Week 205: Marina Del Rey

March 29, 2020

10,000 Steps a Day in L.A. #40: Walking by the Dock of the Bay, 5 miles

The beaches and trails are closed, but the sidewalks aren't, so Barbara and I social-distanced our way down to Marina Del Rey this morning to follow Paul Haddad's hike through America's largest man-made small-craft harbor. We parked at Lot 9 on Palawan Way across the street from Mother's Beach, the only beachfront in the marina, and walked to Promenade Way, the pedestrian path that borders many of the marina's 6,100 boat slips. With no one in sight, we entertained ourselves by judging the size, shape, and names of the sailboats, pleasure crafts, party boats, and charter boats of all shapes and sizes (my favorite name is on the last boat pictured below.) The Promenade ends at the Yacht Club, so we followed our map to Admiralty Way then west on Mindanao Way to check out Burton Chace Park. This pretty, 10-acre park was dedicated in 1972 to Chace, the "Father of the Marina" and L.A. County Supervisor who guided the final leg of the 78-year marina dream into fruition. The idea to create a harbor in the former salt marsh fed by Ballona Creek wetlands began in 1887. In 1891, the plan went bankrupt; in 1916, the Army Corps of Engineers called the harbor idea impractical. Renewed interest stirred up in 1937, and in 1949, the Army Corps of Engineers okay'd a harbor for small and medium pleasure crafts and yachts. Enter Supervisor Burton W. Chace in 1954, who marshaled a plan and the money into action. Go! A storm stirred havoc in the early 60's, creating a need for the 1963 breakwater. In 1965, Marina Del Rey opened. We strolled through Chace Park, entertained by cormorants carrying breakfast to their nests. Rounding the corner at the water, we stopped to look at The Helmsman, Carlo Alfred Romanelli's sculpture that stood as the trademark for the Helms Bakery on Venice Blvd. from 1931 to 1971 when the Helms family donated it to the marina. Back through the park, up to Admiralty, and over to Fiji Way for a trek down to Fisherman's Village, the charming replica of a New England sea town. Everything was closed, of course, but we found some real action along the promenade behind the shops as we retraced our steps back. A regal Great Blue Heron was happy to pose for a pic. And a chorus of sea lions flip-flopped on a pier, basking and barking at each other under the perfect, smog/fog-free blue skies. A grand walk to ease safe-at-home claustrophobia, with nary a soul in sight. 

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