My Love Affair With Devil’s Slide

There’s only two ways to get to San Francisco from the isolated San Mateo Coastside.

The sedate choice is with Highway 92, the same trail used by creaky stagecoaches 100-years-ago—and the breathtaking alternative, Devil’s Slide, a raw 11-mile stretch of twisting roadway, 1000- feet above the crashing Pacific surf, originally blasted out of million-year-old rock by the Ocean Shore Railroad engineers in the early 20th century.

I can’t remember when I first drove Devil’s Slide but it never bored me, even after a 30-year relationship.

Some people don’t believe that I’m not intimidated by the Slide—Devil’s Slide plain old scares them, particularly when the winds shake their cars and the thick fog makes their headlights useless.

I suspect it’s more than fear that keeps these folks off the Slide. Devil’s Slide brings one face- to -face with raw nature, the wind and the rock and the surf, some folks can’t handle that, they want to see nature harnessed, civilized and confined like a photograph on the wall.

Whenever people become complacent, Devil’s Slide reminds them where the real power resides .The Ocean Shore Railroad, an iron road that cut through the mountains along the Pacific, barely lasted a decade before the Slide twisted their tracks and reclaimed the roadway.

It was a constant challenge to the automobile commuters–using the same roadbed as the failed railroad—but in 1995 Devil’s Slide ruthlessly attacked, collapsing the road and shutting the Slide down completely for almost a year.

It’s been 11 years since then and things have been pretty quiet. An occasional car crashes into the surf but by and large it’s been peaceful.

Now I’m at home and the recent incessant rains have angered the Devil’s Slide gods. They’re hurdling four-ton boulders onto the roadway. It’s been closed a couple of weeks now and I’m heartsick at the prospect that my love affair with Devil’s Slide has been broken off again. I hope not for long.

The planners are already digging a multi-million-dollar, one-mile-long tunnel that they hope will “neutralizeâ€? Devil’s Slide.

I have a feeling their project will prove to be futile.