Above: Los Angeles, 2019. Below: Los Angeles, 2019.
A side note - I'd been to most of these places places before and the obscurity of some of the attractions here reveals that these are the final checkboxes for me. And some of those I didn't care so much about anyway, which meant - I could relax with my family, sit in hot tubs, eat good food - you know, human stuff. (I have often meditated about obligatory relaxation enforced by being in mundane or familiar non-home places, and this trip was a good example.)
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY
On arrival in the Central Coast we began our consumption of mass quantities of tri-tip barbecue. Big Bubba's Bad Barbecue in Paso Robles has good tri-tip, plus a talking buffalo head, and you can eat your meal in a jail cell. We then went to Pismo Beach to see the dunes and did a lot of boring non-photogenic family stuff.
Every time I go to this place I think that anyone who denies the existence of line in nature should come here.
Above: tracking dangerous wildlife, which I subsequently found, engaged in burrowing behaviors.
Above: you can almost imagine the taller one stiffly walking through the dunes and saying "That malfunctioning little twerp. This is all his fault! He tricked me into going this way, but he'll do no better."
Above: I also managed to finally get up on one of the Sisters in SLO. At first I thought it would be a cakewalk but if you take the steep trails it gets a bit scrambly, and much more deserted than I expected.
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY
(Ventura given a well-deserved snub because the Aquatic Center was closed)
The Verdugo Hills
Above: looking back at the La Tuna Canyon Road exit off the 210. Below: just some of the wildflowers which dominated the flora.
You can see the beehive boxes stacked up in the back there. I've seen people complaining online about it as it's unauthorized use of public lands, but the bees didn't bother me when I passed by.
The white powder-appearing material is actually white flowers, datura probably, thousands of them, like a children's fairy tale book.
The area you see here to the east is La Crescenta-Montrose and La Canada-Flintridge. The very tall mountains you sometimes see further east are the San Gabriels and progressively darker gray clouds gathered during my run until it finally did rain in the afternoon. In May. In LA. It was our fault.
Finally the summit/saddle area is sighted. Above is the Plantation Lateral, viewed from the southeast.
The summit ridge has been gained. As noted, it was really well signed up there. At long last, O my liege! I looked down into beautiful downtown Burbank. To the south (a bit left) the LA skyline is visible, with Griffith park closer and to the left (and the Hollywood sign facing away) and the hill of the Palos Verdes Peninsula rising dimly in the distance. The Burbank airport is plainly visible in the middle of the valley.
The signs were cute, but the kinds of people who will smoke and litter won't be affected by anything other than a blunt and serious threat of punishment. I'm clearly getting old because cutesy things annoy me now.
Above: There is an antenna at the very highest point, Verdugo Peak, and this annoying photo is my proof to the International Committee of Pointlessness that I was there. Below: the ridgeline that awaited me. There was plenty to go after this, including a few miles through Glendale.
They're missing an "-er". Meanwhile, I continued down the mountain, marching behind the crooked cross, so I just closed my eyes and forgot my name. Looking at those clouds, it seemed it was about to rain blood, from the lacerated sky. LA got noticeably closer during the run south on the ridge.
Above, a castor bean plant, which looks poisonous, and is. Highly invasive. (Thanks to the smart folks at California Native Plant Society on Facebook who as usual identified it within minutes of posting the photo.) Below, Griffith Park from the back, which I would visit the next day.
Above: don't know the story there. Below: when I was looking down at Burbank from the backside of Griffith Park and using Gmaps to figure out what streets and buildings I was looking at, I noticed Ronny James Dio's grave was marked on the map, in the cemetery between Griffith Park and the 5. While he seemed like a nice guy (I kinda sorta met him backstage in like 03) I thought it was a bit much to specially mark him on there - and then realized that Google knows I'm a metalhead...interesting.
Above: crows had built a nest on the D. Ergo, those crows must really like the D.
Above: lots of surveillance around the sign now to keep tragedies like the Caltech prank from happening again, where in 1987 Caltech students changed the sign to read (what else) Caltech. Note, by "tragic" I mean "the best thing that ever happened." Below, Griffith Observatory at left watches over LA and waits for the arrival of naked time-traveling cyborgs that demand punks' clothing.
Above: the Hollywood Sign in the distance. Below, that's the slide from outside (from underneath.)
What I didn't get to do: run in the Santa Monica Mountains or any of the other northern preserves that my favorite running blog frequently features. I was too beat up (which is why I just hiked up to the Hollywood sign.) I also wanted to see Frank Gehry's house, the science fiction prop museum in Venice, and visit the LA Science Fiction and Fantasy meeting, as well as see the room at UCLA Library where Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 on a rented typewriter, and the Clifton Cafe where he often ate - but they'll wait for another time.
A note on Asian food, a principal reason for our visit to LA: we dined at Lacha Somtum Thai on the 5100 block of Hollywood Boulevard (hard to go wrong on that block), Sichuan Impression in Alhambra, and Seafood Harbour in Rosemead, all fantastic. We also cleansed the palate with a Western meal at Water Grill in downtown LA. Dress codes there have really gone downhill, you know I saw a guy in a T-shirt, holey sneakers and salt-stained shorts in there. Sheesh! I managed to stay away from Sunset Boulevard, although I do have a story about the Roxy for you. A kid I mentored was in a band that played there one night, and he invited me backstage. I was expecting all kinds of sex drugs and rock-n-roll, but what was the band actually doing? Playing Magic: The Gathering, and drinking soda. Diet soda. Real nice guys. Really enjoyed talking to the singer about the business aspect, which he was quite wired into. But totally deflated my idea of what goes on back there. (I think I saw Pauly Shore in the crowd at the show. He was an idiot.)
It goes without saying - only the city of Los Angeles herself - in all her glittering, terrifying, magnificent postmodern decadence - can make any claim to measuring up as the Leesport of Los Angeles County.
You should go to Running Chicken in Irvine. Sadly, Orange County has no Leesport equivalent. This is the first time the team has encountered this and we still don't fully understand it, but we have top men working on it right now.
There is a now a Din Tai Fung in San Diego. We made a reservation a month in advance for this Taiwanese chain. I always wondered why there weren't noodle chains, but now there are. They seem to be becoming the Mercedes of Taiwanese restaurants: rather middle class at home, but recognizing and fully capitalizing on their demand abroad. Lunch the next day was rolled tacos from Cuatro Milpas, which I've bragged about before, since having them makes me a better person than you. Dinner was at Sab E Lee in Linda Vista. For two nights. I fail to see a problem there.
I also went to Rose Canyon for my periodic fennel genocide (fennocide?). And I'm pleased to report that the area where it was worst, at the west end of Rose Canyon up on the hill facing the 5 where the preserve bends to the south to join Marian Bear - was almost entirely free of fennel. I saw maybe 5 plants. I don't think I can claim complete credit for eradicating it (though I can claim some) but to whoever else is there wiping it out - it worked! Thank you! I went back into Rose Canyon on the north side of the railroad tracks. I didn't have time to get it all and there are some thick stands. So if you want to get your frustrations out and help preserve San Diego's ecosystem, take the trail on the north side of Rose Canyon from the south dead-end of Regents, going west, and you will find fennel. WIPE THEM OUT. ALL OF THEM.
Looking across the small channel from the airport side to Liberty Station, then towards downtown. And yes that is a landlocked naval vessel, a 2/3 scale model used for training, the only commissioned US Navy vessel never to go to sea.
Going Home - I-5 and Points North
For most people the Central Valley is a blank void that I-5 passes through. You're missing out - here's a quick list of points of interest.