Category: Hiking

NH 4K: Mount Garfield via Mount Garfield Trail (Cate’s 48 Finish)

Buy my new novel Take to the Unscathed Road now! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
Mount Garfield is the odd one out of the Franconia Range. It dwarfs the ridge peaks, but its summit views are probably better than its brethren (in my opinion). After doing this trail in September, I came to the conclusion that it is a lousy summer trail but a great winter trail due to erosion.

This was a very special ascent for my friend Cate, who was due to finish her 48. Unfortunately we had no views all day. But we only saw a handful of people and the trail was mostly in good shape with light snow cover from top to bottom. There were definitely some sketchy icy spots though, but those will soon cover.

Once we breached the 3000 foot mark, it was pretty much completely snow covered, but there was ice under a fair bit of that snow.

It was quite windy on the summit, so we didn't spend too much time. But as always, the ascent on Garfield is steady and not too steep.

Total Time: 4 hrs..

Buy my new novel Take to the Unscathed Road now! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
Mount Garfield is the odd one out of the Franconia Range. It dwarfs the ridge peaks, but its summit views are probably better than its brethren (in my opinion). After doing this trail in September, I came to the conclusion that it is a lousy summer trail but a great winter trail due to erosion.

This was a very special ascent for my friend Cate, who was due to finish her 48. Unfortunately we had no views all day. But we only saw a handful of people and the trail was mostly in good shape with light snow cover from top to bottom. There were definitely some sketchy icy spots though, but those will soon cover.


Once we breached the 3000 foot mark, it was pretty much completely snow covered, but there was ice under a fair bit of that snow.


It was quite windy on the summit, so we didn't spend too much time. But as always, the ascent on Garfield is steady and not too steep.




Total Time: 4 hrs 43 minsTotal Distance: ~9.8 milesTotal Elevation Gain: ~3400 vertical gain

No Comments on NH 4K: Mount Garfield via Mount Garfield Trail (Cate’s 48 Finish)

Potter Hill Meadows, Williams Preserve, Brigham Hill Loop (Grafton, MA)

Buy my new novel Take to the Unscathed Road now!Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
Grafton isn't a place I've explored for trails. There are quite a few properties managed by the Grafton Land Trust, and slowly but surely I will get to them all. The first one I visited was Potter Hill Meadows/Williams Preserve/Brigham Hill Loop. A great map can be found HERE.

This hike begins on Potter Hill Road, though there are a number of trailheads, one of which I failed to find on Brigham Hill Road. I eventually found it during my hike though. One must be mindful of parking on these narrow roads in the proper area, so pay attention to the map.

This was the first snow of the season, a beautiful Halloween adventure with snowshoes. I probably could have gotten away with microspikes, but it felt cool to put the snowshoes on in October.

I played around in the expansive trail system, hitting most of the trails in these three separate tracts. There's also another trail system..

Buy my new novel Take to the Unscathed Road now!Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
Grafton isn't a place I've explored for trails. There are quite a few properties managed by the Grafton Land Trust, and slowly but surely I will get to them all. The first one I visited was Potter Hill Meadows/Williams Preserve/Brigham Hill Loop. A great map can be found HERE.

This hike begins on Potter Hill Road, though there are a number of trailheads, one of which I failed to find on Brigham Hill Road. I eventually found it during my hike though. One must be mindful of parking on these narrow roads in the proper area, so pay attention to the map.

This was the first snow of the season, a beautiful Halloween adventure with snowshoes. I probably could have gotten away with microspikes, but it felt cool to put the snowshoes on in October.

I played around in the expansive trail system, hitting most of the trails in these three separate tracts. There's also another trail system called the Martha Deering Wildlife Management Area adjacent to these tracts, but I'll save that for another day. This entire trail system is quite expansive, even connecting to some trails in Millbury which can make for a long day of hiking if one gets creative with their route.



What I enjoyed the most about this trail system were the open-ish woods with easy grades. It was somewhat hilly, but nothing crazy.




And the best part was being one of the only people in the woods. I saw one other person the entire time I was there. It does seem like it could get busy though, especially in the warmer months.


Total Time: ~1 hrTotal Distance: ~2.3 milesTotal Elevation Gain: ~282 vertical gain

No Comments on Potter Hill Meadows, Williams Preserve, Brigham Hill Loop (Grafton, MA)

Hodges Village Dam and Buffumville Lake (Oxford, MA)

Buy my new novel Take to the Unscathed Road now! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
I don't go mountain biking solo often, but I decided to visit a local spot that I had run before on our Midstate Trail section hike. Hodges Village Dam/Buffumville Lake is a large conservation area in Oxford. It's not a place I would necessarily go back to a bunch, but if you're in the area it's fun to explore a few times.

Part of the reason I don't have high praise for it as a biking area is a lot of the trails are beaten up with loose gravel and rock that isn't super conducive to biking. It's a good running area as well, but the terrain is quite eroded.

There are some beautiful single track sections however that were probably illegally cut.

And a couple cool bridges to cross.

But all in all, you can get a good amount of miles in here either on bike or on foot.

Total Time: ~52 minutesTotal Distance: ~5.79 milesTotal Elevation Gain: ~278 vertical gain

Buy my new novel Take to the Unscathed Road now! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
I don't go mountain biking solo often, but I decided to visit a local spot that I had run before on our Midstate Trail section hike. Hodges Village Dam/Buffumville Lake is a large conservation area in Oxford. It's not a place I would necessarily go back to a bunch, but if you're in the area it's fun to explore a few times.

Part of the reason I don't have high praise for it as a biking area is a lot of the trails are beaten up with loose gravel and rock that isn't super conducive to biking. It's a good running area as well, but the terrain is quite eroded.

There are some beautiful single track sections however that were probably illegally cut.


And a couple cool bridges to cross.

But all in all, you can get a good amount of miles in here either on bike or on foot.

Total Time: ~52 minutesTotal Distance: ~5.79 milesTotal Elevation Gain: ~278 vertical gain

No Comments on Hodges Village Dam and Buffumville Lake (Oxford, MA)

Mount Rainier National Park – One Day Guide

Mount Rainier National Park is one of Washington’s gems! It’s ~2 hours from Seattle and makes for a good day trip or a longer weekend trip.LOGISTICSIf you only have 1 spare day, I would recommend coming to Rainier early, spending the day here and then heading back to Seattle! Here are a few important things to know:
Car: You will need a car to get here and to get around!
National Park Pass: The entrance fee is $30, but you can also get an annual pass for $80. You do not need to buy this ahead of time and can pay at the entrance stations!
Sunrise Visitor Center: There are multiple entrances to get to Rainier and you’ll want head to Sunrise Visitor Center here.
COVID Safety: Good but not great. You can see in the photo above that the tower was pretty crowded, mask wearing is sparse. Some people hiking in groups of 8+. I actually never went to the tower and took this shot from 50 feet away
When go to: IMO Rainier is mostly only worth it if there are clear skies – because you want views o..

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park is one of Washington’s gems! It’s ~2 hours from Seattle and makes for a good day trip or a longer weekend trip.

LOGISTICS

If you only have 1 spare day, I would recommend coming to Rainier early, spending the day here and then heading back to Seattle! Here are a few important things to know:

  • Car: You will need a car to get here and to get around!

  • National Park Pass: The entrance fee is $30, but you can also get an annual pass for $80. You do not need to buy this ahead of time and can pay at the entrance stations!

  • Sunrise Visitor Center: There are multiple entrances to get to Rainier and you’ll want head to Sunrise Visitor Center here.

  • COVID Safety: Good but not great. You can see in the photo above that the tower was pretty crowded, mask wearing is sparse. Some people hiking in groups of 8+. I actually never went to the tower and took this shot from 50 feet away

  • When go to: IMO Rainier is mostly only worth it if there are clear skies – because you want views of Rainier! It’s a little bit of a bummer when it’s cloudy out. Check the local weather before heading out

Hikes

Mount Fremont Lookout

There are a lot of hiking options in Rainier, but for one day I would optimize for the best views! Here are some of the hikes we liked:

  • Burroughs Mountain Trail: 4.7 miles to the 1st burrough, 7 miles to the 2nd. This hike actually follows along a lot of the same trail as the Mt Fremont Lookout, so it’s a perfect hike to group together! We were lucky with an inversion and it was super beautiful the whole way. Also great views of Rainier

  • Mount Fremont Lookout Trail: 5.6 miles RT, but again it will be shorter if you come from the Burroughs. The most popular time of day to go here is for sunset, which means you will be hiking down in the dark. Don’t forget to pack warm gear and a light!

  • Tipsoo Lake: More of a lookout point than a hike, this is a nice detour as you’re heading to Sunrise. You can walk around the lake, but the best view is if you continue on the road around the East side of the lake to 46.86828737063462, -121.51530421371298.

Tipsoo Lake

What to Pack

Because of it’s elevation and location, Rainier can get a little chilly, and then a little hot. So pack tons of layers! This is my list:

Mount Fremont Lookout

Have you been to Mount Rainier before? What are your favorite hikes?

No Comments on Mount Rainier National Park – One Day Guide

Peaceful Tourist Presents: Ascending to Oblivion: Seven Hours in a Float Tank

First Posted on 9/25/2018

I began floating in sensory deprivation tanks about a year and a half ago. While first lured by tales of psychedelic insight I stuck around for the profound physical and mental relaxation. The float tank environment is a combination of conditions humans do not normally encounter – absolute darkness, silence, weightlessness and solitude. Ideally, sensory input does not exist inside the float chamber. The user is left free from distraction and alone with their thoughts, perhaps for the first time since they left their mother’s womb.

Float Lab in Westwood Village is my first choice for floating. In my experience, Float Lab is simply the best. The tanks are nice and big, tall enough to stand up in and long enough to lay back and stretch out with arms fully extended overhead. Other float tanks and pods may give an option for colored lights and music, but these things only detract from the experience. Nothingness is my goal. The staff is always friendly and profes..

First Posted on 9/25/2018

I began floating in sensory deprivation tanks about a year and a half ago. While first lured by tales of psychedelic insight I stuck around for the profound physical and mental relaxation. The float tank environment is a combination of conditions humans do not normally encounter – absolute darkness, silence, weightlessness and solitude. Ideally, sensory input does not exist inside the float chamber. The user is left free from distraction and alone with their thoughts, perhaps for the first time since they left their mother’s womb.

Float Lab in Westwood Village is my first choice for floating. In my experience, Float Lab is simply the best. The tanks are nice and big, tall enough to stand up in and long enough to lay back and stretch out with arms fully extended overhead. Other float tanks and pods may give an option for colored lights and music, but these things only detract from the experience. Nothingness is my goal. The staff is always friendly and professional. The facility is kept spotless. And to top it off the prices are way less than the other places I’ve seen. I have paid more for a 90-minute float at another facility than I paid for my seven-hour float on this day.

The float tank is not such a mysterious contraption. It’s a large metal cube filled with about a foot of water made super-buoyant by magnesium-rich Epsom salts. The concentration of salt keeps the user’s head and body safely hovering above the water line. You do not have to know how to swim and can even fall asleep without fear. Once you have stepped inside you will understand, drowning does not seem possible.

My one recurring nightmare centers around being trapped inside a small, dark place. Once, while dreaming of being trapped in a storm drain, I was brought back to reality after I pushed over a stack of books that came tumbling down around my head. So as you might imagine claustrophobia was a concern before my first float. Fortunately, this phobia has never bothered me while floating. I’ve never felt trapped inside a float tank. There is a single door which opens with little effort. Yes, it opens every time. When I began floating I struggled with a couple of other irrational thoughts which I hope won’t needlessly worry you. The tank has fresh air pumped in every few minutes and isn’t airtight, so you will not run out of air. And you will not be forgotten. Enjoy your time away from conflict and drama. But what if some catastrophe takes place in the real world? You are in the safest place you could be – in a basement, in a locked private room, inside a metal box. Should the World end, the few remaining survivors will probably be crawling out of float tanks.

You will be given simple instructions on what to do before and after you float. Use the restroom, shower, dry your face, etc. One piece of advice I do ignore is to wear ear plugs. I never wear them. If sound creeps into the tank it will be an occasional deep thud. Ear plugs are great for muffling all sounds except these thuds, with which they make no difference. Also, ear plugs actually amplify your internal sounds – your heartbeat, breathing and digestive processes are less pronounced when your ears are full of water. In the tank you wear nothing but your bare-naked skin. Don’t worry, you are completely alone. Embrace the freedom of ditching those restrictive garments. Return to your natural state.

I was led down a long hallway to the last room on the right. I showered, set up my gear in front of the tank and crawled inside, closing the door behind me. I slowly lowered myself into the water, lay back and let go. My body was swept up like a cork. It felt like laying on the most comfortable bed in the world, every contour perfectly supported. I let my ears fill with water. I could hear my own breath so I softened and slowed it down until it was barely perceptible. My heart pounded but this too would eventually fade.

The magic of floating comes in stillness. Stillness of body and stillness of mind. Don’t make the mistake of tensing your muscles to keep them still. Breathe and relax.

The amount of tension my body holds always amazes me. The second time I floated my stomach muscles released, maybe for the first time in my life. My stomach literally caved in. Normally flat when laying on my back, it became concave like the shape of a bowl. During my seven-hour float, my chest opened wide to the sound of pops and cracks. I felt tension melt away from the back of my neck, shoulders and throat. After five hours even my face relaxed, and that’s the one area that isn’t cradled by water. It was such an incredible relief to finally feel at peace.

I let my thoughts flow but did not engage them. I did not struggle to keep my mind empty and held on to nothing. Soon my thoughts became random and distant, bouncing gently through the echo chamber of my mind like they do before I drift into sleep. Upon entering this state of sublime calm I felt spacey, euphoric sensations. I was lifted by some invisible force. I rose, suspended in darkness. Ethereal warmth blanketed my body. I rode this transcendent feeling and, like a wave, it crested and softly crashed. I began the cycle again.

One interesting note; I’ve never been able to effectively visualize pictures. If I listened to a meditation tape, for example, and was told to imagine a mountain lake, the only thing I could ever see was the blackness behind my closed eyes. But on this day I suddenly saw images in my head, crystal clear like watching a colorful slide show. It was truly amazing.

I heard a knock on the wall of my tank. My time was up. Going into the float I gave myself permission to leave early if I got bored or wasn’t feeling it in any other way. But that never happened. I honestly had no desire to leave the tank even after seven hours. Maybe next time I’ll go even longer.

After rinsing off I headed back out into our cruel and chaotic World. But after my float people seemed friendlier somehow, and the World a better, more hopeful place.

Float Lab Westwood

Phone: 310-208-0000

Website: Float Lab

The post Peaceful Tourist Presents: Ascending to Oblivion: Seven Hours in a Float Tank first appeared on Silent Hiker.

No Comments on Peaceful Tourist Presents: Ascending to Oblivion: Seven Hours in a Float Tank

Peaceful Tourist Presents: May All Beings Have Happiness: Hsi Lai Temple

First Posted on 10/15/2018

“May all beings have happiness…”, is part of a traditional Buddhist prayer. I’m not a Buddhist but I assume this prayer is a way for devotees to send positive energy out into the universe. This act is so important for spiritual health, to wish well for our fellow beings in a sincere and selfless manner. Giving selflessly benefits all.

The largest Buddhist temple in the United States is right here in the Southern California city of Hacinda Heights. Hsi Lai Temple is a massive complex filled with treasure upon treasure, golden art and architecture converging. But much more, this is a quiet place for sacred and personal reflection. I felt uplifted from the start.

I wound my way up the one-way drive to the temple parking lot. The hillside garden below is beautifully manicured. I decided to start there.

This entrance garden is populated by an array of whimsical statutes.

The greenery, with it’s twisted trees and flowing hedges, has been shaped by a gentle a..

First Posted on 10/15/2018

“May all beings have happiness…”, is part of a traditional Buddhist prayer. I’m not a Buddhist but I assume this prayer is a way for devotees to send positive energy out into the universe. This act is so important for spiritual health, to wish well for our fellow beings in a sincere and selfless manner. Giving selflessly benefits all.

The largest Buddhist temple in the United States is right here in the Southern California city of Hacinda Heights. Hsi Lai Temple is a massive complex filled with treasure upon treasure, golden art and architecture converging. But much more, this is a quiet place for sacred and personal reflection. I felt uplifted from the start.

I wound my way up the one-way drive to the temple parking lot. The hillside garden below is beautifully manicured. I decided to start there.

This entrance garden is populated by an array of whimsical statutes.

The greenery, with it’s twisted trees and flowing hedges, has been shaped by a gentle artist’s hand.

I walked softly up the the stairs to the first building, Bodhisattva Hall.

Standing Guard – the grounds are protected by the effigies of fierce creatures and mythical warriors.

I toured around outside. There were more delightful little wonders awaiting discovery.

Pikachu?!

I passed through the first building, which is lovely. (Take note, photography is forbidden inside the buildings). I stepped into a courtyard, quite large with a green, geometrical pattern underfoot. Before me stood the magnificent Main Temple.

I took my time and explored the courtyard. The walkways are lined with sculpture, piece upon piece.

Buddha with Swastika on his chest. I’ve seen the symbol used before in art predating Nazi Germany.

One of the highlights are these colorful dioramas depicting famous scenes from Buddhist lore.

Guy Rides Tiger, Guy Sits on Deer

I made my way up the steps in front of the Main Temple, admiring the architectural details of these buildings. Does it really take all of those beams to make the roof corners curve up like they do, or are they just decorative? Whatever the answer, they look amazingly complicated.

Looking down at Bodhisattva Hall and then up to the Main Shrine.

In front of the Main Shrine is this large incense burner. Sweet smoke carried my spirit higher. I lit a stick and placed it inside the burner – an offering, with respect to the traditions practiced here, and a prayer for a more harmonious World.

Camera off, I entered the Main Shrine. Thousands of small golden lights bathed the room in a serene glow. It felt like I was sitting in a giant jewelry box. Followers, bowed, chanted and prayed. I closed my eyes and tapped into the power of this place and this moment in time. Thanks for the hospitality, Hsi Lai Temple.

While in the area, I dropped in on three roadside attractions, coincidentally all food related. The first, two fake McDonald’s used as sets to film TV commercials. The buildings are not open to the public but I was still able to get a pretty good look. To hit different target audiences, one restaurant is in an urban setting and the other suburban.

My next stop was the Donut Hole. I love stuff like this. Customers get to drive through the giant doughnut when they pick-up their order. A (w)hole lot of fun!

My final stop was in Baldwin Park – the Mecca for In-N-Out Burger fanatics. There is a modern restaurant, a store where they sell In-N-Out merchandise, and a building labeled In-N-Out University. But the best is this replica of the very first restaurant, a tiny stand that blossomed into a Southern California fast food institution.

The display was actually closed on this day. At first I took pictures from behind a fence. A man walked into the display followed shortly by a group of young people wearing In-N-Out T-shirts. As the the group entered the gate the man waved me in as well. He didn’t have to do that. What a great guy! All the kids were cool as well. None of this really surprises me. I’ve sometimes wondered how In-N-Out gets their employees to be so darn nice! Photo 2 -Vintage washing machine they used to wash the French fries. Photo 3 – Inside the tiny workspace.

Thanks In-N-Out! Love Ya!

The post Peaceful Tourist Presents: May All Beings Have Happiness: Hsi Lai Temple first appeared on Silent Hiker.

No Comments on Peaceful Tourist Presents: May All Beings Have Happiness: Hsi Lai Temple

NH 4K: Mount Moosilauke and South Peak via Snapper, Carriage Road, Gorge Brook

Buy my new novel Take to the Unscathed Road now!Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
This was my 10th time up the big Moose, and aside from my ski descents, probably the best one. We saw a handful of people on a gorgeous late fall afternoon. The road was gated off to the Lodge about .6 miles to the trailhead, but it was a fine jaunt.

Rather than take the Gorge Brook Trail to the summit, we opted to take the Snapper to Carriage Road. This was the first time I had done the loop this way, but now I remember why most people don't go this way. Although it is very moderate all the way up to the Carriage Road, it makes the descent a little harder on the knees, since Gorge Brook is more consistently steep.

Ice line was basically at the trailhead. One could theoretically do this without spikes, but I do not advise it. Especially with colder temps on the horizon.

We didn't start seeing snow until we reached the Carriage Road at approximately 3,500 feet.

We had some of the..

Buy my new novel Take to the Unscathed Road now!Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
This was my 10th time up the big Moose, and aside from my ski descents, probably the best one. We saw a handful of people on a gorgeous late fall afternoon. The road was gated off to the Lodge about .6 miles to the trailhead, but it was a fine jaunt.


Rather than take the Gorge Brook Trail to the summit, we opted to take the Snapper to Carriage Road. This was the first time I had done the loop this way, but now I remember why most people don't go this way. Although it is very moderate all the way up to the Carriage Road, it makes the descent a little harder on the knees, since Gorge Brook is more consistently steep.


Ice line was basically at the trailhead. One could theoretically do this without spikes, but I do not advise it. Especially with colder temps on the horizon.


We didn't start seeing snow until we reached the Carriage Road at approximately 3,500 feet.


We had some of the best views I've ever had going up the Carriage Road.


And even better views from the South Peak. This was only my second time on the summit because nearly every time I do Moosilauke from this side it's socked in with clouds.





The snow all the way to the summit was negligible, the views were plenty, and the wind wasn't too bad. It was the absolute perfect temperature.


I knocked the ice off the sign, but I'm sure it will be back soon!


We took Gorge Brook down, which as I said was hard on the knees. Although it is switchbacky, it has some big steps down. I often see Gorge Brook as part of ski routes on Moosilauke. I've taken it up on skis, but never down. I don't think I would want to.




Despite the downhill slog, we were rewarded with an incredible sunset. Not a bad day in the mountains.


Total Time: ~4 hrs 19 minsTotal Distance: ~8.91 miles with extra road walk and South PeakTotal Elevation Gain: ~2877 vertical gain

No Comments on NH 4K: Mount Moosilauke and South Peak via Snapper, Carriage Road, Gorge Brook

The Peaceful Tourist Experiment

I thought it would be fun to post the three trips I originally posted for my second, very short-lived blog “Peaceful Tourist”. When I was doing real hiking and taking photos for Silent Hiker, I always liked to stop at fun curiosities while on the road. So why not make a whole day of it? After a few hikes I decided it wasn’t right for me – too expensive and not enough physical activity or solitude. Still, I look back and these were fun days where I got to get a little more creative in my planning than usual. I will leave the original writings for the first three entries intact. The write-up for the fourth trip was never completed, so that will be new. Hope someone out there enjoys these.
The post The Peaceful Tourist Experiment first appeared on Silent Hiker.

I thought it would be fun to post the three trips I originally posted for my second, very short-lived blog “Peaceful Tourist”. When I was doing real hiking and taking photos for Silent Hiker, I always liked to stop at fun curiosities while on the road. So why not make a whole day of it? After a few hikes I decided it wasn’t right for me – too expensive and not enough physical activity or solitude. Still, I look back and these were fun days where I got to get a little more creative in my planning than usual. I will leave the original writings for the first three entries intact. The write-up for the fourth trip was never completed, so that will be new. Hope someone out there enjoys these.

The post The Peaceful Tourist Experiment first appeared on Silent Hiker.

No Comments on The Peaceful Tourist Experiment

Peaceful Tourist Presents: Peace ‘N The Hood: The LA Hood Life Tour

The Hollywood tour with an edge. You can forget about seeing Betty White’s house along the way. I was driven into some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Los Angeles on a hip-hop based tour brimming with cultural and historic landmarks. From the childhood homes of legendary gangsta rappers to the flashpoint of the LA Riots, from the beautiful houses in affluent Baldwin Hills to the projects in Watts, the LA Hood Life Tour is electric from start to finish. This tour provided a unique opportunity to see things and go places I’d not dare on my own. It also puts a human face on the hood. I wasn’t watching a movie or show or music video. I saw real people out there, flesh and blood – we live, we die, we love, we hate, we’re all the same.

As I exited the 101 Freeway onto Highland Ave. in Hollywood I realized I’d forgotten my camera. This costly mistake set off a chain of events which would eventually work in my favor. I parked next to Hollywood and Highland mall where TCL Chinese Theat..

The Hollywood tour with an edge. You can forget about seeing Betty White’s house along the way. I was driven into some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Los Angeles on a hip-hop based tour brimming with cultural and historic landmarks. From the childhood homes of legendary gangsta rappers to the flashpoint of the LA Riots, from the beautiful houses in affluent Baldwin Hills to the projects in Watts, the LA Hood Life Tour is electric from start to finish. This tour provided a unique opportunity to see things and go places I’d not dare on my own. It also puts a human face on the hood. I wasn’t watching a movie or show or music video. I saw real people out there, flesh and blood – we live, we die, we love, we hate, we’re all the same.

As I exited the 101 Freeway onto Highland Ave. in Hollywood I realized I’d forgotten my camera. This costly mistake set off a chain of events which would eventually work in my favor. I parked next to Hollywood and Highland mall where TCL Chinese Theater (aka Grauman’s Chinese Theater) is located. It was a three-quarter mile hike to the pick-up point. I began down Hollywood Blvd. desperately seeking a camera that could run on alkaline batteries. No luck. Photo 3 – This mountain of a man is Hodari Sababu, the boss at LA Hood Life Tours. He was kind enough to reschedule my appointment for later that day. I signed on for a private tour to guarantee my spot.

I hiked back to my car, drove to a Best Buy and bought a camera. Learning to use it on the fly meant I had a few minor issues. On foot I headed east down Hollywood Blvd. one more time. I had time to kill so I took in a few nearby landmarks.

The Hollywood Tower Apartments – it may look familiar because Disney modeled their Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride on it’s French Normandy design. It was also in the great Brian De Palma flick Body Double.

I took a quick jaunt around the famous Capitol Records building. Nice to finally see it up close.

Around 2:30 my tour began. I hopped into the front seat of a gold SUV. Because I booked a private tour it was just me and my tour guide Steve. Steve knows street life first hand. If you’re going to tour the inner city then you’d best do it with an expert, someone who can recognize and avoid bad situations before they develop. To be honest I don’t recall feeling truly worried at any time. If I was ever in danger I was oblivious to it, cheerfully whistling past the graveyard.

First we traveled through upscale Hancock Park, moving south. Photo 2 – Quick shot of the Maurice and Paul Marciano Art Foundation, formerly a huge Masonic Temple.

Photo 1 – My first blog focused on finding the best hamburgers in Los Angeles. I remember researching Master Burger off of West Adams Blvd., known for it’s two pound burger. Photo 2 – Are you a fan of movies like Colors, Training Day, White Men Can’t Jump and The Wash? Numerous filming locations are profiled including this building. Now a Bank of America and formerly a Fatburger, this is where they shot bloody revenge scene at the end of Boyz ‘N The Hood.

As my guide pointed out, when you see Martin Luther King Blvd. in whatever city you happen to be, you can be sure it leads to the hood.

We made a quick stop by Baldwin Village, a.k.a. The Jungle. You may recognize the area, the stone facade and the yellow “END” sign in particular, from the movie Training Day.

We passed through lovely Baldwin Hills, “the Black Beverly Hills”, as Steve called it. Well-to-do but in the hood nevertheless.

We cruised up to an awesome viewpoint overlooking L.A. It was great to see things from this southern vantage point. I had only seen the city from the peaks of mountains due north.

Please forgive my sad photos of Griffith Park. Photo 1 shows Burbank Peak on the left and Cahuenga Peak on the right. Directly to the east sits Mount Lee and the HOLLYWOOD sign.

The skyscrapers of Downtown L.A. – from a distance they appear disjointed and unsymmetrical, like a row of rotten teeth.

Back on the road, Steve points out another movie landmark, this time from Menace II Society. This is the Jack in the Box where Caine and his cousin Harold were going before they got carjacked. The carjacking scene was filmed just down the street at the next intersection. I love the movie so this was exciting to see.

We stopped at a small market in Leimert Park to pick up snacks.

In parts of South L.A. palm trees line the street for as far as the eye can see.

Tupac mural by the side of the road.

We waited at a red light at the intersection of Florence and Normandie, ground zero for the 1992 LA Riots. Anger sparked by the Rodney King verdicts led to five days of chaos which left 63 dead. The assault on truck driver Reginald Denny happened right here as well. The brick that shattered Denny’s skull was taken from the flower bed at this ’76 gas station (Photo 2).

This was a big score for me. For years I had wanted to see the Watts Towers with my own eyes. That it’s under going some restoration mattered not.

In the little park across from the Towers is a tree with three miniature Tower tops.

I listened as Steve broke down which gang owns which territory in fine detail. We came to an intersection where a Blood gang owns three of the corners and a Crip gang owns the fourth. One gang owns one street and if you drive thirty seconds you’ll be in a different gang’s turf. Drive another thirty and it may change again.

Photo 3 and 4 – A fascinating fact: Centennial High and Compton High are rival schools. Centennial’s color is red and Compton’s blue. All the Blood kids go to Centennial and all the Crip kids go to Compton. Are these schools’ colors the origin of red vs. blue?

Photo 1 – We made a quick stop at Tam’s Burgers. It was here in 2015 that Death Row Records co-founder Suge Knight ran over and killed a man with his truck. The case is still pending. Photo 2 – Compton City Hall has a really cool sculpture sitting in front. Photo 3 – Heading down Greenleaf Blvd., made notorious by the Dr. Dre song Let Me Ride. “Bodies bein’ found on Greenleaf with their f**king heads cut off”, the song goes. Dead bodies were once dumped at a nursery on Greenleaf with a disturbing regularity.

We checked out several homes and neighborhoods of famous rappers such as Coolio, The Game, MC Ren, Ice-T, etc. Photo 1 – Eazy-E was raised here. N.W.A. recorded their first album inside the tiny garage on the right. Photo 2 – Just a couple of minutes drive brought us to Dr. Dre’s former home.

Here’s something I don’t see everyday (or ever, actually). The Compton Courthouse had just released this couple. Upon arrest the county jail takes possession of inmate belongings, such as clothing. Inmates are shuttled to the courthouse wearing orange jumpsuits. Should an inmate be released directly from the courthouse the orange jumpsuit is taken back. The now former inmate is given a fashionable, black jumpsuit made of paper. They must then return to jail on their own to collect their real clothes.

As we leave Compton we pass Angeles Abbey Cemetery and it’s Moorish-style Mausoleum.

Heading back now on the 110 Freeway, which divides South LA into the West and East sides.

After driving through the skyscrapers of Downtown, we passed Echo Park and it’s pretty, little lake.

Back in Hollywood my tour comes to an end. I must give a big shout out to my tour guide. Steve reminds me of a popular teacher from school, one who makes learning fun and interesting, never boring. Maybe in some alternate universe that’s exactly what he is. Thanks, great job!

LA Hood Life Tours:

Website: LA Hood Life Tours

Phone: 310-722-3737

The post Peaceful Tourist Presents: Peace ‘N The Hood: The LA Hood Life Tour first appeared on Silent Hiker.

No Comments on Peaceful Tourist Presents: Peace ‘N The Hood: The LA Hood Life Tour

Peaceful Tourist Presents: Hidden Treasures and Roadside Attractions

Welcome to the very first post of Peaceful Tourist. I went on a roadside attraction scavenger hunt today. Through Topanga and on to the Valley I encountered an eclectic sugar rush of visual oddities.

I concocted a plan for the day. I hopped in my car, positive vibrations humming. From Pacific Cast Highway I wound my way north on Topanga Canyon Blvd.

My first stop was a thrift store called Hidden Treasures. I thought this appropriate as Peaceful Tourist will be dedicated to searching for hidden treasures of all shapes and sizes.

Adorned with bright, charming and weird decorations, Hidden Treasures lured me in, a stoned bee tripping on Technicolor flowers.

The fun carries from the outside to the inside and then out the back. There’s so much for the mind to absorb.

I was reminded of a low-budget “Small World” ride, slightly unhinged.

I know this is a business that sells clothes and assorted knick-knacks, but my dream is that they’d ditch all of that stuff and fill the entire plac..

Welcome to the very first post of Peaceful Tourist. I went on a roadside attraction scavenger hunt today. Through Topanga and on to the Valley I encountered an eclectic sugar rush of visual oddities.

I concocted a plan for the day. I hopped in my car, positive vibrations humming. From Pacific Cast Highway I wound my way north on Topanga Canyon Blvd.

My first stop was a thrift store called Hidden Treasures. I thought this appropriate as Peaceful Tourist will be dedicated to searching for hidden treasures of all shapes and sizes.

Adorned with bright, charming and weird decorations, Hidden Treasures lured me in, a stoned bee tripping on Technicolor flowers.

The fun carries from the outside to the inside and then out the back. There’s so much for the mind to absorb.

I was reminded of a low-budget “Small World” ride, slightly unhinged.

I know this is a business that sells clothes and assorted knick-knacks, but my dream is that they’d ditch all of that stuff and fill the entire place with these carnival ride decorations.

Behind the store is an Under the Sea scene and other crazy weirdness.

I saddled up and headed on my way.

A few minutes north stands the Great Wall of Topanga.

It’s beautiful when inspired people gift the World with fantastic creations.

There are a couple of bottle cap mosaics. Really cool.

Human-size Mouse Trap

My next stop was Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum. Geer was best known for playing Grandpa on the Waltons TV show back in the 1970’s. This shady canyon property is home to a little open air theater.

Crossing Over, Never the Same Again

Visitors are permitted to roam the grounds. What a pleasant idea, putting on theatrical productions in this natural setting.

Getting close to Mr. Geer. Perhaps too close?

I took center stage. The theater is quaint, with bleachers built on a natural slope. I’d like to go see a play on a cool summer evening.

Still traveling north on Topanga Canyon Blvd., I stopped at the flying pig sculpture.

I reached a crest in the road. I made a quick stop at Top of Topanga Overlook, a viewpoint/micro park.

Photo 1 – View of the San Fernando Valley Photo 2– I noticed a steep trail on the side of the park and took it. I climbed straight up to a viewpoint of the viewpoint.

Next up was the Fry’s Electronics in Woodland Hills. They have an awesome Alice in Wonderland theme throughout.

Down the rabbit hole!

There’s lots of Alice characters but also some other stuff, like this dragon.

Feed your head…

Another short drive brought me to Pierce College. Here is home to Old Trapper’s Lodge, an old west themed community of folk art statues. They’re hidden there, among the trees. Photo 4 – There’s a Boot Hill cemetery with amusing epitaphs printed on the tombstones.

The highlight here is several cartoon-ish sculptures (I mean that in a good way).

This must be the Old Trapper himself. Possibly first American to sport a soul patch.

There are a couple of rather violent scenes. Were it not for it’s historical significance, this art might not be thought of as okay in today’s day and age.

Savage!

I made quick stop to feed these two dinosaurs located on the corner of Wilbur and Hart in Reseda. Lost in a time warp, they had not eaten in 100 million years.

In Tarzana; Normally I’m not a fan of strip malls, but this is one shaped like the front end of a Cadillac. Need I say more.

Finally, I stopped in Agoura Hills to get a shot of this Indian Chief standing atop a hill. Is he alive?

I end the first of many tours to come.

The post Peaceful Tourist Presents: Hidden Treasures and Roadside Attractions first appeared on Silent Hiker.

No Comments on Peaceful Tourist Presents: Hidden Treasures and Roadside Attractions

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search