By Charly SHELTON
Christmas is coming and New Year’s is just around the corner. Undoubtedly we all will have New Year’s resolutions that we will ke ep … until probably around March. One easy way to keep on track with an exercise resolution is getting a program or a guide that offers interesting ways to get fit and making an adventure out of otherwise tedious exercise. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not in shape. I much prefer sitting on the couch and reading comic books to walking around outside and getting sweaty on purpose. I feel that I’m allergic to exercise – my skin gets all red, my heart races, I’m short of breath – all the signs of an allergic reaction. But in order to stay alive, one must exercise at least a little bit once in a while. And if you have to exercise, the book “10,000 Steps a Day in LA” actually makes it very fun and you don’t even realize that you’re exercising.
Author Paul Haddad has collected 52 walking adventures in one volume that take walkers throughout several of the different areas of L.A. to see some interesting sites and hidden places that many who live in the area probably don’t know about. Along the way, Haddad provides maps, pictures and bits of history to keep you on the lookout for points of interest and to teach you about the places you are walking past. The West Hollywood Rock Walk, walk 21, takes guests past many of the rock ‘n’ roll hotspots from the ’60s through the ’80s and unfolds the history of this kind of music. Walk 18, Miracle Mile: Treading Above the Goo, takes guests from the Page Museum in the La Brea Tar Pits through a tour of the man-made wonders around the Miracle Mile including the Farmers Market, the former location of the Carthay Circle Theater, Pan Pacific Park and Tom Bergin’s. Fifty-two such walks range across six areas of L.A.: Central L.A. and The East Side, Hollywood and Mid-city, West San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, Westside and South Bay.
Among the walks in our immediate area, West San Gabriel Valley, my favorite was walk 24, Upper Arroyo Seco: To Hell and Back. This one begins and ends at the Rose Bowl parking lot going through Upper Arroyo Park, passing over Devil’s Gate Dam and coming up to Karl Johnson Field in Hahamongna Watershed Park. Along the way, we got a history lesson of why Devil’s Gate is named as such – the Tongva Indians believed that this area was a forbidden place, connected to the underworld. Then when Pasadena’s first white settlers arrived, they saw the devil’s face in the rock outcroppings. Later still, in the 1940s, famed occultist and black art practitioner Alastair Crowley, along with other believers of the occult including a founder of Jet Propulsion Laboratory, conducted black rituals in the area hoping to summon a “moonchild” antichrist. Not long after, four children went missing from the local area and some say that they succeeded in punching a hole in to hell. This is not your typical “hey, let’s walk because walking is fun” kind of book.
For the outdoorsman or the fitness nut, or anyone who may want to get a little bit healthier and get to know L.A. a little bit better, “10,000 Steps a Day in LA” by Paul Haddad is a great Christmas gift and a great motivational present for the New Year. This book is available online and wherever books are sold.