Checking in from Van Nuys, CA …
With some down days in Los Angeles, Brenda and I have played tourist in the Los Angeles area. Much of it was a refresher as we have visited LA several times in the past. The area is still busy as can be, with lots of road construction, unbelievable traffic and really aggressive drivers. You have to blend in and drive like a crazy person just to keep from getting run over. But there is so much to see if you can only get there.
From the RV park in the Van Nuys section of metro LA, we headed down to scout routes through the city for the final legs of the walk. On the way to the center of the city, we passed the magnificent J. Paul Getty Museum high on a hill above the 405 (Interstate 405). It is now rated as the number one attraction in the area, no small feat. We hope to visit the Getty with friends and family on Saturday, the day before the end of the walk.
We rode by our headquarters hotel on the edge of Beverly Hills and scouted several possible routes down to Santa Monica. Since others may choose to walk all or part of the final leg with me, we wanted a safe and scenic route. We settled on a walk down Olympic Blvd and Colorado Ave, a distance of roughly 7.5 miles. We couldn’t resist diverting briefly down a cross street, Rodeo Drive, to see how the other half lives. Lots of people were strolling down this thoroughfare, but not many were carrying shopping bags. The stores were all the famous, high end names with lots of bling available at a price. One store under construction, Bvlgari the Italian Jeweler, caught our eye. The cars on the street included Ferrari, Maserati, Bentley and for the commoners Mercedes, Lexus and BMW. And then there was our red Honda Element.
Not far from Beverly Hills down Sunset Blvd and Hollywood Blvd, we headed into Hollywood proper, passing by the Gateway to Hollywood structure (commonly known as the Four Ladies Statue) with the four corner posts representing the multi-ethnicity of movie’s leading ladies with likenesses of Mae West, Dorothy Dandridge, Anna Mae Wong and Delores Del Rio. First stop was Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the Stars Walk of Fame. Couldn’t held remembering Lucy and Ethel stealing John Wayne’s cement hand and boot prints. We certainly weren’t the only ones seeking this famed tourist spot. Tourists were thick, mixed with locals dressed in costume garb and hawkers luring people to shops, restaurants and tour buses. The area has upgraded considerably since our last visit with lots of new buildings and attractions. One modern building, the Hollywood Highland Center, is designed to frame the trademark Hollywood sign on a hillside in the distance. Even some of the old holdovers have been really spruced up, most notably the El Capitan Theatre operated by Disney and continually showing classic Disney animated films—“Cinderella” today.
Trying to get a better view of the Hollywood sign, we headed up into the hills toward the Griffith Observatory. Didn’t get very close, however, as the parking lot was full and both sides of the road were crammed with cars for more than a mile in both directions. So we returned the next day when the Observatory itself was closed. The view was spectacular in all directions and with a smaller crowd and a half full parking lot, we were able to visualize the scenes that were shot here for James Dean’s “Rebel without a Cause.”
Three more days of walk ahead—Pasadena to Beverly Hills to Santa Monica. Been a long and memorable journey. Thanks for being with us in spirit on Heart Trek USA.