June 13, 2013

Photo Essay: Making a Mountain Out of a Hill

[Edited 11/20/2016 8:38 PM PST]

I think everybody needs something to look up to.

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills..." - Psalm 121-1

Those of us to aspire to anything beyond ourselves try to associate with those who inspire us, are smarter than us, make us want to be better people.

But in a literal sense, we humans love to remind ourselves how small we actually are, casting our eyes up towards the skyscrapers we've built, the moon upon which we've landed, and the mountains we have yet to climb.

We plant crosses and flags upon the tops of those mountains, and install signs on the sides of hills, to what end? As a mere marker? As a beacon to others? As a trailmarker to find our way back?

"Climb the mountains, and get their good tidings. 
Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into the trees. 
The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, 
while cares will drop off like autumn leaves." - John Muir

At the northwestern edge of Riverside, along the Santa Ana River whose water flow appears to be long gone, a hill has been designated a mountain, named after early Mexican land grant settler Louis Rubidoux, a successful rancher, miller, and winemaker.

Mt. Rubidoux, now a public park, isn't a mountain exactly, but it inspires the climb.

Once private property, its owner Frank Miller built a road to the top and erected a cross in honor of Father Junipero Serra, the Franciscan priest who founded the California Missions.

The cross moves in and out of view from above as you wind around the mount along the paved road... does the ever-shrinking Downtown Riverside from below.

There is little shade, and as much as you want to look up at where you're going... also want to look back down at where you've been.

What initially appears to be one way up and one way down...

...then splits into a couple of junctures...

...though, ultimately, you realize they all go to the same place.

At the top, you reach a stony peak which has served as a mini altar for sunrise service on Easter since 1909... visitors something else to climb to.

It is dry and barren this time of year, save for a few trees and some unshriveled buckwheat.

Around the bend, on the way back down, a Peace Tower commemorates Frank Miller's contribution to the community...

...built in 1925 by his friends and neighbors.

This is the tower that has become a symbol for the community of Rubidoux itself...

...its iconography found throughout the mount as well as the town below.

Even on top of a mountain, it's nice to have something to look up to.

And it's nice to linger a while up there.

But eventually, the road leads you down...

...along the path of phantom wagons and cars and bicycles and feet...

...where it's easy to see the way back down.

Besides the road, there are all these trails carved out of the hillside, but are they real trails? Or just the footwork of hikers who'd rather climb dirt rather than pavement? Climbers who'd rather summit something more difficult because, perhaps, sometimes just a hill isn't enough.

Sometimes you need a mountain, and so you make a mountain out of whatever hill you've got.

Photo Essay: Sanchez's Beer Bottle Chapel & Other Delights at Tio's Tacos, Riverside

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