We Angelenos are led to believe that we don't walk much. Perhaps the exceptions prove that rule, and there we were, our group of comfy-shoe-clad, sun-hat-wearing, day-pack-carrying pedestrians. ¶ No matter, we were about to take off and walk the entire length of Wilshire Boulevard.
The Sierra Club Angeles Chapter has for more than three decades taken an annual stroll along one of the city's most interesting thoroughfares, showing it off historically and architecturally from street level. The free walk has proved so popular that this year there will be two, one in spring and then another in fall. (Exact dates are in the works; they'll be posted at angeles.sierraclub.org.)
It's 15.83 miles — a long trek on hard sidewalks, but not a difficult one.
Our group included world travelers, newcomers and regulars, such as Doug Fleischer, who has done the walk every year since 2002: "I like seeing all the fancy cars in the showrooms in Beverly Hills."
We set off uphill, past overflowing trash bins and a few folks who seemed not to have yet slept off their weekend ways. We stop at landmarks like Good Samaritan Hospital, where Robert F. Kennedy died after being shot at the Ambassador Hotel, to the west, also on Wilshire.
Sierra Club walks are organized with trained leaders, one at the front of the group, and one at the rear, to keep track of us.
At MacArthur Park, Southwestern Law School and many more spots going west, our Sierra Club leaders provide history and context. There are dozens of landmarks, and there have been books written about this wide east-west street as it moves through Koreatown, Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles and finally into Santa Monica.
There's a coffee and bathroom break at the chic Line Hotel, with its LAMill coffee bar and Roy Choi restaurants.
By 10:15 a.m., we are at La Brea Avenue, negotiating construction work and soon to come upon our next pit stop, at the La Brea Tar Pits and Los Angeles County Museum of Art complex.
On cue, as we cross into Beverly Hills, near the sweet Carthay Circle neighborhood, a black Maserati convertible pulls out in front of us.
A bit farther on, the leisure class sits outside the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, at the south end of Rodeo Drive, with mimosas and Sunday papers.
At Westwood Boulevard, we take a 40-minute lunch break. Moving on, to no one's surprise, there is a demonstration at the Wilshire Federal Building.
As we cross into Santa Monica, we feel like we're about to cross the finish line, but it was a while before we saw the dozens of white sails out in the Pacific Ocean and reached, around 3:10 p.m., the statue of St. Monica marking the end of Wilshire Boulevard.
Of course, we applauded.
And then we scurried off to catch buses home or back to our cars.
I splurged on one of those crazy expensive green juices for the journey, feeling I'd earned it.