Invisible Trajectories

The Road to Yucaipa

April 29, 2006

Last weekend, Deena and I drove the Jeep to the Fontana Transportation Center to take the Omni-trans #14 bus to San Bernardino. The sequence of our plan was to take the #14 to the Omni #9, which would take us all the way out to Yucaipa. We started off by climbing aboard the #14 around 1:30pm and soon found ourselves in downtown San Bernardino at 2:30pm.

For both legs of our bus trip we pretty much had the buses to ourselves. We sat in the back like a bunch of bad kids, watching only a handful of people get on and off. In Los Angeles County, the MTA rider-ship has, according to our friend, Ryan, increased by 11% due to increased gas prices, but here things seem as normal, even with pump prices at $3.37 per gallon. While riding on the #14, we had a brief conversation with a fellow who told us how difficult it is to get around this area. We listened to his well-developed ideas regarding what could be done, transportation-wise, to make access easier within the I.E., and he asked us a few questions about ourselves. He got off the bus with us in San Bernardino and we said our goodbyes.

Once in downtown San Bernardino we had some time to kill so we walked around the block and into a skate shop. The entire area was completely deserted. Sadly, San Bernardino is another lifeless downtown from California’s past struggling to exist in the 21st century. It seems like it was once a very wonderful place. At least the old pictures make me think so.

We got back to the stop around 3:00pm and saw the Omni #9 bus coming around the corner just a few minutes later. We climbed in and enjoyed the ride.

The bus passed through the great voids of San Bernardino. Large stretches of underutilized land, which by no means function as empty space, passed us on the right and left. These are the lots often plowed under to keep any vegetation from becoming a fire hazard during the dry months. These spaces, punctuated the limited strip development, almost act as rests in sparse musical composition. The voids held out attention. Occasionally, we’d see humans moving about, some on foot, others headed towards their automobiles. I felt as if we were in some declining town in the middle of the Great Plains.

Minutes later, we were rolling through Loma Linda. The physical difference between both communities was quite noticeable. While downtown San Bernardino seemed almost forgotten and depopulated, Loma Linda appeared to be the more desirable area for new homebuyers. We saw it as the shadow of downtown San Bernardino.

Redlands was next. Acres of orange groves passed us by. We looked on with awe as we moved through the agricultural remnants of the region’s past. A few miles more, and we were in downtown Redlands. The traces of old money were still present. The built environment showed it. The bus finally stopped at the Redlands Mall and it was there we saw the mysterious ‘crying man’ sitting on a bench. I snapped a photo of him as we pulled away. He made no effort to get on board.

The bus stopped at Crafton Hills College but nobody was waiting. The place seemed deserted.

Before we knew it, we were in Yucaipa, being dropped off on Yucaipa Blvd. Once on foot, we walked down the hill to take a look at the sea of new homes built within a large flood basin. We admired the golf course that was interwoven with houses. Everything seemed very new, and any traces of the town’s agricultural past seemed lost or forgotten.

Deena and I both had to pee so we walked into the public library that was just minutes from closing for the day. Minutes later we were making our way back up to Yucaipa Blvd and after walking a few miles we settled into Rosie’s to eat.

Two ‘Garbage’ burritos were on order! 30 minutes later we headed out to the bus stop, just outside, and sat to wait for the #9 bus to take us back to San Bernardino.

The bus came on time, and we saw everything in reverse. Again, there was nobody to be picked up at Crafton Hills College, and by the time we got back to downtown San Bernardino it was dark. The theater crowd was coming in. We got off on 4th and walked over to wait for the #14 bus to take us back to Fontana.

Back in Fontana, the Jeep was waiting. The trip back to Cucamonga was done on freeway, quite a change from the hours spent on the bus, looking out the window passively as the landscape passed us by. --CW

Emily from Yucaipa