"Home with a Capital H" Pacifica by 7ContinentsOrBust
Pacifica Travel Guide: 18 reviews and 30 photos
By Chris Verrill
Pacifica, California, USA
Like a coal miner taking a welcome shower at the end of his shift, my old, mechanically challenged yet spunky ‘79 Dodge Colt hurled my weary spirit out of the concrete encased hustle of bustle of my home in Oakland, over the San Francisco Bay Bridge, across the calm waters of the bay itself, down Hwy 1, and into the scenic, sleepy little seaside town of Pacifica. Although, if home is where the heart is, calling Oakland home would be inaccurate. Way inaccurate. Oakland was never home. Oakland was where I lived.
The year was 1989 and it was my first home, uh, make that my first residence, after graduating from college at UC Davis. The rust colored Dodge Colt—some of the rust wasn’t just color—was the first car I’d bought on my own. The job, as business manager of UC Berkeley’s campus newspaper, The Daily Californian, was actually not so bad for a first job out of college.
But Oakland? I guess some people like Oakland. My roomies mostly seemed to. Since it was a six bedroom house, I had a lot of roommates. The window from my attic bedroom, if you looked just right and squinted and crossed yourself, even had a sliver of a view of the Bay Bridge. But Oakland wasn’t for me. It was too crowded, too dirty, too much cement, too little greenery. Not very cheery. Not a place that did my soul good. My spirit missed the charm of a small town. A town where you know your neighbors and don’t have to worry about your house getting broken into—which happened twice. A town where I could lay my head on my pillow.
But in the summer of 1989 I made a discovery. That summer I auditioned for and got a role in a community theatre play at Pacifica Spindrift Players, a cozy 100 seat theatre tucked away on a hillside in a lush green park in a charming residential neighborhood in a town I’d never heard of: Pacifica. The drive over the Bay Bridge from Oakland, leaving my job at The Daily Cal, down HWY 1 into Pacifica relaxed me, rejuvenated me. The bridge, spanning from Oakland on the east side of the bay, briefly touching down and passing through a tunnel on Treasure Island, and landing in San Francisco on the west side, served as a symbolic exit from the honking horns of Oakland life.
Then the real transformation took place. Leaving the Bay Bridge, crossing the San Francisco peninsula via one freeway to another, eventually leading to the spectacular panoramic views offered by Highway 1. Highway 1, as it descends from the San Francisco hills down to the ocean in Pacifica, affords a view of the Pacific Ocean that goes on for further than the eye can see. The calm soothing blue waters reach out and comfort me as I descend on the winding road. My cares of the day, the stresses of city life, my troubles from work, are lifted away as if fulfilling all the promises of a Calgon commercial.
Every night, five nights a week, for six weeks of rehearsal and then two weeks of performances, I descended into Pacifica. Every night, my cares and stresses of the day dissolved. Now, I don’t mean to imply I had a stressful life back in 1989. I didn’t for the most part. I mean, be serious, I was 25. What kind of stresses can a 25 year old young man possibly have? I hear your silence. Exactly. That’s my point. But I was a small town boy living in a big bad city and not liking it. These evening reprieves were a welcome retreat. And not just the drive into Pacifica, but Pacifica itself was a relaxing place. The green forested mountains on the east, the refreshing ocean breeze from the west, people who have a small town friendliness. The coolness brought on by the fog is the icing on the cake. Can you tell I like this little town?
Soon after the play’s brief two week run ended, I moved across the country to Baltimore to take a job at a public radio station. But I told myself, if I ever moved back to the Bay Area, I would to live in Pacifica.
By Chris Verrill
Pacifica, California, USA
And here it is, 2001, 12 years later, and now I do live in Pacifica. Better yet. Pacifica is home. Home with a capital H. A place where I lay my head on my pillow, close my eyes, and feel at peace. I don’t know how many people find this in life, yet I have. For that I consider myself lucky. I have since had occasion to go back and perform again at Pacifica Spindrift Players and it felt almost like I’d never left. I’ve gotten to know one of the founders of the theatre and I’ve jokingly blamed her for me living in Pacifica. I even like the fog. People think it’s bad, but it isn’t. It’s wonderful. Uh, but, I don’t think I want too many people moving here. The fog is horrible. Oh, miserable. Uh, uh. Yep. Just horrible.
Today, September 11, 2001, started just like any other day. My sister Heidi and I awoke in my two bedroom condo tucked up in the hills in Pacifica. On Terra Nova Boulevard, somewhere between the earth and the sun, not quite either but the best of both. My home is only a mile and a half from the theatre and only three miles from the ocean. The condo, which Heidi sarcastically calls a shoebox, backs up against a hill that is public land, forested with trees, and frequented by deer. One mother comes with her two fawns which I’ve named Emma and Simon. Although clearly I have no idea if one or the other is a boy or a girl. I see them from my bedroom window, but I haven’t been close enough to check.
The neighborhood is quiet, the neighbors friendly, good streets to jog on, good parks to stroll through. And the fog is refreshing. Uh, no, the fog’s horrible. Remember: fog horrible, fog horrible. Got that?
Heidi, at 34 and two and half years younger than me, has a confident take-the-bull-by-horns way of tackling life which I admire. She moved to Pacifica from living near our family in Hawaii to find more challenging work in Silicon Valley. She succeeded. She’s coordinating teacher’s schedules for a small company providing training on voice recognition software.
I’m doing marketing and communications for a 30 person dot-com in a poorly ventilated converted warehouse in Palo Alto providing dynamic contextual linking for content on websites. Dynamic whatting what what? Exactly. In truth, it’s visionary internet software. Good stuff. Well ahead of its time. If the company can stick around until the sagging market catches up, it’ll take off. While my colleagues are some of the brightest I’ve ever worked with, my job isn’t at all challenging. Even though the software is visionary and effective and I hold my head high saying I work there, my responsibilities are less than I had at way back at The Daily Californian—twelve years ago. Needless to say, I’m bored.
By Chris Verrill
Pacifica, California, USA
My Rotary Club of Pacifica has a former town Mayor and a former president of the Chamber of Commerce who are philosophically on opposite ends of the political spectrum, yet work hand in hand to help Pacifica. There’s a realtor, a travel agency owner, a couple of lawyers, the town fire chief, a school district manager, an FBI agent, a day care center manager, a shower door company owner (hey, someone has to supply us with those doors), a financial planner, a bank branch manager, a retired bowling alley contractor, a sergeant in the police department, a newspaper columnist and many more. Oh yeah, and me, a former dot-com owner, former public television development director, now bored doing marketing and communications in Silicon Valley.
Our Rotary club gathers at the Sharp Park Golf Course in a big meeting room off the main restaurant. Floor to ceiling windows on one side reveal some hole on the golf course. You’d think after nine months, I’d know which hole it is, but I don’t. Logic says it’s either #1 or #18, but hey, what do I know? I’m eating breakfast at #19 and that’s all I care about. The view is green, tree-filled, belongs on a picture postcard, and provides a beautiful backdrop to start off Tuesday mornings. Would you expect anything less from Pacifica scenery? Most Rotary Clubs all over the world—yes, there are about 30,000 clubs, with over 1.2 million members, in 166 countries—have attendance of about 70 percent. The Pacifica Club prides itself on having attendance regularly exceeding 95 percent. Our club might be small, but we’re in there. There are 12 four-seater tables in this meeting room and we all enter through an unmarked side door. Not that the Sharp Park Golf Course is ashamed of us or anything. This door just happens to be closer to the parking lot and saves us the trouble of walking the long way around through the clubhouse. Visitors always end up going the main way through the clubhouse. When I first attended, when invited as a guest speaker a year ago, I too went through the main clubhouse entrance. I’ve never done it since.
Upon arriving, I pay for breakfast, $10 or so depending on what I’m getting, and find a table and chat with whoever I happen to sit next to that morning. I never have a preference for who because they’re all fascinating people and, even if I might disagree with some of what they say, they’re always intelligent in how they say it and polite in agreeing to disagree. I can’t ask for better. We order breakfast, ring the bell to start the meeting, stand and recite the pledge of allegiance, say a prayer before eating, introduce visiting guests or Rotarians visiting from other clubs, discuss club business such as upcoming fundraisers or projects we want to support, do a playful fining session to raise a bit of money, and finish off with a guest speaker. The food is good (not true of all Rotary Clubs), the company is wonderful (this is true of all clubs), the good work discussed is meaningful (also universally true), the fining session requiring targeted members to dig into their wallet to donate $3 to our club’s causes has a festive ribbing to it (worldwide, different clubs use different methods to collect cash), and the speaker is always a crap shoot; sometimes excellent, sometimes my mind wonders and starts making mental notes for things I need to do later in the day (also universally true).
- Pros:Best residential neighborhood in the Bay Area.
- Cons:No cons. Uh, no, wait. Fog. You don't want to live here.
- In a nutshell:It's home.
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