Walkin’ Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills

Located in the heart of Beverly Hills is a park many people tend to take for granted. Bordering the ever traffic laden Santa Monica Boulevard sits the Beverly Garden Park.

Interspersed and conjunctive, for almost two miles, are celebrities, residents, joggers, bikers, drivers of trucks, Rolls Royce’s, 1997 Toyotas, and every other type of transportation is conjoined with the sites, open spaces, and beauty of a cactus garden, walking trail, statues, and flowers. Typically going unnoticed by most, especially by Los Angelino drivers, the beautiful and inviting Beverly Garden Park is best enjoyed on foot or bike.

However, even driving past in a car, these flowers can catch your eye. Taller than my 5’10’ frame and with bold colors, these tulips are unique.

Guarding the flowers is statue of a dancing four-legged animal, ready to strike at a moment’s notice. He, like the other statues in the park, adds flair and spark to an otherwise dull day.

On the right, this statue is titled Hunter and Hounds, and it has an interesting history. A banker (W.D. Longyear) went to France to visit the spot where his son was killed in World War 1. At the site, near the Chateau Thierry, he saw this statue, riddled with bullet holes from the battle. In 1925, he bought the statue and had it shipped back to Beverly Hills, where it stood on his front lawn for many years. Memorial ceremonies were held at the statue each Armistace Day. When the Longyears moved from Beverly Hills, they donated the statue to the city. It was placed here in Beverly Gardens Park. Source: Seeing Stars

I spent a total of 40 minutes in only a ½ mile stretch of this park, and was amazed at each step–something new was just done the straightaway.

Beverly Hills may be known for many things, but I don’t think parks is at the top of the list, however, I hope after this post, you see Beverly Hills not only as a Mecca for the rich and famous, but also for its possibilities as a place of relaxation, walking, and sightseeing other than a Map of the Stars.

Having only touched on 25% of Beverly Garden Park, I’ll be making another visit. Next time, I think I’ll ride my bike, taking full advantage of the trail.

Until then, where are you Travelin’ Local?

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A Study in Black and White

I love black and white photographs. The contrasts between the colors and the shades of grey draw me into the lair of the subject. As a matter of fact, the winner of the Digital Photography School’s best 2008 photo contest was a black and white picture.

Although shooting in black and white is somewhat new to me, I know my passion for it is matched by the greats—Ansel Adams, Brassei, Alfred Stieglitz, Henri Cartier-Bresson, etc. So my visit to the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden located on the UCLA campus, put my black and white shots to the test.

On the right, The Nest, an outdoor classroom with semicircular bench seating, was constructed by the Garden staff and dedicated in1996 to the memory of Hazel (Lisa) Kath McMurran, a UCLA alumna.

Later that year a massive effort was undertaken to build new paths on the western side of The Garden.

The gently sloped paths and entrances provide access to The Nest and special collections to all visitors.

The concept of an outdoor classroom doubling as a rustic and artistic refuge is something we can all relate to. Who doesn’t want to get away from it all in the middle of a busy day, or in the middle of school or work?

The spiraling and effervescent limbs and branches of this tree are both inviting and a bit intimidating; asking its visitors to behold its magnificence while enabling you to seize your day.

Hopefully by Travelin’ Local your appreciation and enjoyment of life’s simple and satisfying offerings will oblige you to keep finding those sanctuaries that you enjoy; whether it be a black and white study in contrasts—or an afternoon get-a-way at U.C.L.A.’s botanical garden—or Travelin’ Local to your local favorite sanctuary.


Garden Magic

This is the garden’s magic,
That through the sunny hours
The gardener who tends it,
Himself outgrows his flowers.

He grows by gift of patience,
Since he who sows must know
That only in the Lord’s good time
Does any seedling grow.

He learns from buds unfolding,
From each tight leaf unfurled,
That his own heart, expanding,
Is one with all the world.

He bares his head to sunshine,
His bending back a sign
Of grace, and ev’ry shower becomes
His sacramental wine.

And when at last his labors
Bring forth the very stuff
And substance of all beauty
This is reward enough.

-Marie Nettleton Carroll

Can you relax at UCLA?

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Los Angeles (80º and sunny), so in the afternoon, I hopped on my bike and rode to the UCLA campus. Although I had passed by this garden a couple of weeks ago in my car, I was to stop because I couldn’t see where the entrance was; and a few days later, when I drove there again I couldn’t stay because finding parking was hopeless.

The campus isn’t far away so riding my bike to get there seemed like the best option, and I was right. Fighting the pedestrians on the sidewalk or the cars on the street is always an issue. My choice was a little of both depending on which street I was riding on.

I knew approximately where the garden was located based on where I entered the UCLA campus–which by the way is huge. Wonder of wonders, I found the gate, only to discover it was closed. Much to my chagrin, I went a little further down the road, and low and behold, I found an opening.

With a sigh of relief, I enter into another world. The Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, which was initiated in 1929, maintains one of the most important living botanical collections in the United States with plant specimens from all over the world. Their seven-acre garden is frost-free and therefore can exhibit many different species of tropical and subtropical plants.

As I walked around (bikes aren’t allowed, so I walked mine), the twisting, turning paths, I was captived by the the various trees. Because even here in California, it’s winter, for the most part, there aren’t too many flowers. In a few areas, the garden felt forest like.

Even though the UCLA campus is in the middle of the city, once you step foot in the garden, the city’s sites, sounds, and smells disappear. My mind and body relaxed, letting the sights and sounds of the garden take over. I felt the stress just melt away; albeit for a little while.

In fact, the only audible sounds besides the wind were the little squirrels that were doing what squirrels do.

As I turned a corner, the sound of a babbling brook replaced that of the squirrels, and I found myself seated, closing my mind to the outside world, totally absorbed by my surroundings.

I will definitely be putting the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden on my list of places to return to. As the seasons change, so will the view, and I plan on seeing them all.

Outside or in, everyone needs a place they can retreat to just to kick back and relax. Especially as you are Travelin’ Local.

Just another morning in Westwood

Don’t let the caption above fool you—although I rode my bike to Westwood this morning to enjoy its splendor and interesting sites—there was nothing “normal” about today.

For starters, I encountered the dichotomy of a rare military funeral at the Los Angeles National Cemetery, and on the other side of the street, an anti-terrorist demonstration in front of the Federal Building.

Whatever side of the current conflict you may be on—there is no dispute as to encountering our enduring nation’s fight for freedom and Israel’s.

But I digress. The Los Angeles National Cemetery is a United States National Cemetery in West Los Angeles at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Sepulveda Boulevard. The cemetery was dedicated in 1889. Interred there are war veterans, from the Spanish-American war, World War I, World War II, Korean War, and other American conflicts.

Two unique features of the Los Angeles National Cemetery are its indoor columbarium, a place for the respectful and usually public storage of cinerary urns (i.e. urns holding a deceased’s cremated remains) and two unusual canine burials, although this practice is prohibited today. Old Bonus, an adopted pet of residents in the soldiers’ home, and Blackout, a war dog wounded in the Pacific during World War II, are both buried here.

Across the street from the National Cemetery is the Federal Building, which is the backdrop for these kids waving flags at an an anti-terrorist demonstration. Obviously, this conflict has inspired a plethora of passion plays and emotions from many.

I just happened to stumble upon it this morning. In a way I’m glad that I did; albeit I had no clue that I would encounter both a funeral ceremony at the National Cemetery and a war demonstration.

Nevertheless the images are all beautiful and full of wisdom, grace in their celebration of life and death.