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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
               Tuesday, October 15 2002 

Sentimental journey—El Camino Real

I decided almost on the spur of the moment to take a sentimental journey to southern California, looking for work, though there's probably none available. I'm taking my computer along and will keep in touch using a wireless service now available at most Starbucks coffee shops, as well as having my cellular phone, the only phone I now own, at hand.*

It being 30 years since I moved from the Santa Barbara area (100 miles west of Los Angeles) to the San Francisco Bay Area, it seemed timely, and since I hadn't been in Southern California (other than making a plane change at LAX) since finishing my work there at Los Angeles' Y2K remediation project on New Year's eve 2000, I was eager to revisit both the Santa Barbara area former haunts and the Venice area of Los Angeles where I lived for the final six months of that job.

For Santa Barbara, on the "California Riviera" on the South Coast and backed by towering mountains, the only freeway access is US 101 which, for most of its length is also the historic El Camino Real, the highway used by the Franciscan friars who opened missions to the natives up and down California, many of which are now major cities like San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and San Diego. It's the freeway closest the west coast between Los Angeles and points north, at least as far as Oregon. I've traveled it between Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area, roughly 400 miles, scores of times in the 34 years that I've lived in California.

Before moving from Santa Barbara County, as a campus minister with a nationwide outreach through literature, I regularly visited the major campuses near San Francisco—Stanford and Cal Berkeley—and their dozens of less prestigious but sometimes even larger satellites in the state, private, and community college systems. These trips were made to distribute my magazines, which were offered free on campuses throughout the country, and to "take the pulse" of what was happening at the state's campuses. After I moved to Palo Alto I continued making the trip in the other direction for the same reason, to my alma mater UCLA, and to USC, UC Santa Barbara, and dozens of others, and because I found that a printer in Santa Barbara saved me at least $100 per press run compared with those in the Bay Area.

Route 101 is a great antidote to road rage. Though it takes longer all the time to get out of the heavy traffic of the Bay Area, once you get south of Salinas (the valley hymned in the novels of John Steinbeck—East of Eden, Grapes of Wrath—who also lived in the area, just east of Monterey) there are long stretches where you can still turn on the cruise control and sometimes go a half mile without seeing another vehicle, at least going your direction. This certainly is not true of the other, more frequently used freeway connection between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Interstate 5, which misses Santa Barbara by a mountain range and give or take 100 miles.

During my early years in California this trip was my favorite place to create "letters" to my parents living near Belsano, first, and later in the Altoona area. My preference for that was cassette tapes, which I would create while driving, often sharing with Mom and Dad how beautiful the California terrain is and some of the exigencies of the road. I can't drive 101 without remembering those days, which at my age seem like "just yesterday."

*These entries were actually written, and the events described, a week earlier and held because of the series about communications issues, which took precedence.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Today's groaner

When he was told that he should bathe his pigs to keep them clean, the farmer grunted, "That's a load of hogwash!"

—Sent by Connie Cox

Thought for today

Truth sits forsaken and grieves until her professed followers come home for a brief visit, but she sees them depart again when the bills become due. They protest great and undying love for her but they will not let their love cost them anything!

—A. W. Tozer
Sent by Judy Martin

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