On pines and needles
This post is really just a place holder so that I can keep to my regular schedule. Not that I haven’t thought it through, I have and there is a reason to put it up here. But, I am working on my summer travel post and, as usual, it is taking up a lot of time. Also, as if I don’t have enough to do, I am starting up a new project on the internet, making a series of lace shawls from an exciting new silk and cotton yarn I found, and helping Deanna and Al find their dream house in California (such a lot of fun). Earlier in May, Geoffrey and I finally accepted an invitation from his business partner to spend the weekend with him and his wife at their getaway cabin in Pine Mountain. Now, I have known about Pine Mountain for about 20 years, but had all kinds of misconceptions about it. I thought it would be just a pale imitation of Big Bear Lake or Wrightwood. The reason may be that virtually nobody in SoCal knows about it. For one thing, it is north of us in the middle of the Central California Valley. Both Kern and Ventura Counties claim it as the line between them literally bisects the mountain. For another thing, the road to get there from either the 5 Freeway (our main north/south drag) or the 101 on the coast, is a winding and narrow two-laner. It has a low population and, get this, everyone who moves there has to join an association or club. That is the way they keep it clean, safe, and beautiful. We had been turning down these invitations every single year in May to attend the Lilac Festival up there. This year, May started out uncommonly hot (even for Santa Clarita) and so it seemed refreshing to just get out of here and go to the boring mountain and sniff a few flowers. Right. First of all, we were astonished to discover the place is stunningly gorgeous. Secondly, it is two thousand feet higher than Big Bear and Wrightwood, yup 9000′. Thirdly, the flowers were the least of the attractions. The festival itself was camp, silly, upbeat, lively, kitschy and delightful. Geoff’s partner’s “cabin” is a stunning multistory home, with breathtaking views of Los Padres National Forest that lies all around it, at its feet. Nestled into the side of a mountain, the lookouts were forever. The tree-covered mountains on Pine Mountain and as far as the eye can see in each direction are almost blue, thriving and vibrant. This may in part be due to the fact that there was extra snow this winter because of El Niño. Only intermittent signs of the drought were visible. We got to sleep in, breathe sharp clean mountain air, gaze through crystal light to bright and vibrant homes and features that club members have added to adorn and outfit the area. And we could walk to the festival each day, absorbing the celebratory mood and dragging back bags of stocking stuffers for our nieces and nephews, to be tucked away for the holidays. Everything was wonderful. There were some hairball aspects though, hence the title of this post. For one thing, the roads climbing to 9000 feet, while gradual and surprisingly gentle curve-wise, had absolutely no shoulders and virtually no barriers.
You could be careening around a sharp turn only to see that the road dropped away for hundreds of feet below you on one side, protection-free. There were signs warning of the high fire danger, bears, deer, BEARS? Wait? We were planning to hike around.
Now, let me be clear. Geoffrey, his partner, and his partner’s wife are all marathoners, triathletes, outdoorsmen/woman, campers. There was only one citified princess among us and that dainty individual was nervous enough about getting scratched up and maybe bitten by a snake. It didn’t help to have the prospect of having to outrun or outclimb a ‘baar’, into the mix. As to that fire danger: there is only one, narrow (albeit, well paved) road in and out of the entire mountain. It goes on for at least one hundred miles from the desert to the sea, if not more (I am guessing and too lazy to check), so, if there were to be a brush fire, well, it’s go vertical or perish. Hmm. No cell phone service either. Just the computer at the cabin, more a chalet. So, the dash to the top was fierce, even by car. To add to this, literally the minute we got home on Monday morning, Geoffrey’s car that we had driven all weekend, developed a death rattle (or so we thought). He limped it over to the mechanic in Valencia who discovered a loose wire, that blew out the entire electrical system. If it had happened just a few hours before, well, I would be writing this from the funny farm. Anyway, to wrap this up, here are some of the hundreds of pictures I took. If you come to SoCal, you might want to take a trip back in time to Mt. Pinos/Pine Mountain, and then tell me, am I right or am I right? 😀
Images: Chez BeBe assets: Pine Mountain, California