Secret Stair Walk #2: Eagle Rock

It’s about time I shared a secret stair walk with you! You know the spiel, it’s my goal to do all 42 walks from Charles Fleming’s Secret Stairs book in 2012, and you should buy the book and do it with me!

Now back to business… after making a much needed trek to the Container Store in Pasadena (which is so organized it’ll blow your mind), I needed a break from all my home organizing and decided to stop in Eagle Rock on my way home. This walk begins along Colorado Blvd. I’m not gonna lie.. it was a tad sketchy and Im pretty sure I saw a drug deal. But hey, if I wanted to play it safe I would be sitting at home right? Nope, not me. I was keepin’ it real.

One of the things I think about on these walks are all of my senses. This was a walk that began with a bad smell and after 30 minutes I was up in the hills with the aroma of flowers. Such a range of scents.

This dog was so photogenic, he deserved to make the blog. He also has a similar albino coloring (light nose) to my childhood dog Beeche (a bichon frise).

Higher into the hills I went. The homes were so charming. High, way-off in the distance is the rumble of the 134. You can see it following the edge of the mountain side from almost every point on this walk.

This neighborhood, while similar to other hilly LA area walks, had an indefinable quality to it. Most of the homes had pets. Many people were home and I could see the elderly home owners and hear their blaring tvs. I could also tell by the packed yards of many of the homes, hoarding is a problem in this neighborhood. I also came across a house with tons of hummingbird feeders, and the birds zooming in and out. It was really special. This neighborhood felt very real compared to some of the other walks I’ve done.

There’s a creativeness in this neighborhood and I saw many cars proudly displaying “I heart Eagle Rock” bumper stickers. I didn’t include photos of this (because I didn’t want to be creepy) but when I walked by a school yard with a group of ten year old boys, one of them yelled out “You’re awfully pretty… don’t worry, it’s the good kind of awful.” It made me smile.

Up hills and down hills. More and more stairs. I must say, for a walk that got off to a little bit of a rough start, where I could tell I was being watched, this walk turned out to be excellent. I love when that happens. When a neighborhood walk begins stereotypically to its rep, and by the end I feel right at home.

I was heading back toward the start of the walk, when a gentleman passed me and said, “I love when I see a person with that secret stair book”. We got to talking, as he knows Charles Fleming (the author of the walk book) and he gave me his card. This was Bob Inman, the author of another secret stair book: A Guide To The Public Stairs of Los Angeles. He was very nice and mentioned how he works with Dan Koeppel to organize the Parade of Stairs walks that take place throughout the year. If you are interested in doing group stair walks with great guides and other LA walkers, friend The Big Parade Los Angeles¬†on facebook. They have their giant walk coming up, which unfortunately I will be in Hawaii for but thankfully they do training walks all the time. I can’t wait to join in the fun. It feels serendipitous that I met Bob Inman.. of all the possible walks and what are the odds that he is there as I walk by. This is also the 10th walk where someone talks to me who knows Charles. I must meet him.

Just after I talked to Bob I passed a rooster coup! This town is so full of surprises.

Of course I had to share with you at least one close up of the awesome graphics and textures along Colorado Blvd in Eagle Rock. Another very successful walk and a great dose of vitamin d.

Secret Stair Walk #32: Fern Dell + Immaculate Heart

Last weekend I also did stair walk #32 from my book, Secret Stairs by Charles Fleming. This walk begins across from Trails Cafe in Griffith Park. This time I didn’t stop in because of the long line, but I’ve been here before and it is unbelievable. I’ve had their avacado sandwich before which was so tasty I still think about it and salivate. I found this photo on their Yelp page:

This photo I took on my walk:

After I forced myself not to stop in at Trails, I continued on along a Disney looking walkway that lead me out of Griffith Park. Even the handrails were made to look like logs. So clever and cute.

It was like something out of the Jungle Kingdom at Disney World.

Eventually I made my way completely out of the park and down to the busy road of Franklin. It went from peaceful to car horn stressful in a matter of minutes.

But before I knew it I was back up into the hills on some hidden stairs. It was quiet once again and the views were great.

A long set of secret stairs put me out on a street with this castle/fortress looking down on me. The book says Nicholas Cage used to live here and that doesn’t surprise me.

At this point I was high up in “The Oaks” neighborhood (Brangelina lives somewhere here). Can you find the secret mailbox along the secret stair walk?

Such a gorgeous day! Perfect for observing the Observatory.

Rich people and their imported beautiful flowers:

It was when I was across from this house, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son, that I ran into a couple also scouring for secret stairs too. I love when I meet fellow stair walkers.

Secret Stair Walk #29: Griffith Park Loop

This weeks posts are going to be a tad out of order, but on Sunday the weather was unbelievable. If you weren’t out enjoying it then shame on you. It was perfect stair walking weather, so I got up early and decided to explore Los Feliz/ Griffith Park via secret stairs. I did walk #29 in Charles Fleming’s Secret Stair Book. Buy the book! It’s good cheap fun. And so many people along this walk stopped me to say “I live in the neighborhood and I love that book!”. One lady even stopped driving to tell me about some other local secret stairs.

This walk began in Griffith Park along Vermont. It began by exiting Griffith and taking you through the local neighborhoods.

These were also fancy staircases with flowers and built in seating. If you blocked out the trash littered around it was quite ritzy. I must say that people in the neighborhood were really nice and friendly, offering directions and being fully supportive of the stair walks.

Prefect walking weather.


Since Saturday was overcast and rainy, it meant the sky was crystal clear of pollution on Sunday. The views were stunning. I don’t know how people live along these hills and don’t just want to sit there looking out all day.

This house wins for coolest mailbox along the walk, hands down!

See that Mayan temple looking home across the way? That’s a Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House. They used this home in Blade Runner. It’s hard to miss along the hillside. This walk leads you over to this temple.

I took this photo of the Ennis House garage gates. This home is extremely expensive and has changed hands several times. It was being preserved by a historical society, but with budget cuts and the staggering cost to repair this temple, it was sold to a private owner who is undergoing millions of dollars of repairs. If you live in LA you need to check it out. It’s a free lesson in art history.

I continued through this fancy neighborhood with the glimmer of the Griffith Observatory in the distance.

The walk continues to take you out of the neighborhoods and on to a dirt trail and eventually you’re up at the observatory. This was a long stair walk and probably my favorite thus far. From the Observatory (it’s free and you have to visit it at least once if you live in LA) I headed down the road, past the Roger Rabbit tunnel, onto the flat green where groups were picnicking. I ended this walk at my car parked in front of the Greek Theater. Success!

Tonight I’ll be seeing Comedy Bang Bang at UCB (yup, I got the hardest to get tickets in town) and have a full report for you.

Secret Stair Walk #31: Franklin Hills West

Did you enjoy my last Secret Stair walk through the Franklin Hills? Well once I finished walk #30 (from the Secret Stair’s book by Charles Fleming) I continued on to walk #31 through the western half of the hills.

The sun was out and the weather was perfect for a stair walk. This walk had some overlapping staircases from my morning walk, but coming from a different direction made them all look different.

More people commented on seeing me with Charles Flemings book. I love when people recognize it! Stair walkers unite!

At one point the walk took me over the Shakespeare Bridge (photo below) and also passed the home featured in I Love You, Man. Now I want to re-watch the film.

The walk loops up with the home of the operatic singer who was still rehearsing. It was lovely to stumble upon that house once more. Lovely music in a castle-like home.

That completes my Saturday stair walks and I look forward to more this weekend. Get the book, do the walks!

Secret Stair Walk #30: Franklin Hills Lyric Loop

If you can’t already tell from my teaser, I made the Franklin Hills my bitch this weekend. Yup, I said it. My Saturday morning/early afternoon was spent doing two Franklin Hills walks from my book, Secret Stairs by Charles Fleming. During the two walks a few people saw my book and loudly said “You’re doing walks from Charles’ book!”. He must be a local. One of these people had two cute puppies named Goliath and Caesar. So cute. Any who, back to the walk.

I starting the walk around 10am (?) on Saturday. It was early enough that the morning clouds hadn’t lifted yet (note the gray photos at the start of the walk) but late enough that people were waking up and making breakfast. It’s funny how certain smells and sounds are associated with breakfast. It was fun seeing people start their day. Did I just admit to breakfast lurking? Never.

There were hidden gardens along this walk. It was a good workout, had great views and was a fun cheap way to be outside. I did a lot of people watching. Not just people starting their day, but as the sun came out everything became more colorful, and people aired out their homes opening windows, loudly playing music, and doing yard work.

“GRRRRR! I GUARD THE STAIRS!” says the toy transformer at the top of the steps.

You will see dolphins if you do this walk in the Franklin Hills. Fact.

Notice the NYC plates on the I heart NY Ice Cream Truck.

The below photo is of a gorgeous castle-esque home. When I turned the corner to see this home, I was greeted with the sound of an Operatic rehearsal. It was unbelievable. At first I thought someone was playing a cd with the windows open, but as I got closer I could tell the piano was being played in person and that Operatic singing was coming from a woman standing by the big window. It was really special to stumble upon.

SO many stairs! Such a great workout and view. I was huffing and puffing for sure.

Once I was out of the hills and back on Hyperion Ave, it went from the quiet sounds of neighborhood living to the rushing noise of the main drag.

I decided to caffeine-up after the intense stair walk, so I stopped at the Lyric Hyperion Theatre & Cafe along the walk. It was a cute place with yummy looking croissants, but I’m watching my wallet and my weight, so I opted for just the iced coffee. The couple (?) who was working behind the counter saw my book and were very supportive of my walking goals. They actually sell Charles’ book in the cafe. Attached to the cafe is a cute little theatre. I’ll have to subscribe to their email list and see a show there. I’ll keep you posted.

After a refreshing break, I went back on my way to start another walk. Check back soon to read about the next one!

A Sunday Teaser

Since I was so lacking this past week, I’m going to give you a little Sunday teaser of things to come this week. Did you all get out and enjoy the 80 degree gorgeousness that was Saturday? You can bet I got some Secret Stair Walks in! Where did I walk? You’ll have to check back this week for posts. Here are two hints:

I didn’t end up getting to go to the Pancake and Booze Art event, but I already went last year and decided to try something new. I celebrated a friends birthday at a new bar in NoHo.. can you guess it? Well check back this week to find out where I went. Here’s a hint:

Today I have a busy Sunday, despite the rain. I’ve decided to push my visit to the Japanese American Museum and the Eagle Rock Brewery tour to a different weekend (although you should check both of those places out), I’ve decided to go see my friends performance in the LA Gay Men’s Choir. I’ve seen them rehearse their Christmas show and they were amazing. I’m excited for this and will come back with a full report.

I’ve also started reading a new book in my free time, Michael Gross’s Unreal Estate. When I tell people I’m reading a real estate book, they think I’m memorizing MLS numbers. Not so much. This book is all about the underbelly and real history of some of the most exclusive properties in the world. I’m 30 pages in (it’s dense reading, so it’s slow reading for moi) and I love it.

Secret Stair Walk #1: La Loma Road

I have to say a big thank you to Hidden LA for reposting my last Secret Stair Walk. People posted some really nice comments, and I thank you for your support and interest in the blog. Now it’s time to get down to business… Secret Stair Walk #1: La Loma Road (Pasadena), from my 2012 walk book Secret Stairs.

I must preface this post with my usual spiel. I’m intentionally vague on the details because I encourage you to buy the book and do the walks yourself, but that won’t stop me from posting my findings. I went on a cloudy day (rare for LA), which means most of my photos are very gray. It was a bummer, but the walk was still a good time. This walk is especially residential and very peaceful. Instead of the usual LA sounds (horns and sirens) I could hear birds singing and neighbors out washing cars and doing yard work. The people I passed on this walk were very friendly and there were some lovely homes tucked away in the hills.

This walk was only 2.7 miles and had close to 1000 stairs. The step count is misleading, because while there were many sets of stairs, there were also a lot of steep roads.

I can’t tell if my photos sell the steepness, but this walk was definitely a workout as I was panting after 5 minutes into it.

Thankfully, for every steep hill is a staircase down. Don’t you love the home in the photo above. Brown, turquoise, and the glow of the paper lanterns make this nestled hillside bungalow adorable.

Such cute quiet streets and picket fences.

This house wins the cutest mailbox award.

It was along this passage of stairs that you could look through a gap in the fence and see a private putting area that someone installed on their back patio. I didn’t want to invade their privacy so I did not take any photos of it, but if you do the walk you’ll get to see a glimpse of it.

Climb, climb, climb.

I shall end this walk with the photo above, taken while I was going down a set of stairs near the end of the walk. Artsy-fartsy, I know, but it was a beautiful walk despite they gray skies.

Stair Walk #28: LA River Loop

Last Sunday I did walk #28 from my Secret Stair book. I’m not going to go into too much detail, as I want you to buy the book and do the walk, but I will share my (zillion) photos and tidbits from the walk.

The walk begins along Los Feliz in Atwater Village. And as I found out, only while I was waiting for my friend Michelle to join me, this walk is not for people to do alone and not for hobo-phobes. It’s easy to never see this part of LA along the LA River, since the only access is through walking paths or bridges therfore it’s private enough for people to move into. Thankfully, Michelle still agreed to do the walk with me even after I read her the disclaimer in the book.

The weather was a little chilly, but when the sun peaked out occasionally, it was perfect.

In parts of the LA River it’s nonexistent, but in others it is a a thriving source of life.

Birds play in it. People bathe in it (I didn’t take pictures of that). You can see trees growing in the middle of it. It’s like the waste and muck formed a solid and have enough nutrients to grow life. It’s really odd.

The walk leads you back into cute neighborhoods, which is a sharp contrast to the homes amongst the bushes and pathways that we just walked past.

This walk didn’t have a ton of stairs (only 115 steps total) and yet it was a 3 mile loop. We did cross over and under bridges.

We walked on paths that I’m positive joggers wouldn’t go to.

Here’s another secret stair looping us to the east side of the LA River.

We passed a sports complex filled with people playing tennis and soccer.

We walked back across the highway eventually lead up with an earlier portion of our walk.

It was getting late in the day and we almost finished our walk when I got these last two shots in.

Walking L.A. by Erin Mahoney Harris

Did everyone have an amazing weekend? How beautiful was LA’s weather?! It’s so hard to believe it’s January. You all better have been out enjoying it.

I must announce that Erin Mahoney Harris (writer of Walking L.A.) liked Life Absorbed on facebook today. This is huge for me, as friends of mine could tell you that this book has been my bible for the last 12 months. For new readers to the blog I must explain that in 2011 I came up with a list of new year resolutions with my number one goal of completing all 38 walks from her book. I completed them all and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. It got me to explore LA, it helped me lose weight, it reconnected me with old friends and helped me start new friendships, and it changed how I live my life. I know you’re probably thinking Im giving too much credit to a book, but by setting that as my goal it really got me through a rough time by keeping me focused. It opened my eyes to how I was living my life and made 2011 my best year. So Erin Mahoney Harris, I thank you for making 2011 awesome. For those of you who don’t own this book, buy it (HERE). And if you are interested in following my 2012 goal, purchase Secret Stairs by Charles Fleming (who was inspired by Erin’s book) and L.A. Bizarro by Anthony Lovett and Matt Maranian. While I doubt I’ll visit every place in the L.A. Bizarro book by the end of 2012, I do hope to finish all 42 walks from Secret Stairs by the end of the year.

Teaser for upcoming posts this week: I went ROCK CLIMBING! A spooky girls night up in the Hollywood Hills! Exploring Beechwood Canyon (Secret Stairs #34)! And this Thursday I will try trampoline dodgeball!