Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Rancho Las Lomas

Rancho las Lomas is located on Santiago Canyon Road in Silverado Canyon, CA.  Rancho Las Lomas is mainly a place for weddings.  I have lived in Portola Hills for 15 years and I have driven by Rancho Las Lomas many times and finally about 1.5 years ago, I got to go inside and I got to go again today.  What a beautiful place!  Mari went with me the last time and this time, Marissa went with me.  Since we walk about 5 miles, 3 days a week, I decided to walk to Rancho Las Lomas, as it is probably about 1.5-2 miles from my home.

The information here was taken from the website for Rancho Las Lomas.  The owners of Rancho Las Lomas are the Lawrence Family.  The original area was owned by the Serrano family via a Mexican land grant and before that it belonged to the coastal Indians.  According to Jeannie Lawrence, she has heard whispered comments that her family acquired the land by winning a bet on a horse race.  She states: "It began during a trip to Europe nearly thirty years ago.    We dreamed of finding a ranch near the ocean, yet still in the mountains.  After only two weeks, this dream land was ours."  She and her late husband, Rick, had the aspiration to build a home as a small village, with quaint little bungalows sprinkled around the rolling hills.  They used recycled salvage materials, like old doors, windows, brick and lumber.  They wanted to fill the buildings with many unexpected surprises.  She used a local artisan to adorn the wood beams with hand-painted figures that copy the tile murals found during a trip they took to Portugal.  Today, the hillsides are filled with white twinkling lights and many of the treasures they gathered are placed throughout the landscape.  Rick's legacy lives on in the initials of Rancho Las Lomas.

While in Nepal, Jeannie stayed in a protected sanctuary with Bengal tigers.  In the sanctuary, the Bengal tigers were safe and majestic.  She found that many cubs born need a refuge where they could live with nobility.  At Rancho Las Lomas, they live forever out of harm's way.  All of the birds and animals are sheltered at Rancho Las Lomas with loving respect.  The stone washed garden pathways are lined with Jeannie's favorite roses.

These are some of the pictures I took the first time I went (08/26/2012):

These are the pictures I took today(02/12/2014)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Secret Stairs #5-Mt. Washington

The first comment on this walk is  that "this is more of a hike than a walk-two hours of steep streets and steeper steps, all uphill and down, with hardly any flat walking involved.  Along the way are fantastic views and one of the city's most serene and undiscovered oases."

My initial reaction is that this walk is going to take some time.  The author says it takes 2 hours.

The first paragraph says to begin the walk near the intersection of N. Figueroa Street and Avenue 45 and to walk up Avenue 45 and cross the Gold Line tracks and Marmion Way.   Mari and I decided to take the train.

  Jog left a bit and go up and left onto Glenalbyn Drive.  Continue on to Avenue 43 and then down and to the left and notice two cream-colored, arch-roofed Spanish Mission Revival-style buildings.  These buildings are what remains of an old funicular railway that carried passengers from Figueroa St. to the top of Mt. Washington from 1884 to about 1920.  The Mt. Washington Hotel was also at the top of Mt. Washington.

Walk up a steep block of Avenue 43, and find the first staircase.  The staircase is a zigzag set of 102 steps with over seven landings and bordered by a cactus garden.  At the top is Canyon Vista Drive and then another steep climb straight up.  Where the road splits, still keep going straight up.  There are views as you hike straight up.  One of the buildings that is seen is Los Angeles County Hospital which was built in 1933 and was said to be the largest medical facility west of the Mississippi.

Soon we reach the Self-Realization Fellowship, which used to be the Mt. Washington Hotel and was sold in 1925.  The Self Realization Fellowship welcomes people to their gardens and the shrine of Paramahansa Yogananda.

 After leaving the gardens, go downhill and find an old Craftsman. We found the old Craftsman, but could not really take a decent picture.  This is the view behind the house.

 Continue past Mt. Washington Elementary School and another climb.  There is another set of stairs that goes into Carlin G. Smith Recreation Center.  As you walk toward the basketball court, there is a drinking fountain and exit to the left.  Cross the canyon and then head downhill. Mari and I got slightly confused at this point, but luckily we met another group, who was doing "Secret Stairs" and one man knew where he was going.   The street is steep and there is no sidewalk.  Find the next staircase near Rainbow Avenue.  This staircase is 22 asphalt stairs with a handrail.  Turn right onto Canon Crest Avenue and immediately turn left onto Clermont Street staircase, which is another of the city's true walk-streets.  This staircase is 10 landings and 154 steps without lights or handrails. At the top turn right and head downhill as the roads turns into Mavis Drive and winds down and around to the left.  Find the new staircase going down to the right.  This is a railroad-tie staircase that is in relatively poor repair that goes through a lovely-low-hanging grove.  There are 37 wooden steps, 11 earthen steps and finish with 28 concrete steps.  At the bottom, head downhill.

Continue downhill and see the fine old houses and find the last set of steps.  This is a newish set of 5 steps with handrails and attractive lamps that brings us back to where we started.

Pictures of other things seen along our walk!

Mari and I left from Irvine train station and I happen to see this and I titled it "Old amongst the new."