Sunday, February 18, 2007

Walking L.A. #6 - Playa Vista and the Ballona Wetlands

Today's walk was supposed to start at the Playa Vista Visitor Center, but we started at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf instead so that we could begin as usual with some coffee and bagels.

Our book describes Playa Vista and the Ballona Wetlands as a carefully engineered slice of nature. One of my friends who was seeing Playa Vista for the first time commented that she felt like she was in the Truman Show. Everything in Playa Vista seemed a little too perfect to her. I can see what she means. The developers of Playa Vista tried to create a perfect neighborhood where one could easily walk or bike to get coffee, visit the bank, or pick up clothes at the dry cleaners. In doing so, they managed to create something contrived like The Grove, instead of something more organic like the 3rd Street Promenade and the rest of downtown Santa Monica.

Anyway, we passed by "Bark Park" after leaving the Coffee Bean. We took our dog in for a quick off-leash experience. Unfortunately, no other dogs were there for her to play with which is unusual since throughout Playa Vista there were many people taking their dogs for a stroll.

Next we walked over to the Ballona Wetlands nature trail which heads west and south from the corner of Lincoln Blvd and Jefferson Blvd. The trail is nice as long as you're looking toward the marsh, but as soon as you turn the other way, all you see is automobile traffic. The traffic is pretty loud which for me ruins the otherwise tranquil walk along a well-preserved marsh. It would have been so much better if they had built a trail that circled the marsh which would allow one to walk inland away from the noisy thoroughfares. Today, the most southern portion of the trail was closed due to the supposed danger of bees. We didn't see any bees, but we heeded the warning and turned around nonetheless.

One the way back we walked through the southern section of Playa Vista, passing a neat park with giant bird-shaped plant sculptures and a giant bird house structure. We stopped there to give our dog a chance to drink some water. After that, we passed the Playa Vista Library which had some beautiful trees blooming with vibrant white flowers. We were all wondering what kind of trees they were since we've been seeing them all around the west side of LA lately.

Finally, we took a tour of some model homes called Icon. All over $1 million dollars, these homes were pretty impressive. It is fun to wonder around homes you can't afford just to dream a little and get decorating ideas. That concluded our walk. Afterward, we stopped at the shopping center at Lincoln and Maxella where some of us got lunch at Rubio's and the rest got dessert at Pinkberry which just opened recently.

The next walk is the UCLA Campus.

Walking L.A.: 36 Walking Tours Exploring Stairways, Streets and Buildings You Never Knew Existed

No comments: