Tag Archives: get out of town

Get Out Of Town!: Joshua Tree National Park

Editor’s Note: While there’s always a lot going on in Burbank, myBurbank’s “Get Out Of Town!” highlights some of our favorite activities and events outside the town borders.

The otherworldly and breathtaking expanse of Joshua Tree National Park transcends photos and description. It is a place that must be experienced in person to be understood.

Much can be seen from the inside of a car, but getting out on the trails, which range from very easy and accessible to extremely difficult and very long, is a prime way to experience the Park.

 Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

About 2.5 hours drive east of Burbank, bordered by tiny desert towns of Joshua Tree and Twenty-nine Palms on the north and the more developed Indio and Palm Springs on the southwest, Joshua Tree National Park is the meeting point of two massive desert environments, the Mojave and the Colorado Desert portion of the Sonoran.

Whether you go for the day or plan to spend a few days in and around the Park, there’s more than enough scenery and activities to engage even the most cynical urbanite.

Start out your Joshua Tree adventure with a breakfast or lunch at the Crossroads Cafe, near the northwest entrance to the Park. Hearty or light, healthy or indulgent, Crossroads Cafe’s popularity is well-deserved with excellent plates and an eclectic atmosphere.

Polenta and Eggs at the Crossroads Cafe,  Joshua Tree, CA. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Polenta and Eggs at the Crossroads Cafe, Joshua Tree, CA. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Be prepared for a wait at this busy local spot. People watching is a good pastime in this part of town. Service is friendly and funky and restrooms are adequate and clean.

We fueled up on the Crossroads Cafe’s delicious Portobello Mushroom Burger with a flavorful spinach, blue cheese and walnut side salad, a BLTA sandwich and a hand-made juicy burger cooked perfectly with crispy home-made fries and eggs over easy with herbed polenta and black beans.

Getting into the park through the very popular Northwest gate took some time. However, our Joshua Tree annual pass ($30) helped us skip a small part of the line and be on our way.

Barker Dam,  Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Barker Dam, Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The extremely popular Hidden Valley and Barker’s Dam are usually very busy, any day of the week. These hikes are two of the easiest treks in the park with well-marked trails and lots of scenic boulders to climb. Even though the trails are only about 1 – 1.5 miles round trip, a casual walk can easily take close to an hour.

For the more motivated, the heart-pounding trek to the summit of Ryan Mountain at 5457 feet takes about 2 hours up and back down at a good pace, including some rest at the top. The 3 mile round trip hike covers over 1000 feet in elevation gain, at the very heart of the Mojave desert in Joshua Tree.

The Coachella Valley from Keys' View,  Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The Coachella Valley from Keys’ View, Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Another fantastic hike and well-worth the drive to the southern Park entrance ranger station is the 2.6 mile loop to Mastodon Peak from Cottonwood Spring. Only about 440 feet in elevation gain, this hike is not usually crowded and the panoramic views from Mastondon Peak of the surrounding Colorado Desert are lovely.

Remnants of an old mine are visible just below Mastodon Peak. For those more motivated, the hike to Lost Palms Oasis is over 7 miles round trip from Cottonwood Spring and not for the faint of heart in this arid landscape.

Mastodon Peak, Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Mastodon Peak, Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

While most of Joshua Tree National Park’s visitors spend time in the Mojave section and the Wonderland of Rocks area of the Park, in between Cottonwood and Ryan Mountain lie interesting stops.

The Cholla Cactus Garden and the Ocotillo Patch showcase two unusual desert plants. The spines of the Cholla Cactus contain micro-barbs that stick to just about everything but rock and are very difficult to remove from skin and clothes. The crazy looking spikes of the Ocotillo are studded with long thorns and every spring in March burst forth with colorful flowers.

Cholla Cactus Garden,  Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Cholla Cactus Garden, Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Wildflowers permeate the grounds of Joshua Tree in spring, after winter rains. Joshua Trees are also in bloom. Coyotes, birds and chipmunks abound and Bighorn Sheep roam the park but usually stay far from people and out of sight.

Camping and stargazing are very popular in the Park, along with rock-climbing. Bikes are permitted on the roads only, so riders must share the road. Dogs are not allowed on the trails in the Park.

For those in need of something more than a protein bar and fruit for sustenance, The Restaurant at the 29 Palms Inn is highly recommended for lunch or dinner. Open every day, the restaurant also feature live music in the evenings and can be very crowded with a usual wait of 30-60 minutes for dinner.

Shrimp and Scallops with Jasmine Rice, The Restaurant at 29 Palms Inn. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Shrimp and Scallops with Jasmine Rice, The Restaurant at 29 Palms Inn. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Food at the 29 Palms Inn is worth the wait and the cocktails and wine list are notable. Fresh fish, perfectly prepared seafood and steaks and several vegetarian options are highlights of the short but varied menu. Excellent and friendly service and a laid-back creative desert vibe are pluses.

Depending on how early you start and your fitness/motivation level, multiple hikes and amazing meals may not be accomplished in a single day. Keys’ View is a great way to see spectacular views of the Coachella Valley, from Salton Sea to Palm Springs and the mountains beyond.

The rocky lunar-scape and unusual plants of Joshua Tree National Park seem very different from what we’re used to here in southern California. Gorgeous and wild, the Park is a living treasure with something new for people to discover every visit, any time of day. Get Out of Town, Burbank, and check it out!

 Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

 

Get Out Of Town!: Daikokuya Ramen Warms The Soul On A Rainy Day

Editor’s Note: While there’s always a lot going on in Burbank, myBurbank’s “Get Out Of Town!” highlights some of our favorite activities and events outside the town borders.

On these windy, chilly and rainy winter days in Southern California, hearty and flavorful ramen soup is a siren call cutting through blustery weather. Burbank’s own Kopan Ramen 2 does a fantastic job of sating the cold and hungry, but what to do if one is marooned in Downtown L.A.? We recommend Daikokuya Ramen at 327 E. First Street in Little Tokyo.

Time after time, hot weather to cold weather, Daikokuya Ramen satiates and satifies. On any given day, about five hundred other people know this fact, so we recommend arriving early or being prepared to wait an hour or two. You will not regret it.

The venerable standard, Daikoku Ramen, at Little Tokyo's Daikokuya Ramen noodle shop. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The venerable standard, Daikoku Ramen, at Little Tokyo’s Daikokuya Ramen noodle shop. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Luckily, there are some great bars nearby to wait in, if that’s your thing. We like the Far Bar, at 347 E. First Street. Japanese Village across the street and sweet shop Fugetso-Do, on the same block at 315 E. First Street, are fun ways to wait out the time after you’ve put your name on the list.

Now to the ramen. Daikokuya’s menu is very accessible. Choose from three styles: Daikokuya special combo with tonkatsu broth base, Spicy Miso base or Tsukemen – cooled noodles to dip in broth on the side. Add in extras like shiitake mushrooms, more pork or egg, seaweed, sesame seed, bean sprouts and more.

One of the very best flavors on this earth is a soft-boiled egg broken open in ramen broth. Try it. The complexity of flavors and heartiness in a simple bowl of well-made ramen noodle soup is compelling.

Delicious and hot Takoyaki, fried balls of breaded octopus. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Delicious and hot Takoyaki, fried balls of breaded octopus. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Additional favorite offerings on the menu include freshly house-made gyoza or takoyaki (fried balls of breaded octopus) and tsukemono (pickled veggie salad.)

Sure, there are lots of rice-based bowls available too, including pork cutlet, chicken teriyaki, tempura, tuna sashimi and teriyaki eel, in addition to typical fried rice and chow mein. California roll, spicy tuna roll and avocado roll complement the standard fare.

Wash it all down with teas, sodas, coffee, beer and sake.

Freshly made gyoza at Daikokuya, a little crispy this time. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Freshly made gyoza at Daikokuya, a little crispy this time. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Service is fast, friendly and efficient. Bathrooms are decent. Daikokuya is a cash-only noodle shop, with an ATM on the premises. Parking is your own call unless you’ve taken the Metro.

Daikouya Ramen is our very favorite noodle shop in Los Angeles, along with everyone else in the city, and an excellent antidote to our coming season of El Niño.

 

Get Out Of Town!: Lit Crawl L.A.

Editor’s Note: While there’s always a lot going on in Burbank, myBurbank’s new section “Get Out Of Town!” highlights some of our favorite activities and events outside the town borders.

The North Hollywood Arts District hosts the third annual Lit Crawl L.A. on Wednesday, October 21, at various locations throughout NoHo. The free event draws thousands to more than 35 different restaurants, bars, coffee shops, theaters and additional venues in the NoHo Arts District.

Image Courtesy Lit Crawl L.A.

The evening begins at 6:00 p.m. at the Laemmle NoHo 7 with Poets4Progress. Three 45-minute rounds on the hour follow, showcasing a variety of styles and works.

Check out The Return of the NoHo Beat at the North Hollywood Metro Station Plaza, writers from the North Hollywood and Burbank Senior Artist colonies as they reflect on life before cellphones, the Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate Showcase and comics from the Los Angeles Cartoonists of Color.

Image Courtesy Lit Crawl L.A.

Image Courtesy Lit Crawl L.A.

More than 40 different themed presentations showcasing nearing 200 writers and performers are slated for Lit Crawl L.A. 2015. Check out the program guide here.

The festivities wind up with an after party “Speak-Easy” at Studio 77. Admission to the after party is $15.

Writers from throughout Los Angeles and the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys are slated to perform.

Red Hen Press, The Pasadena Writing Project, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, Los Angeles Review of Books and Beyond Baroque are just a few of the presenters.

Musician Dave Kendrick hosts “From The Mouths of Musicians” at the Federal Bar at 9:00 p.m., featuring himself, Leslie Bohem, Johnette Napolitano and Chris Desjardins.

The Lit Crawl originated in 2004 as part of Litquake, San Francisco’s Literary Festival, an annual event attracting thousands of attendees. San Francisco’s Litquake literary festival runs every October along with other annual Lit Crawls in NYC, Seattle, Iowa City, Austin, London, Helsinki and Portland. In 2013, Lit Crawl L.A. was founded as a project of the Litquake Foundation and of the Pasadena Arts Council’s EMERGE program.

Get Out Of Town!: L.A. Zoo Provides A Great Day For All Ages

Editor’s Note: While there’s always a lot going on in Burbank, myBurbank’s new section “Get Out Of Town!” highlights some of our favorite activities and events outside the town borders.

Just across the L.A. River and the 134 Freeway in Griffith Park, the L.A. Zoo continues it long tradition as a great day out for all ages and interests. Perfect for a date, a beautiful place to get some exercise or as a fun outing for the whole family, the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens has added several new exhibits and features in recent years.

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The L.A. Zoo’s paved pathways and lush foliage make for pleasant walking, stroller pushing or electric wheelchair maneuvering through the park’s 113 acres. The Safari Shuttle gives tired feet a lift around the parking, making four stops along the perimeter. Comfortable shoes are a must. On hot days, the Zoo gets very hot, so sunscreen, hats and water are important to pack.

But the animals and plants are worth the trek! From the welcoming sea lions in the entry plaza to busy meerkats, colorful flamingos and raucous monkeys to sleepy koalas, playful orangutans, stately giraffes and massive gorillas, the L.A. Zoo seems to have more than two of every kind of animal.

Silverback Gorilla in the L.A. Zoo's Campo Gorilla Reserve. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Silverback Gorilla in the L.A. Zoo’s Campo Gorilla Reserve. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

For children, the Zoo provides an up close look and interesting information on ecosystems and animals, especially endangered animals, throughout the world. Teens and adults are certainly still charmed by the park and its mission.

Whether you spend a few hours or the whole day, the L.A. Zoo is a treat. Pack your own lunch or purchase food and snacks at the concession stands for a picnic in this gorgeous location.

A hippo opens wide at the L.A. Zoo & Botanical Gardens. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

A hippo opens wide at the L.A. Zoo & Botanical Gardens. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The Elephants of Asia habitat opened in 2010 on over six acres of land. The Zoo’s exhibit focuses on conservation and education of elephants in different regions including Thailand, India and China. The Zoo’s elephants come out for a visit during specific times of the day.

In 2012, the LAIR – Living Amphibians, Invertebrates and Reptiles – opened which houses more than 60 different species in mini individual environments.

Wild peccaries of all ages eat at the L.A. Zoo. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Wild peccaries of all ages eat at the L.A. Zoo. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The Rainforest of the Americas exhibit, which debuted in 2014, showcases life in a tropical rainforest from treetops to the river, including piranhas, giant otters, harpy eagles and cotton-top tamarins.

Earlier this year in May, the Zoo unveiled its new jaguar habitat which houses male jaguar Kaloa and male female pair Stewie and Johar.

The L.A. Zoo & Botanical Gardens continues to be a treasure in the heart of Los Angeles. One day admission is $20 for adults age 13 and up, $17 for seniors over age 62, $15 for children ages 2 to 13 and children under 2 are free. Family memberships start at $134 annually. The park is open 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily every day of the year except for December 25.