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The City is Awake


6:15 am, Los Feliz, CA

I ride down the hill from my house on the brakes until I get to the entrance of Griffith Park, from there it's uphill for 2.5 miles to the Observatory. The sun hasn't risen over the San Gabriel mountains as yet, the moon sits above my left shoulder casting an arc of white light that sits the sparkling city, like a tiara on a beauty queen. The buildings downtown have half their lights on, chopping blocks of light into the black skyline.

Flora & Fauna

I round the first corner, I wave to the two gentlemen who start hiking at 5am, one of them always leaves a scent trail of cologne. I can smell it for the next 10 yards. A hint of Gucci over the smell of pine and dust.

Another hiking group led by a lone gentleman catches me half way up. We meet everyday like a funicular railway, a wave and a good morning. He is the only one that waves to me, the rest of the group continue on their hike chatting amongst one another. There is also the aged Japanese jogger, the Armenian grandfather with the big spectacles reading the paper as he walks up, and the runners with their hoodies covering their faces.

The inhabitants of the park, the coyotes, the deer, the crows and the ground squirrels cross my path and pause to look at me slowly peddle up the hill, as much as they are unfazed by my presence, I am in awe of them.

1625 feet above Sea Level

I am on the last leg of the ride up, it curves up to reveal the Observatory, I am in my victory stretch. The flatness of the parking lot is welcome relief, as I peddle over to the water fountains, I catch the glow of the sun below the San Gabriel Mountains. On the other side the moon is setting to the west, heralding the night for the other side of the world. I am caught in the balance between the sun and the moon, overlooking the city of Los Angeles, and I watch the city shake off it's sleep, rumbling to life, ready to start another day.

The ride down is fast and as I fly around each curve, I see the broken barriers where cars have cast off into flight and tumbled below. At the bottom of the hill, the silence is already broken with the sound of trucks and cars, the city is awake.

Image: the view from the Griffith Observatory at 6:30 am. Ophelia Chong

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