Benji

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - DES­TI­NA­TIONS -

Once un­packed at the Cham­ber­lain, it’s time to hit the town. And what’s more iconic than the Hol­ly­wood sign? So we trek the Hol­ly­wood Hills with Bikes and Hikes L.A. owner and guide Danny Ro­man. Mid­way up the trail the views are sweep­ing from down­town to the beach­front com­mu­ni­ties of Venice and Santa Mon­ica and the Pa­cific Ocean be­yond. But re­ally the goal of all these hikes is up-close prox­im­ity to the sign. Round­ing a cor­ner on the Hol­lyridge Trail, it ap­pears all it’s 13-me­tre-tall, 106-me­tre­long glory. Big white let­ters spell­ing HOL­LY­WOOD on the moun­tain­side. Ro­man’s done this hike hun­dreds of times, but still joins me in a wow mo­ment. After all, while it’s shal­low, the sign is im­pos­ing and a sym­bol of all the fame and riches as­so­ci­ated with Tin­sel­town. Then we snap into photo-shoot mode. Benji is poised at the edge of the trail to get his pic­ture taken with the Hol­ly­wood sign loom­ing be­hind. Ro­man and I also take turns pos­ing with Benji and the sign. When I first told friends and fam­ily I was jet­ting off to Hol­ly­wood with Benji re­ac­tions ranged from “that’s great” to eye-rolling and even one “that’s ridicu­lous.” Yes, on some level it’s ab­surd to fly your dog 2,400 kilo­me­tres on an Air Canada jet just so he can hike to the Hol­ly­wood sign with you. But, on an­other level that’s the point. We’re do­ing this be­cause we can and it’s just so fun to have your dog along on as many as life’s ad­ven­tures as pos­si­ble. Benji trav­els com­fort­ably in his car­rier un­der the seat in front of me and loves the at­ten­tion a hand­some fluff­ball gets in air­ports, cabs, ho­tels and on the streets. He also loves our long walk from the Cham­ber­lain early one morn­ing to the epi­cen­tre of Hol­ly­wood where the Walk of Fame is. We check out Lassie’s star, nat­u­rally, Benji mugs for a pic­ture in front of the fa­mous Chi­nese Theatre and tries to kiss an ac­tor dressed as Su­per­man, who will pose with tourists for tips. We also ab­so­lutely have to stop at Shake Shack, the New York City in­sti­tu­tion that has set up its first West Coast out­post on Santa Mon­ica Boule­vard in West Hol­ly­wood. Of course, I or­der Benji the Pooch-ini sun­dae of frozen cus­tard topped with a dog bis­cuit. We’ll also have meals on the dog-friendly pa­tios of Marco’s and Pink Taco restau­rants for great pizza and tacos re­spec­tively. When we get back home to Kelowna, Benji re­sumes hik­ing with me at a lo­cal park, eat­ing out of his own bowl and sleep­ing in his own bed, no Hol­ly­wood at­ti­tude what­so­ever. Check out Book­ing.com and BikesAndHikesLA.com.

Benji gets ready to dig into his Pooch-ini sun­dae of frozen cus­tard with dog bis­cuit top­ping at Shake Shack on Santa Mon­ica Boule­vard in West Hol­ly­wood.

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