Cuba – Old Havana (Yes, we did go there legally)

Cuba – Old Havana (Yes, we did go there legally).

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Venice Beach and Canals

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Along the boardwalk for several blocks in Venice Beach one finds primarily tattoo parlors, “medical” marijuana dispensaries, vendors hawking their wares, wanna-be musicians passing out their CD’s, starving artists, henna tattoo booths, tarot card readers, the homeless and curious tourists. 

We had parked at the corner of Pacific and North Venice and paid a hefty $15.00.   Walking west toward the beach within a block we found inside parking for $12.50 and then much to our surprise, additional parking right at the beach for $9.00.

Our day was overcast, and being Mother’s Day, the crowd was smaller than normal.  We found a small cafe for lunch, and then moved on past “Muscle Beach”. 

Venice Beach Hula Hoop

Only a few short blocks up from the beach is the Venice Canal area.   The original 16 miles of canals were dug in 1904 under the direction of Abbot Kinney, a tobacco millionaire.  He wanted to develop a beach resort town using Venice Italy as a model, canals and all.  By the 1920’s the automobile made the canals impractical, and by 1929 most of the canals were filled in and converted to roads. 

By the 1960’s, Venice was a Mecca for beatniks, artists and hippies, including Jim Morrison of the Doors, who called the Venice Canal area home.  As real estate prices soared in the seventies, the houses along the canals were remodeled and homes were built on most of the vacant lots. Soon the affluent home owners replaced the artists and Bohemians. In 1994 after nearly thirty years of negotiations, Los Angeles refurbished the six remaining canals for $6,000,000.

Venice Beach Canals

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Doo Dah Parade 2010 – Wild, Wacky & Wonderful

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Last weekend I went to watch the Doo Dah Parade in Pasadena. It originated back in 1978 as a tongue-in-cheek version to offset the traditional more formal Rose Parade.  Fun, colorful, fantasy and imaginative would not come close to describing the variety of entrants.

Doo-Dah Parade 2010


This is a unique parade where almost anything goes.  There is no theme, no rules and no judging.  Simply put – a bunch of people out to have a good time!

Only once a year, but well worth attending.  We arrived just before 11:00 and parking was at a premium.  We were lucky to find a spot on a side street only a few blocks from the parade route and hoofed it there in plenty of time.  When the parade did start, I was at first taken back when I saw people throwing tortillas at the parade participants!  I did not realize that was a tradition.

Doo-Dah Parade 2010

Good fun family entertainment.  Mark your calendars to check it out next year.  The 2011 parade will be sometime in May, date not set as of this posting.

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Point Dume State Beach, Malibu

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We were looking for a family outing for Easter Sunday and decided to take a hike. My hubby, son and I left the San Fernando Valley around noon heading north on Highway 101. Cutting over toward the coast on Kanan Road for about 12 miles brought us to PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) at Malibu. Just north of there we turned onto Westward Beach Road, which dead ends at the entrance to Point Dume State Park.

The day was overcast and we knew that rain was heading in, but hoped it would not arrive until evening.

Parking is not free, but $8.00 later we had cameras, hats, a backpack, water bottles and a snack out of the car and we headed up the trail. (The trailhead is at the very end of the parking lot.)

According to Wikipedia, there is no land for over 7,000 miles due south of the tip of land at Point Dume; the first land directly to the south of it is Antarctica.

As we start up the hill, we can see rock climbers in front of us. This section of the beach has been used for many TV programs as well as several movies shot here including the “Planet of the Apes” series.

We continued up the trail to the top of a bluff. The view is spectacular and I understand that this is a great place for whale watching during the December – March Gray Whale migrations. No whales were spotted yesterday, but we did see quite a few dolphins playing close to shore.

After about a mile along the bluff, we took a rather steep trail and stairway down to the beach. The tide was not out very far, but we could still do a little exploring in a few tide pools.

The surfers were out in force, and we enjoyed watching the divers as well as those sailing, kayaking or using a boogie board. One young guy was determined to do a midair flip off of his boogie board and put on quite a show for us!

We continued south along the beach another mile which brought us to Paradise Cove. There is a restaurant right on the beach by the pier and we stopped in for a light meal and to get rehydrated.

Since it was getting late in the day we then hightailed it the two miles back to the car, making our adventure four miles round trip. For me it does not get much better than this – spending the day with my family, being outdoors, getting fresh air and a bit of exercise and of course taking tons of pictures.

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Leonis Adobe Museum, Calabasas

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I visited the Leonis Adobe Museum in March when the cherry trees were just starting to bloom.  The docent was very friendly and took her time telling me the history of the area, about the Leonis family, as well as the legends of the upstairs bedroom being haunted.

Miguel Leonis was born in 1824 in the French Pyrenees where smuggling between France and Spain was a way of life. To avoid being arrested, his family advised young Miguel to flee Europe and immigrate to America, which he did, eventually arriving in Los Angeles.

Leonis Adobe Museum Interior

Miguel was ambitious, and to advance his fortunes, married a young wealthy Chumash Indian widow, named Espiritu. Miguel’s new “wife” (some claim it was a common law marriage) owned cattle, sheep, horses and 1100 acres of land then known as El Escorpion Rancho.

Leonis continued to build his fortune by claiming land in the public domain and some shrewd trading. He jealously guarded his growing acreage with the help of hired Mexicans and Native Americans, discouraging other settlers in the area, even to the extent of gun battles.

He was often embroiled in law suits over land disputes, but through generous gifts of food and drink to the judge, jury and attorney, he usually was victorious. The early Los Angeles court archives are filled with lawsuits where Leonis figured prominently.

In 1889, after winning another lawsuit, Leonis was killed when his wagon overturned on his way back to Calabasas. Upon his death, Espiritu had to sue to retain the property because Miguel had listed her as his “housekeeper”. She eventually prevailed, and remained in the family home until her death in 1906.

Together they had only one child, Marcelina, who died at the age of 20 from smallpox. There was however another heir to the estate, Juan Menendez, Espiritu’s son from her first marriage. Juan continued to live on the property until it is reputed that he lost the property in a card game to Lester Agourre.

Calabasas Creek Park

I took pictures in the home, on the grounds, in the barn, of several animals, and a few at the nearby Calabasas Creek Park that is also administered by the Leonis Adobe Association. The tour is free (donation appreciated), and open Wednesday – Sunday from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.

Website www.leonisadobemuseum.or

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Runyon Canyon At Dusk For Wimps

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My Valentine (aka my hubby) and I escaped from our computers for a while this afternoon to take on a hike in Runyon Canyon. The trail head starts in the Hollywood Hills, not far from the Kodak Theater.

Listed address:  2000 N Fuller – closest cross street is Franklin

Parking in the area was the first challenge. It is a high density apartment area with almost no on-street parking available. After driving in circles for a while we lucked out and spotted another couple as they were about to leave. Grabbing their parking spot, we were ready to head out.

Now this was a rather last minute decision, with little preplanning, so before we even got to the area we realized that we did not have our tripod with us. Then when my hubby grabbed his camera out of his case, he discovered that he had not put the memory card back in his camera bag.

Hmmm, down to one camera and no tripod. No worries.

Laughing it off, we again affirmed that the main thing we were after was to spend some time together, get some fresh air, a bit of exercise and enjoy the outdoors.

Proceeding into the park, we were quickly reminded to watch our steps. This was a popular off lease dog area, and you literally needed to be careful not to step in “landmines” along the trail. There were a LOT of dogs, hikers, couples and groups spending the late afternoon enjoying the trails.

We stayed to the right, making a big horseshoe curve as we climbed the hill.   The hike itself was moderate in steepness and only took about 15 – 20 minutes to get to a great lookout area. From our vantage point we had a view of downtown Los Angeles. We decided to sit a spell, people watch, and wait for the sun to set.

As we waited we visited with a few others also hanging out. Off in the distance we spotted a blimp headed our way. Now we are quite familiar with the Goodyear blimp, and could tell immediately that the coloring was all wrong. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that there is now a new opportunity to go up in a blimp over Los Angeles.

Airship Ventures Blimp over downtown LA

  Here is a link if you want to find out more info.

As the sun set, I snapped several photos, some of downtown LA and others of the Wilshire/Miracle Mile area. Without a tripod, I tried to hand hold a few, and propped the camera on a wooden bench for a few more.

Then time to head down the trail and back to the car. I was anxious to see if any of them turned out. Well, sadly when I got home I discovered that my camera picture quality was on the incorrect setting and I ended up with small, poor quality images, as well as a lot of out of focus, blurry or over/under exposed snapshots.

Here is the best of the sunset photos I got today.

Miracle Mile at sunset

Miracle Mile at sunset

I am so glad that this was just a “dry run”. We are hoping to get back soon with a tripod, correct camera settings, and memory card for the second (good) camera.

Even with the pictures not turning out as I had hoped, we still enjoyed our afternoon. I hope you enjoyed your day with someone special as well…

Quality time spent together definitely trumps quality picture taking any day!

Note: We arrived late in the afternoon, and only had time to explore a very small part of this 160 acre park.  If you have only a limited amount of time and want to have some wonderful evening views of the city – then check this place out.  We were able to get to a great scenic spot without breaking too much of a sweat.  If you intend to do some serious hiking, get there earlier, bring water (caution no port-a-potties seen), and expect to “dodge the dog droppings”.

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