A couple weekends ago I walked a very short segment of the Sweetwater River Bikeway, from Hoover Avenue west to the Pier 32 Marina. You can revisit those photos here.
Today I returned to the Sweetwater River and walked east along the bikeway from Hoover Avenue all the way to Plaza Bonita.
I was struck by the contrasts.
The rocky-sided river channel, as seen looking down from Interstate 5, appears almost barren, but when you walk along the bike path you notice many plants among the broken rocks, and the ones that are deep-rooted were very green in the summer sunlight.
During the day bicyclists and runners passed me by as I slowly walked, and the nearby busy westbound lanes of U.S. Route 54 sometimes came into view. But late at night, the scene is obviously very different. There was graffiti which increased as I progressed east to Interstate 805. There was trash and frequent evidence of homelessness. As I came into the vicinity of Interstate 805, I passed several active homeless encampments. And the graffiti spoke of gang activity, with references to drugs and death.
But as I headed east, the river also became more alive. A marshy wetland appeared with discarded shopping carts and happily paddling ducks. Trees began to flourish along the banks, and eventually grew so thick they concealed a river full of reeds and lush greenery.