Monday, January 31, 2011

#153: Road Trip to Palm Springs

I've had my GPS set on Palm Springs for quite a while now, ever since seeing pictures online of the Indian Canyon Trails. With just a day's notice, Brad and I decided that this weekend was just a good a time as any to see the desert oasis. I packed my giant floppy straw hat, swim suit, sunglasses, new hiking shoes and a mix CD of Flight of the Conchords, Eddie Vedder and Shakira (I can't think of an odder mix), and we hit the road. In less than two hours we spotted the giant windmills signaling Palm Springs.

Windmills outside of Palm Springs
The first thing on our agenda was checking into the Pool House hotel, which recently opened in March 2010. The hotel only has six rooms which are situated around the pool. Our room was clean and gorgeously decked out in black and white modern decor. We felt like the only ones at the hotel--we had the pool virtually to ourselves!

The Pool House

Next, we headed off to the Palm Canyon Trail in Indian Canyon. The trail is rated "moderate". It is a bit sandy, mostly level, and shady. The scenery reminds me of Land of the Lost, and I was just waiting for a giant mosquito to land on Brad's shoulder. We wandered off the trail a bit and did some rock scrambling, then went back the way we came. There were a lot of people on this trail, young and old. The trail is 15 miles long, but there is a loop that you can take if you don't feel like doing the whole thing. We spent around 2-3 hours there.

The next day we came back to Indian Canyon to hike the lesser-traveled Murray Canyon trail. Even though this trail was rated "easy", I thought it was actually more difficult than the Palm Canyon one due to around ten stream crossings. The trail ends at a waterfall and then you turn back the way you came. It is 4 miles total and took us about 2 hours with all of the detours we took. Although some would say that this hike was not as "majestic" as the Palm Canyon hike, I actually enjoyed it more due to the lack of hikers and the wide variety of landscape ranging from the palm lined river to the barren mountains studded with rocky outcroppings.

The waterfall at the end of the Murray Canyon Trail

The other reason for our visit was to go star gazing, but unfortunately the sky was cloudy that night. Another time! There are so many sides to Palm Springs--you can sit around and lounge by the pool all day, you can visit the mid-century modern furniture shops on the main drag, or you can take in the rugged desert beauty on a hike. I really enjoyed this first trip to the desert, and I can't wait to go again--perhaps to Joshua tree next time!

Here are links to the places we visited:

Brad on top of a waterfall (detour off the Palm Canyon Trail)
The road to Indian Canyon

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365 LA on Groupon!

I check Groupon every day for deals around the city of L.A. (I recently used it for my iFLY experience (#138)!). Yesterday's deal was for a $30 trapeze class, and 365 LA was quoted! Very cool--thanks Groupon!

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

#152: Attend an Art Opening

Last Saturday night our friends took us to an art opening at Bergamot Station. I thought it would be just a small event, and I was surprised when we were told that the huge parking lot was full. It turned out there were at least two art openings at Bergamot that evening. It was difficult to even get inside the first gallery; there were people crammed from wall to wall. I spotted Jonathan Gold in the mix. The second gallery we visited was the CoPro gallery--the one we came for. They have a spooky exhibit called Conjoined in 3-D, which is running until February 12th. Visit my friend Fran's blog to see more pictures.


I don't usually go to art openings, but the ones that I've attended have been a bit bizarre for some reason. This one was no exception. In addition to creepy art, they had live music and food trucks outside. Click on the link below for a calendar of art gallery openings near you!

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

#151: Red Rock Canyon Hike

As I mentioned in my Govinda's post (#135), I get obsessed with things. See if you can find a theme in the latest books I've read:

The people in these biographies/autobiographies are in nature fighting to survive. Their intense stories highlight the courage of the human spirit and inspire me to explore the outdoors (which explains all the recent hiking posts!).

Last weekend we set off on one of my favorite hikes so far. The Red Rock Canyon hike is nested in Topanga just off Old Topanga State Road. It's a 4 mile out-and-back hike with a "moderate" difficulty level. You can reach there either from the 101 or from PCH. We took the PCH route, turned right on Topanga Road, turned left on Old Topanga Road (by the Inn of the Seventh Ray) and left on Red Rock Canyon Road. Continue up the windy dirt path until you see the $5 parking post. Deposit your $5, then keep going until you reach the parking lot at the end of the road.

The rock caves toward the beginning of the hike

Our friends Mike, Michelle, Dan and Liz came with us on the hike. Dan and Liz knew the terrain well and showed us all the cool rock formations. As you're walking along the main dirt path, you will see some rock caves on the left. There is a small path leading up to them, and you can scramble up the rocks to an even higher vantage point. We went up there, took a look around, then came back down and returned to the main path.

This is to the left of the caves. Go up here for a nice view.

Here's your nice view.

Soon after that, we saw another narrow dirt path to the right that led across a stream. We took that path and continued up toward more beautiful rock formations.

Starting the hike upward

When we reached a sign post (see pic below), we took a break and relaxed on the large boulders. Dan said that you can keep going past the sign post, but the trail eventually peters out and you have to turn back.

This is the post that signals that you're coming near the end of the trail. You can keep going, but it peters out eventually.

This is one of the most beautiful hikes I have been on in L.A.. There were several points on the trail where I just stopped and stared in awe at the majesty of the surroundings. There were hardly any people there, it was semi-shady, and it took about 2 hours with the detours.

Our resting point before we turned back

One warning: If you come here with dogs, be sure to keep them on a leash at all times. As we were heading back, there was a ranger waiting at the gate. Our friends had a dog off leash and he gave them an expensive ticket for it. :(

One more thing: Dan said that a good place to go star gazing at night is at the end of Old Topanga Road. I can't wait to check it out!

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#150: Mandeville Canyon Hike

I am loving these Brentwood hikes! Brad and I took a stroll through Westridge-Canyonback Wilderness Park in the Santa Monica Mountains this weekend. We took the Mandeville Canyon trail, which has two routes. You can either go to the left on the fire road, or you can go to the right and hike up hill. Which one should you take? Well if you want a leisurely stroll that is a little more shady, stay on the flat fire road. If you are looking for a work-out with amazing views up top, hike up the hills.

The hike up the hills

There were a lot of mountain bikers on this trail, and some dog walkers as well. The hike itself isn't that shady, but we went late in the afternoon and the temperature was perfect. This is an out and back hike, 3.9 miles total. From Sunset, turn north on Mandeville Canyon Road and left on Westridge. Drive all the way up to the top of Westridge and park on the street for free.

Magnificent view at the beginning of the trail

The best part of the hike was the view. Just like the Top of Kenter hike (#149), you can see everything from the ocean to Mt. Baldy!

The beginning of the hike

It's the same house on the cleared hill top that we saw on the Sullivan Canyon Hike!

It's the Top of Kenter Trail!

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

#149: Top of Kenter Hike

Another Brentwood hike! This one was hot, hilly and unshaded, but we were rewarded with a magnificent panoramic view of the city. From the top of Kenter we could see smog tinged Downtown, crystal clear snow capped Mt. Baldy, the Getty, and everything in between.

From Sunset, go north on Kenter and just keep going. It's windy and long, but you'll eventually reach the end. Park for free on the street. When we were there, it wasn't that crowded. Most of the people were walking dogs or on bikes. Next to the fire road there is a BMX course carved out of the hills! The hike is 3.7 miles long and is an out-and-back hike. It is rated as "moderate/difficult" probably because of the steep inclines.

The area is open until 8 pm, so we want to go back to watch the sunset one of these days. The view from the top must be breath taking at that hour!

brad and arthur. we saw a home that had its own orchard!

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