From Pacific to Peak in One Week

Well, sort of a peak. It's more like a really big hill compared to the San Gabriel Mountains in my backyard, but to my friends and family back in Minnesota, they'd say it was a mountain. Perspective, you know. They live in the plains where generally the tallest thing one encounters in life is the snow bank at the end of the driveway every winter. Last Sunday, Emmett and I hit up Palos Verdes and the Pacific ocean. This Sunday, we went on a little walking exploration through our neighboring city of Mount Washington. Mount Washington is an eclectic mix of  young families (it's one of the last affordable places in LA where you can buy a two-bedroom, one-bath home for $400,000 that ISN'T a crack house in need of fixing up); artists (generally of the urban art kind); gang members (it's on the edge of the Avenue Gang's territory); and hard-working, blue-collar folks of every color, ethnicity, religion, physical capability, and attitude. It is full of twists and turns (so many canyons carved into the mountain), lots of green space (there's a park practically on every corner), museums (home of the Southwest Museum that the Autry Museum is shamefully destroying), and historic homes dating back to the early 1900s (the area used to be a sheep and cattle ranch before developers realized the real estate potential and started building in 1909). This all means that the neighborhood is an intriguing, fascinating, and FUN place to stroll through...unlike 'hoods such as Bel Air or Westwood. Or any other hideous West Side enclave. (Can you tell I'm an East Sider?!)

In our little four-mile (but 500' in elevation gain!) walk, we encountered such things as:

Hidden stairways taking you from one street to another:

Hidden Stairs

Cats, cats, and lots o' cats (and who doesn't love a neighborhood in love with cats?!!):


The headquarters to the Self-Realization Fellowship (and their lovely gardens) which was formally the stately Mount Washington Hotel (click here to see photos of their grounds, which wasn't open yet when we walked was, after all noon on Sunday and in LA, that's EARLY):

SRF gates

A sidewalk (two blocks long) with built-in art:

Sidewalk Art!

Front yards with built-in art:

Yard Art

This one deserves its own space (and yes, those are legs coming out from the ground):

She's got legs

Moon Canyon Park, where we enjoyed the views with our lunch:

Moon Canyon Park

Flowers, flowers, flowers:


Buddha, Buddha, Buddha:

Buddah galour!

Community art in public spaces (this one is in front of a Gold Line Stop):

Community Art

And the lovely Lummis House and grounds:

Lummis House

All this is to say, once again, Southern California does not fail to dazzle us. You'd think after nine years here, we'd be over the "ahhhhhh" factor. But that couldn't be more untrue. Even a simple walk through a neighborhood reveals history, art, nature, stunning views, lovely people, interesting architecture, and PERSONALITY beyond any expectation. I had a friend from Minnesota who moved to LA shortly after I did. She moved back nine months later. She HATED LA. She said it was dirty and all concrete and the people weren't nice. Despite us inviting her on SEVERAL occasions to explore Southern California, she never took us up on our offers. Instead, she shopped The Grove (like the Mall of America except with tiny dogs wearing pink bows being carried around in Gucci hand bags) or hung out with her brother and his "industry" friends ("industry" is shorthand for people who work in the "entertainment industry") in their dark, small apartment ON THE WEST SIDE. If someone asked me to describe hell, it would have been exactly her situation. I kid you not. LA is full of her type of neighborhood and qualifying acquaintances. But it's also full of Mount Washingtons. And Palos Verdes (Verdeses/Verdesi??!?). All you have to do is get up in the morning and choose between APATHY and DISCOVERY.

And I think you know what Emmett and I choose.