I’ve never been inclined to big cities. I normally enjoy them once I’m there, but I don’t seek them out. It was with a little apprehension that I was approaching the Grand Daddy of cities, L.A. While daunting in size, it held some gems and experiences that have become the highlights of the trip.
Sprawling cities seem encourage strip malls, which are not the most attractive of buildings. Don’t let the mundane exterior fool you, they can house surprisingly tasty results. My mind was blown on at least three occasions after having eaten a) the most amazing pork belly Thai food ever, b) the best pizza of the trip and c) a bar serving New York brewed Ommegang Belgian style beer. All three of these establishments were unassuming by outside appearance and located in some variety of strip mall. This bodes well for my upcoming relocation to Anchorage, the city of strip malls by many accounts.
The LA Marathon was taking place on the morning I left town. The race course formed a loop around the place where I was staying, so that I was on the inside of the track. I coasted down to Sunset Boulevard to find the normally busy street void of cars, and lined with spectators. At first I was stoked. What are chances of getting to pedal down the famous street without a car in sight! I turned up the street and started pedaling. This is when the first racers started to appear, running in the opposite direction I was traveling. It was easy enough to negotiate the first small groups, but soon large packs of extremely fit, fast moving runners descended upon me. I was forced onto the sidewalk with the rest of the spectators. By the time I realized I needed to be on the other side of the street (the outside of the circle) there was a constant hoard of runners clogging the street. I waited for at least 10 minutes before there was a sizeable enough gap between runners to Frogger my 85lb bike across the street.
It is particularly sad to see the degradation of SoCal’s rivers. So many of the once free-flowing streams are now confined to concrete ditches, to low, polluted and warm to support the steelhead trout that formerly inhabited these waters. While bass and carp now populate many of the waterways (calling them ‘rivers’ seems like an insult to rivers elsewhere), I’d say those species are a poor trade off for salmon and steelhead.
This didn’t stop me from trying my hand at LA river carp fishing one morning. My steelhead gear wasn’t exactly the best setup for targeting carp, but that is no excuse not to go fishing. The heavy splash of my Skagit line scared the notoriously spooky fish and the precisely tied steelhead flies probably weren’t the best options for food (I read tortillas are a good bet. Note to self, develop a tortilla pattern (fly) for the next trip). Nonetheless, casting to fish in a river that is surrounded by millions of people is an experience I won’t forget.