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Monday, May 4, 2015

Star Wars: Invasion Los Angeles (May the 4th)



Filmmaker Kaipo Jones has once again done an impressive job, this time with a Star Wars invasion of sunny Los Angeles. Mindless, but fun.

Seemed an appropriate - and very quick and easy - post for May the 4th. Enjoy.






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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Experiencing L.A. - Temescal Ridge and Paseo Miramar Trails (Pacific Palisades)

What do I miss about our time in Los Angeles? There are a lot of things - but early morning hikes in Topanga State Park is definitely on the list. 


One of my two favorite hikes was the Upper Temescal Ridge trail - accessible from the top of the Palisades Highlands community of Pacific Palisades. 


The solitude - especially just before sunrise - is incredible. 


As well as the early morning coastal fog. This is looking west towards Topanga Canyon. 


And south towards Paseo Miramar trailhead. On a clear day, the Pacific Ocean is visible in the background. 


This is looking east along the ridges of Brentwood, Beverly Hills and Hollywood. The massive San Gabriel Mountains are in the distance. 


Another view of the Paseo Miramar trailhead, which has a much steeper trail and is a great workout, and my second favorite hike. More on that in a bit. 


Sunrise. Good time to hiked back to my car. What I love about this hike is the solitude. It was a Saturday morning and I didn't see anyone else until getting back to the parking lot. 

I consider the Upper Temescal Ridge ridge trail to be one of the very best hikes in Los Angeles. Here's a link to more information on a previous post. 

It was early and I had enough time to drive over to the Paseo Miramar trail, located off of Sunset Blvd, about 15 minutes away. Starting at lower elevation, I was shrouded in cool, coastal fog. Here's a link with more information on the Paseo Miramar hike from a previous blog post. 

I eventually popped out of the fog and into the brilliant sunshine of a summer morning. 
Love the look of fog against the hillsides. 

Years earlier while living in L.A., I had a chance to hear a professor at Cal State Northridge speak on Christian stewardship of the environment. He made some convincing arguments, including a statement I had never thought of before: the ability to see and enjoy the creation helps point individuals to the Creator.


The New Testament states that "For his [God's] invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made." 

The complexity and design of life on our little planet clearly pointers to a Designer. 


Los Angeles has both wonderful climate, beaches, the ocean, mountains, palm tree lined boulevards .... as well as a sprawling and sometimes gritty urban environment. 

I appreciate the work of men and women who worked tirelessly to see places like Topanga State Park become a reality. It didn't just "happen." Helping improve not only the quality of life, but the ability to see and enjoy the Creator's handiwork. 

I like to think of the Santa Monica Mountains as Los Angeles' backyard. Sure, coming from other parts of the city - it's a bit of a drive. But sooo worth it. 


Here's a couple links some additional "fog and mountain" photos from previous posts

Above: looking east towards the Temescal Canyon Ridge trail - where I was hiking an hour earlier. Either of these two hikes would be great. It's amazing to remember that they're both within the city limits of Los Angeles. And how cool was it to enjoy both of them in a single morning? 


Back down to my car, I dropped back down into the fog. Unlike the Upper Temescal Ridge, the Paseo  Miramar hike if fairly popular - so plan on hiking a couple of blocks to the trailhead. And regardless of what time of day you're there, please be considerate of the neighbors. 

© 2015 www.experiencingla.com



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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter at the Hollywood Bowl


For almost 100 years, Easter at the Hollywood Bowl has been a Los Angeles tradition. The above photo from the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook Group dates from 1948.

The traditional sunrise service has given way to a 11am multi-church Easter Sunday gathering - and still attracts thousands of Angelenos.

If you missed it this year, make your calendar for 2016. Here's a link to when my wife and kids and I attended Easter at the Hollywood Bowl a few years back. Great, very meaningful experience. We totally recommend it to others.

Christ is Risen: He is Risen, indeed!

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter.



© 2015 www.experiencingla.com


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Aerial Los Angeles, Santa Monica and the Bay

photo credit: ExperiencingLA.com

Aerial Los Angeles: flying out to LAX a few months back, I grabbed a couple photos out the window via my phone.

Lower left is Pacific Palisades. Following the coast south, where it starts to become urban, is Santa Monica. The buildings along Wilshire Blvd can be seen as they snake their way up through Brentwood, Westwood Village, around Century City, through Beverly Hills, Hancock Park, Koreatown, and into downtown Los Angeles.

photo credit: ExperiencingLA.com
From this angle, Hollywood is directly north of Pacific Palisades, about two thirds up the photo. The little white dot in the hills is the Hollywood Sign. Malibu begins at the very lower left. In the distance are the San Gabriel Mountains. As an aside, 40 years ago smog would have made this photograph virtually impossible. Today, of greater concern is traffic congestion.

Malibu, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and downtown Los Angeles. Thanks to the entertainment industry, the influence that this swath of land has on the rest of the planet is incredible.

I like this quote from urban planning expert Dan Rosenfeld from this weekend's Los Angeles Times:

"We live in the greatest concentration of human talent in the history of the world. We spawn popular culture — film, fashion, food, even finance — for the entire planet. Further, we are the urban laboratory for the future world. Solutions to megacity challenges such as water scarcity, recycling, mobility, diversity and income inequality — those solutions will be invented and tested here. L.A. can be messy, crowded and hard to manage, but it's a good place to be relevant."

© 2015 www.experiencingla.com



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Saturday, March 7, 2015

McClure Tunnel, Santa Monica: End of One World, Beginning of Another

image: Susan Haskell
I recently came across Los Angeles area artist Susan Haskell's painting of the McClure Tunnel.

Beautiful work that captures the awe of coming out of the tunnel at the end of the Santa Monica Freeway and out onto the Pacific Coast Highway.

There are many stunning views in Los Angeles, but in terms of views that can only be experienced while driving, the view at the end of the McClure Tunnel ranks at the very top.

image: McClure Tunnel Santa Monica (photos.wikimapia.org)
The Santa Monica Freeway, which starts 2500 miles (4000 km) away in Jacksonville, Florida - ends at the tunnel, which curves and opens up of the Pacific Ocean. The tunnel was actually built in 1935 and is only 400 feet long. The curve, keeping the ocean from view until you emerge from it, is what makes it so unique.

I remember the first time coming through the tunnel at age 7, when my family moved from Chicago to Los Angeles. Seeing the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains for the first time was stunning then. And it's still stunning.

Sort of. I would NEVER recommend trying to take a photo coming out of the tunnel while trying to navigate a dark curving tunnel with traffic - very dangerous. Google street view is the next best thing.

What was once one of the most stunning views in Los Angeles is marred by Cal Trans decision to place a work yard, complete with large metal storage bins, right at the mouth of the tunnel. Really? Los Angeles is a huge place. They couldn't find another place for this?


Here's an ariel shot. Gives a better idea of what seems like an incredibly stupid decision. Like other major cities Los Angeles faces a list of challenging problems. I'm sure "marring the view coming out of the McClure Tunnel" is not on the top of the list. On the other hand, it's the hundreds of little things like this that can make living anywhere delightful or loathsome. Kind of like graffiti or trash along the road.

image: Susan Haskell 



Susan Haskell obviously knows a beautiful subject when she sees it. Here's the same shot, only a sunset. And here's hoping that the Cal Trans storage yard will find another home. And this one small part of experiencing Los Angeles will be restored to how it was originally envisioned. 

© 2015 www.experiencingla.com




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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Frank Gehry House, Venice Beach

The Frank Gehry House is located at 2509 Ocean Front Walk in Venice.


The scaffolding on the right is NOT part of the house. Everything else is.

A little (OK, very) strange, odd. But it honestly fits in with the rest of Venice Beach.

The Obama 2008 posters is a reminder that this was taken back in late 2008, early 2009.

Short post - lots of things going on this weekend.

Here's a link with more info.

© 2015 www.experiencingla.com




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Saturday, January 10, 2015

January in Los Angeles: Walk Along the Coast and Palisades Park

January 2010, our last year living in Los Angeles, I took a six mile walk from Sunset Blvd & the PCH to Pico & 14th Street, Santa Monica.


Looking south along the coast towards Santa Monica. A beautiful, sunny winter day in Los Angeles. As I've shared previously, ironically winters are usually sunnier than late spring/early summer. 


Zoom lens from the same spot. Three stand up paddle boarders enjoying a Saturday in January.


Santa Monica Canyon two miles away: gym with huge open window. Great anytime, awesome in January.


Up a flight of stairs from the coast to the bluffs (technically, "palisades") of Santa Monica.


Incredible, amazing succulent plants. These are Agave Attenuata, also called Lion’s Tail, Fox Tail, or Swan’s Neck Agave.

When my family first moved to Los Angeles from Chicago in the late 1960's, plants like this looked like something from Mars. In a sense, they still do.


Looking south from the bluffs of Santa Monica, across the bay towards the Palos Verdes Peninsula and (barely visible in the distance) Catalina Island.


Two condo towers at the corner of San Vincente Blvd and Ocean Avenue. This part of Santa Monica is beautiful, but living here ain't cheap. A 900 square foot 1 bedroom, 1 bath condo goes for $1.5 million. That's not for a house, but for a condo. Yikes.


Another view from the bluffs looking south towards the Santa Monica Pier.


A closer view of the Santa Monica Pier. Here's a link to previous post highlighting the Pier. If you look closely the 18 mile coastal bike path is visible.


This is Santa Monica's Palisades Park, which allows for incredible views along the bluffs for two miles.


More fantastic specimens of Agave Attenuata. Amazing.


Enjoying Palisades Park. This was the first weekend in January and on this "chamber of commerce" day I saw dozens of tourists in town for the Rose Bowl.


Looking north from the bluffs towards the communities of Pacific Palisades and Malibu.


Tons of people out and about enjoying a beautiful day.


Dog walkers, old people, young people, families, lots of singles. Good times.


At 14 stories, this is "100 Wilshire Blvd" - Santa Monica's tallest office tower located on the corner of Wilshire Blvd and Ocean Avenue. The statue is Santa Monica (Saint Monica) looking towards the city.


Another view of Santa Monica, or Saint Monica. Monica was the mother of 5th Ftheologian Saint Augustine.


More succulents. Coastal Los Angeles is the capital of succulent plants. This is Crassula Ovata, commonly known as Jade Plant, Friendship Tree, Lucky Plant or Money Plant.


Another view of 100 Wilshire. Love the palm trees.


Built in 1933, The Georgian is a beautiful, historic hotel on Ocean Avenue. Like pretty much everything in Santa Monica, lodging is NOT cheap. Rooms off season (if there's such a thing in Santa Monica) start at $300 a night. 


Fantastic "Bird of Paradise" flower - native to South African - with The Georgian Hotel in the background. Heres' a link to a previous post with some additional photos and info. 


Moomat Ahiko is the name of very short street next to the Santa Monica Pier, providing access from Ocean Avenue to the Pacific Coast Highway. It means "Breath of the Ocean" in the native Tongva language.  


Walking up Pico Blvd (to be explained later) I passed the Bay Shore Lanes. This place has been here for ever! I remember learning to bowl here as a kid, back in the early 1970's. Based on the cool googie architecture, I'm assuming this place has been around since the early 1960's. 



Another view of the sign and retro architecture. This reminds me of the earliest incarnation of the Disneyland Hotel down in Anaheim. 


Tommy's Burgers: what I refer to as "blue collar In and Out." Not necessarily healthy, but delicious. Here's a link a previous post at their original location - "The Shack" - at Beverly and Rampart in Los Angeles. 



LOVE the napkins dispenser. 


Yummy.com - a small local chain with free delivery. This was taken five years ago, apparently they're still in business. Good for them. More retro architecture. 


The Palm Motel - at Pico and 14th Street. Every summer, the college campus ministry I work with hosts a student leadership development program, housed here. Students live here, have regular 9-5 summer jobs in the community, and on evenings and days off are involved in community service and outreach. 


During the rest of the year, the Palm is an youth hostel. The students live here during the summer (the adult leadership lives off site a couple miles away). 


It's a great place for students. A bit rustic, but it works - and is within our price point. The owner and management is great - working with us year after year. 


View along Pico walking back toward the beach. Santa Monica describes itself as an urban beach town. Very true. 


Artwork at the Pico Youth and Family Center


Anther view. As I've commented before, I've driven by this location dozens, perhaps hundreds of times. It is was only when I got out of my car and drove around that I ever noticed it. I have friends who will run a half marathon or full marathon - both of which I find incredible. Yet these same people  find it incredible that I walk five or six miles thought the city. 

Speaking of which, here's some link to some previous blog posts on walks along Pico Blvd, Main Street (in Santa Monica), Abbot Kinney Blvd (in Venice), Santa Monica Blvd, Wilshire Blvd (in Beverly Hills), Hollywood, Silverlake and Downtown Los Angeles


Peace, Unity and Social Justice. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I'm absolutely committed to these same things. My guess is that I might have different opinions of how to obtain these three things. But - hopefully - there's also some common ground. 


Santa Monica High School at Pico and 6th Street. Notable alumni of "Samo High" include Glen Ford,  Sean Penn, Robert, Downey Jr, Emilo Estevez, and Charlie Sheen. 


Which, is not lost on the private tour buses driving along Pico - to the Beach. Really? This stretch of Pico Blvd is NOT Hollywood, not Malibu, not Beverly Hills. But I guess the folks at the Starline "hop on, hop off" bus tour must think otherwise. The distinct double decker buses look fun. At $39 a day, I've never tried this. I'm assuming you're NOT paying for transportation as much as the on-going speel about Los Angeles.

Instead, for one dollar I took a Santa Monica "Big Blue Bus" back to Sunset and the PCH ... and called it a day. 

Long walk. Good times experiencing Los Angeles. 

That'd be true anytime of the year, but especially true on a Sunday afternoon in January. 

© 2015 www.experiencingla.com




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