Marina Del Rey / Venice Canals

Call this one a beach/city hike.  I explored two lagoons in Marina Del Rey and the Venice Canals and Beach Boardwalk in Venice.  It’s a different feel when one hikes in an area with a high volume of people and their unpleasant by-products – noise, garbage, cigarette smoke, moving vehicles, etc.  Humans can be cruel, thoughtless and even violent.  There is an ever present sense of danger.  On the other hand, walking on city streets filled with people also gives one a surge of energy.  There’s so much happening, so much to see, so much input and creativity – from fantastic architecture to bizarre graffiti to joyful human interaction and fun.  I had a great day today, but next week it’s back to the wilds.

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On my way to Marina Del Rey, I pulled off of Pacific Coast Highway and walked out on to the beach.  When the Sun goes down Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier lights up its Ferris wheel.

3     4   The driving directions from my guide book were abysmal as it suggests turning on to Culver Blvd. from Lincoln Blvd. which, to my eye, isn’t even possible as Culver Blvd. actually travels over the top of Lincoln.  If you are traveling from Santa Monica, my suggestion would be to exit Jefferson Blvd. (not Jefferson Way which is right past Washington Blvd.) and join Culver from Jefferson Blvd.  I wound up parking at the junction of Pacific Ave. and 62nd Ave., where Pacific Ave. dead ends at a vehicle restricted bridge, right across from the condos shown in photo 1.  Del Rey Lagoon and Park are back and to the right.  I followed the fenceline to the right but didn’t see how to get over to the lagoon.  If I had continued a few more yards I believe I would have found the beginning of the short trail which loops around the lagoon.  Instead I walked back to the street and headed down toward the park on the opposite end of the lagoon.

5   Del Rey Lagoon

6     7     8   I quickly reached Del Rey Park, which has picnic tables and a playground.

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Looking the length of Del Rey Lagoon.

11     13     14   Photo 1 – As I circled the shoreline I noticed hundreds of these little shells.  I now know these are California Horn Snails.  Because I was unsure if the trail I was on actually looped around the whole lagoon, I turned back here and walked back up to the vehicle restricted bridge near 62nd Ave.

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I crossed the bridge and had a choice to going right or left.  I went left toward the ocean first, out on to the jetty that sits between Ballona Creek and Marina Del Rey Harbor Channel.  Along the way there are a couple of observation decks, unfortunately strewn with disgusting trash.  I guess these people were too drunk to clean up their own mess.

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Boats continually entered and exited the harbor.

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The UCLA women’s row team paddled past.

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The view downcoast from the jetty.  A unique point of reference, should one get turned around on city streets, is the constant departure of jets from LAX situated to the south-east.

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A surfer riding waves inside the channel next to the southern most jetty.  This is probably dangerous.

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Photo 1 – Why Humans, why?  Photo 3 – The last third of the jetty is quite rough to walk on, a patchwork of rocks and cement with no give whatsoever.

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I reach the end of the jetty.  The tower looks like it has a horn on top.  An American flag waved gracefully on the breakwater ahead.

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Also on the breakwater, two sea lions snuggled on the rocks.  It’s clear they’re deeply in love.

35     37   I backtracked to the bridge that crosses over from 62nd Ave.  I continued straight now, down the bike path that runs parallel to Ballona Creek.  When I think of a creek, it’s usually something I can cross in five or six steps.  This creek was different, much wider.

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Looking into the heart of the Marina.

39     40   I reached a junction in the bike path. Straight ahead leads toward Lincoln Blvd.  The path breaking to the left leads to colorful Fisherman’s Village.  I went straight for now.

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I hiked next to the Ballona Wetlands, which looks like it was open to the public at one time.  I spotted benches and even a trail, but it was completely fenced off with no trespassing signs.

45     46   I reached a bridge, part of Culver Blvd.  I decided to turn back here.

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49   Weirdness abounds.  Photo 1 – Lower half of a mannequin, spray painted silver and left straddling the fence.  Photo 2 – The chainlink fence and dead flower only add to this bizarro sticker.

50     51     52   I backtracked to the junction I had just passed.  I headed for Fisherman’s Village.

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Photo 1 – Two of the big, bright buildings that make up Fisherman’s Village.

58     59     60   Photos 1 and 2 – The historic lighthouse at Fisherman’s Village has been impeccably restored, a fine example of vintage architecture and…and actually it’s just a hamburger stand!  All of Fisherman’s Village seems to be just a mock-up, like a movie set that’s filled with little shops.

56     57     54   Photo 2 – A sea lion swam near the docks, popping up every few seconds and expelling the air from his lungs with a loud “whoosh”.

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I headed back to my car at 62nd Ave.  Photo 2 – What happened to the feet that wear these shoes?

65   I drove over to the beach parking lot at the end of Washington Blvd., right in front of the Venice Pier.  Very easy to find.  I paid $9 to park.  There is metered parking on Washington but one can only park for two hours max.

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68   I enjoy walking around Venice Beach, mostly for the crazy murals covering the sides of buildings.

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From the parking lot I walked back down Washington Blvd.  At Strong Dr. I came to the turn-off for Ballona Lagoon Marine Preserve.  The trail is a loop and the start and finish are mere feet from each other, just the width of the canal.  The canal is known as the Grand Canal, and it also feeds the Venice Canals which are located right across the street.  On both sides of the canal are dirt pathways bordered by attractive houses.  Photo 3 – Fake Nature

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I soon came to Ballona Lagoon itself.  I passed the lagoon and continued along the side of the canal.  There are sections on both sides where I had to walk along the street with houses blocking my view.  But I just kept going knowing I was still running parallel to the canal.

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A Great Blue Heron takes a slow stroll through the canal.

79     81     80   At the end of the canal is an observation deck looking back in the direction of the lagoon.  Directly across the street and the channel is the jetty I walked across earlier in the day.

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83     84   Photo 1 – On my way back to Washington Blvd., now on the other side of the canal.  Photo 2 – Pylons left over from some structure, looks like a mini-pier to me.

85     86     87   Interesting design choices.

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Photo 1 – I pass the lagoon on the other side now.  Photo 2 – Snowy Egret – I love his bright yellow feet.

90     91   I made it back to Washington Blvd.  As I mentioned earlier, the official start to the Venice Canals is right across the street, but I had to walk up Washington to Dell Ave. and cross over.  There are two canals, including the long Grand Canal, which run parallel to the beach.  There are four shorter canals that run perpendicular to the beach.  The layout kind of looks like a flag.

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Each of the shorter canals has two bridges, a wooden one for pedestrians and a concrete one for vehicles.  I zigzagged back and forth over the bridges and through the canals, quickly understanding their pattern.  The water looks to be only about knee deep.

96     99   Their are little docks on the canals and residents have many little boats of various shapes and sizes tethered to them.  This swan paddle boat looks like fun.

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There are a lot of ducks around and the residents seem to really care about them.  There are several signs asking people to leash their dogs to protect the ducks.  The ducks themselves seem very accustomed to people.  I slowly walked to the side of the ducks in photo 2 without incident.

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It was amazingly quiet here, relatively speaking.  It’s hard to believe such a peaceful place lies just a couple minutes walk from the noisy Venice Beach Boardwalk.

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107   All of the houses here are unique and the owners have the freedom to express their individuality when it comes to their appearance.  It sounds unfeasible as people can always find something to complain about if they look hard enough, but at the Venice Canals they somehow make it work.  The houses are interesting and beautiful (and expensive).

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110     111     112   Photo 1 – The Canals end at Venice Blvd.  Clearly visible is a 50-foot mural of Abbot Kinney, then real estate developer who conceived the idea for the Venice Canals.  I looped around and began back down the Grand Canal, following it all the way back to Washington Blvd.

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As I hiked past I could see children playing inside the upstairs living room in one of the houses.  I find the thought of growing up here on the Canals intriguing.

114   I walked back down to the pier, ate lunch in my car and then started down the Venice Beach Boardwalk, home to the beautiful and the broken.

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Photo 1 – The boardwalk is lined first with houses and then with businesses.  In front of one of the houses is this elaborate copper fountain complete with spinning dolphins.  Photo 2 – A modern beach house with an attached observation pod.

119     120     138   The colors of the buildings are loud, which goes hand in hand with the party atmosphere.  Most of the shops are tourist traps selling hats, sunglasses, t-shirts or unhealthy food.  There are also five or six smoke shops selling stoner related gear.

121     122     123   I came to the famous Muscle Beach portion of the Boardwalk.  In addition to the weightlifting pit, there are also rings and other gymnastics equipment, handball and basketball courts.

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As I walked nearby, a fistfight broke out on one of the basketball courts.  A third man stepped in to break it up.

126               127   Exploring off of the Boardwalk one finds a couple of unconventional sculptures.

128   Also, on the sand, is the Venice Public Art Walls – structures of various shapes and sizes on which people can spray paint to their hearts delight.  I’m guessing the idea behind it was to keep the graffiti in the surrounding areas to a minimum.

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I hate graffiti for the most part, particularly when it’s nothing more than someone’s name.  I prefer cartoons, like the cats shown in photos 3 and 4.

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Right next to the graffiti walls is the skate park.  There were a lot of people skating and even more taking in the action.

136     137   I made my way back to the Boardwalk.  I popped into Small World Books, which seems so out of place next to all the crap being sold here.  I first heard about this place in the book “Peaceful Places: Los Angeles: 100+ Sites for Tranquility Across the City of Angels”.  The store is off the Boardwalk, buffered by a cafe, and while it is quieter than outside I wouldn’t say it’s exactly silent.  The noise from outside still filters in.  Call it the most peaceful place on the Boardwalk.  I bought a hiking book.

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143   Photo 2 – Mural of UFC fighter and Venice resident Ronda Rousey.  Photo 5 – Weird musicbox ballerina clown which sits atop a CVS pharmacy, of all places.  At the end of the Boardwalk I turned on to Rose Ave.  I then made a right on Main St.

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On Main St. I stopped to get a shot of the Chiat-Day Building.  Giant binoculars hide the entrance to the parking garage.

145   From Main St. I turned left on to Abbot Kinney Blvd.  They’ve made over this street with a Rodeo Dr. type-feel, with expensive clothing stores and vegan restaurants.

146     147   Along the way there are artifacts from days of Venice past.  I spun the Wheel of Fortune and, no B.S., it landed on Adventure.  Very appropriate for this day.

148     149   There wasn’t much that I found interesting on Abbot Kinney so when it intersected with Venice Blvd. I took the latter and headed toward the beach again.  If you will recall, the Grand Canal ends at Venice Blvd.  I decided to walk through one more time, get to Washington Blvd. and then back to my car.  Fun day.

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