This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Day Trip Driving... And Stunning Outlooks

I haven't quite gotten to my new year's resolutions for 2009.  I don't have anything written down, even vaguely: no goals, no bad habits to break, no vacations to plan.  I guess you could say I'm a little behind.

Instead, I'm still crossing things off my 2008 list.  I'd achieved many of the goals I'd set for myself, but a few remained.  Why make a new list?  So, yesterday... I crossed two of those remaining items off my 2008 list.  

I drove over to Sierra Madre for no particular reason other than the fact that I wanted to check it out.  See, I had no concept of what Sierra Madre was like, but I was curious.  Los Angeles seems to have infinite pockets of neighborhoods that I know nothing about so it's good to get out and see them.

Located off the 210 Freeway, just East of Pasadena, Sierra Madre sits at the base of the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.  It's got a small town vibe, but it's close enough to Pasadena that there's no shortage of conveniences like shopping, grocery stores and the Santa Anita Racetrack (if you've got gambling on your mind.)  Like most smallish towns, it seemed to have lots of churches and schools, a women's club, a community theatre (Sierra Madre Playhouse), post office, liquor store, and a local coffee shop (competing with a Starbucks four doors down...) 

On the way home, I decided to cross something else off my list.  After living in L.A. for 7 years, I was embarrassed to say that I'd never been to Griffith Observatory. Sure, I'd been hiking in Griffith Park many times, but I'd never set foot in the observatory.  Part of this hasn't been my fault.  Just a few months after I moved, the observatory was shut down for renovations.  It was shut down for ages (and in my mind, it had never reopened.)  I didn't think of it again until recently when two things happened: A friend of mine mentioned they'd actually been there and then last week, I saw the observatory in the current movie, "Yes Man."

I saw Griffith Observatory written on last year's list and I started feeling guilty.  Yesterday was the clearest day in L.A. that I'd seen for awhile.  It was one of those days when, from certain vantage points, you can see downtown shimmering in the setting sun on one side and the glimmering Pacific Ocean on the other.  

Griffith Observatory was the perfect vantage point to see all of this and, of course, the Hollywood sign.   My timing could not have been more perfect.  I got there right as the sun was disappearing below the horizon-- leaving behind streams of orange across the Los Angeles skyline.  Inside, the observatory offered exhibits about the universe, the big bang, how stars form, meteorites, and public telescopes at every opportunity.  I was intrigued for much longer than I'd anticipated.  By the time I'd exited, the stunning city lights had emerged and the observatory outlook offered such a spectacular view that I didn't really want to leave.

I'd like to go back to see the planetarium show, but at long last, I can now say as an Angeleno transplant, that I've officially been to the legendary Griffith Observatory--  "on the slope of Mount Hollywood...1,134 feet above sea level." (

Copyright 2009 by KLiedle
Photos by Larry Gerbrandt/flickr and icraz/flickr

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