The Road Less Traveled

The shimmering blacktop stretched out before me, undulating across the desert floor, and I knew I was in the right place. No place. Just me, tiny, alone, crawling slowly across the face of the world. The road rose slowly but steadily, carrying me to the base of the San Bernadino mountains, then winding ever upward through switchbacks and icy corners, up into the snowy forest.

At Big Bear City I opted for the smaller road for the next leg of my journey south, happy that it was a work day and therefore the road was free of skiers from Los Angeles and San Diego. The only obstacle I faced was an accident scene near the top of the pass; a big rig and at least two other vehicles had tangled. One SUV had been hit broadside by the truck, and almost pushed over the edge for what would have been a long fall. Emergency crews were on hand, cleaning up glass, measuring things, and directing traffic. There was room for me to squeeze past the wreckage and once more I was on my way.

Down from the mountains I continued south, aiming for Hemet and a very small road due south through the metropolis of Sage. Alas, I couldn’t find the dang road amidst the runaway housing developments in Hemet, and I wound up taking the larger highway 79 down to Temecula. Boy, was that depressing. Everywhere the land was scraped flat and where there weren’t new houses all lined up, there will be soon.

Many of the future buyers of these houses will commute every day down to San Diego. Once I was on the Interstate I saw the truly massive expansion efforts under way to funnel these people from the north down to where their jobs are. Someone needs to build a railroad or a commuter blimp service or something.

I was tempted to leave the freeway again, to take the really long route to San Diego, but highway 79 had robbed the day of its magic, and I decided to just get here and meet up with folks. And that’s where I am now, sharing a sofa with a cat, tired, and very soon for the land of nod. Overall, I’m glad I chose to go around the city of angels, even if it did mean extra miles. A lot of those miles were of a particularly high quality.

1 thought on “The Road Less Traveled

  1. I remember being depressed the last time I drove out US 550 (formerly NM 44) from Bernalillo toward Farmington. Rio Rancho went on and on forever, and beyond where the houses ended, there were all of these cleared and leveled tracts where more houses were soon to be built.

    It was so much like what I had seen last time I was in California, I wanted to cry.

    At least Governor Bill is building a railroad which already gets these people efficiently into the center of Albuquerque, and he’s working on the extension to Santa Fe — state employees can’t afford to live there, so most of them live in Rio Rancho.

    Although to hear the governor’s critics complain, he might as well be promoting a commuter blimp.

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