Long Beach Highway Mystery – Can You Solve It?

Being recently retired and the original owner of my 1969 Porsche 912 Coupe, I now have the time and means to pursue my lifelong interest in the US highway system that existed roughly from 1926 until the early 1960s.

One US highway that piqued my interest is US Route 6 (US 6), also known as the “Grand Army of the Republic Highway”. From 1937 to 1964 it was the longest (about 3,600 miles) of all US highways, connecting Provincetown MA on the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Long Beach CA.

The present western terminus of US Hwy 6 now intersects with US Route 395 in Bishop, CA. The previous routing (a general term) brought US 6 south co-signed with US 395 to what is now CA Hwy 14 north of Ridgecrest and continued south through Rosamond, Lancaster, Palmdale, Santa Clarita and into the San Fernando Valley (co-signed with US Route 99) on what is now San Fernando Road to Figueroa Street where Old 99 diverged on its separate way to the Mexican border at Calexico.

US 6 continued south on Figueroa Street into Long Beach where it turned east on State Street/Alternate US 101, now known as Pacific Coast Highway.

But where did US 6 officially end (or start) in Long Beach? Unfortunately, at this moment I don’t know and that’s where the mystery begins.

If you know (or are?) a long-time Long Beach resident, you may have additional information. Or, if you have any old (1940s or 1950s) photos, home movies or maps of Long Beach, they may help solve the mystery.

Some vintage maps show a US 6 federal shield on State Street (now PCH) east of Figueroa but west of Atlantic Avenue. Others show the same federal shield on State Street between Atlantic Avenue and Lakewood Boulevard traffic circle.

These apparent inconsistencies deal with the highway’s “alignment” (not the more general “routing”) that could be quite normal since federal highway designations in the last century were often changed for any number of usually political reasons. But I’ve found nothing to date showing a verifiable “End” to US Hwy 6 in Long Beach.

Also, there’s the matter of the “Grand Army of the Republic Highway” commemorative plaque placed on the Municipal Auditorium at Seaside and Long Beach Boulevard in May of 1953.

The Auditorium was demolished in the early 1960s and the plaque was relocated to the nearby Terrace Theater, now the Long Beach Performing Arts Center.

Since I’ve found nothing showing an official US 6 alignment south of State Street/PCH, I believe the Municipal Auditorium plaque has been placed (twice now) not at the actual end of the official highway alignment, but rather on a suitable public building in Long Beach. Others believe it has more significance relative to the actual end of the Highway.

Stay tuned because when I solve the mystery, I’ll let you know.


California Dreaming on Highway One from San Francisco to Los Angeles

As a teenager in the mid-sixties I was greatly inspired by the music of the Beach Boys. One balmy evening during the summer of 1964 I was stirred by the driving tempo of I Get Around by a group I’d never heard of blasting from the huge old bakelite valve-driven radio that dominated my bedroom. It was during those times when, against the British government’s wishes, every teenager was tuned to Radio Caroline, broadcasting illegally from an old coaster moored somewhere out on the North Sea. I’d heard nothing like this before. It was certainly beyond the play lists of Auntie BBC and her tedious Home Service! I was hooked, not only to the vibrant, close harmonies and falsettos of the vocals but by the very images the lyrics portrayed of sun, sand, striped-shirt freedom and long=legged bikini clad girls. Flower power, love-ins, peace movements and the whole Haight-Asbury thing followed. Then, in 1969, Pirelli published their highly collectible California calendar, containing evocative close-up images by photographer Harry Peccinotti of beautiful sun tanned Californian maidens. By modern standards the photographs were very tame, more like snapshots. Nevertheless that calendar re-enforced a yearning to visit California because it seemed the best place on earth. My vision was of stunning blond California girls, a youth culture driving Chevrolet Corvette Stingrays and a wild freedom that seemed unknown to teenaged Britain.

For various reasons, OK I’ll be honest … a lack of funds, forced me to wait a decade before I managed to realize my dream and by this time LA, Carmel, Santa Monica, Santa Cruz and San Francisco had become household names through the lyrics of a continuous stream of hit songs by The Beach Boys, Eagles, Jan and Dean and The Mamas and Papas, California Dreaming really had become something of a reality. By the time I arrived in the City of Angels aboard a TWA westbound seven-forty-seven and things were every bit as I imagined. Once bitten, I was smitten and vowed to return as soon as I could. But it took more than twenty years, but with the love affair still intact, I was going back. Maybe I’d become an ageing hippie still listening to those melodic surfin’ sounds that had continued to drive my mind through all of these years. Previously I’d flown from San Francisco to LA this time I was going to do things for real by driving the Pacific route between the two largest cities along California State Highway One.

Despite claims that the USA lacks culture, nobody can deny that what it does have is scenery … huge, mind blowing scenery such as Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and Zabriski Point. California’s Pacific coast similarly does not go begging. It is where nature competes with itself for superiority along rugged cliff tops that rise and fall against the might of the great ocean; mist encrusted mountains against mighty sequoia forests. The Pacific is everything the Atlantic lacks. It can be wilder, more belligerent; the breakers tend to roll higher making it, sometimes a surfer’s paradise, at others a seafarer’s grave. California, despite an element of confident brashness, has always appealed more for its natural untamed beauty than say the tourism evoked retirement condominiums of Florida on America’s opposite coast.

Many claim that Highway One is best tackled north to south. Route One really beings at Legett where the road clings tightly to the ocean for nearly 150 salt splashed miles as it passes close to the giant redwoods at Muir Woods before becoming US 101, the Golden Gate freeway, and crossing the magnificent, often fog enshrined, bridge of the same name. Most don’t bother with the first part, choosing to join the route at San Francisco and continuing at a gentile pace with a stop or two before reaching the congestion rush of greater Los Angeles. If you’re in a hurry, then the 400 mile drive can comfortably be made in a day although there’s little point in missing the enormous potential it offers. It’s best to stop and linger a while if you can. The West Coast can be chilly, often hemmed in by coastal fogs held in by the mountains, despite this you’ll still feel at one with the elements and it’s best driven in an open-top sports car. I didn’t but, but should have and I regret that I didn’t!

San Francisco is a beautiful city of over six million and a delicate charm of its own, especially where the palatial Victorian homes have survived a series of earthquakes. There’s Lombard Street, short but steep, rising 27 degrees through a series of eight hairpins that twist and turn forcing a cars to proceed at a snail’s pace. Some of the main streets reach 300 feet at Pacific Heights before dropping through amazing gradients to the Marina District below. As you top each crest you’ll be transformed and in your minds-eye you are Steve McQueen playing Bullitt flooring the accelerator of that throaty Shelby-Mustang and bouncing over those bumps at breathtaking speed as you fight to tame this out-of-control beast. In reality you’ll take it slow, real slow, fearing the consequences should your brakes fail! A more sober way is to take the cable car from Nob Hill to the Bay and watch the floor show performed by the driver and his agile grip man as they work together to traverse the undulating tarmac. These days the cable cars are usually packed with tourists and it can be hard to get a ride.

Once more in the real world I start my journey at Fisherman’s Wharf, the trendy waterside area of good fish restaurants, a waxworks and tourist shops that compete with a fine view of the Bay. Alcatraz Island, the former penal establishment that is now a crumbling State Museum, stands formidably in turbulent waters three miles east of the Golden Gate. This, for seventeen years, was the home of Robert Stroud the infamous Bird Man but he was never the gentile ornithologist Bert Lancaster portrayed. It was also where Al Capone was finally caged up for, of all things, tax evasion.

Leaving behind the squawking sea lions feeding off restaurant scraps at one of the piers, I head south leaving the city behind, past San Francisco International Airport and some of the wealthy outlying suburbs. The car radio informs me that “It’s going to be a fine day right across the whole of the Bay Area and there are no reported traffic snarl ups”. That’s good to hear because only weeks before floods had caused landslides that were still keeping the coast road closed until twenty miles south at Half Moon Bay. Between here and Ano Nuevo lie a number of State beaches renowned for their outstanding natural beauty. This is where the northern elephant seals and sea lions come to breed or just to wallow lazily in the sun. This was March however and the beaches were deserted.

For much of the way the route is a two-lane blacktop … no dual carriageway, just a well maintained twin-lane tarmac highway that clings heroically around the cliff tops that tower and fall above the Ocean. I am surprised at so little traffic, most of the locals preferring to take highway 101, a faster route that meanders on an almost parallel inland course for most of the way. Better still I haven’t seen a single cop. But beware, I am told they patrol from low flying helicopters (bears in the air) so I watch my speed and although I try to keep to a steady 55mph my instincts push me to go ever faster.

The highway runs via Pescadero where there is a lighthouse built in 1872, then onward to the seaside resort of Santa Cruz on the northern point of Monterey Bay. A further 28 miles south around the coast and I reach the old Spanish town and former Californian capital. Monterey, a town made famous by John Steinbeck in his novels Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat. The old sardine canneries are now long closed but the buildings have been transformed into trendy shops and restaurants. There is also an excellent aquarium. Beyond the beach, in waters stretching 110 miles out to sea is the Monterey National Marine Sanctuary, containing the largest underwater cavern anywhere in offshore US.

I didn’t have sufficient time to take the 17 mile drive but if you do it starts just south at Pacific Grove, ends at Carmel and passes the world class golf courses at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. Although you pay for the privilege, those that have taken the detour say that the beauty of the drive, much of it man-made, is exceptional. Instead, I remain on Highway One and head for Carmel, home of Clint Eastwood, aka Dirty Harry and the former mayor. He wasn’t about. At least he wasn’t driving the West Coast. The city dates back to 1770 when a Franciscan monk, Father Juniperro Serra built a mission and church. Although it fell into disrepair after being abandoned in 1834, the Mission, one of several along the coast, has been carefully restored.

South of Carmel is a truly wonderful stretch of coastline that runs almost a 100 miles below the Ventana Wilderness, part of the Los Padres National Forest. This is Big Sur, a mood-inspiring rocky, wild area of State Parks and exceptional natural beauty. I Linger for a while just listening to the breakers crashing against the rocks before continuing, crossing the Bixby Creek Bridge, once the world’s longest single-arch span at 550 feet. This was built in 1932 two years after the Highway was opened at Big Sur. In 1983 storms here swept much of the highway away forcing it to close for over a year.

At San Simeon there is a wooden pier on a rugged shale beach. I decide to stay the night at a reasonably priced motel. In the hills above the highway is Hearst Castle, a stately palace folly created from treasures imported from all over the world by newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst and bequeathed to the state of California in 1958. Visitors must park at the tourist center and be transported by buses up a long, winding hilltop drive to reach the surrealistic Castle. The creation reputedly cost $10 million to build but it is very much a statement of bad taste, nevertheless it’s sure to impress.

Just south of San Simeon is the artist’s colony of Cambria. It is also a weekend retreat for those wishing to escape the heavy yellow smogs of LA. Next, Morro Bay where the chimneys of the PG & E power station are the singular blot on the landscape of the entire route The road turns inland here around a sand spit and causeway that leads to a huge extinct Volcano known as Morro Rock. Soon I reach the halfway point between San Francisco and LA at San Luis Obispo where there is another mission. Now highway one unites with 101 for a brief stretch until Pismo, a 20 mile stretch of wide, sandy beaches.

The beautifully kept Spanish colonial style terracotta roofed houses and picturesque clean streets of Santa Barbara make it, for me, one of the loveliest small cities anywhere. Following the earthquake in 1925, the city was rebuilt in the adobe fashion and the buildings are now preserved by law but this didn’t stop nature from coming perilously close to covering some of the dwellings in mud washed down from by the floods from the surrounding hills. The high street is full of interesting shops, excellent, but expensive, restaurants and a wonderful book shop where I enjoyed a coffee and a muffin while browsing the shelves. There is a prosperous, relaxed air to Santa Barbara and I can see why the city has attracted so many Hollywood stars who have come to build their homes in the exclusive hills above the city.

The last leg of my journey takes me through Ventura and on to Santa Monica Bay. At the northern end is Malibu, where a long, wide stretch of state beach is exclusive to surfers (no swimming allowed). At Malibu Colony, another place favoured by the famous names of Hollywood, the lavish mansions line the shoreline but there is no public access to beach. In the hills above, the J Paul Getty museum claims to house some of the finest art in the world.

Santa Monica, a lively resort on the fringes of Los Angeles is the setting for Bay Watch. The city sits atop a cliff overlooking the beach and separated by a palm lined strip known as Pallisades Park. From here there are fantastic views of the Bay especially at sunset. My time however does not allow me to linger. As highway one turns inland away from the Pacific Coast cities of Venice, Marina Del Ray (where Beach Boy drummer Dennis Wilson drowned in 1983) and Long Beach before rejoining the ocean at Seal Beach, I bid a fond farewell. A short distance away my journey takes me to LAX and my flight home. As my jet climbs above the twinkling lights of Beverley Hills I reflect on my memories of this trip and in those famous words of Arnold Schwarzeineger I swear “I’ll be back”.

5 Tourism Specialties Of Taiwan

Taiwan, located in East Asia, is one of the most industrialized and economically prosperous regions in South East Asia. Officially known as Republic of China, it is the global leader in technology. It also represents the advancement in healthcare, education, human development, cultural abundance in South Asia. No wonder that millions of tourists visit Taiwan every year to savor its richness. Read on to find 5 tourism specialties of Taiwan.

1. Taipei 101
Before the Burj Khalifa in Dubai Taiwan hosted the tallest tower in the world. Known as Taipei 101, this particular tower boast of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification. It is often viewed as a symbol of confluence between technological evolution and Asian tradition. No tour to Taiwan is complete without a visit to Taipei 101. Taiwan tour packages given by established tour operators ensure that you get a glimpse of this architectural marvel. You can also compare it to the Eiffel tower of Asia.

2. Speed Rails
Travelling from one part of the Taiwan to another is fast and convenient with the help of speed metro rails. You never have to worry about congested traffic and road problems. The metros are super fast, often exceeding speeds of 300km/hour and are very punctual. It is a transport experience to be enjoyed. Often the major problem facing tourists visiting various tourist destinations has been the lack of proper transport infrastructure. But Taiwan is an exception. Speed metro rails help Taiwan maintain its tourism friendly approach.

3. Bunun dance
Every country has its traditional dance. The traditional dance of Taiwanese people is the bunun dance. It originated for the native Taiwanese aborigines,famous for their polyphonic vocal music. Their dance is a symbol of cultural independence. Taiwan Holiday Packages supplied by reputed tour operators gives tourists an opportunity to experience its great cultural phenomenon.

4. National concert hall and museum
The main cultural spot in Taiwan is the national concert hall that stages Taiwanese orchestras, art galleries and theater. Taiwanese cultural riches stem from the fact that it combines Taiwanese culture with Chinese culture. This result is cultural dualism. The cultural museum is world famous as it is host to more than 650,000 pieces of Chinese artifacts; include painting, bronze and the famous jade stone. The museum is often regarded as the greatest collective museum of Chinese art culture.

5. Cuisine
Taiwanese cuisines are very famous for its varieties. They are different from other cuisines in the fact that they have seven different variations. The main delicacies include pork geng, Fenchihu and nantou. Holiday Packages to Taiwan is never complete without a taste of majestic Taiwanese cuisines.

Book your tour to Taiwan now to experience its culture in its entire splendor. It is not without reason that tourists who visits Taiwan return home very satisfied.

Sight Fishing 101

No, this isn’t an article about auto mechanics who like to fish, but rather it is an article about the mechanics of sight fishing.

My first real experience “sight fishing” happened on my first bonefish fishing trip to Christmas Island, or Kiribati, as the residents call it. The island, located two hours by commercial jet due south of Hawaii, has miles and miles of shallow, sandy, crystal clear water. These are referred to as “the flats”, and this is where the bonefish hangout. They patrol the shallow water looking for their favorite foods of small shrimp. Once they see one they slurp it up with their peculiar downward facing mouth.

Fly fishermen spend their days wading the flats in search of bonefish. When one is spotted, they cast a shrimp imitation fly ahead of where the fish will be swimming. Stripping of the line brings the fly to life and triggers the strike.

Now comes the important part… you can’t sight-fish them, if you can’t see them! And to see them you absolutely need a decent pair of polarized sunglasses. Whether you’re fishing for bonefish, bass, pike or carp, good polarized sunglasses will allow you to see your quarry, or will they? The truth really is, maybe, if your eyes are trained and they know what to look for.

Back to bonefish fishing at Christmas Island… your first time out your chances of finding the bonefish to even cast to can be spectacularly slim without a guide. Bonefish guides have trained eyes experienced at seeing these aptly named “ghosts of the flats”. The bonefish tends to take on the coloration of the sandy bottom, (doubtless a defense mechanism to avoid predators), that combined with the fact that the trade winds blow almost constantly creating ripples across the surface make them even harder to see.

My first time out the guide would point and say, “See the fish there?” “Where, where,” was my response. “Don’t look for the fish”, he said, “Look for his shadow on the bottom”. It was true; if I saw the shadow I could trace a line from the shadow to the sun and find the fish in between. (Keep in mind that light is bent or refracted as it enters the water making the fish appear to be where it is not). It narrowed the area to search and soon I could pick them out by myself. Still, this works well if the sun doesn’t go behind a cloud. Then, even the guides can have a hard time seeing them. Many are so practiced and sharp-eyed that their ability to see the fish borders on the clairvoyant. Some guides get so frustrated trying to help the client to see that they end up just telling the client, “cast twenty yards to the three-o-clock position, now strip, faster, faster, stop, there”. They literally become the client’s eyes.

Now bonefish fishing is sight-fishing taken to its extreme limits. Still, what I learned I have been able to apply to all of my sight-fishing from those days forward and for any species.

Take bass for instance; many bass can take on a lighter or darker coloration depending on a number of environmental factors. Darker bass become easier to spot when they cross a lighter sand bottom and lighter colored bass become more visible over a dark colored bottom. Luckily for us, they can’t change as fast as the bottom they cruise over. Watching these bottom transition areas you can often spot cruising bass.

Shady areas underwater can create ambush sites where predatory fish can hold and see passing prey without being seen themselves. Dragging a bait, (such as a soft plastic worm, tube or craw) along the sunny side of these shadow lines can trigger sudden strikes. In and around dead-falls, stumps and boulders also offer the advantages of making the fish feel more secure and at times even aggressive in defending their territory.

Again, these are the factors to contend with to see and fish your quarry; water clarity, depth, surface ripples and waves due to wind or boat traffic, bottom structure and lighting in sun or shade. The only things we have to reduce the adverse effects of these conditions are; polarized sunglasses, boat positioning to keep the sun’s reflections and our own shadows at an optimum angle, and experience. The experience part is only acquired with practice, and more practice.

Remember, if you can see them, they can see you. For that reason, approach slowly and quietly, keep your distance and only come as close as is necessary. Anchor or use a push-pole if necessary to hold your boat position.

One last thing about polarized sunglasses; Lens color is important. Yellow lenses tend to offer more contrast but distort colors. Blue, green or gray give you a more natural color perception but reduce contrast. Unfortunately, it may boil down to your preference and you may try several lens colors in real fishing conditions before settling on what works best for you in a particular situation. Some fishermen carry more than one pair with different lens colors and switch back and forth as conditions change. Try some of the less expensive ones before you plop down some hefty change for the best. You may find them to be quite adequate.

You may also want to consider this. I can’t begin to count the pairs of sunglasses I have dropped over the side or have fallen off my face into the water. A retaining strap of some sort is cheap insurance against such losses. Still some manufacturers sell floating sunglasses. Again, it can lessen the chances of losing them to the depths as they can represent a significant investment.

So try these tips the next time a sight fishing opportunity raises its head. We’ll see you on the water.