A Weekend Stay In LA

Date: April 13th, 14th & 15th, 2017

From/To: Los Angeles, CA

 

Good times, great people, simply said. In my mind Los Angeles was a prolonged reward that got me through many painful and discouraging days on the road. Like many of those days, this stop came as fast as it went. I was back on the saddle without having much time to process anything that had happened. I guess that’s a great lesson in life, don’t rush the good times because they’ll come and go even faster that you think. Enjoy every moment for what it is, even the so-called difficult moments.


Thursday, April 13th

Two of my college roommates took me in for the extended weekend. I was back to the good ‘ol couch days that I missed so much… I shouldn’t be complaining, a couch is considered luxury in my experience of sleeping accommodations throughout the ride. Jamie and Dan live in West Hollywood, about twenty minutes from Santa Monica by car. It’s not that they live far from the coast, it’s a matter of LA traffic and awful drivers that tacks on the undesired lag when getting anywhere. I noticed it all too much not as a biker but as a passenger, listening to Jamie moan and groan as we navigated our way through an endless number of bad drivers and pedestrians that don’t obey traffic laws. Regardless we weren’t going to let some traffic get in the way of this perfect sunny day we had. After a slow start to the morning we grabbed some breakfast and planned out today’s events. Any good host knows that a first timer needs to see the iconic Wisdom Tree Summit in North Hollywood. This 1000 foot climb takes hikers on a three miles trek to one of the highest points in town, overlooking most if not all of Los Angeles on a clear day. The view provides a 360 degree vantage point of the surroundings. Not to mention the trail runs further along a mountain ridge leading to an overviewing perch above the famous Hollywood sign. We decided this would be a solid plan for the early afternoon. The ride up to the trailhead was an experience in itself. We drove past some of the nicer areas of town making our way into the hills. Many of these homes were built into the mountains along the switchback roads, providing an overwhelming view of the surroundings that seemed to run as far as the eye could see. We passed several tour busses, Jamie told me those people were taking a guided tour just to see some of the more impressive homes around this area. We finally reached the trail entrance, Jamie parked the car and we made our way up towards the trailhead. We passed a binder placed next to the gateway, thinking it was a sign-in sheet I glanced over to read the instructions. “Report any Rattlesnake sightings here” it read, I then saw there’d been quite a few incidents reported in recent time. Great. Jamie told me he’s done the hike several times and never came across a rattler, I figured it was just my luck to break his streak. The trail was certainly a beaten path, being one of the more popular tourist attractions in LA, however parts of the trail were thin and covered by overgrown bushes and weeds. At certain points we had to climb some rock piles on the ascent but overall the trail wasn’t too difficult, and no snakes! It’s definitely a vertical challenge, but it’s designed for almost anyone to climb. We reached the summit where the Wisdom Tree was and looked around, I was in awe over the amazing view. Jamie said I was lucky to be here today, he’d never seen the view so clearly. I guess I brought the good weather with me, no smog was going to sell us short today. We gazed over the different parts of LA, it was helpful to see everything having a bird’s-eye view as a frame of reference.

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Mountain men doing mountain things.
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A panoramic shot of the summit.
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It’s hard to call it a beaten path, the trail led up to the summit centered in this picture, providing us with the 360 degree view of LA.
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Next to the Wisdom Tree was this American flag, a perfect photo op taken from a drone’s vantage point (shhhh).
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This picture came out in poor quality, but it seems to almost have the appearance of a painting. The lack of clarity and sharpness gives it a simplistic vibe. I took this shot as we were heading towards the Hollywood sign and away from the Wisdom Tree and the American flag, seen here. Dan later told me the backstory to the Wisdom Tree, I thought it was pretty cool. Apparently it was the only tree standing after a devastating wildlife fire in 2007, burning over 817 acres in the area. Upon further reading I’ve noticed the tree has developed all sorts of legends and backstories regarding its origin on the summit, it’s a landmark that has become iconic in the eyes of tourists and residents alike.

We decided we had some time to hike over to the Hollywood sign. It couldn’t have been more than a mile from the Wisdom Tree and at our pace we were there in no time at all. It wasn’t anything special after seeing the view from the Wisdom Tree, it was neat to stand over the sign and see the overlooking area where many people view the sign from it’s intended point of view. We had a moment’s glance from that spot and made our way back down the mountain.

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Jamie drove us back to West Hollywood and we found a BBQ place to grab a late lunch before heading back to his place. He had a phone call at 3:30 and I had some work to do so that worked out well. Later on that evening Dan returned home from work and we started making plans for the evening. Meg and Lindsay, two hometown friends now living in LA, made their way over and we explored the local nightlife perhaps on an aggressive approach but hey, a long awaited celebration was in order so I can’t say I’m surprised it turned out the way it did.


Friday, April 14th

If yesterday morning was a slow start, this morning tipped the scale. Dan, Jamie and I gathered ourselves over breakfast at an outdoor patio cafe down the street from their apartment. We all had breakfast wraps of varying assortments and plenty of coffee (tea for Jamie) to jumpstart our morning. After breakfast I made my way into one of the local barber shops to clean up my mop head that was starting to form after six weeks without a haircut. I decided despite my continuation with this trip, the cross country part was over, and I could finally end my streak of attempting to look homeless. I did manage to take a photo every day of my hair growth progress throughout the trip, I’ll be putting together a time lapse as soon as I have enough time to video edit.

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Haircuts and beer, a savory combination.

After getting a fresh cut I walked back to the apartment and we started planning out todays activities. More hiking was on the agenda, even for these tired legs it still seemed like a great idea. I kept telling myself I’m only here for so long and that seemed to douce out any thoughts of being lazy this weekend. Dan proposed we hike the Los Leones Canyon Trail, another scenic adventure overlooking the Pacific Palisades, a collection of scenic homes in neighborhoods near the southern side of Malibu.

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Behind me are Cecelia (Megans roommate), Megan, and last but not least Dan. Jamie’s nowhere to be found, but he’s back there somewhere.
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Meg loves her yoga, and I can’t say I have any experience or talent within the practice. At the summit of our hike I decided to attempt my first handstand, although the form wasn’t perfect I managed to stand self-supported for a few seconds before losing my balance. Yoga 101 is calling my name.

After the hike Dan drove us to Duke’s, a restaurant on the shore in Malibu with a really cool Hawaiian themed atmosphere. We had some drinks and enjoyed a meal before heading back to Santa Monica. Dan, Jamie and I made out way over to Third Street Promenade, a street closed to vehicles. The street is full of shops, restaurants, and all sorts of street performers and activities. We walked up and down the Promenade, mostly people watching and checking out some shops here and there, finally making our way back to the car. Dan was heading over to his girlfriends house, Jamie and I spent some time with Meg and her roommates in Santa Monica before heading back to West Hollywood. The evening was pretty low key especially after the previous night’s endeavors, needless to say I’d been making the most of my time here in LA so I was alright was taking a night off.

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Here is a beautiful view of the wondrous LA traffic, accompanied by a less impressive sunset over the mountains as we left Malibu.

Saturday, April 15th

Dan was away with his girlfriend for the remainder of the weekend so today was another Jamie and Matt day around LA. Jamie was steadfast on doing whatever I wanted to do on my last day, so naturally I dragged him out to something science related, the Griffith Observatory. If I had put more thought into it I’d consider the mass amounts of tourism likely to swarm this major attraction on a Saturday at noon. On the contrary anything space related always seems like a good idea to me regardless of any setbacks. As we approached Griffith Park our presumptions about excessive tourism were soon realized. We drove up the winding roads, moving at a top speed of 5 mph behind an endless number of cars until we reached the parking lot. I paid $8 for parking, the other option was to hike from a ways down. After two days on trails I decided I would be lazy this time around at the expense of a few bucks, rightfully so. We made our way over to the observatory and walked around the grounds before entering the building.

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The Griffith Observatory from a street side view.

The back side offered an amazing view of LA like any elevated area in the surrounding parts, although this one was from a balcony rather than a trail summit. You could see the observatory from far off in the distance, its three circular domes a dead giveaway when identifying the structure.

A little history on the Griffith Observatory (don’t sigh…). The observatory was donated to the City of Los Angeles by Griffith J. Griffith on December 16, 1896. In his will Griffith donated funds to build an observatory, exhibit hall, and planetarium on the donated land. Griffith wanted to make astronomy accessible by the public, as opposed to the prevailing idea that observatories should be located on remote mountaintops and restricted to scientists. The observatory officially opened in May of 1935, attracting over 13,000 people on opening day. The observatory has two Zeiss refracting telescopes and three solar telescopes. Since opening more than seven million people have put an eye to Griffith Observatory’s original 12-inch Zeiss refracting telescope. More people have looked though it than any other telescope in the world, a stat I’m sure Griffith would be proud of. The Zeiss telescopes are commonly targeting the Moon, planets, and brightest showpiece objects of our galaxy. I’ll let you guess what the solar telescopes target. Source.

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The outer shell housing of the main telescope at the observatory.
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A view of the Zeiss 12 inch refracting telescope. It was stunning to see the size of it in person, the picture may or may not do it justice. 

We walked through the indoor exhibits of the observatory. Jamie was a good sport and dealt with my geek-outs from time to time. I also enjoyed scaring him with some of my background knowledge on space, at times he asked me to stop when I was getting too in depth, I usually go too far for anyone’s taste. It was a great stop on the LA trip for my particular taste and despite the crowds we managed to enjoy what the observatory had to offer. Jamie drove us back to the apartment and we laid low for the afternoon leading up to a 6:00 Dodgers game we planed for. It was a smart call to take an Uber to the game to avoid parking fees and the overall hassle of navigating through LA traffic. We got there around 6:00, just in time for the start of the game. We were lucky enough to be there on the night Dodger Stadium unveiled their Jackie Robinson statue at the entrance of the park. Since 2004, April 15th has been known in the world of baseball as Jackie Robinson Day. It was an awesome moment unfolding in front of us, a tribute to a legendary athlete who’s legacy goes far beyond that of baseball. Jackie was iconic in the humanitarian movement for equality among all races, someone who battled discrimination and segregation as an individual against many. He’s a hero to all who appreciate what those times were like, to all who faced social inequality and saw it through to the end because of people like Jackie. Tonight all the players wore 42 with no name on the back. I thought that was a really special way to honor Jackie on this special day. Jamie and I met up with a good college friend of ours, Frank. He’s been living in downtown LA spending much of his time working. He was glad to make it out to see us and catch a game. We enjoyed catching up with him and he certainly had plenty of questions for me as well.

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The boys catching a game at Dodger Stadium.

The game finished around 10:00PM, a solid win for the boys in blue over the Arizona Diamondbacks, 8-4. We said goodbye to Frank and made our way back to the apartment. I was heading out the next morning so I wasn’t too inclined to make much of the night. It was back to biking for me, and even after all this time in LA I was missing the thrill of moving from one place to the next. Onwards to Ventura!

Enjoy The Ride,

-Matt

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