Urban Hike: UCLA

On September 21, 2014, my friend Lori & I went on an architecture tour of UCLA with the OSS Meetup Group. This wasn’t a guided tour. It was basically just a brisk walk around the 419 acres (1.7 km²) campus, snapping pictures.

After the hike, I stashed Lori in the Diddy Riese cookie line while I ran over to Stan‘s to get a couple of Huell Howser peanut-butter filled donuts before hustling back to Diddy Riese where Lori got an ice cream cookie sandwich for only $1.75(!) and I got a lime shaved ice for $1.00. Both places are open til the wee hours of the morning, even on Sunday! Sweet!

Here’s my original Bruin statue photo and my artsy Photoshopped photo.

And finally, cute bird’s nest.


100 Hikes in the San Gabriels: Burkhart Trail – Buckhorn Campground to Cooper Canyon Falls and Little Rock Creek

Recently, me and one of my hiking buddies decided we were bored with the Santa Monica Mountains so we’ve started doing hikes from one of her many hiking books, Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels by John W. Robinson.

#62/#62-1 Burkhart Trail: Buckhorn Campground to Cooper Canyon Falls and Little Rock Creek
4-5 miles
900′ gain/loss

Shoutout to President Obama for giving the amazing San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Status! A million thank yous!

Wow! These hikes just keep getting better and better! With this one on Burkhart Trail, we found ourselves constantly exclaiming how we really felt like we were in the forest and how beautiful it was. We even found real, running water!

My friend is an Earth Science teacher so I learn a lot about the various plants and rocks we encounter on these hikes. The white streaks of what I thought was remnants of some tagger’s paint on rocks is actually some kind of mineral deposit. I guess that’s proof right there that I’m a city kid.

If you need more proof, you should’ve been there to witness the scene I made when I was being stalked by a huge bee. I did everything I know I’m not supposed to do. I ran, I screamed, I took off my hat and swatted at it. God really does look after children and fools…

After the hike we made our third visit to Newcomb’s for the best hamburger I’ve ever eaten in my life and have been craving ever since.

But yeah! Do this hike! It’s amazing!



Paying Respects to Droopy and Boogie: Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park in Calabasas

On October 11, 2014, I went with Obscura Society L.A.  on a tour lead by Hadley Meares, writer for KCET, of the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park.

I had just recently learned about this pet cemetery while reading Lauren Bacall’s autobiography. She talked about burying her dog, Droopy there.

Mother and I went to the Pet Cemetery in the Valley. A woman straight out of Charles Addams greeted us and asked if we would like to go to the Slumber Room to see our dog. All her talk was very solemn, at a whisper. There is often something funny at every sad occasion – in this case, she was it. We followed her into the Slumber Room, where dogs of all types were lying asleep in open coffins, one mutt in a box lined with tufted satin. Droopy lay with his head in one paw just as he’d slept in life…Lauren Bacall in By Myself and Then Some.

Before the tour started, we were given a half sheet of paper with a list of graves that Management preferred not to give us the locations of. Naturally, Droopy and the other grave I most wanted to see, Mae West’s monkey, Boogie, were on the list. Ugh. Oh well, we all kept a lookout for the graves on the list and it was a happy moment for me when Hadley exclaimed “I found Droopy!”

This pet cemetery is a very lovely place and somehow all the plastic flowers & mushrooms, toys and pinwheels are whimsical, not cheesy. People really love their animals and their hearts are inscribed in the words on the headstones. Can you keep a dry eye while reading them?

Ironically, this pet cemetery was created in 1929 by veterinarian Dr. Eugene C. Jones. The same Dr. Jones of the Jones Dog and Cat Hospital that the L.A. Conservancy is suing the city of West Hollywood over because the City is going to allow that magnificent 1938 Streamline Moderne structure to be demolished so that another ugly, mixed-use project can be built there. Shame on ya (again), WeHo!

Urban Hike: Raymond Chandler’s Hollywood

On September 28th, 2014 my friend Lori & I went with the Los Angeles Hiking Group on a 5-ish mile walking tour of Raymond Chandler’s Hollywood.

Hike leaders Tuck, Thelma & Ferris, took us on a fun and interesting stroll through old Hollywood and the surrounding hillside communities, including stops at venues from “The Big Sleep”, “Farewell My Lovely”, “The Long Goodbye”, “Lady in the Lake” and “High Window”. 

A lot of the locations were just that. Locations. The original buildings long gone. So, some of my pictures below have nothing to do with Raymond Chandler. A couple of them are actually locations from Streisand / Redford’s The Way We Were.

I love walking through these neighborhoods and seeing what’s left of the golden era of Hollywood. So much amazing architecture!

After the hike, Lori & I went across the street to the Hollywood Farmer’s Market where I got a pineapple-lime lemonade, a grilled chicken skewer and a delicious pink lady apple. Refreshing on a hot, humid day.

100 Hikes In The San Gabriels: #56 Chilao to Devils Canyon

September 28, 2014 2 comments

Recently, me and one of my hiking buddies decided we were bored with the Santa Monica Mountains so we’ve started doing hikes from one of her many hiking books, Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels by John W. Robinson.

#56 Chilao to Devils Canyon
7 miles roundtrip reverse hike
1500′ loss/gain

I was uneasy about this hike because every review I read talked about how climbing back out of the canyon was difficult because the trail is steep. Um, no, it is not. I would describe it as long, gentle switchbacks. Not steep inclines or whatever. I did have to stop and rest several times coming back up, but that was mostly because I sit at a desk all week so my legs were tired.

Definitely have good treads on your shoes or hiking boots and I recommend a trekking pole. That being said, a family hiked all the way down and back up with their 4 & 5-yo boys who were wearing basic sneakers. Go figure.

I was worried about bears and mountain lions. We saw bear scat, but no animals or snakes. There are areas with really annoying bugs that want to land on your face so insect repellant is highly recommended. I wish I’d had some.

The trail was hard to find in some spots and coming back up we somehow found ourselves off the trail and sliding our way down a hill into the riverbed. My friend was able to climb up the loose hill to the trail on the other side but I wasn’t, so she came back down and we bushwacked our way to a more rocky area where I was able to climb out.

This is one of my favorite hikes ever so I hope you’ll check it out sometime.

*Update: This is also where I got a nasty case of poison oak that is currently itching me to death, so be on the lookout for that! Ugh.



100 Hikes In The San Gabriels: Switzer Falls

Recently, me and one of my hiking buddies decided we were bored with the Santa Monica Mountains so we’ve started doing hikes from one of her many hiking books, Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels by John W. Robinson.

#17 Switzer Falls
4 miles out and back
‘600 gain

Other than losing our brand new $30 Adventure Pass, this was one of the best days ever. A lovely hike in cool mountain air with my favorite hiking buddies, Lori & Karen. Beautiful light and scenery. A bit of adventure, but not too strenuous for those of us who have been sitting our butts for 3 weeks during the heatwave.

After the hike we went up to Newcomb’s Ranch for delicious chili & cornbread. If you’re afraid of bees you can forget about sitting outside on the patio. Siiiiigh.

If you’re wondering where the pictures of the water falls are, their aren’t any falls, currently. We’re in a drought. We actually walked 1/4 mile past where they would’ve been, trying to find them!

Shout out to the helpful Park Ranger who saved us a long, steep, nasty walk back up the road at the end of the day by telling us we should move our car down to the lower (3rd) parking lot down at the trail head.

Urban Adventure: Train to Santa Barbara – Walk to Butterfly Beach – Coast Village Road

On August 2nd, 2014, my friend, Lori, and I went on another Urban Adventure with The Valencia Hiking Crew. This time our destination was Santa Barbara, which I had only passed through on my way to Solvang with my parents. I apologize in advance for my crappy photos. The marine layer was pretty thick and my phone camera doesn’t have a flash.

Since we had people boarding the train at practically every station on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner route, the plan was for everyone to be in the last car. However, at our station there was a large group hanging out on the platform where we guessed the last car would stop so we were plotting and planning how to jump on ahead of them. Luckily, the conductor asked each of us if we were with the Senior Group or the Hiking Group and showed us which train car to get on.

I’m glad I didn’t have time to eat breakfast because Jackie had stopped at Porto’s and had pastries for everyone and John had made quiche!

Our first stop after arrival was the 1916 Allan Herschell 3-abreast carousel in Chase Palm Park. What a treat! If you bring kids, be sure to stop there. They have a playground that looked like a lot of fun.

Next, we walked a path that went around what I thought was the Zoo, but was actually the Andree Park Bird Refuge. A book has been written about the interesting recluse who donated the money to create the refuge and a movie about her is also in the works.Can’t wait to tour her 1930s estate one fine day!

The bicycle path turns by the Santa Barbara Cemetery. A short walk past that, we arrived at 1001 Fairway Road where we all ran up to the gates to see where Ty Warner (Beanie Babies) lives in a 18,000 square foot, $200 million, “palatial estate dominated by an Italianate mansion“.  All I could get a picture of was the beautiful entrance inside the gates.

We continued along Channel Drive and turned up Butterfly Lane, which should probably be renamed Pig Lane after seeing one particular yard. We crossed under the 101 freeway via an art tunnel to reach Coast Village Road where some of us branched off to have lunch at Cava.

On the way back to the train station, we passed two beautiful hotels, The Montecito Inn and the Biltmore (both of which, I believe, are now owned by Ty Warner!!!) before heading down to the sand.

Lori and I got in a couple extra hours and a few extra miles since we decided to take the later train back to Los Angeles. We walked up State Street, stopping for an iced coffee at The French Press and taking a tour of the amazing Arlington Theatre.

Back on the train, as we oooed and ahhhed over the gorgeous sunset, we couldn’t figure out why we were so exhausted. It turns out the original mileage calculation was off by about 3 miles so we ended up walking almost 11 miles!


Further Reading:
Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune
The Best Last Place: a history of the Santa Barbara Cemetery

Categories: Adventures