Friday, July 29, 2011

I Did It, Just Because...

One day about a year and a half ago, I was out for a morning of taking care of things that needed done around town. Then, I stopped at my favorite Chinese Buffet for an all you can eat lunch of some really healthy things.

View From Mountains
Mild Curves in Mountain Road
When that was all done, since it was a warm day, and I really just didn't want to go home, at least not just yet. I was just tooling along the streets in my Explorer, and suddenly I got the urge to head out of the area to Indio, which is in California, for those of you who don't know where I live. I haven't been to Indio since I was probably about ten years old. 

So, I drove down Interstate 15 southward, past Lake Elsinore, Wildomar, Murrieta, and Temecula, and exited the freeway at state route 79, which heads inland toward mountains and eventually deserts. I didn't bother telling anyone where I was headed, as I had my cell phone, and if I needed to call anyone for help, for any reason, I would be able to do so.  I drove past lots of areas that used to be completely open, but were now filled with thousands of nice homes, shopping centers, etc. Then, I kept driving on and on, until eventually, I passed the road that goes up to Anza, from Auanga, which is along the main road, and up the grade headed into Anza.

I eventually came to a three way intersection. If I turned left, that would have taken me to Julian, which I love. but, since I have been there many time before, I turned to the right, which would eventually, take me to the 5,000 foot elevation and some really curvy two lane roads, which may or may have snow on them left from cold nights, when we in the lower elevations were getting rain.

I just love driving mountain roads. Eventually, I passed a car which had been involved in a one car accident. I looked carefully, and saw no one, so I drove on, up, up, higher and higher, until I reached the peak. I could see the entire inland desert from there. How I wanted to stop and take some pictures. But, there didn't seem to be a safe place to stop, so I had to just keep going. I still wondered how on earth that car ended up on top of such a large boulder, and no one was there. 

As I drove on, I began to descend the mountain, and still on some very curvy, switchbacks, which lead off the mountain. I really saw almost no other cars most of the way.

I just loved my AWD, as it was better in the curves than a car with rear-wheel drive. My Explorer had a big V-8 too, so climbing these roads was a breeze. Coming down was just as fun, too. I'm not a sissy driver, though I don't drive like a maniac, either.

When I finally was nearly down into the valley, it was really odd at first to see how much the whole desert area had changed. When I was last there, we drove thought in the middle of the night, as cars almost never had air conditioning then, at least not built-in. That was in August of 1955, when my family was returning to El Paso, TX from a visit with my father's sister, Helen. While we were driving through Indio, there were millions of crickets covering the whole road. We could hear them crunching under our tires. 

We had left my older sister with my Aunt Helen, and Uncle Harry, as she was recovering from a very serious sunburn she got while we were at the beach during our stay. We were, after all going to get our things, and move back to California, my dad said. There wasn't enough work in Texas, and he had met a fellow contractor from Long Beach who offered him a well paying job, until he could get settled in.

Anyway, back to Indio: When I got to the valley floor, I was thirsty and getting hungry, too. So, I started looking for someplace good to eat, that was not too far from the main road, as I knew I would have to leave before dark, as the mountain road would be covered with ice, probably black ice, which you can't see when you approach it. Many people have some serious accidents when they hit black ice, and over correct, hitting their brakes, and hydroplaning into something like maybe a mountain side, or a boulder, or even over the edge of a sheer cliff.

I found a place with some decent food, and stopped in at the Visitor's Center to inquire about places to live, and property values, as well as more good places to eat the next time I head out that way.

After a relaxing afternoon, and an invigorating drive, I had to head back home. This time, when I passed the place where the car was sitting on top of the boulder, it was gone, towed away, obviously. 

I hoped the occupant(s) were safe, and well. I never heard anything about the accident, so I don't know how that turned out.

One day, I will go back to Indio, and who knows, maybe I will even relocate there. Of course, they are very close to the town of Landers, where there was a pretty devastating earthquake back in the early 1990s that caused some pretty severe damage.
Descending into Valley

Map of California
Riverside County Highlighted
Do you suppose that I am trying to capture the horseback adventures I have missed out on for the past twenty-plus years, since I injured my neck?  Please, don't even consider that my accident was in any way related to riding horses, because it wasn't.  If it were possible, I would be out on horseback right now, and covering as much new territory as I possibly could. It matters not that I am now sixty-six.  It only matters that my neck is a real mess, and my Neurosurgeon told me I should not ride horses, or even a slight accident could be my death.

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