I recently was going through my desk and found an old parking stub dated March 26, 1985… Tom’s 16th birthday. If my memory serves me correctly (a big “if” these days) it’s a parking ticket from Will Rogers State Park, which is located just north of Sunset Boulevard in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. For me and Tom, Will Rogers was often the kick-off point for expeditions into the mountains, either hiking or biking, or both. As Tom reached his mid-teens, our usual “hike” consisted of me walking and him riding his mountain bike along the fire roads and trails in the mountains.
I don’t remember the details, which have faded almost into a dream, but Tom and I apparently spent his 16th birthday hiking around Will Rogers. Clearly, it was a day I wanted to remember and hold onto; hence, the impulse to save a parking stub as a reminder of a happy time. Will Rogers is a particularly convenient starting place for a hike into the mountains, with some fairly short and easy hikes that nevertheless yield wonderful views of the city to the south and east, and the ocean to the west. (For example, the hike to Inspiration Point — see above.)
For me, there has never been anything quite the same as hiking in the Santa Monica mountains, which combines the solitude and tranquility of the mountains themselves, with the silent but vibrant presence of the city below. The view from the mountain trails includes magnificent metropolitan views, and to top that off, breathtaking vistas of the blue Pacific as well. For me, on those hikes, the energy, excitement, and creativity of Los Angeles, pulsing silently in the distance, delivered an exciting counterpoint to the stillness of the mountains. At the same time, the peace of the mountains combines with the energy of the city into a synergy that is unequaled, for me, by any other place in the world.
My time spent in the mountains with Tommy is one of my life’s fondest memories. To borrow a line from Hemingway, it is a “moveable feast”, an abiding brightness and joy, like a heartbeat, faint but reliable, deep within my memory.
The upper lawn at Will Rogers park