Today, I went on an adventure. My roommate suggested we go hiking so I took it as an opportunity to cross another thing off the bucket list and suggested we do a 4 mile loop ending at the abandoned LA zoo in Griffith Park. We decided to give it a shot so I looked up directions to a place that my maps app wouldn’t find and I, my roommates, and a friend from church headed off on our adventure.
We found the place we were supposed to park relatively easy. After that, however, I got us lost, took us through the smallest amphitheater I’ve ever seen, up and around several peaks, across a bridge, and down through a well vegetated decline that I almost tumbled down several times.
I had looked up directions on modern hiker, which has some lovely, and lesser known hiking places. If you want to read what my hike was SUPPOSED to look like, you can see it here.
Sometimes, I’m really horrible at following directions. And today was one of those days. Mostly because I didn’t want to spend the whole hike looking at my phone for our next landmark. So, an hour in, we got to this:
*note: we started in the valley and ended up looking at down town from near the Griffith Observatory, which is on the other side of the mountains.
I checked my phone for our next landmark and realized we’d left it at least 30 minutes behind us so, a little disappointed, I decided I’d have to see the zoo another day.
We decided to go around the peak and we climbed farther up (much to the chagrin of my legs) and finally got here:
This is a picture of my car, in case you were wondering. At least we’re on the right side of the mountains again, right? What I wouldn’t have given for a zip line in this moment.
So we kept going. And at hour 2, exhausted, we realized the long trek uphill was fruitless and we had to double back to find a new route. It was also at hour 2 that I ran out of water.
Hour 2.5 found us at the top of a very steep incline that at least led us in the right direction, so we began our descent. My roommates made some cat jokes when I slipped, almost fell, and still landed on my feet.
Slightly after hour 3, we reached a high fence that had an opening so we went through it. I had given up hope of ever finding the zoo by this point. I just wanted civilization. But after we got through the fence, we came upon a lush green area and a peaceful walkway.
Then suddenly, I saw it.
We had stumbled upon it after all.
The cages were pathetically tiny and there was graffiti everywhere, but there was still something magical about it. I love zoos. I’m not sure what it is about them that I love, but I do. So even though this old, abandoned zoo infuriated me by how small the enclosures where, I still loved it.
After we explored it, we came out on the other side to a crowd of people and Shakespeare in the Park about to have their performance of Taming of the Shrew.
I feel like this would be a cooler story if we had stayed for the performance. But we were so exhausted and hungry that we just couldn’t. That would be the perfect time to have a butler who had saved us a spot and set up a picnic for us while we were hiking. Ah well.
Thinking back on this adventure and what I could learn from it, I feel that I could draw a number of conclusions. But I think I’ll go with this: I don’t want to settle for plan B. Last week at our women’s event at church, Pastor Nicole talked about not settling for a plan B life. So often, we set off on a journey that we think is pretty straightforward. Not easy, but at least we see our end goal. But then, we take a wrong turn, run out of water, and think that there is no way we could reach the destination this time. So we settle for an adequate option. I was fine to settle into this new hike that, while not exciting, still got me out of the apartment. But I was so quick to give up on my dream.
I’m grateful that God still knows my heart and I’m overwhelmed by how much He loves me. He knew that I wanted to find the zoo today and how much that would mean to me. He even added finding some Shakespeare as the cherry on top (because I WILL be going back this summer)!
So, even though I gave up on plan A, He never did. And I think that if He won’t give up on plan A in something as simple as finding an abandoned zoo, He’s not going to give up on the plans He has for our careers, our relationships, our happiness, and our futures.