November 11, 2019, Santa Monica-
For the first time in several years, I was not in Prescott for Veteran’s Day. The three-day weekend coincided with key events that I have already described and with a long-standing visit to Orange County and Los Angeles. I honour my fellow veterans and my own service, almost on a daily basis, in thought, word and deed. Coming by other communities’ parades, if it came to that, would not be such a bad thing.
As it happened, a few veterans were at Gramma’s Country Kitchen, when I took a seat at the counter. We quietly enjoyed our breakfasts, the regulars gathered in their group and I headed off, towards Hemet, Menifee and Lake Elsinore. Traffic in the Riverside County suburbs was rather light, for a day of considerable commercial activity.
I chose the winding Ortega Highway as my route to the coast. There were clusters of commuters, for whom I pulled over, as my first order of business was checking the water level of the reservoir for which the city of Lake Elsinore is named. It looked to me that the lake is hurting, a bit, which is surprising, given the high water levels of reservoirs north of Los Angeles.
The views from the bluffs east of town were nonetheless impressive, though.
There is a face, of sorts, chiseled into the limestone bluff, in the middle.
Winding along Highway 74, as the Ortega is otherwise known, I came upon El Cariso, a wide spot in the road, which hosts the California Wildland Firefighters’ Memorial. It was initiated to honour the six firefighters killed in the Decker Fire, in 1959. There is a trail from the memorial plaque to the actual site where the men died. As I was due to meet a friend at Crystal Cove State Park, the trail was put off for another time.
Here are some scenes from the Memorial site.
These scenes show the general area where the tragedy took place.
My next stop, a bit north of Laguna Beach, was Crystal Cove, a state park which features beach cabins, in various states of disrepair-especially on the north side of the park. My friend, J, who lives about an hour away, has visited the site several times. I’ve been with her on four such visits, and am always interested in the progress, or lack thereof, in the renovation.
It appears, this time, that the work is being done in earnest.
There were scattered birds looking for their meals, as the tide was out. This little one appears to be a kind of sandpiper.
Some children had compiled a cross between a cairn and a rock castle. The stone on the front left reminded me, a bit, of Spirit Tower, in northeast Wyoming.
With that, our table ringer vibrated and we went to lunch at Beachcomber’s. The problems of the world, or at least our individual corners of it, were resolved over a fresh repast. I even was given a second bowl of tomato soup, whether by mistake or because I was wearing an American Legion t-shirt, is open to interpretation. The meals were great, in any case, and I made dinner out of what was left, this evening.
On the way north along the coast, from Crystal Cove, I stopped in Lomita, where I had stayed at a reasonable motel in the past. I found it had become a residential motel, whose owner would not accommodate anyone staying one night, and that it was a cash only operation.
I continued on, past the South Bay beach towns and Long Beach, opting to stay in Santa Monica, at Rest Haven Motel, as Venice and Santa Monica are on my itinerary for tomorrow. Rest Haven’s staff are very kind and accommodating. This day has been a full one, but also very affirming.
NEXT: Canalside Reflections