Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Long Beach – the Armpit of CA or a Hidden SoCal Jewel?

Growing up I was under the impression Long Beach was the armpit of California. Probably had something to do with Richard Pryor, who said in one of his routines, “Going to jail in Long Beach is a M* F*.? ‘Where you at?’ ‘I’m in Long Beach!’ ‘Well $#*! we ain’t comin’ down there to get your a** out’ ”

But I love the ocean, so when I was offered an hour on a ‘hydrobike’ at half price, I snatched it up, even though I would be launching from the Long Beach marina.

Gimenotis' Panoramio pic
It was amazing. I pedaled out into the open marina and across the bay to the island of Naples. There I entered a small canal that reminded me of Venice. Beautiful houses lined each side of the canal, and each house had a dock housing anything from kayaks to small versions of those tour boats they have at Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise up to larger ski and even cabin boats. “Treasure Island,” just outside of Naples, had larger slips housing yachts of all sizes. An hour was about the right amount of time to cruise around the marina and see most of the interesting sights, and I will definitely be returning.

Especially since, upon returning to the dock, I was given a coupon for $5 off my next ride. I was also informed that in the month of December they would be outfitting the bikes with lights festive lighting for evening cruising and parades. The weather, of course, will be cooler on a winter night as opposed to a summer day, but the bike is completely out of the water, and I didn’t get wet at all, so I would have no problem wearing appropriate clothing to stay warm.

Photo from lbhydrobikes site
Nothing is ever perfect, and I should mention the following: The “bike” was nothing fancy – just a bicycle seat on a frame attached to a pair of plastic pontoons. The handle bars were attached to a rudder in front, and the pedals to a propeller in back. The dock, as expected, is a bit dirty (hey, a marina is basically a parking lot for a bunch of boats that leak icky stuff into a small, enclosed area). But the owners/operators are very friendly and run as clean a place as can be expected in a busy marina.

All in all, I highly recommend visiting Long Beach Hydrobikes (lbhydrobikes.com).

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