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

Howlin’ Ray’s

 

 

For quite a while now, Nashville Hot Chicken has been taking the country by storm. Though it’s been a staple in Nashville for decades, it’s only recently that the rest of us have come to worship at the spicy chicken table. And let me be clear here – this chicken isn’t merely spicy. It. Is. H-A-W-T.

 

Mister and I first crossed paths with Nashville Hot Chicken in our own kitchen. (You can read about that here.) Because the recipe we used provided our taste buds with such delicious heat, we were hooked. We’ve made the chicken since and we still love it.

 

Cut to last year and enter “Howlin’ Ray’s” food truck. The press on this was huge and social media was exploding with some of the greatest food porn around. I kept trying to hit up the joint, but schedules never meshed. They were only rolling around L.A. a few days each week and in case you’ve forgotten, L.A. is big, y’all. So if my bid-ness had me on the east side and the crack chicken truck was on the west side, it just wasn’t gonna happen. And it didn’t.

 

In the meantime, I had a nice email relationship going with them and knew that eventually our paths would cross. And then the “Howlin’ Ray’s” food truck stopped rolling. At first, I was devastated. (And remember – I hadn’t even had their chicken yet.) Then I came to understand a brick-and-mortar was in the works. Hooray! And so I, along with the rest of town, waited. The last week of April saw the shop finally opening.

 

Last weekend Mister and I headed to Chinatown for an introduction to “Howlin’ Ray’s” Nashville Hot Chicken. As the joint had only been open a few days, we planned for a wait. Which we got. And were fine with. Anyhoo – we and a diverse group of Los Angeles food dorks waited patiently for our lunch. And we were rewarded with some fairly magnificent food, I tell ya. All in, our wait was about an hour. And when our number was called and we beheld that gorgeous chicken, we didn’t even pause long enough to take a danged photo. We just dug in. And it was fabulous.

 

For anyone planning a trip to Chinatown for some “Howlin’ Ray’s” love, I offer this: medium is good. Mister and I both thought that level of heat was flavorful and bearable. We got some hot chicken to take home (1 step up from medium) and it was a bit too much for us. We felt that at that level, the heat overpowered the flavor. So medium it is. But do go. If you’ve never been to Chinatown, give yourself some time to stroll around and enjoy yourself. And take some tissue. “Howlin’ Ray’s” Nashville Hot Chicken will, in all likelihood, give you a bit of a runny nose. And you’ll be so glad for it.

D-Squared T-Squared – Week 1

 

 

My New Year’s Day post contained info about a weekly challenge for the year. However, the post did not provide info on the challenge’s origins.

 

Mister and I are happy drunks. (We’re not drunk all the time, mind you, but when we do imbibe to the point of inebriation, we’re happy. So glad to have cleared that up.) Anyhoo, we’re happy drunks. And when we’re tipsy and smiley, we tend to grab a telephone. That’s when the Drunk Dialing commences.

 

It was during December that one such tipsy and smiley evening occurred. We hatched the idea to come up with a weekly challenge for 2014: one creative session/challenge per week. Once we decided to include friends and our fingers did the walking, it was a snap. (Remember that old phone ad?)  We call this ambitious project “D-squared T-Squared” – or “Drunk Dial Think Tank.” Jealous?

 

So this past weekend Mister and I kicked off the challenge with week 1′s project: photographing Los Angeles’ Union Station. We didn’t invite anyone, as we sort of threw the outing together at the last minute. The 2 of us hopped on the Metro Red Line and got off at the last stop: Union Station. The first thing we did was hoof it over to Philippe The Original – the place the French Dip Sandwich was invented…

 

 

I don’t like this place. I love it! The sandwiches are super-yummy and the pickled eggs are a rare treat…

 

 

With full bellies, we were ready to begin the photo session. We took the long way back to Union Station, walking through Olvera Street…

 

 

and Chinatown…

 

 

We’d covered a lot of ground by the time we made it back to Union Station.

 

We carried our own cameras and tooled around separately to take photos. Union Station, for those who don’t know, served as a major setting in the movie Blade Runner. (It’s been featured in other movies, too.) And though it’s considered small in comparison to other Union Stations (according to the folks at Wikipedia), it’s still pretty spectacular. It’s gorgeous and when I’m there I feel a sense of timelessness.

 

 

Back to the project… Mister and I had taken about all the pics we could and were pretty tired from our downtown day. (We had been to Mexico, China and the set of Blade Runner, for cry-eye.) So we decided to get back on the train and head home. Mister’s now whittling through his pics, to decide which is his favorite. And that’s the goal: 1 good photo. Taking pictures is tricky. You want every single one to be a masterpiece, but it doesn’t (usually) work that way. Out of an entire session, most of us will end up with one really good photo. Maybe. That, friends, is success.

 

As for my own favorite, I’ve decided this little snap will do just fine for my first week’s project…