I was recently invited by Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge on a hike of Mt. Hollywood to honor the 2012 London Olympics as well as the closing of summer. This hike combines the best of both worlds – Los Angeles’s urban landscape as well the rugged natural beauty of the Hollywood Hills. The trail is 1.5 miles to the summit and nearly all up hill. The day was hot as it often is this time of year yet the skies were clear as it often is not this time of year.
I sweated as I climbed with fellow LACOT members Michelle Yam and Kayte Deioma – we enjoyed stellar views of Griffith Observatory below us, much of the LA basin and downtown as we hiked.
Upon reaching the summit we were soon serenaded by Amazing Grace and other tunes being played on a bagpipe. We watched the sun slowly sink to the west – a perfect way to end another summer in southern California.
The next day Endeavor buzzed much of Los Angeles – my aunt and uncle were in town from Alaska so we headed back to Griffith Observatory and fortunately arrived just before the big “rush.” I was surprised to see Mr. LaBonge frantically directing traffic near the main parking lot below Griffith Observatory – now that is dedication!
The anticipation of seeing Endeavor fly through at an elevation of around 2000 feet had seemingly brought much of Los Angeles directly to Griffith Observatory. The energy was captivating. I remember special events like this from my childhood (the 1984 Olympics, as an example); it is the type of event that children who came to watch, will especially remember for a long time.
Massive crowds flooded the parking lot, all side streets were packed with vehicles, the overflow grass lots were full and traffic was amazingly backed up both ways for a number of miles on Los Feliz Blvd. Westbound on Los Feliz – the traffic was backed all the way across the 5 into Glendale!
The crowds were several deep around the edges of the actual observatory – people had fashioned homemade “Endeavor” paper planes – and souvenir Endeavors were “flying” around the edges of the observatory on string. It is rare and unique events such as this that truly galvanize people – events that bring a city together regardless of where you live, your age or your job. The elation of watching something as unique as the Endeavor fly overhead makes one proud to be an American.
The Endeavor landed at the Los Angeles Airport (LAX) later in the day; my friend was on the plane that landed right before the Endeavor. The pilot of the plane he was on pulled over and all the passengers were able to watch this historic event.
Those of you in Los Angeles who were not able to catch a glimpse of the Endeavor: on October 12th and 13th it will roll slowly for 12 miles from LAX to the California Science Center in Exposition Park. It will be on permanent display there beginning October 30th. What a terrific monument to human endeavor.
David Thompson is a member of LACOT – for more travel tales, visit his site: www.davestravelcorner.com