Tuesday, May 31, 2011

#180: Culver City Architecture Walk

When I saw 10 Great Walks on the cover of the recent issue of Los Angeles magazine, my heart skipped a beat. Did I mention that walking is my specialty?

Reading through the article, I was excited to see one of my favorite Westside walks (#7: The Venice Canals) featured among the ten. Of the others, the one that sparked my curiosity the most was the Architecture Walk in Culver City.

My architecture-loving friend Kelly joined me on this expedition, and she informed me that this whole area was designed by a visionary architect named Eric Owen Moss. The area is known as Hayden Tract and is now home to a lot of businesses.

Start your walk at Samitaur Tower on the corner of National and Hayden. Built in 2010, the Samitaur Tower has both a futuristic and aged look to it.

Just a few yards south on Hayden is the What Wall? which was built in 1998. It reminded me of a modern day beehive with a view:

Keep walking south on Hayden and on the same side of the street you will encounter Stealth, a monstrous black building that looks like it doubles as a Starship.

Toward the south end of Stealth, you will see this:

There's a guard station through there and you can walk in and view more neat looking buildings, including the Umbrella:

When you are finished exploring this little area, cross Hayden and keep walking South until you get to this cool cactus garden:

According to LA Mag, the cacti are raised 35 feet in the air to get a lot of sun. Who's the lucky person who gets to water these guys?

From here, you can go back the way you came, make a right on Steller Drive, a left on Eastham Drive, and a left on National. On National you'll see The Box:

and The Beehive:

The whole walk is only one mile and circles a large block. The estimated time recommended by LA Mag was 1 hour, which I found pretty accurate.

View Culver City Architecture Walk in a larger map

Have you been on the Culver City Architecture Walk? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

#179: Vasquez Rocks

Vasquez Rocks, located about 40 minutes north of L.A. in Agua Dulce, is truly an unforgettable place. With its mammoth precipices jutting dramatically out of the earth at 45 degree angles, it is easy to see why Vasquez Rocks is a popular filming location. Past shows that have been filmed here include Star Trek, Power Rangers, Battlestar Galactica, Jay and Silent Bob, and Planet of the Apes.

Vasquez Rocks was named after Tiburcio Vasquez, a wily bandit who was known as "The Scourge of California." He used these rocks as his hideout.

There are short trails around the park, but we chose to just scramble up any large rock we could find. It was incredibly fun--like being a little kid again! The park was not too crowded, and free parking was plentiful. If you wanted to find solitude here, you could do so by just walking a little ways away from the main parking lot.

A big thank you to Jenn for suggesting this rockin' place to visit!

Click on the video above for panoramas of Vasquez Rocks and more pictures :)

Brad's death defying climb (he's really just 3 feet off the ground ;) )

Have you visited Vasquez Rocks? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

#178: The Cascades

I remember the first time I caught a glimpse of the Casacades; it was while I was driving up the 5 Freeway on the way to the Poppy Fields (#120). Roaring down the mountain like a water slide of the gods, this gigantic aqueduct is a sight to behold.

The Cascades is the point where Los Angeles' water supply enters the city after traveling 338 miles from the Sierra Nevada mountains.

not the best place to visit if you have to pee

The building of the aqueduct began in 1908 and was completed in 1913. It was designed by engineer and LADWP director William Mulholland, of Mulholland Drive fame.

Now the Cascades is Los Angeles Historic Landmark #63. While you can't go right up to the aqueduct, you can get a nice view from your choice of fence: chain link or bars.


The Cascades is located at 13801 Balboa Blvd just off the 5 Freeway. There is a turn-in along Foothill Blvd where you can view the National Historic Landmark plaque, or you can park on Balboa and walk to the intersection of Balboa and Foothill for another view.

Have you seen the Cascades? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

#177: The Carlsbad Flower Fields

On the last day of the 2011 season, Brad and I visited the Carlsbad Flower Fields. Imagine hundreds of thousands of multi-colored Ranunculus flowers lined up in perfect rows--stunning! $10 buys you entry into this botanical dreamscape.

There are two ways to view the flower fields: walking or riding. Brad and I took the walking paths, but other people chose to view them while riding around in a tractor-drawn carriage.

After doing circles around the flowers, we checked out the Sweet Pea Maze--a maze with walls of sweet pea vines. It was actually a little difficult to get out of!

Check out those peas!

After escaping the maze, we checked out the children's playground, a man playing the flute pipes, and the caged bird display. Right near the playground was this awesome lemonade stand:

If you're an allergy sufferer like I am, flower fields might not have the same appeal as they do to the average person. I arrived in Carlsbad ready to bust out my Claritin at any hint of a sniffle, but--surprise surprise--I discovered that their Ranunculus and pea flowers don't have much pollen. This was evident by the complete absence of bees in the fields. My nose behaved like a perfect princess--allergies be damned!

Here's Brad in the pea maze.

And here's Brad demonstrating that there's hardly any pollen in these pea flowers. Sniff away!

If you missed the Carlsbad Flowers this season, be sure to put it on next year's calendar. It's worth the trip out, and there are so many other things you can also do in Carlsbad while you're there.

Smell the rainbow!

Have you been to the Carlsbad Flower Fields? What did you think about it? Leave me a comment below!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

#176: Los Angeles National Cemetery

You've driven past it on your way to and from Westwood, but have you ever walked around the Los Angeles National Cemetery? The somber rows of identical tombstones lined up perfectly as far as the eye can see is a sight you will never forget.

Veterans from the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War are interred here. Also included among the headstones are over one hundred Buffalo Soldiers and two war dogs with their handlers. Walking around, you are struck by the sheer number of people who fought and died for the freedom that we now enjoy.

My friend Mike and I were the only visitors walking around this vast cemetery on a Friday afternoon, making for a quiet and reflective walk. I think that it would be amazing to return on Memorial Day when the cemetery is filled with thousands of people honoring the dead.

Directions: The cemetery is on 950 South Sepulveda Blvd. Going north on Sepulveda Blvd, the entrance is on your right shortly after passing Wilshire Blvd. Parking is free.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

#175: The Cave of Munits (aka the Shaman's Cave)

Looking out of the Cave

The Cave of Munits (aka the Shaman's Cave, aka the Bat Cave) is believed to have been the residence of a mythical Chumash shaman who was killed after murdering the son of a Chumash chief.

Looking into the Cave

Located on the edge of El Escorpion Park in the Upper Las Virgines Canyon Open Space Preserve, the gargantuan Cave looks like the lair of an evil comic book villain.

The tall narrow entrance is guarded by a hive of bees, and there are more hives inside.

See that hole in the rock at the top? That's a hive at the entrance of the Cave.

At first we were afraid of the loud buzzing and didn't want to venture too far in, but once we saw a couple of other hikers do it, we went in too. Inside, we met a man with his two dogs who regularly visits the Cave. He said that the bees leave you alone. Just don't go throwing rocks at the hives!


To reach the Cave from L.A., go North/West on the 101 and take exit 29 for Valley Circle Blvd. Go north on Valley Circle Blvd until you reach Vanowen St. Take a left on Vanowen and you will see a trail soon on your left. Park on the street for free.

Hike about .75 miles until you see this fence:

and this sign:

Immediately past the fence, take the trail on the right. You will see this in front of you:

See that narrow opening in the rock in the distance?

This one

From the sign, walk about .25 miles to the cave opening. Climb up to the cave opening (there are footholds in the rock--no ropes necessary).

It's a little tricky
(photo by Shimage)

The Cave is a "chimney cave", meaning there's a hole up top through which you can see the sky.

The Cave ceiling

Be Prepared:

This short hike is mostly unshaded. It is flat until you take the trail on the right side up to the Cave, at which point it becomes steeper. Wear good shoes since climbing up the wall is a bit tricky. Do not go on this hike if you are afraid of bees or severely allergic to bee stings. To get to the cave in the Spring, you have to walk through lots of brush that is swarming with bees.

pollen bombs everywhere!

A little bit of welcomed shade

(photo by Shimage)