Thursday, August 18, 2011

#206: The Lummis Home

I think James Franco is vying for the title of Most Interesting Man Alive. He acts, directs, writes, paints, photographs... He even has his own college course at Columbia College! It's all very impressive, but Franco still has a ways to go to catch up to Charles Fletcher Lummis, the quintessential Renaissance Man of the late 1800's.

The two men have something in common: they both studied at Ivy Leagues schools (Franco at Yale and Lummis at Harvard). After two years at Harvard, however, Lummis dropped out and published a well received book of poetry. He then accepted a job as the city editor of the Los Angeles Times and--get this--decided to make the cross country 3,500 mile journey on foot. His accounts of the 143 day journey were published in the Times as well as in his own book A Tramp Across the Continent.

Lummis then went on to publish more books and was also an avid photographer, librarian and historian. Later he became a big advocate for Native American rights, and settled in Los Angeles where he established the Southwest Museum. Near the Southwest Museum he built his home. The Lummis Home is a
work of love, built from scratch by Lummis himself.

The Lummis Home is located just off the 110 freeway near the Arroyo Seco at 200 E. Avenue 43. The home is built of stones, wood and concrete. The stones were actually taken right from the nearby river bed, transported in a wheelbarrow by Lummis.

The actual wheelbarrow used to transport the stones

Lummis' inscription above the fireplace

The Lummis Home is Historic Cultural Monument #68. It is open to the public on Fridays-Sundays from 12 pm to 4 pm. Be sure to go on the free tour!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

#205: Rivas Canyon Trail

Don't let summer's heat put a damper on hiking; there's a fantastic shady hike right in Temescal Canyon Park. Most visitors to this Pacific Palisades park are there to go to Skull Rock (#112), but the absence of shade on that trail means that it's pretty grueling during the summer months. Instead, Mike and I took the lesser traveled and very shady Rivas Canyon Trail.

The Rivas Canyon trail is a 2 mile trail that connects Temescal Canyon Park with Will Rogers Park. We did it as an out and back hike, making it about 4 miles. The hike starts with a moderate ascent up and over the ridge, with most of the uphill being in the shade. Along the way, you'll catch this great view of Santa Monica:

All of the junctions on this trail are marked, with the exception of one near the ridge top. If you go to the right at the unmarked junction, in a few minutes you will find yourself next to the concrete platform in the above picture. Take the trail on the left if you don't want to pause at this detour.

Once over the ridge, you descend into the canyon and the scenery changes dramatically. Everything is covered in ivy, and tall trees tower over you. You'll pass this cool cave made of ivy as you descend:

Along the way, we walked through a fragrant fennel forest:

And we turned back when we reached this wall:

If you choose to continue past the wall, you'll soon find yourself at Will Rogers Park.

Tips for your visit:

  • Park on Sunset for free if you don't want to pay the $7 parking fee
  • As you walk from the parking lots toward the park, you will see this sign. Follow the arrow to the right to Rivas Canyon.

  • Soon you will see this sign on your right. That's your trail:

  • Most of the hike is shady, but it's still a good idea to be prepared for heat and protect yourself from the sun.
  • Be careful to stop at the stop signs in the park. There are hidden cameras and you will get a ticket if you don't stop!

Have you been on the Rivas Canyon Trail? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

#204: Venice Skatepark

Have you been to Venice recently? I hadn't been back since my visit to Float Lab (#147), but when Brad showed me videos of some kids skating at the Venice Skatepark, I knew I had to return to check it out.

We went on the weekend of the Festival of the Chariots (#203), so there were a lot of people at the park. The young and the young at heart took their turns in the bowls, and I watched mesmerized as they made aerials, flips and slides look effortless.

During Venice Beach's renovation in 1999-2001, people requested that a skatepark be built in honor of Dogtown, the birthplace of modern skating. The park finally opened in 2009 at 1800 Ocean Front Walk.

Check out for a live video feed of the park!

While you're at the park, be sure to also check out the nearby Venice Public Art Walls. These walls have been canvases for graffiti art for over thirty years. ICU Art, a graffiti arts advocacy group, has worked to preserve the art so that anyone with a permit can legally contribute to the walls.

Have you been to the Venice Skatepark and Public Art Walls? What did you think of them? Leave me a comment below!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

#203: Festival of the Chariots

I'm not a Hare Krishna, but my stomach is. At least once a week, you can find me at the vegetarian Hare Krishna restaurant Govindas for their $8 all you can eat buffet. Carob halwa forever!

The Hare Krishnas are famous for feeding people for free. Such was the case at the annual Festival of the Chariots in Venice a couple of weekends ago. Thousands turned out to accompany three decorated chariots on the march from Santa Monica to Venice's boardwalk. At the end of the parade, tourists, Hare Krishnas, curious bystanders and beach locals lined up for delicious free vegetarian food.

We caught the parade just as it was ending on Ocean Front Walk. The sight of everyone raising their hands to God and looking so happy as they marched to the beach touched my heart, and I admit that I even got a little teary. Once they reached the beach, the singing and dancing continued on two stages.

One of the most memorable stage acts was a Spanish rap group that chanted about Hare Krishna and yoga. During one of their songs, they had three people in front doing crazy yoga positions while they sang "Yoga! Yoga-na like it!" A couple of young skateboarders came by from the nearby park and started grooving with them, and then a dancing Santa joined them. Ah, don't you love Venice?

Yoga! Yogana like it!

The Festival of the Chariots is an annual event, so if you missed it this year, be sure to mark your calendars for next year's event!

Have you been to the Festival of the Chariots? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!

Monday, August 8, 2011

#202: Metro Art Tours

Let's take a poll: Have you ever ridden the L.A. Metro Rail System? I'm gonna place my bets on "No, never" and "Wha? We have a Metro?!" Being part of the "No, never" group, I was curious to see how our system stacks up to other cities' rails. I got my chance this past weekend on the Metro Art Tour which runs every first Thursday, Saturday and Sunday of the month. Each tour lasts 2 hours and takes you on a walking and riding exploration of 4 or 5 stations. Best part: it's free!
Last Saturday Brad and I took the 10 am tour that starts at the Hollywood/Highland station. There were about 30 people who showed up, and we split up into two groups. I was amazed to discover that each station is designed by a different artist, and each has a unique theme that reflects its neighborhood. Since the Hollywood/Highland station is right on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it pays homage to the cinematic and theatrical side of Hollywood.
Our tour leader began by showing us light projections at the entrance to the station, which were meant to represent the eyes of a glamorous Hollywood starlet looking out at her audience. We then descended into the "belly" of the starlet, represented by steel structures that look like vertebrae, and light fixtures which were modeled after fallopian tubes.
The "belly" is meant to show the human side of the Hollywood starlet
Next we headed to the Vermont/Sunset Station. Since the station is surrounded by three major hospitals and has a great view of the Griffith Observatory, the artist designed it with a futuristic space theme.
The star filled ceiling at the Vermont/Sunset station
Our next stop was the Hollywood/Vine Station which is across from Pantages Theater. Fittingly, the station features old cameras from Paramount and a ceiling covered in 19,000 film reels!
The station also has a Wizard of Oz theme. The artist wanted to have a yellow tiled "road" that led all the way through the station. Unfortunately, the people who implemented his design scattered the tiles around instead of laying them out in a neat path:
Our last stop was the Universal City Station which is next to the historic Campo de Cahuenga where the 1847 treaty was signed in which Mexico relinquished control of California to the U.S.. This station features the Trees of Califas. Each tree trunk is covered with vibrant tiles that chronicle the events leading up to the Capitulation of Cahuenga.
a tree
The party doesn't end once the tour stops. As a parting gift, you get to keep your fancy little Metro pass which lets you ride the Metro for the rest of the day, free of charge!

With 5 lines servicing 70 stations, the Metro Rail is a quick and reliable way to get around the city. Day passes cost only $5. Check it out!
Have you been on the Metro Art Tour? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!
Metro Art Tour

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The 365 LA Map

View The 365 LA Map in a larger map

365 LA readers, meet The 365 LA Map! Use this interactive tool like a treasure map, leading you to your next L.A. adventure. I'll keep updating it by adding new places as I post them, so this one's worth a bookmark.

A big thank you to all our readers, including our Facebook fans

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

#201: Angels Flight Railway

Did you know that the shortest railway in the world is right here in Downtown? Angels Flight Railway is only 298 feet long and connects California Plaza to Grand Central Market. A mere 25 cents will get you a trip up or down this old funicular.

I'd heard a lot about Angels Flight, but there were two things that surprised me once I got there. The first was that the track is pretty steep--it was kind of scary going down! The second was how narrow the cars are. When we went, the cars were practically empty, but if they were full, we would have been staring face to face with the person across from us.

The Angels Flight website provides some detail about the history of the railway:

This funicular dates back to 1901, when Bunker Hill was one of the most fashionable neighborhoods in Los Angeles and the cars, Olivet and Sinai, ferried prominent citizens up and down the steep slope between Hill and Olive streets. The beloved landmark was dismantled for "urban renewal" of the area in 1969. In the early 1990s, the Railway was refurbished and relocated a half-block south, reopening adjacent to California Plaza in 1996.

My friend Marlena and I recently made a day out of Downtown. Here's an outline of where we went--maybe this will inspire a Downtown adventure of your own.

A Downtown Daytime Adventure!
  • Have lunch in California Plaza. We went to Starry Kitchen. (If you've parked in the California Plaza garages, validate your ticket! It's 2 hours for $3 during the day. Don't exceed your 2 hours or it gets pricey.)

  • After lunch, walk up the stairs to the top level of the Plaza. You'll see a red train station. That's Angels Flight!

  • Walk back to Angels Flight. See that stairway that runs along the railway? Walk up those stairs until you see a small park on your left. That's Angels Knoll. Find the semi-famous park bench from the movie 500 Days of Summer. You'll spot it by this plaque on the back:

  • If you still have energy, drive to Little Tokyo and have dessert at one of their cute little bakeries.

Dessert at Yamazaki bakery.

  • Finally, burn off those calories by taking in the art at MOCA (#200) across the street.

Have you been to Angels Flight? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!