Children have begun to go back to school. Some have already started school and some will begin a bit later on this week. I went out around town on Saturday and drove out to the Great Park. I had been driving by it for years and never actually took the time to go back in to check it out. I finally decided to go out with my Son to check it out.
As we approached the entrance, I remembered all those times when I witnessed all those planes flying over. Although I had been to the base during the Air Shows, I had no idea how really extensive it was until we got in through the old Marine Way entrance off Sand Canyon. The building clearly showed their age. The roads were not as maintained as they once were. The lawns were virtually non-existent. For sure it is a Construction Site–no doubt about it!!!
I continued to drive up until I got to the Oasis–the Preview Park. It is quite a site. I was quite impressed with what the City of Irvine has done to create a reasonable preview of things to come. As I was walking up to register the balloon ride, I was checking out the trees. The trees were beautiful and were another preview of what we are to expect going forward.
I noticed the “Rocks”. I found the initiative to preserve the El Toro “Rocks’ to be interesting. They had already built a preview of the “Rocks” around the Balloon launch pad. I gathered that the developers are trying to utilize every bit of the material for the sake of history. As for the balloon ride itself, that was quite a trip.
The balloon trip was about 10 minutes. We went out about 400 feet and had all of Orange County before us. It was just beautiful!! I also truly realized how the old base was as extensive as it was. I was in awe as I saw the base extend as far as the eye can see. The hangers and Marine Barracks were part of the history and fabric of South County. That’s why I am so excited about preservation efforts. I also remembered all those Marines who served and who fought for America.
As I looked over the horizon, I realized the immense amount of work still ahead before the dream is realized. I also thought about the continued controversy that seems to have dominated the news lately. Although I am certain that some things could have been done differently, I remember the fight over the base as the idea of an Airport was discussed. What was clear to me at the time was that the idea of an Airport would have meant the death of South County as we know it. Many those who helped to spread head the fight continue to hold positions of power in local government today.
As the balloon gradually descended back down, I wondered about all those commercial plans who could have been landing in El Toro daily. All who are on a crusade over the present management of the park need to remember what might have been. I admit that I am concerned about accountability and transparency about this process and the need to move this process forward. Although I would be continue to be a regular at the preview park, I hope that all of us will see the advent of the Great Park itself and not the “Preview Park” in the not-so distant feature.