Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mysterious Ways




If you drive west from Altadena, passing La Canada and just the northern tip of Glendale, you’ll find La Crescenta, maybe the smoggiest jewel in the foothill crown.

Like Altadena, La Crescenta has political feet in more than one place -- I don’t know that that matters, but it seems to hint at romance and mystery, of 19th century land-grabbers and poker players.

The main drag looks like a valley transplant, or something in a border town, where old chain stores go to die. Little remains of the Cain/Chandler California.



The trick is to turn north as soon as possible, drive into the hills, then steer clear of the new gated communities.

I planned to start my hike at Dukemajian Park, the same place where I bought my horse in the early 90s. But since the station fire, the park remains closed. Continuing on, looking for a trail to catch, I was lost, then found:





Gates thrown open, welcoming. According to the signs, any god you may choose is welcome here. 100, 200 acres, and I could wander at will.


I've got to admit, this kind of of serendipity comes close to a religious experience. I almost wept. "Here is a fountain to slake your thirst."

And if you're hungry, there's a Der Wienerschnitzel within walking distance.

28 comments:

  1. I remember when La Crescenta was such BIG money! And Rose Parade queens came from there...
    The beauty in its nature still abounds - if kind of creepy.

    Ummmm, Der Wienerschnitzel. ummmmmm.

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  2. I'm still not clear on how you, as serious hiker and rider, like the S. Cal. landscape, given all the places you've lived and traveled. Are there other places you've liked better or want to go? I guess the weather there is unbeatable, but what about other factors?

    You certainly show the appeal of this particular site, though it's the idea more than the hills . . .

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  3. If I take BA & KB seriously, LaCrescenta has evolved into a creepy backlot with N. FairOaks now snaking through it. To be avoided xcept for hikers on archaeological explorations.

    I'm afraid if those gates are too wide open into that undeveloped open space. I can hear the gods of greed & money wanting to say, "well, thank you" to it's Welcome!.

    There must be a brunch of mystery history to ask about this area. I look 4ward 2 the next installment of your Investigative Reports.

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  4. To your question, Banjo, I love Southern California. The foothills and mountains are my family, and they're under constant siege.

    Every year the houses creep up ever higher, displacing trails and branding wildlife as trespassers. To some, soccer fields seem a fair exchange for open space, and once the open space is gone, it’s gone forever.

    I happen to like the Ashram, as it has protected a few scant acres over these 90 or so years. CO is right, I’m sure someone is always knocking at their gate with a fistful of dollars.

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  5. Wow, what a find! First there's an awesome old hotel sign, then all that acreage on which to hike. Not sure about Der Wienerschnitzel though. Any sign of a nearby Dairy Queen?

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  6. Leave it to you to uncover another hidden treasure in La Crescenta. I had no idea there was a Der W. there.

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  7. The lord will provide, Susan and Katie.

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  8. What an amazing find! I went to their website and found the "Daily Thoughts and Prayers" page. It looks like they're walking the walk and talking the talk. Pretty rare for "churches" actually. Too much liability to risk it.

    wv ibroxyto
    Rumpelstiltskin's password?

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  9. I think these folks are part of the same dealio that owned our ranch in AZ before us and created all the shrines there to the world's various major religions. An eclectic bunch.

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  10. Love finding out about this place--

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  11. You've uncovered another treasure. As to the landscape, it's the wild west, baby, and I love it too.

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  12. I've heard about the ashram. I think DBDubya told me about it, and I have a friend who's spent time there. I've never seen it, however.

    The Der Wienerschnitzel line made me laugh out loud, and I love Susan C's comment on it.

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  13. I lived in La Crescenta and surrounding areas for 20 years. The valley is like Goldilocks and the 3 bears. Tujunga is to the west. La Crescenta is in the middle, and La Canada is to the east. Tujunga is seedy. La Canada is stuffy. La Crescenta is, or was, just about right. I lived in all three, with 18 months in Tujunga, 16 years in La Crescenta (below Deukmejian park, before it was a park), and 2 in La Canada. Then, after chasing the dream, the marriage blew up.

    The old motel used to be called the May-Lane. I have no idea how it ever stayed in business. The DW has been there forever. My daughter used to ride horses at the old winery in what's now the Duke park. In the 70's and 80's it was a great place to raise a family - solid middle class, two parent families, good schools, mountain views in all directions, and convenient to almost everywhere. At least it became comvenient when the 2 Freeway was built.

    The Ashram is a hidden jewel. People have lived in the neighborhood for many years and don't even know it exists at the top of Pennsylvania. A last bit of trivia - half of La Crescenta is in the Glendale city limits, and the other half is unincorporated LA County. Pennsylvania is the border.

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  14. DB, wow, great story, info.

    Even tho it's closed, I drove up to the old winery/stable. They've paved and seeded and made a park up there, which is ok I guess, but lacks the wild charm it once had. Plus, there are new housing developments throughout the hills.

    I always thought the May Lane Motel would be a great place to hide from the law.

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  15. You've stumped me twice now and I regularly stop at that Vons on the corner.

    The other day I went up to the Dukemajian Park and met some guys who'd been locked out. They said they'd been hiking for the last 2 hours.....so it's not like the trails are impassible.

    I think the park is closed to allow the earth movers the freedom to run about unimpeded in order to level that mountain in front of the park (shared roadway). Glendale is pro-development and ironically George Dukmajian (I've been told) had one of the worst records on environmental issues. Yea, go ahead, name a park after him.

    If you go in the exact opposite direction on Pennsylvania, through Whiting Ranch (?) till it dead ends you'll find a trail head.

    Geez I sound grumpy this morning. Well, huff huff, off to the PIO to see if I won a fabulous prize

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  16. Ah! MIss J HAS to break out of her same ol' hiking routine & see what else is out there...

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  17. i love love love that old neon sign. Makes me think of any number of California based film noirs, They Li BY Night, or that one with Bogey...high Sierra. Steal that sign for me Karin!

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  18. Gorgeous colors in that last shot!

    It's been quite a while since I've been to La Crescenta. That looks like the classic NoTell Motel.

    I'll have to drive up for a wienerschnitzel soon and check this scene out.

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  19. If I steal the sign Ken Mac, then I can't hide here when Johnny Law comes calling.

    I added a close-up. Must have taken a dozen. (Shanna, you could do it justice.)

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  20. I you want some fun exploring, head up to Haines Canyon... the fire uncovered all sorts of things, both big and small, and then the rains came and washed away more layers and uncovered more mysteries... stairs to nowhere, foundations, coins, old bottles, toys... don't forget to look in the crevices where the water runs off.

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  21. Interesting shadows in your shot no. 1...means: no mystery smog or no Icelandic ashes.

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  22. I meant mysterious.

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  23. For me, the religious expereince occurs at Der Wienerschnitzel, with extra onions.

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  24. La Canada. I learned how to say that "right" while there. You can find em KB and a way of making everything you see sound good ( even the No Tell Motel!)

    Hey, I miss you my friend.
    V

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  25. (sigh) I remember when there were leaves on the trees.......totally of topic but that's what I see in your pic's.....trees with leaves and no white stuff on the ground.

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  26. Der Wienshnitzel is the holy grill? Who knew.

    Susan, thanks. It's now on my list.

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  27. I'm with Susan. HIdden treasure! Hidden treasure! Sure we're a great big desert. Sure, we're not Montana. Get used to it people. There is beauty even in the dirt! (Can you tell I've taken my happy pills today!)

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