Sunday, March 30, 2008


Image from

With all of the pictures I took I completely forgot to take one of the front entrance so I borrowed one from the Los Angeles Zoo website.

I don't think I've been to the Los Angeles Zoo since I was in high school on a field trip with my Biology class. The reason I specifically remember is that our bus was detained leaving because a couple of the kids broke into one of the vending machines and got caught. Just stupid!

The day was overcast and the mood of the rather cloudy day seemed to live in the animals because they were all either sleeping or lazy.

Some were complete no-shows and reminded me of the first Jurassic Park when they were taking the first tour and none of the animals were around. Thankfully it picked up and even though many were sleeping or lazy, I still got some really great photos.

Rather than do a slide show I put together a video of some of the pics. I hate that I had to leave so many of them out to narrow it down to 10 minutes. All in all, I hope you enjoy it and if nothing else, it makes you feel the need to visit your local zoo.

Friday, March 28, 2008


If you like off-roading, seeing a little nature, 4-wheeling you probably know about Azusa Canyon. Take the 210 Freeway east to Azusa and head north. That's all. You head into the Angeles National Forest and pass the San Gabriel Dam. I've been up there a lot because I had a friend who did some 4-wheeling and had a sand rail. We stopped going there after a while because it got too crowded. But, it's the filthiest fun you'll ever have.

This picture is from my own personal archives and was taken at Azusa Canyon. There is always a little water there but right now there's a lot more water than usual, probably overflow from the damn after all the rain we had. Most times you can drive right under that bridge in the picture above. There is plenty of water everywhere and the mountains are beautiful and green, again after all the rain. It's a great time of the year to take a little drive and there are quite a few turn-offs as you head up the hill where you can stop and take pictures and more further up past the bridge where you can get out and take a look at the streams of water flowing down the mountains in the river beds.

Get out, take a drive and get some fresh air. Get out of the city and see what else Southern California has to see.


Today I decided to get out and I went to the Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens in Pasadena. Well, actually it's not Pasadena it's San Marino which I just learned today. All this time I thought it was in Pasadena. Anyone in L.A. knows where Pasadena is (most famous for the Tournament of Roses Parade) and if you're going to visit L.A. and you don't know, it's about 12 miles north of downtown L.A.

There's a little too much background information to give so I'm just going to quote this from the site and suggest you take a look at the About Page. The history of the Huntington Library is pretty interesting and is actually a research and educational institution.

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution established in 1919 by Henry E. and Arabella Huntington. Henry Huntington, a key figure in the development of Southern California in the early 20th century, was also an active collector of rare books and manuscripts, art, and plants. By the time he established the institution, he and his wife had amassed an extensive collection focusing on British and American history, literature, and art, as well as rare and spectacular plant specimens.

If you plan to go, make sure you're wearing your most comfortable walking shoes because there are 120 acres of theme gardens complete with an amazing variety of trees, plants and flowers. You can walk across the expanse of lawns to admire the fountains and statues, sit on the bench under the shade of a beautiful, massive tree, sit on a bench in the camelia garden, stop to have something to drink or nibble on at the Tea Room & Cafe. Step inside the Conservatory but a warning for the ladies. If you've got curls you want to keep you might want to stay outside. The moisture and waters spraying from the ceiling will mess up your hair.

There's Japanese Garden:

A Chinese Garden:

The Camelia Garden:

The slideshow below will give you a little more of some of the things you may see and mind you, I was there three hours walking a very leisurely pace and still didn't see everything. If you've never been, what are you waiting for? Even if you go alone, take you iPOD (I did), put your headphones on and just enjoy a beautiful day and some truly beautiful gardens. I've also got some macro shots of flowers from the gardens on my photo blog Eyes, Mind, Heart.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


One of the things most people love about Los Angeles is that within an hour or two drive you can reach anything - mountains, dessert, ocean, beaches. There's Lake Arrowhead, Mt. Baldy, Mammoth, the Angeles Forest, etc. You can sail, swim, surf, jet ski, water ski, snow ski, snowboard, off-road and 4-wheel, visit museums, botanical gardens, ghost towns and numerous amusement parks. The only problem is getting there and how many people will be there when you are. If you don't leave early and beat the crowds your experience may be, well a crowded one.

I took a trip to Lake Arrowhead for the first time, packed a lunch and thought I would find a spot near the lake to sit, enjoy the view and take some pictures. Wrong! Either there simply was no way down to the lake unless you were a resident or having never been there before I just could not find it. I found one spot above the lake where I could stop and take some pictures. The rest of the time I just drove around the lake getting lost because of the way the funky roads went around the lake.

I was so disappointed that most views of the lake were obstructed by the tons and tons of rooftops of homes around the lake that appeared to go right down to the very edge of the lake. Lake Arrowhead is known for vacation rentals. I've often thought of renting one but am not sure I would do so now. It's not at all what I imagined. It is definitely beautiful but parts of it are so very dry and I can see why it is in such danger during fire season. The delightful thin was there was still snow on the grown and if you look closely in a couple of the pictures you can see the snow.

Why do we as people destroy the beautiful nature of something like a lake or beach by building homes right on it? Why do people with money have the right to obstruct the public from accessing beaches and lakes that should be open to everyone?

Sunday, March 16, 2008


I haven't been to Hollywood in a long time and certainly not down Hollywood Boulevard. Even if I went to the Hollywood Bowl I never bothered to venture down Hollywood Blvd. again. In my high school senior days and early college years we used to hit Hollywood Boulevard a lot but it began to look run down and seedy and there were too many weird people about which is why you may occasionally hear it referred to as Hollyweird.

Hollywood has been through some major changes since I last visited. It was really nice to see that it has gone through some major changes to bring it back to a representation of the Hollywood L.A. it is famous for. This picture and the one above is of the Hollywood and Highland entertainment and retail center multi-level complex opened in 2001 next to Grauman's Chinese Theatre. It contains over 60 shops, a dozen bowling lanes, 2 nightclubs, 26 restaurants and the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel fill the Hollywood and Highland Center but the most famous tenant is the 3,400 seat Kodak Theatre.

Disney has restored the famous El Capitan theatre built in 1926. I've seen many movies there and for some reason the one that stick sout is Mahogany with Diana Ross. The El Capitan theatre is now the host of many Disney animated movie premiers like Beauty and the Beast. Right next to the El Capital Theatre is the Disney Soda Fountain and Studio Store. It's located directly across the street from the Kodak Theatre.

Grauman's Chinese Theatre still looks the same though it now seems overshadowed by the Kodak Theatre and center right down the street. Still famous for the big movie premiers and tourist and locals alike still flock in front of the theatre looking for the hand and footprints of their favorite movie stars. In front of the theatre there are actors and actresses in costume - Marilyn Monroe, Chubacca from Star Wars, Captain Jack Sparrow, Catwoman, etc., ready to take pictures with you.

As you walk along Hollywood Boulevard it's not unusual that everyone has their head down reading the names in the red stars outlined with gold that decorate the sidewalks. The names of actors and actresses, directors and recording artists can be found here.

Last but not least I can't close this post without mentioning the Hollywood Bowl where for over 70 years it has been one of our locations for symphonies, opera, jazz, ballet, presidential addresses and rock concerts.

In addition to the things I've mentioned, other things to see are the Hollywood Wax Museum, the Hollywood Museum (located in the old Max Factor Building) and Ripley's Believe It Or Not. There are souvenir stores where you can buy dolls in the image of Gwen Stefani, John Lennon and Al Pacino as Scarface. Tour buses sit in wait of passengers and up and down the street are people selling maps to the movie stars' homes. The big red sign of the Virgin Record store looms over the street and there is a D.J. in each window.

Only in Hollywood can you get a real taste of Hollywood.

Friday, March 14, 2008


The Los Angeles National Cemetery where over 85,000 veterans and their families lie at rest. I passed this place today and had to stop... felt compelled to actually drive in to the center of the cemetery. A field of white tombstones rested as far as my eyes could see and I stood in the center knowing what photos I took couldn't show how many more lay over the hills where the camera lens could not reach. 85,000 in just this one city. Multiply that by every city in this state and mulitply that by 50 states, and then include all of the vets who were buried by loved ones, like my father, who was not buried in a regular cemetery and those who never made it back home.

So many lives. So many lives. So many heroes.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


Over all, my trip this weekend to the beaches turned out to be a bit of a bust. I did get some decent pictures so I can't complain too much but I was disappointed by how much Redondo Beach Pier had changed, traffic after I left the pier was awful and it took me way too long to get down the coast, I couldn't stop at two of the beaches because of traffic and everywhere but the pier was a zoo. So, I'm taking the almost pictureless way of introducing you to the beaches down around L.A. Though these beaches are in different cites, they are all still a part of L.A. County and anyone in L.A. knows or should know where these beaches are.

REDONDO BEACH PIER - See the post below this one.

DOCKWEILER - I drove by it but didn't stop. I used to hit dockweiler beach a lot. I've always loved the beach and ladies, if you don't know the sand is like a natural pumice on your feet.

MARINA DEL REY - Marina del Rey is more about the marina than it is about a beach. It is where most of the boats are docked. Marina del Rey is mostly known for, at least by me, for the restaurants around Admiralty Way. I attended a meet 'n greet in December at The Warehouse. Great place! I drove through Marina del Rey today, thought I'd take some pics of the restaurants but that didn't work out either.

VENICE BEACH - I started to go to Venice Beach but the one street I took toward the parking lot I knew of was backed up and literally inched for four blocks. It would have made for some interesting pics because Venice is always full of interesting things, vendors and people. I was getting a headache from traffic so I opted out.

Cool! I just found a live webcam of Venice beach. Of course there's nothing going on now but check it out during the day. I will.

SANTA MONICA - When I was a kid this is where my family always went. I will always have a fondness for Santa Monica because of the fond memories. I thought I would go the the Santa Monica Pier but decided not to go. By this time I wasn't in the mood for how many people were there. I made a wrong turn and couldn't back out so I wound up having to pay $6.00 to drive through the parking lot which was half occupied by a filming crew's hundreds of trailers. I'm exaggerating...a little.

By now I'd been on the road for three hours and was a little ticked that after all this time I had not yet put my feet in sand or been near the water so I ventured down a packed Pacific Coast Highway and found a strip of the beach past the pier where the parking lot was practically empty. Eureka! My kind of place! I paid $7.00 for parking, parked, took my tennis shoes and socks off, put my earphones in, turned on my IPOD and treked across the sand with my camera.


The Redondo Beach Pier is some place I used to go a lot when I was much younger. Whenever a friend and I were looking for something to do on the weekend we'd usually jump in a car and take a little trip down the coast to Redondo Beach. I'm sorry to say the pier is not what it used to be and that was evident by how empty it was. If you're looking for some place to eat with definite atmosphere or lots of seafood, I'd definitely suggest taking in the pier. It's got some shopping but nothing at all like it used to be.

They did have one of my favorite stores there even though they moved from the location I remember them being before. The kite store.

I confess - it's one of the reasons why I wanted to go to Redondo Beach. I'd been talking about buying a kite for fun but had not done it yet. I knew I would buy one before I left... and I did. In fact, I bought one for myself and one each for my grand niece and grand nephew. The store is (I think), the Sunshine Kite Company

The Pier has a Kite Festival the 2nd Sunday of March every year. I'd forgotten about it. If I'd know they would be doing the 34th Annual Festival of the Kites tomorrow I would have waited. Part of me really wants to go back tomorrow but the other part really doesn't want to deal with traffic another day. It's tempting. I've been to a couple before and it's something else to see the sky full of so many different kites.

As for the rest of the pier, it is some place to go and parking was only $2.00. I don't know if that was a flat rate or because I wasn't there that long. Again, there's plenty to eat. If you like fishing you can fish off the pier. You can take a boat ride for $15.00, there's the same huge game arcade for anyone who likes games, a few shops and plenty of boats to look at. On top of all that you can enjoy the wonderful sea air.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


My venture this weekend was to the J. Paul Getty Museum. There are actually two museums, one in Malibu and one in Brentwood. The one in Malibu was opened in 1974 to resemble the Villa of Papyri but was closed for major renovation in 1997 and moved to Brentwood. When the museum in Brentwood was opened I'll never forget what a zoo it was. There were always reports about the masses of people flocking to the new museum. It has since tamed down but it is still really busy and many people wander through the rooms looking at the art, enjoying the outdoors.

There is a tram that will take you from the parking structure up the hill to the museum and it is the only way to get there. Admissions is free, parking was $8.00. It was overcast, cloudy and cold when I went and a heavy mist or drizzle welcomed us when we got off the tram at the top of the hills in Brentwood. I really liked that the museum provided umbrellas to use as you walk between the buildings. In the center between the buildings there is a kiosk that sells coffee, drinks and snacks. There is also a small cafe type cafeteria on the garden level with a large eating area.

There is a large variety of different types of art and I was glad I was allowed to take pictures with the exception of some rooms in which it wasn't allowed. Art has always been a small fascination of mine. I so admire the talent of the artists and the detail that does into the work. This was why I took Art History when I went to U.S.C. It's a wonderful experience to see these art treasures in person, to stand face to face with a Renoir, Millet or Van Gogh painting, admire the color intensity and realize these works of art have lasted so long.

I hope you enjoy the slideshow of the photos I took at the Getty Museum and that is will prompt you to do as I did - visit the Getty when you get a chance. $8.00 for parking is not a bad price at all to pay. I think it's a steal for a day's adventure.

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