Sierra Highway is the 14 freeway parallel that can take you all the way from Sylmar to Palmdale without ever turning off the road. Much of the highway is weeds, rocks, and hillsides but there’s also some gems scattered along the way. This elk statue perched on a small rock is located in the back of the Elks Lodge parking lot (obviously)!
Each Saturday I’ll post a random and unplanned photo I’ve snapped from somewhere around town!
While driving around the Altadena area I kept hearing this weird squawks that were unlike the normal birds you usually find around LA. After finally tracking down the sound I found these four parrots high up in the trees!
LA sure has its share of neon signs; not anywhere near the amount as Vegas but still a lot. If you drive up and down Hollywood Blvd. or Sunset you’ll see plenty of awesome signs. One of my favorites in the whole city is located miles away from Hollywood on an unassuming building on the outskirts of downtown.
Covina, deep in the San Gabriel Valley isn’t necessarily an area people drive from far away to go to. If you find yourself in town you’ll more than likely end up on the main drag Citrus Avenue. There’s a few blocks that have restaurants and little boutiques, not to mention these awesome orange shaped bike racks!
The missions scattered throughout California give a glimpse into the history of this great region. A lot of missions still hold daily masses with a consistent congregation of locals and tourists from all over the world. One of the most well-known Missions is Mission San Juan Bautista located in a picturesque valley a bit north of Salinas.
Just across the street from the mission itself you’ll find a small park with the town’s first ever jail house which was built way back in 1870!
While these grounds hold great religious sentiment, my visit was because of a different reason. In 1958, Alfred Hitchcock himself took over this historic monument to film his legendary movie Vertigo. In the film, Scottie follows Madeleine to an old Spanish village outside of San Francisco. She remembers a past life that she spent at the mission. Today the stables still look the same and you’ll even find the grey horse Madeleine talks about!
Hitch made use of the mission’s stables, courtyard, chapel, and recreated the church’s one-time bell tower for Madeleine’s suicide jump. The story goes that when Hitchcock visited the church, long before filming started, the bell tower (though shorter than he wanted) was still standing. But when filming took place he used a matte painting to make the tower look much taller — tall enough for someone to commit suicide from. You can see a picture of the bell tower matte painting here and the photo below shows its state today!
As seen on screen in: Vertigo (1958)
Working my way through the AFI Top 100 Greatest Films of All-Time!
#10 — The Wizard of Oz (1939)
The California coast is full of beautiful hillsides, picturesque piers, and wave swept beaches. If you’re up to the task of waking up early enough to catch the sunrise, you’ll really start to understand why people come from all over the world to visit this great state.
The Goleta area, besides having these peaceful beaches, also played host to one of my favorite movies, Sideways. While most of the film was shot in and around the Buellton area, just about 30 minutes or so up the freeway, Goleta (said in the film to be San Diego) is where Miles (Paul Giamatti) lives. The building’s real owners sure are proud of its role in the Academy Award nominated film, so much so that they hung a plaque forever proclaiming the apartment as the “Sideways” House!
As seen on screen in: Sideways (2004)
I’ve always been fascinated by Egyptian history — mummies, pyramids, the Sphinx — all of it! San Jose, my hometown, is also home to the Rosicrucian Park and Egyptian Museum which has the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in all of western North America!
The museum has several real mummies of people and pets, sarcophaguses, and tons of artifacts including tools, bowls, and tablets!
If you time your visit right you must take the tomb tour. This 30 minute-ish tour takes you through a reproduction of an ancient Egyptian tomb complete with cave paintings and a sarcophagus that appears to have been broken into by tomb raiders. The guide explains all the cave paintings and the story they tell about the pharaoh and his afterlife.
As soon as you enter (and after you pay the ticket fee) you’ll see the prominent replica of King Tut’s coffin standing upright in all its glory!
Today — December 5 — is Walt Disney’s birthday. In celebration I decided it a good time to post about Walt Disney’s resting place. While some may think the shrine to Walt Disney would be gigantic with plenty of Mickey Mouse themed artifacts scattered around. Instread, the resting place of Walter Elias Disney is rather modest with nothing more than a small plaque listing a few other family members and some hanging flowers. This private garden is hidden deep in a shady corner of Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Glendale. While plenty of other deceased celebs grace the grounds of this cemetery, it seems not a lot of people know that Walt Disney is one of them. I guess it makes sense though that this small plaque mostly goes unnoticed — especially with overgrown bushes partially hiding it and, duh, the fact that the garden is private.
Across the street from Cabrillo High School in tiny Vandenberg Village you’ll find these neat hand painted posters of all different kinds of flowers. Vandenberg Village is a small town seated right up against the Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County. I couldn’t find any info on these mini-murals, but I’m assuming they were done by students at the high school. They sure are a great way to brighten up a mundane stone wall!
Driving north on the 101 through Santa Barbara is a beautiful stretch of road. When the highway cuts inland, Highway 1 branches off to the small wine town of Lompoc. Among their local wines (notice the “sip Lompoc” event on the theater marquee) the town has a vibrant art community including the genius Art Alley.
Built in 1876, the Artesia School House was Lompoc’s first country school and held class until 1960. After a few moves and restorations by Lompoc Unified School District, it found its way to the current location on the grounds of Learning For Life Charter School.
South H Street is lined with beautiful Italian Stone Pine trees. The trees on this street make up the largest grove of Italian Stone Pines outside of the Mediterranean. This street has been featured plenty of times online and in books as some of the most famous trees on Earth.
Another historical landmark in Lompoc is the Fabing-McKay-Spanne House on L Street. When this Victorian farmhouse was built in 1875 it was the fist two-story wooden house in town!
Richard Neutra, the world renowned modernist architect, is mostly known for his beautiful homes from the 60’s that grace the hillsides across LA. But besides his famous homes, he also gave a helping hand in creating this Recreation Center in Eagle Rock. This building, though waaay bigger than most of the homes Neutra is known for, still resembles his style with vertical and horizontal exterior beams and, of course, lots of glass.
Besides the world famous museums like LACMA and MOCA, LA has dozens of small independent museums spread across the Southland. Tucked in the Tujunga area, the Bolton Hall Museum — an LA City Historical Landmark — highlights the history of Rancho Tujunga which includes Sun Valley, Tujunga, Sunland, and a few other communities. Besides housing historic photos and artifacts from the region, the building itself is spectacular and is over 100 years old!