What you see here is the photo I took at the summit of Rocky Peak. At 2,750 feet, this rugged promontory, well-deserving its petrological title, is the third highest point in the Santa Susana Mountains which form part of the northern boundary of Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley.
If you want to enjoy the same vistas I gazed out upon from this lofty aerie — once, by the way, part of the vast real estate holdings of entertainer Bob Hope — your desire can easily be satisfied. All you need is a stout trek pole, sturdy boots, a boonie cap with a chin strap, three water bottles, two chicken sandwiches, a backpack full of Cuties™ mandarin oranges, an iPod loaded with I, Sniper, a Bob Lee Swagger novel by Stephen Hunter, a smartphone equipped with GPS, a camera for bringing back the proof of having reached the summit and the iron determination to plod wearily up thousands of feet of not-too-step yet all-too-steep much-fissured fire road.
My little guidebook calls the Rocky Peak Road an easy hike. So it is. Easy to take exit 32 off the Ronald Reagan Freeway. Easy to park in the turnout located to the south on Santa Ana Pass Road. Easy to cross north on the bridge over the Freeway to reach the trailhead.
After that less easy: an hour and half of glute-stressing climbing, followed — after a chicken sandwich break en plein air during which you can admire the view of the Pacific far to the west — by a wobbly-legged descent of similar duration. But not too demanding, even considering the cold, unceasing, buffeting wind way up top which may possibly slap you so silly that you, too, forget to snap the evidentiary photo celebrating your conquest.
Half-way twixt summit and trailhead — at the juncture of the Rocky Peak Road and the Hummybird Trail – a thoughtful park ranger has installed a restful bench.
Posted in Exploration, Hiking, L.A., Reading, Thillers
Tagged Hiking, I Sniper, Rocky Peak, Rocky Peak Road, Rocky Peak Trail, Santa Susana Mountains, Stephen Hunter
Not for nothing does David Lynch’s film Mulholland Drive begin with a collision. Living even on an unfamous appendage of this infamous mountain road means near-daily witness to mayhem. See, for instance, this post about a recent meet n greet not many yards from NiceWork Central. Los Angeles drivers are better at driving supersonically than in turning adroitly or stopping in a timely manner. Corruscating puddles of broken Safe-T-Glass guide the Mulholland Drive traveller on moonlit nights.
So imagine NiceWork‘s chagrin upon learning of the planned closing in October of Disney California Adventure‘s roller coaster Mulholland Madness. It must be demolished to make way for restaurants. We cancelled all our appointments and high-tailed it to Anaheim to grab one last snapshot of the venerable ride.
You see a photo of the attraction’s signage atop this post. And below you see one of the series of panels of a monumental mural which conceal the roller coaster’s maze of tracks from curious passers-by.
This fine painting is not to be confused with a similar work, also depicting the twisty Santa Monica Mountain crest road, by David Hockney, and which hangs not so far from its subject in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art:
Oh, well. Ars longa, right? The painting endures — at least it was still at LACMA last time I looked — but the thrill ride soon passes into dull memory. Wave at the thrilled thrill-seekers one last time before Mulholland Madness hits that Final Speed Bump.
Where did you and the entire family go on Friday?
I went with the entire family to Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
How wonderful! Did you see Goofy?
Yes. He marked the floor where we parked.
Did you see Mickey Mouse?
Yes. He signed autographs on Main Street.
Where was Minnie Mouse? Was MINNIE there, too?
Minnie appeared in her balloon form.
What about Donald? Donald Duck, I mean.
I know who you meant, of course. Yes, Donald was there in multiplicity. Here an inflated Donald stretches his arms as if to embrace the throng of parade goers.
There seem to be many forms of each of the Disney characters. Was there a flower arrangement depicting the head of Mickey Mouse?
Right as you enter Disneyland the great floral Mickey Face welcomes you.
WERE there any images of Mickey Mouse that A PERSON can consume?
Oh, there are many edible items. For instance, you can eat a pretzel shaped like the head of Mickey Mouse.
Looks good, but it WAS QUITE hot FRIDAY. DID THE PARK OFFER anything colder?
Oh, sure. You can eat all manner of frozen Mickey heads.
Did you find the place in Disneyland where you wish you could live?
Right there. Above New Orleans.
We went a-hunting for a Los Angeles bookstore selling books in French. A store with more titles than the measly selection in the big box bookstores. The magic mind of the Web told us to go to Skylight Bookstore on North Vermont Avenue in Los Feliz.
Well we found it eventually, but not before we got lost in a section of the city called “Wilshire Center” because it would be impolite to call it Shabbytown. Our mapless wandering up and down miserable streets was, happpily, of short duration. A friendly statue of a gesticulating bee [see above] seemed to tell us the direction in which to go. We obeyed. The bee did not lie: Reader, we found Skylight Bookstore.
The number of books in French that were on sale there filled four or five short shelves; indeed more than you’ll find in Barnes & Borders, but not nearly enough to justify the grueling car trip over the mountains. The rest of the books throughout the store, humbly standing on plywood planks, spoke of the “poisonous doctrines of Milton Friedman” and offered tips on planning your gay wedding. A shrine dedicated to Bukowski’s prose and poetry rose Mayanlike in tiers. The giant bee who had been so helpful back when we were driving in circles proved to be a homosexual Marxist alcoholic.
We meant only to check out an Asian grocery called Marukai Market in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo — we were in search of an pan – but by chance we arrived at the kick-off of Nisei Week, a festival of music, prizes, colors, crowds, shabu shabu, and whatever Japanese stuff you can think of. In the photo above you see tanabata decorations, marking the one time of year when the star-crossed lovers Hikoboshi (the star Altair) and Orihime (the star Vega) are ferried over the Milky Way to be together.
Yes, there were plenty of young Japanese girls dressed in semi-Harajuku fashion, but that’s not what you see in the picture above. These kids are posing as anime characters, we know not which. Hello Kitty was there, too, celebrating Sanrio’s 50th anniversary, but our photos of Hello didn’t turn out.
The deliciousness and variety of the food aromas drove us nigh unto madness. We opted for Korean BBQ in the spirit of diversity within diversity. Power Ranger episodes from the early 90s entertained us while we snarfed.
We dropped over a hundred at the wonderful Kinokuniya Bookstore without even trying; indeed, with much restraint. Then we toddled downstairs to the original goal of the journey, the Marukai grocery store, where we loaded up on Pocky and bean cakes. Then wearily home, with the siren song of geishas pleading with us to return, a temptation to which we will succumb before Hikoboshi and Orihime next cross the Milky Way.
The ritzy, hoity-toity stretch of Mulholland Drive that wiggles along the ridge between Bel Air and Sherman Oaks may have its Lenos and Sheens and even its David Lynch car crashes, but our humble little offshoot here on the wrong side of the mountain has charms all its own. For one thing, there is a couch on which you may sit absolutely free.
But if that sort of public display disgusts you, you are under no obligation to stay. Leave. Please. Just go. Continue west/northwest and hang a left onto the 101. Head westward until you reach the Moorpark exit where you will do just that, then motor north for half a mile and park at Mimi’s Cafe. Inside you will find mumbling waitresses, coffee poured into your tea, food better left to itself, and, there on the wall, a mural by none other than Syd Hoff (1912—2004) whom you may best remember as the author/illustrator of Danny and the Dinosaur.
Posted in Delights, L.A., Public Weal
Tagged Charlie Sheen, Couch, Danny and the Dinosaur, David Lynch, Jay Leno, Mimi's Cafe, Mulholland Drive, Sofa, Syd Hoff
In the Los Angeles Basin, a mainly pancakish bit of geography, there’s a gathering of big anomalous lumps known as the Baldwin Hills. Lots of oil pumps bob like drinking birds all over the 511 ft high protuberances. Fewer than in the past, though. As the oil companies move off to richer reservoirs, the land is being reclaimed by California State Parks. The northernmost prominence has been conveniently decked out with a viewing platform and Visitor Center.
Today we set out to conquer that peak and view things from that viewing platform. Conquerors before us had provided a nice winding footpath all the way to the summit, and also a steep set of Tolkienesque stone steps climbing straight up from Jefferson Street to the snazzy Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook at the top.
We hauled ourselves up the uneven steps with greater determination than ease.
Well, in truth, the younger NiceWork pranced skyward like a mountain goat while the older NiceWork gasped for ever-thinning oxygen and wondered with each pop of the knee whether it wasn’t the sound of the fatal aneurysm.
Undaunted by either the number of stairs or the size of some of them, we rose and rose in hard-won increments high above Los Angeles.
We climbed with a half a dozen pauses to draw in prodigious lungfuls of the brisk and cool Pacific breezes. Our ascent was rewarded with wonderful views of Marina Del Rey and Santa Monica buried under the marine layer to the west, and the Hollywood Hills carousing far to the north, and the downtown L.A. bundle of skyscrapers off to the northeast, but we can’t share any of it with you because the shutter on the NiceWork camera jammed for all the summit shots.
Rested and jubilant, we hopped back down from stair to stair like Jiminy Cricket, and we solemnly vowed to return one day when we could jog blithely to the top like the many athletes who passed us on the way up and on the way down even after they had stopped at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook to do, so help me, pushups.
CAR CRASH NEAR NICEWORK HQ—NO INJURIES
NiceWork News Bureau (Woodland Hills) Your never-sleeping reporter brings you the latest in L.A. street theater, this time performed not many yards from the the Comm Room from which NiceWork‘s worldwide operation emanates.
- Who: a couple of drivers. Guys. Distraught guys.
- What: an unplanned meeting of their vehicles, one an automobile the other a pickup.
- When: I dunno. Maybe a couple of hours ago.
- Where: right there, I tell you! Right there in front of the house!
LIKE A CANNON
In truth, your never-sleeping reporter was not actually in the Comm Room when the vehicles exchanged paint. He was returning from the hardware store with a bag of ant poison, 75 watt light bulbs, eyelet screws and a 75′ garden hose. But Miss NiceWork, our Junior Reporter, was on the scene and described the sound of the meeting as “like a cannon.”
The pickup appears to have been emerging from the alley that debouches from behind a Gelson’s Supermarket onto Mulholland Drive when it was knocked silly by a car zipping east over a hill traversed by the Drive. The car continued post-impact for a few hundred feet before coming to rest in the westbound lane with its airbags deployed and its driver yelling bloody murder.
After all the police stuff and whatnot, the badly injured car was hoisted aboard a truck and carted away to oblivion.
Today we left L.A. behind and drove 71 miles up Highway 101 with a single purpose: to see a famous old mission founded by the Franciscans back in 1786. Old Mission Santa Barbara is still a going concern. Monks study there, retreatants are put up, Mass is said in the church, and the grounds are maintained and art restored for tourists like us.
Our first stop on the self-guided tour of the monastery was the famous STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN. We ached to climb those timeworn stairs, but we hung back, daunted by the legend according to which those with stained souls would only find cactuses on every step. Somewhat shamefacedly we gave the Stairway the go-by and headed for the centuries old GRAVEYARD.
There, too, we met resistance. The SKULL-HAID DOOR challenges all comers with three riddles, one from each skull-haid. Answer correctly and you may pass safely through the portal. Answer wrong and you may still pass, but the skull-haids smirk and make you feel uncomfortable.
On the way out, as we wrapped up our self-guided tour and a visit to the (excellent) Gift Shop, we met BROTHER CAT who blessed us and let us rub his belly.