Land of suburbs and naked mountains

Day 35: Alpine to Lake Perris Campground

Second day riding in the desert. The descent from Alpine was fun and too short, then I found myself rushing through El Cajon to make the first of three trains: Metro Orange Line to San Diego, Amtrak Surfliner back up to San Juan Capistrano, then Amtrak Metrolink to Riverside. After the 6 hours training, I decided to ride 20 miles out to Lake Perris, on the way to Joshua Tree.

Riverside and Moreno Valley seem near the eastern edge of the LA metropolitan sprawl. Large freeways, endless suburbs and housing developments. Strange green grass next to the bike path, then suddenly dry dead weeds. What it should look like, if not for water from the Colorado River.

The surrounding mountains are stark and beautiful, and I am aware that these are the bones of the mountains we have in the northwest, but undressed of the plants and trees. Naked mountains.

I write from an enormous park and campground. Eerie and lonely. Parking lots on this lake must hold hundreds of cars all summer. Now empty. Campground empty. Sky and land empty. My heart, empty as never before.

I am beginning to understand why so many go to the desert to seek spiritual experiences. To create space within, in mirror to the vast space outside. I am hoping some kind of enlightenment or insight will land on my soul too. I have been carrying confusion and despair too long, it seems.

Tomorrow I ride to Joshua Tree National Monument. I will see what the desert has to say to me.

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