On take 2 of the trip, I caravaned with a friend out toward Death Valley. Enough with the heavy-handed symbolism, yet still fitting to be at the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere at this juncture in my life. We took the 210 to the 15. The 210 through Upland, with rack after rack of synonymous, monotonous developments, then a lovely rush of hillside and green and amazing sky. I had no idea it could be so beautiful on the 210.
Wildflowers flanked the cut of the hillside to the east. To the west something burned, smoke rising light in the wind.
I stopped in Upland the first go around as well, to visit the Madonna of the Trail (historical marker number #1028). She presides over the bridle path on Euclid Avenue in Upland. O, History! Less than 200 years ago, people salted by another ocean meandered out this way. This is a monument to the white womenfolk who came first. I am not sure how I feel about that. My family came later, my feminine forbears on the Queen Mary in 1955, my paternal link rooted down in Amish Country in PA.
We Angelenos are still living in a pioneer town of sorts, it's just one that's forgotten what shoes it's wearing.
The hills just northeast of my home in Hollywood are full of story. Derelict railroads and dead mines, the whisper of cure of the arid climate, orange-scented ghosts. As long as I've lived here, I still don't know the half of it.
This was the terminus. This continent seems like brutality until you reach the coast. The rawness of the plains states, shelterless. We passed a grassland hemmed in by a barbed wire ranch fence. Rags and scraps and plastic bags blown by the wind were caught on the wire, draped like a weeping willow.
The awesome uplift of the Rockies, range after range I would later drive through in a constant gasp. The threat of 20 feet of snow, blocks of granite.
I would keep moving, too.