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.

LA Walk #35 USC and Exposition Park

After I finished my UCLA walk last weekend, it felt only fitting to follow it up with the USC walk (from THIS book). Amber and I found ourselves begining the walk with grumbling stomaches, so we crossed Figueroa Street and sat ourselves in an awesome restaurant/bar/pub the The Lab Gastropub. This place was extremely unexpected. They had long tables (which had chalkboard tops) which different groups of people would share. They had four Lab brews (see the sampler below). There were football games going and wifi. If I went to USC I would spend all my time here. I also had a delicious falafel burger with sweet potato fries (yummm).

After we had our fill, we began the walk across the street at Child’s Way on the USC campus. This campus was almost as quiet at UCLA. It was a lovely day, so we took our time exploring the campus.

The walk takes you to Heritage Hall where USC keeps all their Heisman trophies and various awards. The building was locked up, but we could see the trophies through the windows. Amber is a big football fan, so it felt appropriate to get her best Heisman impersonation.

After exploring more of USC, the walk takes you across the street where you get to play under an old United Airlines jet, which is part of the Aerospace Museum. This day their was an event outside the California Africian American Museum. Unfortunately, it was around this point when my camera started acting a little crazy… which was a tad distracting considering I had a lot more less to see on the walk.

While I tried not to think about my camera acting weirder and weirder, I was still able to get a couple good shots in before it really crapped out. Amber and I decided to visit the Natural History Museum and see the new dinosaur wing they’ve been advertising around town. This place was awesome. I highly recommend visiting. They also accept a KCRW discount.

The museum featured a section of the museum dedicated to birds, Africa, The America’s, geology/gems, whales, the marshlands, etc etc… so much to see.

It started getting late and the museum was about to close, so we continued on with our walk (USC isn’t much fun walking around in the dark). The walk takes you by the Coliseum and then to the California Science Center. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop in, but it is free and I will 100% be going back. They also added a metro line that goes right to USC, so it’s easier than ever to get there.

We continued the walk, stepping under an A-12 Blackbird spy craft built in the 1960’s which is connected with the Coliseum parking garage. From there we finished the walk by heading back to the car. Overall, I have to admit USC had a really beautiful campus, but UCLA really takes the cake. But USC definitely wins the museum category.

I’ll leave you with this last image from the Science Museum. It makes me smile.

LA Walk #6 UCLA

As a reward for your patience with my lack of posts this week, I put up info about an awesome event at the bottom of this post. NO SKIPPING AHEAD (Okay, you can skip ahead if you want).

As I am narrowing in on victory (1 more walk left!), I must recap my goal: to complete all 38 LA Walks from THIS book, in 2011. Michelle joined me for my UCLA walk which took place on Saturday around 3:30pm. Keep in mind, it’s their finals time and it is a commuter school, because the place was a ghost town. We began by parking in a lot on campus near the start of the walk. It cost us $6 for two hours, and be sure to pay for parking because even though it was crazy quiet on campus the UCLA police are always looking for a chance to ticket (plus all the hoity-toity neighborhoods nearby require permits to park).

Michelle and I started our walk in the sculpture garden which is more than 5 acres and filled with sculptures by Alexander Calder, Henri Matisse, Jacques Lipchitz, and Auguste Rodin. It’s such a tranquil place to come relax and read on the grass in the garden surrounded by art. We did this walk in the late afternoon, which made for great lighting and also a totally different experience from all the walks we’ve done so far (which took place at noon).

We got a little off course while in the sculpture garden because we saw so many buildings worth investigating that weren’t on the path outlined in the book, but I guess that’s the fun of it. We took a look at their art building and some well designed residence halls.

I must give credit where it is due, UCLA is kept extraordinarily clean and pristine. The lawns are all well manicured, there was no trash, and all of the buildings are either old and well kept or modern and state-of-the-art. Honestly walking that campus made me think about going back to school again. Spending 3 years on that campus wouldn’t be so bad.

I mean, don’t these buildings make studying seem glamourous instead of exhausting?

We walked through Bruin Plaza and got to take pictures with their bruin mascot (a statue). The only thing we arrived too late for was a walk through their botanical gardens. We just missed our chance to walk the gardens, but we were able to see in past the gates. The garden is 7 acres and sinks below the street level, which acts as a dividing line showcasing the contrast between the modern School of Denistry building and the lush wildlife of the gardens. Someday Ill be back there and I will bring a book, as it seems like a great haven to sit and relax after a long day in the science labs.

As the photos got darker and darker, we completed our walk and headed back to the car (so as not to go over our 2 hour parking limit). UCLA, you were a marvelous, photogenic walk and I would happily go back to see more.

P.S. Get tickets to Sarah Silverman @ Largo on Dec. 15th HERE, and you’ll get to see Don’t Stop Or We’ll Die (they are good musicians and hilarious). Follow the guys on twitter: twittels, paulrust, michaelcassady

LA Walk #3 Southeast Santa Monica: Mixing Buisness with Pleasure

As I continue with my 2011 goal (doing all 38 walks from THIS book), my travels lead me to southeast Santa Monica. This walk begins on 26th Ave and Olympic in Santa Monica surrounded by many corporate headquarters. Since I did this walk on the Sunday of a holiday weekend it was completely vacant. Even the Starbucks was empty, so I recommend doing this walk midweek if you can, to get the full effect of this neighborhood. I did the walk a little out of order and began with the Water Garden Complex. This is a series of buildings surrounding a waterway that has several bridges, walkways and fountains built into the landscape. I can just imagine the high-stress corporate jobs that people have in these buildings and how on their lunch break they can escape by eating their lunch looking over the tranquil waters. IT’s really quite lovely and made for some fun photos.  The companies in this complex and neighborhood are Yahoo! and Universal.. many smaller companies owned by large corporations. Having them all so close together is really something and makes the whole walk feel very branded. Normally this central courtyard would be a great place to get lunch, unfortunately with the holiday everything in the neighborhood was closed. The only signs of life were the many bicyclists on their Sunday ride along Colorado Ave. I continued along the walk, passing the Playboy Studio and many other production company/ studio spaces. At the corner of Broadway and 20th, I decided to stay on my side of the street and continue south on 20th. Moments after making this decision and turning my back I heard a loud crash and saw a rough car accident take place. I didn’t stick around because I knew there was nothing I could do and clearly people with medical experience were running to their aid. It was upsetting, but even more upsetting that in the 33 walks Ive completed I’ve seen and been very close to two major accidents. I don’t mean to get preachy, but pay attention and be safe while you’re driving. As far as I could tell everyone lived in both accidents, but both were caused by driver error. Although I was shaken, I continued on with my walk.

I passed maybe 30 record companies along the walk, so if you are looking to croon your way to the top, come sing on these street corners. 

As I did these walks out of order, this means I ended with Bergamot Station, which I actually first walked by without noticing it. Because it was a holiday, all but 1 of the galleries/artist spaces in this complex were closed. This complex is behind a tall barbed-wire fence and seems like it’s design is almost in protest to the monstrous Water Garden Complex. It’s modern hip sprawling buildings indicate fun art i happening here. They strung little lights above the courtyard spaces, which would make for a fun art gallery opening. I will keep you posted on up coming events in this space, because Im dying to go back and see the crowd that would attend these artistic events.