Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Los Angeles Santa Monica Hollywood... Trail Tramps Go West

At the end of May, we went to Los Angeles to attend a very special wedding...
While we were there, we snooped around Santa Monica, where we were staying, Venice Beach, and Hollywood. We visited the Griffith Park Observatory in Los Feliz, and The Getty Center in the Santa Monica Mountains (to be featured in a future post).
(Interactive Google map of Los Angeles here)

Our hotel room at the Sheraton Delfina at Santa Monica faced the Pacific Ocean. The palm trees, the low, multicolored buildings, the balconies reminded us of a middle-eastern seaside town.

Before the wedding on Sunday, Memorial Day, we hiked around Santa Monica, heading west from the hotel toward the ocean.

On the way, we stopped at the Third Street Promenade and found Barneys, a motor cycle bar/beer joint/restaurant that served great pancakes, (but not as good as at Jinky's on Second Street, which we discovered the following day).

After a four-pancake breakfast, we worked our way over to Ocean Avenue. The way the beautiful boulevard rose above the beach below brought Rio to mind, except for the absence of throngs in thongs.

We thought this might have been a banyan tree, but ... ?.

As we walked south, the famous Santa Monica Pier came into view.

Straight down to our right was Palisades Beach Road, the beginning of The Pacific Coast Highway leading north to San Francisco. It wouldn't be bad to live on the beach like that. These puny, ocean front houses couldn't cost very much, right?

If we had our hiking poles, would this have been a good way down?

After crossing the bridge to the Santa Monica Pier, we came upon this sobering tribute to our fallen troops in Iraq.
By the time we reached the rides and souvenir stands, we had to race back to the hotel and dress for the wedding. We did manage to clock 4 miles on the old pedometer!

Another morning's venture was a drive to Venice Beach, home of the great canals, and of the Great Lebowski. We hear his bungalow is on Venezia Boulevard.

On Ocean Walk, you can get a Kobi dog, a funky tee shirt or a henna tattoo.

What a sassy Tinkerbell. And it's only $15 bucks.

Surf's up at Venice Beach. Too bad we forgot our wetsuits.

Had to settle for feet in the ocean. After all, we're hiker-dudes, not surfer dudes.

Paddle tennis, in-line skaters, surfers and iron men at Muscle Beach are all part of the scene.
.... Arrivederci, Venice.

Hello to Hollywood. They put the red carpet out for us at Grauman's Chinese.
Is that Marilyn Monroe standing among the stars?

There are plenty of stars to be seen here at the Griffith Park Observatory in Los Feliz atop Mount Hollywood.
BTW, these steps of the Observatory were the scene of a knife fight between James Dean and gang leader, Buzz, in the movie, Rebel without a Cause. We missed the James Dean Memorial bust, but you can check it out here.

This monument depicts early astronomers and other scientists, such as Galileo, Newton, Kepler and Copernicus. The sun dial at the base proved to be pretty accurate -- once we figured out how to read it.

Adjacent to the Observatory is this hiking trail which leads to the top of Mount Hollywood. Some pretty sturdy fellows looked quite tuckered out after making the climb. They explained that there were several trails to choose from depending on how challenging an ascent you wanted.

Here's one way to get relief after the heat of the climb.

Even without taking the hike, you can make out the Hollywood sign through the smog.

The Main Attraction: Kim and Craig's Wedding

We wish the newly weds a long life of happiness and good health. Incidentally, they promised to take us on a hike if we come out again.

Why we might go west again:

Top Ten Reasons:
  1. The Labrea Tar Pits
  2. The Bronson Caves
  3. The Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage
  4. Universal Studios
  5. Sunset Strip
  6. The Hollywood Wax Museum
  7. The Museum of Tolerance
  8. Melrose
  9. LACMA West
  10. Getty Villa