Return to Los Angeles

Hiking in the Santa Monica Mountain Recreation Area

We had a short break in our long flight from Santa Cruz, Bolivia to Osaka, Japan. My uncle lives in Studio City California and once again, he was a gracious host as we stayed in Los Angeles for 2 days. It was good to get a good night’s sleep, some delicious home cooked meals, and catching up with family / meeting new family members!

Besides spending time with my uncle, the highlight for the trip to me was a hike in the Santa Monica mountains. Wilacre Park along with a couple of other natural areas in the mountains that are connected, make for a refreshing green break from the hustle of LA traffic. There were a lot of people on the trails, but everyone was in a good mood and quite complimentary to my family. I spotted a hummingbird and a beautiful yellow songbird that I will identify on my nature blog. The trail was well-maintained and despite some overly large homes encroaching on the limits of the park, it was a pleasant nature experience. This area is separate from our previous hike near the Griffiths Observatory that we did last month on our way through. The Wilacre trail would make a fantastic run because of the gently rolling hills and views to the city. LA surprisingly has a lot of nature reserves due to the proximity of mountains and it is quite easy to get into forest, in the middle of a large metropolitan area.

The boys are amazed at the size of the “double gulp” at 7 11. You won’t find that in Japan!

I read a good article about the Los Angeles River in the Sunday LA Times. The river is 51 miles long and during LA’s development of the 1940s, the army corps of engineer filled the river with thick concrete. They did this so during a rain storm, the city would not flood and the stormwater would safely be sent out to sea. It served its purpose of allowing the city to grow, but it is quite an eyesore when it is not filled with storm water. City officials are trying to figure out how to make it a place to for the citizens to enjoy. Today it is off limits, but it is not realistic to remove the cement and make it green. I don’t know what they will do, but I am glad they are thinking about it. In the parts I saw, the river itself is off-limits and there was only a small flow of treated wastewater. Some of the river had a nice walking trail with artwork and some planting, but it is in contrast to the metal chain-link fence and barbed wire. I will be curious to see what they come up with as they commissioned a famous designer to work with NGOs to make a proposal.

Los Angeles River – Studio City, California – July 2015

It was quite evident to us that LA is the center of movies and television. While on the hike, five planes skywrote “COMPTON” to promote the new film, “Straight Out of Compton”. There were also numerous billboards and small studios all over the city. The city is also the center of the pornography industry, and some of the studios looked a bit dodgy.

We had a nice Thai meal last night. One interesting observation is the contrast between neighborhoods and even blocks. Some like Studio City are really nice with expensive homes and classy restaurants. Then there are other areas with pawn shops, liquor stores and dilapidated buildings on the next block.

View of the valley from the Wilacre Park in the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area

LA has a lot to offer and we really enjoyed our two visits this summer. I would love to come back and see more. I don’t think I would want to live here because of the high cost of housing and traffic. It really is a city of large income disparity and it needs more government intervention to make the city more livable and equitable. They could start with some serious public transportation infrastructure and some serious downsizing of homes and cars, which is much harder to do.

I would like to thank Uncle Jack for hosting and helping us! We love you!

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