Great L.A. Walk 2019

 

A lot has been going on of late. I’m going to share some, in a backwards fashion. Deal with it.

 

This past Saturday was the Great L.A. Walk (GLAW). This year marked my fourth go and it was the longest yet – almost 19 miles. It was a departure from my past participation in that it started in the Valley instead of Downtown L.A. There was one more difference, too – I didn’t know anyone. I was walking solo.

 

I considered backing out. That would certainly have been easy. But there were two reasons I decided to go. I wanted to feel the sense of satisfaction after completing the walk and I wanted to see the city up close. So I showed up.

 

GLAW 2019 Arcadia Park

 

When I woke that morning, I had been having a lovely dream about hiking through the countryside with a group of people. In the dream, one fellow hiker was pointing out a Peahen along the path. I woke soon after spotting the bird and got ready to go. When I arrived at the starting point in Arcadia County Park, what do you think I spied with my little eye? Yes – a Peacock.

 

GLAW 2019 Santa Anita Park

 

The walk began and I was alone. (Don’t feel bad. I was good.) The first mile passed Santa Anita Park. You may have heard of this race track. A lot of horses have died there of late. Something ain’t right, y’all. But I didn’t come for the ponies. I walked on by.

 

GLAW 2019 Marching Band Competition

 

It was at this early juncture that I took a slightly wrong turn. Whereas everyone else was cutting through the Santa Anita parking lot, I meandered around it. Yes – this added about a half mile to my route, but it also allowed me to see some marching bands and flag corps getting ready for a big competition. I’m good with the extra steps. Those kids were better to look at than a parking lot.

 

GLAW 2019 Los Angeles Arboretum

 

The next big site was the Los Angeles County Arboretum. I won’t lie. I’ve never been. But it was danged cute from the outside. And there was another Peacock.

 

Pretty soon after I found myself chatting with a lovely gentleman who has walked 13 of the 14 GLAWs to date. Let’s call him David, as that was his name. We walked and chatted for a few miles. David was perfectly friendly, but at some point he was outpacing me and I decided I wouldn’t keep up. I told him I was gonna hang back a bit and I bid him farewell.

 

The next couple of miles weren’t anything to write home about. That stretch was all about getting into Pasadena. I did spot some pretty good sidewalk graffiti, however…

 

GLAW 2019 Sidewalk Graffiti

 

By the time I hit Colorado Boulevard, I had begun chatting with another GLAW walker. I’ll call him Eddie, because, you know, that was his name. Eddie was alright. Turned out he appreciated a nice beer, so when we hit Old Town Pasadena, we opted to stop for lunch at a familiar pub and our conversation continued. We spent an hour there and then we hit the road again. 8 miles down.

 

After we got through Old Town, it was time to cross the Colorado Street Bridge.

 

GLAW 2019 Colorado Street Bridge Pasadena

 

Now – I’ve seen this bridge for decades, as it’s visible from the 134 freeway. It’s beautiful and I have wanted to walk across it for ages. I finally got my chance.

 

It’s known as “Suicide Bridge” and a lot of souls have ended their lives there. I can’t speak to that, but I can tell you that when I’d crossed and looked back, it was even more beautiful than I thought…

 

GLAW 2019 Colorado Street Bridge Pasadena Looking Back

 

After a few more miles, we entered Highland Park. This area reminded me why I do this crazy walk. I’ve driven through Highland Park more times than I can count. But until I walked it, I had never really seen it.

 

GLAW 2019 Highland Park Knitted Phone Booth

 

Had I been in a car, I never would have seen how someone knitted around an old phone booth.

 

GLAW 2019 Highland Park Street Mural

 

Each corner along Figueroa Street has a cool inlaid mosaic. They’re all different and they’re all lovely. This one happens to mark where Chicken Boy resides.

 

GLAW 2019 Highland Park Chicken Man

 

Chicken Boy was first erected in the 1960s and lived Downtown at the Grand Central Market until the mid-80s. Now he’s found his forever home and he’s much-loved.

 

During this stretch, Eddie and I were starting to feel the miles. We knew we had about 6 more to go and we were committed to finishing. I don’t know why, but we never checked the time. We just kept going.

 

GLAW 2019 Broadway Bridge Los Angleles in the Distance

 

By the time we crossed the Broadway Bridge, we realized we were close. There was Los Angeles. It was beautiful. We kept walking.

 

GLAW 2019 Chinatown

 

When we entered Chinatown, we checked the itinerary. 17 miles down.

 

I started to get excited, but not like years past. I have literally jumped for joy when nearing the end of past GLAW walks. On this day, I was just happy to be finishing.

 

Eddie and I talked about some of the people we passed on the sidewalk and how they were just out for a good time. It would have been beyond their comprehension to hear we’d walked from freaking Arcadia. We didn’t tell anyone or anything, we just kind of marveled at how you can be in a public place, and no one has a clue about you. Of course, the converse was true as well. We didn’t know a damn thing about any of the folks we passed. Frankly, I was too tired to care.

 

When we reached the end of the walk – Los Angeles City Hall – Eddie checked the time. Not counting our lunch stop, we had covered the nearly 19 miles in 6 hours. Pretty good, if I say so myself.

 

The group was slated to meet at a bar for some celebratory hang time and I intended to go. I really did. But I looked up from City Hall and the Metro stop was right there. The pull proved too much for me. I hugged Eddie goodbye and thanked him for the fine company, then I walked to the train station and headed underground. There was still daylight when I made it home.

 

My muscles fared fine. I did have some joint pain that night and the next day, but it cleared up by Monday. I had exactly one blister, but that was it. I did alright. That sense of accomplishment? It showed up in spades. Seeing the city up close and personal? Yep and yep. It’s a crazy thing to do, I know. I just dig it. It makes me feel alive and reminds me that I’m part of this town. A big old dorky part of Los Angeles. I’ll take it.

 

GLAW 2019 Los Angeles City Hall

Gutsy Women

 

A few nights ago I was privileged to attend a discussion about a new book. It was held at the 125-year-old Ebell Women’s Club, a place I’m pretty used to visiting. I was there with all kinds of chicks I love (another privilege), so I knew I’d have a good time. What I got was much more.

 

Maria Shriver

 

Maria Shriver led the conversation with the book’s authors. When she came out, she said she intended to steer the conversation in a positive direction, to stay away from ugliness and hate. She’s pretty damned sharp. She’s also a humanitarian. She would have been enough of a draw, but we got more.

 

Maria Shriver, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton in Conversation

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton have written The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience and when they walked out on stage, it was amazing. The theatre roared and I was on my feet in an instant. There was so much positive energy. It was really beautiful.

 

Speaking about the book, the authors told of important women and the impacts they’ve had in our world. Unfortunately, history has often refused to acknowledge these women, history mostly recorded by men. My curiosity was piqued and I can hardly wait to read the book. I fully expect to learn a great deal and to be inspired. That was certainly my experience last night.

 

Chelsea Clinton

 

I have to tell you – I expected Mrs. Clinton’s speech and demeanor to be intelligent and confident. I didn’t know what to expect from Chelsea Clinton, however, and I could not have been happier. She was brilliant, personable, witty and assertive. Maria Shriver did an excellent job of keeping the conversation moving and she asked some pointed questions. The three women on that stage were amazing.

 

As I drove one of my friends home, she and I talked about the night. We both felt it had been a bit surreal, that we were amazed to have been there, to have witnessed the conversation. We were so impressed with what we saw and heard. And we were grateful.

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton

 

Before entering the theatre, attendees were given an opportunity to write questions for Mrs. Clinton and Chelsea Clinton. I thought about it a bit, and realized the only question I had was this: Can you imagine how quiet our country’s political front would be had my fellow Americans done the right thing and voted for the betterment of our country, how much more safe the entire world would be, how fewer service members lives would have been lost, how much lower our national debt would be, how much better our reputation in the world would be, how much more respectable our supreme court would be without a seated sexual predator, how downright boring our day-to-day government functions could have been? I know – it was a lot. In the end, I decided I wouldn’t write my question, that I would just listen. I made the right call.

 

Shriver’s intention of a positive conversation had been achieved. There were gutsy women on the stage and in the theatre. It was a love-fest, and I got to see it. From the front row.

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton - a Gutsy Woman

Passion Follows

 

Big Bear Clouds, Too

 

I’m knee-deep in getting a show ready for the stage, but took a breather to attend a writers’ retreat this past weekend. It took place at Big Bear in the San Bernardino Mountains. It was cold, y’all (by Los Angeles standards) and there was an abundance of nature (again – by Los Angeles standards). I was pretty happy about all that.

 

The retreat was led by Pete Goldfinger who is, well, how do I describe him? We only just met and I am already singing the guy’s praises. He is a successful screenwriter, yes, but he is also a natural when it comes to teaching. I learned so much from him and came away with a hunger to learn more. To dig deeper into the process of creating. He touched on aspects of writing that I hadn’t ever considered. My mind felt like a kid discovering the 64-box of crayons after only knowing about the 8-box. So much color! I was overwhelmed, in the best way, and couldn’t wait to use what I was learning – to create, to envision, to dream.

 

Big Bear Clouds

 

And I can’t begin to describe the other attendees. Their projects are exciting, varied and creative times eleven-ty. Being around them was a privilege. Picking their brains was informative. And they were fun. I hope I see them again. I want to hear their stories. I want to be challenged by their ideas and intelligence. I want to hang out with them.

 

Once I got home, I watched an interview with Jeff Bridges and he spoke about a TEDx talk given by Terri Trespicio and how it inspired him. In the video, she gives her take on passion and how we are too often told to figure out what we’re passionate about and to follow that. She posits that this particular course can be limiting or worse. To butcher her words, she says we should get after life. Take care of business. Hustle. Make those ends. If we are busy with the business of living, we won’t have to follow our passion. Our passion will follow us. As someone who’s barely keeping her head above water while spinning various plates and juggling multiple commitments, I can tell you that Ms. Trespicio may be right. Yes – I’m overwhelmed with all that’s going on. But I’m still here. I’m still going for it. And if I look over my shoulder, I can see the shadow of passion just behind me. And I can’t stop smiling.

 

Mikki Writing at Big Bear - Photo by Yeni