WanderlustBy Sam Lepore

Subject: Wanderlust I'm ok, Year2K - Tucson, Arizona
Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2000 22:22:43 -0800

Captain's Log, Stardate -323233.71
(according to my javascript stardate calculator)

    Even though no one else asked, I have to ask myself - Why Chino? It does not have a sign that says "Crossroads to Everywhere, Gateway to Nowhere", but it might. I chose Chino to try to fit between a motorcycle safety instructor's meeting I had to attend, and the St. Humbert's Day Campout I wanted to visit. Once again I learned the nascent lesson of the L.A. Basin: it is a long way to anywhere unless you are already there. So Chino was perfect, no?
    Actually it wasn't bad. On the way to the meeting I got to ride through Carbon Canyon, CA142, and I recommend it as a side trip if your trip has no center. It is such a quintessential Southern California dichotomy to have a gnarly canyon twist and sinew for 10 or 12 miles then dump you out like a pelican that lost its lunch - right into the heart of some congested mall utopia. Seeing such a rapid change, one can understand why classics like the Twilight Zone originated hereabouts.
    Then on the way to the Airheads gathering in Prado Park, I happened to pass through Yorba Linda. Tricky Dick! (No, young persons, there was someone else who held that name while President years ago.) Without getting TOO political here, I was warmed and pleased to see the sign that said Richard Nixon Birthplace and Burial - the sign did *not* say President. Here I was going to find out who St. Humbert was and why the Airheads are celebrating him ... and I was thinking August 9 each year should be celebrated as the day The Constitution Worked (the day 'he' resigned).
    Backing up a bit ... for those who do not know, I Am An Airhead. Not a bimbo, and not a blond, I do however own an air cooled BMW. It is an "air head", and de facto presumpto so am I. The Airheads are a group who revere the airheads. Some of them severe, rather than revere, but that is another discussion. The Airheads were gathering for a campout and hey, like the Taco Bell Chihuahua - I Am There. Clinton (no that THAT Clinton, it is the first name of the head (air)head at the party) tried very hard to keep the rowdiness organized. At least he managed to keep it localized. Oh yeah. St. Humbert was the only name on the calendar when they chose this weekend for the camp. Hence the honorarium.

    One other unexpected pleasure of staying in Chino was that my path outbound led me past the place of the forces that set me out wandering more than 3 years ago. The company I worked for moved its data center from Walnut Creek to Corona. I thought 400 miles one way was a bit much of a commute, even for California, so instead I became 'of leisure'. (And thus you are able to suffer these treatises.) Riding past the data center now I felt so right, and in a way sorry for those inside still chained to their Sisyphean chores.
    On the other hand, I couldn't wish a worse place on them than Corona. It is where the smog of L.A. piles up against the hills. In the 30 or 40 miles from Chino it seemed the sky was slowly becoming opalescent, as though under the penumbra of an eclipse. It seemed if the smog got any thicker, you could wave a stick in the air and have it collect in tendrils like cotton candy in a carnival machine.
    And then poof. Through a cut in the hills toward Lake Elsinore, suddenly the air was clear and the sky was blue again. All I could think is 'what a tortured land this is'. The hills are wracked by tectonics; what hasn't shaken, burned, or slid away has been buried in shopping malls and like-waves-of-grain houses to the horizon, each about 8 feet apart. (If you haven't seen California 'development' you wouldn't believe it.)
    But yes there is a good part to this day. I am following the old Butterfield Stage route CA79 from Temecula and then S2 into the Anza Borrego desert. This is the setting of dozens of cowboy movies you have seen. I swear I recognize some of those rocks from Roy Rogers and Lone Ranger shows! There are still some historic stage stops preserved and at least one museum I whizzed past. I'll have to come back. In passing I'll mention if you are a LDRider ... this is the turf of the Fish & Chips Rally in September. Want to see the real old west, come ride the F&C.
    Slowly, the great rubble rock of the weathered fracture zones still doing battle with San Andreas gave way to the undisturbed tabular plain of the Mexican deserts. The desert was smiling today - all the ocotillo cactus were in bloom. Bright red tips on waving fronds in the wind. Go Sam! Spring is out there! Find it!

    Spend any time in California and you begin to speak Spanish even if you don't understand it. There is "San ..." this and "De La ..." that all over the place. But even with my limited grasp of the language, I was greatly amused to come upon a truly beautiful overlook of a canyon timeless in its serenity whether or not you understand the name it was given. Stop sometime, throw some thoughts and see if they echo in Canyon Sin Nombre.
    Pitooie. Spit out again into civilization. Did I take I-8? Noooo. Did I go any slower on CA 98 than I would have on I-8? Noooo (except through Calexico - another one of those quaintly named both-sides-of-the-border towns). Was there any more to see? Noooo (except for 2 or 3 dozen border patrol vehicles. Geez they must cause a traffic jam at shift change).
    Ok, kiddies. Today's safety lesson is "Always Ask Why?" If you don't know why that vehicle in front of you suddenly brakes, ask yourself: why? Merging back onto I-8 after a gas stop, I was close behind a Bronco or Blazer - one of the little brother boxmobiles before the Expeditions and Escalades took over (hmmm. is E a bigger letter than B ?). Looking for a slot in the fast left lane traffic, I took my eyes off the road ahead to do a head check. On return of heading, I saw the Boxmobile braking hard - then let up. Why? There was no one in front of him. Oh @#$% he is going to run over something!
    Launch control, we have confirmed launch.
    Deer carcass (previously dead) is airborne.
    Execute Swerve Left Immediate.

Practice swerving, kiddies ... you never know when -

I've written a fair amount about the desert in past trips. Somehow it always impresses anew. Somewhere between Yuma and Casa Grande there is - nothing. Yet I was awed by how there is so much to look at while there is nothing to see. This day burned in some images in the 80 degree heat. Vermilion sandstone cliffs rising from the flat expanse 'just over there' but probably 50 miles away. How open, how unclaimed. How different from what I know I will yet see on this trip - the swamps of Louisiana, the forests of West Virginia, the rigid domestication of midwest farmland. It may be trite to say this great country is awe inspiring, but the more I see of it the more I want to.

478 miles
Chino CA60 I15 CA79 county-S2 CA98 I8 I10 Tucson
Sam Lepore, San Francisco

Previous Index Next
© 1997, 1999, 2000