Treasures of the Valley » Mike Lawler

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Crescenta Valley Rocks!

Mike Lawler is the former  president of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley and loves local history. Reach him at

Mike Lawler is the former
president of the Historical Society
of the Crescenta Valley and loves local history. Reach him at

You may be thinking that this column will be about geology – about the many rocks one finds in the Crescenta Valley – but it is not. When I say “rocks,” I mean the slang verb and, yes, the pun is intentional. This town rocks! I love it here, and I have nothing but good things to say about it. I’m ridiculously, stupidly positive about CV. I’ll most likely finish out my life here and, although I love to travel, I have no desire to live anywhere else but here.

I love that we’re nestled between two mountain ranges, both offering a wide variety of recreation, not to mention gorgeous visuals. The San Gabriel Mountains are stark and majestic, with deep shear canyons and rocky peaks. The Verdugo Mountains are soft and inviting, thick with growth, with many gentle trails and fire roads. Amazingly, both are relatively undeveloped. My wife and I both marvel at the site of the black, unlit Verdugo Mountains against a sunset. It’s an artwork that we enjoy every day.

I love coming up the 2 Freeway and seeing the valley laid out before me. The Montrose Shopping Park is so pretty that I actually go out of my way to drive through it on my way home from work. It welcomes me to the valley. And we’re so fortunate to have La Cañada next door. Its homes and streets are amazingly beautiful, with fantastic landscaping and overhanging oaks. The many horse trails and hiking trails of La Cañada offer endless variety.

I enjoy the relatively quaint feel of our valley. It is the closest one can get to a small-town atmosphere near one of the biggest cities in the world. I meet friends and neighbors when I’m out running errands or walking, and I regularly see people I went to high school with. The Montrose Christmas Parade is a beautifully simple “home-town” affair. We live in a town that prides itself on its volunteerism, and there are a hundred or more community service groups here. Our libraries – Montrose and La Crescenta – are gorgeous architecturally, are clean and friendly, and offer many community events. Our local governments via the CV Town Council and the Glendale City Council are relatively responsive and accessible. Our schools are top-notch.

Of course I love our history – the peaceful Indians who roamed here, the health-seekers who came not to exploit the land, but to use it to heal themselves and others, and the families who came here to make lives for themselves and raise their children in the sunshine. And the sunshine! Need I say anything about how great our weather is? Although I would have chosen to not have a freeway in our valley, I have to admit I appreciate the convenience it offers. I can be in Glendale in five minutes and L.A. in 20.

I rarely write about my personal life in this column, but the holidays have got me thinking about my family and my place in the world. Sadly, of my four daughters, three have not been as enamored with our lovely valley as I have. The oldest left for college and married a teacher-turned-farmer. She’ll never return, as there’s not much tillable land here anymore. Too many rocks anyway. My second and her husband long for a more rural life, and will probably soon leave us. My third just longs for independence, and so has remained in her college town in the Midwest. Fortunately my youngest loves the area as much as I do. My wife and I went through that normal wanderlust and desire to move away when we were young adults, but we made the choice to stay near family, and I’m so glad we did.

I’m lucky to be a very positive person, and maybe that’s why I see so many good things here in CV. For some the grass is greener elsewhere, but for me it’s green right here. I savor my deep roots here – my feeling of “home town.” Crescenta Valley is like an old friend – comfortable and familiar. It’s my home, and I love it here.

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