March 21st-28th, 2003
Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Malibu are names that evoke some pretty cool images and we set out in March of 2003 to bring those images to life. In the beginning our planning for this trip would revolve around a desire to be in Hollywood on Oscar’s big night, otherwise known as the Academy Awards. We decided that we would apply to get bleacher seats for the red carpet arrival of the stars, and even if we didn’t receive the go ahead we would still be in Hollywood when the big show was being filmed. We also wanted to visit Universal Studios and do all the normal sight-seeing things in and around the city. We booked a room at the Universal Sheraton and started checking out the map for excursions. After much consideration we decided to visit the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area and also drive up near Lancaster, California to visit the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve.
Blessed by year-round sunshine and moderate temperatures Los Angeles is a prime destination for travelers. We couldn’t wait to feel the warmth of that California sun on our skin and we were not disappointed when we arrived. In fact, we were totally impressed, not only with the weather, but with the cleanliness of this sprawling metropolis and the friendliness of its citizens. We were ready to start our exploration as soon as we stepped off the plane even though, unfortunately, we were not chosen to sit in the bleachers for the red carpet. This did not dampen our enthusiasm. Actually, not being chosen turned out to be a blessing in disguise since the red carpet was cancelled that year due to the war with Iraq…we would have been devastated to have been chosen only to have our dreams dashed later. We checked in to our hotel room and then headed for our first destination…Hollywood and Highland to check out the Kodak Theater, home of the Academy Awards. We took the little known, and less used, subway system to the Hollywood/Highland stop and emerged from the underground to see a wonderful sight! Dusk was just settling on the city and a film crew was set up for promo shots of the entrance to the Kodak Theater complete with the red carpet and the huge Oscar statues out front! We were thrilled to see such a production and it made for quite a memorable first night out in L.A.
The next couple of days were spent driving around Beverly Hills and Bel Air, star map in hand, checking out the magnificent homes of celebrities. We had hoped that Ozzy Osbourne, or one of his family members, would be coming or going from their home as we drove by, but no such luck. We did get to see a few stars though! Carl Reiner was out walking in his neighborhood and Christina Ricci and Skeet Ulrich were filming a movie called “Cursed” on the Santa Monica Pier. We also were able to see an up and coming star by the name of Amy Davidson who now appears on the TV show “8 Simple Rules”. It truly was exciting to catch a glimpse of these film icons.
When we had our fill of the city we headed out to the coast where we visited some beautiful state parks including: Point Dume, Leo Carrillo, and Malibu Lagoon. At the first two parks listed we were able to do some hiking while we watched dolphins, whales, and sea lions frolic in the surf. You can read more about those hikes on our hiking websiteNatural Born Hikers. Surprisingly enough there are also great places to hike right within the heart of Los Angeles, the two best being Griffith Park and Runyon Canyon. These little jewels of wilderness are a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
Without a doubt, even though the city was amazing, the highlight of our trip was an excursion to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve near Lancaster, California just north of Los Angeles. For years we had dreamt about visiting this reserve with hopes of a good bloom year. You see, the poppies don’t always put on a great display. Many factors have to be just right in order for the orange blooms to blanket the hillsides, and even when all those factors do come together the peak bloom is usually in mid-April. Our trip was for the last week of March, so we prepared ourselves for disappointment. But to our great pleasure the poppies decided to bloom early, and to have a stellar year! As we drove towards the poppy reserve we could hardly believe our eyes! A sea of orange flowers spread out before us in an almost embarrassing display of beauty. The blooms were so thick and bright that it literally hurt your eyes. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the fantastic views. How we lucked out to such an extent is beyond us, but we sure our thankful for such blessings! The beauty of this hike earned it a spot in our coveted Spectacular Hikes section of our aforementioned website. A complete write-up and tons of poppy photos are available for your enjoyment on our Antelope Valley Poppies page.
We hated to leave the pleasant weather of California, but the time had come to return to our homes in Ohio. On our last night in Los Angeles we drove the Pacific Coast Highway and admired the coastline complete with a breathtaking sunset. It was the perfect end to an exciting and fulfilling vacation.
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