Secret Stair Walk #33: Bronson Canyon Loop

I know it’s been a while since I did a secret stair walk, but there are more a’coming! Here’s all the info on what that is and why I do it:

In 2012 I have to do all 42 walks from my book, “Secret Stairs, A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of LA” by Charles Flemming. These posts are to (hopefully) convince you to buy the book and get out there to explore the secret stairs around LA. Enjoy!

This loop was a lot of fun. I parked where I often park when I go to the UCB Theater in Franklin Village, on a side street by Gelsons. Usually there aren’t any restrictions other than street cleaning, so this is a good area to start.

The sky was so blue, it was a perfect stair walking day! This walk was also particularly colorful!

The house above had a front yard landscaped with blue glass and pottery.

I love the childlike quality of this graffiti.

This walk provides glimpses to some beautiful homes. Can you imagine coming home to this house every day? The closest I’ll ever be to royalty is taking this photo, which features a crest above the door.

More stairs, lots of stairs! It’s a good workout!

I almost died taking the above photo (a quite car came fast around the bend in the road), so I’m glad it came out pretty cool.

Doggie door?

Such an artsy neighborhood, which makes for a fun stair walk. Heads?!!

More heads!

Some of these stairs were fancy with their curves. I throughly enjoyed this walk. You can tell it’s a fun neighborhood. Check out Bronson Canyon!

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.

Monday Teaser

Before I tease you with all the awesome blog posts I have coming up this week, I must tell you about my Friday night dinner at Katsu-ya. It was amazing. They definitely do completely unique things with sushi that make it all worth the cost.

Remember THIS NIGHTMARE? Well, as I vowed, we didn’t attend the Studio City Katsuya and instead drove the extra distance to the Encino sister restaurant. It was larger than the Studio City location and cheaper than the giant Glendale Katsuya. We made the right choice. We had reservations an only waited a little while when we got there. This branch actually had a waiting area (As opposed to the walkway at the Studio City location. Parking was also super easy.

The above photo is of two “normies” (aka normal people) but I’m including it to show the decor.

O.M.G. Spicy tuna on crispy rice. So good. So good. Okay, enough freaking out like a fat kid at a buffet. On to bigger things. I want to give you a taste of the week to come:

Yup! I did stair walks!

Mt. Baldy? Yup! What was I doing there? Check back this week to find out. Lastly…

El Cid!

Secret Stairs #26: Cove-Loma Vista Loop

This past Saturday, after I finished walk #23, Astro Loop, I stopped into Starbucks for a passion iced tea and continued walking on to walk #26, Cove Loma Vista Loop. Buy the book my walks are based off, Secret Stairs LA and you can also experience these gorgeous walks. This loop was similar to walk #28 East Silver Lake from Erin Mahoney Harris’s book Walking L.A..

This walking tour shows a great variety of Silver Lake. It begins along a busy street with cute independent shops and fun bars like Cha Cha’s Lounge and The Red Lion.

This walk also includes an architecture tour exploring Richard Neutra’s work.

It was so beautiful out on Saturday. A perfect walking day.

The photo above I took when I did Erin Mahoney Harris’s walk through the neighborhood. I use it for the website banner, so I thought I would share the full picture here.

The above photo is a great example of Richard Neutra‘s work. In fact this neighborhood is packed with great Neutra buildings and you even pass his headquarters (now run by his son Dion) along the Secret Stair walk.

Such great views.

The above photo is of the Burrows Residence built in 1921 and designed by Charles Whittlesey. It’s clearly inspired by Antoni Gaudi and stands out in this neighborhood.

The other cool thing is that this walk takes you up by houses that are only accessible from these secret stairs. The roads are so steep that roads don’t even go to some of these places. Can you imagine every morning and night you have to go down several flights of exterior stairs to get to your car? Or move-in day? I have no clue how you could get a mattress up so many flights of steep exterior stairs that in some cases, are covered with low hanging branches.

The graffiti along this walk is pretty awesome. I found the above little sticker on a sign in Silver Lake. This Andre the Giant Has A Posse is a campaign by Shepard Fairey (fellow RISD alum). He’s most known for his Obama posters.

This staircase above was seen in An Ache in Every Stake, where the Three Stooges fell down these steps.

A pretty wild garden along the Silver Lake stairs. This picture sums up this walk. I highly recommend it on a beautiful day.

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.

2012 Resolutions

As you probably can tell, my 2011 was unbelievable. The key thing that helped push me to  do 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!