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MusingsTrip Journal

Choppers, Choss, and Chaparral

By February 24, 2021No Comments

The last time we caught up was before Halloween 2020. Aye, it’s been about 4 months, in fact. Jeez.

The RV Project has been regrouping. The past 12 months have been hard and weird for everyone, and the 10 months before that were pretty fucked up for us too. As far as I am aware, I’ve never had a proper concussion, but if I understand the symptoms correctly, then it would be fair to say that we’re recovering from something of a Traumatic Brain Period. We’re a little disoriented, we’re a little more irritable and quick-tempered, and we fatigue easily. Sensitive to bright light, too.

Darkness falls across the land, the midnight hours is close at hand…

After spending the better part of 2 years helping my parents navigate Life With Cancer (and a few months helping my mom embark on Life as a Widow), we now find ourselves in sunny San Diego, La Jolla to be precise. We’ve rented an apartment a few blocks from Vikki’s parents for a few months, so that we can help them navigate Life As Lonely Immigrants.

Let me tell you something: Fuck La Jolla. Yeah, it’s expensive, but it’s not that. It’s the way people scoop up their dogs when they see Little Dude, because they don’t actually have dogs, they have Urban Accessories, and accessories don’t need to socialize. It’s the way that store clerks, especially California Bicycles in La Jolla, size up your wallet with a glance and decide if you’re worth a smile or not. It’s the straight-faced existence of businesses like “True Beauty,” which is a plastic surgery center. It’s the fact that the Country Club takes up most of the hills, an absurd swath of gated greenery where there ought to be hiking trails. Seriously, Fuck La Jolla.

That Sherwin Williams used to be a Maserati dealership.

I might be having a better time if not for the three titular nouns. Though there are more rock-strewn hills within an hour’s drive than I can count, the lion’s share of boulders are either blank, choss, or both, and the bits between boulders are choked with chaparral. Buzzing above, you’ll see endless aircraft, green camo and Blue Angels, C-130s and choppers that could’ve been used in the movie Platoon. Every time a fighter jet comes close enough to interrupt conversation, I’m reminded that Our Tax Dollars are paying for this militaristic muscle-flexing, as though the only thing deterring Tijuana from invading is Operation NASCAR Airplane.

I screenshot’ed this aircraft tracker from this article in the SD Union Tribune

Fun Fact: It costs between $10,500 and $13,310 per hour to fly one F/A-18 (according to this 2016 DoD report, which is also a PDF). Who says you can’t put a price on safety? I mean, $1400 relief checks won’t do anyone any good if those Migrant Caravans–or Iran, or whoever we’re supposed to fear now–are able to destroy our way of life. Ya know? Perpetual War!

Vikki on one of the sanity-saving trails.

There are two mitigating factors, without which I’m not sure I’d be able to last the full 3 months here. The first is that San Diego County has some fantastic mountain biking. The second is that Dan Beall and his family have been graciously allowing Vikki and I to climb on their outdoor wall. If the name “Dan Beall” doesn’t immediately make your hands feel kinda weak, then either you need to go hang out under the Peabodys until you see the guy warming up on Direction, or your name is something like Sharma, Raboutou, Webb…you get the idea.

There is some good news in our lives. Vikki and her mom got their second Covid vaccine shots today. My elbow, long a source of pain and frustration, seems to be pretty much healed, and I’m beginning to feel like a boulderer again. And 2 days ago, as I sat on the beach, I looked out at the water in just the right spot to see a series of whale spouts in the distance. Nobody else on the beach saw them.

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