Beginning the New Year + Our Not-So-Secret Goldmine

Nothing like starting the new year with sharp smells of fermenting kimchee, the taste of hot green coconut curry and sticky rice, and dirt on your ankles after climbing a mountain. I threw in a Tums for good measure, too.

January 1st is always a day that somehow feels refreshed and new. I can't think of a January 1st when it wasn't sunny and bright and full of potential. This January 1st was no different, other than our very sad and empty fridge and equally empty bellies. We hopped in the cah and did our typical shopping at HK, being sure to stock up on some pantry essentials - soba was a must - while I hungrily stared down the thai place across the street.

Isaan Station: talk about some traditional Thai street food. We were a little uneasy looking at a menu filled with larb and som dtum and slightly worried we wouldn't be able to eat anything with so many pictures of grilled meat on the menu. We survived, but learned that larb is code for intense, herbal, stinky flavor disguised as a salad. Also learned that when you order anything "medium" at a traditional Thai place, you're in for some serious sinus activity. There was definitely some sweating and nose was running, but we managed to slurp down the piping flavorful green curry regardless of our stomachs begging us to stop. (That's where the Tums came in.)

After we let our stomachs settle and drank about a gallon of water, we laced up our hiking boots and hit the trail, going back to where we stumbled upon Amir's Garden. We went much farther than the garden, hiking up and seeing views of Glendale and the Goodyear blimp hovering over the Rose Bowl parade to the east. We switchbacked up to a point where we could see the blue and yellow of the Ikea in Burbank and could look down on the infamous Forest Lawn cemetery with little flecks of shimmering light of balloons left at graves to the north. It was stunning to turn a corner and see the orange hue of the sun on the ocean, highlighting the buildings out in Santa Monica out west. We saw the white of the Hollywood sign and looked down on the houses on stilts in Beachwood Canyon below. In the last stretch, I got jittery as we saw the expanse of the city below, seeing the towers of downtown, flashing neon in Hollywood, and the golden Baldwin hills in the distance. Below we could see the Griffith Observatory and a slough of people hiking up the mountain like a trail of ants, hoping to be witness to the same view we were seeing before us. We'd struck a goldmine. This hike was filled with some of the landmark sights of L.A. and it felt like our own little not-so-secret trail.

This hike was such a refreshing way to start the new year. I think I've found the place where I'll take everyone who visits me to get a hiker's tour of the city. It got me thinking about all the new places I could go, the things I could see, and the recipes I'll try in the new year. Happy "I've-gotta-go-back-to-work-tomorrow" day!


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