El Morro, North Laguna.
When I was a kid, I traveled this portion of the Coast Road often, as my grandparents had a place in El Morro Trailer Park and I attended El Morro Elementary, just to the right of the stoplight, at the top of the rise there in the photo.
Back then, there were no stoplights. Back then, there were no buildings that you now see in the photo on the upper right, surrounded by landscaped shrubbery and trees.
Back then, there were no trees, just wide open blufftops marred by erosion canyons cut during the flood of winter rains. On the left side of the photo, where the bluff opens up, was a horse stable, from where I’d ride my horse down to the beach and up into the hills – – where those stucco’d million dollar homes stand now. This was Irvine Ranch land, previously Rancho San Joaquin. If you Google Rancho San Joaquin now, your return will be a list of about twenty references to the Rancho San Joaquin Golf Course. (Three years ago, when I began this Coast Road research, I could Google Rancho San Joaquin and receive a return of the websites for the cities of Santa Ana, Irvine and a couple Orange County historical groups’ pages on the old rancho. Now the golf course sites have arrived online and obliterated historic references. Even the Information Superhighway has been changed by land developers.)
In my childhood, Coast Highway was four lanes across as it is now, although with little to interrupt the coastscape except for one little juice stand tucked into the cranny, a crook in the Coast Highway, near the turn-off to Crystal Cove.
I get confused returning to Southern California. Everything seemed developed when I grew up down there, but it’s been so much more developed since. I saw the photo I pasted above in today’s Los Angeles Times article about work stopping due to the State Budget “mess” on converting the trailer park (the Times calls it a “mobile home” park) into a State Park.
The other strange item worth noting is that the article says the name will be El Moro with one “r,” yet, for the 35 years I’ve known of this location, it has always been El Morro with two “r’s.” Why the change I wonder?
Why the change? When I see this photo I remember the beach parties we’d have on the beach all summer long. Fourth of July was a madhouse with fireworks being set off at the beach dangerously close to people, since the beach was packed. Grunion runs brought out all the locals who didn’t mind touching slimy silvery little fish. Followed by a celebratory pot luck~grunion bbq on the green in the center of the park. Kids running around playing. Teens sitting around trying to be cool. Adults talking late into the night over cocktails.
Good times. Always seems like simpler times then.