On Thursday, 9 February 2017, I succeeded in traveling to Mission Trails Regional Park by a combination of public transit and Lyft, a first-time effort taking me 2 hours one way to achieve. Since the park’s visitor’s center is unreachable by any public and associated paratransit buses, I was thwarted in going to the park’s visitor’s center before this. But, using my knowledge of where the center was located, and putting together my accumulated experience riding San Diego area public buses, plus a little help from Lyft drivers, I was able to find my way there at last! My adventure began at 8:20 AM, when I left my house, which is roughly 25 miles from the Mission Trails Park Visitor’s Center, primarily along surface roads. The first leg of my trip was aboard a Blue Line trolley heading north to the City College Transit Station, downtown San Diego. There I boarded a Route 215 express bus, taking me to the San Diego State University Transit Station. I got a little closer to my destination by riding a Route 115 bus from there, disembarking in a suburban neighborhood near Cowles’ Mountain, situated in the middle of Mission Trails Park, and the highest point within the San Diego city limits. From there I used the Lyft app in my phone to request a ride to the Mission Trails Park visitor’s center, which was now very close-by. Then, finally, the Lyft driver took me to the visitor’s center at 10:30 AM, yay!
I had 2 main goals for today’s excursion, to receive information about guided nature walks to participate on sometime in the future, and to hike along a nearby familiar road called the Father Junipero Serra Trail. This was my first time back to this part of the park since becoming visually-impaired from glaucoma. Although now unable to see well enough to drive, to read, or even to see the plants, the birds, and the other things that once brought me so much personal delight, I was now simply glad and grateful to be able to visit there again.
Between 11 AM and 2 PM, I hiked along a 2-mile part of the road, running roughly parallel with a wild and rugged stretch of the San Diego River, through the aptly-named Mission Gorge. The gorge consists of high, steep slopes harkening back to the days when San Diego was undisturbed by urban development, supporting a mixture of rough vegetation adapted to hard, dry and rocky ground. The rushing river itself was shrouded by a narrow strip of trees and dense shrubs, once utilized by the indigenous Kumeyaay people. Ironically, going on this hike was something I had never done before. But I was in a familiar, safe, and beautiful natural area I had been to before. When I was ready to leave there, I used the Lyft app again, getting a ride to a nearby spot where I could get on another #115 bus back to San Diego State, and from there back home. During my visit to the park I recognized seventeen different species of birds by their unique vocalizations, a learned capability my visual impairment hasn’t taken from me.