BRAVO: John Vonderlin’s “The Good, Bad and Just Plain Old Ugly”

Hi June,
    Yesterday’s visit to the Coastside was a case of the “The Bad, The Ugly, and The Good” that left me irritated, disappointed, but resignedly Pollyannish.  Neptune’s Vomitorium was even more choked with sand than last week, and continued to be as unproductive as it has been lately. So we headed for Tunitas Beach.
I had a bad feeling when I started to see painted scrawlings on the trees as we worked our way down the path under the bridge towards the beach. As I feared, we found the Tunitas trestle’s foundation heavily vandalized by some cretins. I hope these losers, these” wannabe artists,” took a good look at their efforts before skulking off, because I’ve already left a message to the “Graffitti Guerillas.” 
They will soon cover over this pathetic attempt at attention-seeking, that mars a beautiful riparian corridor to one of the Coastside’s most beautiful beaches.
June to John: You are so funny….”I hope these losers, these ‘wannabe artists’ took a good look at their efforts before skulking off, because I’ve already left a message to the ‘Graffiti Guerillas.'”

  It got worse, though, when, after hiking  south, we found some foolish person had left a trash can at the foot of the hill
below the wide turnout on Highway 1. Trash cans left in out -of- the- way places don’t help to keep things clean;  they just allow “lazy pigs” to assuage the miniscule guilt they feel at creating an eyesore, by dumping their refuse in, or near the can, thinking somebody else will take care of it. The picture I’ve attached shows just part of the trash, as much of it had been scattered down the beach by wind and animals.
I carried one more tire to add to my “101 Tires” art project, and a bag of trash up the hill, but felt as futile as Sisyphus must have. The pulloff at the top was almost as trashed. This is an ugly eyesore that is easily visible to any passing authority, and considering the view of the Tunitas cliffs from the pulloff is one of the most popular tourist photo-op taking stops;  it’s probably  a common memory of many visitors to our coast.  
June to John: Your reference to Sisphus is hilarious. Please click here to see why.
I hate to have to look hard to find something good when I’m visiting one of Nature’s jewels, Tunitas Beach in this case, but I did, and found a few things that gladdened my heart. Some true artist, perhaps it was even Jim Denevan, given its location on his “traditional canvas,” though I doubt it, someone had made a huge, 50- yard long, very precise HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMY in the sand. Kudos to that unknown person for creating a wonderful gift to Amy and a bit of Ephemeral Beach Art I could enjoy and add to my collection.
Another pleasant sight revealed itself as we were getting ready to traverse the extremely narrow walkway across the bridge to get back to the car when I saw this combination of plants, heavily ladened with blooms, erupting from the asphalt, just behind the guard rail. I took solace from this incredibly colorful reminder that the works of man, constructive or destructive, will disappear in a geologic blink of the eye, and Nature will reclaim its domain.
Continuing in this positive vein, I wanted to share a few of the odd things I’ve collected in the last few weeks at Invisible Beach. The little wooden donut in my hand
is the scar tissue of a branch that was cut. When the cambium layer grows back over the end to seal the branch, it deposits a very dense layer of cells. It is common for this scar tissue to be the last thing left as a waterlogged branch, after sinking to the bottom, slowly is eroded by bumping along the bottom on its long journey down the coast, pushed along by the Longshore current. I have a collection of these oddities, some quite large.
   The group of things in my hand in the next picture are two Leprechaun Rings, the delicate remnants of worn down limpet shells, and the remnant of a knothole. Here again the very dense cells that surround a branch, particularly on the bottom, where they must battle gravity that is pulling the branch down, are the last thing left left after undergoing treatment in Mother Nature’s tumbler.
The next picture shows it as I found it, freshly revealed by the ebbing tide. Note the four small snails fastened on the inside of the ring. Imagine the ride they must have had as waves hundreds of feet high (relative to them) bounced them over the reef. Figuring it to be an unintended  “E Ride” in Neptune’s Disneyland, I removed them and placed them in a sheltered spot with their own kind.
Lastly, I’ve attached a picture of a twenty-five foot, homemade mast from a boat– that it isn’t hard to imagine came to a bad end. Though, I attached several things to alert other motorists, I knew it extended more then half of my wheelbase beyond my car’s rearend, a legal “no-no.” Naturally, when I stopped in Pescadero to get a refreshment, the Sheriff came along, saw it and stopped right beside my car. Faking, that I had no connection to my car, I waited until he decided there was a better use of his time, then leaped in my car and careened wildly(once again relatively speaking) to Loma Mar, where it will serve as a flagpole in Meg’s parking lot. While that was about as scofflawish as I get these days, I did feel exhiliratingly crafty as I followed in the footsteps of yesteryear’s Coastside smugglers. Enjoy. John
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