Day 35. The grey clouds are still threatening. Cars have been driving into sinkholes. The roads are almost all flooded. The storm drains are raging torrents. The firefighters have been very busy. People have been stranded, flooded out, killed by power lines. The guy next door had branches fall and damage his roof. He was up there getting them off in the downpour. The interstate is likely a death trap.
But I have a geriatric Chevy. And it’s a weekend.
I manage to find somewhere that looks like it might be interesting and free without needing the interstate. Lyndon and I jump in the Chevy and limp bang pop squeak limp bang pop squeak crunch to The Cave of Munits. An odd name for a cave, I think, but it’s a Chumash name. The Chumash roamed in this area before we came. They were hard as nails, although neither gun proof nor immune to disease. They could hunt WHALES in canoes, and with typical practicality, used every inch of the things. And their understanding of astrology and plant medicine was huge. Munits was a shaman, and he lived in the cave. Until he came to a sticky end after murdering the son of a chief, which I can’t help thinking might have been something he did for the good of the tribe. You’d know the consequences of such an action. But I haven’t been able to raise the full story online.
I am very pleased that the cave is still named for Munits, whatever he did, rather than one of the early settlers, as with Bryce Canyon in Utah. The cave itself requires a bit of a climb. On the way we encounter someone going the other way. He says “You won’t get up there dressed like that,” which is red rag to a bull. I might be wearing a collared white shirt and cords but that won’t stop me getting covered in mud and breaking my ankles dammit.
There are many opportunities to do both. Before we’re even close to the bottom of the trail, I’ve dumped Lyndon in a stream – “Jump across, I’ll catch you. Come on it’s fine, trust me.” Splat. “Sorry.” Oh how we laugh. On the way up, it occurs to me that there might be a mudslide. There are little rivulets cutting deep through the soil everywhere. I try and work out where I’d run to if I saw a huge chunk of it come off above us, and conclude that I wouldn’t have time. I don’t mention it to Lyndon. We tread carefully and make it to the outside of the cave. To get in we then have to scale up the slick walls, but mercifully not for a long way. And it’s worth it.
The interior is beautiful with many light shafts striking through. If I were a teenager here, on a dry summer night I’d want to go there with my mates, have a fire under the stars, talk big thoughts and have confusing interactions with girls. Then I’d punch whichever idiot sprayed crap graffiti around the place. It’s lovely despite this. And I’m glad conditions are so atrocious as we have the place to ourselves. We clamber up a shaft and out the top of the cave. There’s a striking view. On one side, the sprawl of the valley. On the other side the remains of rolling hills that once would’ve rolled all the way to the ocean. “Humanity is a disease,” I find myself thinking.
This city never ceases to surprise me. There is so much to find. I’m glad I’ve got this deathtrap vehicle, even if the engine light is constantly on and it rattles and bangs alarmingly when you top sixty mph. It’ll make things far more accessible, even if it’s going to make things financially tricky. Tomorrow I think I’ll give it a proper workout and go to sequoia national park. So I’ll probably end up stranded the desert somewhere… At least it’ll make a good story.