Jul 11, 2009

Scenic Route

I have a map and I know how to use it. Well... not entirely. I have a tendency to make wrong turns, map or no map. Fortunately iPhone GPS is there to save my directionally challenged arse. Though, good things might come out of bad turns. I would have never found this field across the llama farm if I didn't go down the wrong road. By the way, can you really make a living llama farming? Who buys llamas? For what purpose?

Living in The Valley the quickest way for me to get out of town is going North, to the San Gabriel Mountains, through Angeles National Forest. I usually just look at my Thomas Guide and pick a road. Yesterday it was Lake Hughes Road. There are several lakes up there, Castaic, Hughes and Elizabeth.

There are odd little settlements along the roads. Some, like Green Valley, are actual towns, others are just clusters of houses along two-lane highways. Same as when I drive along Old Topange Canyon Road to the coast, I wonder what do the people living there do? Do they commute two hours a day into the city? There don't seem to be a whole lot of job opportunities locally. There definitely seem to be a contingent of artist types.

This is the Bouquet Canyon Reservoir. No people allowed.

A few weeks ago I took a long meandering trip with a friend to Acton and thereabouts. We were driving down on Soledad Canyon Rd. when we spotted this crazy miniature western town. It is like a shabby Hollywood set for kids in the middle of nowhere.

There were also some horses, two teepees, gallows, and a gumball machine at the premises. This is what I like about Southern California: The most unusual is totally normal here.

Right next door there is Tippi Hedren's Shambala Preserve. It deserves a little explanation. You might remember Tippi Hedren from Hitchcock's Birds, or as the mother of Melanie Griffith. In the 70's Tippi and her husband at the time, Noel Marshall, produced, filmed a movie called Roar. The film took 11 years to finish, cost $17 million, and made only $2 million worldwide - it's been called "the most expensive home movie ever made." The movie is about a family living in Africa (?) with a couple of elephants and dozens of big cats - lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs. During filming several cast and crew members were attacked by the big cats, but miraculously nobody died. After filming Tippi Hedren set up the Roar Foundation which now cares for abandoned and rescued big cats.

By the way, next to the mini Deadwood, there is a camp ground. We chatted up the lady in the office and she told us that at night they can hear the lions roar.

PS. According to the L.A. Times Tippi had a hand in (nyuk-nyuk) the nail salon business being dominated by Vietnamese Americans.


Cafe Pasadena said...

God forbid if our "leaders/representatives" ever allow these relatively undeveloped driving lands/roads to be paved over with parking lots and worse.

Good job.

Anonymous said...

This is an area of the crest that I haven't explored enough. I've never been to the lakes but now I'm thinking I ought to make a dash for them.

There are a few of those western towns about.. Elsenor, Pioneer Town, Calico, but never have I heard of one in miniature.

BTW: Tippy gave me a personally autographed copy of her "Cats of Shambala". When she first came out here from Minnesota she lived in Arcadia and attended PCC.

altadenahiker said...

I don't know if this qualifies as a western town, but I like Harmony. Also, good place to board dogs if you're taking a tour of Hearst Castle.

Miss Havisham's Tea Party said...

Thanks for taking us along the back roads. A campground w/ lion sounds and a spooky homage to Sheriff John? Grrrrrreat.

I've been up to Lake Elizabwth on the way to camp along the Kern River. Bring an old innertube to float around on or ride the rapids--although this time of year the Kern is low and the ride may be more like a downhill hike.

"Jo" said...

Nice pictures! You've got a point by wondering what a llama farm is all about. I never thought about it. And you got me curious about that movie Roar. I'm definitely going to rent it.

Miss Havisham's Tea Party said...

Scratch that on Lake Elizabeth, I was thinking of Lake Isabella.

Lake Isabella is near the Kern.

Elizabeth/Isabella some how is the same in my heat addled brain.

Vanda said...

It's understandable Miss H. The are both queens and movie stars.

Catittap said...

Love your blog. Keep having fun taking drives.

Diligent Daydreamer said...

Wow such a beautiful and unique place. Thanks for sharing it with us.

you-wee because said...

It was really a pleasure to follow your "scenic route" to noplace/nowhere. I like to meander through new places I've never been before, too, and capture random scenes.
Regards from Germany,

Jean Spitzer said...

Thanks for taking me on a vicarious trip out of town--and for explaining the Vietnamese-nail salon genesis.

Petrea said...

You've got me itchin' to move, Vanda. I used to do this kind of traveling all the time before I got married. I wonder if my car could still make it? And what kinds of adventures could I get into if it didn't?

There's another wild animal reserve somewhere, maybe in La Tuna canyon. Cats and apes and everything.

only me said...

As you've heard before, cracking pics. Love the destinations.