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!

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Bar Hopping in Hollywood

I must preface this post by saying that while I have lived in LA for 2.5 years, I have never really experienced Hollywood on a Saturday night. I come to Hollywood every day for work, I have gone out at 8pm on a Friday night for drinks after work, and even went to one Saturday night birthday at a bar, but I never truly experienced what Hollywood on a Saturday night is really about. There were tour busses in front of restaurants/ night clubs. The smell of daddy issues was thick in the air, as girls in headband-sized dresses and GaGa-heels waited on street corners. It was definitely a new experience for me, and as a blog keeper I must share it with you.

We started by finding street parking, which was not easy at 11p on a Saturday. We ended up parking along Carlos Ave between Bronson and Gower. I recommend this area if you carpooled and don’t want to pay for a lot. It’s a little bit of a walk to get to the heart of Hollywood and it’s not the safest to walk alone.

We began our night at the Frolic Room (which is in my L.A. Bizarro book). The bouncer knew some patrons by sight, so I’m guessing this dive bar is the type that locals frequent. The crowd had a few rough characters and the rest were your classic 20-something year old hipsters and “normies” (aka normal average people).

From this picture it’s hard to tell but the place was packed. It also had surprisingly clean bathrooms for a dive bar. I should mention that this bar hopping event happened because my good friend Karen is leaving LA. She has a few weeks left and put together an itinerary of things she needs to do in LA before she leaves. Youll learn more about this events since I signed up for several and will be blogging about them. This night crossed off “bar hop in Hollywood” from her list. Can I just say that making a city bucket list shouldn’t just be reserved for people moving out of town. I wish my friends all made lists like Karen’s because then we would all constantly doing fun things. Preaching over, but seriously, make a bucket list and invite me along.

After leaving the Frolic Room. On to the next!

After leaving the Frolic Room we continued on our journey but the places we passed were so packed, that finding a bar to accommodate our group of 6 was tricky. Once we ended up in front of the packed Piano Bar, we backtracked to Stout which we could tell wasn’t packed. We got a booth perfect for 5 (we lost one). I had the Mint Chocolate Bootleggers stout.

My sister and I split their amazing bread pudding. I’m not a bread pudding person, it’s just not for me. This bread pudding was unreal. It had chocolate chips and butterscotch chips. It was still warm from being freshly made for us and had a scoop of vanilla ice cream on it. It was perfect for 2 people and even had some to share with the group. Once this finished out our night around 2p, we headed back to our cars as the clubs were letting out. So many stupid people on the streets.

I’m so glad I participated in Saturdays festivities and I got to experience a side of LA I hadn’t before. Now I can also cross that off my city-bucket list.

The Canby + Cadillac Building + Canoga Park Bowl

After our 94th Areo Squadron meal, we headed over to the Japanese Garden in Van Nuys (Lake Balboa area) but as it was a holiday, the gardens were closed. So we moved along to the next thing from our LA Bizarro book, the “Cadillac building” on Ventura and Corbin in the valley. And according to THIS Craiglist ad, the retail space is available to rent, so you could call this building your home!

I feel like you could walk past the building and not think anything of it, but now that I know it’s a cadillac, that’s all I can see when I look at it.

After the Cadillac building we hit up one of the many dive bars in the book, The Canby. I know what you’re thinking, 2:30p is a tad early to be in a dive bar on a Monday but keep in mind our other activity was closed for the holiday and that left us no choice. We were there with some hardcore dive bar attenders, and we were clearly being eyed as we were the only 2 females and the only people under 45 in the bar. The bar had a few pool tables, a jukebox, and a microwave (why?) in addition to your standard bar and a few tv’s with sports shows on. When we had our fill of The Canby, we moved on to another venue: Canoga Park Bowl.

Ill admit, this bowling alley is in the book for its dive bar but Amber and I decided to bowl 2 games. With my personal goal set at 70 for each game, I got 88 the first game and I broke 100 the second game (I’m patting myself on my back as we speak). I had to ask the attendant what ball he would have a morbidly obese child use, as all the light balls had tiny finger holes, but he didn’t have any “specialty balls” (his words). So I stuck it out with my heavy ball, and my arms are still paying for it.

Once the clock struck 5pm, the bar opened in the alley and Amber and I made our way over. This bar had a circular lower level with amps set-up and as the bartender explained, this is were bands play and they have karaoke nights. As far as bowling alley bars go, this was pretty large and elaborate.

At around 6:30, Amber and I called it a day and headed out. We crossed some dive bars off the list, as well as a delicious restaurant, visited a car shaped building and bowled a couple games. I would call that a successful Monday.

The 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant

I decided to spend my Monday off with Amber knocking out some places from my L.A. Bizarro book. I shall divide it into 2 posts because The 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant deserves it’s own post.

Amber drove us out to the Van Nuys airport, where this adorable cottage (see above) was hidden amongst a sea of factory warehouse buildings. The building sits along a runway which means everyone gets a great view. It reminded me of the show Wings.

Inside was decorated with pilot memorabilia, but not in a “Planet Hollywood” way. It was a really fun fancy-ish (table linens) yet casual and reasonably priced place to relax with some lunch.

We, like many others in the place, had a window seat over looking the outdoor patio which was along the runway. We were able to see plans coming and going from our seats. They even had a fountain with ducks on the patio.

I ordered the fish and chips with a side salad and I was delighted with my choice. The salad was crisp and the fish and chips were fried in a delicious batter (which I’m quite fussy about normally).

There was a table reserved for they many pilots that frequent this joint.

You can see from the photo above that they had fire places lit. It was a really charming place, yummy food, calming atmosphere, and all for a good price. I’d happily go back.

Did I mention they have a plane stationed on their lawn? Pretty cool if you ask me.

2012 Resolutions

As you probably can tell, my 2011 was unbelievable. The key thing that helped push me to ┬ádo new things in 2011 was my GIANT resolutions list. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like a huge bucket list filled with unobtainable goals. Some goals were small like “buy hiking boots”, “cook more”, and “stay positive!”. Some goals were larger like “run a 5k” and “complete 38 LA walks”. And one was huge, “conquer fear of heights”. I think its important when making a list of goals to have some easy and some hard, because boy does it feel good to cross things off the list. I also like to pull out the list at the start of every month, to help me pace out what I’ve done and what still needs to happen. Don’t save it all until December! And the point of the list isn’t to have a painful year doing really hard things, it’s about trying new things and making 2012 memorable.

Life Absorbed’s 2012 Resolution List

– Complete all 42 walks in “Secret Stairs, A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of LA”

– Go rock climbing!

– Do at least one “monster” walk in 2012. Use my new “Car-Free LA” book to find a good really long walk and make a day of it.

– Resume hikes from my hiking book! Give those new hike boots a work out.

– Go camping!

– Hike (or ski) Mt. Baldy.

– Go back to Catalina!

– Keep filling my nights and weekends with fun activities, even if it means being tired the next day. It’s worth it!

– Visit Hearst Castle.

– Go cross-country skiing for the first time.

– Go white-water rafting.

– Go kayaking.

– Try yoga.

– Try spinning.

– Make new recipes to last during the week.

– Go to Chicago to visit my good friends and see a new city.

– Keep up my nightly walks. An hour a day does so much.

– Try new bars, restaurants and museums from my “L.A. Bizarro” book. (As Amber pointed out to me, we don’t have to see any of the porn-esque stuff and that is agreed).

– If someone says, “try this hike with me” or “lets do this sport” or any other physical activity, say yes!

– “Grow a Pair!” In 2012 I need to face the little fears. I successfully faced giant fears in 2011, so this should be easy right?

– As a part of “Growing A Pair”, I’m going to go on dates in 2011. It’s something Ive been putting off because I hate doing it, but why not? If it’s the worst, then oh well. If it’s great then maybe I get a new friend out of the deal. I’ve jumped out of a plane, I think I can handle a silly little date. So send your single, outdoorsy, male friends my way.

– And of course I will work hard to maintain you, Life Absorbed. I wish I had started you last Jan. 1st, so now I must make up for lost time.

Here is my new list! It’s a lot shorter than last years, but I think this list will prove to be more challenging (and more expensive). I need to take a moment to thank all of my friends for helping me complete last years resolution list. It really is a group effort. My friends were so great about joining me for activities that I was nervous about. They got me off my butt when I felt myself getting lazy. Their encouragement really pushed me to follow through with my goals. I hope you are all as lucky to have amazing supportive people in your lives. I dedicate my 2012 list of goals to them, and cheers to 2012! We are going to have a blast!

 

Skydiving!

I need to share my photo stills from when I went skydiving this year. 2011 has been a doozy. Skydiving, surfing, backpack camping, parasailing, car camping, tons of hikes, kayaking multiple times, running in 2 races, walking from Silver Lake to the Pacific Ocean and becoming a regular at my favorite local bar. Yup, 2011 has been unbelievable. This year was 100% made possible by the great friends in my life. It’s been the best and most productive year for me since 1986. It’s got me thinking about my goals for 2012, and already I see rock climbing, cross country skiing, another Catalina hiking adventure, at least one National Park, a Chicago trip, a lot of camping weekend, and more HIKES! I also got my 2012 goal book, aka L.A. Bizarro by Anthony Lovett and Matt Maranian. You should get it too, and we can do more odd-ball LA activities together! 2011 was so great that I’m really excited about making the most of 2012. No regrets when you’re living life to the fullest.