I’ve Got A Date with the Hollywood Sign

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I don’t think there’s anything more classically cliché or more Los Angeles than the Hollywood Sign. As overexposed and merchandised as it has now become – there’s still something so captivating about it. Whenever I see it while running about town, it makes me smile and secretly proud to be in one of the greatest cities in the world. I don’t know how you can write a blog about life in LA without mentioning it or seeing it as up close and personal as you can. I have failed you for the last 11 months, this post should’ve come much sooner.

After assessing my spring goals where I realized that, yet again, I neglected to make time to hike the famous Hollyridge Trail, I decided it was time once and for all. What normally would’ve been something that had to be coordinated and planned with another person’s schedule in advance, became something that I told myself was going to happen that upcoming weekend and nothing was going to stop me. I would just go solo.

I was going to make a date with the Hollywood Sign…

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{insert dramatic-on-a-mission photo here.}

…and for a first date it was SPECTACULAR! It felt so good to get up early with a clear purpose, no traffic, and knowing that I was going to treat myself to a Starbucks stop for a job well done afterward. It was also really empowering to go alone (though I made sure my phone was fully charged, someone knew where I was, and I essentially followed the general direction of people so I wouldn’t get lost this first time around). I could go at a pace that was comfortable for me and stop to snap pictures without being “that” annoying blogger friend who is always stopping the action to take photos.

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What you should know:

1. Arrive early. Not only does this guarantee better parking odds, but there is virtually no shading along the trails. You don’t want to be out there at high noon. You’ll die of heat stroke.

2. Parking sucks. While free, parking can be a hassle. They do have a small lot for parking and people start parking along the driveway that heads up to the main lot as well. To make it easier to get in and out as quickly as possible, I parked at the bottom of the trail on Beachwood Drive and essentially took a “mini” hike up the hill to get to the start of the hike. Needless to say, I was already out of breath before I even hit the actual trail.

3. This is a real hike. I was surprised by the amount of people dressed like they were going for a stroll in the park. Ladies in sandals and maxi dresses were the true culprits. Clearly, these are tourists in the mindset of “oh, lets take a walk to see the Hollywood Sign.” I could feel the blisters that must be forming on these well-dressed women by just looking at them. Even worse, I saw several families pushing strollers up steady inclines looking totally miserable. This is a real hiking trail at a moderate hiking level. Dress appropriately, bring water, and leave your kids at home if they can’t walk.

4. Beware: horse poop ahead. Hollyridge shares areas of the trail with the Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables where guests can rent and ride horses. There are parts of the trail where droppings are visible and permeate the air. This doesn’t last long and I noticed it at the beginning of the hike only. The tails are really wide so it’s easy to keep an eye out and by-pass any horse poop.

5. Two views. What I learned in researching the trails was that there are ways to get both front and rear views of the sign depending on which route you take once you’re up there. For my first time up, I decided to head toward the front of the sign to make sure I got the money shot for my blog. It has been awhile since I’ve hiked and while I wanted a good work-out, I didn’t want to push it. Taking the path to see the front of the sign was perfect for me. If you make your way to the tip-top of the mountain, you can see the back of the sign and even greater panorama views of LA.  Just a note that this requires an even higher incline than I went.

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{Entrance off Beachwood Drive.}

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{Trails.}

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{Stables.}

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{Horse Riding/Poop siting.}

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{Hike art?}

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{Hello smog-filled, LA!}

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{Parking drama I noticed on the way back to my car – get there early.}

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{My reward for a job well done!}

What a great start to summer. I’m looking forward to my second date!!

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Highlights

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{Instagrammed shot of the Hollywood Sign.}

The first few days of summer were full of sunshine and birds chirping here in LA – a picturesque manner in which you’d expect. Then June gloom took over for a few days (boo) …just before a heat wave that will continue well into the weekend. I’m always surprised by much the weather affects me. I know some welcome the cloudy gray skies, but this type of weather makes me want to stay indoors and watch movies all day. It produces such a lethargic energy in me that lets me know I’d probably die of depression if I lived anywhere else, and certainly limits my options during those times when I fantasize about moving to another city for a while. I’m sure I’ll start complaining shortly about how hot it is, but I’m enjoying the clear blue skies and sunshine in the meantime.

A huge highlight for me since last catching up with you, was that I finally crossed something off my bucket list that’s been there for quite awhile. On a gorgeous Saturday morning I got up early and tackled the Hollyridge Trail – the famous hiking site in the Griffith Park area for up close and personal views of the beloved Hollywood Sign. Full post to come on that amazing experience next week.

I can’t say I’m happy at how fast time seems to be going, but I am happy to bid June gloom goodbye once and for all. This was a roller coaster month for me, in retrospect. Full of good days and bad, but I’m very much looking forward to welcoming July. My summer plans are all set. The 4th is just around the corner and I’m still that girl who totally digs fireworks.

This weekend I’d like to make it a point to get out and enjoy the sunshine with perhaps a book on the beach or under a shady tree at a park. Then once I’ve had enough of nature, enjoying the air-conditioning when we go see Pedro Almodóvor’s new film, I’m So Excited.

Have a great weekend. xx

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{Enjoying Lake Balboa Park on the first day of summer.}

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{In love with my new sunnies from Free People.}

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{Taking a moment to sit in the sunshine – I don’t think there’s anything quite as spectacular as light on water.}

{Experimenting with a quick video clip which I wasn’t going to include – but thought was pretty funny because it’s so bad. I couldn’t keep a straight face and my allergies were killing me that day.

Yes, I did go to film school and should be ashamed of myself.  Yes,  these will be improved. Yes, that Rice Krispies Treat was yummy!}

The Spring Project

I love a good project! And it’s extra fun when there’s a focused theme surrounding it to help you get the most out of what you hope to accomplish. For me, there’s nothing more satisfying than making a list and crossing things off as you go. It’s so satisfying, in fact, that sometimes when making a list, I add things that I’ve already completed, just so I can have the feeling of crossing it off. (I can’t be the only person that does this? Bueller?)

You can see my recent holiday themed projects for Halloween and Christmas here and here to give you idea of how much I love goal-oriented ventures.

In celebration of the changing of seasons making its official appearance on Wednesday, The Spring Project is a short list of must-do’s that I’ve created to get the most out of the longer sunshine filled days and the renewing feeling that Spring inevitably brings.

I’ll report back as we make our way toward the heated depths of summer. Here’s to Spring and accomplishing your goals.


The Spring Project


// OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW //

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Of course, one of the first things to do is a little spring cleaning. My goal is to finally get into my closet and toss those things that need to go. Next up, to go through my DVD library, pull those “what was I thinking?” purchases and head to Amoeba for a trade-in. Am I EVER going to watch Crossroads again? Yes, I actually own that on DVD, but to my credit I was just a kid college student (in film school, no less!) 🙂


// BE OUTDOORS //

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Naturally, the perfect temperatures and near constant L.A. sunshine make for the perfect recipe to spend as much time outdoors as possible. This Spring trips to Lake Balboa, lounging on the beach, hiking in Griffith Park and to the Hollywood Sign are on the agenda during most weekends.


// FLOWER FRIENDLY //

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I love flowers, plants, any sort of perennial – and try to have their beauty around me as much as I can. Unfortunately, whenever I cut back on spending – this is one of the first things to go, though it’s something that I am always happy to see when I walk into my apartment or sit at my desk at work. Spring makes me want to see blooming vivid colors and inhale the sweet fragrance of flowers, a must have to enjoy the riches of the season and the one thing that I hope to have more of.


// FITNESS //

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There’s no excuse not to get back into a more consistent workout schedule and now that there’s extra sunshine after work, I’ll be more motivated to hit the gym (rather than the couch). Even more motivating, Spring means dresses and shorts as fashion staples. It’s time to shed those winter developed pounds that can be hidden under a sweater no longer. While I’m a big fan of yoga, I need to incorporate more cardio and weightlifting into the routine.


// FRUIT INSPIRED RECIPES //

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Thanks to Pinterest, I’ve been curating lots of yummy recipe ideas using fresh fruit. Here are just a few that I want to indulge in on a lazy sunny weekend afternoon.

1. Spring Fruit Pizza

2. Fruit Pizza

3. Strawberry Basil Moscato Lemonade

4. Peanut butter, Strawberries, Bananas and Granola Wrap

5. Sparkling White Peach Sangria


Walt Disney Concert Hall

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Location: 135 North Grand Avenue, Downtown L.A.

This past Saturday was one of those days that I’ll always look back on fondly. What a treat when we decided to take a tour of the famous Walt Disney Concert Hall, home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, designed by famed L.A. based architect, Frank Gehry.

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Named in honor of the legendary Walt Disney through an initial 50 million dollar donation on his wife Lillian’s behalf, the stainless steel structure sits eye-catchingly on the corner of 1st and Grand in Downtown L.A. Aside from the unique curvatures of the gleaming exterior, this facility was built to produce state-of-the-art, unparalleled acoustics for concert-goers.

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Always in the mood to explore something for the first time, I was ecstatic when I learned some time ago of their free architectural tours. You can take the self-guided audio tour or, as we did, the 60 minute docent lead tour. Eva, our excellent guide, graciously took us around the massive structure feeding us insight and key details that added context to the visual oasis around me. From the 12,500 pieces of steel; to the use of Douglas Fir tree trunks, for both aesthetic and structural purposes; to details on the funding, development, and construction; as well as the controversy surrounding the reflection issues that caused quite a stir when the sunlight hit the building producing unbearable amounts of heat for the residents living near the building; were all topics of discussion.

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What I found most fascinating that I wouldn’t have picked up on without Eva’s knowledge was that the space reflects Frank Gehry’s love of sailing. Inside, walls give a subtle salute to fish scales, railing and carpeting are reminiscent of a cruise ship, and the only piece of art, a painting, sits on the wall in a vibrant ocean blue.

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On top of the Concert Hall, sits a slice of heaven dedicated to the memory of Lillian Disney and her love of roses, a public garden that boasts spectacular views of Downtown L.A., the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory.

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Unfortunately, the tours don’t take you through the actual auditorium due to on-going rehearsals during this time of year, but we did get a taste of the space when our guide described the sophistication and attention to detail in the acoustic design. The energy and vibration she described that happens during a concert was palpable.

Leaving the space with such appreciation in its architectural design, I realized how much I wanted to return as an actual concert-goer to personally experience what the purpose of this spectacular building is for – a night of live music. It’s now on my list of things to do. Hopefully, I’ll get to share that with you very soon.

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