Mulholland Drive takes you out of Hollywood and along the crest of the Santa Monica Mountains. But if you’re expecting a winding, two lane mountain road to take you out of LA’s traffic congestion, think again. Plenty of Hollywood’s power players have a home up in these hills, which means you’ll likely end up creeping along, with a BMW behind you, and a Porsche in front. But it doesn’t really matter, since this isn’t a road you’d take if you were in a hurry anyhow.
Keep driving, and you’ll find…
LA96C – Former Cold War Nike Missile Site
This former monitoring site was one of dozens scattered around Southern California. Back in the 50’s and 60’s, the facility was manned ’round the clock, watching for any sign of attack on LA.
This location was home to the control facility (that’s what the C stands for in LA96C). Nike missiles were ready to launch, just a short distance away.
The observation tower provides a great location to gaze out over the mountains, or watch for a Communist attack.
Thanks to the June Gloom, this was the closest I came to seeing the sun during the first two days of my trip.
At LA-96C, Mulholland Drive turns to dirt.
With daylight fading, I gave up on my plan to explore Mulholland, and went with the paved route–heading downhill to the 101 Freeway at Encino. The 101 eventually took me back to the coast.
I made it back to the ocean just in time to snap a few good sunset pictures. I believe I took these pictures at Emma K. Wood State Beach, but if I’m wrong, feel free to correct me.
The snack stands along this stretch of beach probably haven’t changed for decades.
From here, I drove on up US 101, and discovered that motel rooms aren’t easy to find in these parts, especially heading into Memorial Day weekend. So, I spent a very expensive night in Santa Barbara.
Note: This trip was first published in 2004.