Every Wednesday I visit Mendez High School in Boyle Heights near downtown LA. I volunteer as a college counselor for College Match LA. The school is named after the couple who, in 1946, sued for equal education for Mexican children and won.
View of downtown from in front of the College Center area where students go to get help with college applications, learn from presentations by admissions officers from different colleges, and work on college and financial aid applications.
Thanks to the two guys sitting here chatting for giving me permission to take this photo.
At 10,065 feet Mt. Baldy rises above the San Gabriel Valley, home to nearly 1.5 million of which I am one. The highest mountain in Los Angeles County, every day she looms in the distance quite visible from my front yard. For months last winter, she remained snow capped, sometimes with snow half way down the mountain.
People seemed shocked when they discovered I had not yet driven up the mountain. Yesterday, as I was driving up Monte Vista, I decided it’s time and continued past Baseline where Monte Vista becomes Padua. At the traffic light, I turned right onto Mount Baldy Road. Up I went. You know it’s going to get steep when signs telling slow traffic to turn off ahead show up regularly.
I pulled off about half way up and took these two photos.
A bit farther up, signs appear saying they will tow your car if parked in the way of snow plows. It is about the same time that super sharp switchbacks start. I have driven all over the mountain West and this road has some of the most extreme switchbacks I’ve ever experienced. I kept thinking, “This would not be much fun in the snow.” Keep going and the road ends at a parking lot of the ski resort so they must do a good job keeping the road clear in winter. I stopped off and on to take photos. Up this high there are ponderosa pines and fir trees.
I drove as far as cars can go, to the ski resort parking lot, adjacent to the ski lift which goes to a restaurant farther up the mountain. I’ll try that another day.
After all this driving, I decided to stop at a restaurant by the side of the road in Mt. Baldy Village. I wanted to eat on the patio but no eating outside yesterday–yellow jackets.
Some people possess obsessions. For me only one really exists–pumas. I kept hoping I might see one when I lived at the edge of a canyon in the Panhandle of Texas even though I knew where I lived was probably too populated. Now, living in LA Country, I realize pumas can be anywhere. Have not seen one yet, but I keep hoping. I’ve considered driving 1/2 hour up into the Los Angeles National Forest to hike and hope. Since one of my walking partners refused to go any farther when the sign said “Watch for Bears”, I would have to take the hike alone. The bear sign did not deter me, but she could not go home since I drove so I went back to the car with her. People see bears in town all the time, but rarely pumas or if they are around, they hide. My puma obsession includes dreaming about them and writing poetry where they star. Here is one of the puma poems I wrote while I still lived in Texas.
I watch for eyes, blue changing to amber and back.
I put my palm, fingers stretched to measure, into the footprint.
Too small, bobcat
My thin body squeezes between the rocks,
climbing quietly down the cliff.
Watching, listening, searching.
Pale amber rushes across my vision line.
My hearth quakes.
I watch; I wait.
It is Isabella, a golden whir chasing rabbits.
At sunrise, I walk the rim,
At sunset, I walk the rim,
At night, I walk the rim,
No puma; not yet.
I’ve had this photo, taken by a famous wildlife photographer, for at least a decade. She, yes, it is a she, watches over me daily. In my bedroom is a puma Zuni fetish and a painting. I have a couple of others here and there in addition to books about pumas. Someday before I die, hopefully.