Pendleton has been going off lately — a lot.
If you’re not from Fallbrook California, that sentence might seem cryptic or not mean nothing at all. However, if one has lived in Fallbrook for any length of time, they know immediately what that means — we’ve heard a lot of explosions lately. Big explosions — the kind of explosions one can feel when riding a bike at 20 mph.
These explosions regularly rattle windows, tilt pictures on walls, scare critters, and occasionally cause humans to turn to the horizon and look for a mushroom cloud. But there are no mushroom clouds, just the sounds of powerful concussions that rattle and shake the canyons, hills, and flatlands of this area.
The Camp Pendleton Marine Base shares an 18-mile border with our little bedroom community. Though the live-fire training takes place a safe distance from town, the noises and heavy concussions that go with these weapons of measured destruction can be heard and felt for miles.
As a veteran, I support what our Marines do in preparing for the worst in matters of defense. As a citizen though, I will always hope we do our best in matters of diplomacy, so our means of defense are used sparingly — as well as our means of offense. Our military needs to be well trained and well-rehearsed, and they are. Pendleton is one of many locations around the country and around the world where our military practices with things that go boom.
The explosions often occur when I’m least expecting them — as I’m reaching for a tomato, opening the door for a client, or letting my dog out to pee. Although the middle of the night is off-limits, they will fire as early as 5am and as late as 11pm, so it’s fair to say they do wake people up on occasion. Imagine waking up to an explosion.
Even after living here 20 years, these boom grandes can still be unnerving. It’s one thing to hear the windows rattle and feel the floors vibrate when I open the refrigerator door. It’s something different to see a picture to go sideways on the wall as I’m tucking my 90-year-old mother into bed.
The explosions can also be humbling — to me anyway. When I hear and feel them, I know they’re taking place in a controlled environment, and far enough from town that I feel safe. I always take a minute though, to reflect on how I might feel, think, and react if the explosions weren’t controlled — if they were random, hostile, and not the fruit of practice.
I imagine what people in other parts of the world might feel when they hear similar explosions. They might fear for their lives. They might take cover within door jambs, under tables, or throw themselves over their children. Or maybe they grow accustomed to them, like a Marine friend on tour in Iraq explained to me when he got home in 2005…
“If I know the explosions aren’t a threat to me, but they’re close, my first inclination is to pick up my coffee so it doesn’t spill…”
A real quote from a United States Marine.
When I’m riding south on Mission Road and feel a boom, I get to just keep rolling and enjoy the wind in my face. A cyclist in Israel, Afghanistan, or Syria might take cover under a bridge if there’s one nearby. Or worse, might find no cover at all, and pedal even faster as his best option, totally exposed.
Surrounded by explosions all day, knowing they’re safe, scheduled, and contained, reminds me just how lucky I am. It also reminds me daily, about those who aren’t so lucky.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This week by the numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 7
Mph Avg: 14.8
Seat Time: 13 hours 44 minutes
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 Enigma. Enjoy…