I made my way to Los Angeles County by a circuitous route, traveling east and a bit north from the Ventura Coast back onto the Camino Real. It would have been quicker to go south along the coast to Topanga Canyon but I wanted to get away from the coast as soon as possible! I was cold, and wanted to experience some warm weather again. So, I took the first available road over the Santa Monica Mountains, which was Mulholland Highway. This proved to be peaceful with few cars passing me, and quite beautiful. Rocky crags could be seen all around, and there were some intriguing homes and institutions.
I was using Google Maps as usual and knew I wanted to stay on Mulholland Highway for some time, in order to make it to Malibu Creek State Park for the night. When I came to a fork in the road I looked at the road signs and felt sure they indicated I should continue straight without turning. However, my innate sense of direction told me I should make the turn. Rather than stop my bike and consult the map again, I trusted my interpretation of the sign post. I was lazy in that moment. When I started to go downhill quickly I knew I was probably going the wrong way but didn’t want to retrace my route (uphill); I simply accepted that I would be going a different way than I had planned. What I learned from this experience was that it behooves me to trust my instincts, and to pause and consider when in doubt. If I had, I might have saved myself some miles, and some money. I ended up in a Motel 6 in Simi Valley that night.
The ride out of the beautiful Simi Valley and over Santa Susana Pass was lovely. Huge boulders dotted the landscape,
I passed by the old Santa Susana Pass train station,
and an old movie set could (barely) be seen from near the top of the Pass.
On on the other side of the Pass the San Fernando Valley came into view, also stunning from this perspective.
The weather on this day (June 13) was perfection; I’m guessing it was in the low 80’s, with little to no smog, and a light breeze kept me cool all day. For the first time I took off my over shirt and rode along in my tank top, with the sun on my back, a very happy cyclist indeed.
I signed up for air bnb this day as I thought I could probably save some money by using this service. I found a room in a house in San Fernando, quite close to Mission San Fernando, with a host who seemed friendly and welcoming. To sign up to use air bnb you have to show that you have an online presence, as on Facebook, Google, or Linked In. You have to send a photo of yourself and say something about why you need a room for the night. I did all of this and was finally accepted.
Have you seen the film “Moonlight “? If so, you have an idea of what I stepped into when I got to the house in San Fernando. My host was very friendly indeed, if a bit nervous, and showed me around the large house, which was not really furnished and quite dirty. There was a poker table where a dining table might have been, and a bar next to that, and a dart board in the unfurnished living room. The back yard, which he showed me, had bags of garbage lying against the house. There were two other men in the house who looked at me with skepticism, and I could hear young women talking and laughing behind closed doors. I wondered if my host had gotten the permission of his house mates to rent out a room. He introduced me to his dog. Butch, who was a friendly Pit Bull. There were signs on some of the doors that said NO ENTRY. I was determined to stay, though, and to show that I am an open-minded, accepting person. I introduced myself to the men there, shook their hands, and looked them straight in the eye.
Once in my room, though, I felt some fear come up. Was I safe? Would there be some drama happen here that would make me uncomfortable? Just at this moment I noticed a large figure of an angel standing on a shelf in the room. Draped around its neck was a rosary–broken, but otherwise intact. I took this as a gift from my Higher Power, and I quickly took the rosary from its place and used it to pray. It calmed me down.
I ate my dinner, which I had brought with me, in my room; I couldn’t bring myself to go downstairs and try to connect with the people there. The gap between us, created by age and culture, seemed a bit too wide to bridge. The dog barked a fair amount that night when his master went out, but otherwise the night was uneventful. I opened the blinds in the balmy evening and enjoyed seeing the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains to the east, and the tops of orange and other trees in the neighborhood. In the morning I did my yoga dance to the light of the sun, rising over those same mountains to the east. I was happy, if uncomfortable with the lack of cleanliness.
I had been required to pay for two nights stay. However, despite my concern that the folks here might feel rejected, when a friend who lives nearby offered for me to stay with her, I gratefully accepted. That I was not comfortable at the air bnb was all the reason I needed, another friend reminded me. Also, what felt best for me was most likely best for all concerned. I think they were equally uncomfortable with me staying there.
This welcoming friend and I went to see “Wonder Woman” shortly after I arrived at her place. I hadn’t been to a movie theater for some time and neither had she. We enjoyed the movie and our time spent together immensely. What a difference it makes to be with someone you can relate to!
My comment about Womder Woman is that, while I definitely was inspired by Diana’s dedication to doing what she believed to be the Right thing to do, without fear, I do not agree with her violent methods. I much prefer Moana’s ability (from the Disney film Moana) to transform evil, with love. Violence, I continue to agree, only begets more violence.
I visited the Mission San Fernando Rey de España yesterday, in the morning. This mission was restored fairly recently
(like most of the missions, earthquakes, vandalism and the passage of time took their toll)
and does not look as authentic as many others. They have an interesting museum though, and I was struck by this old photo of the mssion from back in the day:
At the present time, the mission is surrounded by houses, schools, freeways and all the other infrastructure of modern Southern California. What a paradise the San Fernando Valley must have been back then!
Mission San Fernando is known for its collection of santos, as well as its wine cellar complete with the original wine making utilities.
It is home to the office of the Diocese of Los Angeles, which is decorated with several beautiful mosaics, including this one:
It has many paintings and other relics; this painting of the Madonna and Child was pleasing to me. (Is it because of the whiteness of their skin?)
In riding my bike around northern Los Angeles I have noticed that some houses have few, if any, trees and some have big air conditioners on their rooftops.
A few others have lots of shade to cover them on hot days.
I don’t know about you, but the latter form of air conditioning strikes me as so much more pleasant and sustainable.
Today I proceed to the next mission, Mission San Gabriel. Where will I stay this night? Only God knows. ?