and character you need to take the time to stand in front of them and really look.

For instance, try to count how many colors of paint have been used on just one house, or try to discover the differences between Eastlake style and Queen Anne. Or see if you recognize the house from Charmed or from Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. As you stroll along, don’t forget to keep an eye out for the gigantic Moreton Bay Fig tree and the charming street lamps, hitching posts, and carriage steps.

Since you’re already in the neighborhood, why not take the kids over to Echo Park Lake to ride the pedal boats? The lake was recently dredged, cleaned up, and restored with four acres of wetlands, courtesy of 2004’s Prop O water quality bond. Since you paid for the bonds via your L.A. City property taxes you might as well enjoy it, right?

All that walking and pedal boating make you hungry? Try some amazing homemade street tacos from Guisado’s on Sunset. You can watch them make the tortillas from scratch while waiting to place your order and they have a nice patio out back where you can sit down to enjoy them.

Tip: If you’re at all skittery about visiting unfamiliar neighborhoods on your own or would like a chance to go inside a couple of the houses, the Los Angeles Conservancy offers guided tours the first Saturday of every month. Make a reservation here.