A Trip to Los Angeles, Part II

More Sights to See

Sit back and relax as I take you for a tour from the passenger’s seat. No long winded explanations or lengthy historical backgrounds, just a glimpse of the rest of the Hollywood area. Buckle up and here we go…

From Griffith Park and Los Feliz Blvd. we “gps” our way west to Beverly Hills via Laurel Canyon Blvd. and Mulholland Drive.

First, we end up in Universal City off of Lankershim Boulevard where we pass Bob Hope Drive and then James Stewart Avenue. In the picture below, notice the “private” sign under the right turn into James Stewart Avenue. Also circled is the next street, Gate 3, with an arrow pointing right.

Lots of cool stuff is happening on right angles from here! This is the home of Universal Studios,  just one of many other film industries in the area.

We turn around and wind our way up on a narrow street in Studio City where even garbage cans can’t detract from the splendor of these homes.

Finally, we intersect Laurel Canyon Boulevard…

…and Mulholland Drive.

At the top of Mulholland we pull into a turnout and take in the view of the San Fernando Valley, Simi Hills, Fryman Canyon, and the San Gabriel Mountains.

From here we flow south into Beverly Glen Boulevard.

Not too shabby!

We take a left and head east on…

Next turn…

We turn onto Santa Monica Boulevard and pass a turquoise and gold domed building, the Beverly Hills City Hall.

A few minutes later we turn onto the junction of Sunset Boulevard again and head toward the iconic mile and a half Sunset Strip in West Hollywood.

This cute restaurant catches my attention:

And of course, today is Cinco de Mayo, so I have to honor the festivity here…

…and this bright pink building, appropriately named, Pink Taco…

Now we can say we traveled on Sunset Strip. When I was a little girl a weekly private detective TV series, 77 Sunset Strip, was popular and I can still hum the catchy theme song and click my fingers twice.

Hollywood Boulevard runs parallel to Sunset, one block away.

So, we head back to the Walk of Fame before driving back to Lake Elsinore. We pass the back of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, the oldest continually operating Hotel in LA. Its doors opened May 15, 1927. (en.m.wikipedia.org) If you watch the Late Late Show with James Corden, you may recognize the landmark as one of the set’s 3-D recreated backdrops.

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre is across the street this time and from this angle I capture the street level view.

It’s bustling now with a sidewalk filled with people.

Across the street, fans line up at El Capitan to purchase tickets for today’s opening of The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

A minute later we pass a Scientology information center, just one of several I have seen in LA.

Driving into LA I caught a glimpse of a giant gold SCIENTOLOGY sign against an impressive periwinkle colored building. Unfortunately we passed by before I could get a picture.


After crossing Vine Street, the historic Pantages Theatre looms on the left.

This Art Deco theater opened on June 4, 1930 as a venue for vaudeville performances and first-run movies. From 1949-1959 the Pantages hosted the Academy Awards. Today, it hosts live theater performances. Currently The Body Guard is playing here and is advertised extensively on local TV … And I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I will always love you ooh-ooh…

Back on the 101 and traffic!

It takes us 3 1/2 hours to get back to Lake Elsinore.

A Trip to Los Angeles, Part I


From Lake Elsinore, Los Angeles is about 70 miles away. Hollywood is 5 miles further. We leave around 9 in the morning, taking the 15 to the 91 to the 71 to the 10 to the 101. Sounds confusing and it is!

Along the way, 2 structures catch my attention from the passenger seat.

The first one is in Chino Hills off the 71. I look to my right and see a magnificent pink building carved of pinnacles and domes. Stunned, I can’t believe my eyes. Instead of taking a picture, I just stare in awe. As we pass by, I “google” unusual building in Chino Hills.


I learn that this is a Hindu temple or mandir, known as BAPS Shri Swaminarayan  Mandir. BAPS is an acronym for Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha.

According to en.m.wikipedia.org, the Hindu spiritual leader Pramukh Swami Maharaj visited California in 1977 and attracted a group of people who began to assemble weekly. In 1984 a small center was established just outside of Los Angeles. As the congregation grew, a larger complex was needed and the land in Chino Hills, overlooking the 71, was the perfect fit.

In 2000, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj visited this site and approved the building of a traditional Hindu Mandir. In 2012 the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir was dedicated and opened. It is the 5th traditional Hindu Mandir in North America. (baps.org)

Click here to find out more about this socio-spiritual community. Click here to learn more about the Chino Hills complex.

The second structure pops up over the 101 as we pass through downtown LA.

Can you guess what this building is? (Don’t let the exit sign confuse you.)

It’s a high school… Grand Arts Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts.

And guess what part of the school is inside the slanted cylinder circled below?


The library!

The school’s website explains how the architecture symbolizes the students:


We don’t encounter many slowdowns, except for a few minutes on the 15 as we approach the 91, and then again on the 101 entering downtown LA. (Total driving time… 90 minutes)

By 10:45 we find Hollywood Blvd. in search of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the Walk of Fame where stars embedded in the sidewalk honor  famous people in radio, film, theater, music, and television. (I read somewhere recently that the person honored pays $30,000 for his or her star.)

So, basically it’s just a sidewalk along Hollywood Boulevard from Gower Street to La Brea Avenue, and on Vine Street from Yucca Street to Sunset Boulevard.


The stars are made of pink terrazzo and brass. (Betsy Malloy, gocalifornia.about.com) A darker charcoal-colored terrazzo completes the background.

The nearer you get to Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the entire sidewalk is black terrazzo.

Before we decide to park and pay and walk around, we GPS our search for the famous movie palace, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, renamed Mann’s Chinese Theatre in 1973. In 2001 its original Grauman’s Chinese Theatre name was restored. In 2013 the TCL Corporation, a Chinese electronics manufacturing company purchased the named rights. (en.m.wikipedia.org) Who knew? Did you?

Finally, figuring out TCL Chinese Theatre is the one and the same Grauman’s, we catch Hollywood Blvd. between Highland Ave. and N. Orange Dr..

Looming overhead, in the picture above, is the tower of El Capitan, where the new Guardians of the Galaxy is opening tonight.

Snowbirding in Southern California, movie openings are big news. Likewise, new stars on the Walk of Fame. Just yesterday Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell celebrated a double star dedication ceremony with guest speakers, Kate Hudson, Quentin Tarantino, and Reese Witherspoon.


A little past El Capitan on the other side of Hollywood Blvd. is the Chinese Theatre. I quickly get a drive-by shot.

We decide to head back this way later after heading northeast to…

…for a view of the famous Hollywood Sign situated on Mount Lee in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Apparently, this iconic symbol can also be seen at the corner of Highland and Hollywood, but today the marine layer is blocking the sun, creating what looks like a haze of smog. (hollywoodsign.org)

Griffith Park, situated on the eastern range of the Santa Monica Mountains,  is one of the largest urban parks in the United States, with 53 miles of hiking, bridle, and fire road trails. Think of Central Park in New York City, only with an elevation up to 1,625 feet above sea level and with a large portion of the land unchanged since the days the lower slopes were home to Native American settlers. (laparks.org)

We are heading up to the Griffith Observatory hoping to catch a glimpse of the Hollywood Sign. Cars are parked on the side of the road but we don’t see anything. We keep winding our way up and I keep craning my neck over my right shoulder. Then we are on a one-way route as we sort of approach the top. Parking spaces cost $4/hour, but we remain skeptical. So, we decide to keep driving to the Observatory thinking that we are on a wild goose chase. All of a sudden I see it! The sign! Of course by now we cannot turn around. We have passed all the parking areas. I take a quick picture of the Griffith Observatory

and our only option is to head back down.

But… What goes down must go back up, right? Well, we hope so… yes, we can! So, we park, pay, and walk up and up and up until…

…and a little close-up pic…

It’s 11:00 and we have an hour to spend looking around.

We walk around the grounds of the Observatory.

We walk around the back of the building and take in views of the city of LA below, through the marine layer haze. (The entrance to the planetarium is back here too.)

We return to the car and descend into the landscaped neighborhood of Los Feliz living in the foothills of Griffith Park, one beautiful home after another.

It’s time for a little history connecting Griffith and Los Feliz.

Rancho Los Feliz came first.

Between 1784 and 1821, the Spanish government awarded prominent Hispanic men land grants, called ranchos, to promote and continue the culture of Spain. (Mexico continued this tradition of land ownership from 1833-1846.)

In 1795 Jose Vicente Feliz, a member of the expedition bringing the first Mexican settlers to California, and later a soldier guarding the settlement, received 6,647 acres of land from the Spanish Governor. Rancho Los Feliz remained in the family and was grandfathered in by Mexico in 1843. When Mexico ceded their land to the United States in 1848, existing land grants were honored but had to be claimed, filed, and land patented.

Rancho Los Feliz belonged to the heirs of Jose Vicente until 1863 when Antonio F. Coronel acquired ownership. Coronel then sold the land to a wealthy businessman from San Francisco, James Lick,  who died in 1876.

In 1882 Griffith Jenkins Griffith purchased some 4,000 acres of Rancho Los Feliz. (Griffith was born in Wales in 1850 and immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1865. In 1873 he moved to San Francisco and managed the Herald Publishing Company. In 1878 he became the mining correspondent for a San Francisco newspaper eventually making him a mining expert which helped him to become quite wealthy.) In December of 1896, Griffith presented a Christmas gift to the city of LA… 3,015 acres of Los Ranchos Feliz to be dedicated as a public park.

In 1912 he proposed financing the building of an amphitheater, to be called the Greek Theater, and a Hall of Science. City Council approved his request, but the Park Commission overruled. Upon his death in 1919, however, his will bequeathed some 1.5 million dollars for these buildings. The present day 5,870- seat music venue, whose stage is modeled after a Greek temple, was built in 1929. The Griffith Observatory was built in 1935. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

While we head west to Beverly Hills, I propose we take a break from this lengthy post. Let’s catch up in Part II.