XV — People Gotta’ Get from Here to There, Dammit!

Mission Trails



“Is your dog friendly?”

“Oh yeah. She loves children. Your kids can pet her.”

“Nice evening.”

“Sure is.”

“Did you see any deer?”

“Just tracks.”

“I haven’t seen deer up here since three years ago.”

“I saw some last December, there on that hill.”

“Well, that’s good. It’s good to know they’re still here. Who knows what will happen when the road comes through.”

“What road?”

“Oh, they’re joining up with the 52.”


“Back there someplace. Near the boundary with Miramar.”


“Well, they’ve had it the works for ten years or more.”


“To ease the traffic on Mission Gorge. Of course, what’s the point? Those people in Tierra Santa keep voting down the bridge, so they’ll never get Jackson Drive through.”

“What if this road is built?”

“It’s being built. Go on down to Santee. You can see how they’re doing it.”

“They’ll be building it all winter? They’re going to have equipment here all winter?”

“Yep. They don’t want to have those workmen walking around here now with snakes all over the place.”

Boring factual background: The “52” was a highway that ended up going from Santee — a burb east of San Diego to La Jolla, by the ocean. The western part had existed for a long time and until the eastern suburbs started to grow, I don’t think anyone thought it would need to be longer. But those suburbs DID grow, and so the 52 “had” to extend WAAAAY out there.

Tierra Santa was a comparatively new community just west of Mission Trails. People in that community did NOT want the traffic going through their community. I don’t know what deals were brokered to make that happen.

When Mission Trails became a park, and I began working with the board, I learned how deals like this work. There was another place where a different major road was supposed to cross the landscape from north to south. It was never built. That turned out to be part of the deal. Another part of the deal was a “mitigation area” where the highway department had to pay for returning a damaged part of this landscape back to its original state. In my stint on the board, I learned that deals like these are complicated and take years to finalize.

The road also had to provide significant animal crossings which were, of course, under bridges. Because of the mitigation agreement, the bridges had to be built a certain way to provide for the happy prowling of ungulates, canids, bobcats, and mountain lions. Part of the mitigation was a long section of a new (to me) canyon, Spring Canyon. It was a beautiful canyon and I got to know it well.

In late spring of 1992, after the Good X had moved out, I hurt my left knee — an ACL tear that, because I had no insurance, was treated “conservatively” rather than surgically. Grrrrrr…. The immediate upshot was I was not allowed to hike for 3 months. The long-term upshot is that I have a fucked up knee. I spent half of those three months in a knee brace and walked with crutches. When those six weeks were over, my “doctor” cleared me to walk cautiously BUT I was allowed to ride a bike. I get that a bike is low-impact exercise and easy on knees, but I got a mountain bike. One bright spot of that period of my life was learning how fun THAT is. Because of my knee, I absolutely refused to fall. Spring Canyon became my favorite place to ride, and I never fell. 🙂 The only bad thing about mountain biking was that the dogs couldn’t come along.

No nettles in Mission Trails but plenty of poison oak.

These are all stories from a folder I found in an old trunk. As I was busy shredding them, I stopped to read. This turned out to be something I didn’t want to shred. I’m sharing it here and I have also put the stories into a little book. The stories are from the very first years I lived with dogs and hiked on my own, with dogs, in the California Coastal Chaparral of San Diego. The stories are a kind of record of the beginning of the best things I’ve done in my life — hiking in nature with dogs. I wrote these stories in my late 30s. There is one more story remaining. I may post it later today, who knows. 😀

12 thoughts on “XV — People Gotta’ Get from Here to There, Dammit!

  1. I enjoy reading all of your adventures, MAK. Your writing triggered my memory of going to San Diego with a fellow principal (she was like a mother to me) and we crossed the bridge to La Jolla. I remember San Diego was cold that time of year (March). Hotel del Coronado I remember and Old Town/ the zoo. Look what you were able to do with your knee. I understand it would be hard to go without the dogs. When I owned my Cattrike Recumbent I didn’t have a dog. It was easy on my body and trails (and 27 gears!). I was “safe” and not a fall risk. I’m so inactive now. I got in walking with Finn at campground. I really should get an exercise bike. Gentle exercise. And nettle? I never knew stinging nettle until a hike in Idaho with my daughter-in-law’s mom. It hurts!! Thank you for sharing…it evokes such memories for me and helps me know you even more. 💕🐾 🚴

    • 🐾❤️ I think I’m walking now because of the bike to nowhere. 🙂 San Diego could be very cold in March. It was the most beautiful time to go to Mission Trails. The wild lilac are blooming and the streams have water in them.

  2. I know there are many machinations with zoning boards, conservation groups, and transportation departments… all that can be a slow grind. At least things don’t happen fast – allows for the little people to rally and make counter proposals…

  3. In LA, there was Highway 110 that was supposed to link up to the 210. The final section never got built due to a delay. Despite the future plans being on file, the area where it had to be built became valuable land with lots of expensive houses. There is a rule in LA, you can’t eminent domain wealthy people. Only the poor and working class. So it empties into a city street. Miles north, there is a short spur south on the 210 where it was supposed to connect.

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