Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What you find when looking elsewhere

While driving through Griffith Park last week in search of the famous Travel Town Museum, CC and I found ourselves in another nook of the sprawling landscape.

We didn't track down the choo-choos we were looking for, but what we did find was pretty amazing. CC spied the playground first, and I spotted the sign for the neighboring Merry-Go-Round. Forget trains, folks. Once the kid spots a slide and some swings, it's all over.

The play area, called Shane's Inspiration, is a "Universally Accessible Playground." What that means is that the equipment is accessible to kids with disabilities, including those who are wheelchair-bound. There are ramps, a box-like train that kids can walk -- or wheel -- right into without having to climb any stairs, as well as full-chair swings. But there are also steps and slides, all situated on a bouncy turf instead of rough concrete. Great for those inevitable spills that CC knows so well.

Next, we walked over to the park's Merry-Go-Round, which was built in 1926 and brought to Griffith Park in 1937. There are 68 carved horses and a couple of sleighs. We opted for the sleigh, as we spun around and listened to the piped tunes of the band organ. CC couldn't stop smiling and peering over the top of the sleigh -- making sure the horses were on their best behavior, no doubt.

It was like stepping into a time machine. The dark brown wood of the bobbing horses was faded and worn in familiar places. I imagined kids from generation upon generation using the same places to secure their hands and feet while climbing into the saddle.

The lights, the paint and the accompanying music reminded me of so many old Hollywood movies. There was even a sign saying that Walt Disney got the inspiration to build Disneyland while watching his daughter ride one of the horses.

We'll have to check out the trains next time. But that afternoon, we did OK without them.

Shane's Inspiration
Griffith Park
4800 Crystal Springs Road
Los Angeles, CA 90027

$2 per person

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