I am always surprised when I meet people living in Los Angeles who have not been to the Hollywood Reservoir. Not only have they not been, most of them have not even heard of it. When I heard there was a lake under the Hollywood sign, I got out there as fast as I could. Primarily because it seemed impossible; how could there be a lake under the Hollywood sign? When you look up at the hills it doesn’t look like it could possibly fit there, but it does, there is indeed a lake under the Hollywood sign. There is also a very convenient paved walking path and plenty of parking which is always an added bonus. I have been out here a number of times now and I am always amazed at how quiet it is. Unlike the hike at Runyon Canyon (which is a crowded spectacle akin to the Walk of Stars itself) the reservoir is much less trafficked. Just today I finally realized why it’s so quiet; there are no dogs allowed. I would imagine this deters most people, making it a surprising nature retreat in the heart of the city.

The reservoir is held by the Mulholland Dam which was built in 1924. There is something very noir about walking on the dam. The deco architecture invokes an earlier L.A. It’s Chinatown meets L.A. Confidential. You just know some scandalous things have happened out there. Today there is a towering fence around the perimeter to keep out any trouble makers.

Surrounding the dam are gorgeous upscale homes. I spend most of my walk deciding how I would decorate the white, mid-century modern home perched quietly on the hillside. It’s tough because I’m not much for modern décor but I love all of those wall to wall windows. I can’t see the house very well from the path below but I can see just enough to get a good fantasy going. The first time I passed it I heard the gentle sound of wind chimes floating down the hillside. It was one of those magical moments that I try to re-capture every time I’m there. I stand below the house, looking up at the tall palms swaying in the breeze while the chimes ting softly. It’s become my little reservoir ritual. I stand there, trying to be as peaceful and Zen-like as possible and then I start imagining myself on a lounge chair at the pool having those chimes all to myself, all day long.

I often forget how important being in nature is; hearing her soothing sounds and smelling the many scents. The recent rain brought everything to life; the scent of fresh pine was in the air and the sound of trickling water and croaking frogs accompanied me while I walked. I saw squirrels, lizards, hawks, a deer and I even heard an owl. Despite being just above Hollywood, the city disappears quickly in a place like this

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