Monday, January 4, 2016

On Missiles and Mirren

It's been a long year and boy are my feet tired.

(A strained variation on that old joke, "I just flew in from NY and boy are my arms tired.")

Only in this case, it's not half as funny and it requires some explanation.

Here goes.

For the past week and a half many of you have been traveling: skiing, snorkeling, shussing off to see grandma and grandpa. I've been doing none of that. There is no grandma and grandpa. Thanks to a livelong addiction to tobacco and creamed herring, of the Jewish and the Scottish variety, my predecessors have been enjoying the dirt nap for quite some time.

And so, I've been working.
And hiking.

Working, because when the phone pings or the emails come flooding in and someone offers up a day rate to knock out some outdoor boards or banner ads or spamifestos, I immediately reply, "Thank you sir, may I have another."

It's the downside of being a freelancer. You never, ever, ever say 'no' to work. And it's not like I'm in position to pass up the money. Not when I've got two kids in college and a house with enough sewage and drainage problems to keep three full time plumbers on call.

When I wasn't working, or simply needed to step away from the keyboard, we, the Siegels, went hiking.

We Shanghaied our daughters up to Griffith Park and made another unsuccessful attempt to summit the Hollywood sign. We got within a 1/2 mile of our destination before the whining and the foot dragging commenced. Sporadically interrupted with the telltale call of the spoiled West LA teenager...

"I hate you."

Having learned our lesson, we -- sans children-- ventured north to the Oxnard-adjacent Chalmers Park Trailhead. As the sun was setting over the Pacific we found ourselves double backing over unmarked looped trails that we had covered earlier in the afternoon. There was some slight panic. And for a brief moment I thought I'd have to whip out my multi-tool and fashion some kind of lean-two shelter. Or snare some unsuspecting chipmunk for some protein to tide us over until the morning.

Our best hike came later in the week when we decided to explore the nearby Westridge Canyon trail. We didn't know much about it, other than it didn't require a long trip up the PCH or the often frustrating search for parking that sends many Hollywood hikers into get-off-the-road rage.

We simply drove up to the top of Westridge Road and started walking. That's when we discovered the trail extends from deep in the bowels of Brentwood to the southern edge of Encino. In all, an 8 mile there and back. Siri also told us there is an abandoned Nike Missile Station at the very end of the moderately inclined uphill trail.

I hadn't intended to walk 8 miles that day. Nor had my wife. And even though we are in excellent shape and have been fortified by careers in advertising, it's not something two 44-year olds can just wing on an impulse. But, and this is how I know I made the right choice a long, long time ago, my wife was more than up for the adventure.

"Let's do it," as she tightened the laces on her hiking shoes.

It was a beautiful hike. Capped, surprisingly, with the opportunity to explore the old missile launching site. And enjoy some Cold War humor.

On the way home we stopped at the Brentwood Country Mart for a well-earned beer, cheese and nuts. And there at the Farm Shop we saw the iconic Helen Mirren, who strolled about the cured meats and the outrageously expensive bries as if she were Hollywood royalty.

My wife got into an impromptu discussion with the hostess and the waitresses about Ms. Mirren's beautiful timeless skin. And I found myself -- silently of course-- in concurrence with the claim often heard on the inter webs.

She does have a great set of tits.

Anyway, it's good to be back. Happy New Year!

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