Want Less Stress? Move to the Central Coast!
By Noel Smith
Every time I go over the hill on Hwy 17 or up Hwy 101 into the city I’m struck by the mounting tension as I face the increase in heat, traffic and the endless vistas of houses, strip malls, commercial and industrial centers.
All the way from San Jose to San Francisco on the west side of the bay or to Vallejo on the east side there is no respite from the feeling of being surrounded by hurrying humanity.
Now reverse your direction. As you leave Santa Clara Valley either on 17 past Los Gatos up into the Santa Cruz Mountains or on 101 south of the Hwy 85 junction there is a feeling of release and relief as trees and fields fill the landscape; but there is still the feeling of people fleeing something as they drive desperately and often too fast toward the coast.
On those hot inland days as you approach Monterey Bay there is a sense of wonder as the air suddenly becomes 10 or 15 degrees cooler with the feel and scent of the ocean signaling your arrival on the Central Coast. Even if there is traffic, the feeling of hurry at all costs is often lost. There is always time to get where you are going and to let your fellow drivers merge or change lanes without a feeling of having to maintain your power or superiority over them.
The wonders of the Central Coast
For those of us who reside on the Central Coast, we live in a wonderland of mountains covered by forests of redwoods, of sandy beaches, bluffs and cliffs looking out over the marine wonderland that is the Monterey Bay or the Pacific Ocean. This is a coastline too large and varied to be overwhelmed by those visitors wishing to share our environment as we are all on the Central Coast dependent in large part on those visitors.
Our cities are small, each one with a unique mix of residents and businesses. Where else could you find a Carmel, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Watsonville, Capitola, Scotts Valley or Santa Cruz. Then there are those gems of communities such as Davenport, Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond, Bonny Doon, Aptos/La Selva, Moss Landing and Pebble Beach that each has a personality of its own.
Around the Bay there are wharfs with their restaurants and gift shops to explore, beaches to play or relax on, bike and hiking trails to explore, state parks in which to spend the day or days, golf courses that emphasize the uniqueness of our landscape, a Santa Cruz Boardwalk that provides the family fun of thrilling rides, games of skill and chance and a carnival menu of corn dogs, taffy and funnel cakes all surrounded by the marine wonders provided by the Monterey Bay of sea otters, porpoises, sea birds, and even giant Blue Whales.