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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.

More soon ...

© 2015


Thursday, January 1, 2015

"Louis Zamperini: A Race Well Run" float at the 2015 Rose Parade

photo credit: Los Angeles Times

Picture above is the "Louis Zamperini: A Race Well Run" float at the 2015 Rose Parade this morning, sponsored by the City of Torrance - Zamperini's home town.  

The title of the float signifies both Zamperini's achievement as an Olympic athlete and a passage in the New Testament Scriptures: " ... I have finished the race, I have kept the faith ..." 2 Timothy 4:7.

The float also acknowledged what the recent film "Unbroken" left out; what Zamperini said was the most significant event in his life. On the left of the montage of photos is Zamperini with evangelist Billy Graham at the 1949 Los Angeles Billy Graham Crusade, where Zamperini committed his life to Jesus Christ. Zamperini went on to say that this experience, and subsequent life change, enabled him to forgive his former Japanese captors. Incredible story. Zamperini was chosen as the Grand Marshall of this year's parade. He passed away this past July. The Rose Parade choose to honor him posthumously with a riderless horse. 

Here's a five minute video describing his life as an Olympic athlete, WW2 pilot, POW survivor, returning veteran, and follower of Christ. 

Hats off to the City of Torrance to sponsoring this float, and for including what Zamperini would say was the most important decision of his life. 

Happy 2015 everyone. 

© 2015

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Back to Bethlehem: Devonshire & Winnetka in Chatsworth

This Christmas season a group of Los Angeles churches in the San Fernando Valley are once again sponsoring a "Back to Bethlehem" Christmas event. 

Located at 20121 Devonshire Street in Chatsworth, Back to Bethlehem is a re-creation of the sights and sounds of ancient Bethlehem on the night of the first Christmas.

It's not too late to go! The event will continue tonight, Sunday and Monday nights! 

Here's a link with more information

I took a few photos when when my family and I attended a few years back. 

It's a very impressive re-enactment of what life might have been like in Bethlehem as Mary and Joseph would have experienced it, entirely staffed by volunteers. Whether you're single, married, or have kids - this is a great event to experience! 

Hundreds of volunteers do an amazing job bringing this event to life.

There was "no room at the inn" ... but a donkey outside of the simple stable nearby gave a hint of what might be inside.

Waiting to visit Mary and Joseph, and their newborn son.

This is a fantastic event for families to help explain the Christmas story to their children - and for adults to imagine what the first Christmas was like. 

Mary and Joseph inside the stable, sharing the story of the first Christmas with the thousands of visitors every night. Each year this event attracts 18,000 people over six separate nights.

Outside the stable, sheep and goats. A reminder of the environment Jesus was born into. A volunteer lets kids touch a goat.

At the edge of Bethlehem is the rabbi school. Children and adults gather around to hear the village rabbi share the prophecies about Messiah from Old Testament prophet Isaiah. 

Every visitor receives free shekels at the entrance. Spices were just one of the many items you could buy. 

The Roman soldiers walking around were a reminder that Bethlehem in the first century was a conquered, occupied territory (I have no idea how these guys - again, all volunteers - stayed warm in togas and sandals.)

Pomegranates. This vendor was smart and was prepared for a chilly evening. 

Warm bread: another popular item. 

The shops and stalls were in a circle around a large field the year we attended. While the event has since moved to St. Stephen's Presbyterian Church at Devonshire & Winnetka - which is 
a more central location - I'm assuming the set up is similar and  continues to be held entirely outdoors. 

Our kids loved the freedom of being able to go from booth to booth, running around buying little things, having the small samples of food. It really helped bring the Bible to life: Jesus was born in a real place at a real time.

A shepherd recounting his experience of the angelic visitation announcing Jesus' birth. What was impressive was that this particular volunteer playing the role of a shepherd was also bi-lingual.

It was neat seeing the diversity of visitors that night, as well as many of the volunteers. A reminder that the gospel is for "all the people."

At the edge of Bethlehem, a group of Magi were encamped, looking for "Him was was born King of the Jews."

The night we went, the event seemed well attended, but never felt overly crowded. Definitely something we'd like to see and do again. 

On behalf of our family and the thousands of kids and adults who experience this every year, a huge THANK YOU to the hundreds of volunteers that make this outreach to the community happen.

While the concept of a "walk through Bethlehem" is not unique to Los Angeles, it is the largest American city where an event like this can be held entirely outdoors. Hard to image this in a place like Chicago or New York. Come to think of it, our climate (Mediterranean) is also the most similar to what Jesus and those around him would have experienced. 

In what can unfortunately be a very busy and stressful time of the year, this final photo sums up both this event, and Christmas itself:


"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Luke 2: 10-12

© 2014 - originally posted 12/24/08