As a Coloradoan who grew up with 300+ days of sunshine, I don’t do cloudy days. So after our weeks of rain, cloud, and gloom, I was extremely thankful that the sun was out in full force this past weekend. It was glorious! Glorious, I say! *happy dance*
One of my absolute favorite things to do when it’s nice outside is taking long walks. Like, looong walks. For example, I once walked from Marina Del Rey (end of Washington Boulevard) to Primo Passo Coffee Co. on 7th and Montana. These long walks give me a chance to experience different parts of L.A. and a purposeful way to get to know the city.
I kicked off my walk by having my favorites at Hilltop Coffee & Kitchen: Smoked Salmon Drop Top (salmon with basil cream cheese, pickled red onion, crispy capers, soft boiled egg, dill, cucumber– if that’s not super yum, well, I dunno what) and coffee. Hilltop is locally owned and has an awesome community vibe. In addition to the daytime hours, they have an open mic once a month.
After I had some nourishment, I drove to Reuben Ingold Parkway, just up the street. This park is really a .4 mile track. It’s on top of the View Park Neighborhood and overlooks Norman O. Houston Park and Kenneth Hahn Recreation Area. It has a great view of the ocean and sunset on most days. You can also see LAX and watch the planes land or take off.
I walked around the .4 mile track then made my way down to cross Stocker Street to Norman O. Houston Park, a City of Los Angeles park.
As many times as I have been to Norman O. Houston Park, you’d think I would know who Norman O. Houston is. Nope. It wasn’t until this past Saturday when I walked around the track that I discovered the small monument in his honor that explained who he was and his contribution to the community.
As I walked around the track, I saw a large group of dogs and their owners participating in an obedience class. I also saw a folks exercising, older teens playing basketball, little ones at the playground, a few runners on the track, and families starting to gather for picnics. My park-obsessed heart was tickled watching the community gather and use this public space to connect and learn.
My next park, Kenneth Hahn Recreation Area, was just across the street. While waiting at the crosswalk, I silently recited a quick Hail Mary and freestyled another quick prayer that I don’t get hit by a car crossing La Brea.
Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area (KHSRA) is straight up a gem in the middle of L.A. KHSRA is State-owned but managed by L.A. County Parks & Recreation. I have picnicked here many times, hiked, and even organized a cross-country race for middle schoolers at the Bowl Loop area a few years ago. Still, I often discover something new: an area, a trail, or a quiet space. This time, I stopped and enjoyed the Hummingbird Garden. I pass this area almost every time I’m at KHSRA, but I have never stopped to look at the hummingbirds. This time, there were so many of them– and they were so loud– that they could not be ignored.
I continued my walk down to La Cienega and took in the varying scenery– from forests to bounce houses.
I even WITNESSED a proposal!!! She said ‘yes’.
If you peeped the slideshow, you would have seen a set-up for what looks like a wedding ceremony. I don’t think it’s theirs. However, also at the top of the hill at one of the picnic areas, there was a retirement celebration. There are many celebrations that happen at parks. And many more memorable moments are made at parks.
Happy to say that I made it to my goal: La Cienega Boulevard! Right now, La Cienega is where Park to Playa Trail ends. But there is a plan to connect Kenneth Hahn Recreation Area to Culver City, where Ballona Creek Bike Path begins. Ballona Creek Bike Path goes straight to the beach! Park to Playa’s projected completion is 2020. Can’t wait!
THE END! For now.
1. Park to Playa begins on Stocker Corridor Trail, just below Reuben Ingold Parkway. The easternmost point is just before Crenshaw Boulevard, so it wasn’t far from where I started. I thought about walking east but it got too hot on the way back and I was getting hangry.
2. Miles Walked: 5.98 RT. This includes the three path loops at each park.
3. Podcast that kept me company: Armchair Expert by Dax Shepard. Episodes: Gillian Flynn and Michael Peña. I super highly recommend this podcast. It’s entertainment and other pop culture interviews conducted in a thoughtful way. It gets very real but it’s also very smart, not gratuitous or crass.