I started history adventuring when I moved to Los Angeles in the 1980s. While I was looking for a job, I stumbled into the public library in the Hollywood hills. If you've ever been there, you know that there are photos of Hollywoodland on the walls. Well, there was when I went there, hopefully they are still there! The photos are from the 1920s, when the subdivision of Hollywoodland was being built. And in that moment, when I was 25, something hit me. I had found the solution for the neurological strain of too much traffic, too much noise, too much stuff going on, and what I called the "L.A. Hee-Bee-Jee-Bees". I walked out of that library and looked at Beachwood Canyon differently. I could strip away all of the confusion, and see it as a simpler place. I was quickly addicted to this feeling.
I visited historic sites, such as Los Encinos. I have to admit that doing this as a young person caused a few strange looks from the people who worked at these places, who tended to be elderly. I would park my wicked-cool sports car, jump out and just look around. I had no interest in the gift shops, I didn't want a tour guide to talk to me. I tried to be polite to people who insisted on getting in my way, and trying to make me go into the gift shop and look at postcards, but I always slipped away. I still do.
When I walk around the Sahuaro Ranch (which is right nearby where I live), I can see it in the 1890s. Yeah, I've learned about it, and if anyone asks I can tell them who William Bartlett was, but that's not the point.
Nowadays I spend a lot of time in cyberspace, and I collect old photos of Phoenix, and give them away on a Google+ page. And every old image I find makes me wonder what it would have felt like to be there, at that place, at that time. So I history adventure. I'm not collecting anything physical, I'm not writing a book, I'm not selling anything. I tell people that I am doing this for fun, but it's a pretty mild way to describe something that has become so important to me that it just plain makes me feel better on planet earth. I recommend it.
The image above is of Sahuaro Ranch 100 years ago. This view is looking north from where Olive is now, just west of 59th Avenue. The historic palm trees are still there on the campus of Glendale Community College, and if you see someone walking around who appears to be fascinated by them, it's me.
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