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Doc Mishler and friends

Doc Mishler last rode the coast road fifteen years ago with the two horses pictured on the right: Chief Free Spirit and Keep The Faith. At that time, Doc trotted from Montana to Washington D.C., by way of California, after surviving a cancer diagnosis and its treatment and reading the book, How Then Shall We Live, a text that weighs the question, “How shall I live, knowing I will die?”

What was then a personal journey to celebrate life after beating a terminal diagnosis is now a ride to raise our awareness of hunger, in particular regard to starving children.  Doc says, “There are children in the world who are so hungry that God cannot appear to them except in the form of food.”

This ride is Doc’s mission. For more information about his church community, please stop him on his way south along Highway 1.

Doc can use a place to board his horses each night, so stop to offer your place when you see him.  Today he’ll depart Pescadero to travel to Santa Cruz, then on to Monterey, and then El Sur Grande, a day’s ride southbound until San Diego, where he will then head east-northeast to D.C.

This post written by Anneliese Agren

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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!”

La Nostra CostaIvano Franco Comelli‘s La Nostra Costa (our coast) sticks an Italian flag in the coast north of Santa Cruz.  Ivano Comelli is “un figlio della costa (son of the coast), born and raised on a brussel sprouts rancio.”

Ivano’s family lived on the Coast Road from 1937 to 1953 amongst other ranceri and amici della costa. “Italians who lived on or near the Coast Road would often say that they lived su per la costa, up the coast.” The family home was located on The Gulch Ranch, Il Golce.

“Our single-story batten and board-house had only about 1,200 square feet of actual living space and was separated from the Coast Road by a small patch of lawn, which in turn was surrounded by three sides by a hedge of tall juniper plants. These thick, woody plants shielded the house, somewhat, from the dusty wind, but did little to mitigate the constant noise that was generated by passing vehicles. There were far fewer vehicles on the road in those days; however, it still had a significant amount of traffic.”

Southbound cement trucks traveling the Coast Road to Santa Cruz from Davenport’s Portland Cement Plant would “descend into the gulch and climb a steep grade on the other side. Our house was located right at the top of the grade where the trucks completed their climb. Many times a truck going by was so noisy that our single wall house literally shook on its foundation. Mercifully, when the highway was rebuilt in the latter part of the 1950s, this particular portion of the gulch was mostly filled with rock and sand. The present roadway has a slight dip, but no longer does it have that steep descent.”

La Nostra Costa provides old photos and tells stories of daily life along the coast ranches and in old Davenport. Some things change, some things remain the same: access to beaches bordered by privately-owned land, nudism and sex on the beach while being spied upon from above by boys on the bluff, automobile accidents on the Coast Road, good food and Localism.

During World War II, being immigrants without U.S. Citizenship, these Italians were not allowed west of the Coast Road. “The entire coast from the Oregon border to just below Santa Barbara was declared off-limits to enemy aliens effective February 24, 1942.”

La Nostra Costa may be found at Bookshop Santa Cruz and via a few other venues.  Ivano also maintains a blog.

Santa Cruz ~ Pescadero Road

First out on the road, on a weekend morning, Chryslers and Dodges, convertibles
and sedans, rental cars for tourists. Next Gas 33 Miles

Black asphalt, solid yellow double lines, freshly-plowed fields. Umber sandstone
bluffs, black jagged rocks, white foam, and a cold, blue, shimmery-velvet Pacific.
Cabrillo Highway.

On the long straight-aways, seventeen Harley-riding bikers rumble two-abreast.

Read the rest of this entry »

Moonlight tonight shines more full than half. Moonbeams from southwest to northeast. White wavy light across the water from Montara Lighthouse to its mountain, illuminating Devil’s Slide. The highway, an old railroad bed empty of headlights. San Pedro Mountain, the original coast route, Portolà’s route up-and-over to discover the big bay.

State Route 56
Ocean Shore Highway
Coastside Boulevard
Coastside Highway
Cabrillo Highway

The tunnel, twin bores.  Rigged bright lights shine helping men work through the night. A tunnel locals call “Devil’s Slide Tunnel,” or “The Tunnel,” or “that damn tunnel,” but on a green and white reflective sign, the State will name it in memory of a local politician.

hunter’s moon waxes
five right arrows ~ curve ahead
prepare to stop

Instagram

I 💛the Rainbow Tunnel song by @alisonfaithlevy 🌈 heard @makeoutroomsf for @manicdpress @litquake 🤗 San Gregorio and North Bay stinky smoke horizon. Le Trou Normand.

Coast Road Twit

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Flickr Photos

Days until manuscript completion

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