Stairs at Sunrise

February 17, 2014

I can’t remember the last time I was up early enough to see a sunrise. Yesterday, though, I saw a beautiful one… while in the middle of a fantastic stair workout. Here’s the sunrise…


…and here are the stairs:



These awesome stairs are known as the Culver City Stairs, and they’re at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. How I ended up there was a happy accident.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Shameful, Embarrassing Admission

February 10, 2014

I’ll warn you now: the title of this post is a complete exaggeration. But it stems from a truthful place – a little nugget of shame that actually exists within me. And that little nugget is this:

In the nearly 12 years that I’ve lived in Los Angeles, I’ve never been to the Griffith Observatory.

Shocker, right?! The Griffith Observatory is Read the rest of this entry »

Hiking Buddy AND February Weigh-In

February 5, 2014

I had a new hiking buddy a few days ago. His name is Jimi.


I got to spend the day with Jimi, and I don’t even know who his owner is. My buddy and neighbor Patrick was dogsitting for a friend of his, but Patrick had to work all day, so I took Jimi. We had a good 90-minute hike in Fryman Canyon, along the very same trail where Read the rest of this entry »

A Workout For the Record Books

January 13, 2014

This past Saturday, I did something that I’ve never done before. I’ve never even come close to accomplishing what I did on Saturday. It was a record-shattering workout, in more ways than one!

On Saturday, I completed a six-hour, 15.7-mile urban hike throughout Silver Lake that involved 42 staircases and 4,314 steps. Yes, it was exhausting. Yes, I’m still sore. And yes, it was awesome.

Here’s just one of the staircases – we climbed 42 of these bad boys:

Staircase-Silver-Lake Read the rest of this entry »

A Tight Squeeze

April 30, 2013

Things are still going pretty well, ladies and gentlemen. I’m now on Day 5 of getting back on track, which means 5 days of making good food choices and 5 days of exercise (I haven’t worked out yet today, but I will).  On Sunday, I made a big crockpot of chicken and veggie soup, so I’ve been enjoying that for my lunches. I’ve brought workout clothes to work, so I can get my exercise in after I’m done in the office.

While it’s a big improvement from how I was eating last week, I haven’t been perfect. Read the rest of this entry »

My New Roommate, Part IV

September 24, 2012

That’s right, I’m bringing Roman numerals back to the blogosphere.

I take having roommates very seriously. My family and friends are welcome to stay with me whenever they want, but houseguests are one thing, and roommates are a completely different matter. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never had any horrible roommate situations, but now I’m at a point in my life where I prefer living alone. I don’t want a roommate, I don’t need a roommate.

But there are always exceptions. And that brings us back to the Roman numerals.

Read the rest of this entry »

Haunted Forest Hike

May 3, 2012

Of course it started to rain the other day as I drove to go on a hike.

Of course it didn’t stop raining until well after I got back in my car following the hike.

And, of course, it was one of the best hikes I’ve ever taken.

I had no idea what to expect when I left home for the hike. My friend Natalie had been in town a few weeks prior, and a friend of hers had told her about an awesome hike, which Natalie didn’t have time to do before leaving. On her last day, Natalie handed me a post-it with directions:

Mt. Lowe. Exit 210 at Lake. Head north until Lake dead-ends.

So, the other day, I did exactly that. I didn’t look into what was at the end of Lake, or the difficulty of the hike – I just went. I ended up spending over two hours on the mountain, ascending and descending into some serious fog. It was gray everywhere, and it was absolutely stunning. The fog added a huge element of mystery and surprise – I literally had no idea what was around the next corner, or which direction I was heading.

After the hike, I settled in with my laptop, and did some research into where I had just been, and what I found was utterly fascinating. Just like that, my hike went from awesome to awesomer.

Here’s what I learned.

The trail begins at the gate to the Cobb Estate.

Charlie H. Cobb made his fortune from lumber, and in 1918, he and his wife built their dream house in the foothills above Altadena, CA. They lived there for slightly over 20 years, until Cobb died in 1939.

Cobb made news in 1935, when, at 83 years old and armed with just a garden hose, he saved his house and family from an encroaching forest fire in the middle of the night.

Cobb left the house (pictured at right in 1930) and land (all 107 acres of it) to a local Freemason group, and over the next 17 years, ownership changed hands multiple times, until the Marx Brothers bought the property in 1956 as an investment. By this time, the house had fallen into disrepair and was used as a hangout for local teens (police arrested nearly 200 people for petty crimes at the dilapidated mansion). The Marx Brothers demolished what was left of the house in 1959, leaving only the foundation behind, which I found on my hike:

Eventually, the Marx Brothers wanted to turn the land into a cemetery, an idea that was hated by the community. In 1971, after those plans fell through, the Marx Brothers decided to auction off the land to developers. That plan was foiled by a group of high school students, who, in just one week, raised a commotion in the media and caught the ear of a local wealthy art collector, who helped them buy the land at the auction. They turned the land over to the Forest Service, with the condition that it could never be built on. The story of the auction is riveting stuff – read a great article about it here.

So I have a group of high students to thank for my wonderful hike. Thank you. Without your hard work, I never would have spent the afternoon amongst scenery like this:

The trail went up a mountain, and I got higher, the fog got thicker.

There were all these wonderful moments when I would see the trail curve ahead of me, and there was nothing beyond but fog.

At one point I saw these structures looming ahead – it turned out they were power line towers (I’m not sure what these are called, are you?):

After a switchback or two, the trail went directly beneath one of the towers.

The entire experience was unlike any other I’ve had, mostly because of the weather. Rain is rare is Los Angeles, and even though I was soaked by the end of the hike, I loved every second. For the most part, I was alone on the mountain (in 2 hours, I came across maybe 8 other people), and the fog and the gray made everything seem… a little unsettling. A little eerie.

Turns out I’m not the only one that thinks that way. One of the other things I learned after my hike was that the Cobb Estate has another name: The Haunted Forest.

I couldn’t track down specific stories of spooky occurrences or unexplained activity, but apparently the Cobb Estate is a whole different place at night – a place where there are weird lights and sounds, and where people have claimed to have been ‘touched’ when no one’s there. Thankfully for all of us, the very-official-sounding Los Angeles Ghost Patrol investigated the Cobb Estate – you can read their write-up (and watch videos) here.

Lastly, I also learned that had I continued on that trail for a few miles longer, I would have come across some more ruins from another fascinating chapter in Altadena’s history. I’ll share those details at some other point – probably after I go back andfind those ruins on another hike. It gives me something to look forward to.

I kinda also wanna go back to the Cobb Estate at night. Who’s up for a nighttime hike in the Haunted Forest? Anyone wanna come with?

And did I mention that it was an tiring hike? I have no idea how far up the side of the mountain I went, but I was definitely feeling it in my quads later that day.

Keep it up, David!

Attempted Murder

February 17, 2012

Someone tried to kill me yesterday. And it was one of my closest friends! Here’s what went down:

You’ve read about my friend Tavi before on this blog. He’s mentioned on this blog way too much as it is, and now, with this post, his head might quite literally explode. But just to refresh any foggy memories: I’ve known Tavi since high school, he’s an aerialist and dancer, he lives nearby, he’s one of my closest friends. Over a year ago, Tavi and I hiked in Fryman Canyon, a beautiful nearby park. Tavi took me on a gorgeous winding trail – check out pictures here. During the hike, Tavi casually mentioned that he usually runs this trail, which flabbergasted me, because I had difficulty walking it – there are parts that are very steep, and the trail is very narrow.

Earlier this week, Tavi says to me, “Are you ready to run Fryman with me?” I laughed, and replied that I’d never be ready to run Fryman. Tavi thought otherwise, and for the next day or so, I gave it serious thought. I always tend to underestimate my physical abilities. I never used to think I could ever run a 10K, but I’ve done it. Climbing nearly 100 stories without stopping seems impossible to wrap my mind around, but I did it just the other day. I could run Fryman, couldn’t I?

I decided that I could. And that’s how, yesterday afternoon, I found myself walking with Tavi towards the Fryman Canyon trail head.

The previous hike with Tavi wasn’t my first time in Fryman – I’d been there with Jen and Tiffany for a hike (possibly two) at the asscrack of dawn, and also hiked there with Chris. Even though the routes varied, there’s one constant: it’s steep. Fryman Canyon is located in the Hollywood Hills, and you enter at the bottom and can hike all the way up to Mulholland Drive, the road at the tippy-top.

As we approached the start of our run, the steepness loomed large in my mind, and I made a mental goal: Complete the run without stopping, and if I can’t manage to run, than don’t walk for more than 10 seconds. I wanted to keep moving. I knew that if I walked too long, it would be difficult to get back into running.

We started running at the base of the mountain, and thankfully, one of the steepest parts was at the beginning. I say thankfully because 1) it got a tough part out of the way early on, while I was still fresh, and 2) I knew that if I could conquer this part, I could conquer every other part of the trail.

The run was tough. Tough. After the first few minutes of steep uphill running, I felt ready to crawl under the brush and pass out. Having Tavi in front of me was a good motivator – and he was a good sport, stopping every so often and doing jumping jacks or lunges until I caught up with him.

The nice part about the run was that it’s probably the prettiest run I’ve ever done. There’s all sorts of great views in Fryman, which is loaded with ravines, ridges, and switchbacks, and with the narrow trails, high grasses, and encroaching bushes, there were times when a machete would’ve been helpful to clear the way. The downside is that it’s hard to take in the views because the trail is uneven, undulating, and rocky – if you don’t pay attention to your feet, you could easily twist an ankle or worse. And by worse, I mean stumble and fall down a 30-80 foot near-vertical hillside, which are all over the place.

At one point, you have to traverse a fallen tree to get over a ravine. Here I am not-so-gracefully dismounting from the tree:

But I hit the ground and started running again immediately:

After the tree came the second major uphill part, which seemed, at the time, to be as vertical as a ladder, and it was here that it first occurred to me that I very well might die. Tavi was trying to kill me. He was doing a good job of it, too – my heart was pounding, my legs and core were burning, and I was on the verge of tears. That second uphill part was the last terrible part, though, and the rest of the run was downhill or flat.

The run ended with a final descent down a steep embankment, where Tavi got this picture of me picking my nose:

I’m not picking my nose, I’m pushing my glasses up!

The final stretch was along a fire road that led to the street that we parked on, and we finished at a gate that I collapsed onto:

I finished the run in 41 minutes. Add in the walking to and from the trail head, plus a few minutes of catching my breath at that gate, and we were away from our cars for a little over an hour. Last time we walked this route in two hours. It felt great to cut that time in half!

My theory that Tavi tried to kill me evaporated pretty quickly once my heart rate fell back into a reasonable range. And I’m proud that I accomplished my goals: I never stopped, and the only time I walked more than 10 seconds was during the most strenuous uphill stretches, which were more climbing than walking anyway.

As we walked back to the car, Tavi mentioned “the next time we do this…” and I thought, next time? Isn’t doing it once enough? Just like stand-up paddleboarding and ice skating, I’m glad to have tried running Fryman, but whether I run it again is TBD. We shall see. I’m not going to be rushing back tomorrow to do it again, that’s for sure. Only time will tell if I do it again. Doing it once is enough for me to proudly say…

Keep it up, David!

Burpee Update, Chart Update

November 16, 2011

Two different updates today.

1) Burpees Update. Remember when I committed to the No Excuses 30-Day Burpees Challenge? It’s a workout challenge hatched by Scott over at Your Inner Skinny where you do burpees every single day for a month, adding one burpee each day. I was feeling a bit in a rut when the challenge began, and even though I hate burpees, I made the commitment as a way to push myself into doing something new.

Tomorrow would have been my 30th day, but I’ll cut to the chase: I abandoned the challenge a long time ago. I dropped it like a prom dress. In the end, my dislike of burpees won out, and after missing a couple days of burpees, I couldn’t rally to get back on the burpee train. The 10K didn’t help, either, as it was a workout goal that really excited me, so I had no problem focusing on that and letting the burpees slide.

I did complete 14 days of burpees before pulling the plug, and I had worked my way up to 28 burpees on that 14th day. Add in the 4 days of practice burpees before the challenge actually began, and I completed 361 burpees. I can be proud of that, and proud that I’m man enough to share my shortcomings, even if I’m not proud of my quitting.

I’m also a little worried that Scott, once he reads this, is gonna emerge from his northern Canadian igloo, strap on his snowshoes, and find his way down to Los Angeles to kick my ass. And he totally could – that guy is jacked. Better sleep with one eye open.

2) Chart Update. Stepped on the scale yesterday, and I liked what I saw. Here’s the update on my weight loss chart:

Down 1 pound! Not to sound like a snot, but I should hope so. I worked my ass off last week, pushing myself while training for my 10K, and then actually running that 10K. What I’m most happy about is that I’ve turned around my recent slow gain:

I’ve lost 1 of the 5 pounds I gained over the 6 weeks. Four more to go! A weight of 236 puts my total weight loss at 166 pounds. A couple more weight loss chart shots, because I know you love ‘em (and so do I):

Keep it up, David!

TOMORROW: My recipe for a healthy, delicious fall salad!

Back to the Blog

April 12, 2011

Yesterday’s post, where I compared my weight loss to M&Ms, bowling balls, country music stars, and more (did you read it? It’s quite fun!), was my first real blog post in almost a week, and it felt nice to post something again, although I must admit it also felt nice to take a little break from the blog for a few days.  I find that I put undue pressure on myself (in many regards), and last week I found myself getting stressed because I was struggling to come up with blog topics, and I started feeling like if I didn’t post I’d be letting my readers down, and that stressed me further and made it tougher to come up with compelling things to write about…

It was a nasty, vicious circle (and so unimportant, in the grand scheme of things), but I recognized it, and decided to step away from the whole situation altogether.  I don’t want that stress in my life, especially not linked to blogging, an activity that I enjoy, and find motivating and therapeutic.  Not thinking about the blog for a few days was a lovely respite, and, of course, once I stopped looking for topics, all sorts of great ideas came to me, including some of the weight loss comparisons in yesterday’s post.  So now there’s some catching up to do, and I look forward to doing it!

I thought I’d first catch you up on my exercise.  Last week I didn’t work out as much as I would have liked (which, I think, added to my stress).  Monday was a planned rest day, but on both Wednesday and Friday laziness got the better of me, and I didn’t move a muscle.  Luckily, I had great workouts on Tuesday (boot camp class) and Thursday (ellliptical, free weights, and recumbent bike at the gym), so the week wasn’t a complete wash.

So, on Saturday morning, I decided I couldn’t let the past week become a habit, and since then, I’ve had 4 fun, great workouts, and lucky for you, they all come with visual aids!

1) Slimmons (Saturday Morning): The theme for Richard Simmons’ class on Saturday Morning was all new music, and Richard decided to dress as a pink poodle to lead the class.  Because I’ve been posting videos from recent classes, you know that Richard goes all out when he dons a costume (this post has a video of him as one of The Four Tops, and this post as a video of him in KISS make-up and wardrobe), and Saturday was no exception.  Check it out!

Did you see me in that video?  I’m in a green t-shirt.  It’s strange – when you watch the video on YouTube, you can easily see me behind Richard during the last 10 seconds or so, but when I embedded it here, I get cropped out.  Oh well.  It was a crowded class, but a good one, and I’m quite certain the first class I’ve taken that was taught by a dog!  I saw Richard kiss a few people after class, and then wipe away the pink smudges he left on their faces… hilarious.  I got away pink smudge-free (we air-hugged).

2) Fryman Canyon Hike (Saturday Afternoon). I was putzing around my place later that afternoon when my friend Chris texted me, and proposed going hiking.  I didn’t have plans, so why not?  We headed to Fryman Canyon (which I’ve blogged about before – here and here), and had a great hour-long hike.  At one point, Chris snapped a picture of me on his phone, which he emailed to me later, with a subject line that read “Album Cover”.  Sure enough, it looks like it could be the cover image of a 1960′s folk album, so I had a little fun with photoshop and came up with this:

It’ll be available on iTunes and Amazon soon (and by ‘soon’, I mean ‘never’).

3) Run (Sunday Afternoon). It’s been a loooong time since I’ve gone running – the last time was way back on March 17 (with Chris, folk album photographer extraordinaire, at Porn Star Park).  So on Sunday, I laced up my shoes, grabbed my iPod, and hit the streets.  I set out without any goals, as far as route, distance, or time were concerned – I just decided to go for as long as I could, and since it’s been about three weeks since I’ve gone running, I didn’t have huge expectations, either.

So how did I do?  Not too shabby at all.  I ran for 47 minutes, and went 4.5 miles.  Here’s the route I ended up taking:

Wanna know how many fast food restaurants I passed along the way?  Ten.  Del Taco, Subway, KFC, Carl’s Jr., Taco Bell, another Subway, Burger King, McDonalds, El Pollo Loco, and Jack in the Box.  I’ve eaten at every single one of them, too, back when I used to eat fast food (I still eat Subway every once in a while).

Time to update my running chart:

  • 9/21/10: Distance: 3.1 miles.  Time: 41 minutes.  MPH: 4.53
  • 9/27/10: Distance: 3.3 miles.  Time: 45 minutes.  MPH: 4.4
  • 10/5/10: Distance: 3.2 miles.  Time: 40 minutes.  MPH: 4.8
  • 10/12/10: Distance: 3.8 miles.  Forgot to note time and MPH
  • 10/16/10: Distance: 2.9 miles.  Forgot to note time and MPH
  • 11/1/10: Distance: 3.1 miles.  Time: 36 minutes.  MPH: 5.16
  • 11/6/10: Distance: 5.1 miles. Time: 60 minutes.  MPH: 5.1
  • 11/14/10: Distance: 3.9 miles. Time: 45 minutes.  MPH: 5.2
  • 11/28/10: Distance: 4.2 miles. Time: 46 minutes.  MPH: 5.47
  • 1/4/11: Distance: 3.0 miles. Time: 34 minutes.  MPH: 5.3
  • 1/24/11: Distance: 4.4 miles.  Time: 45 minutes.  MPH: 5.86
  • 2/1/11: Distance: 1.9 miles.  Time: 20 minutes.  MPH: 5.7
  • 2/9/11: Distance: 3.5 miles.  Time: 38 minutes.  MPH: 5.52
  • 2/16/11: Distance: 2.9 miles.  Time: 33 minutes.  MPH: 5.28
  • 2/27/11: Distance: 5 miles.  Time: 60 minutes.  MPH: 5.0
  • 3/3/11: Distance: 5.4 miles.  Time: 57 minutes.  MPH: 5.13
  • 3/10/11: Distance: 3.0 miles.  Time: 34 minutes.  MPH: 5.29
  • 3/17/11: Distance: ? Time: ? MPH: ? (I forgot to note everything.  Oops!)
  • 4/10/11:  Distance: 4.5 miles.  Time: 47 minutes.  MPH: 5.74

Hello, Speedy Gonzalez!  That’s my second-fastest pace ever! Wowsa – wasn’t expecting that!

4) Gym (Monday Evening). After work, I headed to the gym, where I did 35 minutes on the Arc Trainer, and 13.5 minutes on the StairMaster.  Like last time, I tried to do as much of it (excluding some warm-up and cool-down time) doing 2 steps at a time, and this time, I also decided to push myself and see how fast I could go.  Normally I top out at Level 12 or so, but this time, I made it up to Level 14 (for about a minute).

The total numbers of floors I climbed was 70, so for today’s visual comparison, we’re going all the way to Yokohama, Japan.  The tallest building in Japan is located in Yokohama – it’s called Yokohama Landmark Tower – and whadya know? It has 70 floors!  Yep, I climbed the equivalent of this:

Between the Arc Trainer and the Stairmaster, I burned over 900 calories!

Keep it up, David!


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