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Archive for February, 2009

LONG BEACH, Calif. — What California commuter hasn’t ever had the urge to just walk away from traffic entirely?  Well, George Hart found a way to kayak away from it all.

To be sure, there are plenty of jokes about trashy conditions and skanky water quality in the notorious SoCal landmark that is the Los Angeles River, but such folklore didn’t stop the resourceful Hart from making an impromptu purchase of a kayak and sliding into the murky waters a few months ago.

“I saw the ‘Kayak For Sale’ sign, then I saw a sign that said “Los Angeles River,” and just then the song “Rollin’ on the River” came over the radio!   I didn’t even know there was any water in the damn river — it was an act of faith.  I never even looked back at my car.  I shelled out fifty bucks on the spot and dragged that kayak somehow down to actual water, put the yellow beast in, and it’s been smooth paddling ever since.”

And how has the commute been so far? Hart admits that he’s pretty wet and dirty by the time he gets to work in downtown Long Beach, but manages to sneak into work before his colleagues and make use of a company shower.  George also claims that his unconventional commute has helped him lose 100 pounds – not too many L.A. highway commuters can claim that.  

What’s the strangest thing he has seen on the Los Angeles River?  “Large trees, exotic birds, schools of fish, friendly people — I was completely unprepared for those things.”

What’s the oddest thing that ever happened?  “I almost got tagged once by a gang, but they were so blown away by me, this strange guy floating down the river, that they dropped their cans and they now salute me when I pass their way and call me the Loco Rio Hombre.”

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