October 2011 home page

Photo illustration Art Olson
Ask Dr. Rich
Rich Simons | 11th Street


Q- They say that you walk around town a lot. What is your favorite pedestrian experience in our downtown area? - r.s.

First of all, let me observe that there are many excellent walking adventures to be had departing from our town center, the intersection of Camino del Mar and 15th street, if one can pretend that the acre of tar in the middle of it is a grassy park with towering trees, flagstone walkways, and hidden benches where lovers clinch at sunset.

Of course if you can imagine that, you can probably have an excellent pedestrian experience just staying at home and staring at your shower curtain.
I like to begin my walk on the SW corner of 15th and CDM, facing south with the acre of asphalt over my left shoulder, where I can’t see it.

Strolling south from here can, of course, be a trip down memory lane, beginning at the corner where the Rexall Drug Store held sway in the forties. (Bear with me here, newcomers.) Moving along we pass Ocean Song Gallery (Virginia, Virginia, wherefore art thou, Virginia?), followed by the drug store of the seventies (Merl, where art thou), the old grocery store with the great wooden floors then Bully’s (which was there when Jacob Taylor first came to town), followed by the refreshing absence of buildings that is Bully’s parking lot – just a low hedge and the tops of some not-so-interesting cars - after which we pass the old fish market (“El Pesky’s”!), the La Tienda restaurant, Byron’s Used Books (our kids loved the pet snake), until finally we stand on the SW corner of 13th and CDM, on the site of the old 76 Station. From there, facing south across 13th, we come face-to-face with a corner that is, well . . . . . remarkable.

The designer of this space first narrows the walkway, forcing an intimacy among strollers whether they seek it or not. He (or she) then positions a pair of green objets d’art in the path, one of which teasingly suggests we might sit on it. It is at about this point we notice to our right, toward the west, behind a low hedge, that the artist has puckishly contrived to tweak the collective nose of our community, making a mockery of the frequent assertion that there is no parking available in Del Mar! Beyond the hedge he (or she) magically presents what at first appears to be an empty parking lot – but upon closer inspection we see it is just a giant painted canvas! (Although occasionally one or two cars are brushed in to bolster the illusion.) Ha-ha. The joke is on us.

But here is my favorite part: the chill we feel as we continue along the sidewalk, when we realize that we are actually standing in the middle of a DRIVEWAY! - wide enough for three cars abreast – or one fire engine – to sweep in at any moment from the street, into the parking lot . . . that doesn’t exist. So step lively! HA-HA. What a joker!
Proceeding, I have no idea what happens next. The sidewalk from here kind of goes down in front and wiggles off to the left. By the time I get this far on my walk, it is happy hour/rush hour and I swim through the river of steel that transects our town to arrive at Zel’s, to meet with my friend Guillermo and discuss the State of the Village.


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