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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Best Hike in Los Angeles: Upper Temescal Canyon Ridge

What's the best hike in Los Angeles?

Depends on what you're looking for. 

I think an strong argument could be made for the Temescal Ridge Trail being among the very best hikes in Los Angeles.

This past weekend I was back in town. I friend and I decided we'd try a sunrise hike. We were at the trailhead around 5:30am. 

While the rest of the city was blanked in a very thick marine layer, we were able to get just above the fog in time for the sunrise. The Temescal Ridge trail is part of Topanga State Park; the trailhead is located in the Los Angeles community of Pacific Palisades (see map and directions at the bottom of this post), just 10 minutes north of the intersection of Sunset Blvd and the Pacific Coast Highway. 

No one else was on the trail. In fact, despite being a Saturday in May, a few minutes from the rest of the city, we didn't see anyone else for the first hour and a half we were out. 

Sunrise was at 5:48am. Pretty spectacular. 

Equally as impressive were the peaks from the adjacent ridge that were just slowly becoming visible as the fog receded ever so slowly. 

Another view from the same spot. I didn't have my "good" camera with me - these photos were all taken with my iPhone. 

After another couple minutes, the ridge to the south became visible. 

My buddy Jim and I ended sticking around at this one spot taking photographs for about 30 minutes. 

Really spectacular. I've been on this trail numerous times, and have blogged about several times in the past. Here are are a couple previous posts: Celebrating June Gloom and Beyond June Gloom.

As the minutes passed . . . 

. . . our views changed again . . . 

. . . and again. Wow. 

As I've blogged in the past, a reminder of the brevity of our lives and what Scripture calls our "brief stint" we have here on earth. 

There are some power lines along part of the ridge. Yeah, yeah, I know - kinda ugly. (Of course, no one complains about having access to electrical power.)

But even then, the views with the fog coming over the ridges were great. 

Here are two other views from the same trail, at different times: 

First with much denser fog. This photograph was taken at the exact same trail, just a different day.  Amazing conditions. 

Second, on a late Fall afternoon. Exact same trail: no fog, very clear conditions. Great views of the entire L.A. Basin, all the way to downtown Los Angeles. Pictured above is a close up of Santa Monica, Venice, Marina del Rey and El Segundo. Quite spectacular. Here's a link to a previous blog post with similar photos from this hike. 

We walked about three miles up, turning around at the Rogers Road junction - which could have taken us to Will Rogers State Park. Maybe another day. Above, stopping to take a picture ...

... of the deer we spotted along the way.  

I mentioned how underused this trail is: it was a Saturday morning in May - and we saw only one mountain biker and two other hikers during the 2 1/2 hours we were out. For some reason this hike hasn't received nearly the same press as the nearby Skull Rock Loop Trail or the Paso Miramar Overlook.   

So why is this trail (imo) among the best hikes in Los Angeles?

- Easy access to the trailhead on city streets - just 10 minutes north of Sunset and the PCH.
- Free parking and clean restroom at the trailhead.
- Trailhead starts relatively high up at 1700 ft elevation. You're already very close to "the top" when you start, making for an easy to moderate hike along the ridge (great for beginners!). 
- Depending on local conditions, you're often just above the coastal fog. 
- On clear days, great views of the entire city and ocean. 
- One of the least crowded hikes in Los Angeles. There are times when I've hiked here on weekdays and have not seen a single other person
- It's a fireroad (vs a narrow trail), making it open to both hikers or mountain bikers. A wider path also means less problems with poison oak, ticks, bugs, or other critters. 
- Just a few miles from the beach, with ocean breezes and mild year-round climate. 

Negatives (if any):
- as it's a ridge (vs a canyon) there is little to no shade anywhere. You might want to avoid it between 11-3pm during the hot summer months.
- Because it is so underused, I recommend hiking with someone, or at least someone know where you're going, especially if you go on a weekday. Despite the fact it's surrounded by a huge metropolis, don't count on any cell phone coverage. 

The trailhead, located just past the corner of Via Las Palmas and Via La Costa in Pacific Palisades. While ritzy Via Las Palmas might look like a gated community, it is most assuredly a public road. Continue another 100 yards on Via Las Palmas past Via La Costa, and there is a public parking lot (with restrooms and a drinking fountain) on the left. Don't forget to carry water. 

© 2012


Experiencing L.A. at West Adams

photo credit: Larry Fulton - 

Trolling around the internet, I came across Larry Fulton's "Greetings from West Adams." For those of you unfamiliar with Los Angeles, West Adams is the neighborhood south west of downtown Los Angeles, including the area next to USC. It is home to numerous historic building buildings and homes. 

And, it's where my in-laws lived for fifteen years after graduating from USC. For me and my wife and kids, lots of good memories in and around this neighborhood. Topics for a future blog post. 

Here's a map and a link to more on West Adams from our friends at LAist. 

© 2012

Experiencing L.A. on Memorial Day

The Los Angeles National Cemetery is located in Westwood, less than a mile west of UCLA. Over 80,000 Veterans - including 10,000 from the Civil War - are buried here.

Above, the northern edge of the cemetery with the Getty Center in the distance.

Every year, several thousand Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Scout leaders and parent volunteers assembled for the annual Memorial Day Weekend placement of flags at every Veteran's grave.

Two years ago, my son (at the time a Webelos Scout) and I were there to participate and help.

Waiting for things to begin.

Scouts from all over Los Angeles were there to help. There were Scouts from as far away as the high desert community of Lancaster. After introductions, an opening prayer, and a flag salute we went off to different parts of the cemetery.

A Scout Leader giving my son further directions.

Each boy read the name of the Veteran out loud, placed an American flag in the ground, observed a brief moment of silence . . .

. . . . and saluted.

One of the 80,000 Veteran's grave markers, in this case from World War I.

Rows of flags with Scouts and parents in the distance. My son and I feel very privileged to have been part of this, and it gave us something significant to talk about on the way home.

Within a hour, the entire cemetery was decorated with thousands of American flags. In the distance, the office buildings along Wilshire Blvd.

This is not original with me: 

"If you can read this, thank a teacher. 
If you can read this in English, thank a Veteran."

Happy Memorial Day.

View Los Angeles National Cemetery in a larger map

© 2012 - originally posted 5/29/2010


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Experiencing L.A. - Clearwater Mural, Pacific Palisades

While murals are not unique to Los Angeles, this large color mural covering the loading dock of the CVS pharmacy in Pacific Palisades certainly caught my eye. 

Wow, beautiful. 

Even the dumpster looks good!

Another perspective. 

Looking towards the street.

The Clearwater Mural is the work of local artist Terri Bromberg. Originally painted in 1999, it was restored and expanded in 2004 and then later in 2010.

Back in 1978, I painted a similar - although much, much smaller - mural on my High School locker about a mile away - at Palisades High School. This was when Star Wars was still in theaters and was all the rage. I checked with the Vice Principal ahead of time (who said that while he couldn't give me permission, as long as I didn't paint anything offensive, it would be OK). While much more modest in scope, it was a similar labor of love. 

Unfortunately, unlike the Clearwater Mural, it didn't have the protection of private security or hidden cameras - and was destroyed within a week. I tried to restore it, but after more vandelism, I just gave up. Yeah, sad.

What can I say? It's really depressing as there are dozens a massive murals around Los Angeles have been destroyed by graffiti. And, of course, the poorer neighborhoods have a disproportionate share of this sort of vandelism. 

Fortunately, there are still many amazing murals to be found. But even they have to deal with the elements. 


Here's a quick before/after of what thirty years of bright sunshine and rust have done of the nearby "Isle of California" . . . 

. . . perhaps the most famous mural in the entire city. 

Even the photos on this, and every other website around the world, are simply sitting on some server and won't last forever. That doesn't mean that art and artwork shouldn't be encouraged, celebrated and protected. But even works locked away in museums are, ultimately, temporal. 

Many thanks to Terri Bromberg, the sponsors of the Clearwater mural, and the managment of CVS for supporting this project. Here's hoping that it'll be around for my great grandkids' generation to enjoy - 100 years from now. 

View Clearwater Mural, Pacific Palisades in a larger map

Here's a map to the Clearwater Mural, located just off of Sunset Blvd. in Pacific Palisades. 

© 2012


Experiencing L.A. - Pink My Ride

In November 2009 I was in Van Nuys, a community in the San Fernando Valley, with a couple of UCLA students. There are tens of thousands of Mercedes Benz in Los Angeles, but this is the first pink Mercedes I've ever seen.

Yep, it's a Mercedes. After I took this picture, I noticed the liscence plate frame said "Pimped" -- as in "Pimp My Ride" a fairly popular show on MTV.

Hey, it's for sale! Is that correct? Is the price really $1250? No, wait, it's got to be $7250. The paint job alone would cost two grand.

The paint is pretty impressive, although it's not my style. Reminds me somewhat of the classic lowriders, including those that were on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum 

in 2008.

Over the years, I've heard Christians ask "what would Jesus drive?" - kind of an American take on "what would Jesus do?" It's sort of a weird question - kind of like asking "what kind of private jet would Jesus own?" Jesus would have taken the bus, or walked.

Meanwhile, the Apostle Paul, a leader in the 1st century church, would have driven "whatever" to get from point A to point B in advancing Christ's Kingdom.

For believers living in Los Angeles (and the rest of the Western world where owning a car is actually a possibility) that's a great principle. Not just with a car, but with pretty much everything.

I'm currently not in the market for a car, although - assuming it runs - $7250 seems like a fair price for a Mercedes. Or is it $1250?

What do I know? I'm no expert on cars.

Wonder what insurance goes for?

Wonder where it is now?

View Van Nuys, California "Pink My Ride" in a larger map

..© 2012 - originally posted 11/21/2009