Leaving Fallbrook on my bike, I most always head south 6-8 miles to Highway 76. At that point I can either head west toward the coast or east toward the Pauma Valley, but I have to make a choice. Either way I choose, I’ll be riding along the San Luis Rey river basin. Most of the time I ride on the shoulder of the highway roughly 1,000 yards from riverbed. Other times, if I’m appropriately bike’d, I’ll ride on the dirt paths and single-track trails which can lead within a few yards from the almost dry river.


The increase in homeless encampments in the river basin is noticeable. Three or four years ago, along a the same stretch trails, I might have seen a handful of tents, canopies, and makeshift shelters. Today there are dozens of them visible from the road and bike paths, and probably many more that are well hidden. I’ve said before and am still of the belief that in the 20-mile stretch of the river basin between I-15 and the coast, there are probably 1,000 or more people who call that area home. Perhaps many more. 

We’re in winter now. Though we haven’t equaled the frequency of storms we experienced last season, we’re still above average with rainfall by nearly two inches. The dry river isn’t currently dry, and like most river basins, the San Luis Rey is prone to flooding during heavy rains.

As I’ve ridden along the river basin this season, I’ve noticed a significant increase in one of the more poignant signs of life which manifests after the rains — I see more blankets and clothing hanging from tree branches and from makeshift clotheslines. This is what happens when one lives outdoors and in a floodplain — their belongings get soaked with every passing storm.

Since the rains that fill the riverbed with water are the same rains that have been falling on my own backyard in recent months, I know some of the more sudden storms have occurred overnight. It’s fair to surmise that some of these shelters may have been taken out by heavy rain and fast rising waters, suddenly and while people in them were sleeping. I can’t imagine.

Yesterday, while riding from Fallbrook to Oceanside, I saw roughly 20 blankets and dozens of articles of clothing hung out to dry. I call these the Flags Of Fast Rain And High Water. They are a reminder of how fortunate I am.

When I hang a blanket or piece of clothing on my clothesline throw them in my dryer, it’s always because I’ve previously washed them, by choice, never because they got soaked by an unexpected rain in the middle of the night. Never do I have a sudden need to dry the blankets or the clothes that keep me warm.

And it’s not just in the riverbed. I’ve seen these flags of the downtrodden just about anywhere I see open space these days. If you’re not paying attention, you may not notice it, but they are there — an obvious sign that homelessness is on the increase during some of the best economic times this nation has ever experienced. That math does not add up.

Whatever one’s opinion of homelessness is — of the reasons why or of the damage done, if you ever see these Flags Of Fast Rain And High Water, please take a moment to reflect just how fortunate you are. You might also ask yourself, if the economy is really this good, why is this on the increase…?

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
171 miles
7,800′ climbing
15.8 mph avg
9,800 calories
10 hours 46 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Jarvis Cocker. Enjoy…

6 thoughts on “The Flags Of Fast Rain And High Water…

  1. Thank you, Roy, for pointing out this senseless inequality in society!
    As a Boy Scout on an overnight, there was a serious rain during the night. and my pup-tent was flooded. How fortunate am I to only have that silly story in a lifetime of safety and comfort?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Dr. J, and that relatable to me also. Also growing up as a Boy Scout, we camped pretty much around, even in the snow. Like we were supposed to be, we were always prepared. I have only one memory of getting caught in the rain and having to pack up and move to higher ground during the night, and it is still in my memory is the most miserable night of my life.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a big issue everywhere, from Omaha to Orlando. Homelessness and its current increase, might be the best visible indicator that a statistically strong economy isn’t that strong.

      As always, thank you Jeanne…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow I did not know how the numbers of homeless have increased in the San Luis Rey River bed. On a recent trip to LA I drove right through skid row. Over 50K and a destination on google maps. Insane the numbers have grown. In San Francisco Corey steps over homeless, And hyper dermic needles around and in BART stations on his way to school. This golden state of California has become outrageously harder to live in with the housing prices.. Last heavy rain we had, I have my umbrella to a homeless man in Temecula. Word is out In the homeless community that people of Temecula are friendly giving folks. Sorry you’re seeing more flags flying. Thank you for sharing and giving me an awareness. Breaks my heart when it’s cold out or raining,knowing they are out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you Roy. I too have a rain story from camping. Camping. We are in a muddle. And, from that muddle,… I am humbled by the plentiful life that is, here on the ranch. In gratitude for your writing and image.

    Liked by 1 person

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