The Road Less Travelled

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Posted by seahunt on October 29, 2009 at 20:39:30:

Goin' Diving, The 118. Sometimes, getting there is half the fun

It was time to get out of town and go diving. I was already tired from the chores and obligations
of the day. It was hot in the Valley, but at least the shimmering heat of high summer was past.
For some reason I decided to go the back route along the 118 like I used to. I hadn't been that
way in a long time and though it might be slower than the 101 freeway, it would be different. I
grew up below Oat Mountain, but heading up to the 118 past Stoney Point, I was again struck by
how massively it rises in the clear dry air. Things change over the years, but I will always know
which direction I am from that mountain.

Stoney Point in front of Oat Mountain

The sandstone boulders form towers proclaiming that this is their domain, a domain of sand and
desert, but the old oaks contest their rule. They are younger than the rocks, but their lives
are more dynamic and their roots can split rock. Take my word for it. They are near as tough
as rock.

Hard, tough, enduring Oak

And they can claim to be far more beautiful even in this desert land.

Beautiful Majestic  Oak

Some of the trees along the freeway had died from the drought and there were signs of more than
one fire in the past few years. As I cross the pass into Simi Valley, slabs of white rock cover
the mountains. Their stark sun bleached faces are rimmed by sand and dirt, but there is a darkness
in it that accents their light desert hues. It is a darkness of green shoots from the recent rains.
The dark brown brush along the freeway shows the start of the new seasons green grass peaking up
after last weeks rain. It was already cooling a bit by the time I reached the off ramp for Los
Angeles Avenue in Moorpark. As I left the freeway, it was different here. It wasn't all buildings
and asphalt. There was light colored bare fields and long plastic covered greenhouses on their
looped frames. I was following the road through the valley formed long ago by Calleguas Creek.
Along the road are fields and the hills rise covered by dusty green citrus orchards. The soil
is a light brown.

Light brown, it needs water for life

As you come to Somis there are large wholesale nurseries with row after row of exotic trees
and plants. The Somis Nut House next to the hiway is always a fun stop for nuts, dried fruits
and bags of candy. It was even cooler here. Past Somis the valley widens more and the vivid
green of citrus orchards extending across the valley and into the hills no longer have a
dusty color. This is closer to the ocean and there is nothing to stop the ocean moisture
that drifts up this rich valley. 10,000 years ago the Chamush indians lived here on the
acorns from the hillsides and the plants and animals of the swampy low areas. Now there
are old farm houses surrounded by overgrown trees. Some old buildings are returning to
the land.

Even here, the land rules

In the plowed fields the soil from the creek bottom is a rich dark brown. Tractors and
farm equipment work in fields far from the desert of LA. Between the road and the fields
are rows of tall grasses. There is a field of brilliant gold marigolds. Separating the
fields are the rows of towering blue gum eucalyptus trees to break the Santana winds
that can howl out of the canyons. Here it is cool and pleasantly refreshing. My mood
can't help but pick up as the vitality of it all touches me. The road turns as you leave
the canyon. There is a forest of wild eucalyptus in the arroyo by the road. Life is
thick, vital and lush. The canyon opens onto the broad fertile coastal plain covered
with miles of strawberry fields, vegetable fields, flowers and all variety of crops
to feed Southern California and even foreign markets.

A crop of life

Many of these crops can be grown in few places, but they thrive in this mild
coastal weather.

The tastiest crop

It cools even more nearer the ocean. There are now avocado groves amongst the
citrus. The road straightens and traffic speeds up. After a few miles, the on
ramp to the 101 abruptly appears at Rice Road. The placid fields again give way
to the rush of the freeway. It's still about 10 miles to the harbor, but already
I am refreshed and invigorated by its vitality and beauty.

A pretty crop

Enjoy the diving, seahunt

seahunt Diving For The Fun Of It

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