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L.A. River Excursion: Bette Davis Picnic Area

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Last weekend while we slept in a bit longer and huddled on our couches under blankets with popcorn and movies, Los Angeles was receiving its last rainstorm before the end of the season. It wasn't the epic storm that some weather stations had forecasted, but enough to make the river swell, providing a much needed cleansing until next season.

The following day Los Angeles looked as though it went through the car wash. Large nimbus clouds hung over the city, and a deep blue sky hung behind like a movie backdrop --almost too blue to be true. The air was crisp and the temperature mild, a perfect day to head down to the river.

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The Bette Davis Picnic area at Riverside Drive and Victory Boulevard was active with bird watchers along the river's bank, hoping to to catch a glimpse of a Summer Tanager or Cassin's Vireo, both reported in Los Angeles Audubon Society's rare bird report.

While the water was still rough, the Swift Water Rescue Team took the opportunity to practice drills. Attaching ropes to safety hooks they repelled along the banks, in the event of someone falling into the river. Luckily no one had, as they reported, but the river was fierce, and many do fall in on days with storms like this.

In the park itself, a group of childhood friends from Guatemala City played soccer golf, a game invented by one of the friends, Jorge Estrada, a former soccer pro. Each player takes a turn kicking their ball towards to the homemade goals, taking score as one would in golf. A par is set per "hole," counting the number of kicks to the goal.

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So if all you expect to see when heading down to the river is a cement gutter, you will be greatly surprised. Whether it be a horse practicing dance on the cement banks, or fly fishers catching fish for game, the river has much to reveal, even to the seasoned river adventurer.

Remember Angelenos, this is your river: love it, use it, respect it, but most importantly, be safe.

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