It's often said that Los Angeles is a mishmashy metropolis in proud possession of every architectural style ever invented. Want to see a witch's cottage? We've got 'em. Regal Art Deco buildings? They're plentiful. Houses that resemble spaceships? It would be ridiculous if we didn't have a few, being a town built on fantasy.
But we don't always extend that place-based imagination to our nature. All sorts of wild things sprout and flow here, and yet some might be dubious that our concrete colossus, the Los Angeles River, has some sections that have, wait for it, true honest-to-grit dirt bottoms.
You can glide over those dirt bottoms, the kind found in creeks and streams in the mountains and beyond, if you step into a kayak during Paddle the River, the summertime program overseen by The Los Angeles Conservation Corps.
It's not every day of the summer, meaning tickets fly like the cormorants and brown pelicans sometimes seen around the river. The dates are June 4 through Sept. 23, the guide-led kayak outings are Fridays through Sundays, tickets are fifty bucks a pop, and they went on sale on Monday, May 18.
And the section of the river you'll be paddling along? A 1.5-mile run in the San Fernando Valley. The meet spot is "the parking lot near the entrance of Lake Balboa/Anthony C. Beilenson Park off Balboa Blvd between Victory Blvd and Balboa Blvd," to give you an idea of where you'll be headed.
But best line up those tickets well in advance of showing up; Paddle the River has proven to be exceedingly popular. There are "(a)pproximately 3,000" spaces for the 2015 summer. The Corps helps "at-risk youth with opportunities for success through job skills training, education, work experience, and career readiness training," so your ticket price will lend support there.
If you've driven over our urban waterway, or seen photos, or paused along its edges to look down, and haven't yet engaged with it in its dirt-bottom, bird-drawing, flora-fantastic state, this could be your summer.
LA is home to many building styles, it is true, and we even have a river that is, in part, very much like rivers elsewhere, in all of their burbling, natural, non-concrete-y states.