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Home : Travel Stories   : Hollywood, California
As I was taking shots of the sunset through the "O", Riley appeared in my view finder. He was half way up the O. "Keep going man!!!" I hollered. "This is going to make a killer photo!"
- "Solo Max"

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USA

Not your typical Hollywood experience
by Solo Max, 22, on the road somewhere
Feb 6, 2000

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December 29, 1997
Hollywood, California, USA

To reach the famous landmark we twisted our way up through the hills on a narrow roadway lined with million dollar homes. In many places there was barely room for on-coming traffic. Finally, five hundred feet below the sign, we came to a spot where we could drive no further. Riley parked the car in a driveway shared by two houses. He figured either house would think we were a guest of the other.

As we started the approach, we passed a NO TRESPASSING sign, which warned of a $103.00 fine. Riley told me that the police were mainly concerned with people "tagging" the immense monument with spray paint, and committing suicide by jumping off the top. "Lots of people have died up there." he informed me. I figured the $103.00 fine wouldn’t be much of a deterrent if a person was heading up there to kill himself.

The following three hundred feet was a struggle, and at times dangerous. We had to claw our way up a steep loose gravelly bluff fortified with thorn bushes. At half way, I noticed a helicopter in the distance moving straight in our direction, and it seemed to slow down as it approached. I got close to the ground and ducked behind a bush. Riley seemed to be less concerned. "Don’t worry about it man." he said. "No fat cop is going to chase us up here! Even if they do catch us. Just tell ’em you’re an ignorant Canadian and you didn’t see the sign. I use that line all the time." At first, when he told me that I felt a little insulted. I didn’t like the idea of someone else using my country’s identity to excuse their criminal behavior. Then I remembered that Riley actually was Canadian, and it was okay.

The light was fading fast. The sun had been down for over fifteen minutes. As I was taking shots of the sunset through the "O", Riley appeared in my view finder. He was half way up the O. "Keep going man!!!" I hollered. "This is going to make a killer photo!"

When we reached the sign, the chopper came back. With adrenaline pumping through me, I ran for cover behind the "W". Behind the sign, surveillance cameras peered down at me from above. Jail was not an adventure I was looking forward to. Riley and I had split-up. I couldn’t see him. After the chopper had departed again, I heard what sounded like voices near the "H". I thought Riley might have gotten snagged. Handcuffs or no hand cuffs, I wasn’t leaving without pictures.

All was dark except for the billion specks of light fanning out over the city and the radiant pink and orange band of blazing fire across the horizon. I began to think we would not have enough light to get back down safely. My survival instinct told me to leave immediately.

From the top of Hollywood to the Titanic

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