The Road Less Travelled

Saturday, October 13, 2001



Expect the unexpected.  I should have that routine down pat by now.  Apparently I haven't.  Yesterday afternoon, when we came to a rolling stop, I was surprised, taken aback even.

DD and I were mid-way up the mountain, just 20 miles away, mere minutes away from our mountain home.  We were at a standstill, stuck behind a long, long line of vehicles.  Gridlocked! 

"Probably an accident,"  I guessed.

My imagination, laced with fear-inducing bits and pieces of high-alert news reports of anthrax-laced mail and subsequent infections, surveillance of dams and water supplies, and the imminence, not the mere possibility, of further terrorists attacks, then leaped forward to the dam, conjuring up this conclusion:  

"The dam has been hit."

Fear struck. Something that I have not REALLY felt since the tragedies of 9-11-01.  For a fleeting moment, but a felt moment, nonetheless. 

As the reason for the roadblock rippled down the line of cars, from the look of the reactions, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  My worst fear was not being realized.  Folks ahead of us were calmly receiving the news, then getting out of their cars for a stretch, taking in the mountain scenery, visiting with one another, and walking their dogs. 

We were told: "There's a fire. Near the dam."

But there was no tell-tale trails of smoke in the sky. It wasn't, apparently, a raging fire.  Likely a roadside fire from a carelessly tossed cigarette?  As a precaution, the road was closed, maybe to 8 pm, they said.

Knowing all three alternate routes up the mountain, we made our U-turn and chose to get down the mountain and then take the scenic, but windier and longer, route back up from the side of the mountain.  With the sprawling metropolis at our feet, we made the most of our abrupt rerouting, by thoroughly enjoying the view as we made our way down the mountain. 

Earlier, in a hurry to get to the "madding quiet" -- the tranquillity -- of the mountains, we'd skipped lunch, thinking we'd have a late one on the front porch when we got up.  I was famished, and when we got to the bottom of the mountain, we stopped for a couple of Subway sandwiches.  Freshly made, they were delicious. With fueled bodies, we hit the roads with renewed vigor.

Sometimes, it is possible to find the clearest, most poignant wisdom in the most unexpected of events.  And so it was on our way back up the mountain. A roadblock.  A detour.  An alternate route.  A revitalized awareness of the beauty along the way.

You see, we are two urban-weary folks. Every 100-mile trip up to our mountain home fills us with anticipation to be there, and without a second thought, we take the same route, the quickest one. In a hurry to get out of town, we are so stuck on getting up the mountain with its open spaces and fresh air that we ignore the journeying. 

Over these eleven years, the quickest route up the mountain has become a familiar, well-beaten one.  Anymore, without conscious awareness, we anticipate and lean into the tight curves.  We automatically crane for the beautiful scenes right around the next corner.  We easily transition from shallow city breathing to deep mountain breathing at the first vanilla scent from the sugar pines.  We squint ahead for that first glimpse on the distant horizon of the blue jewel nestled in the mountains that is our mountain lake. 

The route is so familiar that sometimes we no longer look. The Same Old, Same Old Syndrome.  And worse, sometimes, we look out of habit, but we forget to see.  You know, REALLY see.  


Yesterday, the roadblock was the unexpected gift.  By taking "the road less travelled," we looked. We saw. We were appreciating the beauty and marvels of nature surrounding us, delighting in what we were seeing on this alternate route:  

  • The striking salt-and-pepper granite patterns. 

  • The dramatic jutting of striated sedimentary rock.

  • Huge boulders basking in the mountain sun. 

  • The verdant green of the dense forest, juxtaposed against the blueness of the sky. 

  • The rocky river bed. 

  • Water alongside us, tumbling down the mountain, making its way to the distant sea

  • A tranquil river valley.  

  • The coolness of an alpine forest.  

  • Stands of pine trees, creating a tapestry of  varied green hues and textures against the hillsides. 

  • The humble headwaters of the mighty Santa Ana River.  

  • Mount San Gorgonio, up close and personal.  

  • The subtle shades of  fall at the base that graduated to autumn vibrancy at the higher elevations.  

We recalled how we had promised ourselves, a few years ago,  to take this route in the fall again.  We had forgotten our promise.  And because of an unexpected roadblock, we were being given a second chance to make good on a promise made.  We were seeing everything anew.  

We arrived at Heaven on Earth, our mountain home, more invigorated than usual, with a few rays of late afternoon sunlight left. 

Recounting that brief, but very real, moment of fear, earlier in the day, I decided to take a weekend hiatus from the television and the news of the world. My sweet Pili  (my body self) is concerned about its survival and who can blame it.  It would be child abuse to subject it to any more fear-provokers, doing all of us a disservice.


Not aware of my TV/news moratorium, DD turned on the TV.  Huell was on TV.  Huell Howser. Huell is a California phenomenon.  Growing on us over many, many years of watching his shows, Huell feels like family, and is always welcomed into our home via his show. 

I pluck on harp strings because of Huell.  I look for hot springs and desert oases because of Huell.  I smell roses more deeply because of Huell.  I appreciate the wonderment of koi because of Huell. I experienced a mile-high pie because of Huell.

It's actually a synchronistic wonder how we connect with Huell.  We don't go out of our way to watch his show. We never know when he's on. We "just happen" upon his show, as we're surfing the channels, and we always stop to watch when we see it's Huell on the screen.  He utterly charms us, every time.  And he is always an unexpected gift.

How do you begin to describe Huell's magnetism?  He's very folksy.  Very down home. With an accent to match.  Definitely not Californian. Californians have none.  Maybe a Texas drawl? He's tall and brawny enough to be your classic Texas dude.  Wherever he's from, his drawl is Southern, for sure.  

His is a two-man show.  Just Huell and the cameraman, Lui.  Except for one show about doughnuts, you never see Lui.  Just Huell. But Huell's shows are not about him at all, although his personality fills up the screen in a most congenial way.  He's a man on a quest to discover the jewels of California and sharing his out-of-the-way finds with us, his viewing audience. His show is aptly named, California Gold.

Huell takes us on roads less travelled. Off the beaten path.

Early on in the show, he was talking about a Giant Rock, the world's largest free-standing boulder in the high desert of Southern California.  I was engrossed in the reading of a mind-boggling Marciniak passage, so I was half-way paying attention to Huell, when he started talking about the Integratron, a fascinating structure in Landers built by a visionary, my full attention was engaged.

"Beam me up, Scotty." 



Instead, today, was Pili's day, as well as A Day for The Whole Family. The gift today was mine to give.  I was going to give my undivided attention to my family here at Heaven-on-Earth and My Family in Heaven, just a veil-wisp away. 

With our dogkids, DD and I took a long, meandering walk along the high roads, the low roads, and the byways of our mountaintop peninsula.  We breathing deeply, almost to the point of windedness, as we were being refreshed by autumn coolness to keep going on and on.  We paused to admire the burnished golds and the fiery reds of  maple leaves, the quaking of the aspen leaves, and placidness of the glassy lake.  We stopped to chat with our favorite folks on the mountain: our neighbors, Claudia and Jovial Jeff , who makes me laugh,* across the way, and the lovebirds next door, Trudy, who is 81 this coming Wednesday, and Ed, now 86.   

Before they downsized into a townhouse, they discovered that they had 17 ( ! ) spatulas in their expansive kitchen. Bad feng shui. Bad! Bad! Bad! When Trudy let Jeff know that their driveway was snowed in, he told her, tongue-in-cheek, of course, "Woman, get out there and get to work. No excuses."

Energized, DD and I then took off on our mountain bikes for a vigorous ride up and down hills and dales, around and around the peninsula.  I love to bike.  It's exhilarating.  It's literally breath-taking.  It's wonderful!  My bike's name is Purple Passion; and DD's, The Silver Streak.  And we practically fly on them.  

In keeping with Family Day, we decided that we'd eat in.  Inspired perhaps by the sandwiches yesterday, DD announced that he was going to make us some tuna salad sandwiches for our late lunch. He had brought up some luscious tomatoes and crisp cucumbers from a visit to a local farm, and was going to cut them into thick slices for the sandwiches.  But, yikes, there was not a single round onion in the pantry.  Tuna salad sandwiches without onions, sliced wafer-thin, is like eating fried chicken without Del Monte catsup, and DD made a quick run to the neighborhood grocery store.  

Lest you scoff or mock, try it:  Del Monte ketchup is in a class by itself.  The only one made with tangy pineapple vinegar.  For years, it was spelled catsup, not ketchup.  My village in Hawai`i ate fried chicken with catsup. We couldn't all be wrong, now could we?  Like Mikey,  try it, you'll love it.

Swinging on our front porch, we consumed our piled-high tuna sandwiches. O and Freddy were at our feet, happy with the pieces of sandwich that "just happened" to fall their way.  Bliss for all with simple pleasures.

The late afternoon was spent in prayer and meditation, as well as rereading my favorite Pleiadian books on the swing.  With the front door wide open, DD was just a few feet away, playing his guitar.  Pooped from chasing squirrels in the backyard, O and Freddy hopped onto the window seat behind the swing to snooze, as happy and content dogs do.

Fear has been replaced by love.  


"Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, 
and which incorporates itself with the grapes,  to be changed into wine;
 a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy." 
~ Ben Franklin 

DD and I toast the day with a glass of buttery Navarro Vineyard's Chardonnay, a rich, full-bodied highly quaffable wine.  

We  dreamily remember toasting a beautiful sunlit day and friendship with this wine, on the majestic bluffs of Mendocino, alongside a charming village reminiscent of New England.  We cherish the memory of this past time with dear friends, once lovebirds but now no longer together, Chris and Peg.  We return to the present and send them our love, our best wishes. 

Staying in the present, we behold each other,  breathe in the bouquet, quaff our favorite white wine, and savor the moment.

Presently yours,
Author Unknown



"Life is a Gift."


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This web journal was created on a September Morn, September 29, 2001.
September Morn 2001