After leaving Golden Gate Park, it was finally time to actually experience the Pacific Ocean. When I lived in The City (which, as an aside, is what locals call the City and County of San Francisco — never, ever, Frisco), I lived at 41st and Irving — a block south of the park and ten blocks east of the beach. Before that, with only a couple of exceptions along the way, I pretty much never lived more than a few miles from the Pacific Ocean and it was always rather easily accessible. So, as magnificent as it was, it was also easy to take the Pacific Ocean for granted or to even forget that it was there. After all, for the last twenty-five years or so, I have lived in the shadow of the San Francisco Bay and its tributaries — pretty awesome bodies of water themselves.
Not the case, however, for the family from the Show-Me State.
And it turned out this home-grown California boy was given the opportunity to stop and think about it. As recalled earlier, I was excited at the fact that Ella and the family came within a few miles of my home in Martinez, and once again in Golden Gate Park. As coincidence would have it, I am going to a garden railroad convention in Denver in June and am thrilled at the prospect of retracing the route taken by the Hiles at least from Martinez to Salt Lake City. But as I started to write this, I was in route from Martinez to Southern California to visit family and it dawned on me that I would be retracing the route the Hiles took from Martinez to Los Angeles. Suddenly my travel plans took on a greater significance and gave occasion for renewal of the wonder of the ocean in my own right.
Ella didn’t attach any photos of the trip south from Oakland to Los Angeles, but I took 137, some of which are shared here. The beauty, the grandeur, the plants, the trees, and, of course, the ocean were all there. So were the paved roads and speeding autos, although I suspect they were traveling a bit faster in 2022 than in 1919. So, too, were the towns and I suspect the vision they project today are also much different than what the Hiles witnessed in 1919, but only cosmetically. A world war was just concluding, as was a great pandemic, and it would only be a matter of time before the stock market crash, the rise of ”Hoovervilles” and the Great Depression.