Late for Nowhere

From life in Southeast Asia to backyard adventures in Kodiak, Alaska

Adventures in the US: Urban wildlife and haunted picnic tables

with 2 comments

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Sunset in Los Angeles, as seen from the apartment where I stayed during my recent visit.

Last month I took a trip to the United States for the first time in more than three years. Among my goals during my three-week visit – aside from hanging out with family and friends, and eating as many burritos as possible – was spending a substantial amount of time on my mountain bike, which I brought with me from Myanmar.

I started my trip in Los Angeles, where I had lived for 10 years before moving to Myanmar in 2003. I stayed in the Silverlake apartment of my friend Robert, who was on holiday in Hawaii during the start of my visit, so I had the place all to myself – all I had to do was take care of his grumpy Siamese cat, a creature of odd habits such as hissing at invisible threats and loudly rummaging through kitchen cabinets in the middle of the night.

The apartment is only a few miles from Griffith Park, a place where I had spent many, many hours cycling during my time in LA, and that’s where I went for the first ride of my holiday. The park’s dirt roads are closed to mountain bikes, so the main attraction is a network of paved roads (closed to motor vehicles) that wind through the wooded hills.

Although it had been more than 10 years since my last ride in Griffith Park, all the same pavement cracks and potholes still seemed to be there. It’s an urban park, but still fairly wild (an automatic camera even captured an image of an adult mountain lion in the park in 2013), and during my 30-mile ride I managed to spot several forms of wildlife: one coyote, one mule deer, three circling hawks, and one Hollywood film crew grazing at the catering truck.

Along the way I stopped at the infamous Haunted Picnic Table 29, located in a quiet corner of the park just off Mount Hollywood Drive. The area is supposedly guarded by the angry spirits of musician Rand Garrett and aspiring actress Nancy Jeanson, who were crushed to death by a falling tree while indulging in some nocturnal fornication on the picnic table on the night of October 31, 1976.

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Wooden post marking the location of Picnic Table 29 in Griffith Park.

Sound unlikely? The story actually seems to date back to a hoax story that appeared on the Los Angeles Times website on October 30, 2006, but some park visitors insist they have encountered the ghosts.

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The “haunted” picnic table, complete with the miraculously preserved tree that supposedly crushed two lovers to death in 1976.

Disappointingly, no angry specters chased me from the picnic table. But the fallen tree was still there (a friend pointed out that dead wood from nearly 40 years ago would have rotted away long ago, but what does he know about phantom plant life?), and someone had used green paint to scrawl “RIP 10/31/1976 Rand + Nancy” on the top of the picnic table.

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Tribute to Rand and Nancy.

The legend lives on.

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Another Hollywood sunset.

 

2 Responses

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  1. Hi there – I’d love to use a photo of the Picnic Table on a post I’m doing about haunted hikes. I’ll link back to your site and give attribution. Just let me know if it’s ok!

    Modern Hiker

    October 22, 2014 at 7:35 pm


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