the great adventure: day 5
im extremely bummed to announce that in a recent restore of my iphone my notes from the trip were all lost & i am having to write strictly from memory which means the more detailed parts will be missing. i apologize for this and hope it will still be compelling reading.
we slept in. i wouldnt normally feel bad about that on vacation but this trip required massive amounts of travel and sleeping in one place usually meant missing some good daylight somewhere beautiful. but after a good sleep and a refreshing shower we headed into joshua tree national park.
having survived death valleys crazy climate we werent very anxious to spend a long time in the mojave desert and decided to hit a couple of spots and then head for the coast. we chose to hike barker dam and then check out the keys view.
barker dam usually has a small lake giving off a mirror effect on the granite boulders and monoliths surrounding it for an amazing visual but the recent drought had dried it up and left only remnants of its existence.
fortunately we were still able to see some interesting sights, such as the ancient cave drawings on some of the formations. a reminder that life has survived around here for a very long time. it made me wonder how different this place may have been back then and what the people who etched these petroglyphs must have been thinking about life and their surroundings. its so easy to think of prehistoric people as sort of unthinking creatures driven by necessity but the diversity of the images alone shows that they had a lot on their minds.
as we drove south to the keys view we passed a forest of joshua trees that seemed prehistoric, as if a dinosaur might just poke his head out from behind them at any moment. i never imagined so many in congregation as my only familiarity with them came from the sparsely populated backgrounds in the u2 photos. their physical attributes also seemed like something from another world. half cactus, half tree, these ancient organisms survive for centuries on very little water and massive amounts of sunshine.
they are truly a testimony to the power of life and looking at them i couldnt help but think of the creator and how scripture tells of his creation of life by the words of his mouth; as if merely his breathing were an artistic endeavor. in genesis 2:7 we find
then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
the intimacy of this act never seems to lose its stirring effect on me. its like god reached down with his hands and scooped up the dirt he had spoken into being, then shaped it carefully and put his lips on the formed human in order to impart life. its the first kiss in the bible and its wrapped up in the story of how we are made. this got me thinking about how closely we are tied to our creator and his creation. and thinking along those lines almost always carries me into a place of worship where i find myself thankful and ready to praise him.
it also spoke to me in my particular despair. i was determined to find and hear from god on this journey. after hiking through an ancient forest of trees that thrive in desert conditions where nutrients are few and what little rain there may be quickly disappears under the scorching sun, i was beginning to think of my situation in a radically different light.
given the ordeal of the past 3 years i had been in a desert wilderness spiritually and yet god had provided enough for us to survive and even thrive as we brought our fourth child into this world in april of 2011. i cant even begin to think of my world without him yet i hadnt stopped to consider just how much i had been blessed in the midst of my personal wilderness experience.
it was as if god had been whispering to me through the gift of life long before i ever jumped in the car to take this trip and find him.
we drove south to keys view along a 5000 ft ridge of the san bernadino mountains and took in the panorama of san jacinto peak, palm srpings, and the san andreas fault running southeast toward the salton sea.
despite the magnificent view, a combination of los angeles smog and a population of aggressive bees new to the area kept us from staying too long and we headed west after a quick picnic lunch in 29 palms.
our path took us across i-10 to pamona then north to the foothills freeway and west again to pasadena and onto the 101 (here called) ventura freeway just north of the hollywood sign. we had been experiencing the effects of los angeles pollution throughout the southwest but as we drew closer to the city itself the sky grew steadily whiter. it was a cool 72° in the heat of the day in late june but i could hardly see the mountains and i wondered what it mustve been like 50+ years ago without all the pollution.
hitting the coast at ventura we could hardly believe it. neither of us had ever seen the pacific and our immediate reaction was nothing short of awe. the ocean spread out to the southwest and a heavy bank of dark clouds were pushing in to the northwest masking the hills along the pch. the sun peeked out from behind them from time to time as we made our way to santa barbara, but for the most part it was overcast as a front pushed in from the pacific.
we set camp a few miles west of the city at ocean mesa by el capitan canyon and watched the sunset over the hills while the ocean roared at us from the south. we didnt get to see the sunset over the water but it was still a glorious dusk at the edge of the earth and i was content.
our hunger overtook our awe and we headed back into the nearby town of isla vista for something to eat.
we found a great local place called super cucas that had fantastic food and the largest portions we had ever encountered. neither of us were able to finish our meal and we both knew we would sleep well that night.
the restaurant was located right next to ucsb and a good number of students shuffled in and out as we ate. brian wondered aloud about what it must be like to go to such a school. i concluded that summer school cant be so bad when you are next to the ocean in a beautiful climate.
we finished up and topped the tank off before heading back to our campground and tucking in for the night. the swell of the ocean and the hum of the pch mixing with the wind created a strange cacophony of sounds. before drifting off i thought of how far we had come and how many experiences were already behind us after only 5 days. i thanked god and once again asked him to speak to me but sleep came quickly and i dreamed of another world.