Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Simpson's List of things to do in L.A.

Thank you to Winnie L. for telling me about the Simpson's list of things to do in L.A. which appeared on a recent episode. :)

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

#157: Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area

Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area in Culver City offers much more than your average park. Even with a $6 parking fee, this is a park that I would come back to again and again. We came here last weekend with our hiking buddies Mike and Michelle, and although it wasn't a real "hike," we did manage to find some interesting short trails in the park.

Trying to find this hidden gem was a bit tricky, and we initially missed the turn-off. You can't see the park from the main road, but when you start seeing oil rigs, know that you're close. Once we got in, we parked in the nearest lot by the man-made lake and watched little kids feed the ducks. There was a friendly looking white duck that seemed to want to be pet, so Brad reached out his hand only to get his finger almost bitten. We also saw a majestic egret and a duck with a Russian hat on.

We then followed the path to some man-made waterfalls and streams. There were people fishing, bbq-ing and having family get-togethers all around. The path eventually led us to the community center where I grabbed a hiking map, then we continued following the road up the hill to where it dead ends at a parking lot. Once up there, we went to the right on a wide dirt road, hoping to find the trails. There are a lot of cleared areas with a wonderful view of downtown here. We saw a family picnicking and a guy taking pictures of his pee-wee herman bike leaned against a tree with the city in the background.

At the metal stake in the road that says "Warning, petroleum pipe underneath, don't dig," we turned left and continued a short ways until there was a narrow dirt trail to the left (it's the first left). We took that narrow dirt trail which ended up being Ron's Trail. Ron's Trail twists and turns along the side of a hill and overlooks Fairfax. We took that fragrant trail about 25 minutes or so until it took us back to the parking lot. It was a nice walk--perfect for people who don't want a full-out hike, but do want to be in nature for a while.

Ron's Trail

Overall, our visit took about 1.5-2 hours, but you could easily spend twice that amount of time exploring everything this park has to offer. This is also a great park for little ones and dogs on leashes.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

#156: Eagle Rock Hike

Not to be confused with Eagle Rock the city, Eagle Rock the hike is located in Topanga Canyon not far from the Red Rock Canyon trail (#151). This is a stunning, breath-taking hike that has become one of my favorites (thanks for the recommendation Dan! :) ). The cherry on the gelato sundae is Eagle Rock itself--a mammoth precipice jutting out dangerously over the canyon. It's insane. This is not for people afraid of heights!

We parked on the street just outside of the lot for free, but if that's full you can also park for a fee in the lot. There were a lot of people parked there, but there are so many trails that you can take from the trail head that the hike didn't seem overly crowded. No dogs are allowed on this hike. There is also no shade on the way to Eagle Rock, so bring protection. It took about an hour to get there. Once we were on the rock, we explored the little caves and crevices. Our expert hiking buddies Mike and Michelle were more surefooted than I was, and they went through a narrow hole to explore the other side of the rock.

Little hole for little people to climb through

Pictures don't really do the view from Eagle Rock justice. It was both beautiful and frightening. Standing on a rock shelf that was only a few feet wide and looking down made me a bit dizzy! We saw one girl almost lose her water bottle as it slipped out of her hands and skidded to a stop just inches from the cliff edge.

Outside I'm smiling but inside... *Gulp*

Instead of going back the way we came, we decided to take the Musch Trail back. It seemed a little longer, but it was shaded (yes!). There were hardly any people on it as well, so it was the perfect trip back (except for the rattle snake that eyed us). The round trip took about 3 hours including our pause on the rock.

That's Eagle Rock in the distance!
Getting closer...
Guy sunbathing on the rock

cave spray painted gold
shady Musch Trail on the way back

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

#155: Los Liones Canyon Hike

The Los Liones Canyon Trail is located in the Palisades near where Sunset meets the PCH. This shady hike takes around 1 to 1.5 hours, and rewards you with a beautiful panoramic view of the city. Parking is free either in one of the small lots or on the street.

outdoor amphitheater where we had lunch

We went on this hike with our friends Kelly and Arthur a couple of weekends ago. First we stopped and had some lunch at the outdoor amphitheater which is near the second lot. Then we headed toward the trail head (keep going north on the dirt trail) and started our hike. There are no dogs allowed on this hike. We also didn't see too many hikers (nice!).

Once we reached the overlook, we could see everything from the ocean to Mt. Baldy. We could also see Catalina Island way out in the distance looking like a floating island in the clouds.

Catalina Island

To return, you can either go back the way you came, or you can go down the dirt path that leads you to the street. We decided to take the dirt path down to the street, but in hindsight you may want to just return the way you came--it's faster and safer. This is because there is no sidewalk once you are on the street, which can be dangerous if there are careless drivers around making the turns quickly.

The dirt path near the overlook that takes you back down to the street.
I recommend not going this way, and just going back the way you came.

The Los Liones Hike is definitely one to return to. Shady, beautiful and not too traveled... It can't get much better than this... Or can it? Stay tuned tomorrow for one of my favorite hikes so far! ;)

troll behind the rock

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Monday, February 14, 2011

#154: Road Trip to Carlsbad

Brad and I just had an amazing weekend at our friends' beautiful new home in the 'burbs of Carlsbad. The easy drive took about 1.5-2 hours from the West Side. Much of our time was spent relaxing by their pool, soaking in the hot tub, cozying up by the fire, and being treated to gourmet home cooking. Ah, I wish I could live there! We'll be visiting many more times to come, but here are some things we have done so far in Carlsbad that you can do too:

Just a short walk from their house is the Lake Calavera Trail. Since I didn't come prepared with hiking attire and we had no water, we only went half-way, but the view was still gorgeous. Next time, to the top!

Planning a romantic getaway or a girls' day out? Visit La Costa Resort and Spa. We went to this spa a couple of years back. There's an outdoor coed pool/jacuzzi, and separate women and men indoor facilities. Near the pool there's also this shower sort of thing that releases high pressured water down on you for a sort of shower/massage. We didn't stay at the resort, but the spa was A-ok in my book!

Carlsbad Premium Outlets: It's been ages since I've gone shopping, and I do love a bargain. This outdoor shopping plaza has every discount shop you could want, including Barney's, BCBG, Calvin Klein, Gap, Banana Republic, Sunglass Hut, Crate & Barrel, Coach, and more.

Other Things I Want to Do and See in Carlsbad:

Photo by Winnie L.

Carlsbad Flower Fields: Spring can't come fast enough! Where's my Claritin?

The Museum of Making Music: Interactive exhibits for young and old music lovers.

California Surf Museum: This one's for Brad. It's in Oceanside, just a hop skip and a jump away from Carlsbad.

More hikes! There are so many trails in Carlsbad, I can't wait to go on them all.

k1 Speed Go-Karts: unleash the inner Speed Racer in you.

Lego Land: This may be more for little kids, but my curiosity is getting the better of me. Has anyone been here? Rip-off or Must-see?

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