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Matthew walked bow-legged with quick, northbound jerky strides up the hill above Pescadero State Beach.  His blue nose female kept up alongside, but her grey head hung lowered, shoulders hustling, tongue panting.  Matthew’s back, young and strong, held his yellow backpack upright.  It’s top peeked high above Matthew’s head.  It’s bottom strapped snug around Matthew’s hips.  The dog’s leash dragged on the ground, handless.

“I saw that guy south of Davenport on my way to Santa Cruz on Thursday!” said the passenger in the car driving southbound on the coast road.  “On the way back home, he had reached Swanton.”

The driver regarded Matthew as the car sped past.  The speedometer needle poked 60.  Only a couple state beaches and a eucalyptus grove altered the contours of the coast hills. “If we see him on the return trip, we’ll pick him up.”

After dinner and drinks at Duarte’s the two hopped back in the car and headed north.  On the hill north of Pomponio creek, Matthew and the dog climbed.  No arm outstretched with a thumb up asking for a ride.  Matthew didn’t turn to even look at the oncoming car.

The car slowed over to the shoulder ahead of Matthew and his tired dog.

The passenger looked surprised at the driver, “I can’t believe you’re actually doing this!  Maybe this guy won’t even want a ride?”

“Doubt it,” replied the driver, looking in the rear view mirror.  “He’s running towards us.”

“You’re going to let the dog in here too?” asked the passenger.

“I let our dogs in here.  And one of ours is a Pit.  Why not?”

Slightly winded, Matthew reached the car by traversing the drainage gully along the road’s edge.  The passenger stepped out of the car, onto the paved shoulder, opened the back seat door and introduced himself to Matthew.  The driver waited behind the wheel, brake applied, engine running.  Matthew unclipped the waist strap and slung off his backpack, tossing it to the side of the backseat.  The dog jumped in, tail a little tucked, sniffing the carpet of the car.

Through his bushy black beard and his white evenly-spaced teeth, Matthew broadly smiled and said, “Thank you so much for stopping!”

Hot dog Buns

First day of Summer arrives bittersweet, for it marks the beginning of dwindling hours of daylight, until the solstice reaches its low, its demise, if you will, the blackout which signifies winter’s begin.

First day of Winter, hopeful.  Days getting longer.  First Day of Summer, full of regret over time wasted.

“After 30 years he’s finally listened to us old timers who have been stewards of the land. Cattle create holes around the creeks and ponds. The garter snake and red-legged frog love these holes. Cattle also graze the hillsides and woods, providing a fire danger defense.”

The land itself and the native animals.  Not the horses and the land.  Not the houses, shops and streets of the land, but the very insects which inhabit the land.

You only see flies.  Houseflies.  Occasionally, a butterfly.  An orange and black Monarch.

We have way more than that.  We have miniature, micro-micro, green irridescent little bugs with wings.  They mystify and I am bewitched upon their landing on my arm, or knee.  I watch them, do not brush them away, like I would a common housefly.  I watch them and consider a relationship with them.  They’re as supposed to be here, as am I.

But it’s Summer now.  We’ve rolled past the line.  From now on, treasure every moment you got.  Got with the sunshine.  Got with the hills.  Got with the hawks, quail, and the silly little airplanes from over the hill.  The flight path runs overhead, out in this paradise.  Those sunny calm days that you also love so much, are interrupted by the little airplanes, buzzing overhead.

During these interrupts.  These blights on the landscape, you will make lists of things to complete while in society.  In – Out.  That’s the objective.  Upon that list, you write, “Hot dog Buns.”

It’s Summer.  The bbq should be fired each night.  Out on the coast.  Onshore breeze, warmed by 3 ridges and 2 canyons.  Scents of tall golden grasses, chaparral, sage and creeks.  Reaches you salty.

Magic Bus

Used to be that psychedelic magic buses drove the Coast Highway.  They’ve long disappeared now.   A few are still around, parked long ago under the tree canopy of the redwood and oak forests.  Aging and decaying.  Now dusty, dirty, and grey, their faded swirls of paint across the nose, sides, and top.

I’ve seen one between Briceland and Thorn Junction on the road out to Shelter Cove.  Another was up in La Honda, like an extinct species, for La Honda used to house many of these buses.

But this bus before me, in the photo above, was all green.  A green, mid-size bus.  A driver, a passenger.  Lots of bikes on back.

It’d be nice to have a bus this size, an electric bus one of several, providing bus service all-along the California coast.

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Just John caught my eye when I was driving south on Cabrillo Highway and I thought, “What an interesting person he must be, out here riding his bike, a tri-bike, loaded with gear for camping and extended touring, I’d like to talk to him.”

But I whizzed right on by his narrow hold of California State Route 1’s ungenerous shoulder as I was in a hurry to get things done.  Upon my return drive north, there he was, leaning against the guardrail, having a smoke, right next to a convenient pull-out for a coastal property that’s been for sale a long time.  “Now’s my chance to talk to him!  Now or never!  He’ll be gone to Big Sur if I let him go!”  And then I argued with myself, “Yeah, but I’m so busy and must get some things done and eat lunch.”  To which I replied, “Who am I though?  A busy person who needs to eat, or an obsessed person with all-things Coast Road?”

I flipped a U-eee and pulled into the drive next to where Just John relaxed.

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The creek smells of damp leaves and dirt. The creek that runs through town carries the rich mix. The waterflow pushes the earth to sea. Deposits of rich soil line its banks, deepen its bed. Pacific wind blows creek scent through town mixed with bakeries baking and coffee roasteries burning beans. It was a town in which an old lady could walk unmolested down Main Street. The greasy, redolent air of Popeye’s Chicken House hovers the organic, vegan, range-fed grocer’s parking lot. Inland, on freeways, drivers don’t let dogs stick noses out open windows inhaling sea scents and low tide as they do on Highway 1.

Weather today, feverish
Spring Fever
Welcome relief from a slew of flus.

The kind of day that makes people leave work early
head west, to go
driving in the sun.
A warm, round huggy sun
reminding us why we’re so glad to be alive.

[[[[Silent Moment.]]]]

On my way home,
away from the crowds, the masses, and four choices of cable providers
I roll with the curvy country road at 30 to 50 mph
around one bend, a graceful comma, along this tale of a road,
lay a motorcyclist
on his back
one knee raised,
his helmet still on. bloody nose. pale face. his buddy’s hand
on his shoulder
pressed against the asphalt
“You’re listening to me right now.”
“Look at me.”

I stop, even though I had to get 6 miles in 5 minutes or else the place will close.
What would you do?


Stop, fumble the seat-belt, emerge from the car and ask, “What can I do?”

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State Route 1 has received funding for 3 Maintenance Projects through the American Recovery Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Project #15
EA: 0L800
CalTrans District 5
County: Monterey
Pacific Grove to Castroville, south of Route 1 to Tembladero Slough; also
on Route 68 east of Fairground road. Upgrade guard rail, crash cushion
and end treatment. $ 2,535,000

Project #34
EA: 1E220
CalTrans District 4
County: Sonoma
In Sonoma County near Fort Ross, from 2.5 miles south of Fort Ross Road
to Timber Cove Road, and near Gualala from Sea Walk Drive to Gualala
River Bridge (# 10-181). $ 550,000

Project #55
EA: 0J700
CalTrans District 12
County: Orange
In Orange County in and near Laguna Beach, from Dana Point/Laguna
Beach City limits to Aster Street, and from State Park to Newport Coast
Drive. $ 2,160,000

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.

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Days until manuscript completion

Final DraftNovember 30th, 2013
Dot i's and cross t's.