A Doug's Life: Riding the Dusty Trail

In the continuing efforts to explore my relatively new hometown of Menifee and surrounding areas, I recently discovered a new strategy:

Get lost.

OK, so I wasn't completely lost. I mean, I always knew I could find my way home eventually. Even though I wasn't familiar with the neighborhood I found myself in upon making an unscheduled exit from the 215 Freeway, I knew there was no reason to panic.

I didn't have to hope someone had left bread crumbs for me to follow home. I didn't need a compass or to wait for nightfall and look for the North Star. C'mon, it's 2012. I had a GPS app on my iPhone.

Besides, as usual, I found a way to turn a challenge into an adventure.

Here's what happened. I was cruising south on the 215, a few miles before reaching my Menifee exit, when traffic came to a dead stop. "OK, so it's Southern California," I said to myself. Then I thought, "Hey, this is the middle of nowhere. Isn't this what I moved 90 minutes east to escape?"

The same thing had happened a couple nights earlier, when I spent about a half hour maneuvering through a detour at the 4th Street off-ramp because of construction work. At least that time, it was about 10 p.m., when you'd assume such work would be taking place.

This time it was 5:30 on a Friday afternoon -- not exactly prime shutdown time for a busy freeway, no matter how many tumbleweeds are floating around.

Maybe it was just a stalled car around the bend, but I decided not to take any chances. Streaking over from the center lane to the far right lane with the dexterity of my grandma on steroids, I pulled off on the Nuevo Road off-ramp before reaching the red (tail light) zone.

I knew enough to turn left, heading east, where presumably I could catch some surface street that would take me southward toward the Hidden Meadows development of Menifee. If not, I could always send up a signal flare.

Just past Perris High School, I pulled over to consult the GPS. Yep, it showed me that, sooner or later, I would come upon Menifee Road, which would take me in the right direction.

Of course, sooner turned out to be later. For the next few miles, I drove down lonely roads lined with boulders the size of a garage. In short, it was pretty much the back-road tour of Nuevo (is there a front-road tour?)

But that's OK. Back in the day, I would've grumbled to myself about the delay. But this is the new, relaxed, rural, cowboy-wanna-be me. An unexpected 25-minute drive the rest of the way home was downright enjoyable.

To me, there's something soothing about cruising down the road with very little on either side except horse corrals and abandoned barns. At one point, I passed what appeared to be a grandpa and grandson riding on horseback down the side of the road, chasing their own shadows away from the setting sun.

(Cue the strumming guitar and howling coyotes).

Yeah, this side trip definitely beat the usual freeway race past the Home Depot at Ethanac Road. This definitely was more scenic than the auto mall with the giant thermometer. I didn't even miss my usual view of the lights in the valley as I head over the hill toward Newport Road.

After all, I said when I came here that I wanted to see the sights. It's just taken a bit longer than expected. Suddenly, I realized, I had gotten into a rut, traveling up and down the 215 like a racehorse with blinders on.

It reminded me of an incident a few days earlier, when my wife Kristen and I decided to travel a bit north of our neighborhood on Briggs Road, just to see where it led. Lo and behold, there's a giant dairy farm right there, maybe a mile from our house. That explains the smell.

Once again, I didn't mind at all.

In recent weeks, I also have discovered the scenic drive west across Scott Road (eventually Bundy Canyon Road) to the 15 Freeway. I have a few enticing side roads earmarked for a return trip.

Yep, it's time to stop and smell the roses. OK, road apples. Whatever.

I doubt that Kristen would agree, but I find it refreshing.


  1. Doug, you wrote:
    In short, it was pretty much the back-road tour of Nuevo (is there a front-road tour?)

    Just a note: That was the front-road tour! That's Nuevo, like it or not!

    Loved this article! And now, when you've become bored with Menifee and it's "city-ness", you know where to relocate. The boulder on the left.

  2. I seriously want to do some research on why this area is full of boulders. It must go back to some prehistoric earthquake. I'm on a mission now...

  3. Another great story! I too find myself taking the occasional detour home to see what's out there. I pack up the kids in the car and go on an old fashioned Sunday drive. There is soooo much to see that even in living here 3 years, I come across new areas with farms, various livestock ranches and of course small "Mom and Pop" markets that we always stop at to buy some snacks for our adventures. To think of it, I will be taking my kids down another GPS less tour tomorrow...