A while back I was using my Google-fu to try to find some interesting and weird places to explore in the Los Angeles area.
One of the places I happened upon was the Murphy Ranch Nazi Camp
, described as a World War II-era enigma hidden in a forest outside of Santa Monica.
The pictures and text I could find about the place made me itch to go there as soon as possible. Yesterday I convinced David we needed a sunday adventure at the Murhy Ranch.
On the site Atlas Obscura
they describe it like this Now property of Los Angeles City parks, Murphy Ranch was originally developed to be a self-sustaining compound in the 1930s. It was originally purchased in 1933 by Jessie Murphy -- a person never seen nor documented elsewhere. Despite the phantom owner, the property was developed by Winona and Norman Stephens and a German national by the name of Herr Schmidt. The design implemented was an installation of several buildings, fuel tanks, and multiple massive cisterns. The entire complex, according the plans of Herr Schmidt, was to be self-sustaining even if it suffered years of isolation from the outside society. Schmidt's motivations, however, remain the focus of the lore.
Apparently Herr Schmidt wanted to create a Nazi holdout in America, but in 1941 the ranch is said to have been raided by United States Federal Agents that had kept an eye on Herr Schmidt and his work. The place has been abandoned ever since, with the exception of a few years in the 60's and 70's when artists took over the ranch.
The backstory piqued my interest, but what really made me want to go there was the fact that the only way to reach the ranch was by descending a 500 steps concrete staircase straight down the mountainside.
The pictures I found showed a hidden and secret place, and I was so excited to see it for myself!
We arrived at the start of the hike around 5.30 in the afternoon. It's been so hot in Los Angeles lately so we had to wait until it was starting to cool off a bit, but not too late because we didn't want to get stuck out in the wilderness in the dark.
The light was just perfect and I was already happy that we had came there, even if we weren't to find the stairs.
We met a few people going back down the trail who told us to keep going and the stairs would appear quite clearly maybe a mile ahead.
And there it was. In front of the most beautiful mountain view.
After walking down the stairs for a while David asked "Are we going to be doing this forever, Lotta?" The stairs just kept on going.
It felt like we were explorers in a forgotten world!
I even decided it was worth it to go up and down the stairs a little bit extra for some self timer photos. I didn't know what I was in for later, apparently...
Like a fairytale! Or an adventure movie!
And then we reached the end of the stairs and found the goal of our hike!
I like that among all the usual graffitied penises and swear words someone had written Fuck Hitler (can't be seen in the photo though, if you were trying to find it). To keep the vandalism topical, I guess.
We didn't have time to look around any more than this house, because the light was rapidly getting weaker and we needed to head back to the car before dark.
I plan to return soon though, and bring my real camera! The weather will just have to cool off a bit before though, because I want time to explore this amazing location!
After just a few steps we realized just how exhausting the way up would be. I was breathing so heavy and tried to find a good breathing rhythm to keep me going. Sweat was pouring and we kept chanting about the ice-cream we had decided to buy when we finished the hike.
We had to stop and breathe a couple of times.
LOOK AT ALL THOSE STAIRS BEHIND ME! So sweaty and shaky. Our legs started to feel like spaghetti after a while.
When we finally reached the top the sky looked this wonderful! Like a painting!
Speaking of paintings, isn't this mountain side so beautiful?!
I love the texture and colours.
And another one (I have at least ten more photos like these in my phone).
And over there is Santa Monica in evening light.
Such an awesome adventure! I absolutely love to find places like this and I have already started to search for the next location to explore.
Also, I'm sure that the muscle soreness I'm feeling today is going to remind me of this excursion for at least a couple of days.
That was all for today, I hope you liked to tag along on our hike.
Talk to you soon!
There's a special kind of thought that pops into my mind quite often. You could call it a favourite thinking exercise, or a recurring fascination.
It's about those times in life when you've been right at the edge of something new, and you can see the change coming but you don't yet know how it will affect your life.
I revel in those feelings.
The photos in this post are all self portraits from when we were in Palm Springs last weekend.
Five years ago in Gothenburg David and I went to look at what would be our first apartment together. We really wanted to get it, it was big had two balconies and was close to the city centre, so when we walked from the apartment to the grocery store down the street we tried to imagine what it would be like if this was our neighbourhood.
It was still winter and the small cherry tree outside the store had yet to grow leaves on its bare branches. We stood underneath it and kissed with so much hope and anticipation in our bodies, and I remember imagining us standing at the very same place in spring, kissing beneath blooming cherry blossoms. There was also worry, that we wouldn't get the place, and that this part of town would continue to be a stranger to us and not our home.
When we finally got the call that the apartment was ours I went back to that feeling in my mind, tried to remember how the neighbourhood looked but not really knowing where the streets went and what was behind the buildings and parks.
Over the years since I've learned how the area looks, I know what is behind the grocery store (ugly apartment buildings from the 80s), I know every twist and turn of the cemetery where I like to go for walks or evening runs, I know all the cute little shops, which chef at the thai restaurant on our street that cooks the best Pad Thai, and I even recognize some strangers that pass through the neighbourhood as a part of their every day life.
And I still try to remember that feeling of not knowing how the future will look, but being sure it will change soon.
I try to see the grocery store down the street in the same way I did that day when I was filled with expectations and longing for something new, because I like that feeling so much, I want to keep it in me forever.
It's a surrender, of sorts. You know that you don't have all the information, you know things will change and that it will make your life different, so all you can do istrust and hope, and let go until you're there.
And then, when you're there, you can never truly get that feeling back because then you KNOW.
Before we came to USA we were in the same sort of unknown space. We knew we probably would be going, but we didn't know when and how it would all pan out. It was too big to even dream of, too huge to comprehend. We could just wait and see, put our lives a little bit on hold until the call came that yes, we should come to LA, in fact- could we come next week?
That period is still so fuzzy to me. Impossible to grasp. It was just a vacuum.
But then, when we came to USA at the end of March, we didn't even have a place to live and we stayed at a hotel until we could find a more permanent place.
On the day we came upon the tiny apartment we live in now I was struck by that very same feeling.
We knew the name of the street, but not the house number, so we drove down the street trying to get a feel of the area and guess where exactly our life would be lived the following months.
I think a move to a new place is a perfect example of this "knowing but not knowing" state of mind. It revolves around so much more than just the house you live in (a new job creates the same feeling of getting to know a work place as well as colleagues). It's about the surroundings too.
You can never keep that fresh naive look at a place after you've gotten to know it, so now when I walk to the grocery store fifteen minutes from our tiny home I try to capture that fleeting memory of how it was when this part of the world was completely unknown to me.
And now I'm at one of those edges all over again.
We're moving to a tiny, but not quite as tiny, home in a part of LA where we've actually been before. We have a favourite sushi place in that neighbourhood. It's close to many places where we've been; restaurants, stores, a theatre and old book stores.
But now there are also small and winding streets we will call Home for a few months. Streets behind all those spots we've visited without knowing that our future home was hiding in the hills back there.
And I can't stop thinking, what will it be like to have these streets be my streets. How will it look in a month when I've walked all over the place, mapped every corner and bump in the sidewalk?
When I look back at the day when we drove there the first time and everything looked so exciting and unknown.
When I will know.
We're in Palm Springs over the weekend and one thing I really wanted to do was to see the desert and take some fun photos.
So today we did just that!
Sweaty as all hell, but WOW, what a place!
I took a gazillion photos with the self timer, so let's take a look at the best ones:
And then we started to imagine what it would be like to get lost out in the desert, and the self portraits took a turn for the dramatic...
The nature out here is like nothing I've ever seen before. David and I talked about how crazy it is that when people in movies go to another planet the entire planet has only ONE kind of nature.
Earth has so many different kinds of environments and the logical way to think is that other planets would be the same. Everything from snow and ice to heat and sandy deserts.
Also: I wonder how they survived out here without AC in their cars...
Today Swedish radio station P3 aired an interview with me for their segment about Swedes abroad (Svensken i Världen, Verkligheten i P3). I talked about the amazing journey it has been, and still is, after Lights Out went viral but I also mentioned the not so great experience of having my looks reviewed by men on the internet.
If you know Swedish you can listen to it here
It was so much fun to be interviewed about this whole experience and I think it went really well.
And let's take a look at some photos from the two days filming my scenes in Lights Out the other week.
I had a trailer to relax in, just like "real stars". And obviously I had to take silly self portraits to show off my new found Diva status.
Being pampered between takes by Hair, Makeup and Wardrobe.
I had a blast filming and really hope this is just the beginning for me. I was quite nervous before shooting because this was the first time I acted in English. It's scary to act in another language than your own, but I think it went well.
This week it's been 38 celsius degrees outside, and that is just way too many celsius degrees for me! On friday we're going to Palm Springs over the weekend (because on monday next week we celebrate our two year wedding anniversary!) and it's supposed to be around 42 celsius degrees there. I'm terrified.
I will be staying in the pool the entire weekend, that's for sure!
Talk to you soon, dear friends and readers.