9000 years before the Great Pyramids were built the Kumeyaay Indians were an active civilization in Southwest California, now what the maps call the expansive San Diego County.
Today we wake early to start the ride. There is excitement in the air. Our only female rider, a free spirit from NYC is accompanied by her mother who frets over her safety. She discovers that I am an MD and suddenly all is well.
Oh the magic of the white coat…
We all saddle up and head two miles down to the Pacific Ocean for a tire dip. By the time I line up for the picture my gears are enmeshed with 12 lbs of seaweed…I look around for Angel and Flossie knowing that they had something to do with this but they are no where to be seen. Probably off checking out “ hotties” on the beach some where.
As I clean out my gears I wonder if this is a sign of “ good luck” to come…
Off we go though the early morning hours, along the red line on the map pointing us towards St Augustine’s. I am thankful it is a Sunday morning with little traffic. We weave through the neighborhoods below The University of San Diego
and finally begin our climb outside the city limits.
I know this will be a grueling 2 days of 10,000 feet up in several stair step climbs but I have mentally prepared myself for it even as I wish that I had done more hill training.
About 1500 feet up my legs start to ache and I silently curse myself for not having gone to the YMCA more often this past year…but what is done is done.
4 hours after leaving the beach we arrive as a group in Alpine just 36 miles up from the start. Not particularly proud of my time I pat myself on the back for at least making it.
We are hosted in a wonderful church this night by a group who fixes us a lasagna dinner.
A reporter from the local newspaper comes to interview us but before she starts two of us corner her on the front porch and ask that she tell us about Alpine.
To our delight she is a former school teacher and launches into her past profession with ease.
“Most of the people here work in the Casinos if not down in San Diego itself.”
“Yes you are in Indian territory here.”
She then proceeds to teach us about the Kumeyaay Indian tribes, there are now 12 of them with reservations established by President Grant all along out route for the next three days.
Southern California has always been a haven of good weather. With an ideal climate the Kumeyaay were blessed with a bounty of crops, game and natural medicinal plants. Traditional food sources included acorns and pine nuts ground to meal using Mano stone tools.
As a group they were left relatively undisturbed until 1542 when Cabrillo , a Portuguese Captain leading a Spanish expedition landed near San Diego Harbor.
So much for 12000 years of peace and prosperity…
Today there are between 2000-5000 Kumeyaay Indians still alive, half in the US and half across the border in Mexico.
“Given “ poor land, as is usually the case , only now is there some rebirth on the Nation with the income from the Casinos supporting schools, cultural growth, and independent growth. Time will tell how well they will succeed.
After our “ history lesson” the reporter wandered off to talk to the others but I stayed back alone from the group to study the maps to discover all the reservations she was talking about.
So often I become hyper focused on the red line of travel missing out on things just to the side.
As I faded out that night I thought back to the red line and realized how often in life I do that very thing, stay focused on some red line in front of me missing out on all the beauty on either side.
I will try to do better on this ride…
*Please take the time to read about these Indians in Wikipedia. Just imagine 9000 tears before the Great Pyramids.