Coastsider.com reports that the Slide will reopen “temporarily” in late September—just in time for us to enjoy the Pumpkin Festival!
I drove the Slide often and confess I miss the following familiar sight:
I don’t know what I’m celebrating here–this photo was taken in 1995, the last time the famous “Slide” was closed for months and months and months. My Burt is convinced he was in the last car to drive over the scenic road before it was shut down on a sloppy, rainy night.
One reassuring thing: Almost every person in a car driving north of Half Moon Bay on Hwy 1 belongs on the Coastside–you know they’re headed for home, a warm, fuzzy feeling.
Here’s what our friends on the other side of the hill are saying:
Overheard: Man to woman: “My wife has a friend in Moss Beach and she says you can’t drive to Half Moon Bay until after 11 a.m.–and JUST FORGET about going over there on the weekends.”
At Right: Devil’s Slide in healthier days (1981)
Patricia Erickson (PE): We do have those moments when fog can drive one crazy. We do have winter winds when although the sun is beautiful, the winds can be fierce and wet.
There’s been development but not nearly what it could be. Let’s face it: you’re just a stone’s throw from over the hill each way. So in ten years time there have been some people who’ve come in but they have to be a certain kind of person who are going to stay here–or they leave.
And we haven’t developed the way an area like this–easily accessible to places–would develop. A lot of people could say that’s the freeway, yes….people who want a freeway aren’t going to come here.
Gene Fleet (GF): The feeling from this side of the hill to other side of the hill is so different–in that the mountains are barriers, physical barriers–it’s because there are roads to the coastside–and yet, when talking with people on the other side of the hill, on the peninsula, if I would say, ‘I’m from the coastside’, to them that would be so far away. And certainly not a place where they would live.
They admire the fact that I am able to live so far away from where it’s “happening”. And for them they certainly couldn’t…They rarely drive over here…even people who come to the beaches aren’t the same folks although I notice the coastside changes on weekends. The coastside is really very accommodating.
This is the ocean; it isn’t owned by anybody. This ocean is a part of the earth and it just happens this is a very special point where the ocean meets the land surface–and there’s a quality of energy when two force fields come together….
I have felt the energy of the coastside as being very strong and independent…and that the coastside coule live autonomously from the rest of what we know as civilization around here.
I had an experience once when I felt this section of the coastside separating and becoming an island from Devil’s Slide to Ano Nuevo….and so we were cut off from the north and south and east. There’s the San Andreas Fault and San Gregorio Fault out at sea. This provides an isolated unit–and with the right shift we could be our own little autonomous unit out here.
PE: I think the mountains know–on an energy level they know…I feel we’re so well taken care of here on the visible levl, even on a spiritual level, we are quite well taken care of.
GF: I feel eccentric people are still here but they’re not the eccentric people who were here before. I feel the coastside will always be a haven for eccentric people. Maybe they’ve moved on, or just died here on the coastside, their energy is still here.
Eccentric people who are here now are different and some other folks have moved on. That in a way makes it a place people come to and go through are a part of the process of being here, of being human. And for some of us, it means being on the coastside for a period of time.
Two years ago I left to go to a community in Scotland called Findhorn, and, at that ime I felt ‘I’m leaving the coastside’. My 7-year cycle had completed, and then this Christmas when I returned– it was just to visit–and, yet here I am still, six months later…I’m still here…
PE: I’m not sure all the people who leave the coast come back–but people who are tuned in on that particular energy level feel a pulling back to the coastside.
There’s a certain type of person that seems to live here, and I can’t actually tell you what this kind of person is, except that they are an autonomous type of person.
They can deal with being their own person and with being alone. Being alone but still having to be within community because we have to function together here on the coastside uniquely. So alone and together which is really what the dance is.
You might say that we live in an oyster and just pick our pearls out….
I’m not a geologist but really feel this area is protected. I also feel I am very protected….
Bring the troops here to fix Devilâs Slide
Yesterday, I left home in El Granada at 9:50 a.m.: it’s only four miles to Half Moon Bay but forty minutes later found me mired in traffic on two-lane Hwy 92 about a mile east of Half Moon Bay.
It was confirmed that there had been an accident–a big, locally owned commercial truck hit head-on and the traffic was impossibly backed up. As I crawled up the mountain I saw quite a few cars strewn on the side of the road, with steam spewing out of their overheated engines.
It took me 1 & 1/2 hours to drive from El Granada to 280 in San Mateo, a ride that used to take 20 minutes. The stagecoach in the 19th century did better.
(There was one benefit: at this very slow pace I enjoyed the beautiful coastside scenery that I hadn’t noticed in years when whizzing byâwhat a terrific opportunity to practice patience and meditationâ-unfortunately, the meditation led to drowsiness and I realized, with lids growing heavy, that I better stay alert or Iâd fall asleep at the wheel).
Later, on the way home (youâd better make your return early, or you hit the commute traffic and youâre back bumper-to-bumper) I shopped at the Half Moon Bay Safeway. Another âvictimâ? standing in the checkout line was calculating the cost of driving âover the hillâ? and back–$20 was his calculaltion. He was numbed by his own mathematics.
Itâs incomprehensible that there is no solution, even temporary, to reopening the breathtaking stretch of Highway 1 known as Devilâs Slide.
Itâs alleged by some that “the U.S. military can build a road anywhere in the world in about two hours”. Hey, how about bringing the troops to Devilâs Slide? It would give these young men and women a healthy and useful project to work on.
If getting the army to Devilâs Slide isnât possible, remember weâre just a stone’s throw from Silicon Valley and Stanford, the birthplace of high tech– and we âre drowning in Nobel Prize winners. Surely someone can come up with a solution to get Devilâs Slide re-opened.
In the grand scale of things, a broken road is a very small deal…but what if one day we had a real disaster like an earthquake or a tsunamiâ¦I shudder at the thoughtâ¦.
What a weekend it was.
Last Saturday night, not only was Devil’s Slide shut down, the phones lines were down, the internet was down– God forbid if you had an emergency and had to call 911 because all you got was a busy signal (and one that sounded like a racing heartbeat).
For some unexplained reason the TV worked throughout.
And the local news told us that a landslide on Highway 92 (the only road open now that Devil’s Slide has slipped away) caused the service outages.
The time estimates on when service would be restored varied from unknown to 4 p.m. to midnight. Bay City News got it right on the button–around 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon the landline came back to life, followed closely by the cell phone & 911 and the Internet. (We celebrated…quietly).
During the hours we were “without connection to the outside world” we took a ride “over the hill” and saw the many phone company vehicles parked near the cemetery, presumably close to the site of the landslide. There’s been construction going on there and a fiber optic line had been severed. (Don’t think too hard about that!).
We listened to the radio news and a county official confirmed coastsiders couldn’t get through to 911. Until phone service was back on line, he said police vehicles had been stationed at signal lights along Highway 1. Cops were told to roll down their windows so they could hear anyone shouting for help.
24 hours without phones, without Internet, without 911. Funny– when we got it all back, we took it all in stride, as if nothing had happened at all.
As a dear friend always says: âIf you hang by the neck long enough, you get used to it.â?
Two Coastsiders I loved interviewing for the 1981 âMystery of Half Moon Bayâ? documentary were Patricia Erickson and Gene Fleet–two new age, spiritual friends who shared the belief that they lived in a unique, powerful place.
Gene Fleet (GF) worked at HMB Nursery and lived at remote Tunitas Creek near the former historical site, Gordonâs Chute– and the artistic Patricia Erickson (PE) lived in Moss Beach (the house with the big rainbow painted across the garage door) near the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.
Itâs 1980 and Pat and Gene speak freely about the power Devil’s Slide and the Coastside.
Patricia Erickson: I think itâs a power pointâ¦.
Gene Fleet: â¦that the whole San Mateo Coastside seems to be blocked off by the earth, with Devilâs Slide to the north and on the south where Ano Nuevo isâ¦Thereâs that whole cliff area which is continually falling inâ¦
PE: â¦people that live here, I think theyâre high energy peopleâ¦.I think people hwo live here are special people, too. I really feel thatâ¦And I think that they bring a degree of energy which stabilizes the earth, too.
GFâ¦There is a basic grounded quality about people who come here. In order to be able to be here one canât be too extravagant. There is a bit of that element coming in with commuter traffic and suburban development of the Coastsideâbut there is a stronger grounding element. It is expressed through various kinds of people living hereâ¦farmers and fishermen and people who are living in the mountainsâvarious nationalities represented hereâ¦Weâre all sort of in this together. In the fog together. In the anticipation of an earthquake, I mean, itâs constantly with usâ¦.
PE: I donât cope with the fog. I think fog is a very powerful energyâ¦We have a unique weather pattern which drives many people insane. We have a unique list of elementsâand force and power hereâ¦One of the elements is isolation which Gene was talking about. You just donât commute to movies every nightâ¦So people who live here are centers almost within themselves. People who can also join in the community but also seem autonomous channels of energy. There is a certain kind of person which stays here, which lives here, which thrives on it and which gets off on it and also channels into itâ¦.
GF: The Coastside has to evolve at its own rate. It will do so no matter whatâ¦As other influences come into the area, commercial ventures or economic things have to do with housing, different things which try to come in which arenât appropriate just donât happenâ¦.The whole thing of Westinghouse buying property and wherever thatâs standing now. The proposed 4-lane highway coming in from the east and north and they have continually been blockedâ¦Even this winter when Devilâs Slide threatened to disappear…
PE: People who need big complexes, all that development, obviously havenât stayed. Energyâs magnetic. So, energy attracts energy. So the energy thatâs here obviously is going to attract an energy. Weâre magnets to each other. I feel, too, that part of the reason venture hasnât occurred here is because thatâs not what itâs all aboutâ¦I think that first of all the earth, which is the very grounded thing here weâre living on on the etheric level is really not supportive of a freeway happening. My feeling is that the mountains themselves have a life essence form, a life energy on an etheric level which is saying âno, this is not going to happen.â?
I also think that the people who live here-and I’m really going out on a limb because I know there’s a lot of people who’d like to move out fast or have a freeway but I think, basically, a great many of the people who live here, on the etheral level, support the mountain’s decision.
Those are the two energies that are compatable–the people who stay which keeps bringing in that energy which the mountain, you might say, has the first and last word–because no one’s going to control that mountain.
…To be continued…
The sedate choice is with Highway 92, the same trail used by creaky stagecoaches 100-years-agoâand the breathtaking alternative, Devilâs 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 canât remember when I first drove Devilâs Slide but it never bored me, even after a 30-year relationship.
Some people donât believe that Iâm not intimidated by the SlideâDevilâs Slide plain old scares them, particularly when the winds shake their cars and the thick fog makes their headlights useless.
I suspect itâs more than fear that keeps these folks off the Slide. Devilâs Slide brings one face- to -face with raw nature, the wind and the rock and the surf, some folks canât handle that, they want to see nature harnessed, civilized and confined like a photograph on the wall.
Whenever people become complacent, Devilâs 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 railroadâbut in 1995 Devilâs Slide ruthlessly attacked, collapsing the road and shutting the Slide down completely for almost a year.
Itâs been 11 years since then and things have been pretty quiet. An occasional car crashes into the surf but by and large itâs been peaceful.
Now Iâm at home and the recent incessant rains have angered the Devilâs Slide gods. Theyâre hurdling four-ton boulders onto the roadway. Itâs been closed a couple of weeks now and Iâm heartsick at the prospect that my love affair with Devilâs 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 âneutralizeâ? Devilâs Slide.
I have a feeling their project will prove to be futile.