Back again after some much-needed post election rest. As the year winds down, I will be coming up with some novel-writing goals for the year and posting more of that process on this blog. I welcome, as always, comments from any and all readers on any and all topics.
Tomorrow I leave for Portland for a quarterly work meeting.
We spent the holiday weekend in LA, enjoying a Friendsgiving in the suburbs near Long Beach and a long-awaited exploration of the bike trails around our place.
The bike path that runs the length of the coast (22 miles from Palisades to Palos Verdes) is one of the best things about living here. On Saturday we drove our bikes to a lot just on the edge of LA proper and took the path into the utopian cities of Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach. Envision the stereotype of Southern California and you probably think of Venice and Santa Monica. If those places are where visitors go to experience California life, then Manhattan and Hermosa are where people are actually living it. That means no tourists, tacky shops selling weed tshirts, or shops selling actual weed. It also means a lot of settled wealth and small, walkable, Midwestern-style downtowns overlooking small piers and ocean sunsets.
We rode in the morning just before as a rainstorm drenched the area, so the air was cool and the sky cloudy–perfect weather, especially after another hot, dry summer.
Dark rain clouds covered the coast again today, but the sun was fully out when we struck out from our apartment and rode most of the length of the Ballona Creek path all the way to the beach, not far from LAX. Ballona Creek is a “river” that flows from roughly Mid-City (Venice and La Cienega?) through Culver City and the LA neighborhood of Mar Vista, and ends in a wetland preserve just south of Marina Del Rey.
As with any lengthy Los Angeles pathway, you get to see a bizarre and fascinating cross section of the city’s class and racial composition. Culver City is a middle class enclave, a quiet studio town filled with young families and good schools. The creek runs behind green backyards and baseball fields. Mar Vista is a contrast, with housing projects and gang-like graffiti marking much of the creek and it’s surrounding surfaces. The presence of a low-income neighborhood on the West Side still confuses me, and I know very little of the history behind it. After Mar Vista, the land around the creek becomes more open, a flat and overgrown transition zone between urban sprawl and the boxy seaside homes that crowd the cliffs overlooking the beach and the beach itself.
As the creek/path gets closer to the sea, the channel fills out with silt and mud, and later becomes a wide body of water where ocean water has made its way inland. Huge flocks of gulls sweep up and down and across the wetlands and the winds get markedly stronger. Joggers and cyclists of all races and ages zip to and from the coast. Eventually, the land the bike path sits on narrows into a thin strip separating Ballona Creek from the Marina. At the end of this strip, a small bridge spans the creek and turns onto the coastal path on a wide, wind-swept beach with high dunes. A pair of cargo ships were anchored out just before the horizon. If you turned around and looked back eastward, the air was clear enough to see the snow covered peaks of the San Bernardino mountains nearly 100 miles away.
It was almost two hours of riding, 15 miles.
I’m not sure what else there is to say about it. We came home and made dinner (Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, pomegranate seeds, rotisserie chicken) and I set to writing this post and packing for my trip to Portland. Mostly, I just wanted an excuse to write a blog post.