Invisible Trajectories

OUT TO BANNING

On Sunday, May 21, we headed out in the Jeep to Banning to meet Marissa. The plan was for her to give us a short tour of the area. It was quite apparent to us that Banning is very far from Altadena so walking, biking, or busing-it was not an issue. We hit the freeways early in the morning and stopped at Grandma’s for a breakfast. After a filling meal, we continued on to Marissa’s house, making it there by noon.

We found her house without any problems. After a few minutes of talking with her mother, Deena, Marissa, and I started our trek up the nearby hill to get a better vantage point. It would take us about 20 minutes to climb the hill, and from there we could see the entire town. Marissa pointed out the various things in our field of view. She noted the equestrian paths, the high school, and the monolithic Morongo Casino that punctuated the sparse landscape.

After we had seen enough, the three of us climbed down. We headed back to the house, had a quick drink, and then we hopped back into the Jeep. We drove to the Morongo Indian Reservation to see if they would let us in. Telling the guard at the gate that we wanted to visit the Malki Museum, he gave us a pass to go through. It was true, however, we did want to see the museum. Our visit to the Malki was short. We scanned their small exhibition and looked at their native plant garden in the back. Deena even purchased a book on the historic use of native plants in the area.

After leaving the Malki, we drove through the reservation and made our way out another gate and directly onto the 10 Freeway. Minutes later, we found ourselves near the local high school and the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility. After taking a few photos of some single-family houses, we waited at a train crossing. It was a very long train. When the caboose went by we drove into downtown Banning.

We needed to get Marissa back home so she could get on the road back to Los Angeles. Once we dropped her off, we went back to downtown Banning for closer look. We found many empty stores, some condemned buildings, and numerous references to Banning’s history as a node along the old stagecoach route. In the downtown we found the remnants of Banning's past and its possible future. The infrastructure is still there if the people of Banning wish to revive the local economy that once existed, and the rail lines are just a stone's throw from its compact downtown. Maybe there is hope for this place.

20 minutes later, Deena and I were in the Jeep trying to track down the sign stating that bicycles are, in fact, allowed on a very short section of the 10 Freeway. (Ken McGuire from the California Department of Transportation Bicycle Facilities Unit would confirm this a week later.) When entering the 10, the signs say that all non-motorized vehicles are prohibited, but about a mile later, another sign calls for all non-motorized vehicles to exit immediately. In early December, we hope to ride on a stretch of the 10. Details will be forthcoming.

Deena and I did stop for a quick bite to eat, but we were back on the road and home by 6:30pm.

--CW