On the foggy morning of October 26, 2013, my friends Lori, Hedy, and our new friend Tina, (her son is Oprah’s Chef Jesse!) boarded the Pacific Surfliner to meet up with the Sierra Club in San Juan Capistrano.
A local resident, Dave Davidson, took us on an architectural tour of the Los Rios District, which is the oldest neighborhood in California. I recommend adding that tour to your itinerary if you go down to see the mission. It’s a very nice neighborhood with cute houses and wonderful old adobes. Dave’s house is on the tour!
We had a delicious lunch on the patio of L’Hirondelle and then walked over to join the group for a tour of the mission. For those following along, this is California’s 7th mission and the 3rd one that I’ve been to.
I loved the gardens, aqueducts, and the ruins of “The Great Stone Church”, which was the victim of the 7.0 Wrightwood earthquake on December 8, 1812.
Do I need to remind you that you can click on an image to see the full picture and any captions?
My friends and I hiked the Musch Trail from Trippet Ranch in Topanga State Park. with the San Fernando Valley Sierra Club. The Musch Trail was named after a Topanga family of war veterans and Trippet Ranch was a weekend getaway for a U.S. District Judge.
The reason this hike is named the blue hike is obvious if you look at my photos. This is what happens when you mess around with the settings on your Android phone in order to take a picture of a neon snail (promo for the movie Turbo) and forget to change the settings back before setting off on a hike.
Somehow I completely missed the Monterey Colonial Revival style ranch buildings at Trippet Ranch, including a skeet lodge, designed by Los Angeles architect Sumner Spaulding (according to the Topanga Docents) or John L. Rex (according to California State Parks). I guess it could’ve been either or both architects since they were partners.
I imagine this hike is really beautiful in the spring when everything is in bloom. The day we went it was already pretty warm at 9:30 in the morning so the inclines were pretty rough for some of us. Ahem. I was glad that the return part of the loop was all down hill on a wide fire road. I definitely want to do this hike again when the weather is cooler!
There are a few camping spots and nice picnic tables under the trees. The hike description said to pack a lunch. Some people did, but no one wanted to stay and eat. My friend Lori and I already had our sites on Malibu Seafood. Love that place!
Click images to open and read captions.
On March 24, 2013, my friends Karen, Cristina and I went on a Sierra Club hike in Malibu Creek State Park. Notice I did not say we went with the Sierra Club. After a slight SNAFU in logistics, we set off on our own hike to the old M*A*S*H T.V. show filming site accompanied by two other Sierra Club members, Tom & Dave, who met us in the parking lot and appointed me leader.
It was an easy, beautiful 5-ish mile hike. We took the Crags Road trail, which fluctuates between being a wide road to what I like best, a narrow one-(wo)man trail. This trail is a rocky creek bed, and I was amazed whenever we saw mountain bikers maneuvering over and around the rocks and boulders.
We found the foundation of what may have been, at one time, the early 1900’s Crags Country Club. At the M*A*S*H site I saw the famous signpost that points to the characters’ various home towns and climbed up “Radar’s Hill” to see where they landed the helicopters. (Fun!) On the way back we checked out Century Lake, which was the Crags Country Club’s pool back in the day.
Along the way it was interesting to hear about Tom & Dave’s adventures leading canoe trips in Morro Bay, and I learned a lot about bees: there’s nothing to be afraid of if they’re black carpenter bees, stand still if they’re regular honey bees, and run for your life through thickets if it’s killer bees. (The branches confuse them.)
We met up with the rest of the Sierra Club at the M*A*S*H site and continued our hike out to Malibu Lake dam with them.
This hike is an easy hike with minimal elevation gain. I highly recommend it. I want to go back and see the Rock Pool and search for Mr. Blanding’s Dream House.
Check this website for trail descriptions and docent-lead hikes.
Here are my pictures, which you can click on to pull up a slide show with captions:
This is stair walk #4 in Charles Fleming’s book.
3.2 miles, 401 stairs. Difficulty rating: 3.5 out of 5
On Wednesday, December 12, my friends and I met up with the Sierra Club at Rio de Los Angeles State Park, which, until 1985 was the Taylor Yard (named after a grain merchant) freight switching facility. Now the natural river wetlands have been restored. There’s a really nice sports field and rec center and a playground that had so many great slides and things I was considering trying it out myself!
One friend surprised us with tamales, still warm, from a woman selling them at the NoHo Red Line station. They were a nice treat before setting off on a stair walk on a cold, rainy day.
Here are some pictures from the walk. You can click on them to enlarge them.
I enjoyed this stair walk. It was a good mixture of stairs and hills and nature trails.
After the stair walk, we went to Mambos in Glendale for some delicious cuban food. I got Mambos Chicken which came with white rice, black beans, and maduros (sautéed sweet plaintains). Although the chicken was good, I wouldn’t get that particular dish again because the chicken was on the bone and difficult to eat.
Saturday December 15th’s Sierra Club outing was a 6-mile urban trek through Koreatown via Wilshire Blvd. Along the way, our leader, Robert J. Baldwin, shared his knowledge and personal experiences, having lived in Korea for four years.
For example, at the Korean Cultural Center we learned about the “easy” Korean alphabet. At the Koreatown Plaza food court he made some suggestions about what to eat for lunch and, pointing out the stands specializing in organ meat, what we might want to avoid. Then, at the Koreatown Galleria supermarket, he pointed out various cooking ingredients, such as bags of kimchi and boxes of Korean pears. In the seafood department he held up a package of fresh octopus while relating a story about when a fisherman cut up a live octopus and served it to him — the octopus was still moving on the plate and clinging to his fork by its suction cup.
Unfortunately, the day went by way too fast and we ran out of time so we couldn’t do much window shopping and completely missed out on the planned visit to Wi Spa. The Sierra Club leaders decided that future Koreatown tours should have an earlier start time and we all agreed. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the day very much.
As usual, my friends and I continued on our own tour after the official tour ended. We walked an additional 3-4 miles, saw some great old architecture, enjoyed some gelato and Korean coffee, and took a tour of Olympic Spa.
Here are my pictures from the day. Just click on them if you want to enlarge them.
Mission San Fernando Rey de España may be California’s 17th Mission but it was my 1st Mission. I think my parents took me to Mission San Juan Capistrano when I was little, but I don’t remember it so it doesn’t count. 😉
Our Sierra Club leaders, Sandra Tapia and Gerrie Montooth, did a great job making this outing fun and interesting. First we toured the Memory Garden located in Brand Park on the other side of the boulevard. My first thought was that I’d like to sit on one of the benches surrounded by the roses and read a book. Then I remembered that I’m terrified of bees so maybe that wouldn’t be such a good idea.
Next, after paying the $4.00 admission fee, we toured the museum and Convento building. The Convento building is the only original building that remains on the site. It’s the largest adobe building in California and the walls are four feet thick. It felt good to step out of the hot sun into the much cooler adobe.
The Convento was built between 1808 and 1822 and served as a residence for the Bishop and missionaries. You can see the Bishop’s Room and the Governor’s Room, which is where visiting VIPs stayed.
The church was destroyed in the 1971 Sylmar earthquake so an exact replica of the 1806 church stands there now.
I enjoyed the tour of the mission very much and would like to go back sometime just to sit on one of the many benches and enjoy the beautiful grounds. One nice spot is the Bob Hope Memorial Garden where he and his wife, Dolores, are buried on what looks like the stage of a band shell.
After the tour, six of us had lunch at The Bear Pit Bar-B-Q, which has been in business since the late 1940s. I prefer pulled pork to the Bear Pit’s sliced, but I must say they have the tastiest bbq beans I’ve ever had in my life.
I hope I can visit another California mission soon. One down, 20 to go!
How lovely is Canyon Park in Monrovia?
The Sierra Club Activities Guide said this very easy hike to a waterfall was suitable for families, and it definitely was. We had one child with us and several senior citizens. No one had any trouble walking along the mostly flat trail.
From the upper parking lot it was less than a mile each way to the waterfall. For a longer hike and to avoid the $5.00 parking fee, you can park at the lower lot.
After the hike and picnic lunch, my friends and I thanked our Sierra Club guides and continued on a hike of our own up to the Ben Overturff trail head.
As we were out of time when we got there and one person in our group was out of energy, we could only look longingly at this enticing trail and make plans to hike it another day.
Helpful Hint: When you visit Canyon Park, make sure to stop at the Nature Center first and pick up the Trails Map or you can look at it online here. Definitely bring your kids and a picnic lunch. Dogs are allowed on a leash.