The Pacific Coast Highway stretches some 1,675 miles from Olympia, Washington to San Diego, California. For many years, my wife and I were grateful that we had the resources to spend time in many of the more contemplative areas of the PCH road north of Cambria, a small coastal village where we spent our honeymoon.
We lived in the SoCal area where the highway is more commonly referred to as the PCH. I still live in SoCal. But time and impermanence changes all. My wife has passed and my age now keeps me from longer journeys. Now shorter trips often offer more wisdom. I have begun to focus on a two mile stretch of the PCH in Long Beach, California.
The photos that I have taken recently stretch from the “Round About” to Long Beach Boulevard. These images offer a different perspective of the PCH, one that focuses on deterioration, corrosion, decay, and disintegration, one that reveals the environmental experience available to the less well-healed and ethnically diverse. This too, is the PCH.
When I was younger, I would have harangued about poverty, the homeless, the disintegration along this section of the PCH, a condition that is evident on many streets in many cities. Now, I am simply grateful for the questions raised and for the answers I give to myself. I leave the process of consideration and your answers to you.
I will only say that the two visions of this famous road are a kind of metaphor for the two America’s, one of world available to the more well-healed, and one that is more limited. For me, part of my response is expressed in Richard Shelton’s poem, “Requiem for Sonara”:
“I am older and uglier and full of the knowledge that I do not belong to beauty and beauty does not belong to me I have learned to accept whatever men choose to give me or whatever they choose to withhold but oh my desert yours is the only death I cannot bear.