Beauty Is Truth,|Truth Beauty …


     I thought I would be a good big brother and send my sister photos of a bicycle ride I took up Mount Palomar on her birthday last week. It was 86 degrees in California and 1 in Chicago, so I figured, why not be a good guy for cheap?
     Deb said she liked them – though you never know with girls. They’re often nice, you know, and she is my sister – at least Mom says so.
     The problem was with my brothers, who also live far away.
     The least I figured from them was a “Hey, good idea!”
     Perhaps, “A 6,000-foot climb at your advanced age?”
     I knew that “Nice shot!” was not on the table.
     Still, I figured I’d get something better than what I did get.
     Here, for instance, is the first shot I took, from the beginning of the climb.
     A mile later, the landscape looked like this.
     The road got steeper, which was no consolation to me, except when I looked back.
     The semitropical landscape changed to oak woodland, eroded to granite by seasonal washes, finally rising to alpine terrain.
     By now I was halfway up the mountain, as the aging crow wobbles – 7 miles up Highway 76 and 3,000 feet above sea level. Unfortunately, at this point I thought I heard my mother calling me, so I had to park my bike and turn around. I don’t have a cellphone, but I thought I heard Mom calling me from Florida. You can’t be too careful.
     For reasons that elude me I didn’t feel like stopping for pictures as often on the way down as I did on the way up. There’s no accounting for some things.
     Four miles from home, though, I figured Mom had got tired of waiting, so I stopped and snapped a pic of our local waterfall. When it rains, it flows with the most delightful gurgling sound. I’m thinking I’ll hear it again sometime around next December.
     A few hundred yards more and the road through the Santa Anas opened up enough to show my hometown, Murrieta. Those are the San Bernardino Mountains behind it, 60-some miles away, and Mt. San. Jacinto to the right.
     The San Andreas Fault passes directly in front of the San Bernardinos, bends a bit at the low spot between the ranges, and continues on the far side of the San Jacintos, through Palm Springs. The fault keeps right on going into the Gulf of California, which Mexicans call the Sea of Cortes. In fact, the San Andreas Fault is the reason the sea is there at all. The continent is splitting apart there. Another few hundred million years and California, upper and lower, will float off and, with a little luck, Arizona will join Atlantis.
     But about my brothers.
     Handed this bouquet of lovely photos, what does my younger brother, the medical professor, say? “Carbon frame AND carbon forks? How much?”
     And my older brother? The guy who taught me how to drive, and introduced me to Native American mythology? His message, in toto: “Nice bike.”
     So there you have it: a girl’s reaction, and guys’ reactions, to my ride up Mount Palomar.
     On Monday I had a flat tire. You think I should try one of those thorn-proofs?

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