Wednesday, August 23, 2006
fern dell, i heart you.
if i had to name the one stretch of nature i love the most in los angeles, i think griffith park would just edge out the coastal beaches along the PCH. the park is over 4000 acres of land along the eastern santa monica mountains, making it the largest municipal with urban wilderness in the united states. although there are definitely well-developed areas of the park (griffith observatory, the greek theatre, autry museum, la zoo, and travel town), much of it is left free to be explored through hiking, biking, running and horseback riding trails, camping areas, or just left to be. how can i not love a landscape where morning walks finds me greeting sleepy coyotes waking up for the day, just around the corner from where "rebel without a cause" was filmed, or where i can go stomping from one zip code into another--not really know where i am going but *up*--and just as my male hiking companion says, "sometimes i just want to get really buffed and start wearing women's blouses" who should appear from just below the fire ridge but kd lang? i mean, really--you would heart it too if this happened to you (and it can!).
i have to say that one of my most favourite places within griffith park is just at the very edge of the los feliz/western canyon entrance, fern dell. it is quite literally a dell full of ferns--fifty different varieties at last count, along with a thick tangle of tropical trees and plants that fight for space amongst cedars and coastal redwoods planted along a lively brook that hosts a number of crayfish within it, and colourful blue and red dragonflies around it. the dell is always ten degrees cooler than anywhere else underneath its shady canopy, and although early morning walks often find it gray and foggy, i've encountered oppossums, squirrels and deer drinking from its rather clear depths. yes, yes, i know, it's very snow white, but it's very charming. although i am quite enamored by this bit of natural beauty, i do know its truths and am more than charmed by it, i am gleeful in sharing them to all and sundry (you, tg, you, and whoever else may be reading). you don't really have to look too closely at the winding paths and footbridges that follow the brook, the fakey wood railing that keeps you from falling into the water (theoretically), and the well built up stone beds to know that there is a certain manufacture about it, not to mention where in the world would you find hibiscus bushes naturally growing next to cedar trees? here's the rub: the crystal clear waters of the stream that i tra-la-la along were actually a by-product of the cooling system used for the giant telescope housed in the griffith observatory, which is directly above fern dell. instead of just letting the flowing water go to waste, it was channeled into this lovely little haven, landscaped and fern dell was born. (this however, is no longer the case, and there are currently plans to renovate the whole water system....) oh hollywood, your Oz-ness is everywhere.
at the very edge of fern dell, there is a picnic area and a little snack bar that has been there since i was a young'un. however, it has recently been taken over and reinvented into some sort of childhood fantasy of What Snack Shacks Should Be Like™. the little wooden hut has been cleaned up and furnished with antler light fixtures with sweet little lightshades, quirky hanging flowerpots and fairy lights. the menu has been revamped to include snaildogs (hot dogs wrapped in spiralling pastry), meat pies, fruit pies, healthy sandwiches, and fosselman's ice cream treats. and craziest of all, not only are there vegetarian offerings, but vegan ones as well. okay, so maybe that's not really any childhood fantasy of anyone, but it's pretty fantastic all the same.
i wish i was hungry enough to try out one of their vegan savoury pies, but we did stop to try the pies on offer--mixed berry and peach that day. although our slices were all smooshy, it was nice to know that it was because they still warm from the oven. i am not sure if the fruit was fresh or if they were fresh frozen, but the flavour of both was quite intense and there was still a little bite left in the texture of the peach (gloopish for the berry). the best part was the crust, which is the thinnest crust i've ever had on a pie, but still flaky, sweet, and buttery, scented with a dusting of cinnamon sugar that lent itself well to the warm fruit. mmmmm. along with a couple of glasses of homemade lemonade, they hit the spot. perhaps not the best pie in los angeles, but definitely the best pie i'd had in the nicest snack shack in the bestest park. evah.
oh, you know i love my flickr slideshows....
233 fern dell drive,