I checked the weather forecast when I woke up after the glorious evening of music — a wind advisory, with wind from the east, the exact direction we were headed. The first pedal stroke out of our hotel in Port Hueneme was right into the grip of it. We had a lot of miles to cover on our way into Los Angeles. At this pace and with this difficulty, it was going to be a miserable day. On top of that, the first of the miles were through a military town. Six miles in, we came to Missile Park, a display of our “military might.”
On a southeast tack, we were protected somewhat by mountains, but I feared what the wind would be like when we came around the range to head eastward again on the coastal highway at Point Mugu (ma goo’).
The intense east wind, it turned out, was local to Port Hueneme. The coastal wind was entirely different. The views began again.
We passed a sign that said Los Angeles County, and the traffic intensified as if on cue. We paused where we could see the Getty Villa, two miles before the experience transformed yet again.
In Santa Monica, we took a right turn and a quick left onto a beach bike trailhead, and gathered ourselves after the demonic heavy fast traffic. Here we began a total of sixteen miles of placid bike trails on wide beaches, interrupted only by a seamless series of trails around Marina del Rey, a deep insertion of ocean into land.
The day got better and better, and the best treat was last. I had learned about a Korean Friendship Bell and reached out to Ernie Lee, its curator. When I told him our story, he said he’d seek permission to unlock the bell so we could ring it. The bell is rung only a few times a year, so this was a huge honor.
We drove up a monster hill that emerged onto a spot with a 360 degree view. There stood the pagoda that housed the bell. It was just after sunset. A soft purplish sky hovered over Catalina Island off the coast. The 18-ton bell reflected the last rays of the day’s light. Ernie rushed us up the stairs before park closing.
He told us to swing the huge wooden ringer three times to build up the force to strike the bell. When Brenda and I did it too timidly, and after Lynnie had a turn, Ernie took over and made the impact the way it’s supposed to be made. “Go hug the bell,” he urged. We felt minutes of vibrations long after the sound ended. “This bell is designed to open the seven chakras and thus has healing powers. We ring it 33 times. I rang it 30 times before you arrived and saved the last three rings for you.” All the numbers were symbolic. The fact that the bell stood on this magnificent spot was fate, he said. Though our experience was rushed, it was profound.
Let friendship ring.
Start: Port Hueneme CA
End: Torrance CA (a suburb of Los Angeles)
Distance: 64.24 miles
Cumulative distance: 1935.44 (94.4% done, 122 miles to complete the peace sign, then 24 more to reach the border with Mexico)
Elevation gain: 1699 feet
© 2021 Lynnea C Salvo