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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.

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8 Comments on “Can you relax at UCLA?”

  1. #1 Kim
    on Jan 13th, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Those trees are just spectacular!! Sounds like a wonderful day.. and a wonderful place to have your camera!!

    Kim’s last blog post..Maybe we should rethink the 529 College Savings?

  2. #2 LisaNewton
    on Jan 13th, 2009 at 8:26 am

    Thanks, Kim. It’s a magical place.

  3. #3 Lance
    on Jan 13th, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Hi Lisa,
    This does look like a wonderful place to “retreat” to. We have a small state park a couple of miles from our house, and I always enjoy visits to there - to get out and hike the trails. That you have a place like this where you are, in the middle of urban America, very cool. Enjoy your visits there…

    Lance’s last blog post..Sunday Thought For The Day

  4. #4 Mark Salinas
    on Jan 13th, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Seems like such a breath of fresh air….ahhhh. Thanks for sharing! :)

  5. #5 Frank Levangie
    on Jan 13th, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Hi Lisa……. Been to the botanical gardens a few times and enjoyed it. Have you been to the Murphy Sculpture Garden at the other end of the campus? Lots of good things there too. Remember, you are a taxpayer and you can go anywhere on campus. I have some of the pieces from the Murphy S.G. in one of my albums. In April there is the Book Faire on campus which is very impressive. Lots of the top novelists set up desks to sign books and there are discussion groups in some of the bldgs…. Be sure to ck the LA Times in March and April because they sponsor and promote the event. UCLA has several museums and they put on concerts, plays and there is a movie theater on campus. One could live their whole life there and never set foot outside.
    There are several bus lines that go on campus by the book store or stop on Hilgard or in the village.
    By the way, some times you can park south? of Wilshire on a side street, but ck the restrictions….. A good place to park on campus would be off Gayley in the Plaza 100, 200 300 med bldgs parking structure…….. print out a map of the campus..

  6. #6 LisaNewton
    on Jan 13th, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    @Lance Sometimes, fresh air and sunshine are the best medicine for the body and soul.

    @Mark It is, and thank you for stopping by.

    @Frank Thanks for all the great information. I love the idea of the Book Faire, so I’ll be sure to check it out. As to the car, I’m loving the idea of riding my bike on campus, but I’ll keep the bus idea handy.

  7. #7 Frank Levangie
    on Jan 13th, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    BTW…… that stream is all that remains of a small river that once flowed thru the campus from the hills above Bel Aire…… The road that leads from LeConte to the emergency room area was washed out some years ago because the river rises every now and then. There is actually a bridge that goes across Dickson Court that once spanned the river and is now buried. It connected Murphy Hall to Haines Hall in the 20’s. My mother-in-law was in the 1st class that graduated from UCLA in 1928 (with Ralph Bunche and Agnes Demille who were her pals) and she told me that some students actually camped (lived) under the bridge while going to school. I went there in the 50’s and many students lived in their cars in the dirt parking lots in various places on campus. Every now and then the campus police would chase us out to clean the place up and then we’d move back in. Showered at the men’s gym then go to class or eat breakfast at the student restaurant.
    A different (and better ) time and $28 /semester….

  8. #8 A Study in Black and White | Travelin' Local
    on Jan 17th, 2009 at 4:34 am

    [...] 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 [...]

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