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img_7885 You’re saturated with online political posts, memes, and tweets.  Or you’re stuck inside because of rain and no swell.  Or both.  Now’s a good time to read a book.  Jeff McElroy’s short stories, Californios and Californios 2 will occupy your mind, immersing you in waves of sketchy situations and native splendor.

I’ve wanted to review this two-volume collection, Californios published in 2012 and Californios 2 in 2015, except I’ve been stymied by the author’s copyright instructions:  “All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever including Internet usage, without written permission of the author.”  No part.  Whatsoever.  Including Internet.

As you’ve read in previous book reviews here on The Coast Road, I enjoy sharing passages from the books to get you fired up to buy and enjoy the read.  I could write Jeff and ask permission for a few outtakes, but it’s not that important for this little blog.  Out of respect for his copyright, I’ll not share Jeff’s writing, which I assure you, his writing is wonderful.

I’ll tell you that his stories will remove you from this overcharged political world and fill your head with words such as Rincon, goofyfoot, right-handers, Sandspit, Humqaq, and you will share beers at Lee’s parking lot campfire out at Emma Wood, and, in another story, you will listen to Chumash history at Shimilaqsh.  You’ll be so absorbed reading Californios, your mind will refresh and you’ll reconnect with your stoke.

You must take my word for it, both Californios and Californios 2 are worth your purchase and reading time.

Buy direct from Pierpont Press.  Only $17.00 each.

If you don’t want to mail check or cash, buy via Amazon: Californios and Californios 2.

 

It’s been one month shy of two years since I posted a book review on this blog (not for want of California coastal books, of which there are many terrific titles released), because I was otherwise occupied and neglected this site.  After reading Chris Chapman’s Stories of Arroyo Hondo, the end has arrived for this book review drought and I’ll post some favorite reads from the past two years, but first, Chris Chapman’s art and history book of a little canyon on the Gaviota Coast.

As we know Arroyo Hondo today, it is a nature preserve managed by the Land Trust of Santa Barbara, located about 30 minutes north of Santa Barbara or about 10 miles south of the Gaviota Pass on U.S. Highway 101/California State Highway 1.  Visitor access for hiking its short trails is limited to two weekends each month and the preserve rents for events of up to 100 people.  Five streams form as the headwaters and converge and flow as Arroyo Hondo Creek under the highway and Southern Pacific’s trestle to the Pacific Ocean.  You can jog down the stairs to the beach and walk the 6 miles of sandy beach from Arroyo Hondo to Gaviota at low tide.storiesofarroyohondo

Stories of Arroyo Hondo begins as Tucumu (later, Tuxmu), a Chumash village recorded by Cabrillo during his contact with the Santa Barbara channel in late October through early November of 1542.  Chris Chapman writes, “Radiocarbon dates from artifacts such as pestles and projectile points indicate initial occupation of 3,000 B.C.”  In the 225 years from Cabrillo’s contact, Tuxmu was a vacant site by the time the Portola Expedition journeyed this coast.

Arroyo Hondo was a section of José Francisco Ortega’s ranch, a grazing permit named Nuestra Señora del Refugio.  Ortega enjoyed only three short years at La Nuestra.  “He became obese and eventually could not mount his horse without help.”  The Ortega family continued life on the rancho and one son petitioned for legal title from the Spanish, and then Mexican governments, but the family did not receive official title until 1866.  Bit by bit the Ortega family sold portions of the rancho.  “Arroyo Hondo was the last of the Refugio lands to remain in Ortega hands.”  Stories of Arroyo Hondo displays black and white photos of the Ortega descendants, their adobe houses, a grist mill, and a schoolhouse.

“In 1908 W.W. Hollister’s daughter Jennie Hollister Chamberlain Hale purchased the 782 acre Arroyo Hondo ranch” from E. Cordero, to whom the rancho was sold previously in 1889.  “The Ortega family continued to live at Arroyo Hondo,” through both Cordero and Hollister-Chamberlain-Hale ownership.

Transportation developments are covered in both text and black and white photos starting with stagecoach travel, then the effects of the railroad and herding of cattle by the Hollisters, and the automobile.  “Vicente lamented that the cool ocean breeze could no longer drift up the canyon,” once the Arroyo Hondo Creek culvert and highway closed the canyon at the coast.

Chris Chapman and her husband John Iwerks painted Arroyo Hondo while they ranch-sat for the Hollisters.  Watercolor landscapes and pastel coastscapes by Chris and oil roadscapes and beach scenes by her husband generously fill many pages of Stories of Arroyo Hondo as a colorful and “lasting gift.”

Stories of Arroyo Honda would make a nice holiday gift!  Purchase at:

Book Loft in Solvang
or in Santa Barbara at Chaucer’s Books, and the Presidio gift shop (Trust for Historic Preservation)
or Montecito, at Tecolote Books
and of course at Arroyo Hondo Preserve in the Ortega adobe.

Retail is $19.95 plus tax.  Shipping is possible if you cannot visit the above locations.

Note: I do not personally know the author, nor do I receive any benefit from book sales.  I think people should know about these California coast books and I’m happy to write about them.

 

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

Coast Highway north of Santa Barbara

Twelve years ago Paul (Pike) Seeger joined Seger & Strauss. He’s handled a bunch of high-profile pro bono cases and was twice elected President of the National Bar Association.  Pike taught Constitutional Law and Trial Practice at both USC and UCLA law.  He’s filed some big-time lawsuits, made national headlines during the seventies as a litigator, and won class-action consumer and environmental cases on behalf of the California Environmental and Consumer Protection Agency (CEPAC).

Then Pike got the call from his old Stanford law school buddy and ex-coworker, now the United States’ Attorney General, that the President has short-listed Pike as a Supreme Court nominee.

After hanging up that call, with a directive to Pike to ensure there are no skeletons in his closet before the nomination goes public, Pike’s phone rings again.  This caller advises Pike to “decline the nomination.  You must consider the content of file CR-44-139, Southern District of California.”

U.S. v. Anonymous.

Gaviota, A Novel takes us on adventures from Gaviota to one hundred miles south, within the basement archives of the City of Los Angeles’ District Court’s old federal courthouse.  From the file of U.S. v. Anonymous, Pike’s legal secretary, Gladys, translates the old court reporter’s shorthand from Swedish to English.

Erik O’Dowd provides us juicy cityscapes, “A misting rain covered Los Angeles under a low cushion of clouds.  The air was alive with the city’s wet light, slickening its structures.  I hunkered against the mist, walked along mirrored streets to the near-empty parking garage beneath my building.  I was alone in a city of millions.  I drove west, carried along a glistening artery, even more alone in the dark-lit compartment of my car.”

And sweet coastscapes, “The wide porch, where Mom spent most daylight hours, faced sunward, south- and westward toward the Pacific.  Beneath it spread the orchard – lemons and walnuts; and below it a tier of oak-lined fields, through which meandered arroyos carrying rain from the Santa Ynez Mountains to the ocean.  The creeks had formed sloughs and cut gaps in the shale cliffs that marked the westward course of the Gaviota coast.”

That’s it.  No more teasers.  Gaviota is a novel and a mystery, a thriller, but basically, a super good read.  Keywords are:  WWII, concrete, road contracts, Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, Gaviota, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties, steelhead fishing in the Santa Ynez mountains, family, success, loss, and righting wrongs.

You will be the jury of Gaviota and can only make a decision based on the facts found.

Buy Gaviota, A Novel.

Erik O’Dowd’s website.

More about Gaviota coast.

Dude gave me his name, but I didn’t ask his permission to share, so I’ll tell you that dude’s name is “Noah.”  Noah’s hitched rides from Shasta County to the San Mateo County coast.  He has no specific destination.  New Mexico, ultimately, then back home.

“Lightning Fields, New Mexico,” I suggested.  Noah hadn’t heard about Lightning Fields.  I told him about Just John, riding a tricycle, heading south a couple of years ago, and that his plan was to reach the southern end of the Coast Road, then turn east to New Mexico, bound for the Lightning Fields.

“An electrical dude,” observed Noah.  “I’ve been reading about Tesla and his inventions.”

Noah’s traveling south, dependent on hitchhiking to reach the next destination.  “Riding a bike would be better,” says Noah after I tell him about Just John riding his tricycle.  “More independence, travel at one’s own pace, stop wherever and whenever, and, more room to pack more supplies.”

Noah’s belongings fit within a modest-sized backpack, larger than what we slung across our backs when in school, but smaller than an expedition backpack, which may be more suitable for Noah’s coastal trek.  A black canvas shoulder bag holds items requiring frequent use, such as Noah’s bullet-shaped, stainless steel thermos.

Noah’s tanned skin from the past couple weeks of unseasonably warm temperatures contrast to this week’s winter weather of snow at 1,000 foot elevations and hail storms at sea level.  After a long rainy hitch that brought him through Marin County and across the Golden Gate, and a complicated navigation through the drizzly city, Noah got a ride from San Francisco, through Pacifica, around Devil’s Slide, then down the coast and up to Apple Jacks in La Honda.  “I’ve enjoyed two good woodstove fires and really good music in the past 24 hours.”

Atop Noah’s long, brown, sun-kissed curls, sits a green felt hat, with a stubby brim, adequate-enough to provide sun and rain protection.  Noah’s summer-weight, black pin-striped suit is layered underneath by a red tee, and a green wool v-neck sweater, topped by two thick scarves.  Birkenstocks on Noah’s sockless feet display signs of wear at the heels.

Next stop Santa Cruz, then maybe Monterey, unless Noah hitches straight into the Sur.

Keep an eye to the Coast Road for “Noah,” and, if you’re headed to the next town south, maybe offer him a lift.

While waiting for me to write an update, how about you watch traffic on Highway 1 in Santa Cruz, in Pismo, and in Santa Barbara.

Hit the > Play button to get the vid going.

Coast Road Twit

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Days until manuscript completion

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