Friday, March 12, 2010

The L.A. River - What You Might Find

No. Not Brangelina taking the kiddies out for a walk.  (See how I shamelessly used a cheap-shot keyword just to see if it would bring any new eyes to this blog? ) Although they DO live NOT so very far from here, I've been told by Real Estate Professionals. (Brangelina.  See?  I did it again.) And!  And!  Woody and Soon-Yi were seen walking around the Silver Lake Reservoir recently, I was told by a reliable source, (my friend) who spotted them with her very own eyes.  (Though they DON'T live nearby here I don't think, do they?!)

Anyway.  Now you know.

But this post is not at all about any of the above (Brangelina, 3 times!, Woody and Soon-Yi TWICE!), unless we're talking about "Promenades en Nature".  But this promenade is "en velo" - bikes, and the nature......well, sometimes not SO natural!  But you will see what I mean.

I am so glad that this part of the L.A. River is not so far from my house and yes, indeed, there are reasonably well-maintained bike paths on either side as it wends through neighborhoods, past warehouse districts, ducks below Dodger Stadium and heads off to Chinatown and Downtown Los Angeles.  I think we could follow it to the sea if we wanted to.  But this time we did not.

Will it surprise you that this is a riverbed made of concrete?  And part of an old-school infrastructure of canals that brings water from Northern California and the Colorado river through the Central Valley to L.A.

"WE" could stand for:  Us Bikers, WeekEnd, or some gang that I am unaware of.  Probably the latter.  Makes a good picture though.

Are you surprised that trees are growing in the river?  And that there is USUALLY more plant matter to be found in this river at most times of the year, than aquaculture?  And those white droopy, Salvador Dali things hanging off the tree branches?  Plastic grocery bags.  Yes.

Think about them and weep.  And bring your own next time you go to the store!

That said, you still feel out in nature here.  The skies are big, you can see the mountains, and the winds blow unimpeded from the North via the San Fernando Valley.  Which could make this ride pretty nice on a hot L.A. day. The river is just on the outer perimeter of the L.A. basin which is ringed by the various hills for which the city is known. This part of the bike path starts just at the entry to Griffith Park, home of the Gene Autry Museum.  Also in the park is the famous white observatory that featured in Rebel Without a Cause and now, alot of the L.A. based shows you'll seen on Bravo and the Style Channel. Griffith Park is the largest urban park in the U.S. and urban ground zero to mountain lions, coyotes, rattlesnakes, golf courses and tennis courts.  And the scene of George Michael behaving badly.

The bike path on the west side of the river hugs the Interstate 5 Freeway for a little ways, so it's not entirely bucolic.  Some of the neighborhoods it skirts might seem a little iffy to you, as may the chollos walking their pitbulls. But we riders encountered many other bike enthusiasts, dogwalkers, homeless people and mustaches, it must be said, of all ages, persuasions and sizes on a Thursday morning and none of them at all seemed menacing. Most greeted us with a warm smile and at least two young women were seen alone on the river and entirely un-anticipatory in their manner and bearing of any whiff of danger or risk.

The ceanothus and redbuds were blooming on the river banks.  As were the jasmine.

Lemon trees were bearing.

You get to enjoy long vistas.  Which always lowers my blood pressure.

Some parts of the river look like Egypt.

And others like Tuscany.  (OK slightly more crowded.)

Michael Jackson is interred on a hill very similar to this just about 3/4 of a mile over.  Better than Gary, Indiana some might say.

Can I remind you of my affection for industrial zones, terrains vagues, the heavy equipment depots?  And all their muscular color?

On the outskirts of L.A. you will find many lots full of things like this.  That James Cameron or someone aspiring-to-be will require to realize his dearest dreams of catastrophe or conquest on a colossal scale.

As much so or more, the pickup truck is ubiquitous in these parts.  And more and more frequently you will see them Joad-like piled high with the residual components of some family's domestic aspiration, on it's way inland to the Mojave or Vegas where it's cheaper and there might be work, the Central Valley, or back across the border.

Speaking of homes, I've always wanted one that looks just like this.  A glass pavilion.  They don't actually MAKE a lot of HOMES that look like this.  Some reservations for people about living in glass houses and stones thrown - maybe?  Philippe Starck designed something like this in the 90's, prefab.  I wonder whatever happened to it.  I never got one.  I don't think they shipped to the U.S.  (OK, lame excuse I know - but I was living in NYC then, not so well suited.....)

And speaking of big shipments....a transit place for the grand and the glorious.  On their way to the grand and the glorious of greater L.A.?  What, you looking at me?  No, you got the wrong person.

But yes, more my kind of thing.  Transit hub meets public art.  Color.  (Works for me!)  References to Native American art, ancient earth art that stretches across much of Latin America, the cowboy colonizers.  Artist unknown to yours truly.  "Simpsons Sky" my friends call those puffy clouds and storybook blues.

And yet, and yet, YES WILDLIFE.  In the L.A. River.  A Heron of some sort, we did see it take flight.

Egrets?  With striking markings.

A solitary goose.

A solitary biking photographer.  Unlike not-so-solitary me.

You could also ride a long way in the opposite direction.  North, towards Sherman Oaks and Van Nuys.  But for us, we end the ride more or less where we began, at Griffith Park roughly, but with a journey across a bridge.

Through a tidy, inviting neighborhood.

To find cool, refreshing drinks.

At a groovy little lunch place.  With views of the golf course. 

So that's your (and ours) introduction to the L.A. River.   How do you feel about so much nature in a big city?


  1. ah, my dear, you have solved a great mystery for me. i was driving down to san diego yesterday and was dying to figure out what on earth the purple shrubs were blooming along the embankments. and because you are just as much a nature nerd as i, my dear friend, you have solved the mystery: ceanothus!

    who knew? and i can't believe all the wildlife you photographed around the city and river!

    have a FABULOUS weekend. hope the kitty is feeling better! xoxo

  2. I have never been called a "nature nerd" before Lily, but i will take it.

    Thanks for the warm kitty thoughts - once he again he has slipped beyond the reach of certain danger. (YAY!) And my car upholstery went unscathed too!