Not to rub it in, but today was a fairly typical Los Angeles January day: temperature in the mid to upper 70s, views from the ocean out to the snow capped San Gabriels in the east (taller than any mountains east of the Rockies), a slight breeze. You get the picture. And if you don't, here's one:
The thing that makes Los Angeles, in my mind, the greatest city on the planet, is its diversity. I can probably list several hundred things that one can find here in this one place, that you'd have to go to a few dozen other cities to come across.
Does New York have mountain lions? Maybe in the Bronx zoo it does.
I set out today with a group of friends to go on a hike. We passed the gate on the fire road in Rustic Canyon - part of Pacific Palisades - and took note of the things to watch out for: mountain lions, rattlesnakes (in summer), brushfires, flash floods, ticks. Yes, we were comfortably within the confines of what is arguably the largest, most populous urban area in the United States (taking into account all the counties that make up the Greater Los Angeles area) and yet we were venturing into a potentially deadly wilderness.
Central Park? Hah, that's for panzies!
Our destination was the ruins of a Nazi commune, deep in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Yep, that's right, Nazis. And they bought their 50 acres of land from Will Rogers - who was decidedly not a Nazi sympathizer. Back in the 1930s they spent four million dollars (nearly $65 million today) building their own little self-sufficient slice of the Third Reich, in which they planned to wait for the glorious victory of Germany over the rest of the world.
Luckily for all of us, it didn't turn out that way. Not long after Pearl Harbor they were raided, kicked off the land, tossed into jail and that was the end of that. During the 1950s the area was reportedly used as an artists colony. Andrew Wyeth, Henry Miller and possibly Christopher Isherwood were supposed residents at one point or another. Now it's all just falling apart, waiting to be bulldozed eventually to be part of a big park.
To get to it, you walk down 500 some odd steps after hiking for a little while. To get back to civilization from it, you walk up either 511 or 512 steps - the counts were evenly split. My left knee is now killing me. But at least we lost not one member of our intrepid party to malevolent wildlife, or nazis.
Here's some pics: