So Brian and I have a tradition of taking a day off from work and exploring the environs of Los Angeles. Sadly, Brian decided grading essays was more important than enjoying the beauty of the big city, so I enlisted the services of Alex Rai, Rick Gerlach and Martin Gutierrez to accompany me as we tore things up.




The guys met at my house and off we went.




Our first stop took us to the border of Pasadena and La Canada.




Not everyone was welcome.




We were looking for the Devil's Gate Dam Portal. Why this place? Well, this is a place with many supernatural connections, including to the creepy occultist Aleister Crowley (Ozzy sang about him), the nutty Scientologist L. Ron Hubbard, a bit of Native American lore, and the Seven Gates of Hell. So yeah, color me intrigued.




The dam itself was easy to find.




Especially when L.A. is in the middle of a drought.




But we couldn't seem to find the portal.




We wandered a bit.




Checking out the dam.




The beautiful San Gabriel Mountains.




Then we found an opening off the path.




It was narrow and smelled like urine.




It lead into...




...the hills.




There was an opening through a fence.




Of course we decided to explore it.




I use the term "we" loosely.




There was a rarely-seen view of the dam.




And a covert for homeless people.




And taggers.




The guys finally joined me.




But it turned out to be the wrong path so we backtracked and tried again.




We found another trail. Maybe we were on to something this time.




This one took us into down the ravine.




With creepy trees.




If we took the path to the left it would take us to the Rose Bowl.




To the right was an old trapeze set-up.




Suffice it to say, we did not take the time to become the Flying Wallendas.




We still couldn't find any sign of the portal but I finally just made like Lewis and Clark and headed into the thick brush.




Lo and behold, there it was.




I yelled through the forest and the boys showed up, Deliverance-like.




The Devil's Gate Portal.




It was totally worth the effort.




We waited for second in case the Devil-worshippers were about to attack.




More like graffiti-worshippers.




Fokus.




Bling.




Weird little Indian?




626 Crew represent!




We couldn't get into the tunnel...



But we could certainly play with the echoes.




We found a ladder for a quick exit. Also, "Fuck Trump."




We watched Martin go up first.




Then Rick.




Me.




And Alex.




I kept hitting him with mud from my shoes. Sorry, dude.




How high were we?




4:20, baby!




This was a much quicker (and dangerous) route to the portal.




The 210 freeway.




No one died, so it was a success.




We headed back through the tunnel...




...and onto the 2 freeway to...




...Echo Park Lake.




We suited up.




Paddle boards!




Alex and Martin had their own boat.




It was a perfect day to be out on the lake.




The fountains were cranked up.




We paddled in drive.




We paddled in reverse.




We paddled until our legs were sore.




RAINBOW!!!




Avast ya scurvy dogs!



Ramming speed!




Ducks.




The Eighth Wonder of the World: The other side of the fountain. (Apologies to Disney's Jungle Cruise.)




Martin's head is apparently a pot of gold.




What's better than a panorama shot?




Two.




Alex was training for the Tour de Echo Park.




"Near, far, wherever you are, I believe that the heart does go on."




On the way to our next stop we decided on a whim to hit this little Salvadorean place.




So many choices.




Chips, salsa and guacamole for an appetizer.




Then a variety of pupusas. So delicious.




When I checked in on Facebook Brian responded with his own breakfast... and some "subtle" commentary.




We're living on the edge... Racer's Edge to be more precise.




Yep, it time to get our inner Redneck on.




But first we had to register.




No, we weren't driving this one.




It's about to go down.




Got a shot of the fellas strapped in.




Then me.




Selfie time.




Taking photos while driving is not a simple task.




Especially with the hairpin turns.



Taking video wasn't much easier.




We had a blast.




The winners.




Then we parked in Chinatown.




From there we walked over to 222 N. Hill St.




AKA the Hall of Records.




We wandered around the lower levels for a while.




Taking an elevator...




...to the archives.




We meandered through long hallways of people's lives.




We kept going farther down.




Nearly getting lost as we tried to ascertain the best way to reach our goal.




Eventually using an old elevator practically hidden from the world. Why all this work?




The infamous underground tunnels of Los Angeles!




This place was eerie.




There was a No Trespassing sign but we kept on going.




Looks like someone at the Hall of Records was a bit lazy.




Old bus schedules maybe?




Evidently they have cameras down here because just a few minutes into our exploration the cops caught us and kicked us out.




The futuristic Hill Street metro station.




Lunchtime took us over to Grand Central Market.




So many choices.




What to eat?




Eggslut it is.




I mean, it's everybody's favorite kind of egg, amiright?




Martin and I ordered the Gaucho.




Oh yeah.




And it was so good.




Rick and Alex had the slut because of course they did.




Not my choice but different strokes.




They said it was delicious.




And again, Brian, responding on Facebook, with his scrumptious lunch.




Then it was dessert time.




McConnell's Fine Ice Creams fit the bill.




Awww yeah!




Ice cream for everybody!




Ok, not everybody.




With our stomachs satisfied we headed back to Chinatown.




Where we had to pay homage to The Dragon.




What did Bruce Lee order at Burger King?




Whoppaaahhh!




One of the many Chinatown plazas.




Dr. Sun Yat-Sen was a Chinese revolutionary, first president and founding father of the Republic of China.




Goodbye Chinatown.




From there we drove to Rose Hills Cemetery.




We were looking for one of the originators of Gangsta Rap.




Martin used his GPS to find the grave.




This guy is too fresh.




We were looking for a lil gangsta, short in size, a t-shirt and Levi's was his only disguise. He was built like a tank yet hard to hit, Ice Cube and this homie were cold runnin' shit.




Here's Eazy-E, the one I'm talkin' about.




The final resting place of Eric Wright.




Dude helped change the landscape of hip hop.




He'll spend the rest of eternity next to these people.




I've always had a dream to drive through a giant donut.




Eat your heart out Langston Hughes.




Mmmm, donuts.




The Asian man costs extra.




"One of everything, please!"




Life is beautiful.




The drive-thru.




This place is awesome.




Martin went back for seconds.




On our way home we found ourselves behind Mrs. Maldonado, the super-awesome mom of Ryan and Alex Maldonado. Suffice it to say this wasn't the first time I've been behind Mrs. Maldonado. BOOM!