Sunday, January 16, 2011

I Still Love LA!

During the second half of my LA adventures I discovered Runyon Canyon, a Los Angeles public park which offers multiple hiking paths up the local mountains.  Even though Los Angeles is not one of the most beautiful cities in the world, its views from the top of the Santa Monica Mountains are amazing!  I sat on the top of one of the mountains for awhile taking it all in – as I approached the top of the mountain I saw a lady sitting on the bench and decided that I’d ask her to take a picture of me perched on the top of the mountain, but as I got closer I saw that it was Uma Thurman, and decided that instead I’d just sit and enjoy.  I determined that this hike is good preparation for my upcoming hike in the Andes Mountains which is 14,000 ft high – I figured the mountain had to be like 4,000 feet high – but I was thoroughly disappointed to learn it was only 675 ft, which I don’t even know if that qualifies as a mountain.  I’ve got a long way to go!

I spent a lot of time driving up and down the coast, north to Malibu and south to Long Beach.  It was gorgeous both ways!  I drove up one mountain and pulled off on an overlook that just took my breath away.  I felt like such a small piece of this earth surrounded by huge mountains, the beautiful ocean ahead of me and the palm trees and other foliage around.  I hadn’t heard such silence in awhile – it was a little eerie but also awe inspiring - incredible!
I kept returning to the Hollywood Hills and other communities perched on the mountainside to wind my way up and down and through the streets.  The houses are gorgeous and tucked so perfectly into the mountainside.  I love how the streets curve so tightly.  You never know what’s around the bend but it’s always more spectacular than from where you came.  I could drive around in the hills forever!
I took a mid-week break from sightseeing to see The Fighter starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale.  The movie was amazing and the actors were amazing!  I smell Oscars!
I took in a Lakers game, got thoroughly ripped off on my seats that I bought from a scalper (seriously, what did I expect?) and found myself sitting in the very last row of the stadium with nothing but a wall behind me.  But all in all, I was there, which was pretty cool! 
My mom arrived on Tuesday of this past week to get acclimated to the Los Angeles time zone, and to ensure there was no way she’d miss our Australia flight.  We went to more “cultured” destinations than I would have visited if I had been on my own.  We visited the La Brea Tar Pits, which is an old asphalt quarry that has since filled with water, bubbles methane and tar, and swallowed up thousands of animals in the Ice Age including American Lions (who knew there was such a thing) and mammoths.  I’m having a hard time imagining mammoths walking down what is now Rodeo Drive!  We also went to The Getty Center, which is an amazing campus built on the top of a mountain that houses art.  The spectacular architecture of the buildings, the grounds and a pretty man-made creek far outweighs the art inside.  We also visited the huge and luxurious Queen Mary, which now functions as a hotel and banquet hall in Long Beach.  We took the ghosts tour because supposedly the Queen Mary is haunted by the people who had died there.  It was half cheesy and half scary – I can still hear the tour guide’s creepy voice ringing in my head!
And now that I’ve discovered the most delicious frozen yogurt place, The Yogurt Stop, and I’ve finally had an In N Out burger (YUM!), my visit to Los Angeles is complete!  On to my next destination – Australia, here I come!!  I just hope I don’t get swept away in the floods!

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