Run the Great Wall - Only in L.A.

I ran at the Great Wall of China on Sunday morning, and was home in time for lunch. No jet lag for me -- and I didn't even have to leave the City of Los Angeles.

Let me explain.

As I crested the hill to descend into Westridge Canyon, a sign caught my eye. "We are building a set to resemble a small section of the Great Wall of China," the sign began. It explained that Warner Bros. Pictures is making a movie, "The Bucket List," using this mini Great Wall as a set.

It concluded, "We are sensitive to the environment and recreational issues of this area."

Intrigued, I continued down the fire road, and sure enough, about a quarter of a mile down the trail, I came across the Great Wall, surrounded by mountain bikers, hikers, and other onlookers. Being a movie set, it was also surrounded by porta-potties.

From the right perspective, the Wall looks amazingly real. The surface even feels cold to the touch, just as the real Wall, made of rammed-earth blocks, bricks, and stone, would.

From most other angles, though, it's clear that this Wall is constructed from a "skeleton" of lumber and plywood, and then covered with canvas and carefully-applied textures and paint. In a way, seeing just how flimsy this "stone" wall is made me more appreciative of the talents the set-builders must have in order to create monumental objects without breaking the bottom line of a movie's budget. I was impressed. I'm sure it will look great on screen, and the Santa Monica Mountains make a dazzling natural backdrop.

So, months from now, if you go to see Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman in "The Bucket List" and think to yourself,

"That place is gorgeous! We must visit China!"

Think again. It's Los Angeles! Come and visit me instead!

I snapped some photos and then turned to make my way down the trail. As I picked up my stride, a mountain biker passed me, slowly shaking his head, uttering the local refrain that says it all:

"Only in L.A.!"

See you on the trail!