Saturday, November 18, 2006

From Downtown to Santa Monica: We Did It!



Above: Eight and a half hours after departing the One Wilshire building -- the start point of Wilshire Boulevard -- 15 of us (plus a few late joinees) celebrate reaching the other end: Santa Monica. And the Pacific Ocean.

We survived the Great Wilshire Walk. Why did we do it?

Why not!

I wanted to celebrate my tenth anniversary in Los Angeles by doing something absolutely nuts: Walking the entire length of Wilshire Boulevard. To my pleasant surprise, almost 30 people I had never met (or had only met once, or via email) decided to come along. These were cool people, who love our city and gave up a Saturday to do something few can say they've ever accomplished.



We snuck into historic buildings and churches -- and got kicked out of one (the Park Plaza, above) for brazenly hopping up to the roof. We danced along to banjo-playing Charlie at the La Brea Tar Pits. Withstood the evil stink eye of socialites dining in Beverly Hills. (And escaped the taunts of one crazy woman there.) Searched high and low for food on the one stretch of Wilshire that, quite unfortunately, didn't offer much by way of eats. Stuttered when people asked us our motivation for doing this ("Just because.") Picked up some wayward car parts (A license plate! A bumper!) And we saw portions of Wilshire we'd never seen outside a car. All while walking the almost 16 miles from one end to the other.



We lost a few comrades along the way, some due to prior commitments and others thanks to the physical strains of doing such a long walk. By the time we got to Santa Monica, though, those aching muscles and throbbing blisters were ignored as we started to feel and smell the cool ocean breeze. It was within reach.

And suddenly we were there. We got to the end a tad quicker than I expected -- 4:30, before sundown. Despite a lunch break, several detours and many bathroom breaks. Most impressive, our number had dropped to 15 strong (out of less than 30 -- not bad).

But talk of pain evolved into something a little more unexpected: Talk about which street we're gonna do next year. Stay tuned! And thanks to everyone who came out to take part in the Great Wilshire Walk -- whether you walked a block, a mile or 16. It was cool seeing so many of you out there.



Meanwhile, check back here for more pics... and links to others' blogs, Flickr pages and even YouTube videos. (And memo to Great Wilshire Walkers: If you didn't leave your email address on the sign-in sheet, send it to me now so that you can be included in the distribution list.)



Above, the crew at the start of the walk, at Wilshire and Grand.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my legs are in a world of hurt. Not sure I'm going to be doing much walking on Sunday...

UPDATE: Christina's excellent Flickr roll of Great Wilshire Walk photos can be found here. Click through all 168 photos, and you'll get a feel for the entire walk. Without developing those pesky blisters.

Shannon's blog recap here. Shannon didn't quite make it to the end, but it sounds like she and another walker, Nathan, had a pretty damn good time taking the bus back to downtown and drinking it up at the Bonaventure! Her pics from our adventure are here.

Walt's Flickr set -- with an astonishing 325 shots -- is here.

Scott and Anne's pics -- including a great shot of crazy Beverly Hills boob job woman -- are here.

Kolby's photos -- including some cool cement imprints and Wilshire signs -- are here.

Melanie's write-up of the Wilshire Walk can be found on her blog, and her Flickr photoset here.

Eric writes up the walk at his Atwater Village Newbie blog.

More to come, including a video!

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