Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Looking North On Our Coast Highway

The length of old Highway 101 that runs through our town is lined on both sides with towering eucalyptus trees. The largest were planted over 100 years ago, in anticipation of harvesting for use as railroad ties, but when their wood was deemed inferior to redwood, the trees were allowed to stand. Native to Australia, the eucalyptus have thrived in our similar arid weather.

The train tracks run alongside the highway, barely visible in the photograph at the right. Every day, dozens of commuter, passenger and freight trains barrel through at speeds of up to 75 miles an hour and to the constant consternation of residents, they kick up quite a dust storm as they pass.

This part of town hasn't changed a whole lot in the past few decades. The small businesses are in a constant state of flux, with the current crop dominated by Mexican restaurants, surf shops, art galleries and yoga studios. There is an ongoing tug-of-war between people who want to "Keep It Funky" and those who want to maximize their real estate investments, with no shortage of opinions from residents of all stripes.

What looks like a quiet stretch of road will be bumper-to-bumper vehicles in both directions between Memorial Day and Labor Day, as tourists and inlanders flock to the beach, just a block west, for relief from the summer heat.

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