Odometer (ILX): 94,087
Trip Distance: 780 Miles
What started as the location of a single adobe hut in 1853 has grown to become one of most recognized and prominent places in the world because of its ties to the motion picture industry. Its name was coined by a man named H.J. Whitley who bought a 500-acre range there in February 1887 and filed the deed with the Los Angeles County Recorder’s Office with the name specified. Hollywood merged with the City of Los Angeles in 1910 and has since grown to become one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in LA. As of the 2008 census, it was home to over 22,000 people per square mile! Let’s go there.
Motor City Masters is a Hollywood-based reality TV show centered around automotive design. Automotive spy photographer Brenda Priddy invited me to accompany her to an exclusive Hollywood party in connection with a viewing of the show’s final episode. The concept of MCM is pretty simple: What started as a group of 10 automotive designers was whittled down via elimination in various design events to just two finalists: Bryan Thompson and Camilo Pardo, pictured below. The winner at the end of the series would receive $100,000 cash and a 2014 Chevy Camaro Z28.
I took a half day off work on Tuesday so that I’d be able to cruise out to southern California for the occasion. The drive from the Phoenix area to Hollywood takes about 6 hours and is spent almost entirely on Interstate 10. Miraculously, I hit zero traffic delays until just 4 miles before my scheduled exit on Highway 101. Making my way northbound on Gower Street, the white HOLLYWOOD sign that I’ve seen so many times before on movies and in TV was there ahead of me in the distance, plain as day. The challenge was getting anywhere near it! Look at these loop-de-loop residential roads!
Talk about a maze. Plus, what the map there doesn’t convey is that the roads in most cases are barely wide enough to fit a single car through, and the turns are tight with blind corners. Topping that off, the grades are steep. My Garmin Nuvi GPS unit had to recalculate a couple of times before I found the party house location.
Along the way, though, I did happen to cross right through Lake Hollywood Park which had a perfect viewpoint of the Hollywood sign. Did you know that the letters in the Hollywood sign are each 45 feet tall? That’s four stories! The sign was originally constructed in 1923 and it said “HOLLYWOODLAND” to advertise a new housing development. In 1949, the “Land” part was dropped, and by 1970 the sign had deteriorated badly. It was restored in 1979 to its current condition.
The party I attended was hosted by a man named Axel who has a beautiful glass-walled, modern home overlooking the city with a pool in the backyard. Weather was perfect and the amenities were top notch. Best of all, I got to meet a couple of the show’s cast members. We watched the final Motor City Masters episode, but were disappointed to learn that “our” pick – Bryan – ended up in 2nd place. In the end, though, he still came out ahead. Bryan had struck a dealer with Camilo earlier in the show: Whoever won first place would get the cash, while the second place winner would get the car. Bryan plans on selling the Camaro and allocating the funds to a scholarship fund for design students. Pretty cool of him!
I eventually broke away from the party in anticipation of a long night’s drive ahead. Once I got past the Palm Springs area, I felt like I was all alone with the truckers out on I-10 in the desert. I passed dozens of them. The interstate was smooth sailing, though. Even though it’s taxing at times, I like to drive at night just because it’s cooler out and there’s less traffic to deal with. Of the 15,605 songs on my 80-gig iPod Classic, this one randomly came on at 1:53 in the morning. Fitting.
Give it a listen. I rolled into my driveway around 2:45 in the morning, tired from a long day but feeling like it was all worth it! Here are the rest of my pics. Enjoy, and thanks for coming along!
Approaching the Hollywood sign
Making my way up the steep, curvy neighborhood roads
Hollywood Lake Park
More views from the park
Heavy tourist activity around here
Looking to the southeast
Arriving at Axel’s place for the party
Brenda, who’d invited me to the party
You can see the Hollywood sign from the house
Acura-only parking! My friend Scott parked behind me in his RDX, and my friend Chris parked behind him in a TSX.
Watching the show.
Kevin and Bryan, both cast members from the show (goofing off!)