California 1 – The Coast Highway……#200 (the 80’s)

The beginning of the end

The Eel River bridge

The Cavalier with its valued cargo  acquiring the Leggett junction of US 101 and California Highway 1,  it was a beginning of the end.   The end of State Highway 1 and its 655 mile northern trek,  but a beginning for the Willson’s to view its wondrous scenic itinerary,  traversing the Coast Highway in a southern proclivity and returning to the bay-area province of foster city.   A quarter-mile into the journey experiencing the eel River Bridge,  the first of over a dozen bridges they would ford during their progression along the Pacific and their venture down its picturesque coastal byway.   Retreating on the acclivous avenue,  finding that they were still amongst the abounding redwood forest,  the roadway a gradual descent to the picture perfect blue pacific,  its scintillating effervesce and officiousness a presentation of staidness already coming into view.



The morning sunshine bathing the highway,  the cresting waves breaking leeward with the oncoming sea breeze arriving from the earthen expanse of the seas profusion,  but a sense of unanimity prevailing.  One found the northern California coast is isolated from its inland entourage, encountering  just two easterly flowing highways in 250 miles of southern sentinel journey.   The lunch hour acknowledging travel abeyance at Fort Bragg,  a short-lived military post established in 1857 to maintain order on the Noyo Indian reservation,  the post closing in 1864,    the ensuing years finding the Forts remnants were accomplished by the lumber entrepreneurs and once again an inhabited presence acknowledged.   Continuing south the family hesitating adjacent to where the Navarro River enters the pacific,  an expansion of shoreline enabling all to experience the cresting waves breaking on the sand adorned beach.  Robert and Sandi shedding their shoes and embracing the cool receptive waters of the Pacific.



Once again the Cavalier journeyed on The Coast Highway,  addressing Fort Ross, its history one of Russian occupation, the northern neighbors seizing an opportunity to lay claim to coastal areas north of San Francisco.  In 1806 a joint effort in the seal hunting commerce initiated the RAC Company,  Russian-American Company.  The Russians supplying the Seal hunters, the Americans the sailing vessels and by 1818 the seal population had been depleted.   The Russians having established themselves building Fortress Rossiya and a harvesting station on the Farallon Islands 30 miles off the California Coast.  The Fortress Ross settlement,  their personal and agricultural enterprises remained until 1842 venturing as far south as Bodega Bay,  the scenic location for Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic movie the birds and Gary’s youthful abalone fishing adventure with his Grandfather Marvin.   Continuing south with resolve,  the bay-area’s accession of 60 miles still remaining,  the travelers quiescent with their Highway 1 accomplishments,  the closing miles providing a panoramic view from the overlooking cliffs winding path, the driver of this road course ready for its conclusion.

Historic Fort Ross

Bodega Bay - location of Alfred Hitchcocks "The Birds"

Bodega Bay – location of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”


The shoreline California highway 1  providing  another encore meeting with u s 101,  the location,  three-mile from the Golden Gate Bridge.   Gary and Jan finding they could somewhat relax even in the traffic of the multi-lane Highway 101 after experiencing of the narrow cliff hugging coast roadway for the past hour.   Accessing the suspension structure, the travelers finding the six lanes on the Golden Gate Bridge moving swiftly,  its presence an effulgent beacon of San Francisco,  a poised landmark for 50 years,  proclaiming its stature.   The day prior to its 1937 inaugural automotive opening,  200 thousand participants gather to traverse the bridge on foot and roller skates,  each individual to autograph the journals of history and with embarkation of automotive propinquity,  the city of San Francisco enacted a week-long celebration .

Crossing the Golden Gate

A return to foster city and Gary’s sisters condominium, Scott, Gary’s oldest son welcoming them back after their prolonged travels and with one more day remaining before their return flight suggested a trip to Santa Cruz and the Boardwalk,  questioning if they were in accordance for another short journey.   Gary was weary of driving,  but Robert and Sandi hearing Scott’s description of the Boardwalk and the amusement rides  were ecstatic,  especially after having endured as  spectators during visits to relatives they had never knew existed.  Gary mentioning an additional  venue that wouldn’t be out of their way, a visit to the infamous Winchester House in San Jose.




      The morning found the rental Chevrolet making its final vacationing journey,  Scott accompanying the family,  once again on 101 this time to San Jose.  The Winchester House was once the personal residence of Sarah  Pardee Winchester, the widow of firearm magnate William Wirt Winchester.  After her husband’s death from tuberculosis in 1881, Sarah inherited more than $20.5 million,  also receiving nearly fifty percent ownership of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.   In 1884 she moved from New Haven Connecticut purchasing an unfinished farmhouse in the Santa Clara Valley and began building her mansion. It was reported that a Boston Medium told her she must continuously build a home for herself and the spirits of people who had fallen victim to Winchester rifles.  Sarah complied until her death in 19 22, there are 161 rooms, including 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms as well as 47 fireplaces, over 10,000 panes of glass, 17 chimneys, two basements and three elevators. The property was about 162 acres at one time, but the estate having been reduced to 4.5 acres.  Gary finding touring  the mansion and the exhibits an excursion into the yesterday and the aberrant world of a Sarah Winchester.


    Highway 17 and the Santa Cruz Mountains was acknowledged,  Gary having a brief flashback, this being the first time on the precipitous road since his youth riding on the back of a Cushman 5 horsepower motor scooter,  the teenager and his friend Dale Spady experiencing an adventurous voyage to Los Angeles.  Recalling the uphill ascend,  finding the Cushman in first gear,  having to fall in line behind the ten wheeler semi’s,  a slow but steady gate to the crest


The Big Dipper

    Scott directing them on a side trip to Aptos,  pointing out his aunt Kay and uncle Dons  previous residence and an area where he and his surfer friends socialized.   It had been over thirty years since Gary having walked the boardwalk at Santa Cruz remembering that he last assailed this copious amusement park, a train ride trip sponsored by the Oakland Tribune for submitting a required quantity of new subscriptions.  The noon hour found an appetite for fish,  finding the assemblage frequenting a seafood establishment on the Pier,  the remainder of the afternoon acquiring the escapades of the entertaining attractions.    The trek back to Foster City found an enervated crew,  it would be their final night in California



       The morning bidding a melancholy farewell to Scott,  the cavalier traversing the San Mateo Bridge to the Oakland International Airport and a return of the Alamo Rental car, having deposited over twelve hundred  miles on the odometer.   The American Airlines McDonnell Douglas 80, a version of the DC-9,  taxied to runway two-niner,  the airliner’s  pilot giving power to the tail-mounted twin JT8d200 turbojet engines,  the plane lifting off the runway,  banking east,  reaching an altitude of 35,000 feet, cruising at 504 knots,  Wichita Kansas Mid-Continent the winged carriers ambition.   The smartly dressed stewardess providing a complimentary lunch, its cargo of passengers lulled by the nutritional substance, a pacifying composure evolving and the whispering sound of the jets projecting aura of contentment.  The flowing aero flight above the revolving  earthly firma below projecting a temporal passing of forward progress, it’s nebulosity giving essence to the watchful heavenly domain, its silence displaying a gentle caressing of the strata.  The solace was interrupted with an announcement,  the flight was descending to Wichita.  Gary having mixed feelings, happy to be home, feeling blessed that his family was able to share the vibrant sixteen days together, even though a hint of melancholy remained with its conclusion


One Response to “California 1 – The Coast Highway……#200 (the 80’s)”

  1. gwillson7 Says:

    It would be wonderful if we could change our past decision, but who knows the results of what “could have been”. I’m just thankful for the current results.

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