Californian’s Want Wetlands

Just strolling

At the turn of the century, during the rainy season, Ballona Creek and several other small streams would be transformed into torrents as they carried the collected water from the Los Angeles watershed area to the Santa Monica Bay. It would flood large areas of the Los Angeles basin, and the creek’s course shifted as flooding carved new paths through the land.

During the 1930’s, the Army Corps of Engineers carved it into a large channel and lined all but its last couple of miles with concrete to speed the water’s flow to the ocean. An extensive system of drains, mostly underground, was built to funnel storm water into the creek. While these projects were effective in accomplishing the task at hand, the transformation of the creek from a natural waterway into a massive storm drain has broken a link in the ecological chain and severed the connection between the community and the land on which it resides.

Ballona Creek trail entrance

With about 95% of Southern California’s original coastal wetlands have been destroyed or degraded, open space is a valuable and rare commodity in urban environments – especially in Los Angeles. The fact that California voters approved the purchase and rehabilitation of this area showed that the Californian’s want their environmental resources preserved.

The Ballona Wetlands are part of a 1,087-acre property that industrialist Howard Hughes used for aircraft production and testing.

Ballona Creek walking trail

In recent decades, the area has been degraded by manufacturing, farming and dredge spoils. Yet it has managed to remain a habitat for a number of endangered and threatened species, including the California brown pelican and the Belding’s savannah sparrow.

The idea that this land could ever be preserved and restored for wildlife purposes would have been a complete shock to Howard Hughes and to many other leaders in Los Angeles over the years. It represents a shift in attitude and a shift in Los Angeles’ vision of itself and its future.

Today, Ballona Creek is a nine-mile-long flood control channel. It drains the Ballona Creek watershed, which covers approximately 130 square miles: from the Santa Monica mountains on the north to the Baldwin Hills on the south, and from the Harbor Freeway (110) on the east to the Pacific Ocean.

Work continues on Ballona Creek, to the bike path, to the landscaping, and continued active volunteer work by several organizations, Ballona Creek Renaissance and Ballona Institute.


The section I visited is at the end of the creek bordering the marina. Riding my bike, I headed for the trailhead. Surprisingly, bikes are not allowed on this particular part of the trail, so I walked my bike at this juncture. Standing at the end on the man-made platform, I was amazed at what I was seeing, a wetland in the city. It was quite an accomplishment of the non-profit groups mentioned above to talk the various municipalities into saving as much of it as possible and of course the voters who made it happen to allow the State to originally purchase and rezone these crucial environmental resources.

Brimming with small wildlife, Ballona Creek is a fantastic place to see nature up close and personal. Today I only had time to spend about a half an hour here, but I will definitely be going back to walk the whole trail. And often–indeed it will be sooner rather than later.

Me and my reflection

Do you have nature in your backyard? Well, Ballona Creek isn’t exactly in my backyard (although I would love to own one of those houses), but it’s only about 20 minutes away.

That’s the beauty of Travelin’ Local; everything is only a stone’s throw away.

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Water, Boats, and a Camera

If you’ve ever travel in or to Los Angeles, try to take a short trip to Marina Del Rey. I went there today and discovered boats, not just regular boats, but yachts. Slip after slip was filled with sail boats, houseboats, small boats, and big boats. Because it was a weekday, not too much activity was going on, but I just loved the calmness of the day.

Smooth Sailing

With water, the element of reflection comes into each picture. Because I’m quite new to this, I’m usually focused intently on my subject matter, what I want to be in the frame, making sure the picture is level, or looking at the lighting or the action, I often forget about the picture’s inherent artistic and emotive reflection–until I come home and actually take my time to look at what I’ve shot.

Reflection on the Water

Although this is a place for people with a lot of green, everyone is welcome, proven by the various forms of transportation available.

Different modes of transportation

I wasn’t the only one outside today. In fact, I ran into a few people on the Walkway; and these two gentlemen with their dog were also enjoying a relaxing day at the harbor. I think they both appeared conspicuously amused and curious as why a woman on her bike was taking pictures of them but clearly they didn’t mind and were enjoying themselves. However, I do wish the dog had shown me a better side.

Hey, guys whatcha doin'?

I’ll leave you with this wide expanse of boats–Have you ever owned a boat? Do you want to?

I hope you enjoyed my little jaunt to Marina Del Rey. Until next time, when I feature a little known walking trail at Ballona Lagoon, be safe, happy, and take a little time to relax by Travelin’ Local.

Marina Del Rey

Travelin’ Route 66 – The California Edition

Route 66
Image by Lisa Newton via Flickr

I had no idea that Santa Monica Blvd., a long boulevard in Los Angeles, was part of Route 66, but today, when I was snapping some pictures in West Hollywood, I saw this sign.

I'm not sureAfter doing a little research, I discovered that all of Santa Monica Blvd. is part of Route 66. Because the cultural, historical, mythical, and iconic Route 66 is part of and in my backyard, I decided to do a CA Route 66 series.

Finally, it appears most of the recent rain has past. Today was bright and sunny, albeit a bit cold. In the middle of the afternoon, I was still wearing my sweater.

Let's walk the dog

Loading up my camera bag, I headed to West Hollywood–each time I go to a new place in LA, I’m always amazed at the wide variety of sights to see. Some just ordinary life; but an active life chock full of walking, jogging, dog walking, or just relaxing outside with a cup of java.

Construction AboundsWhen I have my camera in hand, even the most mundane views of life seem to come alive: small flowers, a corner filled with a bush trying to come to life, or seeing beauty in the ever-ongoing construction.

Like construction, advertisements abound here, which is unlike Maryland, where I previously resided not too few years ago. There, billboards were considered eye sores, thus, very few were allowed to exist. Here, billboards take up whole sides of office buildings. I guess beauty really in the eyes of the beholder.Commercials are everywhere

Another feature germane to Los Angeles– which surprised me–is the number of homeless people here. To be sure, I know that most every metropolis has to deal with this issue and problem, but because the weather is fairly warm all year round, LA has more than a few homeless people, probably more than many cities and the national average. When I saw this man talking to himself and positioned under this sign, I just had to take his picture.

LA's Best Man?

I’ll leave you with a quote that was featured at a small Veteran’s Park at the end of today’s journey. To see where these pictures were taken, I’ve included a map, which I’ll update with each post I feature in this series. I hope you enjoy today’s first installment of Travelin’ Route 66 – The California Edition.

Robert Pinsky

It’s Time to do the Laundry

Yesterday, January 1st, 2009 marked the start of a new year, but for me, it was the perfect day to do my laundry. I know watching football, parades, or just relaxing are high on many people’s list of things to do on the first day of a new year; however, I assumed people would be doing these things, therefore, no one would be at the Laundromat, and I was right.

Instead of making it a boring trip, I took my camera.

“Who takes a camera with them when they do laundry?”

Well, if you had just purchased a new camera during the holidays, started a new blog, and were doing your laundry, don’t you think you’d take your camera? So of course, I did.

Who knew I would discover so many different shapes, sizes, and colors, and I’m not referring to my clothes:

The Big MachineWasher door


>Now it's time to dryLet's spin


Hangers in a row

What does the laundry have to do with Travelin’ Local? Hey, don’t you like clean clothes and dazzling pictures?

I hope you enjoy doing laundry as much as I do now.

At Travelin’Local we like to keep things fresh, until next time.