The Los Angeles Arboretum

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Published In: Los Angeles, Photography, Stories

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I love nature.

So much so that I enjoy wandering in it alone with only my thoughts and a camera to keep me company. And I did exactly that this past Saturday when I visited the Los Angeles Arboretum in Arcadia, CA. 

It's an immensely beautiful 127-acre botanical garden which is home to a countless number of plants and wildlife.

This was my second time visiting the Arboretum. I visited once before about 2 years ago with a friend of mine and it was an amazing experience now as it was back then.

More so that this time I actually took time to slowly wander around and explore the area for a good while and even reserved a ticket to take a tram tour through the entire garden.

Needless to say, it is an entirely different experience when you go alone while knowing you don't have anywhere else to be afterward. I took advantage of this and truly took in all the sights.

Anyway, here is a recap of my day.

I woke up at about 6:30 am on Saturday. I was still unsure of what I was going to do that day but I knew I wanted to do something different from my usual Saturday routine. Which consists of waking up early and heading to a coffee shop and working on design or web stuff from 9 am until I get hungry (which is usually around noon.)

So I got up and got ready and decided to make a spontaneous decision as soon as I got in my car. I started driving down the 210 East and the closer I got to the 118 interchange, the more anxious I got that I was going to make the wrong decision.

And I did. I went down the 118 and immediately regretted it and I got off on the first exit and turned around and headed down the 210 freeway towards Arcadia instead.

I was incredibly nervous and excited and really hungry.

I began the brisk 28 mile journey to the Arboretum and was already planning out the day's events in my head. I knew I wanted to grab some food before arriving at the Arboretum but didn't exactly know where. I wanted IHOP but I wasn't too entirely familiar with the area to know if there was one around the Arboretum.

I eventually got off on N. Baldwin Ave and made my way about 700 feet from the exit and entered the parking lot and began looking for parking. The park had literally just opened up as I arrived and the parking lot was already almost full.

I somehow managed to find a spot relatively close to the entrance and went to the Membership office and picked up my membership pass and bought a tram tour ticket for 12pm and proceeded into the park.

The Arboretum was exactly as I had remembered it. Lush green grass with lots of elderly people walking all over it and peacocks, ducks, and geese roaming freely around the place.

As soon as I walked through the entrance, I started heading down towards the Peacock Café. I turned the corner and was greeted by a male peacock.

It was incredible to see how all of these animals had grown so used to being around people on such a regular basis. As I stood there taking that peacock's photo, another large peacock just casually walked inches past me.

So I walked inside the café and ordered a large breakfast burrito. I then went outside and secured a table with a great view of the main garden.

As I sat there watching parents pushing kids around in strollers and elderly people inch their way throughout the walkway, I noticed one of the large peacocks that walked past me a little earlier had started walking towards where I was sitting.

I sat there in amazement. Noticing every color and pattern on its feathers and body. All I could keep thinking was, "These used to be dinosaurs!"

A video posted by Raul Esquivel (@raulativity) on


After I had got done eating, I figured it was time to start roaming around the place for a bit. I had a scheduled ticket for the first tram tour of the day at noon so I had roughly about 2 hours to kill before I had to head to the tram pickup location.

I then started heading up towards the northern part of the garden where there were all kinds of plants and trees.

A little further down past what looked like a teepee were more peacocks grazing and hanging out on this huge patch of grass.

A few of them were roaming around and a few others were just sitting down, pretending to ignore some kids berating them and mocking their calls.

After I spent a few minutes snapping photos of these peacocks, I got lucky and witnessed one of them open up their tail feathers.

I knew at that point it was time to head further out and explore some more so I kept heading further until I came upon a huge wall of bamboo trees.

I remembered walking past this wall last time I was here, but I didn't notice there was an entrance that leads into it.

As curious as I was, I decided to pull out my GoPro and documented my journey through this maze/jungle looking forest area.

After I made my way through the wooded maze, I began roaming around the edge of the lake and took some photos of a couple of sleeping ducks and and a goose walking around.

I kept looking around and noticed the holy grail of animals.

A DUCK WITH A SWEET FRO.

After witnessing the awesome-ness of that duck with hair, I decided to head back to that little pond and took a few photos of the animals that were swimming around.

At that point, it was already time to start heading back towards the tram tour pickup area. So I made my way back through the wooded maze and waited about 10 minutes until the tram showed up.

The tour started at 12 noon exactly and took us all around the 127 acres of land all while the tour driver talked to us about the history of all the plants and animals and art sculptures scattered around in-between.

The tour lasted about 45 minutes. A good length of time that didn't feel too long or too short. Needless to say I was satisfied with what I learned and how many amazing sights I witnessed.

Now that the main reason I came to the Arboretum was over, I decided to head back to the lake area to take some more photos and wander around the maze for a bit longer.

There were a lot more ducks in the water than before. A lot of them kept waddling in and out of the water and just basically doing duck-like things.

I decided to sit down on some bench for a little bit to rest and change my camera lens when I noticed a little squirrel running around.

He stopped feet away from me and I had luckily just put on my telephoto lens. So I seized the moment and took some quick shots of it.

So I got up after that and continued on down the lake shore-line when I noticed the little squirrel started following me!

I turned around and it started getting closer. I backed off a bit because I didn't know if it wanted to jump on me. I tried getting some more photos of it but it then ran off and I continued on.

At this point, I had been here for almost 4 hours. I was starting to get hungry and my feet were hurting because I wore the wrong type of shoes for this terrain.

I made my way back through the wooded maze one last time and took a few more shots.

And now it was time to make my way back to my car. I had walked a lot and luckily I had been wearing my Fitbit Surge and was curious to see the total stats for the day.

I opened up the Fitbit app on my phone and waited for my Fitbit to finish syncing all the data.

Here is a breakdown of my stats for the day.

All in all, the day was well spent. Being alone in nature with only my thoughts and a camera is something I tend to do from time to time.

Although I know I should definitely do it more often. It's especially great when you don't have any other obligations to take care of. It provides for a much more relaxed experience.