An East County Epiphany

East County is a place to catch your breath, even on rainy, bad-traffic days.

On a whim to go see the high surf today, I braved the blowing rain and bad drivers. Drove straight to Ocean Beach, found a parking spot on Abbott Street, got out of the car only to receive the first slap of rain on my face. I ran quickly down the sidewalk to get a peek at the surf; sure enough, the water was a ghostly giant wave slamming the bottom of the pier.

I was getting soaked, so I got back in the car, waited for fifteen minutes. The rain continued, the clock ticked on toward 4:30. Unless I wanted to sit it out in some coffee shop for two hours waiting for the traffic to calm down, I needed to get back to East County. Figured I’d drive all the way out to Parkway Plaza to catch the “Life of Pi” movie.

So began the one-hour trek. The freeway was a long string of red lights, so I chose the round-about way. But it was still endless pavement. Somewhere along the slick stretch of Friars Road, I saw the shadowy hulks of bulldozers frozen mid-pose of their earth-devouring. They had chewed away acres of grass and trees. Ugly as sin. And who, these days, has the money to buy a condo, much more to plow up land to build a whole complex?   

I couldn’t get fast enough past the I-15 where I’d see the glistening ribbon of the San Diego River, the gentle rise of the hills above Admiral Baker Field, and the long breathe-easy slope of Mission Trails Park. The traffic was lighter, slower; I heaved a huge sigh, opened a car window to let the earth smells in. Even as I ventured into more heavily trafficked Navajo Road and Fletcher Parkway, I felt a lift of my heart at the sight of all the trees and the sparkle of lights in El Cajon Valley.   

Pulling into Parkway Plaza, I felt a renewed pride at living within rock-throwing distance of the wide-open spaces of East County. Some may consider out here the backwoods, the edge of civilization. That’s fine with me. I get to breathe out here. And where else can you find someplace like Summers Past Farms? Even if it’s raining, I’m taking a drive out there tomorrow for their Christmas Craft Faire.

The “Life of Pi” was phenomenal. Breath-taking. A reminder that, yes, the ocean is beautiful, powerful, mysterious, a place where you can meet God. But I can also find God in the birds and trees and mountains. With no worries of getting eaten by sharks on the freeway.  


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