Stairway walk no.20

Sunset Junction loop, another Silverlake walk.P1080327As always, stunning views, the great Art Deco observatory in Griffith Park.P1080328As we start our walk, a Chinese theme greeted us.P1080329With more lanterns on the side of the house.IMG_3219Sometimes nature is in a Chinese lantern mood.

Then up 200 steep steps, huffing and puffing, until we arrive at the historic Canfiled-Moreno Estate. I knew nothing about this estate that sits on 4.5 acres right there in Silverlake. I”m sure the neighbors like the fact that no one is talking about selling or subdividing the property.P1080336One of the back gates. There wasn’t much to see, this property is behind tall walls, fences, it is really is hard to see.P1080342This is the view the neighbors have, you know me, can’t pass up a chance to photograph downtown.P1080344Everyone has a teepee in their side yard right?P1080356Or they decorate their houses with ghosts. I think the sign says something about visitors not being welcome, which explains the ghost.P1080348Another house not only has a beautiful painted gate,  they also decided to paint their steps and part of the sidewalk to match.PicMonkey CollageOther interesting color combinations on the homes.  Yes, that is a sparkly gold garage door!  P1080358I have no idea if the birds like these homes but they do add color to the garden.P1080359Second painted staircase in Silverlake, recently someone painted the Michealtorena stairs as well. P1080350This is a block long stretch of Mailman st, you can see it used to be a street, all that’s left is the two sidewalks and a succulent garden where the street should have been.P1080361Back on Sunset Blvd, the juxtaposition of the two cats, one a dive bar, the other supposedly not a cat at all but a little girl. Yeah right, she is called hello Kitty – that is a cat.

At this point I’ve done more than half of the walks in the book, may need to start repeating some soon, that is until Charles Fleming comes out with his new book that is just about walks in LA, staircases needn’t be involved.


Wonders in the Valley

The San Fernando valley gets a bad rap. It’s all just sprawl and one strip mall after another. It’s a blight and should be ignored.

Except it isn’t, like anywhere else on earth, spend some time, scratch the surface and be surprised.P1080136A hidden lake?P1080138A large serene expanse of water?  Ok, I admit, the camera has distorted the perspective, this is not as large as it look. If you look closely at the upper lefthand corner you will see some of the office buildings on Ventura blvd with the lovely homes of Encino hills beyond them.P1080146We are standing in Woodley Park, on the other side of the berm is the 405 freeway. One of the busiest in the nation.P1080141We are in the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve, this is one of the sections of the LA River that the Army corps of engineers left in it’s natural state. They built a large dam to hold back the flooding waters of the river in periods of torrential rains. Last time this happened was in the 1990’s. Today there is a large park, golf course and even a lake – Balboa Lake.  My guess is that when this draught ends,  it will be used again. People tend to forget history, Southern California has a cycle of draught and then torrential rains.

One reason the is so much water here now is  the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant. 25 million gallons of sewage water are recycled here every day.  Although all water is recycled, people are very squeamish about returning this water directly to our taps – even though it is probably cleaner than what is actually there.  So most of this water is used for other purposes, Lake Balboa, irrigation and to release back to the river. If you ever see purple irrigation pipes on city golf course or along the freeway – they are using this reclaimed water.  So the myth that all California can do is just waste water is just that, a myth. Sure we need to do more, but it’s just sensationalist hype to pretend that all we do is waste.P1080154I’m not good at identifying birds, although I do know that the local birding society spends time here. I think this is a cormorant or an egret, what is cool is that I spotted the nest.P1080148Ducks are plentiful here, better here than in peoples swimming pools.P1080152Goose and turtle. I think this turtle is one of those carnival turtles that came home in a plastic bag. After a while he was thrown out into a body of water, and guess what these turtles thrive even if they aren’t native.P1080139We saw a few of these, which means the coyotes are around as well.IMG_3184Park rangers on horses, great way to patrol the area.P1080144Since it’s spring, there are flowers, once again, not native, but well worth having by the lake.P1080147I think I have this rose bush in my garden.P1080145And finally, the kind of graffiti I am beginning to hate.  There is a walkway under Burbank Blvd that leads to the southern section of this reserve. Why is it that people feel they can take the loudest brashest cans of paint to everything???  These days so many building owners are hiring people to paint wild murals on the sides of their buildings. Kudos to them, but this is public land and I have no doubt this is not condoned.  Oh well urban blight, it is everywhere.


The old Zoo, Griffith Park

Los Angeles has the one of the largest urban parks in the country – Griffith park. In 1912 a zoo was built there, by 1965 it was felt that the zoo was too small and inhumane to the animals. So a new zoo was built, also in the park.

Today the old zoo  is a picnic area.P1070482Some of the old enclosures are now open and even have picnic tables in them. Btw, it looks like these people are doing some kind of photography shoot, very common in LA. I have no idea if this is an advertisement or part of a movie or simply a home video.P1070487Those people up there? They didn’t climb up, they entered from the back and actually came down some pretty steep steps.P1070489The back road goes behind the enclosures. You can see from the angle of the bars how steep the stairs are. These days graffiti covers everything. Some people call it art, others call it vandalism. I’m more towards the vandalism side, but I have to admit it is bright and colorful.P1070493Many others shared the path with us, in this case – skateboarders.P1070503As we continued our  hike, we could hear a lot of music. Both from the merry-go-round and from private birthday parties. Bringing in a bouncie is an integral part of any birthday in the park.P1070498It’s spring, a lot of plants are blooming.P1070499The rains we’ve had this winter have turned the hillsides a luscious green, it will soon fade to golden brown, so we relish it while we can.P1070500On the other hand, erosion turns the bare hillsides into fascinating shapes.P1070508As we climbed higher the vistas opened up. Looking north east towards the Glendale narrows on the LA River. The municipal golf course (named for presidents Wilson and Harding) is in the foreground with the red tower of the Autry Museum. The 134 freeway spanning the river and the hills of Glendale and Burbank beyond.P1070509Further up and we looked south at the sparkling buildings of downtown. The tallest building was recently sold, so the US Bank sign has come down but nothing has replaced it yet. The top floors will soon be a restaurant and a club.P1070512Looking east to Atwater village, El Sereno and Montecito heights. This is the greenest part of the LA river with a lot of birds and wildlife. In the summer people now ride canoes through here.P1070514A burnt out tree trunk with downtown Glendale in the background.P1070523Back to the zoo, these old cages may be small, but they were built to last.P1070518The gate was open, it was an easy in and out.P1070528I know, this looks like some strange blowfish. It must have fallen from one of the trees. Rather alien looking.

Another glorious Sunday walking around LA.


Beauty in the mundane

I have enjoyed the book Secret Stairways of Los Angeles, as well as joining in on some of the Sunday walks with the author Charles Fleming.  He is writing a new book about walks and hikes in and around the city. So he sent out an email asking for testers. I think he got at least 500 responses. I was one of the lucky ones. He sent me the instructions for Fryman Canyon. I was to follow his directions and report back it there were any major changes or if something wasn’t clear.

I am very familiar with this walk, so I decided that this time I’d take pictures of unusual things, rather than the broad vistas.P1060650Someone stenciled this on the street, I have no idea what it means – if it’s trying to tell people to walk on the sidewalk – there isn’t one. Maybe it is trying to get the walkers to move to the side of the road.P1060652This beautiful wall and gate don’t appear to lead to anything. Maybe there once was a house behind the gate. Maybe this is the back way into a very large estate. Of which there are a few along here.P1060653Love the hair, also, having fun with PicMonkey.P1060654An inverted toadstool.P1060655A good winter in LA, when there is snow on the San Gabriel mountains.P1060656Dew on green green grass. Another sign of a good winter.P1060660This could be in Ireland, not Studio City.P1060661Black and white brings out the real beauty in this tree stump.P1060664Just some artwork. Did the child of this family make this? Was it something the owner just didn’t want to throw away?

I will have some more of my creative posts soon. As yet most of my projects are still secret.


Nichols Canyon

P1050427Another walk courtesy of the Santa Monica mountains conservancy.  Nichols canyon is one of many in the Hollywood Hills. Which means that alongside old rusting drainage pipes, one can see incredible views.P1050428A woman and her dog, looking down on Hollywood.P1050429Our trail had very few people, but this being LA, one is never completely alone.  Across the canyon we were looking over the intrepid hikers on the western side of Runyon Canyon. That is the busiest of the Hollywood hill walks. What we were seeing is the harder steeper trail, so actually a lot less people than on the eastern side.P1050438A glimpse of the Griffith Park Observatory. P1050430Downtown, one must have views of downtown.P1050425Turning to the west, Century City with the ocean gleaming in the background.  The neighborhood in the foreground is Mt. Olympus – but that is a story for another post.P1050446Looking down into Hollywood, The Capitol Record building as well as the enormous mural on the back of the Renaissance Hotel at Hollywood and Highland.joel and leahThe happy hikers. Joel always brings his walking stick, I’m starting to do the same,  although this was a short hike, there were some steep slippery parts.P1050440Patriotic agave.P1050449And the strangest thing of all. I’ve seen many of these manhole covers,  but this is the first time I’ve seen one that proudly proclaims it was made in India.  This may be from the 40s’, who  knew that we had our manhole covers brought in all the way from India.


Rocky Peak Trail

Continuing our Sunday tradition, we went out looking for a local hike. We found it in the northwestern section of the San Fernando Valley, right on the border with Simi Valley.  Rocky Peak TrailRP11True to it’s name, the trail was steep and had little vegetation but a lot of very interesting rock formations.RP1From certain vantage points the sky really was that blue.RP2RP4We did have a few clouds in the sky, not enough to give us any shade but since we don’t see them often, I find clouds are fascinating.RP9Not all rock formations are made by nature.
RP3Despite being the end of October, it was hot.RP6This is a view of the San Fernando Valley we rarely see, I think out house is far off in the haze.RP5Simi Valley on the other side, once ranch lands, now a far flung suburb.RP7Once again, we weren’t alone. A group of Fire fighters were out on a hike. I have no idea if they are LA county or Ventura country, we were straddling the county line.RP8Not everyone was hiking. I’m impressed that with the views she was able to concentrate on her book.RP10Hikers, mountain bikes, just another lovely Sunday in Southern California.


A walk by the LA river.

Yes, we have a river, no we are not a desert. We live in a Mediterranean climate, which means, seasonal rains (winter) and a certain amount of running water.   The river is the whole reason the Spanish started a settlement in 1781.  One problem with such rivers is that when we have rainy years, it would flood, kill people and destroy property. In the 1940s this became the largest project for the Army Corps of engineers, they  encased most of the 48 miles in concrete and basically turned it into a very big storm drain.

For this walk I went with Charles Fleming and his many  followers. Years ago he wrote a wonderful book, Secret Stairs and then he started leading walks along those routes.  This time only about 30 people showed up, nice size group.William Mullholland Memorial FountainWe met at the foot of this fountain. The William Mullholland memorial fountain.  He was the designer of the aqueduct that brings water from 300 miles away in the Owens Valley to LA and allowed the area to become the megalopolis it is today.P1040519We crossed a pedestrian bridge over the busy 5 freeway. Notice how it is completely enclosed, no jumpers here please.P1040469Early on a Sunday morning there is very little traffic. On weekdays  all 10 lanes are solid with cars.P1040484Down to a very bucolic river.  Three miles of the river, known as the Glendale narrows were never paved. This area was below the level of the water table, so it has been able to flourish has a natural river.P1040492The banks are slopping concrete,  a bridge connects Silverlake to Atwater Village.  A wonderful bike path runs along the top. the small bridge on the left is for bikes and pedestrians to cross Los Feliz Blvd easily.P1040483I love these older industrial elements of this bridge, and the power lines are fine as well. I wouldn’t be blogging without them.P1040506Nature is doing it’s best to reclaim the concrete walls.P1040497A White Heron.P1040498Taking flight. I’m amazed at how good this picture is. Dumb luck,  point the camera and shoot!  What I love about digital cameras – I can shoot and just keep the good pictures.P1040509Birds and fish flourish here. In the summer kayakers come out as well.P1040513The lock on bridges tradition that started in Paris has sprouted up on many bridges these days.P1040515I hope the dates don’t indicate the beginning and end of E&D’s relationship.


Another Sunday hike

Have I mentioned how many wonderful hikes there are either in the city or right outside it. This time we headed out to Malibu Creek State Park. It has probably been 15 years since I’ve been here. In those days parking was free, now it costs $12 to park.  Still worth it.P1040248View into the Santa Monica mountains from the parking lot. A wonderful sky, we actually had clouds on this wonderful fall day.P1040252One thing we absolutely love here in So Cal, is running water.  Any open body of water will attract people.P1040255We walked by this rusting old water tower.P1040306Later I got a fuller view, yes even out in nature people think that defacing objects with graffiti is a good thing to do. Unfortunately they do it on trees as well.  Oh well, and you wonder why I am completely opposed to ‘celebrating’ graffiti as some kind of art form.P1040264Another thing we love is big trees that cast shade on our paths.  There were a lot of people walking or picnicking.  P1040256We shared the road with a cantering horse.P1040258Someone mentioned that this is a mule, because of the ears, all I know is he was moving fast.

We were hoping for a quiet peaceful country walk, that wasn’t meant to be.P1040262Right as we started our walk a slew of emergency vehicles came by.P1040263And left us in their dust.P1040274Even a helicopter came over head.

P1040275Which was very very appropriate since our destination is the film location for M.A.S.H. We spoke to the rescuers, someone had fallen, more on that later.P1040276Soon we were off the road and onto a rocky path through chaparral – this is the low native growth here in So Cal.P1040280We turned a corner and there it was! The M.A.S.H site!  Today most filming seems to be done on sound stages, with a few outside shots just for authenticity. But with this show they built the whole camp out here and a few relics remain. I’m thinking someone may have done some touch up work on this ambulance.IMG_2746How they convinced anyone that this dry, arid environment is actually in Korea is beyond me.P1040285Here is a ‘burnt out’ vehicle. There are a number of information placards that show maps and details of where everything was on this set.P1040281Even the shed has it’s obligatory bullet holes.P1040288Iconic signpost, this looks too new and clean, someone must come and replace it from time to time.P1040293On our way back we stopped at the ‘lake’, this is where the rescue had taken place. If you think this is some large lovely lake, think again, the camera makes things look so much larger. I do love the reflection, clouds are rare around here.P1040294This area is well known for rock climbers, I assumed that one of them fell (we were told it wasn’t a serious injury, probably broken bones) but no, the people by the lake told us that a kid was goofing off on the dam and fell.  Yes there are signs telling you not to climb on the dam, but really who reads or pays attention to signs??P1040298I have no idea if the state stocks this lake or if this father and son are just enjoying the act of fishing without ever catching anything.P1040302We also walked by the visitor center, it was already closed.P1040304This is what river beds really look like around here.P1040307Final shot, a family enjoying the pond.  Can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon