Don’t you ever feel the need to close the door to life behind you, switch off your cell phone, climb in your car and drive? When relationships become madness and selfishness and ego consume those around you, isn’t the freedom of the freeway an awesome attraction? No flight plan. No direction. Forward and backward. One in the same. Jonathan Spooner and I decided to leave San Diego last week and drive towards the desert. We vaguely knew that we would look for some pools and we vaguely knew we would not be taking the asphalt roads the entire time. His Ford Raptor is a pretty amazing vehicle. We literally drove anywhere we wanted. On the way, we met up with some off road pals as well.
We made our way to the other side of the Salton Sea. We hadn’t been on asphalt roads in three hours. We were driving and passing random places that had to be seen to be believed. Apocalyptic. The decline of all things… Rubble and meth. Squatters. Tents and motorcycles. Crime in the veins. Hard eyes watched our passing. We found pools and desolation. We were driving along and I yelled, “Stop now!” Jonathan skidded to a halt as I leapt out of the Raptor. He backed up to find me squatting over a bomb. Peering about cautiously, I saw others and realized that we had wandered onto a live firing range… marvelous!
We picked our way out of the place and shortly afterwards, we saw a vehicle shimmering on the horizon. It was the first vehicle that we had seen in a few hours and it was approaching pretty quickly. It turned out to be Border Patrol. He waved us to a stop. “What are you guys doing out here?” Jonathan simply answered “Driving off road.” He looked over at his radio and then asked, “Do you know that you are on a firing range? Did you see the jets?” Jonathan and I shook our heads in the negative and then told him that there were no signs or fences. He smiled and said, “Out here… people just know. Uhmm… I wouldn’t go back up that road if I were you…” He waved us away after telling us that our truck had tripped his sensors and he had come out to see what was going on. Close call. Relief.
Further down the road, there was a giant mountain made of hay bales and paint. It was a monument to Christ. It was uniquely odd… it squatted on the desolate, forbidden land like Mecca. Old cars and buses sat on the ground. The tires were long flattened and cracked. ‘God Is Love’ proclaimed the glaring crimson paint…. and so he is! Jonathan and I wandered the place in silence and awe. Strange. We drove a bit further and saw the Salton Sea to our west. Shoreline. We found some pools. We stopped at a dessicated tree that stood alone on a dusty, cracked plateau. We heard crunching underfoot and realized that we were walking on the bones of countless fish that lay sun-bleached in the dust. It seems that the lakes waters had receded and left the fish to the deadly kiss of the desert sun.
The sun started dropping and we headed west. The road stretched out in front of us and the Raptor angrily tore at it in huge bites. The rumbling of the engine soothed us. Sunset. Bleeding sky. We stopped in Julian and ate, then made it back to San Diego in pitch blackness. We had turned our back on the world for the day and it was cathartic. Nothing can make me appreciate life like driving randomly onto a firing range. The road less traveled. Dust. Bones and bombs. God is love. Life. – Ozzie