Misty Mountain Hop


Meka got me a TomTom a couple of Christmases ago.  I use it all the time even though it occasionally tries to kill me.  I was meeting a friend in “beautiful downtown” Burbank for dinner, so I thought I would spend the afternoon driving around Hollywood and take in some of the sights.  The first thing I thought of was the Hollywood sign.

Before I left Meka’s parents in Palm Springs, I did a little research online and determined the best place to see the sign was from the Hollywood Reservoir.  I checked that out and while I didn’t find an address, I did find a cross street.  That was enough for TomTom.  I punched it in and away we went.  The drive to Los Angeles was pretty uneventful.  I have managed it without a TomTom a couple of times in the past.  Still, it was nice to have it confirm my driving as I switched from lane to lane to stay on I-10.  I veered north onto I-5 and exited onto Gower Street in Hollywood.  I could see the Hollywood sign in between the buildings, so I knew I was getting close.

That’s when things started to get a little dicey.  I probably should have thought something was up when TomTom asked me to make a 270 degree turn left.  I almost missed the street.  In between two tall houses was a narrow lane that rose at something like a forty degree angle.  TomTom said I was about two miles from my destination, so I sucked it up and put the car into first gear.  I drove up through a neighborhood full of houses that – as best as I could determine – had been glued to the side of a cliff.  The road narrowed down to about one and a half lanes wide.  I gingerly scraped around a number of parked cars (yes, street parking was allowed on the way to the Hollywood sign).  I made another hairpin left and a right.  Occasionally a car would race down the hill going the other direction.  Occasionally I would catch a glimpse of the Hollywood sign growing larger.  It was the only thing that kept me following TomTom through this maze.

I think those last two miles took about eleven years.  However, I have to admit it was a beautiful view.  I parked the rental car and walked up to an overlook covered in sand and gravel.  In one direction I could see the Hollywood Reservoir shimmering in the sunlight with the skyscrapers of Los Angeles poking up through the haze beyond.  It looked like a shot from Chinatown.  In the other direction was the Hollywood sign bracketed by a number of transmission towers.  I wandered around a bit, I took some pictures and – finally – I started getting hungry.

I went back to the car and asked TomTom where I could find a bite to eat.  It suggested a Subway in nearby Universal City and provided me a map down the mountain.  I psyched myself up for another harrowing drive, but – to my surprise – the way down was actually very simple.  The streets were relatively straight and almost as wide as the ones in my subdivision back home in Belvidere.  I was down the mountain in about five minutes.  I found myself about two blocks from where my adventure had started.  I looked back at the way I came.  None of the streets were one way; why the hell hadn’t TomTom sent me up the mountain on the easy streets?  When I first started my trip, TomTom mentioned the trip would be driven on “HOV Roads”.  I assumed they were some kind of toll roads, but – now – I think they might have meant “Hell on Vehicles”.

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